Just ten decades back, the most prosperous and impressive pieces of engineering weren't boasting intuitive touch screens or flashy brushed exteriors. Black plastic was the norm, wooden panelling the typical, and analogue dials the accepted method of user control and operation.

These eight items of retro technology and outdated innovation might not be slick and classy, but all are unique and at least fairly usable. From semi-transportable VHS recorders to pre-electric power air conditioning systems, these 8 items of technological innovation wouldn't stand an opportunity at a modern day marketplace conference, but every was responsible for modifying the entire world of creation in its very own way.

1. German Rocket Bicycles
Herr Richter was a real innovator. The German engineer devoted years to his rocket obsession, making an attempt to develop individual transporters, rocket-driven bicycles, and some genuinely explosive items of relatives transportation. Before the Second Planet War introduced his engineering efforts to an stop, the retro innovator had created his most popular prototype: a rocket-powered single pace bicycle.

As extraordinary as it may possibly be, the rocket-powered bicycle was a correct catastrophe for individual security. Exam rides - for which Richter was generally in the saddle - observed the bike to be reasonably secure before fifty miles per hour, and disastrously unsafe at any bigger speeds. Compounding the bike's problems had been rocket fuel troubles early rockets were inclined to accidental explosions, leaving riders scorched and the bicycle seriously ruined.

2. The Stylophone
When Brian Jarvis invented the Stylophone in 1967, he in no way expected it to become a runaway cult accomplishment. Fuelled by the popularity of David Bowie's initial recordings and immensely well-liked amongst hippie new music teams, the product took off and bought out upon its release.
Regrettably, its acceptance was brief-lived.

The Stylophone fell out of favor in the early 1970s, residing on by means of experimental rock recordings but failing to provide as it the moment did. A 2007 revival introduced the product back into the public's eye, though in a somewhat different format present day stylophones recreate audio digitally, instead than the originals analogue audio generation.

3. Arizona 'Air Conditioning'
Have you ever sat inside on a sizzling day, wondering how you'd survive without having air conditioning? For residents of Arizona, the state's gold rush days were marked by immense heat and handful of strategies to maintain calm. Ice followers melted way too rapidly in the summertime warmth, chilly showers were an impossibility because of to water shortages, and air conditioning had yet to be invented.

Residents fought the immense heat by dipping their night time sheets in cool h2o, sleeping as a result of the night in damp cotton and savouring relative convenience. The 'wet blanket' method also had some strengths for particular hygiene insects and other desert creatures were unlikely to just take up residence in a chilled piece of substance, leaving residents free of bedbugs and other annoyances.

4. The Osborne 1 Laptop
The Osborne 1 was the world's first 'portable' laptop - a ten-kilo beast accountable for additional back injuries and strained muscle groups than any other piece of Laptop technology. Priced at $1795 and boasting an spectacular 64KB of RAM, the system was a relative bargain in the early days of computing, and a business good results on its launch.

Nonetheless, users debated the system's portability, pointing to the 64KB specification as an indicator of pounds instead than memory. While cumbersome, ugly, and barely usable subsequent to today's notebooks, the Osborne 1 was an innovative piece of technology for its time, and a person of the most preferred early computer systems.

5. The French 'Strap-On' Individual Helicopter
Had this early piece of French air technological innovation been a good results, it would have gone down in historical past as 1 of the most unsafe innovations of all time. Luckily, this early single-person helicopter failed to fly, leaving the personal helicopter sector unsaturated and French accident figures at acceptable ranges.
Due to is absence of torque bar and secondary rotor, it is probably that a speedy flight in this single-rotor machine would have still left the pilot with a twisted backbone. Early checks exposed that the device was past hope, leaving personalized helicopters nearly entirely untested until eventually the late 20th century.

6. The Cyclogyro
The good news is, this strange American invention by no means produced it via early testing. Designed as a peculiar half-windmill 50 percent-plane contraption, the Cyclogyro was meant to create raise via a series of flywheels hooked up to every wing.
As quite a few observers predicted, the Cyclogyro was entirely unsuccessful. Early prototypes failed to make it into the air, usually falling apart on the runway or failing to even distance on their own from the ground.

7. The JVC 'Portable' VHS Recorder
Couple of a long time have created inventions as concurrently important and unsightly as the 1970s. This early JVC house video clip system was billed as a piece of portable technologies, made with intentions of permitting movie fans to share their collections with close friends and appreciate the energy of video where ever they could be.

Sad to say, it didn't rather triumph on the portability entrance. The JVC HR-4100's considerable bulk and weight made it practically difficult to carry, and the inclusion of a recording digicam and headset made the gadget completely impractical for out of doors use. More well-liked right now as a retrospective laugh than a piece of recording history, this early endeavor at transportable video clip was a comprehensive failure.

8. The Vincent 'Black Shadow' Superbike
Not like other early makes an attempt at higher-speed motorcycling, the Vincent Black Shadow was a correct engineering triumph. Designed about a 1000cc V-twin engine and boasting an at-the-time remarkable electricity output of 55 horsepower, the Black Shadow was the world's fasted bike on its launch, earning it the title of the world's initially superbike.

The Black Shadow's 220km/h leading speed may well not be lightening rapid by today's specifications, but the bike has lived on as an spectacular piece of engineering. Modern day superbike suppliers Triumph and Ducati still consider the Black Shadow a technological leader, constructing on its V-twin engine design for their possess high-speed sports activities designs.

Welcome to Pastreunited, here you will find hundreds of videos, images, and over 80 pages about all aspects of the 20th century. A great deal of the content has been sent in, other content is the work of numerous writers who have a passion for this era, please feel free to send in your memories or that of your family members, photos and videos are all welcome to help expand pastreunited's data base.

You may also add a dedication to a loved one if you wish, we have been on-line for many years and intend to be here for many years to come as new family members will take over the website, all content is regularly backed up to safe guard the content, so what are you waiting for send us an email and we will do the rest.


The world has revolutionized since the invention of wheel, humans were using animals for transport but the invention of car redefined the mode of transport in a true sense and speed was not limited any more by a slow moving animal. Humans had desired for a animal-less carriage for several hundred years and some of the experiments happened earlier to the industrial revolution. Cars also commonly known as automobiles have been passing through changes in styles and variations.

The early cars looked more like or horse drawn carriages or trackless trains than anything recognized as a 21st century car. On the contrary, some futuristic designs presented in 20th century car shows and some current crops of future designs so much different from the production of 22nd century that today's car may be more fascinating than the early models. Many believe that the first car was a small scale steam model which was built in 1672 by Ferdinand Verbiest for the Chinese Emperor.

Modern historians don't agree with the claim since the vehicle was only a toy and could not be used for transporting a person. Steam engines were known since the Romans and while the design of Verbiest was unique, even if it was built in this time, it would have never transported people or even cargo because the whole platform consisted of the engine.

The first vehicle able of carrying people to a limited distance was invented by a French, Nicholas Joseph Cugnot. His carriage which was four wheeled consisted of a big steam boiler fixed to its front. His design was successful but the technology of the 1770s was not able to generate high pressure steam, this was the reason that the car was slow and was discarded.

Experiments of steam were done for several years and by 1830s were extensively used for the construction of buses and trains in London. However it was never accepted as true power behind cars. The first car consisted of engine having internal combustion and used liquid fuel. It was built in 1870 by Siegfried Marcus. However the design was for proving the concept and he made the vehicle with seating after another 18 years. Marcus was rightfully cemented as the inventor of car.

He had only built one model and it can be still seen at the Technical Museum of Vienna. Karl Benz, a German has been considered by many as the real inventor of car because he had made the first car having internal combustion engine with passenger seating in 1885, it entered production in 1888. It led many to suggest that Marcus developed his second car after seeing his counterpart's success in Germany.

Serbian/American scientist Nikola Tesla

Who was the greatest inventor of the 19th Century? Many historians of science and technology would say, without a doubt, it would be the Serbian/American scientist Nikola Tesla

, although conventional history books tell us a different story entirely. In 1884, Tesla arrived in New York with a working knowledge of a dozen languages, a book of poetry, four cents, and an introduction to Thomas Edison. The Edison introduction provided Tesla with a job, but he left to set up his own business after only a year with Edison. When he arrived in New York City, there was already public electricity in some of the major cities in the United States.

It was with his patented invention of the AC Generator, manufactured by Westinghouse, that allowed electricity to flow to every town and village; every home, office and factory. Along with his major contribution to the design of AC motors, generators and transformers, Tesla also worked in many branches of science and technology, from electric lighting to X-rays, robotics and radio. Throughout his life, Tesla maintained that it was he, not Marconi, who was the true inventor of wireless transmission. He even took it to the court system. At first, the U.S. Courts rejected his claim to priority.

It was not until five months after his death, on June 21, 1943, that the Supreme Court ruled that Tesla had anticipated all other contenders with his fundamental radio patents. Those and other of his inventions, including fluorescent lighting, are used in the everyday lives of billions of homes and businesses. These are some of the more mundane creations. Others remain highly controversial, such as his creation of universal energy, and more recently dubbed the Tesla generator by DIY enthusiasts...

"We are on the threshold of a gigantic revolution, based on the wireless transmission of power", Tesla wrote in the 1930s. "We will be enabled to illuminate the whole sky at night... eventually we will flash power in virtually unlimited amounts to (other) planets." The trick, he thought, was to use the air of the upper atmosphere to transmit energy. Power would be beamed to a terminal in the upper atmosphere, and then transmitted to receivers on the ground or in the air.

The risks, however, could potentially be high. As he wrote in 1899, "So strangely do such powerful discharges behave that I have often experienced a fear that the atmosphere might be ignited." Tesla wanted to build a tower on the East Coast to transmit radio messages, then, ultimately, power across the Atlantic. Initial work at Wardenclyffe provided a terrific light show seen from miles around, but Tesla's financial situation was such that the tower was never completed.

Despite his reputation as a visionary genius, Tesla's refusal to compromise his ideas resulted in a steady decline of his money. His future-thinking ideas commanded front-page headlines, but with successive wars and the Great Depression, his dreams were never seen to fruition. Tesla died alone in 1943, with many of his secretive papers though lost, until recently when a group of scientist and researchers filed a request through the Freedom of Information Act.

Not only did the scientists rediscover a technology Nikola Tesla had pioneered, but they revived it with an infusion of today's technology that will allow anyone to learn how to build a Tesla generator, regardless of their technical skills. And because of today's technology, anyone with the interest in becoming totally green and energy independent can do so, with nothing more than parts they can buy at their local electronics store. One thing we know for sure. Nikola Tesla was truly a man with dreams far beyond those of his time.

King Gillette

Green Day may own the album 20th Century Breakdown album but the 20th Century marks the beginning of conquest for higher technology for us to enjoy and for electrical contractors Toronto team to fix. So while a humble electrician in Richmond Hill troubleshoots an oven, let's look at some of the five major inventions from 1900s to the 90's.

First on the list is the disposable razor blade. Yes, it is not the electronic but come on! This 1909 invention of King Gillette saved women from stingy unhygienic men. Even an electrician Markham native then worked better without nuisance of hairs on his face thanks to this two-bladed shaver. This one counts. Jumping in the future, 1947 was the year when the first mobile phone was introduced. Take note that this cellular phone was an alpha courtesy of Bell Labs at AT&T. Engineers further developed the heavy and analogue cellular phones until the 70's.

Obviously, people then felt the inconvenience of asking for an Electrician Woodbridgeresident or an Electrician Northridgebased for the some repairs. Not until early 1970s when Martin Cooper of Motorola invented the first hand-held mobile phone. By the way, Martin Cooper's first call was for his rivals in Bell Labs. Before all the LED TV and Plasmas in HD, the granddaddy of these high-end but expensive boxes was born in 1923 to paternal parents Vladimir Zworykin and Philo Farnsworth.

They invented the first fully working television in vivid black and white. It was further enhanced, further marketed, and further advertised. Who would know TV would be one factor to shape our culture courtesy by the media. We love speed. That means instant coffee and instant mashed potato.

The invention of the microwave oven in 1945 made all instant heating a breeze. This machine is too hot a household can't be called one without a microwave. Here's a trivia. The almighty microwave was not invented. It was accidentally discovered. Percy Spencer noticed his chocolate bar was melting while working on a scientific project.

Who would figure that one radar set that generates and sends out microwaves would enter the households? Spencer tried to cook food into the steel box and discovered that the microwaves heated the food expressly. He then built a less than 2 meter microwave in 1947 to be marketed. We come to the last electronic device. It is used by the government to keep an eye on us or detect the President's location when got lost.

The GPS or Global Positioning System was invented and enhanced in 1993 by the US DoD. USAF 50th Space Wing maintains the US GPS' satellites for more than $700 million annually. So that's just five of the best inventions of the 20th Century and more are on the list. As we enjoy and indulge on high-end devices of today, we don't have to forget their humble beginnings.

Considering how vital a role furniture takes in today's culture, it can be surprising how little public recognition is given to the many great designers of the last 100 years. From offices to sofas, fold-away seats on trains to restaurant tables, there have been many significant turning points in the design of modern furniture, with just as many key designers leading the way.

By far the most prolific and forward-thinking furniture design has taken place in the 20th century, with new building methods and increased technology giving designers and craftsmen the skills and tools they needed to really start experimenting and developing simple items of furniture much further. It was during this time that furniture stopped being a simple work of craftsmanship and became a viable and commercial industry, with names starting to emerge as the creators of the most beautiful pieces.

There are many designers who have influenced furniture design today, with their legacies living on under the guise of reproduction and inspiration, and here is the low down on a selection of the most famous. You might not recognise the name, but Gerrit Rietveld is coveted for inventing the Red/Blue chair between 1917 and 18. Though not particularly comfortable, its portable fold-away design paved the way for other designers to start considering practicality over comfort.

The influence of this breakthrough can been throughout our society, from school dinner halls to public buses. One such designer that took the idea further was Luwig Miess van der Rohe, who was credited for creating the first tubular steel-framed cantilever chair. As the director of the Bauhaus until it closed in 1933, van der Rohe's contribution to modern furniture design was first showcased at the International Exposition in Barcelona, in 1929. However, the first designer, or architect rather, to produce a steel tube chair that was both comfortable and practical was Marcel Breuer.

Apparently inspired by bicycle handlebars, Breuer created his seat specifically for the living room, therefore reinforcing the comfort emphasis and making his Bauhaus-influenced chair a big domestic seller. One early non-conformist to furniture design was Le Corbusier (1887 - 1965), who believed that traditional furniture and modern furniture didn't need to be mutually exclusive and, with a little bit of imagination, could work together as one piece.

His most significant contribution to this theory is undoubtedly the Chaise Longue. Designed for absolute comfort, like modern day sofas ,the Chaise Longue was still practical thanks to its significantly reduced size and its versatility to fit into almost any public room. Naturally, designers soon started to buck trends again and it was Alvar Aalto who shunned steel tubing in favour of more humanist elements.

He did not feel that steel formed a very organic shape, and so turned to his local Birchwood as a substitute, and likewise he is considered to be the key figure in focusing the furniture industry back onto well-crafted individual pieces, rather than mass-produced, machined and convenient steel chairs.

Beginning with the start of the 20th century, the development of new ideas really began to take on a new shape. Here are just a few of those inventions. There are some notable 1950s inventions that came about on the heels of the second world war.

1960s inventions also saw a lot of development in the technological age as did many of the 1970s inventions that are now a part of our history. If you were born in the 20th Century you have seen more inventions and discoveries than at any other time in man's history, that alone is one amazing fact to share with your children and grand-kids!

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was arguably one of the most influential people in all of history. He is variously credited with leading the transition from the Age of Steam to the Age of Electricity, “inventing” the Twentieth Century and developing the modern research laboratory, a cornerstone of corporate structure.

Seventy years after his death, he still holds the record for the greater number of US Patents ever awarded to an individual – 1,093. It’s hard to imagine a world without his gifts of electric light, recorded music and motion pictures. In Edison we find a true rags-to-riches story of a poor, self taught boy who grew up to be the greatest inventor of his or any other age. 

Thomas Edison's 1,093 Inventions incllude Telegraph innovations Printing telegraph (ie: Stock-ticker) Mimeograph machine Phonograph Talking dolls Carbon transmitter Light bulb Light switches Light sockets Electric meters Insulated wire Dynamo generators Vacuum pumps Electric meters Fluoroscope Fluorescent lamp Electric railway Magnetic ore separator Mining equipment Motion picture camera Miner’s lamps Storage battery Synthetic carbolic acid.

Invention of Ferris Wheel


"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, put out my hand, and touched the face of God." - John Gillespie Magee, Jr No other words can better describe the feeling one gets while taking a joyride on a Ferris wheel. Children and adults alike experience a surge of excitement and heightened nervousness on the prospect of taking a Ferris wheel ride. Experience shows that people have actually been happy to shell out a few dollars to experience these dual feelings.

Different versions of Ferris wheel have been prominent attractions at various social fairs and carnivals held all around the world in the past one and a quarter century. This engineering wonder has a history that equals the exciting joyride it offers. Invention of Ferris Wheel The year was 1891.

The Americans were in search of a new architectural design to commemorate the 4th centenary anniversary of Columbus setting foot on American soil. The Americans were looking out for a design to surpass the grandeur of French Eiffel tower. However, none of the proposed designs met the project committee's expectations.

Then at a certain engineers' banquet, a bright engineer named George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr, hailing from Pennsylvania was struck with a sudden inspirational design of a giant wheel. Upon approval of Ferris's design, work began on construction of the Ferris wheel, which is a namesake of its original designer.

Soon the project was completed and the Ferris wheel was inaugurated for public on June 21st, 1893 at Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, USA. The massive engineering wonder was constructed by G W G Ferris & Co from Pittsburgh. It consisted of two 140 ft tall steel towers to hold the wheel firmly in place.

These towers were supported by a massive 45 ft long steel axle. The main wheel itself was approximately 830 ft in circumference and radius of each wheel spoke was approximately 125 ft. The wheel required 2000 horsepower engines to turn it around.

The height of this wheel was exactly 264 ft. The wheel consisted of 36 passenger seating boxes equipped to seat 60 passengers each. This added up to exactly 2160 passenger capacity. With full seating capacity, the wheel required almost 20 minutes to complete two full rotations. With a ticket price of 50 cents per ride, the wheel made a turnover of $726800 during the Columbian Exposition.

This historic invention was dismantled and re-erected twice after its original erection. Consequently, it was destroyed using a dynamite on May 11th, 1906. So popular was the original Ferris wheel, that the name Ferris wheel is now generically connected to all such structures.

Predecessors of Ferris Wheel Though the Columbian Exposition wheel is known as the first Ferris wheel of the world, there are some written and pictorial records that say otherwise. The original wheel is said to have existed in Bulgaria during late 17th century. This wooden wheel was also known as the Pleasure wheel. Existence of similar wheels has been recorded in Persia, Constantinople, India, Romania, Siberia and so on during the 17th century.

It is worth noting that, the Singapore Flyer currently holds the record of being the highest Ferris wheel in the whole world. Ferris wheels have been popular attractions at many of the famous festivals held around the world for the past two centuries.

They were considered number one attractions at some of the world famous amusement and theme parks till the advent of a close competitors called Roller coasters. However, some mega Ferris wheels like London Eye and Singapore Flyer will continue to be a major tourist attraction.

The London Eye

The London Eye is the most popular tourist attraction (which charges a fee) in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the number of visitors taking a ride on the London Eye each year can be in excess of three million).

Situated on London's South Bank of the River Thames, between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge, and at a height of 135 metres (443 ft), the London Eye is the largest Ferris Wheel to be found in Europe and it is one of the best places to see many London tourist attractions from the one spot.

Little wonder then that hotels near London Eye are so popular and it is strongly advised that you book your room at the very earliest opportunity as many hotels are often fully booked well in advance (some up to a year).

Built as part of England's Millennium celebrations the London Eye is known to many as the Millennium Wheel and, at the time of it's construction, it was the largest Ferris whell in the World.

Unfortunately, due to technical problems, it did not open to the public until March 2000 but, strangely, it was formally opened on 31 December 1999 by Tony Blair PM.


Through out the 1920's many inventions were created that altered human civilization. Transportation was successfully mastered. Radio communication was becoming more common and medicine was saving more and more lives every day. In this year Henry Ford created the first affordable, combustion engine car called the Model-T. The creation of the Model-T changed the lives of every American. Vehicles were looked at as a way of freedom and excitement.

Soon after, every household in America had a car. The demand for vehicles sparked a whole new industry, creating jobs, more revenues and improving the American economy in every way. With so many vehicles on the roads, roads needed to become bigger and better which spawned a nation wide road construction. This also created more jobs and strengthened the economy even further.

The Airplane was first invented in 1903; it amazed everyone but never really took off because of how dangerous it still was. They used planes in WWI but they threw them aside. After WWI (around mid 1920's) the Federal Government had the idea of airmail.

This was readily accepted; instead of receiving mail in two weeks it would only take a couple of days. Soon after this, transporting people quickly caught on although only the upper-class people could afford it, it soon became accessible to almost everyone.

1879 the first radios were created they were big, bulky and got poor reception. In 1920 the radio was improved lightweight, small and got good reception. In 1922 the first radio station was created in Pittsburgh. It was a great success.

The radio created a way for people to convey information and interact with each other. This was one of the most important inventions of the 20's because it brought all the nations together. During the 1920's, also known as "The Roaring 20's", Radio Broadcasting became one of America's favorite sources of entertainment.

During this time period most Americans depended on radio for their source of communication, since television was not yet popular. The invention of radio had a major impact on Americans. Radio stations transmitted a variety of shows and programs that entertained many people through out the nation.

Frank Conrad of the Westinghouse Company

In the 1920’s only twenty-thousand people received wireless radio messages. As an experiment, Frank Conrad of the Westinghouse Company began to broadcast recorded music and baseball scores over the radio. He received such a great response that the company began broadcasting programs on a regular basis.

By the fall of 1920, the country had its first commercially operated radio station, Pittsburgh’s KDKA. By 1922, over five hundred stations had formed with a quarter of them being controlled by newspapers.

Networks such as the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) brought together many individual stations in order to play much of the same programming on different radio stations. Soon much of the country was able to hear the same jokes, commercials, and music at the same time.

“By 1922, over 500 stations had formed, with newspapers controlling about a quarter of them. Listeners can now hear music, news, sports events, and religious services over the air. To reach more people, networks such as the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) brought together many individual stations and each station in the network played the same programming. Soon much of the country was sharing the same jokes, commercials, and music.

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a former German cavalryman saw hot air ballons used during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the Franco-Prussion War (1870-71) . He spent much of the remainder of his life experimenting with balloons-- particularly problems with steering maintaining their shape. Zeppelin’s solution was a rigid but very light frame.

Zeppelin’s first flight in a “dirigible balloon” was in 1900. It lasted just 18 minutes before he was forced to land when a balancing weight broke. Upon repair, the dirigible beat the speed record of the La France which had made the first fully controllable lighter-than-air flight in 1884.

Experiencing financial difficulty, Zeppelin was forced to disassemble the LZ-1, sell it for scrap, and close the company. With private donations, a lottery and governmnet support supplementing his personal funds, Zeppelin’s company was reopened and produced more than 100 additional dirigibles before the end of WWI. Many were used by the German military.


THE SAFETY RAZOR: Razors with crude guards to prevent deep cuts have been tried out for many centuries past, but the man who gave the world a razor that was not only safe, but also had a separate disposable blade, was an American named King Camp Gillette. Gillette is said to have gotten the idea while shaving with one of the dangerous old "cut-throat" razors one day in 1895.

His American Safety Razor Company was formed in 1901, and by 1904, it had sold 90,000 razors and 12,400,000 blades. Today, this kind of razor has hardly changed and is still the most popular shaving method in the world.

clinical polygraph of 1892

Lie detector In 1906, Sir James Mackenzie refined his clinical polygraph of 1892 when he devised the clinical ink polygraph with the help of Lancashire watchmaker, Sebastian Shaw. This instrument used a clockwork mechanism for the paper-rolling and time-marker movements and it produced ink recordings of physiological functions that were easier to acquire and to interpret.

Interestingly, it has been written that the modern polygraph is really a modification of Dr. Mackenzie's clinical ink polygraph.

The first tea bags were inadvertently made from hand-sewn silk muslin bags. Thomas Sullivan, a tea and coffee merchant from New York City, tried to cut sampling costs by sending loose tea in small silk sacks (instead of costly tins, which was what most merchants used at the time).

Potential clients, confused by this new packaging, threw the tea in hot water-- bag and all. Thomas started getting many requests for these "teabags" and realized that he had struck gold. The quick and easy clean-up of the leaves (due to the fact that they were still contained in the silk bag) made it enticingly convenient. Teabags first began appearing commercially around 1904, and quickly shipped around the world.

 journalist named Arthur Wynne from Liverpool

Crossword puzzle The first known published crossword puzzle was created by a journalist named Arthur Wynne from Liverpool, and he is usually credited as the inventor of the popular word game. December 21, 1913 was the date and it appeared in a Sunday newspaper, the New York World.

Wynne's puzzle(see below) differed from today's crosswords in that it was diamond shaped and contained no internal black squares. During the early 1920's other newspapers picked up the newly discovered pastime and within a decade crossword puzzles were featured in almost all American newspapers. It was in this period crosswords began to assume their familiar form.

Ten years after its rebirth in the States it crossed the Atlantic and re-conquered Europe. The first appearance of a crossword in a British publication was in Pearson's Magazine in February 1922, and the first Times crossword appeared on February 1 1930. British puzzles quickly developed their own style, being considerably more difficult than the American variety. In particular the cryptic crossword became established and rapidly gained popularity.

The generally considered governing rules for cryptic puzzles were laid down by A. F. Ritchie and D. S. Macnutt. These people, gifted with the ability to see words puzzled together in given geometrical patterns and capable of twisting and turning words into word plays dancing on the wit of human minds, have since constructed millions of puzzles by hand and each of these puzzlers has developed personal styles known and loved by his fans. These people have set the standard of what to expect from a quality crossword puzzle.


Mr. Televox was built in 1927 by either R. J. Wesley, J. L. McCoy, Joseph Barnett, or P. G. Garrett, depending on which newspaper account you read. He was designed to show off an early remote control and telemetry device called, by astonishing coincidence, the Televox.

The idea behind this device was that you could hook up various devices and meters to the Televox using regular phone lines and by sending acoustic signals back and forth you could switch machines on and off, regulate water levels in reservoirs, and so forth.

Mr. Televox was simply a standard Televox unit on a stand that was hidden behind a cardboard cutout of a robot with light-up eyes (one red and one green). He was controlled by an operator who "spoke" to the robot using a pitch pipe.

Mr. Televox, in turn, would then turn on various appliances about the stage from a distance or reply to questions. Early on, his answers were restricted to electric chirps and burps, but the addition of 78 RPM records later allowed him to answer questions such as what was his favourite book.

Television; Since Marconi’s invention of wireless telegraphy in 1897, the imagination of many inventors have been sparked with the notion of sending images as well as sound. The first documented notion of sending components of pictures over a series of multiple circuits is credited to George Carey. Another inventor, W. E. Sawyer, suggested the possibility of sending an image over a single wire by rapidly scanning parts of the picture in succession.

On December 2, 1922, in Sorbonne, France, Edwin Belin, an Englishman, who held the patent for the transmission of photographs by wire as well as fiber optics and radar, demonstrated a mechanical scanning device that was an early precursor to modern television. Belin’s machine took flashes of light and directed them at a selenium element connected to an electronic device that produced sound waves.

These sound waves could be received in another location and remodulated into flashes of light on a mirror. Up until this point, the concept behind television was established, but it wasn’t until electronic scanning of imagery (the breaking up of images into tiny points of light for transmission over radio waves), was invented, that modern television received its start.

But here is where the controversy really heats up. The credit as to who was the inventor of modern television really comes down to two different people in two different places both working on the same problem at about the same time: Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, a Russian-born American inventor working for Westinghouse, and Philo Taylor Farnsworth, a privately backed farm boy from the state of Utah. “Zworykin had a patent, but Farnsworth had a picture…” 

the Gloster E28/39

The Jet Engine Was Born By April 1941 the new engine, now designated the W1, was ready for flight testing. The first flight of an allied Turbo-jet, the Gloster E28/39, was made on 15th May 1941 at Cranwell. By October the Americans had heard of the project and asked for the details and an engine.

A Power Jets team and a W1X engine were flown to Washington to enable General Electric to examine it and begin construction. The Americans developed the idea and their Bell XP-59A Airacomet was airborne on 2nd October 1942.

Prior to this the Rover Company in the UK had been given the secrets of the Whittle Engine by the Air Ministry in 1940, in order to prepare for mass production of the W2 Engine for the Gloster Meteor. On their failure to do so, this work was handed over by the Ministry to Rolls Royce in 1943, who successfully completed the task allotted to them.

By 1944 Britain had at last a jet fighter with the Rolls Royce Welland engines designed by Frank Whittle. Power Jets started to develop the W2/700 and the final Engine built was fitted with Afterburning/Reheat which was to be used on the Miles 52 Supersonic Aircraft Experimental Project.

Frank Whittle

In 1946 Frank Whittle, by then an Air Commodore, resigned from Power Jets after it was nationalised and merged with the Gas Turbine section of the RAE at Farnborough to become the National Gas Turbine Establishment. Whittle retired from the RAF in 1948 and was knighted by King George V in the same year.

He became a consultant and technical advisor to aviation companies in the 1950’s. Later he went to work in the USA and following his marriage to an American wife he moved his home to the USA in 1976. He was awarded the Order of Merit by Her Majesty the Queen in 1986.

Although not always published he continued to write articles, showing his foresight, even addressing environmental issues and ‘The Greenhouse Effect’ as early as the 1970’s. Innovative and a visionary, Whittle forecast the development of supersonic air travel, not just for military purposes but as scheduled civil air transport.

The Story of McDonalds A McDonalds restaurant existed before 1954 but it was the introduction of Ray Kroc to the business in 1954 that began the seemingly endless colonisation of the globe by the McDonalds restaurant chain that ensued. Kroc had invested his entire life savings to become the exclusive distributor of a milk shake machine called the Multimixer when the McDonald brothers placed an order for eight of them.

He realised that this meant there was a demand from their customers for up to 40 milkshakes at a time. Sensing success, Ray Kroc visited the McDonald’s restaurant in California and was instantly impressed. He had never seen so many people served so quickly when he pulled up to take a look.

And so Kroc became the first McDonalds Franchisee, later buying at the company from the original owners and expanding the network of restaurants to the epic proportions we see today. The first McDonalds arrived in the UK in 1974.

 The Fender Broadcaster The Fender Broadcaster, launched around 1950, was the world's first commercially available guitar with a solid wooden body and bolt-on neck. Leo Fender's whole design was geared to mass production and to a simple, yet effective electric instrument.

After George Fullerton joined Leo's Fender Electric Instrument company in 1948, the two men set about devising their production solid-bodied electric guitar, the Fender Broadcaster. The principle advantage being the ability of the solid body to deliver a clean amplified version of the strings inherent tone. Even if Leo Fender had only built this one guitar (thank god he didn't!!) his company's place in the history of the electric guitar would be assured.

 The fender Telecaster

The fender Telecaster is the longest-running solid electric guitar still in production, a brilliantly simple piece of design which works as well today as it did when it was introduced in 1951. The Telecaster was fender's original Broadcaster electric. the company was forced to change it when Gretsch claimed prior rights to the name.

But Leo fender and is small workforce in Fullerton, California must have been delighted with the new Telecaster name, is thoroughly modern reference to the emerging medium of television just right for an equally innovative device like the Telecaster, the first commercially marketed solid electric guitar.

The Telecaster usually referred to as 'Tele" is known for its bright, cutting tone, and straightforward, no-nonsense operation. The guitar has been used by also sorts of players from all musical backgrounds. The guitar is able to emulate steel guitar sounds and is used to a great extent in country music. The secret to the Tele's sound centers on the bridge.

The strings pass through the body and are anchored at the back by six ferrules, giving solidity and sustain to the resulting sound. A slanting-back pickup is incorporated into the bridge, enhancing the guitars treble tone. The Telecaster should continue to survive due to its simplicity, effectiveness and versatility.

The Fender Stratocaster is perhaps the most popular and most emulated solid electric guitar ever. Launched in early 1954, it was designed by Leo Fender together with his colleague Freddie Tavares. The two were also helped by the contributions of country musician Bill Carson. Fender had already pioneered the solid electric with their Telecaster.

The stylish Strat, epitome of 1950s tallfin-flash design, built upon fender's idea of a guitar engineered for mass-production rather than hand-crafted for individual players. It had three pickups where most electrics had one or two, there was a vibrato arm to bend the pitch of the strings and return them more or less to accurate tuning. The strings could also be adjusted at the bridge.

The guitar featured a contoured body for player comfort, and a jack-plug socket recessed into the front of the body. Fender Strats continue to be a very popular guitar today. Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan and many other famous players have used the Strat during their careers.

light bulb 1897

The Light Bulb Although we think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the light bulb, the light bulb didn't begin or end with his contribution. The first patent for a light bulb was obtained by Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans. In 1879, Thomas Edison purchased the patent and improved on the light bulb with his invention of a carbon filament. That filament lasted for 40 hours, but by the time Edison was done he had a filament that could last for 1200 hours. Later improvements in the light bulb gave us bulbs that don't go black and the tungsten filament.

The Printing Press The printing press is credited with changing all of Western civilization after being invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th Century. By making the Bible more widely available, this invention weakened the central authority of the state sponsored churches and led to the Reformation. Not many people realize that this famous invention was most likely invented several centuries earlier in China. Probably because Eastern languages contain significantly more characters than Western languages, the impact of movable type was not as great in China.

The Bicycle Bicycles remain the most energy efficient mode of transportation available. There are currently over a billion bicycles at use in the world as children's toys, exercise equipment and means of travel. The technology that went into early bicycles was used as the basis for later innovations in the automobile and the airplane. Women's use of the bicycle in the late 19th Century led to the popularity of bloomers, the overall greater mobility of women and the women's movement.

The Auto mobile The auto-mobile is a culmination of thousands of ideas and patents beginning with rudimentary plans by Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton. Before the modern gasoline engine was made common, steam engines and electric engines were experimented with. It wasn't until 1885 that the first practical auto-mobile was invented by Karl Benz.

The French were the first to manufacture a complete motor vehicle with engine and chassis, but it wasn't until Henry Ford streamlined the car manufacturing process in 1913 that car ownership became affordable for many people.

Fitchburg steam engine

The Steam Engine The steam engine was the most important invention idea of the industrial revolution. By mechanically producing energy out of steam, it effectively replaced traditional water and muscle power.

Using boiling water to produce mechanical motion goes back over 2000 years, but early devices were not practical. The Spanish inventor Jerónimo de Ayanz y Beaumont patented in 1606 the first steam engine. In 1698 Thomas Savery patented a steam pump that used steam in direct contact with the water being pumped. Savery's steam pump used condensing steam to create a vacuum and draw water into a chamber, and then applied pressurized steam to further pump the water.

Thomas Newcomen's atmospheric engine was the first commercial true steam engine using a piston, and was used in 1712 for pumping in a mine. In 1781 James Watt patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotary motion. Watt's ten-horsepower engines enabled a wide range of manufacturing machinery to be powered. The engines could be sited anywhere that water and coal or wood fuel could be obtained. By 1883, engines that could provide 10,000 hp had become feasible.

Steam engines could also be applied to vehicles such as traction engines and the railway locomotives. The stationary steam engine was a key component of the Industrial Revolution, allowing factories to locate where water power was unavailable. Steam engines are external combustion engines,where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be used.

The ideal thermodynamic cycle used to analyze this process is called the Rankine cycle. In the cycle, water is heated and transforms into steam within a boiler operating at a high pressure. When expanded through pistons or turbines, mechanical work is done. The reduced-pressure steam is then condensed and pumped back into the boiler.

In general usage, the term steam engine can refer to either the integrated steam plants (including boilers etc.) such as railway steam locomotives and portable engines, or may refer to the piston or turbine machinery alone, as in the beam engine and stationary steam engine. Specialized devices such as steam hammers and steam pile drivers are dependent on steam supplied from a separate boiler.

Reciprocating piston type steam engines remained the dominant source of power until the early 20th century, when advances in the design of electric motors and internal combustion engines gradually resulted in the replacement of reciprocating (piston) steam engines in commercial usage, and the ascendancy of steam turbines in power generation. Considering that the great majority of worldwide electric generation is produced by turbine type steam engines, the "steam age" is continuing with energy levels far beyond those of the turn of the 19th century.

First corn flakes box

Corn flakes The first modern and commercial cereal foods were created by the American Seventh-day Adventists. The Adventists formed the Western Health Reform Institute in the 1860s. The Institute was later renamed the Battle Creek Sanitarium after its location in Battle Creek, Michigan. The Adventists manufactured, promoted, and sold wholesome cereals. Cereal or grain is a member of the grass plant family, with starchy seeds used for food.

Common cereals are: wheat, rice, rye, oats, barley, corn (maize), and sorghum. Will Keith Kellogg was the founder of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1906. In 1894, Kellogg was trying to improve the diet of hospital patients.

He was searching for a digestible bread substitute using the process of boiling wheat. Kellogg accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat to stand and the wheat became tempered (soften). When Kellogg rolled the tempered or softened wheat and let it dry, each grain of wheat emerged as a large thin flake. The flakes turned out to be a tasty cereal. Kellogg had invented corn flakes.

Biro the new pen invention

The Ballpoint pen The manufacture of economical, reliable ballpoint pens arose from experimentation, modern chemistry, and the precision manufacturing capabilities of 20th century technology. Many patents worldwide are testaments to failed attempts at making these pens commercially viable and widely available. The ballpoint pen went through several failures in design throughout its early stages. It has even been argued that a design by Galileo Galilei (during the 17th century), was that of a ballpoint pen.

The first patent on a ballpoint pen was issued on 30 October 1888, to John Loud, a leather tanner, who was attempting to make a writing implement that would be able to write on his leather products, which then-common fountain pens couldn't do. The pen had a rotating small steel ball, held in place by a socket. Although it could be used to mark rough surfaces such as leather, as Loud intended, it proved to be too coarse for letter writing and was not commercially exploited.

In the period between 1904 and 1946, there was intense interest in improving writing instruments, particularly alternatives or improvements to the fountain pen. Slavoljub Eduard Penkala invented a solid-ink fountain pen in 1907, a German inventor named Baum took out a ballpoint patent in 1910, and yet another ballpoint pen device was patented by Van Vechten Riesburg in 1916.

In these inventions, the ink was placed in a thin tube whose end was blocked by a tiny ball, held so that it could not slip into the tube or fall out of the pen. The ink clung to the ball, which spun as the pen was drawn across the paper. These proto-ballpoints did not deliver the ink evenly. If the ball socket was too tight, the ink did not reach the paper. If it were too loose, ink flowed past the tip, leaking or making smears. Many inventors tried to fix these problems, but without commercial success.

László Bíró, a Hungarian newspaper editor, was frustrated by the amount of time that he wasted in filling up fountain pens and cleaning up smudged pages, and the sharp tip of his fountain pen often tore the paper. Bíró had noticed that inks used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge free.

He decided to create a pen using the same type of ink. Since, when tried, this viscous ink would not flow into a regular fountain pen nib, Bíró, with the help of his brother George, a chemist, began to work on designing new types of pens. Bíró fitted this pen with a tiny ball in its tip that was free to turn in a socket. As the pen moved along the paper, the ball rotated, picking up ink from the ink cartridge and leaving it on the paper. Bíró filed a British patent on 15 June 1938.

Early ball point pen

Earlier pens leaked or clogged due to improper viscosity of the ink, and depended on gravity to deliver the ink to the ball. Depending on gravity caused difficulties with the flow and required that the pen be held nearly vertically.

The Biro pen both pressurised the ink column and used capillary action for ink delivery, solving the flow problems. In 1940 the Bíró brothers and a friend, Juan Jorge Meyne, fled Nazi Germany and moved to Argentina.

On 10 June they filed another patent and formed Bíró Pens of Argentina. The pen was sold in Argentina under the Birome brand (portmanteau of Bíró and Meyne), which is how ballpoint pens are still known in that country. László was known in Argentina as Ladislao José Bíró.

This new design was licensed by the British, who produced ball point pens for RAF aircrew as the Biro, who found they worked much better than fountain pens at high altitude which were prone to ink-leakage in the decreased atmospheric pressure.

Many families felt that the prosperity of the 1920s would last forever therefore many of them got into deeper and deeper debt. While there were no charge cards at that time there WERE many stores that allowed customers to charge purchases to be paid at a later date. If this was only done at one store it wouldn't have affected families adversely. But many families charged at four, five, or six different stores thus running debt they were unable to later pay.

Many families also took advantage of the economic good times of the 1920s by purchasing any of a number of new inventions or participating in new forms of entertainment. Refrigerators took the place of iceboxes, vacuums replaced brooms, and washing machines supplanted wash tubs.

Few homes were without one or more radio sets, talking motion pictures started with "The Jazz Singer" in 1927, and baseball was America's favorite pastime. So for many Americans the 1920s resulted in a new world of spare time, growing debt, and entertainment the likes of which Americans had never seen.

There is no doubt that the growing level of debt that many Americans experienced help contribute to the economic hard times follow in the 1930s. Stores were forced to close as outstanding debts went unpaid, factories began producing too many goods for the public to consume, and farmers, overconfident that their crops would sell, planted more and more and more until the bottom fell out of the agricultural market.

Credit card In the early 1900s

Credit card In the early 1900s, oil companies and department stores issued their own proprietary cards, according to Stan Sienkiewicz, in a paper for the Philadelphia Federal Reserve entitled "Credit cards and payment efficiency". Such cards were accepted only at the business that issued the card and in limited locations.

While modern credit cards are mainly used for convenience, these predecessor cards were developed as a means of creating customer loyalty and improving customer service, Sienkiewicz says. John Biggins, a banker in Brooklyn, according to MasterCard, introduced the first bankcard, named "Charg-It," in 1946. When a customer used it for a purchase, the bill was forwarded to Biggins' bank. The bank reimbursed the merchant and obtained payment from the customer.

The catches: Purchases could only be made locally, and Charge-It cardholders had to have an account at Biggins' bank. In 1951, the first bank credit card appeared in New York's Franklin National Bank for loan customers. Only the bank's account holders could use it.

The Diners Club Card was the next step in credit cards. According to a representative from Diners Club, the story began in 1949 when a man named Frank McNamara had a business dinner in New York's Major's Cabin Grill.

When the bill arrived, Frank realized he'd forgotten his wallet. He managed to find his way out of the pickle, but he decided there should be an alternative to cash. McNamara and his partner, Ralph Schneider, returned to Major's Cabin Grill in February of 1950 and paid the bill with a small, cardboard card. Coined the Diners Club Card and used mainly for travel and entertainment purposes, it claims the title of the first credit card in widespread use.

1956: Ampex VRX-1000 - The First Commercial Videotape Recorder Research on recording video on tape was begun in the early 1950's, and Bing Crosby Enterprises demonstrated a prototype system in 1951 that ran at 100 inches/second and had 16 minutes per reel. But the quality was poor. RCA demonstrated a better system in 1953, but it ran at 30 feet/second and only had 4 minutes per reel. The small Ampex Corporation came up with the ideas of using rotating heads, transverse scanning, and FM encoding which allowed broadcast quality recording at 15 inches/second and 90 minutes per reel.

The VRX-1000 set off a storm when it was demonstrated on April 14, 1956 at the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters Convention, sending RCA and all the other VTR developers back to the drawing boards. The VRX-1000 was renamed the Mark IV and sold briskly at $50,000.

Ampex dominated the broadcast VTR business for a number of years to come. The fourth person from the left in the above design team group photo is Ray Dolby, later of Dolby Laboratories fame.

Charles Ginsburg led the research team at Ampex Corporation in developing the first practical videotape recorder (VTR). In 1951, the first video tape recorder (VTR) captured live images from television cameras by converting the information into electrical impulses and saving the information onto magnetic tape. Ampex sold the first VTR for $50,000 in 1956.The first VCassetteR or VCR were sold by Sony in 1971.

First computer games If I hadn't done it, someone would've done something equally exciting if not better in the next six months. I just happened to get there first." - Steve Russell nickname "Slug" It was in 1962 when a young computer programmer from MIT, Steve Russell fueled with inspiration from the writings of E. E. "Doc" Smith*, led the team that created the first computer game.

It took the team about 200 man-hours to write the first version of Spacewar. Steve Russell wrote Spacewar on a PDP-1, an early DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) interactive mini computer which used a cathode-ray tube type display and keyboard input.

The computer was a donation to MIT from DEC, who hoped MIT's think tank would be able to do something remarkable with their product. A computer game called Spacewar was the last thing DEC expected who later provided the game as a diagnostic program for their customers. Russell never profited from Spacewars.


Leo Sternbach, 97, who created Valium, the nation's most-prescribed drug during the 1970s, until critics claimed it was overused and newer drugs replaced it, died Sept. 28 at his home in Chapel Hill, N.C. Sternbach became a celebrated figure in research science for his creation of a group of chemicals that soothed anxious, irritated and agitated executives and housewives.

Valium topped the list of most-common pharmaceuticals from 1969 to 1982, with nearly 2.3 billion pills passing into consumers' hands during its peak sales year of 1978. Nicknamed "Mother's Little Helper" and "Executive Excedrin," Valium was a true cultural phenomenon.

The Rolling Stones sang: "She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper, and it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day." Novelist Jacqueline Susann called the pills "dolls" in her 1966 novel "Valley of the Dolls." In a 1979 memoir, "I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can," television producer-author Barbara Gordon said quitting Valium cold turkey landed her in an insane asylum.

Horrified, a Senate health subcommittee held hearings on tranquilizer addiction in 1979. Sternbach, who had tested the basic chemical compound on himself while developing it, said he didn't use Valium because it made him depressed.

But neither did he consider its creation a curse, once saying that everything can be abused. "Not enough people kept in mind the suicides that were averted and the marriages that were saved because of this drug," he told U.S. News & World Report in 1999.

MS-DOS invented. In 1980, IBM first approached Bill Gates and Microsoft, to discuss the state of home computers and Microsoft products. Gates gave IBM a few ideas on what would make a great home computer, among them to have Basic written into the ROM chip.

Microsoft had already produced several versions of Basic for different computer system beginning with the Altair, so Gates was more than happy to write a version for IBM. As for an operating system (OS) for the new computers, since Microsoft had never written an operating system before, Gates had suggested that IBM investigate an OS called CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers), written by Gary Kildall of Digital Research. Kindall had his Ph.D. in computers and had written the most successful operating system of the time, selling over 600,000 copies of CP/M, his OS set the standard at that time.

Artificial heart Robert Koffler Jarvik was born on May 11, 1946, in Midland, Michigan, to Norman Eugene, a surgeon, and Edythe (Koffler) Jarvik. He was raised in Stamford, Connecticut. As a youngster, Jarvik's early interests included mechanics and medicine, and both would greatly influence his life's work. A tinkerer, he enjoyed taking things apart and then reassembling them to better understand how they worked. In his teens, Jarvik would watch his father perform surgeries in an operating room.

This exposure sparked an interest in the design of surgical tools, and Jarvik obtained his first patent before he even graduated from high school, for an automatic stapler that freed physicians from having to manually clamp and tie blood vessels during surgeries. Along with his mechanical inclinations, Jarvik also had an avid interest in the arts, especially sculpture.

He managed to combine these divergent pursuits in his course load when he entered Syracuse University in 1964, where he studied mechanical drawing and architecture. At one point, he even considered a career in art. After his father developed heart disease, however, he felt compelled to change his educational and career direction.

His father developed an aneurysm and was operated on by heart surgeon Michael DeBakey. DeBakey became well known as the creator of the mobile army surgical hospitals, or MASH units. By Dr. DeBakey's example, Jarvik was encouraged to change his major to pre - medicine, and he signed up for the appropriate course work. His father's heart disease would also later lead him in the direction of artificial heart research.

Early black telephone

The first truly synthetic plastic was invented by Leo Baekeland - a Belgium chemist living in New York. Baekeland was already very rich as he had invented the first commercially successful photographic paper and sold it to George Eastman in 1898 for $1 million. With such money, Baekeland could engage himself in whatever research he decided to do. In 1905, he found that when he combined formaldehyde and phenol, he produced a material that bound all types of powders together. He called this material Bakelite - after himself - and it was the first thermosetting plastic in the world.

This was a material that once it set hard would not soften under heat. It had so many uses and so many potential uses, that it was called "the material of a thousand uses". Bakelite was water and solvent resistant; could be used as an electrical insulator; was rock hard but could be cut by a knife and was used in 78 rpm records and telephones.

New plastics were invented such as neoprene in 1932, polythene in 1933 and Perspex in 1934. One of the most famous wholly synthetic fibres was invented in 1938 at the cost of $10 million - nylon. In the first year of its creation, nylon went into toothbrush bristles and nylon stockings. 64 million pairs of stockings were made in 1938 alone. Nylon was also used by the military in World War Two for gearing wheels in vehicles and parachute cords.

Plastic as a whole was very important in World War Two. ‘Plane cockpits were made of Perspex, polythene was used in insulate radar and plastic was used to make synthetic rubber for tyres. More modern plastics include Teflon (used in non-stick pans), lycra (used initially in sports wear), Dacron (crease and rot-resistant material used in sailing and tents). All these have a background in the work done by Baekeland and his Bakelite.

Igor Sikorsky

In the 1930s, the French Louis Bréguet and German Heinrich Focke had made major advances in helicopter design in Europe. A Russian who had emigrated to the United States, Igor Sikorsky, eventually made the most significant advances. Although Sikorsky is not generally credited with inventing any new solutions to the problems of controlling a helicopter in flight, he is widely regarded as the person who improved existing technology and made the helicopter practical and successful.

Sikorsky Aircraft remains the oldest helicopter firm in the world. By the 1930s, Sikorsky was building transport aircraft and flying boats for Pan American Airways. His company, the Sikorsky Aviation Corporation in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Sikorsky became a subsidiary of the giant United Aircraft and Transport Corporation. and his aides occasionally sneaked helicopter models into the company wind tunnel. In 1931, he applied for a patent for a novel helicopter design that used a single main lifting rotor and a small vertical tail rotor to counteract torque.

He later visited Europe to witness the flights of both Focke's Fa-61 and Bréguet's experimental gyroplane.

In 1938, as United Aircraft was closing down Sikorsky's company to cut costs, Sikorsky received permission to expand his helicopter research and to begin work on an experimental vehicle. In spring 1939, he designed the VS-300, which was built that summer. The VS-300 was constructed of an open welded tubular steel frame with three-wheel main landing gear.

A three-bladed rotor with a diameter of 28 feet (8.5 meters) was mounted at the top. A single two-bladed vertical rotor was mounted at the tail. Both rotors were powered by a four-cylinder 75-horsepower (56-kilowatt) Lycoming air-cooled engine connected to the rotors through a truck transmission and a series of pulleys and belts.

The main rotor could increase the pitch of the three blades collectively to change lift. Sikorsky also adopted cyclic control from Cierva's autogyro. Wearing a topcoat and fedora to protect himself from the cold, Sikorsky piloted the VS-300 himself during its first flight on September 14. The craft vibrated excessively, until Sikorsky was a blur at the controls of the skeletal craft.

He lifted the helicopter off the ground and set it down several times. The VS-300 remained tethered to weights on the ground by wires during these early flights. Sikorsky made constant modifications to the craft in an attempt to reduce vibration and increase control.

His mechanics began calling it "Igor's nightmare." By November 1939, the craft was making hops lasting a minute or two, but it was heavily damaged in December when a gust of wind toppled the machine and the rotor blades smashed against the ground.

The machine made its first free flight on May 13, 1940. By this time, Sikorsky had added outriggers at the tail end and two additional tail rotors, and had switched to a more powerful 90-horsepower (67-kilowatt) Franklin engine. By mid-1940, the VS-300 was flying for 15 minutes at a time. In July, Captain Franklin Gregory, the project officer for the budding U.S. Army helicopter program, took the VS-300 for a test flight.

He described the craft as having poor handling capabilities, saying that it flew like a bucking bronco. Gregory was an autogyro pilot, unaccustomed to the helicopter's unusual flight control system, which often required delicate hand movements. The U.S. Army Air Corps was very impressed, however, and awarded a contract to Sikorsky in December 1940 to build an experimental helicopter known as the XR-4, which was to be larger than the VS-300.

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee The World Wide Web (WWW) is so ubiquitous that it seems strange to think that it has only been around for a few years. Indeed, use of the WWW became widespread in the mid 1990's, but its beginnings can actually be traced back to 1980 when Tim Berners-Lee, an Englishman who had recently graduated from Oxford, landed a temporary contract job as a software consultant at CERN ( the famous European Particle physics Laboratory in Geneva). He wrote a program, called Enquire, which he called a "memory substitute," for his personal use to help him remember connections between various people and projects at the lab.

This was a very helpful tool since CERN was (and still is) a large international organization involving a multitude of researchers located around the world. Berners-Lee finished his work at CERN and left, but he returned in 1984 with a more permanent position. His previous work with Enquire had left a mental mark. He envisioned a global information space where information stored on computers everywhere was linked and available to anyone anywhere.

There were two technologies already developed that would allow his vision to become reality. In 1945, Vannevar Bush wrote an article entitled, "As We May Think," in which he described a theoretical system for storing information based on associations. Others like Ted Nelson and Douglas Englebart had furthered Bush's work with their own work on hypertext.

Hypertext allows documents to be published in a nonlinear format. Hypertext links allow the reader to jump instantly from one electronic document to another. Berners-Lee had already used this format when he wrote Enquire. The other technology was the Internet—a computer network of networks.

The Internet is a very general infrastructure that allows computers to link together . It uses standardized protocols (TCP/IP) which let computers of different types using different software communicate. Hypertext would allow any document in the information space to be linked to any other document. The Internet would allow those documents to be transmitted.

At CERN if researchers wanted to share documents they had to organize and format them so that they would be compatible with the main CERN computing system. This was a problem since the researchers contributing to the work going on at CERN were located around the world and used many different kinds of computers and software.

Many researchers were upset and sometimes unwilling to expend the extra effort to make their work conform to the CERN system. Berners-Lee thought, " it would be so much easier if everybody asking me questions all the time could just read my database, and it would be so much nicer if I could find out what these guys are doing by jumping into a similar database of information for them" (Wright, 66). He decided that a simple system with simple rules that would be acceptable to all was needed. The new system would need to be easy and decentralized so that anyone anywhere could share information without having to go to a centralized authority.

Electronic calculator Through the 1970s the hand-held electronic calculator underwent rapid development. The red LED and blue/green vacuum fluorescent displays consumed a lot of power and the calculators either had a short battery life (often measured in hours, so rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries were common) or were large so that they could take larger, higher capacity batteries. In the early 1970s liquid crystal displays (LCDs) were in their infancy and there was a great deal of concern that they only had a short operating lifetime.

Busicom introduced the Busicom LE-120A "HANDY" calculator, the first pocket-sized calculator and the first with an LED display, and announced the Busicom LC with LCD display. However, there were problems with this display and the calculator never went on sale. The first successful calculators with LCDs were manufactured by Rockwell International and sold from 1972 by other companies under such names as: Dataking LC-800, Harden DT/12, Ibico 086, Lloyds 40, Lloyds 100, Prismatic 500 (aka P500), Rapid Data Rapidman 1208LC.

The LCDs were an early form with the numbers appearing as silver against a dark background. To present a high-contrast display these models illuminated the LCD using a filament lamp and solid plastic light guide, which negated the low power consumption of the display. These models appear to have been sold only for a year or two.

A more successful series of calculators using the reflective LCD display was launched in 1972 by Sharp Inc with the Sharp EL-805, which was a slim pocket calculator. This, and another few similar models, used Sharp's "COS" (Crystal on Substrate) technology.

This used a glass-like circuit board which was also an integral part of the LCD. In operation the user looked through this "circuit board" at the numbers being displayed. The "COS" technology may have been too expensive since it was only used in a few models before Sharp reverted to conventional circuit boards, though all the models with the reflective LCD displays are often referred to as "COS". In the mid-1970s the first calculators appeared with the now "normal" LCDs with dark numerals against a grey background, though the early ones often had a yellow filter over them to cut out damaging ultraviolet rays.

The advantage of the LCD is that it is passive and reflects light, which requires much less power than generating light. This led the way to the first credit-card-sized calculators, such as the Casio Mini Card LC-78 of 1978, which could run for months of normal use on button cells.

There were also improvements to the electronics inside the calculators. All of the logic functions of a calculator had been squeezed into the first "Calculator on a chip" integrated circuits in 1971, but this was leading edge technology of the time and yields were low and costs were high. Many calculators continued to use two or more integrated circuits (ICs), especially the scientific and the programmable ones, into the late 1970s. The power consumption of the integrated circuits was also reduced, especially with the introduction of CMOS technology.

Appearing in the Sharp "EL-801" in 1972, the transistors in the logic cells of CMOS ICs only used any appreciable power when they changed state. The LED and VFD displays often required additional driver transistors or ICs, whereas the LCD displays were more amenable to being driven directly by the calculator IC itself. With this low power consumption came the possibility of using solar cells as the power source, realised around 1978 by such calculators as the Royal Solar 1, Sharp EL-8026, and Teal Photon. A pocket calculator for everyone

first calculator invented

At the beginning of the 1970s hand-held electronic calculators were very expensive, costing two or three weeks' wages, and so were a luxury item. The high price was due to their construction requiring many mechanical and electronic components which were expensive to produce, and production runs were not very large. Many companies saw that there were good profits to be made in the calculator business with the margin on these high prices.

However, the cost of calculators fell as components and their production techniques improved, and the effect of economies of scale were felt. By 1976 the cost of the cheapest 4-function pocket calculator had dropped to a few dollars, about one twentieth of the cost five years earlier.

The consequences of this were that the pocket calculator was affordable, and that it was now difficult for the manufacturers to make a profit out of calculators, leading to many companies dropping out of the business or closing down altogether. The companies that survived making calculators tended to be those with high outputs of higher quality calculators, or producing high-specification scientific and programmable calculators.

Even before the Apollo moon landing in 1969, in October 1968 NASA began early studies of space shuttle designs. The early studies were denoted "Phase A", and in June 1970, "Phase B", which were more detailed and specific. In 1969 President Richard M. Nixon formed the Space Task Group, chaired by vice president Spiro T. Agnew.

They evaluated the shuttle studies to date, and recommended a national space strategy including building a space shuttle. During early shuttle development there was great debate about the optimal shuttle design that best balanced capability, development cost and operating cost.

Ultimately the current design was chosen, using a reusable winged orbiter, solid rocket boosters, and expendable external tank.


The Shuttle program was formally launched on January 5, 1972, when President Nixon announced that NASA would proceed with the development of a reusable Space Shuttle system. The final design was less costly to build and less technically ambitious than earlier fully reusable designs. The prime contractor for the program was North American Aviation (later Rockwell International), the same company responsible for the Apollo Command/Service Module.

The contractor for the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters was Morton Thiokol (now part of Alliant Techsystems), for the external tank, Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin), and for the Space shuttle main engines, Rocketdyne. The first complete Orbiter was originally named Constitution, but a massive write-in campaign from fans of the Star Trek television series convinced the White House to change the name to Enterprise.

Amid great fanfare, the Enterprise was rolled out on September 17, 1976, and later conducted a successful series of glide-approach and landing tests that were the first real validation of the design. The first fully functional Shuttle Orbiter was the Columbia, built in Palmdale, California.

It was delivered to Kennedy Space Centre on March 25, 1979, and was first launched on April 12, 1981—the 20th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight—with a crew of two. Challenger was delivered to KSC in July 1982, Discovery in November 1983, and Atlantis in April 1985.

Challenger was destroyed when it disintegrated during ascent on January 28, 1986, with the loss of all seven astronauts on board. Endeavour was built to replace her (using spare parts originally intended for the other Orbiters) and delivered in May 1991; it was launched a year later.

Seventeen years after Challenger, Columbia was lost, with all seven crew members, during re-entry on February 1, 2003, and has not been replaced.

One of the most interesting thing that occurs when you're undertaking historic research are the side stories that seem to come out of nowhere. While researching one particular subject you often run across information that is as interesting or at times even more interesting than what you may have looked for to begin with. If you find yourself researching the history of Los Angeles California, chances are this may happen to you.

What's interesting is a comparison to it's in-state sister city, San Francisco. San Francisco developed for two basic reasons. It is one of the best natural seaports in all of America. Aside from the fact that it's also one of the most scenic areas of the U.S., San Francisco Bay seems made to be a seaport. Upon it's initial discovery by the Spanish explorers, San Francisco Bay was recognized as a strategic coastal port. The other well known reason for it's rapid growth was the California Gold Rush starting in 1849.

This monumental discovery came at a time when the Mexican-American War had ended and the United States was taking over what was then referred to as Alta California. The close proximity of San Francisco to the early gold mine fields just east of Sacramento meant that the city by the bay would become a focal point of growth. Money from the gold mine areas found it's way to the much larger and cultured San Francisco area of the 1850's.

The case with the development of Los Angeles is a different story. For one thing, Los Angeles did not have a natural seaport. The seaport at San Pedro Harbor was a man made creation. Water resources were another big issue and would end up in a series of scandals later on.

Available water is necessary for any city to survive and grow. San Francisco is fortunate to have a nearby water source from the American and Sacramento Rivers to the east. Los Angeles on the other hand was in essentially a desert environment. The enjoyable southern California climate was mild and dry but the water issue would always be a concern.

The Early Los Angeles Pueblo Los Angeles was originally established by the Spaniards in 1781. They thought the area a good place to build a pueblo and establish their presence. The Spanish founding of Los Angeles would also serve as another reminder of their claim to this coastal territory, especially in regards to the British and the Russians who both were active in what is now the northwest United States. Part of the task for the Spaniards was to find settlers. This proved not easy.

What all of us know today as the mild, scenic and beautiful beach locale of southern California was not that way in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds. The area was desolate, remote and to most people unattractive. Just traveling to get there wasn't easy either.

The Spanish of course offered incentives to settlers such as land grants and livestock. It wasn't easy but eventually they found twelve families to settle in the pueblo. As many people know, one of the major undertakings of the Spanish in colonial Alta California as well as in what is now the states of New Mexico and Arizona was the establishment of missions.

The first one was built in San Diego by Fray Junipero Serra in 1629 and eventually reached a total of twenty-one stretching north to Sonoma California just a short distance north of San Francisco Bay. The missions were established to Christianize the native population and to convert them into subjects of the King of Spain.

The history of California and the American southwest included the Spanish being eventually driven out by the Mexican Revolution during the early 1820's and then the Mexican's driven out at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848.

After that the United States took control of the southwest and California with statehood of California enacted in 1850. The Area Grows Rapidly Probably the most significant engine of growth for the Los Angeles area came with the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876. Prior to that the largest transportation line serving the area was the old Butterfield Stage Line. To give you an idea of population trends in the early days, the Los Angeles area had about 1,600 people in 1850 at the time of statehood. About 4,400 in 1860, 5,700 in 1870 and close to 12,000 in 1880.

After that period, growth rose very rapidly. In 1890 the population in the entire Los Angeles metropolitan area was something like 70,000. Certainly the railroad's arrival in 1876 influenced much of the growth. There is a lot of interesting history about how the area was advertised in conjunction with the Southern Pacific to lure settlers to Los Angeles. There is history written that states that the rapid growth of Los Angeles was nothing short of a land speculation campaign promoted by the city fathers. Promoted was the sunshine, mild climate and available land for agriculture.

For people back in the midwest tired of brutal winters and looking for a fresh start, Los Angeles most likely sounded pretty good. On top of that you could travel there on the relatively comfortable and fast Southern Pacific Railroad. What most likely wasn't promoted was the scarcity of water. Regardless, as the population statistics show, the area grew by leaps and bounds.

By the year 1900 there were about 130,000 people residing in the region. Los Angeles saw a doubling of it's population in about ten short years. Struggles and Scandals in the Growing City I found two stories of early 20th century Los Angeles particularly interesting. The first had to do with the bombing of the old Los Angeles Times building in 1910.

I first came across this incident ew years ago when reading the book "American Lightning" by author Howard Blum. The book is a great read and I highly recommend it. It offers an excellent perspective of what was important in early 1900's L.A. The bombing of the L.A. Times was the result of labor strife. From about the 1870's onward, labor strikes and the resulting violence sprang up over much of America. In some of these cases federal troops were ordered in to try and restore peace. Some would go on to accuse the military of acting as strikebreakers.

The Pullman rail car company strike in 1890's Chicago is a good example. Mine workers strikes also occurred in several places at the turn of the century and beyond such as the bloody conflict in Ludlow Colorado between strikers and the Colorado militia. Although far removed from the midwest, Los Angeles was not immune to the labor unrest.

The Los Angeles Times bombing and resultant fire caused the deaths of twenty-one newspaper workers and injured about one-hundred others. Several colorful characters of the time became involved with the subsequent investigation and criminal trial. One in particular was William J. Burns who was hired by the city to find the guilty party or parties. Burns was the founder of the famous William J. Burns International Detective Agency.

Burns and his people worked the case relentlessly. Eventually they traced the bombing to the work of two men associated with the International Association of Bridge and Structural Ironworkers headquartered in Indianapolis. Indicted and returned to Los Angeles were the brothers John and James McNamara. The case eventually became a symbol for the union versus industry struggle of the times.

None other than Clarence Darrow from Chicago headed the defense team. The socialist Eugene Debs weighed in on the case and at one time even suggested that publisher Harrison Gray Otis may have planted the bomb.

Otis was very anti-union and vehemently resisted unionization of the paper for years. You could say that Otis was perhaps one of the biggest anti-union forces of the era. He was quick to react when any union tried to organize in the Los Angeles area. During this time of intense labor unrest and union organizing it was not uncommon for the business industry to hire private detectives to try to infiltrate unions. There was a lot of bad blood on both sides of the labor issue.

Quite interesting about the highly publicized trial was what happened to Clarence Darrow. Hired by the American Federation of Labor to defend the MacNamara Brothers, the AF of L and Darrow tried to make heroes of the MacNamaras. During the trial there was even an attempt by the defense to bribe jurors. In fact, Darrow was placed at the scene of one of the bribe attempts where his investigator actually turned over money to a juror.

After the trial was over in which Darrow convinced the MacNamara brothers to change their plea to guilty to avoid the death sentence, Darrow himself was charged with bribery. His two trials ended with hung juries but he was allowed to go home only if he agreed not to practice law again in California. After this case, because of the bribery charges, Darrow's popularity as a labor attorney ended.

The second interesting story has to do with Los Angeles' need for water. Some refer to this episode as the Los Angeles Water Wars or California Water Wars. For Los Angeles to build a suitable aqueduct system to bring water down to the city it had to acquire land in the Owens Valley. By the year 1905, through aggressive accumulation, the Los Angeles City Water Company had purchased enough land to begin building the city's aqueduct system.

In fact, it was thought that by the year 1890, because of rapid population growth, Los Angeles effectively had tapped most of it's local sources of water and had even then started to acquire land for an aqueduct system. The head of the Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power was an engineer named William Mulholland. Mulholland was appointed to the position by L.A. Mayor Frederick Eaton who served from 1898-1900. He and Mulholland were credited with developing the aqueduct system. Some farmers in the Owens Valley sold out quickly because of the economy. They needed the money.

Others who resisted selling held out. In fact and by 1930 those that did decide to sell received the highest prices for their land. As it turned out, the majority of farmers who did sell sold their property between the years 1905 to 1925 and they accepted much less money for their land than Los Angeles was secretly willing to pay.

By the year 1928, the water diversion for the aqueduct completely drained Owens Lake. The farmers became incensed and their reaction didn't take long to turn violent. The farmers made attempts to dynamite the aqueduct, opened diversion gates and above all kept raising their prices for their land. Armed guards were assigned by the city to patrol the aqueduct.

Regardless of the farmers resistance, the Owens Valley was eventually drained dry and agriculture suffered. The St. Francis Dam was built over the years of 1924-1926 to provide a reservoir. Disaster then struck and everything pretty much ended for William Mulholland when on March 12, 1928, just two years after it's completion, the St. Francis Dam which he had both designed and supervised the construction of, failed just a few hours after he personally drove out and gave it an inspection.

After accepting responsibility for what was the worst civil engineering disaster in the U.S., he resigned his position in March of 1929. It's thought that William Mulholland carried the burden of the St. Francis Dam disaster with him for the remainder of his life. The water from the dam failure sent a wall of water some estimated as 100 feet high down the Santa Clara Valley toward the Pacific Ocean.

The St. Francis Dam disaster was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 450 people including schoolchildren.. An important side note is that Frederick Eaton (the former mayor) acquired land in the mountains on the Owens River which later, prior to the building of the St. Francis Dam, was determined to be an excellent site for a needed reservoir. Eaton held out for an enormous sum of one million dollars and his land was not purchased by the city.

This led to the selection of the site where Mulholland eventually built the St. Francis Dam. Later investigation determined that the St. Francis Dam failure was the result of unknown weak bedrock formations at the site. It's interesting to note that the weak bedrock at the St. Francis site was not noticed by the geologic experts of the era but today is easily ascertained. This is a good example of how geology and engineering has progressed over the past 100 years. By Peter Uzelac.


Just a few words to say thank you, for all the images and text you have kindly sent in, it is very much appreciated, having said that, if an image or some text is copyrighted, and you wish for it to be removed we will remove it A.S.A.P.

© Copyright 2003-2017  PastReunited.com, No animals were harmed in the making of this site although a few contributors were recycled.