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 mans history, that alone is one amazing fact to share with your children and grand-kids!
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.
I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, put out my hand, and touched the face of God." - John Gillespie Magee,
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.
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
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.
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
It is worth noting that, the Singapore Flyer currently holds the record of being the highest Ferris wheel in the
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 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).
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.
JUST SOME OF THOMAS EDISON’S 1,093 INVENTIONS 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
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.
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 aditional 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.
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
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.
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
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, wirelessly. 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 Jet Engine
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.
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.
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
Stratocaster 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.
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 Computer Many invention ideas
have contributed to the modern computer. As early as the 17th Century, scientists were building machines that could do basic
mathematical equations. Today's computers can do everything from sending us to the moon to beating us at chess. Computers
and computerized appliances have moved from being science fiction to being a necessity of modern life. They continue to be
improved on and made more useful.
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 Airplane In the 19th Century, most people would have considered it impossible that something heavier than air could fly. Yet
every day, large groups of people fly in heavy airplanes for lengths of time up to fifteen hours. Like most new inventions,
the airplane is the culmination of the work of many different inventors and inventions. Sir George Cayley between 1799 and
1809 is credited with being the first to have the idea to hold the wings still and to use propellers for thrusters. The Wright
brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were the first inventors to build a working airplane in 1903.
The Telephone It still isn't completely clear whether Elisha Gray or Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone. The
two inventors applied for patents on the same day. They fought legally over the patent, but Bell ultimately won out. His invention
was inspired by his love of music and financed by his father-in-law who was interested in breaking the monopoly held by the
telegraph company. Bell's famous first words over his first successful telephone were to his assistant. He said, "Watson...come
here...I want to see you."
Automobile The automobile 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 automobile 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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 Charg-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
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 game
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, became a subsidiary of the giant United Aircraft
and Transport Corporation. Sikorsky 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
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 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 (Wright, 64). 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 informationwithout 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.
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
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.
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
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