This Day in Geek History: April 14
The word “telescope” is first used in public by Prince Federico Cesi at a banquet held by the pioneer scientific society, the Accademia dei Lincei, (literally the “Academy of the Lynxes”), which he founded. The banquet is held in honor of Galileo. After Galileo shows the guests the satellites of Jupiter, other celestial bodies, and even an inscription on a building three miles away. Although the name is announced by Cesi to christen Galileo’s instrument, the word telescopio (Italian) may have been devised by a Greek poet-theologian, who happened to be present, from the Greek words tele (far) and scopeo (see). In 1625, another Lincean, Giovanni Faber of Bamberg will coin the word “microscope”.
American lexicographer Noah Webster copyrights and publishes the first edition of his dictionary “American Dictionary of the English Language.” Browse Webster’s original dictionary at Project Gutenberg. Read more about Webster at the official Merriam-Webster website.
The first Pony Express rider arrives in San Francisco, carrying mail from St. Joseph, Missouri. Read more about the Pony Express at the Gold Rush Chronicles.
The first U.S. patent for a continuous-roll printing press is issued to William Bullock. (US No. 38,200) Two years later, the machine will be the first press built to use special curved stereo-type plates. It is first used by the New York Sun.
The Holland Brothers’ Kinetoscope Parlor opens near Times Square in a former shoe store at 115 Broadway, New York, with ten peepshow Kinetoscopes showing either of two of Edison’s five films for twenty-five cents. The opening is Thomas Edison’s first public demonstration of his Kinetoscope. Each Kinetoscope is a motorized film loop threaded around a number of rollers encased in a wooden cabinet that could be viewed through a magnifying glass. Thomas Edison invented these early motion picture machines to do “for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear.” The first day’s gross sales are US$120.
Lee De Forest premieres the first sound-on-film to a paid audience. The selection of short musical films implement a technology called Phonofilm. The premiere is held at the Rialto Theater in New York.
The RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg four days into its maiden voyage, and over 1,500 passengers drown when the ship sinks early the next morning. The Marconi wireless equipment on board is used to call for help, effectively reducing the loss in life. Lord Samuel, the British Postmaster General at the time, later states that, “Those who have been saved have been saved through one man, Mr. Marconi and his wonderful invention.”
The news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic is broadcast in seventy-two hours of continuous Morse code radio signals. U.S. President Taft issues an executive order to close all other radio communications during the event. David Sarnoff, age 17, is among the telegraph operators who follow events. He picked the distress call of the Titanic relayed from ships at sea: “S.S. Titanic ran into iceberg, sinking fast.” Sarnoff, a telegraph operator managing a powerful Marconi radio telegraph station on top of Wannamaker’s department store in New York, will stay at his post for 72 hours, receiving and transmitting the first authentic information about the disaster. He relays the names of the rescued from the Carpathia telegraph operator to newsmen and frantic family members. Sarnoff will go on to become a pioneer in radio and television broadcasting, later founding the NBC network in 1926, creating an experimental television station for NBC in 1928, and becoming president of RCA.
The first Egyptian talkie, Onchoudet et Fouad, directed by Mario Volpi, premiere.