This Day in Geek History: April 23
The first public school in the United States, the Boston Latin School, is founded.
William Rowan Hamilton presented his Theory of Systems of Rays at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Although he is still only a 21 year-old undergraduate, his work will become one of the important works in optics, providing a single function that unites mathematics, mechanics, and optics. The theory will establish that light is a form of energy that travels in waves.
The Zoetrope is patented by William E. Lincoln of Providence, Rhode Island. (US No. 64,117) The device is the first animated picture machine. It creates the illusion of animation to a sequence of pictures lining the inside wall of a shallow cylinder, with vertical slits between the images, when spun.
The first movie shown to a paying theater audience in the U.S. is presented using Thomas Edison’s Vitascope. The movie features a series of short scenes, and it is featured as part of a series of acts at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall in New York City. The film scenes include a ballet performance, a burlesque boxing match, waves on a sea shore, and a comic allegory, “The Monroe Doctrine,” all of which are projected at about half life size.
In England, King George V broadcasts from the opening of the British Empire Exhibition to a record audience of 10 million people. It’s the most people ever addressed by a head of state in history.
The first leak-proof “sealed in steel” dry cell flashlight battery is patented by Herman Anthony. (US No. 2,198,423) It will later be released by Ray-o-Vac.
The American satellite that will be the first to reach the lunar surface, the Ranger IV, is launched at 3:50pm from Cape Canaveral, Florida. As intended, it will impact on the Moon three days later at 7:50pm on April 26, at a speed of 5,963 MPH. The launch vehicle is an Atlas-Agena B rocket, 102 feet high and 16 feet in diameter at the base.
The National Bureau of Standards retires the Standards Eastern Automatic Computer (SEAC), the first computer to use stored-program and all-diode logic (a technology more reliable than vacuum tubes) in the United States. The SEAC was built in Washington fifteen years earlier for testing components and systems for setting computer standards.
The first Soviet communications satellite, Molniya 1, is launched by the USSR into geostationary orbit. Once established in an orbit, it will be used as a television relay for television signals between Moscow and Vladivostok, a distance of 6,200 miles.
Soyuz 1 is launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov aboard. The following day, Komarov will become the first in-flight casualty in the history of space exploration when the spacecraft crashes due to mechanical problems.
Artificial skin is first transplanted in the U.S. on patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The combination of cowhide, shark cartilage and plastic was developed by Ioannis V. Yannas and a research team at MIT. The material makes it possible to treat burn patients whose injuries might otherwise be fatal.