This Day in Geek History: April 6
The first know record of a total solar eclipse is made by the Greeks.
The American Chemical Society is founded by a group of thirty-five chemists who meet at the University Building of New York University. Visit the official American Chemical Society website.
George Eastman releases the first Kodak Camera to stores.
Humorous Phases of Funny Faces by J. Stuart Blackton becomes the first animated film (cartoon) to be copyrighted in the U.S. Despite the film’s rough use of simple animated chalkboard drawings, the film is a technologically revolutionary achievement. Watch Humorous Phases of Funny Faces in your browser at Wikipedia. Read more about the history of Animation at Animated Divots. IMDB listing Running Time: 3 mins
A team lead by Robert E. Peary and Matthew A. Henson become the first men to reach the North Pole. Arctic explorer Frederick A. Cook claims to have discovered the North Pole a year earlier, but the assertion will later be disproved.
During a flight between London and Paris, Imperial Airways becomes the first airline to screen a film for passengers. The first film shown is First National’s classic silent film, Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, a recent release. Because film stock is extremely flammable, fitting the converted twelve-passenger Handley-Page O 400 WWI bomber with a movie screen poses a significant danger, especially given the plane’s wood frame and fabric hull. IMDB listing
The De Forest Radio Corporation’s experimental television station W2XCD in Passaic, New Jersey, which was the first television station to transmit to private homes, broadcasts the first full-length feature film to ever be shown on television, The Police Patrol (made in 1925), in six daily installments.
The Little Orphan Annie radio series premieres on WGN in Chicago, sponsored by Ovaltine. The show will eventually graduate to a national audience on the NBC Blue Network. The fifteen minute episodes air six days a week at 5:45pm. It will grow in popularity until October 30, 1936, when Shirley Bell Cole, who played the part of Annie, will quit the show over a contract dispute.
Universal Pictures releases the first of thirteen episodes of the science fiction serial Flash Gordon. “The Planet of Peril,” directed by Frederick Stephani and starring Buster Crabbe, Jean Rogers, Charles Middleton, Priscilla Lawson, and Frank Shannon, to U.S. theaters. The serial was produced on a budget of US$350,000. IMDB listing Running Time: 4 hrs 5 mins
Du Pont researcher Roy J. Plunkett and technician Jack Rebok accidentally discovered the chemical compound polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which will later be marketed under the Teflon brand name. Plunkett and Rebok are researching chemical reactions of the gas perfluoroethylene in an attempt to create a new refrigerant when Rebok discovers an apparently defective cylinder of this gas, in which no pressure remained, even though the cyclinder weighs as much as the full cylinders. Rebok suggests sawing open th cylinder to investigate. Inside the cylinder, they discover a slippery white powder with unusual chemical properties, PTFE. It’s an exceptional solid lubricant with a very high melting point. The pair quickly realized that it was formed by an unexpected polymerization. Visit the official Teflon website.
Universal Pictures releases the science fiction comedy film Abbott and Costello Go To Mars, directed by Charles Lamont and starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Mari Blanchard, and Dudley Dickerson, is released to U.S. theaters. The film was produced on a budget of US$762,000. IMDB listing Running Time: 1 hr 17 mins
The first TV Dinner is released by Swanson & Sons. The first TV dinner consists of a Thanksgiving meal of turkey, stuffing, peas and sweet potatoes packaged in a segmented aluminum tray which could be heated directly from the box. The concept will prove to be an instant hit and Swanson’s will sell ten million TV dinners in the first year of production alone.
Visit the official Swanson TV Dinner website.