This Day in Geek History: August 15
Thomas Edison coins the word “Hello” as a greeting as an alternative to the one suggested by inventor Alexander Bell, “Ahoy, Ahoy.” He remarks in a letter to a friend in Pittsburgh, “I don’t think we shall need a call bell as ‘Hello!’ can be heard 10 to 20 feet away. What do you think?”
Henry Ford, age 36, quits his job as the Chief Engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company in order to manage the Detroit Automobile Company, which he founded on August 5th. The company will only ever produce twenty vehicles, but The Detroit Automobile Company will later be reorganized into the Henry Ford Company in November 1901.
The Sinking of the Lusitania, written and directed by Winsor McCay, is released in the U.S. It is the first full-length feature cartoon film, featuring over twenty five thousand individual drawings which took twenty-two months to produce. The twelve minute silent film is a an educational explanation of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. It’s the first of many such films published with the express intent of generating anti-German sentiment during World War I.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) premieres the fantasy film The Wizard of Oz, directed by Victor Fleming, among several other uncredited directors, and starring Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton, at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California. While it isn’t the first film presented in color, it’s the film that brings Technicolor into the mainstream. It will be released nationwide August 25, 1939. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: G)
The Westinghouse Electric Corporation first proposes a television broadcast system employing aircraft called Stratovision, which could relay signals across the United States. According to the proposal, the system, which was to be developed in cooperation with the Glenn L Martin aviation company, would reach seventy-eight percent of the country with fourteen airplanes equipped with transmitters holding at an altitude of thirty thousand feet at a cost of one thousand dollars an hour.
Telephone service is introduced on an experimental basis on moving trains.
The Big Ear radio telescope, operated at Ohio State University by the SETI project, receives a strong seventy-two second narrowband radio signal from deep space. The event is named the “Wow! signal” for the notation made by a volunteer on the record of the signal. It will never be detected again.
Nintendo releases the ground-breaking platform game Metroid for the Nintendo Entertainment System in the U.S. It is the first of what will be a long and popular game franchise for Nintendo. Visit the Metroid franchise’s official website.
Microsoft Windows 95 programmer Benjamin Slivka, who, along with three other programmers, was assigned to research features for the operating system’s successors, sends an email to co-workers suggesting a web browser as a feature. The suggestion will lead to the development of the Microsoft Internet Explorer and the long rivalry with Netscape, which will release its browser only days after Slivka’s message.