This Day in Geek History: August 16
Queen Victoria sends the first official telegraph message across the Atlantic Ocean from London to United States President James Buchanan, in Washington D.C. Transmission of the congratulatory message begins at 10:50am and won’t be completed until 4:30am the next day, taking nearly eighteen hours to reach Newfoundland, Canada. Ninety-nine words, containing five hundred nine letters, is transmitted at a rate of about two minutes per letter. The message is forwarded from Newfoundland via above ground wires, across the Cabot Strait by submarine cable to Aspy Bay in Cape Breton, and across eastern Canada and Maine, via Boston to New York by an overhead wire. A test messages were exchanged for ten days before this inaugural. Due to the weak signal strength of the connection, the service will be shutdown within a few weeks.
The United States Census Bureau announces the results from the latest census, which have been tabulated using the new mechanical punch card Tabulator invented by Herman Hollerith. The machine is capable of processing roughly ten time as much data as a human clerk, drastically reducing the amount of time it required to compile the results of the census. One hundred machines operated by eighty clerks processed about one thousand cards an hour for two and half years to process the census data – four years and five million dollars less than the previous census had required. The final results of the census determine that the population of the U.S. is 62,622,250, a figure far lower than the seventy-five million the public had expected. As a result of the disappointing return, the media will widely disparage Hollerith’s machine.
The loop-de-loop Roller Coaster is patented by Edwin Prescott. Read more about the history of roller coasters.
The first color cartoon with sound, a short film called Fiddlesticks, created by Ub Iwerks, is released. The film debuts the character Flip the Frog, who will become a recurring character in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) films.
John Logie Baird demonstrates his Telechrome color all-electronic television receiver, with a 600-line three-gun tube comprising a fluorescent two-sided mosaic screen in a glass envelope, one side blue-green, the other side orange-red. Images of 600-line definition are triple-interlaced, requiring six scans (fields) to form one frame.
Fiat Motors places an order for the first private atomic reactor.
The San Diego Comic-Con International is held August 16-19. It’s the first time the even it officially called the “San Diego Comic-Con.” In 1970 and 1971, the even had been called the “Golden State Comic Con,” and in 1972, the event was called “San Diego’s West Coast Comic Convention.” It is also the first Comic-Con to last five days or to feature a celebrity brunch.