This Day in Geek History: August 24
Johannes Gutenberg finishes printing what will later be known as the Gutenberg Bible, marking the beginning of “Gutenberg Revolution.” Though it isn’t the first book printed on his new movable type printing press, it is the first major literary work Gutenberg has produced, and it will be the work for which he is later remembered.
In the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius erupts, killing roughly 16,000 to 20,000 people and burying the cities of Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Stabiae beneath ash and magma. Pliny the Elder, one of Rome’s greatest scientists, dies in the incident.
The printing of the Gutenberg Bible is completed. Although it is not the first book to be printed by Gutenberg’s new movable type system, it will be the work for which Gutenberg will be remembered, it will mark the advent of the “Gutenberg Revolution” and the “Age of the Printed Book.”
Charles Darwin is invited to travel aboard the HMS Beagle by English botanist John Henslow.
The first potato chips are prepared by Chef George Crum, an American Indian, at Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs, New York. According to later accounts, railroad magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt was dining at the resteraunt, but he sent his fried potatoes back to the kitchen, complaining that they were “too thick.” The chef, George Crum retaliated by slicing paper thin strips of potatoes and frying them to a crisp. Vanderbilt loved these “Saratoga Chips,” and they became an immediate success.
The first U.S. patent for a waffle iron is issued to Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York. (US No. 94,093)
Thomas Edison and W.K. Laurie Dickson apply for two patents on for a “Kinetographic Camera,” which will come to be known as the Kinetoscope, the first motion picture camera. They also apply for a patent for a film projector, which they describe as an “Apparatus for Exhibiting Photographs of Moving Objects.” Oddly enough, a patent won’t be filed for film for another six years.
The Bréguet-Richet Gyroplane No. 1 makes what is generally accepted as the first vertical flight, hovering about two feet (0.6m) off the ground for about one minute, powered by a 45hp engine. It was built by Louis and Jacques Bréguet with assistance from Professor Charles Richet. It lacks stability or even any control system, and it takes four men to steady the craft as it hovers.