This Day in Geek History: December 1
Construction begins of a working prototype of a phonograph from a set of drawings made by Thomas Edison.
Hans Christian Andersen publishes his first book of fairy tales.
A telephone is first installed in The White House, in Washington D.C., by Alexander Graham Bell himself, for the use of President Rutherford B. Hayes administration. The first call made on the telephone is between Hayes and Bell, thirteen miles away. The first words he speaks into the phone are, “Please speak more slowly.”
This first story to feature the fictional character Sherlock Holmes, “A Study in Scarlet” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual. THowever the detective won’t become popular until London’s Strand Magazine begins publishing Doyle’s shorter stories in 1891.
Danish electrical engineer and inventor Valdemar Poulsen patents the first practical magnetic sound recorder, the Telegrafoon, using magnetized piano wire as a recording medium.
The Edison Manufacturing Company releases the first western film, The Great Train Robbery, directed by Edwin S. Porter and starring Justus D. Barnes and Gilbert M. Anderson. With this short twelve minute film, Porter, a cameraman for Thomas Edison’s fledgling production company, revives interest in motion picture technology and introduces three conventions that will go on to become staples of the of the film industry: the chase scene, film editing, and the Western genre. The Great Train Robbery is the first film to feature a narrative. In a series of fourteen scenes depicting bandits robbing a railway station and paying for their misdeeds, multiple plot lines are developed through a series of cutting and splicing techniques. The film’s first audience reportedly screamed aloud during the scene in which one of the outlaws shoots directly at the camera.
The Ford Motor Company opens the first moving assembly line in Highland Park in Detroit, Michigan. Using the assembly line, the factory is capable of producing a car every two minutes and thirty-eight seconds. The method will become so successful that the Ford will rapidly become the world’s largest car manufacturer.
The first airway traffic control center goes into operation in Newark, New Jersey.
The first U.S. patent for the soiless culture of plants in a large commercial hydroponicum is issued to Ernest Walfrid Brundin and Frank Farrington Lyon. (US No. 2,062,755) The word hydroponics was coined early in the decade by University of California at Los Angeles Professor Gericke to describe growing plants with their roots suspended in water containing mineral nutrients.
The board game Scrabble is copyright registered.
Birmingham, Michigan becomes the second community to be able to dial “nationwide.”
The first remote-control railroad passenger car goes into service.
A camera mounted on the nose of a Thor missile launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida takes the first color picture of Earth from space; however, the data capsule containing the camera won’t be recovered until February 16, 1960 on the beach of Mayaguana Island, in the Bahama Islands.
The Star Trek episode “Friday’s Child” first airs. (No. 40 / 32) In it, the crew of the Enterprise become entangled in a tribal power struggle on a planet where the Klingons are competing against the Federal for mining rights. Memory Alpha entry
Project Gutenberg is launched by Michael S. Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, with the posting of the United States Declaration of Independence using a Xerox Sigma V mainframe computer at his university’s Materials Research Lab. The project is a volunteer effort to digitize culturally-significant books and texts that have passed into public domain. His initial goal is to make the ten thousand most consulted books available to the public at little or no charge, and to do so by the end of the 20th century. Visit the official Project Gutenberg website.
The first commercial interactive television service, QUBE from Warner Communications, is launched in Columbus, Ohio.
International Business Machines (IBM) delivers its first prototype IBM 5150 PC to Microsoft in order for the company to develop an operating system for the system. Paul Allen acquired the rights to the QDOS operating system (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Seattle Computer Products for US$50,000. Microsoft will rename the operating system MS-DOS and licensed it to IBM. The PC will go on to standardized the computer marketplace.
Atari begins producing games for the international marketplace at the company’s facility in Ireland.
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