This Day in Geek History: July 1
After much preparation at home and abroad, the Philadelphia Zoo, the first zoological gardens in the United States opens to the public with several hundred native and exotic specimens on the grounds of Solitude, the last estate in the area owned by the Penn family, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was originally chartered by the Pennsylvania state legislature on March 21, 1859 as the Zoological Society of Philadelphia whose core purpose is to oversee “the purchase and collection of living wild and other animals” and “for the instruction and recreation of the people.” Rumors of a civil war make it a difficult time for private undertakings, and delayed the opening. In 1875, this zoo will become the first U.S. zoo to exhibit a male Indian rhinoceros.
The first international telephone call is made between Calais, Maine in the United States and St. Stephen, New Brunswick in Canada.
The first Linotype machine to be put into commercial use in the U.S. is installed at the Tribune newspaper in New York City. It will be immediately successful. By the end of 1886, a dozen of the machine will be put to use by the Tribune. Within a decade, thousands of Linotype machines will be in use around the world. With a Linotype machine one keyboard operator can cast a line of type at a time, doing the work of the three men required to hand-set the type of other printing presses. It is because the machine sets type one line at a time that Whitelaw Reid, the editor of the New York Tribune, gave the Linotype its name. The machine was invented, patented, and improve by Ottmar Mergenthaler.
Two thousand clerks begin processing the results of the 1890 U.S. Census, using Herman Hollerith’s mechanical Tabulating machine. The 1880 census took nearly eight years to tabulate, resulting in obsolete figures. Due to an explosive immigration rate, it was projected that 1890′s census would take approximately thirteen years to tabulate. So, Hollerith’s machine was commissioned. Use of the machine and punched cards will cut the time required to tabulate the 1890 results down to just one year. The total population of the nation (62,947,714) was tallied in just six weeks, to the astonishment of the nation.
The third revision of U.S. copyright law goes into effect. In this revision the term of statutory protection for a copyrighted work is now measured from the date of the publication of the work, rather than at the time of the creation of the work. Copyright can now be renewed for up to twenty-eight years, twice the previous fourteen year limit.
The first completely automatic bread baking plant in the U.S. is opened by the Ward Baking Company of Chicago, Illinois. Neither the dough nor the bread is touched by a human hand until it exits at the wrapping machine. With several plants, this becomes one of the largest baking companies of the twentieth century. A 1915 publication will describe the Bronx, New York plant’s operation. “Flour was winnowed to remove impurities, piped to huge tanks to be combined with water and other ingredients and allowed to stand for a time to “ripen.” Next, the dough traveled to large mixers, was kneaded, allowed to rise in a huge trough, then mechanically split into loaf pans, conveyed slowly through an oven and wrapped.”
AT&T forms the first U.S. radio network by linking WEAF New York and WMAF in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Communications Act of 1934 becomes law. Approved by President Roosevelt, this Act brings interstate telephone business under the regulation of the Federal Communications Commission rather than the Interstate Commerce Commission. Read the Communications Act of 1934 in PDF format at the FCC website.
The first X-ray photograph of an entire body is taken in a one-second exposure, using ordinary clinical conditions such as would exist at an average hospital, is taken in Rochester, New York by Arthur W. Fuchs of the Eastman Kodak Company. A selective filter is used for the first time, and the film size was 32 inches by 72 inches. It will be exhibited by the Chicago Roentgen Society at the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopts the proposals of the National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) for U.S. monochrome (“black and white”) television with 525 lines, a 4:3 aspect ratio. and 6MHz of channel bandwidth. The FCC also grants the first commercial television licences to ten CBS and NBC stations.
The CBS station in New York changes its call sign to WCBW (later call WCBS-TV) and goes on the air with the first news telecast at 2:30pm
W2XBS New York NY becomes a commercial station, changing its call to WNBT (later WRCA-TV and then WNBC-TV), when it airs the world’s first (legal) television commercial. The commercial air at 1:29:10pm, just before the General Mills-sponsored baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies, which was immediately followed by the “Sunoco Newscast” with Lowell Thomas. The ten second advertisement for Bulova clocks and watches consists of the image of a clock and a map of the United States, with a voice-over that announces, “America runs on Bulova time.” It cost the Woodside-based company less than ten dollars. At 9:15 p.m., “Uncle Jims Question Bee,” hosted by Bill Slater and sponsored by Spry, makes its one-and-only appearance and, at 9:30, Ralph Edwards hosts “Truth Or Consequences,” which is simulcast on radio and TV and is sponsored by Ivory Soap. This is the first game show broadcast on TV.
>>> Blogger’s Note: I can’t find a definitive source for the time of the WNBT baseball game which was proceeded by the first commercial advertisement. It was either 1:29:10pm or 2:29:10pm in its relative time zone.
Columbia Pictures releases the science fiction film Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, also known as Invasion of the Flying Saucers, to theaters. The film is directed by Fred Sears and stars Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor. It is based on the novel Flying Saucers from Outer Space by Donald Kehoe. In the film, “Project Skyhook,” a U.S. effort to launch a dozen satellites, is visited by a flying saucer. A misunderstanding leads to the aliens being fired on, and they respond by immediately attacking in retaliation. The sequence of events quickly spirals out of control and leads to a full scale invasion. Many future science fiction films will pay homage to this film, including Independence Day. IMDB listing Length: 1 hr 23 mins
The eighteen month long global scientific study, the International Geophysical Year (IGY) begins. The study involves twelve nations establishing sixty research stations across the Antarctic. The IGY marks the beginning of international cooperation in Antarctica and the end of the period during which the exchange of scientific data between the East and West broke down due to the Cold War. The IGY will end December 31, 1958.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) links television broadcasting across Canada via microwave. Stretching four thousand miles from Sydney on Cape Breton Island to Victoria on Vancouver Island, it is the longest television network in the world. The seventy mile stretch across the Cabot Strait to Newfoundland will be completed within the next year. The completion of coast-to-coast links across Canada is marked by a special program.
First color television transmission in Canada is broadcast from Toronto.
BBC2 begins broadcasting the first color television transmissions in the UK from six main transmitters. Color programming is limited during this introductory phase and is initially dominated by coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
The British Board of Film Censors introduces (BBFC) a new classification: AA. This rating bars children under the age of fourteen from exhibitions. A, U, and X certificates remain in force, although the age limit for X films is raised from sixteen to eighteen.
The first commercial offering of Picturephone service is introduced in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, or Xerox PARC, officially opens. The center will develop such technologies as Ethernet, graphical user interfaces, laser printing, and more. Visit the official PARC website.
The Sunday Cinema Act comes into effect in the UK, allowing cinemas to open on Sundays under normal licensing conditions.
BASIC officially ships as version 2.0 in both 4K and 8K editions.
FORTRAN-80, Microsoft’s second language product, is released.
Microsoft reorganizes into Microsoft Incorporated, with Bill Gates as President and Chairman, and Paul Allen as Executive Vice President. The company’s initial shareholders are: Bill Gates (53%), Paul Allen (31%), Steve Ballmer (8%), Vern Raburn (4%), Charles Simonyi (1.5%), and Gordon Letwin (1.5%).
Cinematronics releases Dragon’s Lair to arcades. It is the first laser-disc based coin-operated arcade game. Cost per play is fifty cents. Advanced Microcomputer Systems designed the game, with animation provided by Don Bluth Animations. Each machine costs about US$5,500.
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