This Day in Geek History: July 23
William Austin Burt, a surveyor from Mount Vernon, Michigan, receives a patent for his typographer, the earliest forerunner of the typewriter. (US No. 5581X) Burt’s typographer is a heavy, box-shaped contraption, crafted nearly entirely of wood. The typographer has type mounted on a metal wheel, with a rotating, semicircular frame. By turning a crank, a user is able to move the wheel until it comes to the chosen letter. Then the user pulls a lever, pressing the type against the paper to leave an impression. The device predates the later qwerty keyboard by almost thirty years.
The first telephone and telegraph line in Hawaii is completed.
The first commercial hydroelectric power planet goes into operation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Gottlieb Daimler invents the car. The four wheel vehicle, fashioned from a four seat, horse-drawn carriage, features a steering column and large engine mounted below the back seat. The one-cylinder, 1.1hp engine has a four speed gearbox that turns the back wheels by means of a belt-driven mechanism capable of a maximum speed of 16 km/h.
In Detroit, Ford Motor Company sells its first car, a Model A, to Dr. Ernst Pfenning of Chicago. The Model A features a dual-cylinder internal combustion engine designed and constructed by Henry Ford.
According to some sources, the first ice cream cones are sold at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri by Charles E. Menches.
Lord Irwin sends the first wireless telegram from India to King George V in London.
The Bell X-2 rocket plane sets the world aircraft speed record at 3,050kph.
The first live trans-Atlantic television broadcast is hosted by Walter Cronkite and made via AT&T’s Telstar 1 satellite, which was launched only thirteen prior on July 10. The transmission links London and Paris to the U.S. via satellite for the first time. The link is established at 10:58 BST. Listen to the full broadcast at the NPR website.
At the Vivian Beaumont Theater in the Lincoln Center in New York City, Commodore International unveils the new Commodore Amiga, later re-branded as the Amiga 1000, featuring a 7MHz Motorola 68000 CPU, 256KB RAM, a multitasking “windowing” operating system, color graphics with a 4,096-color palette TV output, stereo sound, and a 880KB 3.5-inch disk drive. The system will be dubbed the “the first multimedia computer” by Byte Magazine. It was designed by Jay Miner, the engineer behind the Atari 800. In a 1994 profile, Byte Magazine will later call the Amiga 1000 “the first multimedia computer.” Price: US$1,295