This Day in Geek History: July 24
Richard M. Hoe of New York City is granted a patent for the rotary printing press, which he describes as an “Improvement in Rotary Printing-Presses.” (US No. 5,199) The revolutionary device, which Hoe invented in 1843 and perfected in 1846, rolls paper on a cylinder over stationary plates of type, rather than maneuvering the heavy type plates themselves, as was the case with the old flat-bed presses. With a flat-bed press, printers were limited to printing just one sheet at a time. With rotary printing, the speed of production is limited only by how fast the large cylinder turned and on how many impression cylinders were fitted around its circumference. (The first rotary press had four.) The device will be called the “Hoe web perfecting press,” the “Hoe lightning press,” or “Hoe’s Cylindrical-Bed Press.”
American Hiram Bingham III re-discovers the Lost City of the Incas, Vilcapampa, which will later be called Machu Picchu, where the last Incan Emperors once found refuge from the conquistadors.
A rocket is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral for the first time. The rocket, “Bumper” No. 8, is a captured German V-2 rocket topped by a seven hundred pound Army-JPL Wac Corporal rocket. The V-2 climbs for for ten miles before separating from the second-stage Corporal, which then travels another fifteen miles. Canaveral will grow from four launch pads and a hand full of buildings to become the heart of U.S. efforts explore space.
Physicist and engineer John Bardeen gives AT&T Bell Laboratories notice that he will be leaving the company where, along with Walter Brattain and William Shockley, he had developed the point-contact transistor. Despite his triumph, Bardeen was unhappy with Shockley, who he believed was limiting his involvement with further refinements to the transistor. Bardeen will go on to take a position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The sound of a human voice is, for the first time ever, transmitted beyond the ionosphere and returned to Earth after being reflected off of the Moon. James H. Trexler, an engineer in the Radio Countermeasures Branch at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), spoke into a microphone at the laboratory’s Stump Neck radio antenna facility in Maryland. Two and a half seconds later, his words returned to him after traveling 500,000 miles. The objective of the Communication Moon Relay project was to explore options for the Navy’s secure global communications technologies that might reduce the chance of ionospheric storms cutting off radio transmissions to the U.S. fleet.