This Day in Geek History: June 16
This is generally acknowledged as the date on which the Vandal army sacked Rome.
The first practical pendulum clock is patented by Christiaan Huygens. Huygens’ works towards building an accurate time-keeping device to assist in his astronomical observations.
The first commercially successful gravity-powered American roller coaster goes into operation at Coney Island, New York. Park guests can ride a train with seats facing sideways that rolls over undulating tracks on top of a wooden structure six hundred feet long at a top speed of 6 mph. The train begins its circuit at a height of 50 feet at one end and is pulled downhill by gravity until its momentum dies. Passengers then disembark and the train is pushed by attendants over a switch to a higher level. The passengers then return to their seats to ride back to the original starting point. Admission on the Thompson Switchback Railway is five cents, and it will gross an average of US$600 a day.
After allegedly working for five days and nights without rest, work, Thomas Edison and his associates finish a prototype of an improved Phonograph. The new Phonograph features an electric motor and uses wax cylinders like the graphophone invented by Chichester Bell and Charles S. Tainter. The completion of the device is commemorated by one of the most famous photographs ever associated with spirit of innovation.
Henry Ford incorporates the Ford Motor Company with ten investors and US$28,000 in capital. The company will begin building automobiles on Mack Avenue in Detroit, Michigan in a converted factory that formerly produced wagons.
Pepsi is registered as a trademark with the U.S. Patent Office by Pepsi-Cola Co. Pharmacist Caleb D. Bradham created the soft drink to boost his store’s business in the summer of 1898 with carbonated water, sugar, vanilla, oils, pepsin, and kola nut extract. Customers of his New Bern, North Carolina pharmacy originally called it Brad’s Drink, but as the drink grew in popularity, Bradham changed the name to Pepsi-Cola to emphasize its pepsin and kola nut ingredients, stressing their supposed health benefits.
Henry A. Berliner demonstrates the first helicopter prototype, a war-surplus Nieuport 23 fighter fitted with a rotor, for representatives of the U.S. Bureau of Aeronautics in College Park, Maryland.
The U.S. Census Bureau dedicates the first UNIVAC computer, and runs afoul of its first programming error. Once the bugs are corrected, the UNIVAC I will become the first commercial computer to come to be widely known to the public. Remington Rand will eventually sell the department forty-six machines at a price of more than one million dollars each.
Just days before he was to be married, George Reeves, who played Superman in the 1951 film Superman and the Mole Men and the television series Adventures of Superman, is found dead of a gunshot wound in his home with his Luger nearby. The death will later be ruled a suicide, but the incident will long be surrounded by other theories. The incident will become a series of tragedies that will become known as the Superman curse.