This Day in Geek History: May 1
Swedish botanist and explorer Carolus Linnaeus publishes the first edition of his two volume work Species Plantarum, in which he systematically names plants. He is the first person to frame principles for defining genera and species of organisms in order to create a uniform system for naming them. Thus, he is often called the father of classification. The Species Plantarum will be adopted by international consent in 1905 as the starting point for modern botanical nomenclature.
Samuel Morse sends the first telegraphic message using a prototype of his electric telegraph system. The message, sent from Baltimore, Maryland to Washington, D.C., delivers news of Henry Clay’s presidential nomination ninety minutes before a railroad locomotive carrying the same message. The line will officially be opened May 24th.
A telegraph register is patented by Samuel F. B. Morse. (US No. 6,420) However, Morse won’t construct the first practical system until 1844.
A horse is reportedly killed by a meteorite near New Concord, Ohio.
Construction begins on the first skyscraper in the U.S. on the corner of Adams and LaSalle in Chicago, Illinois. Once completed, the building will stand ten stories tall, housing the Home Insurance Company of New York. The building’s frame will be constructed of steel in order to bear the weight of the building, rather than the walls themselves supporting the weight. The building was designed by American architect Major William Le Baron Jenney.
Nikola Tesla receives several patents relating to the alternating current (AC) synchronous motor, alternating current (AC) transmission, induction magnetic motor, and an electricity distribution system. (US Nos. 381,968-70; 382,279-82) He will later sell the rights to his rotating field motor to George Westinghouse. The invention is integral to generating and transmitting AC power.
The first successful marine radio navigation beacon in the U.S. goes into service. The beacons are initially called radio fog signals, and they they will be installed in three stations in order to assist ships navigating New York Harbor: the Ambrose Channel Lightship, the Fire Island Lightship, and the Sea Girt Light station.
The name of the dwarf planet Pluto, as decided by the staff of the Lowell Observatory, is officially announced. Venetia Phair, age 11, suggested the name to her grandfather, a librarian named Falconer Madan, who passed the suggestion on to his friend Herbert Hall Turner, a professor of astronomy at the University of Oxford. Madan awarded Phair a five-pound note for the suggestion.
Detective Comics No. 27 hits newstands. In it, DC Comics debuts its second superhero, the Bat-Man (Batman), who will go on to be one of the greatest commercial successes in the comic industry. Batman will be an immediate success among comic audiences. This issue also marks Commissioner Gordon’s first appearance. According to creator Bob Kane, his inspirations for Batman were Superman, Leonardo da Vinci’s design of a bat-like glider, and two films: The Bat Whispers and The Mark of the Zorro.
Electrical Research Products, Inc. (ERPI) changes its name to the Altec Lansing Corporation following the acquisition of the All Technical Service Company and the bankrupt Lansing Manufacturing Company. Visit the official Altec Lansing website.
The RKO Pictures film Citizen Kane, directed by and starring Orson Welles, premieres at the RKO Palace on Broadway in New York City. The film will go on to widely be considered one of the greatest films of all time, both because of the quality of its storytelling and the sheer number of innovations it introduces to the film industry. However, the film initially be a commercial failure, loosing an estimated US$150,000 during the course of its initial theatrical run due to opposition from newspaper magnate Randolph Hearst, whose life the film portrays. Citizen Kane“>IMDB listing