This Day in Geek History: May 2
The S.S. Columbia becomes the first ship to install lights, using an Edison “A” type dynamo and the first commercial order of Edison lightbulbs. The one hundred fifteen cardboard filament bulbs will be used to light the steamboat’s quarters and salons during its two month voyage from New York CityNew York City to San Francisco, California, which will depart on May 8th.
Cornelius Ehret of Rosemont, Pennsylvania receives a patent for the first radio fax in the U.S. (US No. 789,087) He describes the device as “a system for transmitting intelligence.”
The first U.S. air passenger service is launched. It travels between Britain and France across the English Channel, initially between London and Paris.
Lieutenants Oakley Kelly and John Macready take off on the first the first nonstop coast-to-coast airplane flight from New York to San Diego. After twenty-six hours and fifty minutes, they will complete their flight, landing on May 3rd.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announces that it will allow commercial television stations to air regular schedules beginning July 1, 1941.
W2XWV in New York City becomes the first commercial television station in the U.S. and changes its call sign to WABD. At 9pm, the station broadcasts the thrity-minute program “Your World Tomorrow,” which features news of the wars and entertainment.
Warner Brothers releases the horror film The Curse of Frankenstein, directed by Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Hazel Court, and Robert Urquhart, to UK theaters. It is the first in a series of seven Frankenstein films. Produced on a budget of US$500,000, the film will become a cult classic among horror aficionados. IMDB listing Running Time: 1 hr 23 mins
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) introduces the IBM 604 Model 2 electronic calculating punch.
The Early Bird communications satellite goes into commercial service, transmitting the first transatlantic television program, “Out of this World,” to over three hundred million viewers in nine countries.
Microsoft introduces the Microsoft Mouse for IBM and IBM-compatible personal computers. The device features two buttons and is specifically designed to operate with Microsoft’s new Microsoft Word word processor. Though Microsoft will manufacture nearly one hundred thousand units of the device, the company will only sell five thousand before introducing a second, more popular version of the device in 1985.
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