This Day in Geek History: May 21
The New York Times publishes a proposal for a “travelling sidewalk” to accommodate pedestrian traffic along Broadway in New York City. The proposed transport system consists of two sidewalks, one running in each direction at a speed of nineteen miles an hour. The design will never be implemented, but in 1893, a moving sidewalk of similar design will be built for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The later design will feature four sidewalks, two running in each direction at speeds of 3mph and 6mph, to make it easier for pedestrians to board.
A demonstration of a mobile telephone system for trains is given at the Pennsylvania Railroad Company manufacturing facility at employees of Alexander Graham Bell.
The Spirit of St. Louis, the plane of Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, France, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Read more at Charleslindbergh.com.
International Business Machines (IBM) announces the IBM 701, also known as the Defense Calculator, in a move intended to emphasizes the company’s commitment to innovation in the field of electronic computing. The IBM 701 is the company’s first computer designed for scientific computations. It has an electrostatic storage tube memory and stores information on magnetic tape. The company will eventually sell nineteen of the machines to the government, large companies, and universities for complex research. Visit the official IBM website.
In the Pacific Ocean, Bikini Atoll is all but obliterated by the first airborne detonation of a hydrogen bomb.
Universal Studios releases the film Touch of Evil, directed by Orson Welles and starring Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, and Janet Leigh, is released to U.S. theaters. It will later be considered one of the last examples of classic film noir from the genre’s classic era. IMDB listing
A British patent application entitled “A Computer Arranged for the Automatic Solution of Linear Programming Problems” is filed by the British Petroleum Company. The invention is concerned with efficient memory management for the simplex algorithm with only software. It is one of the very first software patents. Read more at the European Patent Office.
The first nuclear-powered lighthouse goes into operation in Chesapeake Bay.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer releases the science fiction B-movie The Green Slime is released to U.S. theaters. In it, a group of astronauts set out to stop a giant asteroid on a collision course with the planet Earth, and while they are successful, one of the scientists unwittingly brings a luminous-green substance back with him. The substance soon mutates into horrendous monsters with the ability to shooter bolts of electricity. The crew fends off the alien, which swiftly begins to multiply, only to discover that the creatures feed off their weapons’ energy. As the creatures overrun the station, the crew continues to fight back against overwhelming odds. IMDB listing