This Day in Geek History: October 1
Maria Mitchell becomes the first female astronomer in the United States to discover a comet. From her homemade observatory in Nantucket, Massachusetts, she discovered a star five degrees above the North Star where one hadn’t been previously located. After several nights of observation, she realized that the light was moving, and theorized that it must be a comet. For her discovery, she will be awarded a gold medal by the king of Denmark. She will also become the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Austria issues the world’s first postcards.
Emma M. Nutt begins work Telephone Dispatch Company in Boston, Massachusetts, becoming the nation’s first female telephone operator. Nutt, who would remain an operate for thirty-three year, was hired in the hope of addressing customer complaints that many of the male operators were rude and surly.
In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Edison Lamp Works, the first electric lamp factory, produces its first commercial electric light bulbs. Opened by Thomas Edison, the factory will produce more than 130,000 bulbs by the time the plant is relocated to Harrison, New Jersey on April 1, 1882.
The Ford Motor Company introduces the Model T, better known as the “tin Lizzy,” in America. The Ford Model T is the first car to be made on an assembly line, an it will become an instant sensation. It will initially be sold for US$850, but as production volumes rise, the price of the vehicles will decline by controlling the necessary raw materials and innovating new mass production techniques. By 1925, a Coupe will sell for US$525 new, while a two-door Runabout went for only US$260. Before long, the car will be transformed from a toy of the rich to an everyday necessity. By the time the model will be discontinued in 1927, over fifteen million will have been produced.