This Day in Geek History: October 3
John S. Thurman of St. Louis, Missouri patents the motor-driven vacuum cleaner as a “pneumatic carpet renovator.” (US No. 634,042) He offers the services of his gasoline-powered vacuum from a horse-drawn wagon at US$4 per visit in St. Louis, but by 1906, Thurman will begin offering built-in central vacuum systems.
In Berlin, the second international conference on wireless telegraphy adopts SOS as the international distress signal to replace the previous CQD call sign.
A photo is sent via facsimile over public telephone lines for the first time. Th image is sent between 1519 Connecticut Ave and the U.S. Navy Radio Staion NOF at Anacostia in Washington D.C.
An A4-rocket (a modified V-2) developed under the direction of Werner von Braun is successfully launched from the Test Stand VII in Peenemünde, Germany. The 13-ton, 46-foot long V2 rocket flies perfectly over the course of 118 miles to an altitude of 53 miles (85km), becoming the first man-made object to reach space.
At the California Institute of Technology, the world’s first two hundred inch diameter telescope lens, created for the Mount Palomar Observatory is finally completed after eleven years of grinding and polishing. The lens is the first of its size ever manufactured in the U.S. It began as twenty tons of glass heated to 2,700º Fahrenheit and cast in a ceramic mold on December 2, 1934. The lens will later be mounted in the Hale Telescope, named for the late Dr. George E. Hale.
The U.S. Patent Office issues a patent for the transistor entitled “Three-Electrode Circuit Element Utilizing Semiconductive Materials” to AT&T Bell Laboratories researchers John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley. (US No. 2,524,035) The transistor had begun a revolution in the computer industry that lead to integrated circuits, microprocessors, and semiconductors.
The first video recording captured on magnetic tape is shot in Los Angeles, California.
The United Kingdom successfully tests its first atomic bomb, “Hurricane,” four hundred yards off the coast of the Monte Bello Islands off the Australian coast, becoming the world’s third nuclear power. In order to test the potential threat of a bomb smuggled in a ship, the bomb was detonated inside the hull of the frigate HMS Plym. Despite the explosion beginning in a ship and nine feet below the water line, the explosion created a crater twenty feet deep and a thousand feet across. In 1998, a visit to the islands will be limited to just an hour due to radiation that still lingers from the test.
Judge Clayton W. Horn rules that the poem “Howl and Other Poems” by Allen Ginsberg does not meet the criteria for obscenity. The ruling comes in a case brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the operator of City Lights Bookstore, the poem’s publisher largely due to the line “who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy.” The ruling will become one of the most prominent victories against censorship, and the poem will go one to become the most iconic poem of the “Beat Generation.”
The X-15 rocket plane achieves a world record speed of Mach 6.7, or about 4,520 mph, piloted by U.S. Air Force pilot Pete Knight. The internal structure of the X-15 is titanium with a skin of Inconel X, a chrome-nickel alloy. It reaches an altitude of 192,100 feet (58,552km).