Little Bits of History

Monkeying Around

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2012

Thomas Huxley

June 30, 1860: Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and biologist Thomas Huxley debate at Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, was published on November 24, 1859. Charles Darwin was aboard HMS Beagle captained by Robert FitzRoy as the ship sailed the world’s seas. Between 1831 and 1835, the ship was used for scientific study around the world. Darwin kept detailed notes throughout the journey. He did not publish his findings immediately upon return, but waited over twenty years and published only when it looked like his theory would be put forth by another scientist.

The idea of evolution, also called common descent and the transmutation of species, had been around since at least the sixth century BC. The first record of the idea was found in the writings of Greek philosopher, Anaximander. It was also touted by other Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Afro-Arabs. Charles Darwin contributed the idea of natural selection as a way for species to advance. Based on the idea of good mutations surviving and passing on the new genetic information, while poor mutations died out, the theory of evolution was gaining popularity.

But the idea was not accepted as credible by a variety of people. Several prominent men of the era met at Oxford to discuss the highly controversial ideas Darwin presented. Bishop Wilberforce was one of the premiere speakers of his time. He was also an Anglican Bishop and completely opposed the ideas set out in Darwin’s book. There is no verbatim account of the debate as carried out on this day. There were speakers, some quite boring, and then there was an exchange of opinions. The reports following the debate are our only records. Huxley was a noted scientist and a supporter of Darwin. Darwin himself was too ill to attend the debate.

During the exchange, in a fit of pique, the Bishop was said to have asked the scientist if it was through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey. Huxley is said to have whispered to a friend, “The Lord hath delivered him into mine hands.” He then replied to the Bishop that he was not ashamed to have a monkey for an ancestor, but would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used his gifts to obscure the truth. While this was supposed to have silenced the Bishop, others mention a speech by Joseph Dalton Hooker, a friend and mentor to Darwin, whose presentation left Wilberforce silent.

Sam was shut up – had not one word to say in reply, and the meeting was dissolved forthwith. – Joseph Hooker, after his speech

Oh no, I would swear he has never read a word of it. – Henry Fawcett, when asked if he believed Wilberforce had read On the Origin of Species

He (Huxley) then got hold of the BP’s assertions and showed how contrary they were to facts, and how he knew nothing about what he had been discoursing on. – Alfred Newton in a letter to his brother concerning the debate

False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness. – Charles Darwin

Also on this day:

What Was That? – In 1908, the Tunguska event occurs.
Tight Rope – In 1859, Charles Blondin crossed the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
Brilliant – In 1905, Einstein published a paper.

Globe Gone

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 29, 2012

Drawing of London’s Globe Theatre

June 29, 1613: London’s Globe Theatre burns to the ground. The theater is associated with William Shakespeare and was built by his playing company in 1599 on Maiden Lane (today called Park Street) in Southwark, London. Lord Chamberlain’s Men was a playing company established around 1594. They performed at The Theatre in Shoreditch until problems with the landlord forced a move to Curtain Theatre close by. The company worked there from 1597 until December 28, 1598 when The Theatre in Shoreditch was dismantled. The beams were transported to Southwark and used in building the new venue, Globe Theatre.

The Globe Theatre was owned by the actors of the troupe, Lord Chamberlain’s Men as well as six other shareholders. Richard and Cuthbert Burbage, brothers, each owned double shares or 25% each. The remaining 50% was divided between John Heminges, Augustine Phillips, Thomas Pope, and Shakespeare. The Burbage family had owned the previous theater dismantled to construct the newer one after a dispute over the land lease where the previous theater was built.

The Globe was a grand building built by Peter Smith. It could hold several thousand people. However, the great building didn’t just host plays, but was also a brothel and a gambling den. Maps of the day clearly show the huge building included in drawings of the area around the Thames River. In an illiterate society, flags placed atop the theater alerted people to what was going on inside. Black flags indicated a tragedy was being performed that day while a white one indicated a comedy and a red flag meant a history was the day’s selection. With the much larger building available, with a greater stage area, more elaborate or sophisticated plays could be offered.

Special effects were the cause of the fire. A canon was fired to herald great entrances. It was loaded with gunpowder and when fired, it lit the thatched roof and the blaze spread, consuming the building. There is no record of casualties. Immediate reconstruction began and the new Globe Theatre opened in 1614, often called Globe 2. It remained open until 1642 when Puritans were able to pull support from the arts, as they might be damaging to the moral and ethical well being of the citizenry. A modern replica of what we assume the theater looked like was built in 1997. Shakespeare’s Globe was built just 750 feet away from where the original stood.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.

But O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes.

Everyone ought to bear patiently the results of his own conduct. – all from William Shakespeare

Also on this day:

I Love You Lighthouse – In 1860, the last stone to the I Love You lighthouse was placed.
Sound Recording – In 1888, a wax cylinder was used to record music.
Pygmy Mammoth – In 1994, the first near-complete pygmy mammoth fossil was found.

Boxed In

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 28, 2012

Dick Turpin boxing

June 28, 1948: Dick Turpin beats Vince Hawkins for the middleweight championship title in Britain. He was the oldest of the three Turpin boxing brothers, although not the most famous. He was the first black man to gain the championship title for Britain and the Commonwealth. He was 27 at the time of the bout. Lionel, his father and a black man from British Guyana, married Beatrice Whitehouse, a white woman from England. Randolph was the most famous of the boxing brothers and another middleweight. Jack was the third brother and a featherweight.

Dick’s first professional fight was held on March 30, 1939 and was against Jimmy Griffiths. Turpin lost on points over ten rounds, but a rematch held on April 17 saw Turpin taking the win. Over the next decade, his win-loss record continued to show far more marks in the win column. In May 1948 he knocked out Richard Bos Murphy in the first round to become the Commonwealth champion. His next bout, on this day, found him squared off against Hawkins at Villa Park in Birmingham. Turpin won on points over fifteen rounds. He now held both titles.

Turpin began boxing in international venues and successfully defended his home titles for the next year. He lost the Commonwealth title in 1949 and the British title in 1950. His fight stats show 104 fights with 77 wins, 33 by knock out and the rest on points. He suffered 20 losses, six draws, and one no contest. He went from boxing to coaching his younger brother, Randy. Dick was almost eight years older than his brother. The younger man began training at the Leamington Boys’ Club, just as all the Turpin brothers had. Randy turned professional in 1946 at the age of eighteen.

Randy went on to become the best Middleweight boxer in Europe in the 1940s and 50s. His brother set up a string of contests for the young fighter. Randy won his first fifteen fights ten of them by knock outs, one TKO and the others on points – before he came to a draw. He went on to meet Sugar Ray Robinson on July 10, 1951 where Randy took the World Middleweight title after a fifteen round fight. Robinson won the title back in September of that year. Randy fought 75 times and won 66 bouts with 45 KO decisions. He lost eight times, five by KO and had 1 draw.

If you screw things up in tennis, it’s 15-love. If you screw up in boxing, it’s your ass. – Randall Tex Cobb

Boxing is the ultimate challenge. There’s nothing that can compare to testing yourself the way you do every time you step in the ring. – Sugar Ray Leonard

A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t. – Jack Dempsey

Attack is only one half of the art of boxing. – Georges Carpentier

Also on this day:

The Kelly Gang – In 1880, Ned Kelly was captured.
Going Home – In 2000, Elián González was sent back to Cuba.
Conformation Dog Show – In 1859, the first show was held.

Helen Keller

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 27, 2012

Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan

June 27, 1880: Helen Keller is born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Helen’s father was the son of former Confederate Captain Arthur H. Keller and Kate Adams Keller. Helen was born at the family plantation, Ivy Green. Her mother was Robert E. Lee’s cousin and the daughter of a Confederate general. Helen was born a healthy baby and remained so until she was 19 months old. She was then struck by a disease described as “an acute congestion of the stomach or brain.” Modern doctors have thought the disease was either scarlet fever or meningitis. Helen was not ill for very long, however, she was left both blind and deaf as a result of the illness.

The toddler was befriended by the cook’s daughter, six-year-old Martha Washington. They communicated using signs and eventually, the two children had over 60 home signs used to converse. This is said to have been crucial to Helen’s ability to later converse with her tutor. The Keller family brought their daughter to Baltimore, after hearing about another blind child being successfully educated. Laura Bridgman had been treated by Dr. J. Julian Chisolm. He consulted with the Kellers and sent them to Alexander Graham Bell who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell sent them to Perkins Institute for the Blind and this is where they were introduced to Anne Sullivan. Sullivan, only twenty years old, was sent to help young Helen.

Anne arrived at Helen’s house in March 1887. She immediately began spelling words into the young girl’s hand. D-o-l-l. She handed the doll to Helen, but the relationship was not clear to the child. The connection between sign and word came when Anne held her hands under water while continually spelling the word. Once the relationship between Anne’s sign against Helen’s palm and the words they represented became clear, Helen was off and running. She began schooling at Perkins in May 1888.

Helen became a successful author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first blind-deaf person to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her life story has been told in the play and movie, The Miracle Worker. Helen was a pacifist, a socialist, and campaigned for women’s suffrage and workers’ rights. She authored 12 books and many articles. While visiting Japan, she was taken with the breed of dog from Akita Prefecture. She was given one to bring home and when it fell ill and died, a second dog was offered. She is credited with bring the peaceful and loyal dogs to America. She died in her sleep in 1968 at the age of 87.

All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

Once I knew only darkness and stillness… my life was without past or future… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living. – all from Helen Keller

Also on this day:

The Oscar of the Children’s Library – In 1922, the Newbery Medal was first awarded.
Collinswood – In 1966, Dark Shadows premiered.
ATM – In 1867. the world’s first ATM was installed.

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CN Tower

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 26, 2012

CN Tower

June 26, 1976: The CN Tower in downtown Ontario opens to the public. Even prior to completion, it was the tallest “free-standing structure on land.” It overtook the Ostankino Tower in Moscow while under construction. The Russian tower, completed in 1967, stands 1,640 feet high. The Canadian tower rises 1,815 feet into the sky. It held the record for 31 years until September 12, 2007 when the Burj Dubai (now called Burj Kahlifa) surpassed it. The CN Tower remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.

The tower was built by Canadian National, a railway company. In 1995 ownership of the tower changed but locals wished to keep the “CN” in the tower’s name. It now stands for Canada’s National Tower. The tower was built by the railroad because the transport company was expanding into TV and radio communications. The idea took hold and became official in 1972, four years after first proposed. In the 1960s and 70s, several skyscrapers were built in Ontario making it difficult to broadcast communication signals effectively. Because of the tall buildings, a tower over 980 feet needed to be built.

Construction began on February 6, 1973 with a huge excavation. A hole 49.2 feet deep at the center was created by removing 56,000 tons of dirt and shale. The base was constructed using 9,156 cubic yards of concrete with 450 tons of rebar and 36 tons of steel cable. In four months, the base was complete. The main support pillar was built using a hydraulically raised platform. Each day, as the concrete set, the hydraulic jacks raised the platform about 20 feet higher. Concrete was poured continuously by a team of 1,532 people who finished on February 22, 1974.

August 1974 saw the beginning of the outer construction the engineering innovations throughout construction were remarkable. The antenna was raised by crane, but during construction the helicopter Sikorsky S-4 Skycrane became available and finished the installation. The tower opened to the public on this day although the official opening was held October 1. More than two million international visitors come yearly to see the tower which cost CND$63 million to build (≈ $228 million today). The tower was designed by John Andrews Architects in conjunction with WZMH Architects.

A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands. – William Lyon Phelps

Be as a tower firmly set; Shakes not its top for any blast that blows. – Dante Alighieri

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility. – Saint Augustine

A tree trunk the size of a man grows from a blade as thin as a hair. A tower nine stories high is built from a small heap of earth. – Lao Tzu

Also on this day:

Helicopters – In 1934, the FW-61 helicopter is flown for the first time.
Cyclone – In 1927, Coney Island opened a new ride.
Pied Piper – In 1284, a piper led 130 children out of Hamelin.

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Lady Doctor Elena

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 25, 2012

Elena Lucrezia Piscopia

June 25, 1678: The first Doctorate of Philosophy to be earned by a woman is awarded to Elena Lucrezia Piscopia. The University of Padua also awarded the 32-year-old the Doctor’s Ring, the Teacher’s Ermine Cape, and the Poet’s Laurel Crown. Dr. Piscopia was born into a noble Italian family in Venice. Her father was the Procurator of San Marco and her mother was also from the upper classes. She was the eldest daughter in her family and by age seven was already being tutored.

She first studied Latin and Greek under distinguished instructors. After mastering these languages, she learned Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Arabic. With seven languages at her disposal, she was given the title “Oraculum Septilingue.” She went on to study mathematics, philosophy, and theology. In 1665 she took the habit of the Benedictine Oblate, however she never became a nun.

Her father wanted her to enter the University of Padua. She excelled in her studies and was granted her PhD in the cathedral of Padua on this day. The University authorities were in attendance as were professors and the lesser faculty. Many of the students also came to witness this event along with a great number of prestigious invited guests from other Italian Universities. Elena spoke for an hour in classical Latin and explained random selections from the works of Aristotle. She was not permitted by the Catholic Church to receive a doctorate in theology. She went on to teach and write a variety of treatises before her death at age 38.

A Doctorate in Philosophy or PhD (sometimes Ph.D.) means teacher of philosophy and is the most advanced degree awarded by universities. The term has grown to include the highest degrees for other disciplines in the sciences and humanities. In the Middle Ages, European universities considered all areas of study outside theology, medicine, and law to be the area of “philosophy” or natural philosophy if it was scientific. The first PhD was awarded in Paris in 1150. Today, the granting of this prestigious degree has a variety of requirements based on both the area of study and the university granting the degree.

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. – Aristotle

Education is that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. – Ambrose Bierce

Life at university, with its intellectual and inconclusive discussions at a postgraduate level is on the whole a bad training for the real world. Only men of very strong character surmount this handicap. – Paul Chambers

The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change. – Carl Rogers

Also on this day:

Great Star of Africa – In 1905, The Cullinan diamond was discovered.
The End – In 1906, a bizarre love triangle ended badly.
Last Stand – In 1876, Custer was defeated at Little Bighorn.

Dance Fever

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 24, 2012

Depiction of St. John’s Dance

June 24, 1374: St. John’s Dance breaks out in Aachen, Germany. Dancing mania, or choreomania, is a social phenomenon. Historically, these outbreaks took place in Europe between the 14th and 18th centuries. However, a similar affliction was noted in Tanzania in 2008 where students simply fainted for no apparent reason. These were similar in nature to the hysterical reactions of the Middle Ages in mainland Europe noted in history. The first noted outbreak was this event in Germany.

Aachen or Aix-la-Chapelle (or Oche or Aken – depending on language) is a spa city in North Rhine-Westphalia. Charlemagne lived there and it was the coronation location for many Kings of Germany. It is located at the westernmost edge of the country, abutting Belgium and the Netherlands. It was and is a place of refinement. During this outbreak of St. John’s Dance, people were dancing in the streets, screaming in pain but unable to stop until they collapsed in a heap from fatigue. They were also plagued by visions or hallucinations. According to the Catholic Church, they were possessed by the devil.

The “disease” spread quickly and people in small towns along the Rhine River were succumbing to an impulse to dance for hours or even days. Within just weeks, the dancing spread to France and the Netherlands. It took months for the epidemic to cease with records showing about 400 men, women, and children were affected with dozens of deaths attributed to it. There is compelling historical evidence attesting to this and later outbreaks of this type of behavior. With more sophisticated science, we may have some insight into what caused these outbreaks.

It is possible that people reached an altered state of consciousness (necessary to allow them to continue to dance with bruised and bleeding feet, or other odd behaviors exhibited in later outbreaks of a similar type). They may have eaten contaminated foods. Ergot can taint flour and cause adverse effects. Also, this was the time of the Black Plague and the Rhine area had suffered a devastating flood earlier in the year with water rising 34 feet. With farmlands unable to produce and people dying of the Plague, there was not only a food shortage, but an atmosphere of despair. With contaminated flour causing a problem with a few people, and a religious belief in the possibility of devil possession, it was possible for the trance to be spread through the power of suggestion.

I have cultivated my hysteria with pleasure and terror. – Charles Baudelaire

Pain is real when you get other people to believe in it. If no one believes in it but you, your pain is madness or hysteria. – Naomi Wolf

Whatever hysteria exists is inflamed by mystery, suspicion and secrecy. Hard and exact facts will cool it. – Elia Kazan

Mass hysteria is never that far beneath the skin, I suppose. A human being is a thinking animal, but crowds don’t seem to be. – Father Marco

Also on this day:

The Cynic – In 1842, Ambrose Bierce was born.
UFO – In 1947, Kenneth Arnold saw something strange in the sky.
Victory Parade – In 1945, a parade was held in Moscow.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 23, 2012

Banff Hot Springs Reserve with the original hotel in foreground

June 23, 1887: The Canadian Parliament passes the Rocky Mountains Park Act. This act established Canada’s first national part, Rocky Mountains Park. It was modeled on the Yellowstone Park Act passed in 1881 by the US. The concept behind the law was to establish a national haven where conservation could be balanced against development interests. The Canadian park was located around a hot springs discovered in a cave of the Rocky Mountains. Railroad men found the springs while tracks were being laid to connect to British Columbia. Several claimants took credit for discovering the hot springs.

In 1885, Minister John A. Macdonald set aside ten square miles at Cave and Basin as a public park known as Banff Hot Springs Reserve. When this act was passed, the park expanded to 260 square miles. The Canadian Pacific Railway built both the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise to attract tourists, aka customers. The luxury vacation spot was a hit with wealthy Europeans. The Alpine Club of Canada formed in 1906 to arrange climbs and camps in the austere setting. In 1911, the area was finally accessible by car, driving in from Calgary. By 1916, bus tours were established.

In 1902 the park once again expanded, this time to 4,402 square miles. However, the area included interrupted the easy flow of the logging industry and by 1911 the area was reduced to 1,800 square miles. It once again grew to 2,586 square miles in 1930 with the passage of the National Parks Act. At that time, the name was also changed to Banff National Park, named for the Canadian Pacific Railway station. The boundaries changed for the last time in 1949 setting aside 2,564 square miles for the park., which is larger than the state of Delaware.

The park is open year round and with the ever changing weather, offers a variety of holiday or entertainment opportunities. The frigid winter months, with only 8-9 hours of daylight per day, give visitors a variety of snow-based entertainment options. There is downhill, cross-country, and touring skiing as well as snowshoeing and ice diving or ice climbing (frozen waterfalls). In the summer months, with up to 16.5 hours of sunlight, a variety of camping and water activities are available. In both season, wildlife is abundant and photographic opportunities abound. And in all seasons, the hot springs await to soothe and refresh the weary traveler.

Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we. – Michel de Montaigne

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. – Aldo Leopold

For 200 years we’ve been conquering Nature. Now we’re beating it to death. – Tom McMillan

You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Also on this day:

Mutiny on the Discovery – In 1611, Henry Hudson’s crew mutinies.
Clackity clack – In 1868, an improved typewriter was patented.
Lorena and John – In 1993, domestic violence made the world headlines.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 22, 2012

Swedish flag

June 22, 1906: Sweden re-adopts their national flag. The flag is a rectangle of blue with a gold cross, offset but reaching to all edges. It is modeled on the Danish flag. Blue and yellow have been used as Swedish colors since King Magnus Birgerson first used them at his court in 1275. He was the first Magnus to rule Sweden and did so from 1275 until his death in 1290. According to mythology, in the 12th century, King Eric the Holy saw a yellow cross in the sky as his troops landed in Finland, on their way to the First Swedish Crusade. He adopted the golden cross on a field of blue, believing it to be a sign from God.

If the mythology is incorrect, it has also been suggested the flag may have been created as a resistance flag against the Danish standard. The Danish flag is red with a white cross. That flag has been in use since at least 1219. It is unknown when the Swedish flag was first used and there are several other starting dates. The 1275 date as discussed, or possibly a combination of that flag and the coat of arms for King Albert of Mecklenburg from 1364. It may have been introduced by King Charles Knutsson in 1442. It varied in design as coats of arms were added or subtracted. The cross was white prior to 1420. King Gustaf Vasa liberated Sweden from Danish rule in 1521 and the cross turned to gold.

There is a second flag – the war flag and naval ensign. It is also blue background with a yellow cross, but it is a triple tailed flag with the top and bottom triangles in blue and the middle tail reaching out in a continuation of the golden cross. On March 7, 1815 Sweden and Norway were united under one flag. In 1844, new flags were designed to give each of the two nations equal status in the union they shared. On this day, the new flag of Sweden was adopted with a lighter blue background than had been previously used.

There are several national flag days in Sweden. New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, May Day, Pentecost, and Christmas Day are holidays in other countries as well, However, Sweden also celebrates National Day of Sweden, Midsummer Day, Election Day to the Riksdag, United Nations Day, Gustavus Adolphus Day, and Alfred Nobel Day. Then there are six days based on the Royal family’s important days. There are two flags in the US modeled after the Swedish flag. The one for Wilmington, Delaware and the one for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Argentine football team’s flag was also based on the Swedish standard.

For you are the makers of the flag and it is well that you glory in the making. – Franklin Knight Lane

I am not the flag: not at all. I am but its shadow. – Franklin Knight Lane

If I fall, pick up the flag, kiss it, and keep on going. – Omar Torrijos Herrera

If you want a symbolic gesture, don’t burn the flag; wash it. – Norman Thomas

Also on this day:

Deke – In 1844, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity is founded.
No Fun – In 1918, the worst circus train wreck took place.
Burn, Baby, Burn – In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 21, 2012

Long-play record albums

June 21, 1948: Columbia Records holds a public demonstration at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City to introduce their new long-play record album. The first sound recorded was done in 1806 by Englishman Thomas Young. He used wax over a rotating drum to record a tuning fork. In 1857 Frenchman Leon Scott de Martinville recorded sounds on a “phonoautograph” but had no way to play the sounds back. Recording of sound was spurred on in America by Alexander Graham Bell. Edison was trying to invent an answering machine when he instead improved the record player in 1877.

Early recordings were made on wax coated cylinders. Charles Tainter made the first lateral-cut record for Volta labs (associated with Bell) in 1881 but there was no way to play them back. Tainter continued to work with Chichester Bell and produced a Graphophone to play their lateral cut cylinders back. Emile Berliner created a seven inch lateral cut disk as well as a Gramophone to play them back in 1888. Columbia Phonograph Co. was founded in 1889. They are the people who found a great way to serve music up, the juke box. By 1890, the longest recordings were lasting four minutes.

Technology continued to expand with the improvements in materials. In 1897, Vulcanite disks replaced Shellac disks (made form a species of beetle). By 1902 the records were reaching ten inches but still had a maximum play time of four minutes. In 1904 someone realized you could flip the record over and have two sides, a popular innovation. In 1925 electrical amplification was used to give a better frequency range for both recording and playback. In 1930 RCA Victor launched the first viable long-play vinyl record on a twelve inch flexible plastic disk, spinning at 33 rpm. It was a failure because there were too few players to use them.

In 1931 stereo sound was produced in both America and Britain. Originally done by using two grooves, the process eventually was able to use a single groove to produce the effect. In 1939 Columbia began using magnetic tapes as well as 78 rpm records. On this day they introduced their vinylite LP 33 rpm microgroove record. These were the first successful album length LPs produced. The format remained the dominant method of recording music until it was overtaken by the Compact Disk in 1988. The latter technology was based on microprocessors and computing advances that took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

America stopped making vinyl and phased out the single but Germany held out and refused. Warner’s never phased out vinyl in Germany. Now America imports it! – Peter Hook

I can assume that the younger generations will no longer know what vinyl was. Maybe some kids will take their CD back to the shop, telling the shop owner they have a faulty disc and if they could please get a new one. – Mike Rutherford

People often forget this – a vinyl album could only contain a maximum of 20 minutes per side! – Ken Hensley

It’s also ironic that in the old days of tape and tape hiss and vinyl records and surface noise, we were always trying to get records louder and louder to overcome that. – T-Bone Burnett

Also on this day:

Job Insecurity – In 1919, the Winnipeg Strike goes horribly wrong.
Manchester Baby – In 1948, the world’s first stored program computer worked.
SpaceShipOne – In 2004, the first privately funded ship makes it into space.