Little Bits of History

September 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 25, 2017

1956: TAT-1 opens for use. TAT-1 or Transatlantic No. 1, was the first submarine transatlantic telephone cable system. The cable ran from Oban, Scotland, to Clarenville, Newfoundland. Between 1955 and 1956, two cables were laid down, one for each direction. Each line could carry 35 simultaneous telephone calls and a 36th line was able to carry up to 22 telegraph lines. The first transatlantic telegraph cable had been laid nearly a century earlier. Finished in 1858, it ran for only a month, but was replaced by a new and improved line in 1866. Radio based transatlantic phone service began in 1927. It was a bit expensive, coasting £9 for three minutes. In the US, it was about $45 for those three minutes or about $615 today. Even at that price, they handled about 300,000 calls per year.

A telephone cable was discussed during that time, but the technology was not yet developed. It would take until the 1940s for the needed components to be available. Coaxial cable had been invented back in 1880 by English engineer Oliver Heaviside. The gutta-percha insulation, a latex based product, was used for the underwater telegraph cables and led to the collapse of the supply through unsustainable harvesting. A new product was needed and it came in the form of polyethylene insulation. This is, today, the most commonly used plastic in the world and was prepared by accident in 1898. It wasn’t industrially practically produced until 1933 and was greatly improved upon by 1939.

While the cable itself was important, more was needed. Reliable vacuum tubes were needed for the submerged repeaters. Transistors were not used in this cable as they were of relatively new construction and their efficacy was uncertain. It was also needed to have a general improvement in the carrier equipment overall. The project got underway when an agreement was struck between the General Post Office of the United Kingdom and the American Telephone and Telegraph company along with the Canadian Overseas Telecommunications Corporation. The share split was for the British to have 40%, the Americans have 50%, and the Canadians to have 10%. The total cost was about £120 million or about £2.35 billion today.

The cables were laid mostly by HMS Monarch and at each end, there had to be systems built to carry messages to and from the transatlantic cables. On this day, 588 London-US calls and 119 London-Canada calls were placed. The original 36 channels were 4 kHz and they were able to increase to 48 channels by narrowing the bandwidth to 3 kHz. Later, three more channels were added by using C Carrier equipment. By 1960, using newer technology, they were up to 72 speech circuits. The cable was so successful that more of cables were laid and TAT-1 was retired in 1978. In 2006, it was recognized as an IEEE Milestone.

Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success. – Paul J. Meyer

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. – Peter Drucker

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. – Buddha

Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language. – Walt Disney



Evil Weed

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 25, 2015
Charles Drysdale

Charles Drysdale

September 25, 1878: Dr. Charles Drysdale writes an article for the London Times. At the time of publication, he was the senior physician at the Metropolitan Free Hospital and already a proponent of the evils of smoking. He estimated that Britons were spending £15 million annually for tobacco products. He had published in Med. Circular fourteen years earlier the deleterious effects tobacco use had in otherwise healthy men. He noted that young men smoking just ¾ ounce daily exhibited jaundice while those smoking just ½ ounce daily had heart palpitations. He wrote Tobacco and the Diseases it Produces in 1875. He also published books about syphilis, the evils of prostitution and was the first president of The Malthusian League and wrote a biography about Thomas Malthus.

Tobacco was discovered and used by natives in the Americas long before any Europeans arrived. The new visitors brought it back to Europe and the use of tobacco spread from there around the world. At high enough doses, tobacco can become hallucinogenic and in these doses it was used by experienced shamans or medicine men. It was also used recreationally and many Eastern North American tribes carried tobacco in large pouches as a trade item and to smoke in pipes. This could be done during a proscribed sacred ceremony or to seal a deal. Children were even permitted to participate. Tobacco was a gift from the Creator and the smoke exhaled could convey one’s thoughts and prayers to heaven.

The Spanish crewman Rodrigo de Jerez is credited with being the first to smoke in Europe. It was not seen as a good omen and he was imprisoned by the Inquisition. Smoking became a more common sight and by 1571, Nicolas Monardes wrote a book about medicinal plants in which he claimed tobacco could cure 36 health problems. King James I of England did not agree and in 1604 wrote A Counterblaste to Tobacco, a diatribe against its use. In the Ottoman Empire where it arrived in the late 16th century, it was first described as a medicine, but it was soon found to cause many health problems, not the least of which was bad breath.

Regardless of the bad press, John Rolfe arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1609 and became the first settler to establish a successful tobacco plantation, at the time referred to as “brown gold”. The tobacco native to the region did not suit British taste and so Rolfe tried a different variety from seeds he had brought back from Bermuda. Tobacco was used as currency by many colonials. His plantation was so successful that in 1620 he was able to ship 40,000 pounds of tobacco to England. The total export of tobacco from Jamestown in 1620 was 119,000 pounds. Not only did the product produce health consequences, but it also increased the use of slave labor used to grow the crop.

The use of tobacco is one of the most evident of all the retrograde influences of our time.  – Charles Drysdale

A custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse. – King James I

Neither do thou lust after that tawny weed tobacco. – Ben Jonson

Under the pressure of the cares and sorrows of our mortal condition, men have at all times, and in all countries, called in some physical aid to their moral consolations — wine, beer, opium, brandy, or tobacco. – Edmund Burke

Also on this day: The Supremes – In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.
Fasssssst – In 1997, a new land speed record was set.
Lots of Water – In 1513, Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean.
Spread the News – In 1690, the American colonies got their first locally printed multi-page newspaper.
Off Course – In 1866, the Alexander Nevsky sunk.

Off Course

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 25, 2014
Alexander Nevsky type ship

Alexander Nevsky type ship

September 25, 1868: The Alexander Nevsky hits a sandbar. The ship was part of the expansion of the Russian Imperial Navy built in response to US naval expansion and Great Britain’s Royal Navy. The ship was designed by Americans and carried American armament. She was a 51-gun screw frigate and one of the two largest ships in the squadron visiting the US in 1863. The squadron stayed in America for seven months even though the country was in the midst of a Civil War. The ships visited Washington, DC and even anchored in the Potomac River. During this time, Alexander Nevsky had some engine trouble and had to return to New York for repairs.

On this day, the ship was sailing back from Greece. The ship had been part of the contingency sent to help George I of Greece celebrate his wedding to Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia which had been held in October 1867. On board the ship was Grand Duke Alexei, son of Tsar Alexander II. The ship was travelling by sail and both the admiral aboard (who had trained the Grand Duke) and the captain had miscalculated the ship’s position due to drift in a storm. The ship struck the sandbar and was in immediate distress. The masts as well as some of the ship’s cannon had to be thrown overboard to keep the ship from immediately capsizing. They fired a gun and fishermen from the small village of Thyboron in Jutland, Denmark, came out and saved all aboard, except for five men who had died trying to reach land via a lifeboat.

The ship eventually sank in 60 feet of water only about 300 feet from the shore of the tiny village. Both the captain and the admiral were court-martialed for their role in the disaster. They were convicted of dereliction of duty. It was then the tsar intervened and granted a pardon to both men since they had been faithfully serving in the navy for many years.

The Grand Duke was 18-years-old at the time of the wreck. He was the fourth son of the tsar and was destined for a naval career. He began his military training at the age of 7. His personal life included an affair and possible unsanctioned marriage to Alexandra Zhukovskaya. Her father was a poet and not an aristocrat which was a problem. She was also the illegitimate child of the poet, which made matters worse. She and the Grand Duke had a son in 1871. The tsar refused to acknowledge the child and refused to grant any title to the mother, which would have given their son some standing. In 1883, Alexander III (the Grand Duke’s brother) finally gave a title to the now teenaged boy.

I’d much rather be a woman than a man. Women can cry, they can wear cute clothes, and they’re the first to be rescued off sinking ships. – Gilda Radner

Often undecided whether to desert a sinking ship for one that might not float, he would make up his mind to sit on the wharf for a day. – Max Aitken

It sounds mercenary and it smacks of rats leaving the sinking ship. But get real, when everyone is bailing out, you don’t want to be the last man standing. – Robbie Fowler

His style has the desperate jauntiness of an orchestra fiddling away for dear life on a sinking ship. – Edmund Wilson

Also on this day: The Supremes – In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.
Fasssssst – In 1997, a new land speed record was set.
Lots of Water – In 1513, Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean.
Spread the News – In 1690, the American colonies got their first locally printed multi-page newspaper.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 25, 2013
Thrust SSC

Thrust SSC

September 25, 1997: A new land speed record is made. A land speed record is the fastest speed achieved by a wheeled vehicle on land, as opposed to speeds in the air or on water. The first regulators for measuring and validation were the Automobile Club de France beginning in 1902. By 1924, with a variety of standards causing confusion, a new group – AIACR – set up standards and rules for all. The AIACR changed their name to FIA in 1947. The fastest vehicles were trains for many years.

On April 29, 1899 Camille Jenatzy of France topped the 100 km/h bar at 65.79 mph or 105.88 km/h. The first to surpass 100 mph was Louis Rigolly of Belgium who raced to 103.56 mph (166.66 km/h) in 1904. The last speed record on a beach reached 276.71 mph (445.32 km/h) on March 7, 1935 when Malcolm Campbell of Great Britain was racing his Campbell-Railton Blue Bird at Daytona Beach, Florida.

Speed trials moved from the beach to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US. From 1963 on, the speed records have been set by jet and rocket propulsion vehicles. Since jet engines don’t drive axels, the FIA did not sanction the early speed records for these types of cars. A new category was added for non-wheel-driven vehicles. Speeds approached and then topped the 400 mph (640 km/h) mark. Breaking the sound barrier (outracing the speed at which sound waves move) was officially broken by Chuck Yeager on October 14, 1947 when he flew his X-1 aircraft fast enough. On this date, Andy Green broke the sound barrier on land when he drove his Thrust SSC over Black Rock Desert at 714.44 mph (1,149.30 km/h).

The Thrust SSC (SuperSonic Car) is British in design. The jet propelled car was designed by Richard Nobel, Glynne Bowsher, Ron Ayers, and Jeremy Bliss. It is powered by two Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines. The car was driven by RAF Wing Commander Andy Green. The car was once again raced on October 15, 1997, 50 years and 1 day after Yeager’s record flight. This time the speed reached was 763.035 mph (1,227.99 km/h) making it the first supersonic land record. Green reached Mach 1.016 speeds. Green and Nobel are working together with Bloodhound SSC and hope to break the 1000 mph limit.

“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Speed provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.” – Aldous Huxley

“Every car has a lot of speed in it. The trick is getting the speed out of it.” – A J Foyt

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Bonneville Salt Flats are located in Tooele County in Utah and is one of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake. Geologist Grove Karl Gilbert named the area after Benjamin Bonneville, a US Army officer and explorer who mapped the region in the 1830s. It was first used as a raceway in 1907 when Bill Rishel and two others raced a Pierce-Arrow across the flats. A railway first crossed the flats in 1910. The first land speed record was set there in 1914 by Teddy Tetzlaff who drove a 300 HP Benz at 142.8 mph (229.8 km/h). The salt makes a somewhat slick surface and cars start out slower on the flats, therefore no 0-60 records are broken here. There are two to three tracks for racers to run and reach their high speeds. However the flats are shrinking. The salt is being used for other purposes and once covered 90.000 acres but today is down to an area of about 30,000 acres.

Also on this day: The Supremes – In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.
Lots of Water – In 1513, Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean.
Spread the News – In 1690, the American colonies got their first locally printed multi-page newspaper.

Spread the News

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 25, 2012

Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick

September 25, 1690: Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick is published in Boston. It was the first multi-page newspaper published in the Americas. Printed by Richard Pierce and edited by Benjamin Harris, it consisted of four 6 x 10 inch pages (only filling three of them). The plan was to publish monthly unless “any Glut of Occurrences happen” and then it would print an extra edition. Harris had previously published a paper in London and was experienced in the venture. However, even though many Occurrences did happen, a second issue was never printed. The Governor and Council shut down this first newspaper on September 29, 1690 – just four days after the first print.

Before this burst of journalistic expression, printed news was available to the literate residents of the colonies in the form of a broadside. This is a large sheet of paper printed only on one side and publicly displayed. They were akin to a poster and could contain information about events, proclamations of news, or simple advertisements. They were temporary and after the information was disseminated, they would be taken down and discarded. Some literary broadsides might contain a poem and be elaborately decorated and suitable for framing. Broadsides were the most common form of printing between the 16th and 19th centuries, especially in Britain, Ireland, and North America. On July 4, 1776, John Dunlap of Philadelphia printed 200 copies of a proclamation to be posted – The US Declaration of Independence.

Newspapers are scheduled printings available to the public, covering news and events that are current and yet cover a wide range of topics. All four criteria must be met. They are an outgrowth, improvement, or upgrade to posters of earlier times and places. Ancient China, Rome, and Greece all used methods of posted writing to get the news out. The invention of the printing press in the west had two major influences. First, it made copies of print material easier and cheaper to create. Second, because the written word was cheaper, more people learned to read. A literate society is needed before selling newspapers can be profitable. German newspapers were the first on the scene from as early as the 16th century.

News of newspapers spread across the continent and soon became quite popular in a variety of languages. In the colonies, it took another 14 years before a newspaper was given the green light. In 1704, the weekly The Boston News-Letter began. Printing on cheap paper has made it possible for many readers to keep up-to-date. In 2007 there were 6,580 daily newspapers. The worldwide recession of 2008 and the proliferation of web-based alternatives have changed that. The 395 million copies a day have steadily declined. With dropping sales, ad revenue had decreased and many papers have gone out of business.

Whereas some have lately presumed to Print and Disperse a Pamphlet, Entitled, Publick Occurrences, both Forreign and Domestick: Boston, Thursday, Septemb. 25th, 1690.

Without the least Privity and Countenace of Authority. The Governour and Council having had the perusal of said Pamphlet, and finding that therein contained Reflections of a very high nature:

As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports, do hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet, and Order that the same be Suppressed and called in;

Strickly forbidden any person or persons for the future to Set forth any thing in Print without License first obtained from those that are or shall be appointed by the Government to grant the same. – the order to quit publication

Also on this day:

The Supremes – In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.
Fasssssst – In 1997, a new land speed record was set.
Lots of Water – In 1513, Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean.

The Supremes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 27, 2010

Sandra Day O'Connor

September 25, 1981: The 102nd Associate Justice is sworn in to the Supreme Court of the United States and Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first woman to hold the post. Women were granted the right to vote by the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. It was proposed on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920, ten years before O’Connor was born.

O’Connor sat on the bench for nearly a quarter of a century, retiring on January 31, 2006. She was a moderate conservative and often cast the deciding vote in some of the most highly debated issues of the times. She was said by some to be the most powerful woman in America.

She obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford University. She married in 1952 and has three sons. She served in various courts both as attorney and as judge prior to her nomination by President Ronald Reagan to the highest court.

Her time on the bench is difficult to define. She tested each case on an individual basis and strove to come to a practical conclusion. Over the decades, she tended to return power to individual states rather than keep power isolated at a national level. The Court is becoming more multi-cultural with Clarence Thomas being the first African-American Justice. And even though Justice O’Connor has retired, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is still on the bench.

“The more education a woman has, the wider the gap between men’s and women’s earnings for the same work.”

“A moment of silence is not inherently religious.”

“It is a measure of the framers’ fear that a passing majority might find it expedient to compromise 4th Amendment values that these values were embodied in the Constitution itself.” (4th Amendment deals with unreasonable searches)

“We pay a price when we deprive children of the exposure to the values, principles, and education they need to make them good citizens.”

“Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.” – all from Sandra Day O’Connor

Also on this day, in 1997 Andy Green set a land speed record of 714.44 mph.