technology

A Wire to Connect the World – Stephen Gray’s Discovery

A Wire to Connect the World – Stephen Gray’s Discovery

Today for us it’s pretty normal that electricity can be transmitted on a wire, because it’s part of our daily life. But, in the early 18th century, when the English nature-scientist Stephen Gray was able to show that electricity really can be transmitted on a string of copper, it was an unheard-of revelation. Stephen Gray Background Stephen Gray was born in Canterbury, Kent, the son of the dyer Mathias Gray, baptized on…
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Joseph Marie Jacquard and the Programmable Loom

Joseph Marie Jacquard and the Programmable Loom

On July 7, 1752, French weaver and merchant Joseph Marie Jacquard was born. He is best known for his invention of the programmable loom, the “Jacquard loom“, which in turn played an important role in the development of the computer. Back in the 18th century, literally nobody – maybe with the exception people like Leibniz [4] or Pascal [5] – thought about a programmable computer. But, it was the time, the industrial revolution should get…
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John Gorrie and the Wonders of Air Condition

John Gorrie and the Wonders of Air Condition

On June 29, 1855, American physician, scientist, inventor, and humanitarian John Gorrie passed away. He is considered the father of refrigeration and air conditioning. Today, refrigeration as well as air condition has become a commodity. But, the importance of refrigeration to modern civilization as a means for conservation of food cannot be overestimated. Actually, even already in prehistoric times man was using ice to refrigerate and thus preserve food. Through the ages,…
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The Mechanical Telegraph – a French Invention

The Mechanical Telegraph – a French Invention

On May 23, 1813, the first (modern) optical telegraph line following the mechanical telegraphy system of the French inventor Claude Chappe between Metz and Mainz was established. No, this wasn‘t the first of its kind, but it was the first to connect the former already in France established telegraphy system with a (now) German city. Long before the Days of Morse Code Early telecommunications included smoke signals and drums. Talking drums were…
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TIROS-1 and the First TV pictures of the Earth from Space

TIROS-1 and the First TV pictures of the Earth from Space

On April 1, 1960, U.S. weather satellite TIROS-1 sends the very first TV picture of the Earth from space. Today, we are used to satellite pictures from the earth in the daily weather report. But, there was a time some 50 years ago, when pictures of the earth from space were still something exciting. TIROS I (or TIROS-1, short for Television and InfraRed Observation Satellite) was the first successful low-Earth orbital weather…
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Friedrich Accum and the Popularization of Chemistry

Friedrich Accum and the Popularization of Chemistry

On March 29, 1769, German chemist Friedrich Christian Accum was born. Accum‘s most important achievements included advances in the field of gas lighting, efforts to keep processed foods free from dangerous additives, and the promotion of interest in the science of chemistry to the general populace. Youth and Education Accum was born in Bückeburg, Schaumburg-Lippe (near Hannover), where his father was in the service of Count Wilhelm von Schaumburg-Lippe. Friedrich’ father died,…
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Robert Alexander Watson-Watt and the Radar Technology

Robert Alexander Watson-Watt and the Radar Technology

On February 26, 1935, British engineer and Fellow of the Royal Society Robert Alexander Watson-Watt started with first experiments on detecting and locating aircrafts with radio technique, later called ‘RADAR‘. Radar was initially nameless and researched elsewhere but it was greatly expanded on 1 September 1936 when Watson-Watt became Superintendent of Bawdsey Research Station located in Bawdsey Manor, near Felixstowe, Suffolk. Work there resulted in the design and installation of aircraft detection and tracking stations…
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Who remembers Apple’s Lisa?

Who remembers Apple’s Lisa?

On January 19, 1983, the Apple Lisa was introduced, the first personal computer to offer a graphical user interface in an inexpensive machine aimed at individual business users. Although a commercial failure, the Lisa paved the way for the famous Apple MacIntosh released in 1984 [4]. I don’t know if you are old enough to remember the early 1980s. But the era of personal computers had just began, which means there were small…
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Hedy Lamarr – a Hollywood Star Invents Secure Communication Technology

Hedy Lamarr – a Hollywood Star Invents Secure Communication Technology

On November 9, 1913, Hollywood movie star Hedy Lamarr was born, co-inventor of an early form of the spread spectrum communication and frequency hopping, necessary for wireless communication from the pre-computer age to the present day. Family Background Ok, I assume that you are not necessarily familiar with spread spectrum communications technology. But, maybe you are wondering even more about a movie star diva of Hollywood’s Golden Age, who should be responsible for the…
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Germany’s First Radio Program Goes Public

Germany’s First Radio Program Goes Public

On October 29, 1923 the very first radio program in Germany was broadcast from the Vox-Haus in Berlin, Tiergarten. Funk-Stunde AG Berlin was the first radio station in Germany. The station was operated by the broadcasting company of the same name and broadcast its program from Berlin in the then northern German broadcasting district. Technical Background and Key Figures The history of the radio is long and for many years it was not…
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