Science, Technology and Innovation

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See also Astronomy and Space Travel

See also Atomic power and electricity

See also Biology

See also Cartography

See also Chemistry and the Elements, also for substances,compounds, invented.

See also Clothing and Fashion, also for clothes technology e.g. washing machines.

See also Computing and IT

See also Environment and Conservation

See also Geology and Mining

See also Medical

See also Military Technology

See also Maritime Innovations

See also Road Vehicle Technology


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein, 1954.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers”, Voltaire.

“Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret”, Horace. You can expel nature with a pitchfork, but she will keep returning.

“Perfection (in design) is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Colour key:




Scientific laws and principles

Telephonic communication


Coal, gas, iron and steam – see Appendix 2 below See also Economics and Coal

Construction, Buildings, Lifts, Escalators -  see Appendix 3 below

Games,Toys – see Appendix 4 below

Hygiene  see Appendix 6 below

Light and Optics – see Appendix 7 below

Mathematics and Geometry – see Appendix 8 below See also Computing

Metrology – see Appendix 9 below

Music Video Entertainment and Sound  -see Appendix 11 below

Postal Services – See Appendix 12 below

Robotics – see Appendix 13 below

TV Telephone and Radio – see Appendix 14 below, Click here for TV programmes and social developments in TV.

Writing, Books, Pens, Paper – see Appendix 15


9/4/1981, Nature magazine published a paper with the longest-ever scientific word, with 207,000 letters.

1980, In the USA, the United States Synthetic Fuel Corporation was created, to attempt to ensure energy security.

9/2/1979, Dennis Gabor, physicist who invented holography, died aged 78.

13/7/1974, Peter Blackett, British physicist, died aged 76.

17/5/1968. The director of the Transport Studies Centre predicted that in the future people would be ‘piped’ in high speed pneumatic trains like oil and gas.

20/7/1965, The McLaren baby buggy was patented by Owen Findlay, Banbury, UK. It replaced much more cumbersome and heavier prams, and its easy folding made it very easy to take on board public transport.

1963, In Sweden, Aktiebolaget Flymo produced the first hover lawn mower, invented by Karl Dalhman.

20/8/1960, Plastic carrier bags were used for the first time, by a Swedish shoe retailer.

9/10/1959, Henry Tizard, English inventor, died aged 74.

18/4/1955. Albert Einstein, born 14/3/1879, died in Princeton, New Jersey, of a stroke. He was born to a middle class German family of Jewish ancestry. Einstein graduated in 1900 from the Federal institute of technology in Zurich; he worked hard in the laboratory but skipped lectures. He completed his general theory of relativity in 1915 and received the Nobel Prize in 1922. He became an American citizen in 1940.

26/12/1949. Einstein's Theory of Relativity was announced.

17/6/1948, The transistor was patented in New Jersey for Bell Telephones.

4/10/1947, The German physicist, Max Planck, died at his home in Gottingen, aged 89. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1918 for his work on quantum physics and black-body radiation.

21/11/1946, The first commercial aerosol sprays were marketed in the US by Airosol Inc of Kansas. The US army had discovered the usefulness of aerosol insect sprays whilst fighting the Japanese in the rainforests of south east Asia.

23/2/1944, Leo Hendrik Baekeland, Belgian-born American chemist, inventor of a plastic called Bakelite, died.

3/10/1941. The aerosol was patented by L D Goodhue and W N Sullivan.

20/4/1940. The electron microscope was first demonstrated in America.

1933, In Germany, Ernst Ruska built the first electron microscope that was more powerful than a light microscope, magnification x 12,000.

10/7/1932, Richard Threlfall, English chemist and engineer, died aged 70.

8/9/1930, The first roll of Scotch Tape (Sellotape) was made. Although introducing a new product to US consumers during the recession was risky, in fact the mood of thriftiness at the time ensured the success of the product as it was used for mending and fixing things. The UK version, called Sellotape, was introduced in 1937.

1927, The first petrol driven chainsaw was demonstrated in the forests of Thuringia, Germany. This greatly speeded up wood harvesting and forest clearance.

27/3/1923, Sir James Dewar, Scottish scientist, inventor of the vacuum flask, died aged 80.

14/4/1917, Dr Zamenof, Polish linguist and inventor of Esperanto, died.

1915, The start of the General Theory of Relativity was derived from the Special Theory of Relativity.

31/12/1911. Marie Curie received her second Nobel prize, unprecedented in the history of the award.

16/9/1910, Ole Evinrude patented the outboard motor.

28/2/1909, Professor Linus Pauling, American chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize winner, was born.

17/12/1907, Lord Kelvin, physicist and inventor, died.

1/7/1905, Albert Einstein propounded the Special Theory of Relativity.

14/1/1905, Ernst Abbe, German physicist (born 1840) died in Jena.

31/10/1904. The radio valve was invented by John Fleming at London University.

16/9/1904, Willis Carrier filed US patent no. 808897 for air conditioning. The basic idea of air conditioning had been known since Roman times, when it was noted that cool vapour rose from water thrown on hot stones. In 1902 a Brooklyn printer, Sackett-Williams, told Carrier that he had a problem with changing heat and humidity altering the colours unpredictably on his printing. Willis Carrier designed the first air conditioning unit, which weighed 30 tons. Dust control was added in 1906.

1902, The first commercially-succesful petrol driven lawn mower was marketed.

28/7/1902, Karl Popper, scientist, was born (died 1994)

23/6/1902. Albert Einstein began work in the Swiss Patent Office.

8/8/1901, Ernest Lawrence, US physicist who invented the first subatomic particle accelerator and the first colour TV tube, and won the Nobel Physics prize in 1939, was born.

1900, The paper clip was patented by Johann Vaaler, a Norwegian working in Germany. In 1989 a gaint statue of a paperclip was erected in his honour in Oslo.

10/12/1900. The first Nobel prizes were awarded.

16/8/1899. Death of the German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, inventor of the Bunsen burner.

12/6/1897, Carl Elsener took out a patent for the Swiss Army Knife.

22/12/1895, The physicist Wilhelm Roentgen made a radiograph (X-ray photograph) of his wife’s hand.

8/11/1895. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered X rays, during an experiment at the University of Wurtzburg. He made the first radiograph, or X-ray, of his wife’s hand, on 22/12/1895.

30/1/1894. Charles King of Detroit received a patent for the pneumatic hammer.

23/2/1893, The diesel engine was patented by Rudolf Deisel.

15/4/1891. Thomas Edison publicly demonstrated his ‘kinetoscope’, or moving picture machine, in New York.

7/5/1890, James Nasmyth, inventor of the first steam hammer, died in London.

11/10/1889, James Joule, who established the First Law of Thermodynamics, died.

1887, The first semi-automatic glass bottle making machine was invented by John Ashley in Yorkshire, UK. It could produce 200 bottles an hour, but required manually feeding with molten glass, In 1898 MJ Owens of the USA imvented a fully auromatic bottle making machine. This in turn was improved on by Henry W Ingle of the US in 1925. Bottles could now be made faster and lighter than before.

22/1/1887, Sir Joseph Whitworth, the engineer who standardised screw threads, died at Monte Carlo.

1885, The first mechanical dishwasher was invented by Frenchman Eugene Daquin. The first electric dishwasher was made in 1922.

26/3/1885, The first cremation in modern times, of Mrs Pickersgill, took place at Woking.

4/11/1879. James R Ritty of Dayton, Ohio patented the first cash register. Pilfering by bartenders from Ritty’s saloon so undermined his health that he went on a sea voyage to Europe to recover. On board the ship, Ritty saw a machine that recorded the number of revolutions made by the ship’s propellers, which gave him the initial idea. In 1884 he formed the National Cash Register Company.

14/3/1879. Albert Einstein, physicist and mathematician, was born in Ulm, Bavaria, to Jewish parents.

1871, Pierre Colignon, French-American, invented the first folding deck chair.

10/3/1869, The first scientifically-designed cremator was used, in Padua, Italy, by Dr L Brunetti to cremate the body of a 35-year-old woman

11/2/1868, Jean Foucault, French physicist who invented the gyroscope, died in Paris.

7/11/1865, The Repeating Light Company of Springfield, Massachusetts manufactured the first pocket lighter.

12/10/1860, Elmer Sperry, prolific inventor, notably of the gyroscopic compass, was born in Corland, New York State.

14/9/1860, Niagara Falls was illuminated for the first time.

12/7/1859. (1) William Goodale patented the paper bag manufacturing machine.

(2) Robert Stephenson, engineer, died.

15/5/1859, Pierre Curie, French scientist, was born in Paris. He was the son of a physician.

19/2/1859, Svante August Arrhenius, Swedish physicist and chemist, was born near Uppsala.

28/7/1858. The first use of fingerprinting. William Herschel, a British civil servant in India, took the entire palm print of a Bengali hired to surface roads, to ensure that he did not back out of the contract.

6/9/1857, Johann Salomo Schweigger, physicist, died in Halle, Germany.

10/7/1856, Nikola Tesla was born.  His father, the Reverend Milutin Tesla, was a Greek Orthodox priest, and his mother Duka Mandic was the daughter of a priest who made handcraft tools.

9/7/1856, Amedeo Avogadro, Count of Quarenga, died in Turin, Italy.

27/9/1854, The Lady Isabella waterwheel at Laxey, Isle of Man was completed.  It was the largest in the UK, at 72 foot 6 inches in diameter, and was once used for draining a lead mine.

17/3/1853, Death of Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, who coined the term Doppler effect to explain the apparent change of frequency of a wave when the source is moving relative to the observer.

17/9/1851, Chemist and physician John Kidd died in Oxford, England.

6/5/1851, Linus Yale patented the Yale lock.

17/3/1849. Elastic bands patented, by Stephen Perry’s London rubber company.

1845, Rubber bands were first made by Perry and Co of London.

28/8/1845, The first edition of Scientific American was published.

27/3/1845, Wilhelm von Roentgen, German scientist and discoverer of X-Rays, was born in Lennep, Prussia.

27/7/1844, John Dalton, chemist and physicist, died.  He developed modern atomic theory and also made advances in meteorology.

12/11/1842, The physicist and Nobel Prize winner Lord Rayleigh was born at Witham, near Maldon, Essex.

20/9/1842. Sir James Dewar, Scottish physician and chemist, and inventor of the vacuum flask, was born at Kincardine on Forth, in Fife.

30/9/1841. The stapler was patented by Samuel Slocum.

23/1/1840, Ernst Abbe, German physicist, was born in Jena (died 1905).

18/2/1838, Ernst Mach, Austrian scientist, was born in Moravia.

1/1/1833, The first fire brigade to have full time permanent staff was established in London.

16/5/1831, David Hughes, English-American inventor of the teleprinter and microphone, was born in London.

3/12/1830, Frederick, Baron Leighton, President of the Royal Society, was born.

18/5/1830. Edwin Budding of Stroud signed an agreement for the manufacture of his invention, the lawnmower. The first customer was Regents Park Zoo. See 27/4/1828.

1827, Brownian Motion, the rapid vibration of tiny particles suspended in water, was first noted by the botanist Robert Brown (1773-1858). He also noted that small particles of inorganic matter such as carbon and metal dust were subject to this motuon, but he could not explain the phenomenon.

7/4/1827, Friction matches, the invention of Stockton on Tees chemist John Walker, went on sale. In 1826 Walker was mixing antimony and chlorate of potash with a stick; when he rubbed the stick to clean it, it caught fire. Such matchsticks would catch fire if rubbed on any rough surface, even each other, and in 1855 the first safety match was by the Swedish firm of Johan Edvard Lundstrom. In Britain, Bryant and May bought the rights to these matches where they went on sale in August 1855.

3/11/1825, The Hungarian Academy of Sciences was founded.

26/6/1824, The physicist and mathematician Lord Kelvin was born in Belfast as William Thomson.

24/7/1824, The result of the first public opinion poll was published in the Harrisburg Pennsylvanian.  The poll was conducted at Wilmington to determine voters’ intentions in the 1824 Presidential election.

1822, Steel coiled springs were patented in Austria by Georg Junigl.

18/9/1819, Jean Foucault, French scientist, was born in Paris.

24/12/1818, The physicist James Joule was born at Salford, Manchester.

25/8/1814, Benjamin Thompson, scientist who researched heat (born in North Woburn, Massachusetts, on 26/3/1753), died near Paris, France.

1811, Amedeo Avogadro proposed what is now known as Avogadro’s Law – that equal volumes of gas at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of molecules.

3/8/1811, Elisha Graves Otis, US inventor, was born in Halifax, Vermont.

18/8/1809, Matthew Boulton, partner of James Watt, British engineer, died in Soho, London.

19/8/1808, James Nasymth, Scottish engineer who invented the first steam hammer, was born in Edinburgh.

1807, Thomas Young coined the word ‘energy’.

20/12/1805, Thomas Graham, chemist whose 1829 paper on gaseous diffusion introduced Graham’s Law, was born in Glasgow.

21/12/1803, Sir Joseph Whitworth, engineer, was born.

18/11/1789, Louis Daguerre, French artist and pioneer of photography, was born near Paris.

1782, Josiah Wedgewood invented the pyrometer, for checking the temperature in the furnaces used to fire pottery.

17/3/1782, The Swiss physicist Edward Bernoulli died.

6/12/1778, Joseph Gay-Lussac, French scientist, was born in St Leonard.

30/4/1777, Carl Friedrich Gauss, scientist, was born.  His father, Gerhard Gauss, was a labourer and bricklayer, and his mother, Dorothea Gauss, was a maid.

25/9/1769, The first recorded cremation in Britain. The body of Honoretta Pratt was burnt in her open grave at  St Georges Burial Ground, London.

20/4/1764, Rudolph Ackerman, German inventor, was born (died 30/3/1834).

1760, Joseph Black discovered latent heat of fusion and vapourisation, and specific heat.

28/5/1738, Dr Joseph Guillotin, inventor of the Guillotine, was born.

20/6/1726, The first municipal fire brigade was established, at Beverley, Yorkshire.

31/7/1718, John Canton, English scientist (died 22/3/1772) was born.

3/3/1703, The scientist Robert Hooke died.

30/12/1691, Robert Boyle, scientist, died.  He formulated Boyle’s Laws on gases.

1687, Newton stated the Laws of Motion of bodies.

1683, In Oxford, Britain, the Ashmolean Museum was opened as a centre for experimental science.

1682, Isaac Newton proposed the Law of Gravitation. See also astronomy.

1665, Isaac Newton worked out a system of ‘fluxions’ – precursor of modern calculus. He also began work on a theory of gravity.

1663, Pascal showed that the pressure of a liquid depended on its depth and density.

1662, Robert Boyle first proposed Boyles Law for gases; that the volume of an ‘ideal’ gas varies inversely to the pressure when the temperature is held constant.

28/11/1660, The Royal Society was founded in England.

1643, From Galileo’s note that ‘water would not rise in a pump above 18 cubits’; his pupil, Torricelli deduced the existence of air pressure. In 1648 Pascal demonstrated that air pressure falls with increasing altitude. This led to the invention of the barometer.

18/7/1635, Robert Hooke, English scientist, was born in Freshwater, Isle of Wight.

1632, Galileo introduced the concept of relativity by pointing out that experiments done in a closed cabin on a ship cannot be used to tell if the ship is moving or not.

25/1/1627, Robert Boyle, Irish chemist and physicist, was born at Lismore Castle, Munster, Eire.

19/6/1623. Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, was born in Clermont. He invented the first calculating machine; other research of his led to the invention of the syringe and the hydraulic press; and so to Pascal’s law of pressure.

1620, The term ‘gas’ first used, by van Helmont, to describe substances like air. It was a variant of the Flemish word for ‘chaos’.

1590, Galileo discovered that all bodies fall at the same rate, regardless of their mass.

1581. An earthquake in the Italian town of Pisa set the great chandeliers in the church swinging. A 17 year old student called Galileo noticed that, timed by his own pulse, the time of each swing was constant regardless of the range of the swing.

1537, Niccolo Tartaglia’s book, Della Nova Scientai, intitiated the science of ballistics.

2/5/1519. Leonardo Da Vinci died, at the Chateaux Cloux near Amboise, aged 67.

17/12/1493, Paracelsus, scientist and occultist, was born. He died on 24/9/1541.

1490, Leonardo da Vinci observed that liquids tend to crawl up tubes with a small diameter; the first observation of capillary action,

285, Pappus of Alexandria described ‘five machines’ in use.These were the cogwheel, lever, pulley, screw and wedge.

271, The compass began to be used in China.

212 BCE, Archimedes reputed to have used a concave mirror to use the Sun’s rays to set fire to the Roman fleet.

220 BCE,Archimedes discovered the force of buoyancy in liquids.

230 BCE, Oil lamps introduced in Greece.

260 BCE, Archimedes knew of the Law of Moments and the principle of the lever.

265 BCE, Archimedes invented the Archimedes Screw, a device for raising water.

4350 BCE, The horse was domesticated in Europe, providing agricultural power and transportation.


Appendix 2 – Coal, gas, iron and steam

11/2/1931, Sir Charles Pearsons, inventor of the first practical steam turbine, died in Kingston, Surrey.

13/6/1854, Sir Charles Pearsons, engineer who invented the steam turbine, was born in London.

1826, First recorded usage of the word ‘steam’ as a metaphor for power, energy, progress.

19/1/1813. Sir Henry Bessemer, inventor of the blast furnace for converting cast iron to steel, was born at Charlton, Hertfordshire.

28/1/1807. London’s Pall Mall became the first street in the world to be lit by gaslight. This was an initiative to publicise the new method of illumination by German migrant FA Winzer (later Anglicised to Winsor), and his company, the Gas Light and Coke Company, floated in 1812. In 1814 street gas lighting began in Westminister and by the end of 1816 London had 26 miles of gas mains. This rose to 122 miles by 1823 and 600 miles by 1834. By 1823 52 English towns had gas lighting and by 1859 Britain had nearly 1,000 gas works. The gas industry produced many useful chemical by-products such as ammonia, naphtha and crude tar.

1789, James Watt invented the governor, a centrifugal-driven negative feedback device that controlled the speed of a steam engine.

31/3/1763, Abraham Darby (Junior), ironmaster, died.

21/8/1754, William Murdock, inventor of coal-gas lighting in 1792, was born at Auchinlek, Ayrshire.

20/3/1717, Abraham Derby (senior), first ironmaster to use coke to smelt iron, died at Worcester.

12/3/1711, Abraham Darby, iron worker, was born.

2/7/1698, Thomas Savery patented an early steam engine. See also railways, 1699. This engine could be used to pump water out of mines, an increasing problem as miners went ever deeper. However Savery’s (1650-1715) engine was fairly primitive. It could not pump water up from more than 10 metres below it, meaning it had to be installed deep within mines. This was dangerous as Savery’s engine  was prone to explosions. In 1721 Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729), working with Savery, produced an improved atmospheric engine. The full potential of the steam engine was not realised until James Watt (1736-1819) added a condenser in 1769, with the backing of businessman Matthew Boulton.

60 AD, Hero of Alexandria invented the aeolopile (, a rotating ball full of water with tangential vents that would spin when heated as the steam escaped. It was effectively an early steam engine, but was not put to any practical use.


Appendix 3 – Construction, Buildings, Lifts Escalators

31/12/2004, The world’s tallest skyscraper, Taipei 101, 508 metres or 1.676 feet tall, was opened.

12/11/1968. One thousand people attended the first public meeting of the Greater London Council. Ideas discussed included a monorail down Oxford Street by 1972 and an ‘end to the architecture of totalitarianism’. The Milton Keynes Development Corporation announced that the first blueprint for the new city would be available by February 1969.

7/12/1961, The London County Council approved the building of 300-foot high blocks of flats at Hammersmith, the tallest in Britain.

12/12/1951, The geodesic dome was patented by Richard Buckminster Fuller in New York, USA.

30/4/1944, Pre-fabricated houses went on show in London. 500,000 of them were planned as temporary housing for those who had lost their homes to Luftwaffe bombs.

1/5/1931. The Empire State Building was opened by President Hoover in New York. 102 storeys and 1,245 feet high, it had a 220 foot TV antenna added in 1950. This total height of 1,472 feet was reduced to 1,454 feet when the antenna was replaced in 1985. In 2001 the world’s tallest building was the  twin Petronas Towers in Malaysia, 1,483 feet high.

29/1/1927. In London the Park Lane Hotel opened, the first with en-suite bathrooms.

26/6/1916, Peter Nissen (1871-1930) patented the Nissen Hut. He noticed that there was a lack of easy to build housing for the troops in World War One. 100,000 of these huts were built by the end of the War; each one taking 6 men 4 hours to build. Their main drawback was they were very cold in the winter.

15/3/1892. The world’s first ‘escalator’ was installed at Coney Island, New York. This had a continuous sloping surface. It was called the ‘Reno inclined elevator’.  The American inventor Charles A Wheeler patented the first escalator with flat steps on 2/8/1892.

31/3/1889. The 300 metre Eiffel Tower was completed, in time for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, and opened by Premier Tirard on 6/5/1889..  Many people said it was ugly.

6/10/1887, Le Corbusier, who promoted the idea of a house as a ‘machine for living’, was born in Switzerland.

16/7/1867, Joseph Monier of Paris patented reinforced concrete.

1/4/1867. In Paris, the World Fair opened. The first hydraulic lift was demonstrated by the engineer Edoux, and Japanese art was on show in the West for the first time.

8/4/1861, Elisha Graves Otis, American inventor of the first safe elevator in 1852, died in Yonkers, New York.

1860, The floor covering, linoleum, was invented in England by Frederick Walton.

23/8/1859, The first hotel elevator was installed in the 6 storey building of Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York.

23/3/1857, The first passenger lift was installed by Elisha Otis in a department store, in the 5-storey building of E V Haughwout and Co on Broadway, New York. The elevator system cost US$ 300.

20/9/1853, Elisha Graves Otis opened a factory in New York State for the production of the first modern lifts.

25/3/1843. The first tunnel under the Thames, the 1300 foot Wapping Tunnel, linking Wapping and Rotherhithe, opened. Work had begun on 2/3/1825.

1842, Engineer John A Roebling invented wire rope. This proved indispensable for constructions such as New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.

15/12/1832, Gustave Eiffel, French engineer who designed the Eiffel Tower, built for the Paris Exhibition of 1889, was born in Dijon.

21/10/1824, Portland Cement was patented by Joseph Aspdin of Wakefield, Yorkshire.

11/12/1769, In London, venetian blinds were patented by Edward Beran.

1747, The first engineering school, the Ecole des ponts et chaussees (school of bridges and highways) was established in France.

1738, The caisson, a device essential for building bridges and underwater tunnels, was developed by Charles Dangeau de Labelye for building a bridge over the Thames at Westminster.

1735, The first machine-made carpets were produced, at Kidderminster.


Appendix 4 – Games, Toys

30/1/1975, The Rubik Cube was patented by Erno Rubik in Hungary.

28/1/1958, Lego building bricks were patented by Godtfred Christiansen in Billund, Denmark. Lego is short for the Danish for ‘play well’, Leg-Godt.

11/6/1954, The game Scrabble was patented in the USA.

1/11/1945, The Slinky coil was patented by Richard James in Pennsylvania.

4/12/1935. The game of monopoly was born, invented by unemployed engineer Charles Darrow. It is the world’s most successful box game, having sold over 500 million sets.

9/1/1901, Meccano was patented by Frank Hornby (1863-1936), England.

14/9/1759, The earliest dated English board game, A Journey Through Europe, or The Play of Geography, invented by John Jeffries, was sold by him at his London home.


Appendix 6 - Hygiene

1960, Hitchin Council in the UK became the first to use black plastic polythene bin bags for refuse collection. Previously, rubbish was put loose straight into bins, causing smells and being scattered in the road when the bin was emptied.

1948, The first disposable nappies were sold by Saks, Fifth Avenue, New York. Proctor and Gamble test marketed them in the 1950s, and launched the first mass-produced disposable nappies in 1961 under the brand name Pampers.

1942, Soft toilet paper first appeared in Britain. It was made at the St Andrews paper mill, Walthamstow, London.

1937, The first tampons were marketed under the name Tampax.

1924, Kleenex, the first face tissues sold in Western countries, was introduced (the Japanese had been using them for centuries).

1921, The first commercially produced sanitary towels were marketed under the brand name Kotex.

30/8/1901. Scotsman Hubert Cecil Booth patented the vacuum cleaner. Houses often had no electricity then, and  the motor and pump were so large they were mounted on a horse-drawn cart whilst a tube that might be over 200 metres long was used for suction. Booth later introduced a clear tube so clients could see the dirt being sucked out of their house.

15/3/1891, Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, engineer, died.

17/2/1883, The vacant / engaged toilet sign was patented by Mr Ashwell of Herne Hill, London.

19/9/1876. Melville R Bissell of Grand Rapids, Michigan patented the Bissell carpet sweeper, the first practical way to sweep carpets of dust. He suffered from headaches caused by his allergy to straw dust which came from the straw packing he used in his china shop. He invented a sweeper with a sprung brush roller that responded to pressure on the handle.

1871, In the USA, toilet paper was first put on a roll.

1859, Glasgow opened its new water supply from Loch Katrine; this was a significant developemtn in the hygiene of the city.

1857, The first mass production of toilet paper began, in the USA, pioneered by Joseph Cayetty. Toilet paper had been in use at the Imperial Court of 14th century China, but most people in 19th century Europe and America simply used torn up newspaper. Cayett’s paper, at 50 cents for 500 sheets, was not cheap; it was impregnated with aloe as a supposed cure for piles. Gradually the cost fell and it became universally used. The term ‘toilet paper’ was first used by the New York Times in 1888.

11/2/1852. The first flushing public toilet for women opened in Fleet Street, London. The cost was 2d. See 2/2/1852.

2/2/1852, The first public convenience for men opened in Fleet Street, London. See 11/2/1852.

1844, In the UK, the Commission for Enquiring into the State of Large Towns established a link between dirt and epidemic disease.

28/3/1819, The engineer Sir Joseph William Bazalgette was born.

1778, In England, Joseph Bramah improved on Cumming’s design for a flushing toilet and begn commercial manufacture of them.

1775, In England, the first patent for a flushing toilet was granted to Alexander Cumming.

1589, English writer Sir John Harrington had an early non gravity fed flushing toilet at his house in Kelston, Somerset.

24/12/1508, London houses received piped water for the first time.

589, Earliest reference to toilet paper, in China.

50 AD, Romans learnt the use of soap, from the Gauls.

2000 BCE, The Minoans possessed flushing toilets, using cisterns fed by streams, flushed by a lever.


Appendix 7 - Light and Optics, See also Electricity

1965, Holography was first discovered by D Gabor.

18/3/1964, The Lava Lamp was patented by David George Smith for Crestworth Ltd, Poole, UK.

1960, The laser was discovered by Thoedore Maiman.

1959, Xerox introduced the first reliable commercial photocopier. It weighed 300kg.

28/11/1948. The first Polaroid cameras went on sale, in Boston, USA. The price was US$ 89.75 – the equivalent of US$ 900, or UK£595 in 2015. All 37 had sold by the end of the day.

3/2/1948, The instant Polaroid camera was patented by Edwin Herbert Land in Massachusetts.

22/10/1938, Chester F Carlson made the first photocopy image.

8/9/1938, Chester Carlson patented the first photocopier.

4/7/1932, The Anglepoise adjustable desk lamp was patented by George Geraldine in England.

27/8/1910. Thomas Edison, in New Jersey, demonstrated talking movie pictures for the first time in his New Jersey laboratory. He used a device that was part phonograph, part camera, to record sounds and pictures simultaneously. He predicted that moving pictures with sound in colour would soon be possible.

7/5/1909, Edwin Land, American inventor of the Polaroid lens and the instant camera, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

1/12/1906. The world’s first purpose-built picture palace, the Cinema Omnia Pathe, opened in Paris.

17/10/1906. First transmission of a picture by telegraph.

8/2/1906, Birth of Chester Carlson, who invented the photocopier.

14/4/1904. The first attempt to produce ‘talking pictures’ was made at the Fulham Theatre, London, using cinematography and a phonograph.

22/3/1895, The first demonstration of celluloid cinema film was given in Paris by Auguste and Louis Lumiere.

7/11/1888, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born. In 1931 he won the Nobel Physics Prize for his discovery of the changing wavelengths of light when it passed through a transparent material.

4/9/1888, George Eastman, founder of the Kodak film company, patented the first camera film roll.

9/11/1881, Dr Herbert Thomas Kalmus, US inventor of Technicolor, was born.

19/2/1878. Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.

11/12/1877, Englishman Eadward Muybridge, photographer of the American West, used a novel photographic technique to resolve a bet made by the Governor of California, rail magnate Leland Stanford. Stanford believed that all four legs of a racehorse left the ground simultaneously as it galloped. Muybridge proved Stanford right by stringing tripwires across a racecourse and galloping a horse down it, setting off camera shots to obtain a series of still shots. Muybridge then used the novel technique to study dancers and runners in action.

17/9/1877, William Henry Fox Talbot, English pioneer of photography, died at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire.

11/2/1868, Jean Foucault, French physicist who measured the speed of light, died in Paris.

19/10/1862, Auguste Lumiere was born. With his brother Louis, he developed the motion picture projector.

17/5/1861. The first colour photograph was exhibited at the Royal Institution, London.

12/7/1854. George Eastman, USA photographic pioneer who founded Kodak, was born in Waterville, New York State. (see 7/5/1888).

12/7/1851, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, French pioneer in photography, died.

20/8/1839, In Paris, LJM Daguerre demonstrated a way of capturing images on a metallic plate; the birth of photography.

2/1/1839, Frenchman Louis Daguerre took the first photograph of the Moon.

5/7/1833, Nicorie Nie, pioneer in photography and creator of the first negative on paper,died.

1826. First directly fixed image with a camera onto a pewter plate was produced – see the year 1813.

1821, Fraunhofer invented the diffraction grating.

1820, Augustin Jean Fresnel invented the Fresnel lens, much used in lighthouses.

23/9/1819, Death of Armand Hippolyte, French physicist who was the first to measure the speed of light. Methods to find this speed include, 1) timing the eclipses of Jupiter’s satellites when at closest and furthest point from Earth, 2) Adjusting the speed of a rotating cog wheel so it turns just one tooth-breadth whilst light travels to a distant mirror and back, and 3) Send a light beam from a source to a rotating mirror and thence to a distant mirror and back, by which time the first mirror has rotated a little, and see how the beam direction has changed.

1813, Lithography (early photography) became fashionable in France. J N Niepce (born 7/3/1765) conducted experiments to produce light-dependent images, which he called Heliography. In 1826 he produced the first directly fixed image with a camera onto a pewter plate.

1808, Etienne Louis Malus (born Paris 23/6/1775) discovered that reflected light is polarised and coined the term ‘polarisation’.

1801, Ultra-violet radiation was discovered in 1801 when the German physicist Johann Wilhelm Ritter observed that invisible rays just beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum darkened silver chloride-soaked paper more quickly than violet light itself. He called them ‘oxidizing rays’ to emphasize chemical reactivity and to distinguish them from ‘heat rays’, discovered the previous year at the other end of the visible spectrum.

10/10/1797, Thomas Drummond was born. Along with Goldsworth Gurney (born 1798) he invented ;limelight’, an intense beam of light produced by the combustion of lime (calcium oxide) in an alcohol flame with added oxygen, and focussed by a parabolic mirror.

2/3/1791. The worlds first optical telegraph, or semaphore machine, was unveiled in Paris.

26/2/1786, Dominique Francois Arago was born in Estagel, France. In 1809 he discovered that blue light from the sky is polarised, and found the neutral point where polarisation is absent.

23/5/1785, Benjamin Franklin announced his invention of bifocals.

1773, The achromatic lens was invented. It is made of glass of different refractive indeces, so refracts all colours of light equally.

7/3/1765, Joseph Niepce, French doctor who produced the first photograph from nature using a camera obscura, pewter plates, and an 8 hour exposure, was born.

14/2/1744, Joseph Hadley, optician who invented the reflecting octant, ancestor of the sextant, died in East Barnet in Hertfordshire.

1678, Huygens developed the wave theory of light.

1668, Isaac Newton built the first reflecting telescope.

1666, Newton investigated the spectrum of light.

1660, The microscope was greatly improved by Leeuwenhoek.

1608, In The Netherlands, Spectacle-maker Hans Lippershey made a demonstration of the telescope.

1590, In The Netherlands, spectacle-maker Hans Janssen and his son Zaccharias invented the microscope.

1286, A monk in Pisa is reported as having made the first pair of eye glasses – mentioned in a sermon of 1306.


79,000 BCE, Early stone lamps in use, fuelled by animal fat with grass or moss for a wick.


Appendix 8– Mathematics and Geometry For Computing, coding, events see Computing.

Random number/letter generator,

More at

Prime Numbers up to 1,000,000,


14/10/2010, French-American mathematician who developed fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot, died aged 85.

1985, The largest-then-known prime number,(2 to the power 216,065) minus 1, with 66,050 digits,was discovered.

8/11/1858, George Peacock, mathematician, died in Ely, England.

23/2/1855, Johann Karl Friedrich Gauss, mathematician, died in Gottingen, Germany.

23/2/1826, Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevski (born near Nizhni Novgorod, Russia) gave a paper at Kazan University outlining the principles of non-Euclidean geometry.

2/11/1815, Mathematician George Boole was born in Lincoln, England. In 1847 he published his paper on symbolic logic.

25/1/1812. Mathematician William Shanks was born in Corsenside, England. He attempted a calculation of Pi to 707 places in 1853. However in 1944 it was discovered he had made an error at place 528, causing all digits thereafter to be erroneous.

18/9/1783, Leonhard Euler, Swiss mathematician, died in St Petersburg, Russia.

1777, Euler first used i to denote the square root of minus 1. He did not publish this until 1794, and it was Gauss who gained widespread acceptance for this notation with his work Disquisitiones arithmeticae in 1801.

15/4/1754, Jacopo Riccati, mathematician, died in Treviso, Italy.

1736, The symbol e for natural logarithms, devised by Leonhard Euler  in 1727, first appeared in print.

16/5/1718, Maria Agnesi, Italian mathematician, was born (died 9/1/1799).

1717, Abtaham Sharp calculated the value of Pi to 72 places.

1691, Leibniz first used the mathematical terms coordinate, ordinate and abscissa.

21/11/1675, Leibniz became the first mathematician to use the modern notation of f[x] dx for integration/differentiation.

1665, Isaac Newton worked out a system of ‘fluxions’ – precursor of modern calculus. He also began work on a theory of gravity.

12/1/1665, French mathematician Pierre de Fermat (born 1601) died.

1659, First punblication of the (division) sign, in Teutsche Algebra, written by Johann Heinrich and published long after his death in 1588.

1631, First recorded used of the multiplication sign, by William Oughtred. First use of the signs < and > to mean ‘less than’ and ‘more than’.

1614, Logarithms were invented by the Scottish mathematician, John Napier (1550-1617), who in that year published a 97-page work entitled ‘Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonia Descriptio’. He coined the word ‘logarithm from two Greek words meaning ‘ratio’ and ‘number’.

1603, Pietro A Cataldi discovered the 6th and 7th Perfect Numbers, which are 8,859,869,056 and 137,438,691,328.

5/3/1574, William Oughtred was born in Eton. Around 1621 he invented the slide rule.

1572, Complex numbers were applied to solve equations in Rafael Bombelli’s work, Algebra.

1556, The = sign was created by Robert Recorde, on the basis that nothing can be more equal than a pair of parallel lines.

1513, The fifth Perfect Number was discovered, 33,350,336. A Perfect Number is one whose factors add up to the number itself, like 6 is the sum of 1, 2 and 3.

1524, First recorded usage of the modern square root symbol, in Die Coss, by Christoff Rudolff.

1489, The first recorded use of the mathematical symbols + and -, in the book Mental Arithmetic by Johann Wildmann, published in Leipzig. They were used for ‘excess’ and ‘deficiency’, and by the 1500s came to mean ‘add’ and ‘subtract’.

1434, Leone Battista, born in Genoa, Italy, 14/2/1404, published a nook on the geometrical laws of perspective in drawing.

1299, In Florence, Italy, the use of Arabic numerals was banned.

1055, The Arabs introduced decimal notation to Spain.

15/5/1048, The Persian mathematician and poet Omar Khayyam was born at Nisipar. He was the first to solve cubic equations (those containing terms to the power of three).

830, The Arabic text Hisab al jabr w’al muqabalah (The Science of Reunion and Opposition) became the basis of algebra in the West. Renaissance scholars sometimes preferred the Latin term ‘analysis’.

605, Use of decimal notation in India. In China, Pi was calculated to be between 3.1415926 and 3.1415927.

462, Birth of Aryabhata, Indian mathematician who wrote on the powers and roots of numbers.

17/4/485, Proclus, Greek mathematician, died in Athens.

250, Diophantes of Alexandria wrote the first known book on algebra.

200, In China, a polygon of 3072 sides was used to calculate the value of Pi as 3.14159. Chinese mathematicians used powers of 10 to express numbers.

95 BCE, First use of negative numbers, in China.

323 BCE, Euclid published his work ‘Elements’, the standard text on geometry.

395 BCE, Theodorus of Cyrene demonstrated that the square roots of 3,5,6,7,8,10, 12,13,14, 15 and 17 were irrational.

445 BCE, The earliest concept of irrational numbers (numbers like the square root of 2, or Pi, that have infinite decimal places). Hippacos of Metapontium discovered that some magnitudes are ‘not commensurable’, such as the diagonal and sode of a square; they have no common unit. Also at this time Zeno of Elea formulated paradoxes contrasting continuity with discreteness, such as the notion that a faster runner cannot ever catch a tortoise that has a headstart. These questions are still not fully answered today.

465 BCE, The dodecahedron, a solid with 12 faces, was described by Hippasus of Greece.

545 BCE, Death of Thales of Miletus. He derived the ‘Thales Proposition’; that triangles over the diameter of a circle are always right-angled.

628 CE, The Indian astronomer amd mathematician Brahmagupta first described the concept of ‘zero’ as a true number. By 300 BCE use of the number zero was common in Babylonian mathematical texts. The name’zero’cpomes from the Sanskrit ‘sunya’, meaning ‘nothing’; it became ‘sifr’ in Arabic, and was latinised by Leonardo Fibonacci into ‘zephirum’

876 BCE, First known use of a symbol for zero, in India. The actual conceot of zero may have been known earlier than this.

1300 BCE, Decimal numerals in use in China.

1725 BCE, Egyptian geometrical uinderstanding was advanced, with formulae for the volume of a truncated pyramid.

1875 BCE, The Pythagorean Theorem was known in Mesopotamia.

1975 BCE, Quadratic equations, where symbols up to the power of two are used, were known and could be solved in Mesopotamia.

3400 BCE, In Sumeria, clay counting tokens and written mathematical symbols first used.


Appendix 9 – Metrology See also Price-Currency

1969, The first quartz wristwatches went on sale, in Japan.

1967, The 13th General Conference on Weights and Measures changed the definition of a second from 1/86,400 of an average solar day to a number of readiation cycles produced by a Caesium-133 atom.

21/1/1962  The Meteorological Office started using Centigrade as well as Fahrenheit.

1960, The 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures replaced the physical metre with a definition based on radiation from Krypton-86. In 1983 this was changed again to the distance light travels in a specified time.

1957, The first battery-powered watches went on sale, in the USA.

1954, The 10th General Conference on Weights and Measures added a fourth basic unit, the Kelvin as unit of temperature (see 1889).

1949, The first atomic clock was made.

1928, The first quartz crystal clock was made.

7/7/1923, John Harwood patented the first self-winding wristwatch. Self-winding watches already existed but they were bulky fob-watches. The concept was to use a small swinging weight to wind the timepiece.

21/3/1915, Frederick Winslow Taylor, the inventor of modern scientific time-management, died.

1889, The first General Conference on Weights and Measures established international prototypes for the metre and kilogramme. Together with the second as unit of time, these became the three base units of measurement. See 1954.

13/10/1884. Greenwich was adopted as the universal time meridian from which world longitude is calculated.

13/3/1884, Standard time zones were established in the USA.

20/3/1856, Frederick Winslow Taylor, the inventor of modern scientific time-management, was born.

1848, William Thompson, Lord Kelvin, established absolute zero as -273 C.

30/3/1791, The metric system of measurements was proposed in France.

1785, Watt devised the ‘horsepower’ as a unit of work.

24/3/1776, John Harrison, watchmaker and inventor of the chronometer, died in London.

30/4/1772, The first dial weighing machine was patented by John Clais in London.

3/9/1752. The date changed this day to 14/9/1752 with the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar. See 5/4/1753. See also 5/10/1582, start of Gregorian calendar. Crowds of people protested, believing their lives had been ‘shortened’ by 11 days (days 3-13 September 1752 inclusive did not exist).  The old calendar had a leap year every 4th year, and therefore was 365.25 days long.  However the calendar had now got out of step with the real year.  The new calendar omitted leap years every century, unless the year was divisible by 400.

1/1/1752, Officially the first ‘new year’ to fall on 1st January; previously the new year had begun on 25th March.

25/4/1744, Anders Celsius, Swedish astronomer who devised the Centigrade temperature scale in 1742, died.

16/9/1736, The German scientist Gabriel Fahrenheit, who devised a scale of temperature, died.

1720, Fahrenheit invented the mercury thermometer.

27/11/1701, Anders Celsius, Swedish astronomer who devised the Centigrade scale of temperature in 1742, was born in Uppsala.

1700, Fahrenheit invented the alcohol thermometer.

8/6/1695, Christiaan Huygens, the Dutch scientist who invented the pendulum clock, died (born 1629).

24/5/1686. Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, the German physicist who invented the mercury thermometer, was born in Danzig.

1680, Clocks began to have minute hands. By the mid 1700s second hands were also in use.

12/1656, The pendulum clock was invented by Huygens.

1/1/1622, In the Gregorian Calendar, January 1 was declared the first day of the year, instead of March 25.

1613, Pierre Vernier invented the Vernier Measure, in which a slider is used to increase the accuract of the distance measured by a factior of ten.

1350, The oldest known alarm clock was made in Wurzburg, Germany.

1335, The first clock to strike the hours was made in Milan, Italy.

1325, The first clock with a dial was installed at Norwich Cathedral, England.

1305, The English acre was defined by statute as 4,840 square yards.

1101, In England, King Henry VIII introduced the yard as a measure of length, the length of his arm.

890, Marked candles were used in England to measure time.

789, Charlemagne introduced the Royal Foot as unit of length and the ‘Karlspfund’ as unit of weight, equivalent to 365g or about 13 oz.

159 BCE, The first water clock (clepsydra), in Rome.

2000 BCE. Mesopotamia possessed a standard system of weights and measures. The Shekel consisted of 129 grains (8.36 g), and the Mina, 60x as large, were in use by 2400 BCE. By 2000 BCE the Mesopotamians also used the log (0.541 litres, or 33 cubic inches), the homer (720 logs), and the cubit and foot. The cubit was about 18 inches, the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.

3100 BCE, Cunieform writing developed in Mesopotamia; temple records and accounts kept.


Appendix 11 – Music Video Entertainment  and Sound

21/4/1989, Nintendo began selling Game Boys in Japan.

2/9/1987, Philips introduced the CD-video.

1983, The first Compact Discs were marketed, in Britain.

1979, The Sony Walkman began to be sold.

17/5/1978. Compact Discs created by Philips.

7/6/1975, Sony introduced the Betamax home videotape recorder.

14/4/1956,  The first videotape was demonstrated in Chicago.

1955, The first electronic musical synthesisiser was built. Operating on punched tape, it took up a whole room.

31/1/1955, RCA introduced the first musical synthesiser.

31/8/1951. Long playing 33 rpm records went on sale in West Germany.

10/1/1949 33.3 and 45 rpm vinyl records went on sale in the USA.

26/6/1948, Columbia officially released its new 33.3 rpm long playing records.

22/6/1948. Dr Peter Goldmark of Columbia Records unveiled the first successfully produced micro-groove, or long playing, record.

3/8/1929, Emile Berliner, US inventor of the flat phonographic record, died.

8/12/1924, The Theremin, the world’s first electronic musical instrument, was patented in Germany by Lev Sergievitch Termen, a Russian cellist and electronic engineer, born in St Petersburg in 1896 (died 1993). It worked on the heterodyne principle, that a combination of two radio high frequency sound waves could combine to produce a lower frequency audible sound equal to the difference, As the high frequency waves varied, so did the audible sound. The presence of a human body altered the radio waves, which was how the machine could produce changing sounds as a hand was waved over it. The machine was later superseded by the Moog Synthesiser.

1/4/1924. The first gramophone to automatically change records went on sale, produced by HMV.

19/2/1916, Ernst Mach, Austrian scientist after whom the speed of sound in air is named, died the day after his 78th birthday.

14/4/1894, Edison’s kinetoscope, or moving pictures, were shown to the public for the first time.

23/11/1889, The first jukebox was installed, in the Palais Royal Saloon in San Francisco.

16/5/1888, Emile Berliner demonstrated the first gramophone, to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

26/9/1887, The first gramophone player, invented by Emile Berliner, a German immigrant living in Washington DC, was patented.

30/8/1881. Clement Ader of Germany patented the first stereo system, for a telephonic broadcasting service.

23/11/1869, Valdemar Poulson, Danish inventor of the tape recorder, was born.

1822, Arago determined the velocity of sound.

29/11/1803, Christian Johann Doppler was born in Salzburg, Austria. In 1842 he discovered that the frequency of sound waves emitted by a moving source changes according to relative speed towards or away from the observer; this is called the Doppler Effect.


Appendix 12 – Postal Services

19/10/1993, The UK Post Office began selling self-adhesive stamps that didn’t need licking.

3/10/1959, The postcode system for sorting mail was first used in Britain, in Norwich.

28/7/1959. Postcodes were introduced to Britain by the Postmaster General, along with new postal sorting machines. They were used first in the Norwich area on 3/10/1959.

16/4/1900. The world’s first book of stamps was issued, in the USA.

27/8/1879, Sir Rowland Hill, pioneer of the postal service, died.  He devised the Penny Post in 1840.

11/4/1855, London’s first six ‘pillar boxes’ were installed, and were painted green.

23/11/1852. Britain’s first pillar box was erected, in St Helier on Jersey.

3/12/1795. Sir Rowland Hill, who pioneered the postal service, was born in Kidderminster.


Appendix 13 - Robotics

28/9/1990, At the first ever Robot Olympics, held in Glasgow, an 8-legged machine called Penelope built at Edinburgh University won the flat race for robots without wheels, achieving 0.13 metres per second.

14/6/1967. At a telecommunications conference in London, the Postmaster General discussed the imminent arrival of household robots.

1954, The robotic arm was designed by George Devol.

1920, The word ‘robot’ (worker) was coined by Czech playwright Karel Capek.


Appendix 14 – TV, Terlephone and Radio, Click here for TV programmes and social developments in TV

29/6/2007, Apple launched the iPhone,

20/5/1999, Bluetooth was announced. See also Computing

22/8/1989, British Telecom launched the first ‘pocket phones’ which worked within 100 metres of a base station.

1/1/1985, The first mobile phone call in the UK was made, by Ernie Wise to Vodafone.

23/10/1984. The end was announced for the old ‘H’ shaped TV aerials, used for the old 405-line service. The 43 transmitters broadcasting on this frequency were to be closed to make way for the growing number of mobile and car phones.

14/4/1983, The first cordless telephone was introduced in Britain.

29/7/1982, Vladimir Zworykin, Russian-born US pioneer of TV technology, died aged 92.

1979, The Japanese technology company Matsushita took out a patent for the first flat screen pocket television, using a liquid crystal display for the screen.

24/9/1979. A remote control cordless telephone, imported from the USA to UK stores, was declared illegal in Britain as it had not been allocated a radio frequency. It was on sale for £260.

8/4/1975, Pagers were launched in Britain.

3/4/1973, The world’s first ever mobile phone call was made, in New York.

15/10/1967. In Tokyo the Nippon Electric Co was offering the world’s first commercial television telephone.

8/10/1965, The UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson made the first telephone call as the £2 million, 620 foot tall, Post Office Tower in London’s Tottenham Court Road opened.

18/11/1963. The push button phone was introduced.

1960, Transistors made it feasible to construct very small TVs. Sony now pioneered an 8-inch transistorised TV set.

5/12/1958. The first STD telephone exchange in the UK opened.  It was in Bristol, and was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II calling up the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.

11/11/1952. John Mulin and Wayne Johnson at the Bing Crosby Enterprises Laboratory in Beverly Hills, California demonstrated the first video recorder.

29/9/1950, The first automatic telephone answering machine was tested by the US Bell Telephone |Company.

25/8/1949. The UK began experiments with colour TV transmission.

9/10/1947. The first radio-telephone call was made, from a car to a plane, above Wimington, Delaware, USA. However radio contact between a person in a car and a person on the ground had been made in 1922. This was at Brooklands motor circuit where a Morse message was transmitted from a racing car at 80mph. The aerial was on large poles propped up on the car.

14/6/1946. Death of John Logie Baird, at Bexhill on Sea, Sussex, aged 58. He was born on 13/8/1888 at Helensburgh, Scotland. In 1926 he demonstrated the first true television before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, following developments on the first prototype in his laboratory in Hastings in 1924. In 1939 Baird demonstrated colour television, and had reportedly developed stereoscopic television by April 1946.

22/8/1940, Sir Oliver Lodge, pioneer of wireless telegraphy, died.

17/2/1938, John Logie Baird demonstrated a prototype colour television.

20/7/1937, Guglielmo Marconi, Italian scientist who pioneered the use of radio communications, died in Rome, aged 63.

26/2/1935. Radar (Radio Detection And Ranging) was tested at Daventry. Engineers had reported that passing aircraft distorted radio transmissions. The BBC transmitter at Daventry was used this day by Robert Watson Watt to detect a bomber 8 miles away at 10,000 feet. See 20/3/1934.

20/3/1934, Radar was first demonstrated in Kiel Harbour, Germany. See 26/2/1935.

14/2/1933, The world’s first speaking clock became available to telephone users in the Paris area.

30/10/1928, Static pictures were first transmitted by radio. Receivers required a special device called a Fultograph, attached to the radio set. This utilised a revolving drum upon which a stylus marked half-tone lines on special paper. The result was about as good as a mediocre picture in an underfunded local newspaper, and the device never became popular.

12/11/1927. The first automatic telephone exchange opened, in Holborn, London.

27/1/1926. Scottish inventor John Logie Baird, aged 38, demonstrated the principle of transmitting moving images by radio. The demonstration was to members of the Royal Institution, at his workshop in Soho, London. He called this ‘television’.

30/10/1925. In his workshop in London, John Logie Baird achieved the first TV pictures using a dummy’s head. He then persuaded a 15 year old office boy, William Taynton, to sit in front of the camera to become the first live person captured on TV.

12/2/1924, Calvin Coolidge became the first US President to deliver a speech on radio.

30/11/1924, Radio photographs were first transmitted from Britain to the USA.

26/7/1923, John Logie Baird patented a system for transmitting pictures by ‘mechanical television’. The transmitter and receiver both had a spinning disc with 24 holes; pictures were sent by photoelectric cells. The principle was the same as making repeated static images ‘move’ by rapidly flicking the pages of a book; the persistence of images in the human eye gives the illusion of motion. Unfortunately the picture quality was mediocre, the flickering gave viewers a headache, and the intense light needed to film anything was exhausting for the cast.

2/8/1922. Death of Alexander Graham Bell, aged 75, at his home near Baddock, Nova Scotia. He was born on 3/3/1847 and patented the telephone on 7/3/1876. Many others had been working on the idea of sending speech by wire but Bell was the first to succeed. With his assistant Thomas Walsop, Bell began making improvements to the telegraph system, and formed the Bell Telephone Company in 1872. Bell also invented the photophone transmission of sound, precursor of fibre-optics, as well as techniques of teaching speech to the deaf.

14/2/1922. Marconi began first regular radio broadcasts from England (Writle, Essex). This invention had been patented by Marconi on 22/6/1896. See 14/11/1922.

29/7/1914, The first test call was made on the new transcontinental telephone line between New York and San Francisco.

1911, Advances in telegraphic technology meant that a message could be sent from New York to London in 30 seconds, at a cost just 0.5% of the 1866 level.

31/10/1902, The Pacific Cable was completed at Suva.

12/12/1901. The first transatlantic wireless message (the letter ‘S’, three dots in Morse, was continually transmitted) was sent from a164 foot aerial at Poldhu, Cornwall to Signal Hill, St John’s, Newfoundland, a distance of 1,800 miles, where it was received by Marconi on an aerial suspended from a kite.  Three previous transmission attempts, in which the aerial had been raised by balloon, were unsuccessful, thwarted by bad weather.

6/2/1901. Paris installed the first public telephones at railway stations.

12/12/1896, Guigliemo Marconi gave his first public demonstration of radio, at Tonybee Hall, east London.

2/6/1896, Marconi was granted patent no.12039 for his system of communication using radio waves. The maximum communications range was then about 12 miles.

10/3/1891, US undertaker Almon Brown Strowger patented the Strowger Switch, enabling automated dialling. He was motivated by the fact that the wife of a rival undertaker worked at the local phone exchange, and was diverting calls for his business to her husband.

13/8/1889. The coin operated phone was patented in the USA by William Gray of Hartford, Connecticut.

13/8/1888. Birth of television pioneer John Logie Baird in Helensburgh, Firth of Clyde, Scotland.

1887, Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of radio waves,

15/1/1880. The first telephone directory in Britain was published by the London Telephone Company. It contained 255 entries.

6/9/1879, The first British telephone exchange opened, in Lombard Street, London.

14/1/1878. Queen Victoria was given a demonstration of Alexander Graham Bell’s new invention, the telephone, at Osborne House.

6/12/1877. Thomas Alva Edison made the first recording of a human voice. He spoke Mary had a little lamb into his phonograph. Edison was working to improve the efficiency of the telegraph transmitter, and noticed that the machine gave off sounds resembling the spoken word when played at high speed. He wondered if he could record a telephone message. He attached the diaphragm of a telephone receiver to a needle, using the needle to prick paper to record a message. He then progressed to using a cylinder wrapped in tinfoil instead of paper, which succeeded in playing back the nursery rhyme he had recorded.

10/3/1876, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first telephone message to his assistant, from 5 Exeter Place, Boston, Massachusetts. The words were ‘Come here Watson, I want you’.

7/3/1876. The first telephone was patented by the American Alexander Graham  Bell, who was born on 3/3/1847. Bell was just a few hours ahead of a similar patent by Elisha Gray.

18/2/1876. A direct telegraph link was set up between Britain and New Zealand.

19/10/1875, Sir Charles Wheatstone, English physicist who pioneered telegraphy, died in Paris.

25/4/1874, Guglielmo Marconi, Italian scientist and radio pioneer, was born in Bologna.

26/8/1873, Birth of Lee de Forest, inventor of the Audion vacuum tube which made broadcasting possible.

2/4/1872, Samuel Morse, American inventor of the Morse Code for telegraphy, died in New York City aged 80.

27/7/1866, The Atlantic Telegraph Cable was completed.

3/3/1847, The inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, was born in Edinburgh.  He was the son of a teacher of elocution.

24/5/1844. The inventor Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message, from his home in Washington to a friend in Baltimore, 40 miles away. The message was “What hath God wrought”.

18/10/1842. The first telegraph cable was laid by Samuel Morse. It ran from Governor’s Island to The Battery across New York Harbour, and lasted only 24 hours; 200 feet of it was wrecked when a ship weighed anchor.

6/1/1838. Samuel Morse first publicly demonstrated the telegraph.

6/2/1802, Sir Charles Wheatstone, physicist and pioneer of telegraphy, was born in Gloucester.

27/4/1791, Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse Code, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts.


Appendix 15 – Writing, Books, Pens, Paper

6/4/1980. Art Fry invented the ‘Post-It’ note.

19/9/1968, Death of Chester Carlson, US inventor of the Xerox photocopier.

10/6/1943. The ball point pen was patented by its inventor, a Hungarian called Laszlo Biro. He had devised a prototype pen that would not blot in 1938, but fled to Paris and then Argentina in 1940, to escape the Nazis. In 1944 the RAF began using the pens as they were not affected by low air pressure in aircraft.

26/12/1931, Melvil Dewey, inventor of a classification system for library books, died.

12/1/1897, Sir Isaac Pitman, who invented phonetic shorthand in 1837, died in Somerset aged 84.

17/2/1890, Christopher Sholes, American inventor of the typewriter, died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

30/10/1888, The first patent for a ball point pen was issued to the American, John H Loud.

6/1/1852, Louis Braille, who invented the raised-dot system of writing used by the blind, died.

10/12/1851, Melvil Dewey, US librarian who devised a system of library cataloguing, was born in Adams Centre, New York State.

1843, The typewriter was invented by Thurber.

1842, Sir William Herschel, astronomer, patented the blueprinting process, or cyanotyping. A sheet of paper was coated in chemical, dyed to a bronze colour, then left in contact with the drawing to be copied under glasss in the sunlight. The paper turned blue with a white image of the drawing lines. The process was cheap, the prints lomg-lasting, and could be done by anybody.

27/5/1842, The first public library was opened, in Frederick Street, Salford, Manchester.

15/11/1837. Isaac Pitman’s stenographic shorthand, the first shorthand system, was published, price 4d.

14/2/1819. American inventor Christopher Latham Stokes, who invented an early typewriter, was born near Mooresburg, Pennsylvania.

4/1/1813, Isaac Pitman, who invented phonetic shorthand, was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

4/1/1809, Louis Braille, French benefactor of the blind, was born in Coupvray, near Paris.

7/10/1806. Ralph Wedgewood of London patented carbon paper. In the 1820s Wedgwood had a successful business selling his invention at 4 Rathbone Place, near Oxford Street, London.

1799, The Rosetta Stone was discovered in Egypt.

1737, Pierre Simon Fournier introduced the point system for measuring type font sizes.

1495, John Tate set up England’s first paper mill, at Hertford. Spain and Italy had such mills from the 13th century.

3/2/1468, Johann Gutenberg (born ca. 1395), German inventor of printing from moveable type, died.

30/9/1442, Johannes Gutenberg’s Bible became the first book to be printed using moveable metal type.

360, Scrolls began to be replaced by books.

250 BCE, Parchment was produced, at Pergamum.

1400 BCE, First alphabets in use, in the Middle East.


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