August 2, 1873
The Clay Street Railroad begins operation, making it the first cable car in San Francisco’s now famous cable car system.
MTV, presumably standing for “Music Television”, launches on cable TV. As most people know, after the introduction sequence, the first video played was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. However, a bit of trivia is that the second song played was “You Better Run” by Pat Benatar. MTV had an immediate impact on the music industry and was an iconic symbol of the technology-driven 1980’s.
July 25, 2008
The FCC approves the merger of the two satellite radio companies, Sirius and XM.
July 23, 1903
Ford sells its first Model A car to Ernst Pfenning of Chicago, Illinois. This was Henry Ford’s 3rd attempt at creating a company that manufactured cars, incorporating just over a month earlier. The initial $28,000 investment was down to $300 before this first Model A was sold. However, it was the Model T that solidified Ford’s standing in automotive history.
July 7, 1936
Several US patents are issued for the Phillips-head screw and screwdriver to inventor Henry F. Phillips. Phillips founded the Phillips Screw Company to license his patents. One of the first customers was General Motors for its Cadillac assembly-lines. By 1940, 85% of U.S. screw manufacturers had a license for the design.
July 5, 1923
Kodak introduces the hand-cranked Cine-Kodak Model A, the first complete 16mm film system. 16mm film was developed to be an amateur alternative to 35mm film most often used by professionals. However, it found widespread use during World War II and later for television production, especially TV news. 16mm film is still in use today for certain applications.
July 1, 1979
The first Sony Walkman, the TPS-L2, goes on sale in Japan. It would go on sale in the US about a year later. By allowing owners to carry their personal music with them, the Walkman and their iconic headphones introduce a revolution in listening habits and popular culture at large.
June 30, 1948
Originally designed to create improvements to electromechanical relays and vacuum tubes in telephone switching equipment, Bell Labs holds a press conference in New York to publicly demonstrate the first point-contact transistor. The transistor represents a significant advance in technology. As it is developed over the next few years, it will become the successor to the vacuum tube, the primary method of controlling electronic circuitry at the time. The use of transistors allows the development of the integrated circuit and microchips which kickstarted the rapid advance of electronic and computerized technology over the last 70+ years. Every industry that utilizes technology, from communications to computers to space travel to video games to media, owes a great deal to the development of the transistor.
June 26, 1974
A Universal Product Code (UPC) is used to ring up a purchase for the first time at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The first item scanned was a 10-pack of Juicy Fruit gum. Take that to your trivia contents!
June 23, 1868
Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and Samuel Soule are awarded a patent for the “Type-Writer” which would become the basis for the first practical and commercially successful typewriter. Evolving into what would become known as the Sholes and Glidden typewriter (which would later become the Remington No. 1), one of its lasting legacies was the introduction of the QWERTY keyboard, which is still the most popular keyboard layout in the world to this day.
A popular theory states that the design of the QWERTY keyboard was intended to slow down typists in order to minimize the clashing of the typebars which would jam up the early typewriters. There is little evidence to support this theory, however, and a research study published in 2011 asserts that the QWERTY design was more directly influenced by feedback from telegraph operators who were early adopters of typewriters and found previous keyboard layouts inefficient.