January 17, 1984
The US Supreme Court rules 5-4 that private use of home VCRs to tape TV programs for later viewing does not violate federal copyright laws. This ruling opens the floodgate for VCR sales, changing the landscape of TV watching forever.
The first car to be built on an assembly line was completed today, a Model-T Ford.
The U.S. Patent Office issues a patent for the Spalding Adding Machine. The precursor of calculators and computers, mechanical adding machines could do simple arithmetic and were popular in businesses until supplanted by computers in the 1960s.
Amelia Earhart becomes the first person, man or woman, to fly solo from Hawaii to California.
Glenn Curtiss flies the first flying boat, a pusher with a canard surface.
The world’s first underground railway service opened in London, the Metropolitan line between Paddington and Farringdon. Approximately 40,000 Londoners ride the trains the first day.
W.K. Dickson, an employee of Thomas Edison’s movie studio, receives a copyright for a motion picture film. The 5 second demonstration was a 47-frame film showing a man sneezing. This man, Fred Ott, is now most famously known for having this sneeze recorded in film. “Fred Ott’s Sneeze” is the earliest surviving film to receive a copyright in the United States. While technically a copyright for a film had been granted to Edison’s studio in the previous year, the records for what film it was have been lost.