Miscellaneous Technology

Comptometer Patented

Early ComptometerOctober 11, 1887

Dorr E. Felt is granted the second of two patents on his comptometer, the first practical and commercially successful key-driven mechanical calculator. Various comptometers were in continuous production from 1887 to the mid 1970’s.

The First Transistor Calculator

IBM 604 CalculatorOctober 7, 1954

IBM researchers modify an existing model 604 vacuum tube calculator to use transistors. This experiment didn’t shrink the desk-sized machine nor make it any faster, but it did use only 5% of the power the vacuum tube-based design did. Encouraged by this successful experiment, IBM introduced the first commercial transistor calculator 4 years later, the model 608.

Barcode Technology Patented

US2612994October 7, 1952

American inventors Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver are granted US Patent #2,612,994 for “Classifying Apparatus and Method,” described as “article classification through the medium of identifying patterns.” Of course, today we better know these “identifying patterns” as barcodes. Woodland and Silver eventually sold their patent for only $15,000 but were later inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame.

Barcodes were first used commercially in 1966 and it rapidly developed that eventually by 1970, there was a requirement to have some sort of industry standard set. A company called Logicon Inc. created the Universal Grocery Products Identification Code or UGPIC for short in order to implement the barcode throughout the retail industry.

Monarch Marking, based in the United States of America, was the first company to produce barcode equipment using UGPIC for retail trade use. British company, Plessey Telecommunications followed suit, creating their equipment later in the same year.

The UGPIC was transformed into UPC, or Universal Product Code symbol set, which is still used in the United States of America. The first piece of equipment using UPC was installed in a Marsh’s supermarket in Ohio and the first product checked out using a barcode was a packet of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Chewing Gum on June 26, 1974.

Special thanks to Jonny Rowntree of Elanders UK for sending me the background information for this article!

Photocopying Patented

Chester CarlsonOctober 6, 1942

Chester Carlson is issued a patent on a process called electrophotography, now commonly known as photocopying. It was not until 1946 that a company had any interest in pursuing photocopying commercially. The Haloid Company finally licensed Carlson’s patent and created the word xerography to differentiate the process from traditional photography. Eventually, photocopying became such a large part of the company’s revenue that Haloid changed their name to Xerox.

Transistor Patented

Bardeen, Shockley, Brattain; Inventors of the TransistorOctober 3, 1950

AT&T Bell Laboratories researchers John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley receive a US Patent for their invention of the transistor, which they had successfully demonstrated two years earlier. The transistor completely revolutionized the development of electronic and computerized technology.

The First CD Player

Sony CDP-101October 1, 1982

The first commercial compact disc player, the Sony CDP-101, goes on sale in Japan.

Concorde Breaks Atlantic Crossing Speed Record

British Airways ConcordeSeptember 26, 1973

The supersonic aircraft Concorde makes its first non-stop Atlantic crossing and sets a new speed record in the process. Flying from Washington D.C. to Paris, France in 3 hours 32 minutes at an average speed of 954 miles-per-hour, the Concorde cut the old speed record in half.

First Test of an Integrated Circuit

First Integrated CircuitSeptember 12, 1958

Researcher Jack Kilby demonstrates the first integrated circuit to other researchers and executives at Texas Instruments.

RIAA Sues A Twelve-Year Old

RIAA ProtestSeptember 8, 2003

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sues 261 people for sharing music on Internet peer-to-peer networks, including 12-year old Brianna LaHara. Eventually bringing suit against at least 30,000 people, the RIAA intended to reduce the amount of music being shared, but instead generated a public backlash against the established recording industry.

iPod Nano Introduced

First Generation iPod NanoSeptember 7, 2005

Apple introduces the iPod Nano, effectively replacing the iPod Mini. The move surprised many in the industry, as the iPod Mini was extremely popular. However, the use of flash storage instead of a hard drive allowed for a much smaller form factor, increased reliability, and better battery life. These improvements proved extremely popular with consumers as one million units were sold in the first 17 days. The pioneering use of flash storage in a consumer electronic device paved the way for its use in many future Apple product designs, such as the iPhone, iPad, and flash storage-based MacBooks.