Demonstration of First Practical Electron Microscope

April 20, 1940

Vladimir Zworykin, research director at RCA, holds a public demonstration of the first practical electron microscope. While the electron microscope had originally been invented in 1931, the first model was only able to produce a magnification of 400X. RCA’s model was the first to create a magnification of 100,000X, which was truly the first practical application of an electron microscope. This early model was 10 feet high and weighed half a ton. That thing was huge, especially considering it was meant to magnify really tiny things!

Vladimir Zworykin is also famous for being one of the inventors of the television.

Zoom Lenses Come to TV

April 19, 1947

The first public demonstration of a prototype Zoomar lens is conducted inside Studio 3H at NBC’s Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York City. Invented by Dr. Frank G. Back, and promoted by investor film and television producer Jerry Fairbanks, the Zoomar lens would become the first commercially successful zoom lens. A version for film cameras would first be used by Paramount later that year to cover the 1947 World Series for newsreel production. The ability to use zoom lenses allowed for less expensive TV productions and also made television sports broadcasts more interesting and feasible. By the end of the decade, Zoomar lenses were in use in nearly one-third of television stations in the United States at the time. As new TV stations were popping up quickly during this era, the fact that by 1957 more than half of the TV stations then in operation owned Zoomar lenses was even more impressive. 

Marcel Brown Technology Services Born

marcel-webApril 15, 2002

Budding entrepreneur Marcel Brown starts his first day as a full-time self-employed professional, after years of helping people and small businesses with their technology needs on the side. It was from this humble beginning that a technology empire of unprecedented scale was created.

Well, okay, maybe all of that’s not quite true yet, but with any luck, soon it will be!

GE Founded

GE LogoApril 15, 1892

The General Electric Company (GE) is founded. It was formed by the merger of Edison General Electric (started by Thomas Edison in 1890) and the Thomson-Houston Electric Company. GE was one of the original 12 companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and in 2010 was ranked by Forbes as the world’s second largest company.


The Titanic Could Have Been Worse

RMS TitanicApril 14, 1912

The RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg four days into its maiden voyage. Over 1,500 passengers drown when the ship sinks early the next morning. The Marconi wireless equipment on board is used to call for help, effectively saving 700 people. It was stated that, “Those who have been saved have been saved through one man, Mr. Marconi and his wonderful invention.”


Stupid Human Tricks in Surround Sound!

April 5, 1989

Late Night with David Letterman becomes the first network television show to use the Dolby Stereo sound format, which despite its name, was in fact 4-channel surround sound. Guests included Phil Hartman and Donald Trump. This may be one of the Top 10 events in TV Tech History!

First Computerized Legal Search Service

A LEXIS UBIQ Terminal, possibly from the early 1970’s

April 2, 1973

The first computerized legal search service, LEXIS, launches at a press conference in New York City. The name was coined from the latin word “lex”, meaning law, and the the letters IS for “information service”. Featuring only the full text searches of New York and Ohio state case law at launch, the goal of LEXIS was to allow law firms to access their legal databases directly without the need for an intermediary professional such as a librarian. Legal offices would access Lexis through dedicated terminals, which was an impressive feat since this was well before personal computing had become mainstream. By 1974 Lexis was hosted on an IBM System/370 Model 155 mainframe and had added the entire United States Code. It took until 1980 for LEXIS to complete entering all US federal and state cases. It was not until February of 2020 that the databases were transitioned to Internet cloud hosting and legacy mainframes shut down.

Internal Combustion Engine Patented

Morey EngineApril 1, 1826

Samuel Morey patents the internal combustion engine. However, he didn’t have a car to rev it in to impress the chicks.

Free … Your … Mind

The Matrix PosterMarch 31, 1999

The hugely successful motion picture, The Matrix, is released on this day. Many call it a classic (ok, that’s me), many call it influential (ok, me again), but no one can deny the impact it had on many aspects of our society from the emerging tech culture, to the movie industry, to science-fiction, to political thinking. The Matrix won 4 Oscars, grossed over $463 million on a budget of $63 million, and was the first DVD to sell over 3 million copies. And who could forget some of the great quotes from this movie, including “Free … your … mind”, “Dodge this”, “There is no spoon”, “Don’t think you are – know you are”, “Welcome … to the real world”, “I know kung fu”, and “You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

First Electrically Lighted City

Wabash, IndianaMarch 31, 1880

Wabash, Indiana becomes the first city in the world to be completely illuminated by electric lighting. And the light was good.