1866 : Indelible Pencil was Patented in U.S.
In 1866, the first U.S. patent for an indelible pencil was issued to Edson P Clark of Northampton, Mass. as an “Producing Indelible Writing on Linen and other Fabrics” (No. 56,180). The pencil-lead was composed of gypsum (a hard moisture-resistance compound) and black lead (coloring agent, with optional asphaltum or lamp-black) and silver nitrate. Silver nitrate was the blackening compound used which made the indelible mark by the action of light or heat. The black lead and gypsum allowed the pencil to be made sharp an with a point. The patent described cementing the filling with shellac into grooved cedar wood.
Clark held an earlier patent for an indelible, composition but described without a wood jacket (No. 24, 195 on 21 May 1859).
1892 : First Concrete Street was Built
The first concrete-paved street was built – Court Avenue, around the Logan Country Court House, in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Concrete, in the 19th century was referred to as “artificial stone“.
It was George Bartholomew who convinced the Bellefontaine City Concil to try it in 1891. He guaranteed the pavement to last at least five years in a bond. A portion of the original pavement still remains after 100 years, but is open only to light traffic to preserve it. The remainder has been replaced by more modern paving materials.
1908 : Helium was first Liquefied
Helium gas was liquefied by compressing it, cooling it below inversion temperature and then allowing it to expand, which causes further cooling resulting in the liquefaction of some of the gas.
Heike Kamerlingh Onnes achieved this feat by using liquid air to produce liquid hydrogen and then using the hydrogen to jacket the liquefaction apparatus. He made about 60 cubic centimeters of liquid helium at a temperature of 4.2 K (about -269°C). He had worked for many years to liquify this element which persisted as a gas to the lowest temperature.
At his cryogenic laboratory, he had previously liquefied air (1892) in large quantities, and built a large hydrogen liquefier (1906). Onnes received Nobel Prize in 1913 for his low temperature work.
1925 : Scopes Monkey Trial for Teaching Evolution
In 1925, the “Scopes monkey trial” began in Dayton, Tennessee and ran for 12 days. A local school teacher, John Scopes, was prosecuted under the state’s Butler Act, but was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union. This law, passed a few months earlier (21 Mar 1925) prohibited the teaching of evolution in public schools. The trial was a platform to challenge the legality of the statute. Local town leaders,(wishing for the town to benefit from the publicity of the trial) had recruited Scope to stand trial. He was convicted (25 Jul 1925) and fined $100. On appeal, the state supreme court upheld the constitutionality of the law but acquitted Scopes on the technicality that he had been fined excessively. The law was repealed on 17 May 1967.
1933 : First Police Radio System
In 1933, the first police radio system began operating in Eastchester Township, NY.
1958 : First Parking Meters
In 1958, the first parking meters were installed in England. 625 parking meters were installed
1962 : Three-point Seat Belt Patented
In 1962, a U.S. patent was issued to Swedish engineer, Nils Bohlen, for the three-point seat-belt (No. 3,043,625). His lap and and shoulder design is now familiar as the passenger-restraint safety device in cars that has saved countless lives. His design replaced the earlier style of a single safety belt strapped across the body, with the buckle placed over the abdomen, which often caused severe internal injuries in high-speed crashes. Bohlin assigned the patent to Volvo, the car manufacturer for whom he worked. From August 1959, Volvo incorporated Bohlin’s seat belt into the vehicles they manufactured. The company also made the design freely available to other car manufacturers to save more lives.
1962 : World’s First Geo-synchronous Active Comms Satellite Launched
In 1962, Telstar 1, the world’s first geosynchronous active communications satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Pioneered by AT&T, to relay TV and telephone signals between the U.S. and Europe, Telstar 1 initiated easier, faster access to information and carried the first live transatlantic TV satellite broadcast. French and English viewers saw a press conference by President Kennedy, and U.S. audiences watched French singer Yves Montand and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The Telstar 1 transmitter failed on 21 Feb 1963, and was replaced by Telstar 2 on 7 May 1963. (A passive U.S. telecommunications satellite, Echo 1, was launched 12 Aug 1960.)
Telstar 1 stock footage (Courtesy : AT & T Archives)