4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

1875 to 1900 Timeline


Baldwin & Odhner Invent Calculators Using a True Variable-Toothed Gear Circa 1875

Detail of image from Baldwin's Calculating Machine. See larger image and resize image for complete picture.

Frank Stephen Baldwin.

Odhner's arithmometer.

Willgodt Theophil Odhner.

About 1875 engineer Frank S. Baldwin of Philadelphia and Willgot Theophil Odhner, a Swedish engineer and entrepreneur working in St. Petersburg, Russia, independently invented calculators using a true variable-toothed gear. This was the first real advance in mechanical calculating technology since Gottfried Leibniz's stepped drum (1673). These calculators were called "pinwheel calculators."

The greater ease of use of this technology, its general reliability, and the compact size of the equipment incorporating it caused an explosion of sales in the calculator industry.

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Printing Two Sides of Paper Simultaneously 1875

In 1875 J.G.A. Eickhoff of Copenhagen built a four-cylinder perfecting press, capable of printing two sides of paper simultaneously.

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The First Logarithmic Table Produced by a Calculating Machine 1875

In 1875 Swedish inventor Martin Wiberg used his difference engine to produce Tables de Logarithms Calculées et Imprimées au Moyen de la Machine à Calculer du M. Wiberg. This set of tables of seven-place logarithms from 1 to 100,000 was the first logarithmic table produced by a calculating machine. The device is preserved at Tekniska museet (The Technical Museum) of Sweden in Stockholm. 

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Edison Invents the "Electric Pen": Forerunner of the Mimeograph 1875

Thomas Edison's electric pen.

Edison's duplicating outfit with electric pen.

In 1875 Thomas Edison of Menlo Park, now Edison, New Jersey, invented the Electric Pen, the forerunner of the mimeograph. Edison received US patent 180,857 for "Autographic Printing" on August 8, 1876. The patent covered the electric pen, used for making the stencil, and the flatbed duplicating press. In 1880 Edison obtained a further patent, US 224,665: "Method of Preparing Autographic Stencils for Printing", which covered the making of stencils using a file plate, a grooved metal plate on which the stencil was placed which perforated the stencil when written on with a blunt metal stylus.

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Shepardizing: A Legal Citation System 1875

In 1875 Frank Shepard, a salesman for a Chicago legal publisher, invented the Shepard's legal citation system. In the same year, Shepard designed and published the first of his many citation books, Illinois Citations.

"In legal research, Shepard's Citations is a citator, a list of all the authorities citing a particular case, statute, or other legal authority. The verb Shepardizing refers to the process of consulting Shepard's to see if a case has been overturned, reaffirmed, questioned, or cited by later cases. Although the name is trademarked, it is also used informally by legal professionals to describe citators in general—for example, Westlaw's similar tool called Key Cite" (Wikipedia article on Shepard's Citations, accessed 11-30-2012).

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The "New York Tribune" Publishes the First Significant Series of Illustrations in a Daily Newspaper June 30, 1875

On June 30, 1875 the New York Tribune published a series of 36 relief blocks on its front page showing the targets at an International Rifle Match in Dublin, Ireland.

The blocks were produced in New York from target coordinates transmitted over the Atlantic telegraph. These were the first significant series of illustrations published in a daily newspaper.

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Librarian Melvil Dewey Invents Dewey Decimal Classification 1876 – 1885

In 1876 librarian of Amherst College Melvil Dewey published anonymously from Amherst, Massachusetts Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library. The work was issued as a 42-page pamphlet. On the top of the upper printed wrapper and on the top of the title page there was an unusual statement in small type:

"PROOF.—Please examine this as soon as practicable, mark any corrections or suggestions, and return to the Librarian, Amherst College. The matter is held in type for a few days, to allow any desirable change before the edition is printed. It is earnestly requested that you criticize freely and fully. Please note specially mistakes which have crept into the Index in the hurried proof-reading. Aslo suggest headings for the places left blank, and any alteration to names or arrangement. May we hear from you within a week?" 

This became known as the Dewey Decimal Classification. In 1885 Dewey published the second edition of his classification system, identifying himself as author for the first time. The Dewey Decimal Classification became the world's most widely used library classification system.

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The Earliest Exhibition Exclusively of Scientific Instruments 1876

The earliest international exposition exclusively of scientific instruments was held at the South Kensington Museum, London in 1876.  As a record of the exhibition the South Kensington Museum published a Handbook to the Special Loan Collection of Scientific Apparatus 1876 (London 1876). The section on calculating machines on pages 23-34 was written by H. J. S. Smith, and included those of Babbage, Scheutz, Thomas de Colmar, and Grohmann. None were illustrated. James Clerk Maxwell contributed two chapters in this guide, Peter Guthrie Tait wrote one, and Thomas Henry Huxley wrote one.  A French translation of this work was published in Paris also in 1876.

The South Kensington Museum was later merged into the Science Museum in London.

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace 369.

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The First Truly Comprehensive Subject Index of the Published Literature of Any Science 1876 – 1961

John Shaw Billings, librarian of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office (now the National Library of Medicine) began publication of the The Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office in 1880. This was the first large-scale subject index of any library, and the first truly comprehensive subject index of the published literature of any science. 

Probably to obtain funding for the project, four years prior to the beginning of publication of the Index Catalogue Billings issued a Specimen Fasciculus ot a Catalogue of the National Medical Library Under the Direction of the Surgeon-General, United States Army (Washington, 1876). Besides providing examples of his ambitious cataloguing plans, the fasciculus shows that Billings viewed the Library of the Surgeon General's Office as a national medical library.

Before online databases the Index-Catalogue became a landmark in the history of efforts to organize information and to make it searchable, and a primary general reference for the history of medicine and science. The fifith and final series was issued in 1961. The finished set of printed books contained "over 4.5 million. . . references to over 3.7 million bibliographic items.  2.5 million items are primarily journal articles; 250,000 items are monographs (books, pamphlets, and reports); approximately 300,000 items are dissertations (theses); and 16,000 are journal titles. Series 1 and Series 2 include portraits as separate citations but Series 3, 4, and 5 indicate portraits in descriptive notes for monographs and dissertations."

In 1952 the name of the library was changed to Armed Forces Medical Library; it became the National Library of Medicine in 1956. See S. J. Greenberg & P. E. Gallagher, "The great contribution: Index MedicusIndex-Catalogue, and IndexCat," J. Med. Libr. Assoc. 97 (2009) 108–113.

The Index-catalogue is available online from the National Library of Medicine at this link.

(This entry was last revised on 05-04-2015.)



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The First Comprehensive Global Study of Zoogeography, Including the first Global Biodiversity Map 1876 – December 2012

In 1876 British naturalist, explorer, and evolutionist Alfred Russel Wallace published The Geographical Distribution of Animals through Macmillan publishers in London. Wallace studied the fauna of the Malay archipelago and was struck both with its resemblances to and differences from that of South America, where he did extensive research in the Amazon rainforest. His research expanded into this extensive 2-volume work—the first comprehensive world-wide study of zoogeography, illustrated with numerous thematic maps, including the first global biodiversity map, a map of zoogeographic regions of the world.

Wallace's biodiversity map was not formally updated until December 2012: Holt, Lessard et al "An Update of Wallace's Zoogeographic Regions of the World," Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1228282.

"Wallace recognized that the world is divided into so-called biogeographic regions, which today we know reflect the breakup of the continental plates roughly 200 million years ago. As the former mega-continent of Pangaea split apart, the evolutionary branches of those species cleaved off from one another. Millenniums of isolation following this divergence led to Australia’s wildly unique marsupials, for example, and Madagascar’s beloved lemurs. Wallace recognized these differences and produced a map identifying six major global biodiversity regions. Other maps have been produced since, but for this new effort, the researchers decided to take into account not only the current distribution of vertebrates, but also how they relate genetically.  

“ 'Genetic sequencing allowed us to do things that weren’t possible before,' Dr. Lessard said. 'Looking at these evolutionary links allows us to know which parts of the world are more closely related to other parts of the world.' With a team of 14 international colleagues, Dr. Lessard helped compile and analyze the phylogenetic relationships of 21,037 species of amphibians, birds and mammals. Whereas Wallace highlighted six major animal realms, the team identified 11, and within those realms made 20 regional distinctions. The results were published online today by the journal Science.  

"A few surprises turned up in their analyses. For example, new realms in Central America, East Asia and Oceana emerged. The northernmost stretches of the Canadian tundra make more sense grouped with the Palearctic realm, which encompasses Siberia, Europe and North Asia, than with North America’s Nearctic realm. 'Apparently, plant people kind of informally recognized that grouping in the past,' Dr. Lessard said. 'But for animals, I’ve never seen a map of biogeographic regions showing that connection.'

"The dividing lines will soon be uploaded and freely accessible on Google Earth, and the researchers hope to add information detailing which big animal families are found in each realm and region for curious citizens or researchers to explore" (http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/a-biodiversity-map-version-2-0/?src=rechp, accessed 12-23-2012).

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The Last Library Cataloguing Code Written by One Person 1876

In 1876 Charles Ammi Cutter, librarian at the Boston Athenaeum, published Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalogue. This was the last library cataloguing code written by one person.

"In his prefatory note, Cutter claimed to be the first investigator of the 'first principles of cataloguing' and the first to 'set forth the rules in a systematic way.' One of the principles he expostulated was that 'the convenience of the user should be preferred to the ease of the cataloguer.' Cutter urged catalogers to do such things as select the customary use of the names of subjects and the best known form of the author's name so that this goal might be fulfilled. The code's introduction lists objectives and means to bring about this convenience. These objectives and means have been studied for years by students of cataloging code history. Exactly how the 'convenience of the user' would be determined Cutter did not specify; he himself, it would seem, relied upon his own experience rather than any systematic study of user needs or behavior. No one else did such a study during these years either: such things as survey research and transaction log analysis were twentieth century phenomena" (J. R. Hufford, The Pragmatic Basis of Catalog Codes: Has the User Been Ignored? [2007] 29]

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Among the Most Unusual of Library Organizations: The Light House Traveling Library 1876

Among the most unusual of library organizations:

"Lighthouses were often time located in remote areas and as such had no access to city services such as libraries, opera houses, entertainment, etc. that most people enjoyed who lived in a town or city. As light keeping was a lonely profession in most cases supplies were brought to them by lighthouse tender ships. One of the items the tender supplied was a library box on each visit as pictured to the left. Library boxes were filled with books and switched from station to station to supply different reading materials to the families.

"In 1876 portable libraries were first introduced in the Light-House Establishment and furnished to all light vessels and inaccessible offshore light stations with a selection of reading materials. These libraries were contained in a portable wooden case, each with a printed listing of the contents posted inside the door. Proper arrangements were made for the exchange of these libraries at intervals, and for revision of the contents as books became obsolete in accordance with suggestions obtained from public library authorities" (http://www.michiganlights.com/lhlibrary.htm, accessed 11-19-2010).

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Filed under: Libraries

"Street Life in London": Pioneering Social Documentary Photography as a Form of Photojournalism 1876 – 1877

From 1876 to 1877 Scottish photographer, geographer and traveler John Thomson, in collaboration with the radical journalist Adolphe Smith, published a monthly magazine, Street Life in London illustrated with Woodburytype photomechanical reproductions of photographs. The twelve parts were collected and issued in book form by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington in 1877. The project documented in photographs and text the lives of street people of London. Smith's short essays were based on interviews with a range of men and women who eked out a precarious and marginal existence working on the streets, including flower-sellers, chimney-sweeps, shoe-blacks, chair-caners, musicians, dustmen, locksmiths, beggars and petty criminals. However, Thomson's photographs conveyed even more information. Out of a genuine concern for their welfare and living conditions, Thomson introduced social documentary photography as a form of photojournalism. Instead of the images acting as a supplement to the text, his photomechanically reproduced photographs became the the predominant medium for the imparting of information, successfully combining photography with the printed word.

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Bell Invents and Patents the Telephone February – May 10, 1876

In February 1876 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in Boston and applied for the patent. Patent no. 174,465, Improvement in Telegraphy, was issued to Bell on March 7, 1876, by the U.S. Patent Office. Bell's patent covered "the method of, and apparatus for, transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically . . . by causing electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air accompanying the said vocal or other sound." In his invention of the telephone Bell was preceded by Philip Reis, who perfected his device in 1861, and numerous other inventors played lesser or greater roles. However, Bell was the first to create a telephone that could reproduce intelligible speech at the receiving end, and was also the first to patent the telephone. Because of the numerous other inventors involved there was unusually extensive and historic litigation over the telephone patents, culminating in Bell's victory. Among the controversies was the question of the priority of Elisha Gray in the invention.

As the well-known story goes, on March 10, 1876 Bell spoke the first words through the instrument to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, in the next room. Bell said, "Mr. Watson— come here— I want to see you." This was Bell's first proof that his invention actually worked.

Bell presented his first report on the telephone to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston on May 10, 1876. His report, "Researches in telephony," was published in Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, new series 4 (whole series 12) (1877) 1-10.  Bell's telephone did not become commercially viable until 1878.

♦In December 2013 a digital facsimile of Bell's laboratory notebook recording his March 10, 1876 experiment was available from the Library of Congress at this link.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science & Medicine (1991) no. 164.

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ALA is Founded October 6, 1876

The American Library Association (ALA) was founded in Philadelphia on October 6, 1876.

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Filed under: Libraries

The First Regular Telephone Line & The First Telephone Switchboard 1877

Construction of the first regular telephone line was completed in 1877. It ran from Boston to Somerville, Massachusetts. Also in 1877, the first telephone switchboard was set up in Boston.

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300 Clerks Reviewing 2,500,000 Insurance Policies with 24 Calculators 1877

In 1877 it took three hundred clerks working at The Prudential six months to review its 2,500,000 insurance policies, with the assistance of twenty-four Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar arithmometers.

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Pioneering Study of Community Ecology 1877

In 1877 German zoologist and environmentalist Karl August Möbius published from Berlin Die Auster und de Austernwirschaft.

In this study of oyster culture precipitated by the impoverishment of natural oyster beds, Mobius provided the earliest description of a marine animal community maintained in a state of equilibrium by limitations of resources.  He was the

"first to describe in detail the interactions between the different organisms in the ecosystem of the oyster bank, coining the term 'biocenose'. This remains a key term in synecology (community ecology)" (Wikipedia article on Karl Möbius, accessed 01-13-2009).

J. Norman (ed.) Morton's Medical Bibliography, 5th ed. (1991) No. 145.61.

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The First Supersonic Image; The Mach Angle and Mach Number 1877

In 1877 Austrian physicists Ernst Mach and P. Salcher in Prague published "Photographische Fixirung der durch Projectile in der Luft eingeleiteten Vorgänge," Sitzungsber. k. Akad. Wiss., math.-naturwiss. Classe, 95 (1887) 764-80. The paper reproduced the first photograph of a shock wave in front of an object (in this case a bullet) moving at supersonic speed, and the first mathematical formula describing the physics of the shock wave.

“The angle α, which the shock wave surrounding the envelope of an advancing gas cone makes with the direction of its motion, was shown to be related to the velocity of sound ν and the velocity of the projectile ω as sinα = ν/ω when ω > ν. After 1907, following the work of Ludwig Prandtl at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Strömungsforschung in Göttingen, the angle α was called the Mach angle. Recognizing that the value of ω/ν (the ratio of the speed of an object to the speed of sound in the undisturbed medium in which the object is traveling) was becoming increasingly significant in aerodynamics for high-speed projectile studies, J. Ackeret in his inaugural lecture in 1929 as Privatdozent at the Eidgenössischen Technische Hochschule, Zürich, suggested the term ‘Mach number’ for this ratio" (Dictonary of Scientific Biography).

Anderson, History of Aerodynamics (1999) 376. 

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Dewey Urges Standardization of Library Catalogue Cards 1877

In 1877 the American Library Association, headquartered in Philadelphia, urged on by Melvil Dewey, standardized the size of library catalogue cards. At this time most libraries maintained their main catalogue in book form.

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The First American Bibliography on the History of Printing 1877

In 1877 American printing press inventor and manufacturer Richard March Hoe published The Literature of Printing. A Catalogue of the Library Illustrative of the History and Art of Typography Chalcography and Lithography.  A New Yorker, Hoe had this catalogue privately printed on handmade paper at the Chiswick Press in London in a small, but unspecified number of copies.  Its only illustration was a frontispiece showing one of Hoe's high speed presses. According to the Catalogue of the Wlliam Blades Library (1899) this catalogue was compiled by bibliographer and antiquarian bookseller Edward C. Bigmore, co-author of the Bigmore and Wyman, A Bibliography of Printing (1880-1886).  

That Hoe, an American at the center of the American printing industry, chose to have the catalogue of his private library on the history and technique of printing published in London in 1877 rather than by a fine printer in America leads me to believe that he was motivated by the Caxton Quadricentennial Celebration, and its catalogue, which occurred in London in that year. Hoe's name appears on the list of the General Committee for the celebration printed on p. xvii of the celebration catalogue.  Because of this, I think we might reasonably speculate that Hoe wanted to show some of his fellow printing history enthusiasts in England the treasures that he had gathered in America on the history of the subjects.  Whatever Hoe's motivation, his catalogue was the first American bibliography on the history of printing and typography.

My copy of Hoe's catalogue has Hoe's signed inscription to the American minister, journalist and politician Rev. Samuel J. Barrows, who had worked for Richard Hoe as a very young man.  

Hoe died in 1886. In January 1887, ten years after Hoe's catalogue was published, his library was dispersed at auction in New York by Bangs & Co. The first 1433 lots consisted of Hoe's library on the history of printing; the remainder of the roughly 2000 lots included miscellaneous subjects.

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Emile Berliner Invents the Microphone March 4, 1877

On March 4, 1877 German-American inventor Emile Berliner, working in New York City, invented the microphone. It was first  used as a telephone speech transmitter.

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The Caxton Quadricentennial Celebration: Probably the Largest Exhibition on the History of Printing Ever Held; Collecting its Publications June 30 – September 1, 1877

In the summer of 1877, four hundred years after printer William Caxton published The Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres, the first book printed in England, the Caxton Celebration opened in the western International Exhibition Galleries on the Queen's road side of the Horticultural Society's Gardens at South Kensington in London. The exhibition was organized by its Chairman, typefounder and politician Sir Charles Reed, by large scale industrial printer William Clowes, by mathematician and physicist from a family of major printers, William Spottiswoode, by printer, biographer and bibliographer of Caxton and rare book collector, William Blades, and various committees. Two hundred or more people participated in some way as patrons or members of committees, representing a "who's who" of the printing industry in England and Europe at the time, along with leading scientists, scholars, librarians and collectors. A few Americans such as printing machine designer and builder Richard M. Hoe were also involved in committees. The exhibition was open for two months, from June 30 to September 1, 1877. According to David McKitterick, Old Books, New Technologies  (2013, p. 175) the exhibition "attracted a reported 23,684 visitors" —an impressive number considering the population size and literacy levels of the time.

Planning for the exhibition, of course, started many months before it opened, and publicity was extensive. The illustrated newspaper, The Pictorial World in their issue of February 24, 1877, reported on a preliminary meeting of planners, including Sir Charles Reed and W. Spottswoode, held in the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey, a published an engraving showing 12 mostly bearded men sitting around a table, including a secretary taking notes. Publicity for the show eventually seems to have included marketing to children, or at least to parents who read to children. It is hard to imagine how such incentives would have any appeal to children, or their parents, in the second decade of the 21st century:

"Maclise's celebrated painting of Caxton showing the first specimen of his printing to Edward IV had been painted twenty years earlier, and when it was engraved in 1858 it was in the possession of John Forster (d. 1876). In 1877 it was on loan from its new owner, Lord Lytton, to the South Kensington Museum. The central part of the engraving was reissued in April 1877, as a contribution to the festivities. Reproductions were available at reduced prices to readers of Young Folks and Young Folk's Weekly Budget. As the original copies of the steel engraving had cost 4 guineas and upwards, the special offer price of a shilling plus vouchers from the magazines was a considerable bargain" (David McKitterick, Old Books, New Technologies [2013] 170-71.)

In their issue of June 30, 1877, the opening day of the exhibition, the British illustrated weekly newspaper, The Graphic, published a double-page image captioned "The Caxton Celebration. William Caxton Showing Specimens of His Printing to King Edward IV and His Queen." In their issue of July 1, 1877 The Illustrated London News published a collection of images related to the exhibition called "Caxtoniana." The same newspaper in their issue of July 7 (p. 18) published an article on the opening of exhibition and on p. 17 a large image captioned, "Mr. Gladstone at the Caxton Memorial Exhibition, South Kensington, on Saturday Last." The image showed Prime Minister Gladstone watching printing done on a "Gutenberg-style" hand-press. The Illustrated London News described the opening ceremony of the exhibition as follows:

"The opening ceremony was brief and simple. The leading part was borne by the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone. He was met by Sir Charles Reed, chairman of the committee; Mr. W. Blades, the biographer of Caxton; and the other gentlemen we have named, with the Archbishop of York. A large assembly of ladies and gentlemen filled the rooms assigned for this ceremony, as well as the adjacent galleries. After a special dedicatory prayer offered by the Archbishop, Sir Charles Reed read a short statement of the occasion and the objects of the Exhibition. Mr. Hodson, secetary to the Printers' Pension Corporation, handed to Mr. Gladstone a copy of the Exhibition Catalogue. The right hon. gentleman then declared the Exhibition to be opened. This formal declaration was immediately hailed by a flourish of trumpets from the band of the Royal Horse Guards Blue. Mr. Gladstone was conducted through the exhibition, which he examined with attentive interest. Our Illustration shows him looking at the working of an old press. There was a luncheon provided by the Conservatory of the Horticultural Society's Gardens. The chair was occupied by Mr. Gladstone, at whose right hand sat his Majesty the Emperor of Brazil, but the Emperor left the table before the toasts were proposed. His Majesty's health was, of course, duly honoured next to that of our Queen and Royal family. In his principal speech, giving the memory of William Caxton for the chief toast, Mr. Gladstone commented upon the invention of printing, with his usual copiousness of thought and knowledge, and expressed his admiration of the results now attained. The other speakers were the Bishop of Bath and Wells; Dr. Joseph Parker; Mr. Hall, of the Oxford University Press; M. Chaix, of Paris; Herr Fröbel, of Stuttgart; Sir C. Reed, and Mr. G. Spottiswoode. Subscriptions and donations to the Printers' Pension Corporation fund were announced, amounting to £2000, besides which there will be the receipts from the Exhibition." 

The Tablet, The International Catholic News Weekly, took an interest in the exhibition, reviewing it on pp. 7-8 of its issue dated July 28, 1877. An Irish novelist, Catherine Mary MacSorley, commemorated the anniversary by publishing an historical novel for young people about Caxton entitled The Earl-Printer. A Tale of the Time of Caxton (London, 1877).

As a record of the exhibition, a catalogue was edited by George Bullen (1816-94) Keeper of the Printed Books at the British Museum, entitled Caxton Celebration, 1877. Catalogue of the Loan Collection of Antiquities, Curiosities, and Appliances Connected with the Art of Printing. In its final form this 472 page book listed, sometimes with descriptive bibliographical notes, a total of 4734 items exhibited, making this probably the largest exhibition of rare books, prints, and printing equipment ever held. It encompassed works from the Gutenberg Bible and the Mainz Psalter up to 1877, including about 190 Caxtons, classics illustrating the spread of printing, landmarks of book illustration, examples of music printing, books on papermaking, notable achievements in color printing, examples of historic, unusual or new technologies in printing, as well as printing presses and typesetting and typefounding equipment. Notably, the catalogue contained no images. Presumably it was a sufficient challenge just to publish a non-illustrated bibliographical record of such an enormous exhibition, crediting the numerous lenders to the show.

I first learned about this exhibition when, out of curiosity, I happened to order a copy of the catalogue online, probably in 2010. When I skimmed through the catalogue, the size and extent of the exhibition amazed me. Then I noticed that there seemed to be different versions of the catalogue available, so I began to collect as many different ones as I could. Collecting about and around this exhibition in 2011 and 2012 allowed me to reconstruct some of the history of the exhibition, and the strangely complex publication of this exhibition catalogue. By June 2012 I identified 8 editions or states:

(1) During the early days of the exhibition a small number of preliminary "Rough Proof" copies of the catalogue were available. (This version I have not seen.) Also available for one shilling was a 32-page pamphlet written by William Blades entitled A Guide to the Objects of Chief Interest in the Loan Collection of the Caxton Celebration, Queen's Gate, South Kensington. (This I have not seen.)

(2) A bit later during the exhibition a "Preliminary Issue" with 404pp. and 10 leaves of advertisements was issued in pale blue printed wrappers for sale at 1s. This version, which was called "Preliminary Issue" on both its printed wrapper and title page, listed 4633 entries. In it Class C was entitled "The Comparative Development of the Art of Printing in England and Foreign Countries Illustrated by Specimens of the Holy Scriptures and Liturgies." The number of entries in Class C ended at 1351, leaving a gap of 100 items between the next entry in the catalogue, No. 1451 beginning "Class D, Specimens Noticeable for Rarity or for Beauty and Excellence of Typography." This indicates that the cataloguing of Class C was incomplete at the time the Preliminary Issue was printed.

(3) Later during the exhibition a version with 456pp and 11 leaves of advertisements was issued. My copy of this is bound in original brown cloth, edges untrimmed. It lists 4734 entries. In this version pp. xiv-xviii were reset to allow the addition of several names to various committees. Also the entire Class C was substantially rewritten and expanded, which required resetting numerous pages. In this version Class C is headed "The History of Printing Illustrated by the Printed Bible, 1450-1877, By Henry Stevens." A new gathering  M*was inserted, between gatherings M and N, its pages numbered 176a to 176q, bringing the Bibles catalogued up to No. 1450, and the Liturgies numbered 1450a-1450θ. Since  Henry Stevens's introduction to Class C is dated July 25, 1877 we may presume that this version came out either very late in July or during August. 

(4) Virtually at the end of the exhibition a "Revised Edition" of the catalogue was issued in tan printed wrappers, containing 472 pages and 11 leaves of advertisements at the back. The designation "Revised Edition" appeared only on the upper printed wrapper, and not the title page. This was priced 2s. 6d. My copy of this version bears the inscription of George William Reid, Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, who, according to Bullen's Introduction (p. xi), catalogued the various woodcuts, copper-plates and other engravings in Class G of the exhibition. Reid's inscription is dated September 1877. Without the printed wrappers the different versions can be determined by the number of pages. It is evident that many or all gatherings were reprinted for this edition in which the entries were renumbered in one series with continuous pagination.

(5) After the exhibition 157 hand-numbered large-paper copies of the revised edition with 472pp. were available on "superfine toned hand-made paper," edges untrimmed in a special original brown cloth binding for 1 guinea, and

(6) 12 hand-numbered copies were available on extra large, thick hand-made paper at the cost of 5 guineas, likewise in an original brown cloth binding, edges untrimmed. No copies of  (5) or (6) that I have seen had wrappers or ads. (Remarkably, I was able to acquire two of the twelve extra large paper copies issued.)

(7)  After the exhibition some of the copies of the catalogue printed on regular paper were bound in cloth for sale. I have a copy bound in original green cloth, edges trimmed, without ads.

(8) I also have a copy bound in original red cloth, edges trimmed, stamped "PRESENTATION COPY" on the upper cover with an inscription to British Museum Librarian, G. W. Porter, from J. S. Hodson, Honorary Secretary of the Executive Committee dated November 17, 1877. This copy contains 2 leaves of ads at the back. In his introduction to the catalogue George Bullen credits Hodson, who was Secretary of the "Printers' Pension, Almshouse and Orphan Asylum Corporation," for "having originated this celebration," the proceeds of which went to support the Printers charities that Hodson managed.

The most extensive section in the exhibition, and also the most extensively annotated portion of the catalogue, was "Class C, The History of Printing Illustrated by the Printed Bible, 1450-1877" by the American bibliographer and antiquarian bookseller Henry Stevens who lived in London. Stevens ran into conflicts with the organizers of the exhibition, who were concerned that Stevens's extensive exhibition and detailed cataloguing was unduly prominent. They may also have been irritated that some of Stevens's extensive cataloguing was not finished until the middle of show. At the end of his introduction to Class C Stevens, whose extensive bibliography proves that he clearly enjoyed writing, indicated that he would publish a revised edition of his portion of the catalogue after the show. This he duly published as an unillustrated 151 page book in 1878 under the following verbose title:

The Bibles in the Caxton Exhibition MDCCCLXXVII or a bibliographical description of nearly one thousand representative Bibles in various languages chronologically arranged from the first Bible printed by Gutenberg in 1450-1456 to the last Bible printed at the Oxford University Press the 30th June 1877. With an Introduction on the History of Printing as Illustrated by the printed Bible from 1450 to 1877 in which is told for the first time the true history and mystery of the Coverdale Bible of 1535 Together with bibliographical notes and collations of many rare Bibles in various languages and divers versions printed during the last four centuries.  

This book Stevens issued both as an octavo trade edition on ordinary paper and clothbound, and on large paper printed on Whatman hand-made paper. Large paper copies were advertised for 15s in a half-roan binding or in red morocco extra by Bedford for £4.4s.  My copy of the large paper edition is in an original green cloth binding matching the binding of the trade edition, and comes from the library of Henry Frowde of Oxford University Press, who became Publisher of the press in 1880. In his book Stevens explained that his efforts were the culmination of 30 years of work on Bible bibliography. Stevens began his book with an essay entitled "The Flavour." This was largely in response to a review of his Bible exhibition published in The Saturday Review on August 17, 1877—the last of five reviews of the Caxton exhibition published in that journal. Stevens evidently felt so highly his essay that he had it published separately as a pamphlet in printed wrappers.[ This I did learn about until I found a copy in February 2016.]  For the exhibition Stevens borrowed Bibles from sources including the British Museum, the Bodleian, Queen Victoria, Earl Spencer, the Earl of Leicester, Francis Fry, the Signet Library and its librarian, David Laing of Edinburgh, and Henry J. Atkinson of Gunnersbury House in Middlesex.

The Caxton Memorial Bible as a Demonstration of Progress in Book Production Since Caxton's Time

At the instigation of Henry Stevens, Henry Frowde of Oxford University Press undertook the publication of a Bible that would demonstrate the advances in printing technology since its introduction in England by Caxton. By Stevens's account this was a last minute idea of Stevens undertaken by the press only a few days before opening of the exhibition. The Bible was printed on machine presses at Oxford by Oxford University Press, and bound by Oxford University Press in London in an edition of 100 numbered copies, with the printing and binding occurring in only twelve hours on the opening day of the exhibition, June 30, 1877. Printing began at 2:00 AM on June 30, and the first bound copies were delivered at the opening of the exhibition at 2:00 PM on the same day. Copy No.2 was presented to Gladstone when he opened the show, copy No. 1 having been reserved for Her Majesty the Queen. In March 1878 Stevens published a small 30-page book (page size 115 x 85 mm) entitled The History of the Caxton Memorial Bible printed and bound in twelve consecutive hours on June 30, 1877. In this book Stevens told the story of this remarkable achievement in which copies of the 1052-page volume were printed from standing type on paper specially made for the edition by Oxford University Press only a few days before printing. The printed sheets were artificially dried and hand-bound in turkey morocco by 101 binders assigned to the task. Stevens calculated that had type composition been necessary it would have taken "2000 compositors and 200 readers to set up and properly read the Bible in these same twelve hours." (In 1877, about a decade before the invention of the Linotype and Monotype, there was no widely used method of machine composition.) It was agreed that all copies of the Memorial Bible would be presented and none would be sold, and that copy No. 1, and every third number, would be allotted by Oxford University Press, that copy No. 2 and every third number thereafter would be allotted by Henry Stevens, and that every third number thereafter would be allotted by the Delegates of the University Press and the Dons of Oxford.

In October 2014 I was able to purchase a copy of the Caxton Memorial Bible—certainly the highlight of my Caxton Celebration collection. The page size of the volume is 160 x 110 mm. It is bound in full black crushed morocco, raised bands on the spine and tooled in gold on the spine "The Caxton Memorial Bible. Oxford, June 30th 1877." The edges are gilt. On the upper cover is stamped the arms of Oxford University. On the turn-in below the front pastedown endpaper is stamped in gold "Bound at the Oxford University Binding Establishment in London on this 30th day of June 1877." Facing the title page is printed "Wholly printed and bound in twelve hours, on this 30th day of June, 1877, for the Caxton Celebration. Only 100 copies were printed, of which this is No. 20." Beneath this is handwritten "Allotted to William Amhurst Tyssen-Amherst Esq. M. P. by Henry N. Stevens 24 May 1889." Lord Amherst was a distinguished collector of books, manuscripts and Egyptian antiquities. As the allotment to Amherst occurred twelve years after publication it is evident that Stevens held onto at least one copy for more than a decade after the exhibition. Stevens crossed out the printed word "Presented" and replaced it with "alloted." The title page of the Bible states at its head "[In Memoriam Gul. Caxton.] and at its foot "Minion 16mo. June 30, 1877. Cum Privilegio." At the foot of the first page of each of the 32 gatherings that comprise the book is printed "The Oxford Caxton Celebration Edition, 1877." My copy is enclosed in a full black straight-grained morocco pull-off case labeled in the same typeface as is stamped on the spine of the Bible. Inside the slipcase "No 20" is stamped in gold. All the copies were bound identically and presented in this way. 

In comparison with the speed of papermaking, printing and binding in Caxton's time the speed of production of the Caxton Memorial Bible represented an enormous advance, so great that it would be difficult to quantify, and it is evident that the producers of the Caxton Memorial Bible were very proud of these advances. What would have taken perhaps a year or more in Caxton's time for the paper to be made by hand, for the typesetting to be done by hand, for the printing to be done on a handpress, and for the binding to be done by hand, was accomplished in less than a day. Particularly in the 15th century type was a scarce and very expensive commodity so no printer could have kept more than a few formes before they would have to be run through the press, and the type reused to print the next formes, but by the 19th century large printers such as Oxford University Press kept many standard works in standing type even though they could use stereotype plates instead.  If we compare the speed of completion of these hundred Caxton Memorial Bibles with 21st century printing technology it is probable that the papermaking and printing could be done as rapidly or perhaps even faster than what was achieved on June 30, 1877. However, I doubt if in the 21st century 101 hand binders capable of binding the volumes as rapidly and enclosing them in the elaborate pull-off slipcase could be found and organized to do the task without exceptionally elaborate and time-consuming preparation-maybe years of training. To achieve anywhere near this speed of production of such an elaborate binding and slipcase the work would have to be done by machine.

For enclosure with the Bible Stevens had a special version of his History of the Caxton Memorial Bible produced on very thin paper and bound in brown moire silk over very thin boards. In this Stevens repeated the autograph inscription that he wrote in the Bible, and he added Lord Amherst's name to the list of recipients of copies printed at the back of his small book. The edition is so thin that it fits in the slipcase with the Bible. My copy of the regular edition is printed on relatively thick laid paper, and in its binding of blind-stamped and gilt calf over boards is roughly five times as thick as the thin paper version.

The Roles of William Blades and Talbot Baines Reed

The remarkable exhibition of rare books on the history of printing and typography described in the exhibition catalogue for the Caxton Celebration was loaned in its entirety by William Blades, who also catalogued all the Caxtons and other early English printed books in the exhibition. Blades was also a collector of medals relating to the history of printing and hoped to have a medal struck commemorating the 1877 celebration. For the purpose he issued a prospectus with a reproduction of the proposed design; however, there were insufficient subscribers, and the medal is known only from the prospectus, the design from which was reproduced by Henry Morris in his introduction to the 2001 facsimile reprint of Bigmore & Wyman.

The superb exhibition of type specimens in the show was curated by writer, typefounder, historian of type foundries, and son of Sir Charles Reed, Talbot Baines Reed

♦ One of the more unusual Caxton Celebration items I collected is an 8-page 4to pamphlet entitled Caxton Celebration June 1877. A Biographical Notice of William Caxton The First English Printer Reprinted from the "Leisure Hour" for May, 1877 in Phonetic Spelling with a Specimen page of Caxton's Type and Woodcuts. This pamphlet, with an introduction by Isaac Pitman dated May 29, 1877, was issued by Fred. Pitman in London and offered for sale at the price of one penny, presumably at the exhibition. In his lengthy introduction Issac Pitman referred to the Elementary Education Act of 1870, requiring education of children in England and Wales, and took the opportunity to promote phonetic spelling as a way of simplifying British education and improving national literacy. In a footnote he wrote: "The Educational Blue Book for 1875-6 gives the following statistics:- 2,221,745 children were presented for examination. Of this number, 19,349 (or less than one per cent.) reached Standard VI :- and 53,587 (3 1/2 per cent, including the previous number) reached Standard V, which a pupil must pass before he is permited to leave school under 13 years of age."

Other publications issued in connection with the exhibition were a new edition of William Blades's The Biography and Typography of William Caxton England's First Printer (1877; first published 1861), William Caxton, the First English Printer. A Biography by printer and publisher Charles Knight (1877). This was a new edition of a work previously issued in 1844; on its upper printed wrapper the printers stated that it was "Printed and Presented to the Caxton Celebration by William Clowes and Sons." Also published in 1877 was a 47-page pamphlet entitled, Who Was William Caxton? by "R[owland] H [ill] B[lades]", brother of William Blades. This was intended to fill a need for an inexpensive, relatively brief account of Caxton. In March 2016 I came across a reference to still another publication produced for the exhibition: A Short History of the Art of Printing in England by Arthur. C. J. Powell. Issued as a Supplement to the Printers' Register, in commoration of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Introduction of Printing into England. London: Joseph M. Powell, "Printers' Register" Office, 1877. This was a well-illustrated 66-page article.  An unusual aspect was the advertisment facing the title page in which the publisher, Joseph M. Powell, Type Broker, and Manufacturer of Printing Materials, offered to supply a "Small Printing Office complete for £115."

There were two elaborate publications associated with the exhibition:

1. A facsimile of Caxton's The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers. A Facsimile Reproduction of the First Book Printed in England by William Caxton in 1477. This facsimile, printed in two-color photolithography, included an introduction by William Blades printed by letterpress. The volume was offered for sale by the London publisher Elliot Stock in 1877 at the price of one guinea bound in a heavy coated paper binding over boards, and blindstamped very effectively to resemble a blind-stamped calf binding of the 15th century.

2. A facsimile limited to 257 signed copies, with woodcuts printed from the "original woodblocks" entitled New Biblia Pauperum Being Thirty-Eight Woodcuts Illustrating the Life, Parables & Miracles of Our Blessed Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ, with the Proper Descriptions thereof, extracted from the Translation of the New Testament, by John Wiclif, Sometime Rector of Lutterworth. This was issued from London, "Printed at the Sign of The Grasshopper," by Unwin Brothers, The Gresham Press, 1877. The edition was bound in blind-stamped drab boards, copying a design taken from an early block book in the British Museum, with two brass catches and clasps. The work seems to have been a kind of hodge-podge in that the original woodblocks, which dated sometime between 1470-1540, were purchased by the Unwin brothers, and used to illustrate the facsimile text of John Wycliffe's New Testament of 1525, which was printed in Caxton Type No. 2. At the time it was unknown what work these woodblocks originally illustrated. as they were not "recognized as belonging to any printed book." The publishers intended the facsimile to supply two markets: interest in Caxton's printing stimulated by the 1877 Caxton Celebration, and the Wycliffe quincentenary of 1377, which occurred the same year. 

Thinking about this celebration in 2016, one of the most unusual elements that I found in my web researches, was a parallel Caxton celebratiion exhibition held in Montreal also in 1877, just a few days before the celebration occurred in London. That this parallel exhibition was held may be explained by the fact that Canada was a self-governing entity within the British Empire at the time. A 35-page pamphlet about that exhibition, published by La Bureau de La Revue de Montreal, was entitled Célébration du quatrième anniversaire séculaire de l'établissement de l'imprimerie en Angleterre par Caxton: revue de l'exposition de livres, manuscrits, médailles, etc., tenue sous les auspices de la Société des antiquaires et des numismates de Montréal : discours de MM. Dawson, Chauveau, White et MayThe actual catalogue of the Canadian exhibition, which remarkably included over 2000 items, was entitled Condensed Catalogue of Manuscripts, Books and Engravings on Exhibition at the Caxton Celebration, Held under the Auspices of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal, at the Mechanics' Hall on the 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th June 1877, in Commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of the Introduction of Printing into England. Montreal: Printed at the "Gazette" Printing House, 1877.

The first historical account of the exhibition was written by one of its key organizers, James Shirley Hodson, and published as Chapter X of his History of the Printing Trade Charities (London, 1883). Bigmore & Wyman, A Bibliography of Printing I (1880-84) 124-26. Twyman, Early Lithographed Books (1990) 258. 

(This entry was last revised on 03-25-2016.)

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Formation of the Bell Telephone Company, then the American Bell Telephone Company July 9, 1877 – March 1880

The Bell Telephone Company was organized in Boston, Massachusetts on July 9, 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who also helped organize a sister company — the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company. The Bell Telephone Company was started on the basis of holding "potentially valuable patents," principally Bell's master telephone patent #174465. Renamed the National Bell Telephone Company in March 1879, it became the American Bell Telephone Company in March 1880.

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Edison Invents the Phonograph August 12, 1877

On August 12, 1877 Thomas Alva Edison of Menlo Park (now Edison, New Jersey), invented the phonograph. Edison's phonograph recorded on a metal cylinder wrapped with metal foil. In the first test of the machine Edison recited the nursery rhyme, "Mary had a little lamb."

Following his presentation of the phonograph at the editorial offices of Scientific American in New York on December 7, 1877, Edison applied for the patent on December 24. U.S. patent 200,521 for Improvement in phonograph or speaking machines was granted on February 19, 1878.

A notable aspect of the originality of this invention is that before Edison invented the phonograph few people ever imagined a need for such a device.

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David Hughes Invents the Loose-Contact Carbon Microphone 1878

In 1878 English inventor David Edward Hughes, working in London, invented the loose-contact carbon microphone. Hughes's microphone was vital to telephony, and later to broadcasting and sound recording.

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Allowing the Typing of Both Upper and Lower Case Letters 1878

Remington Standard 2 typewriter.

In 1878 the Remington Model 2 typewriter, produced by the Remington Typewriter Co. of Ilion, New York, introduced a shift key, allowing the typing of both upper and lower case letters.

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Abdank-Abakanowicz Invents the Integraph 1878

In 1878 Bruno Abdank-Abakanowicz, a mathematician, inventor and electrical engineer, invented the integraph, a form of integrator.

"The integraph is an elaboration and extension of the planimeter, an earlier, simpler instrument used to measure area. It is a mechanical instrument capable of deriving the integral curve corresponding to a given curve. Hence, it is capable of solving graphically a simple differential equation.

"Sets of partial differential equations are commonly encountered in mathematical physics. Most branches of physics such as aerodynamics, electricity, acoustics, plasma physics, electron-physics and nuclear energy involve complex flows, motions and rates of change which may be described mathematically by partial differential equations. A well-established example from electromagnetics is the set of partial differential equations known as Maxwell's equations.

"In practice, differential equations can be difficult to integrate, that is to solve. The integraph is capable of solving only simple differential equations. The need to handle sets of more complex non-linear differential equations, led Vannevar Bush to develop the Differential Analyzer at MIT in the early 1930s. In turn, limitations in speed, capacity and accuracy of the Bush Differential Analyzer provided the impetus for the development of the ENIAC during World War II.

"Abdank-Abakanowicz’s instrument could produce solutions to a commonly encountered class of simple differential equations of the form dy/dx = F(x) so that y = ò F(x)dx. The basic approach was to draw a graph of the function F and then use the pointer on the device to trace the contour of the function. The value of the integral could then be read from the dials. The concept of the instrument was taken up and soon put into production by such well known instrument makers as the Swiss firm of Coradi in Zurich" (From Gordon Bell's website, accessed 09-01-2010).

Abdank-Abakanowicz published a monograph entitled Les Intégraphes (Paris, 1886).

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Invention of Photogravure 1878

In 1877 Czech painter, photographer and illustrator Karel Václav Klíč (Karl Klietsch) became one of the inventors of photogravure.

"The earliest forms of photogravure were developed in the 1830s by the original pioneers of photography itself, Henry Fox Talbot in England and Nicéphore Niépce in France. They were seeking a means to make prints that would not fade, by creating photographic images on plates that could then be etched. The etched plates could then be printed using a traditional printing press. These early images were among the first photographs, pre-dating daguerreotypes and the later wet-collodion photographic processes. Fox Talbot worked on extending the process in the 1850s and patented it in 1852 ('photographic engraving') and 1858 ('photoglyphic engraving'). Photogravure in its mature form was developed in 1878 by Czech painter Karel Klíč, who built on Talbot's research. This process, the one still in use today, is called the Talbot-Klič process" (Wikipedia article on photogravure, accessed 02-05-2012).

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Marey Pioneers Recording Scientific Results Graphically 1878

In 1878 French physiologist and chronographer Étienne-Jules Marey published La méthode graphique dans les sciences expérimentales et principalement en physiologie et en médecine in Paris. Marey pioneered the use of graphical recording in the experimental sciences, using instruments (many of his own invention) to capture and display data impossible to observe with the senses alone, and to record visually the progression of such data over time. He began by applying graphical recording methods to problems in physiology, using machines to investigate the mechanics of the circulatory, respiratory and muscular systems. After 1868 he turned to the study of human and animal locomotion, and in the 1880s he began using cinematography to record animal motion, making him one of the pioneers in this field.

Marey’s graphical recording methods, at first looked on askance by the French medical establishment, eventually led to Marey’s election to the Académie des Sciences, where he occupied the chair in the medical and surgical section once held by Claude Bernard. In the same year Marey published his La méthode graphique, an encyclopedic summary of all of his research and results so far. It began, as did all Marey’s publications, with a scrupulous history in which he enumerated his predecessors and described what he had borrowed from each. He then defined the purposes of his inscribing machines and showed how they were able to describe both movement and force as well as to store the information as material for comparison and research. He described the circulatory and locomotion phenomena he had studied, but this time he focused on methods of recording them. He reviewed the function of the mechanical models he had created, and finally he explained the locomotion of humans, horses, birds and insects and showed the devices for registering their movements. “There is nothing,” wrote Marey, “that can escape the methods of analysis at our disposal” (Braun, Picturing Time: The Work of Etienne-Jules Marey 39-40).

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Morgand & Fatout Issue Perhaps the Earliest Antiquarian Bookseller's Catalogue Illustrated with Plates Printed in Color 1878

In April 2013 Roland Folter, an expert bibliographer, retired antiquarian bookseller, and noted collector of the history of bibliography and the book trade, suggested to me that the earliest antiquarian bookseller's catalogue illustrated with plates printed in color might be Bulletin Mensuel No. 8, October 1878, issued in Paris by the firm of Damascène Morgand and Charles Fatout. Upon hearing of this I was able to acquire a nicely bound copy of Volume I of the Bulletin (1876-78), containing the first 8 issues describing a total of 4562 priced items continuously numbered, followed by an elaborate index of authors and anonymous works found in the first volume. According to Roland Folter, the lot numbering continued in 9 subsequent volumes of the Bulletin, comprising 59 issues in 10 volumes (1876-1904), describing 46,593 lots on well over 10,000 pages with 91 plates (19 in color) and over 600 text illustrations, making it perhaps the most voluminous antiquarian bookseller's catalogue ever published. (This set was continued as Bulletin - Nouvelle Série, published in 21 individually paginated and individually numbered issues from 1904 to 1920.) 

Issue No. 8 contains 6 finely printed color plates of bookbindings, each with a tissue guard. In the introduction to this volume the publishers stated that they had desired to include facsimiles of bookbindings earlier but found the reproduction quality unsatisfactory until the availability of a new process they call a combination of photogravure and "chromotypographie." This appears to be a combination of photogravure – the modern form of which was invented in 1878 – and chromolithography.

Bulletin Mensuel resembles twentieth century antiquarian catalogues in terms of format and occasional annotations.  Some of the line cuts of title pages are even printed in both red and black. In issue No. 8 the booksellers also included detailed black & white engraved reproductions of medieval miniatures, another feature which may have been unusual for the time.  I find it interesting that the booksellers chose to reproduce bindings in color even though the spectacular bindings reproduced were by no means as expensive as some other books in the catalogue, especially the illuminated manuscripts. Clearly the reproduction quality for attempts at illustrating elaborate images of medieval manuscripts with their wide color range might have been unsatisfactory, or perhaps prohibitively expensive at the time, with many more color impressions required for each plate.

Another unusual element in the catalogue is that the second color plate, illustrating No. 3948, reproduces a miniature bookbinding in its original size. The Grolieresque mosaic binding on a miniature 1828 edition of Horace is priced only 270 F; certainly this is the earliest color reproduction of a miniature bookbinding in an antiquarian booksellers's catalogue. Were miniature books reproduced in their original size in antiquarian booksellers' catalogues prior to this?

Searching for information on Morgand & Fatout, I found the following information on Damascène Morgand in an online issue of the American magazine, The Curio, Vol.1, No. 3, published in November 1887. The article, written by the presumably forgotten journalist Max Maury, was entitled "The Great Booksellers of the World. Damascene Morgand, of Paris." From it I quote:

"A little farther at No. 55 Caen used to present an alluring stock of illuminated manuscripts, incunables, first editions XVII. and XVIII. century bindings, engravings and etchings in their earliest and most perfect states, and of late years, in 1875, I think Damascène Morgand, having bought out the Caen business, began his career of unprecedented success, built upon that solid experience acquired under old Fontaine's careful tuition. In 1882 his partner, Mr. Fatout, died, and the forty-seven year old Norman connoisseur began his rapid strides towards his world-wide reputation. The great bibliophiles placed orders in his hands with a feeling of full security; and in all the great public sales, Damascène Morgand, dignified, cold as steel and as sharp as a Yankee of Yankeeland, came forward as the buyer of the highest-priced lots and of unique examples of books, bindings, and prints. Such collectors as the Baron James de Rothschild, the Count de Lignerolles, Ernest Quentin-Bauchart, Eugène Paillet, Louis Roederer (of Champagne fame), the Baron de La Roche-Lacarelle, etc., took from his hands the most famous jewels of their choice libraries. From such customers a dealer learns more than he teaches, and, in fact, the spirit of the collector possessed Mr. Morgand as deeply as it did his buyers. As a tangible proof of his gigantic work, his firm has published, for the last ten years, monthly bulletins, embellished with costly illustrations fac-similes of frontispieces, reproductions of bindings engraved in colors, and the collection of these bulletins is sought after as the basis of every bibliophile's library of information."

Roland Folter also pointed out to me in an email on May 3, 2013 that 1878 appears to be a watershed year for the introduction of printed color plates in commercial rare book catalogues as, in addition to the Morgand & Fatout catalogue, a few copies of the Sotheby catalogue of the J. T. Payne sale in London on April 10, 1878 were "struck off on thick paper with Eleven facsimile Illustrations in gold and colours. Price 5s.", and a Bachelin-Deflorenne auction catalogue for a sale in Paris in June 1878, listing among other things a Gutenberg Bible, was issued with 5 color plates (2 folding). I have not seen the Bachelin-Deflorenne catalogue, and cannot judge the quality of its color plates, but as it predated the Morgand & Fatout catalogue by 5 months, it is conceivable that Morgand & Fatout decided it was time to introduce color printed images in their catalogue when they saw the color plates in the Bachelin-Deflorenne catalogue.

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Foundation of International Parcel Post Service 1878 – 1896

"The term "parcel post" refers to the sending of packages through the mail service. In 1878, the Congress of the Universal Postal Union established an international parcel post system. Four years later, the British parliament approved a bill implementing domestic, colonial and foreign parcel post services. Other countries quickly followed suit. The US Post Office Department agreed to deliver parcels sent into the country but refused to institute a domestic service.

"In the late 1800's, the National Grange and similar organizations concerned with farmers' welfare lobbied Congress for the free delivery of mail to rural households. Many rural residents had to travel for days to retrieve their mail from distant post offices or pay private express companies for delivery. Finally, in October 1896, Congress approved the establishment of rural free delivery. It was a heady taste of life for rural Americans and soon increased the demand for delivery of packages containing foodstuffs, dry goods, drugs, tobacco and other commodities not easily available to farmers.

"Private express companies and rural retail merchants fought tenaciously against parcel post but rural residents comprised 54 percent of the country's population and they were equally vociferous. While the question was still being debated in Congress, one of the major express companies declared a large stockholder dividend. Public indignation at the exorbitant profits spurred Congress to resolve the issue quickly" (http://www.sil.si.edu/ondisplay/parcelpost/intro.htm, accessed 11-07-2013).

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"Mullerian Mimicry" is Described 1878

German physician and biologist Johann Friedrich Theodor Müller (better known as Fritz Müller) emigrated with his family to the German community of Blumenau, Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil. In 1878 he published "Ueber die Vortheile der Mimicry bei Schmetterlingen," Zool. Anz. 1 (1878) 54-55. In this paper Müller described what came to be known as "Müllerian mimicry." Batesian mimicry explained why an edible species would mimic an inedible one, but did not account for the superficial resemblances between two or more unpalatable species. Muller explained that a predator must learn which species are unpalatable, and the coloration of an unpalatable species serves as a warning coloration to predators. The selective advantage of Müllerian mimicry is that when two unpalatable species share similar warning colors fewer of both populations are lost because the warning colors are more quickly recognized by predators.  

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Discovery of Mitosis 1878 – 1882

In 1878 German biologist and founder of cytogenetics Walther Flemming at the University of Kiel published the results of his investigations of the process of cell division and the distribution of chromosomes to the daughter nuclei, a process he called mitosis from the Greek word for thread. His researches were first published in "Zur Kenntniss der Zelle und ihrer Theilungs-Erscheinungen," Schriften des Naturwissenschaftlichen Vereins für Schleswig-Holstein 3 (1878) 23–27. Continuing his researches, he published further results in 1882 Zellsubstanz, Kern und Zelltheilung (Cell Substance, Nucleus and Cell Division), a work which contained over 100 drawings. On the basis of his discoveries, Flemming surmised for the first time that all cell nuclei came from another predecessor nucleus; he coined the phrase omnis nucleus e nucleo, after Rudolph  Virchow's phrase omnis cellula e cellula.

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The First Regular Telephone Exchange is Established in New Haven, Connecticut January 1878

In January 1878 the first regular telephone exchange was set up in New Haven, Connecticut.

"The switchboard was built from 'carriage bolts, handles from teapot lids and bustle wire' and could handle two simultaneous conversations" (Wikipedia article on telephone exchange, accessed 04-22-2009).

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Edison Describes Future Uses for his Phonograph June 1878

In an article published in the North American Review in June 1878 Thomas Edison described future uses for his phonograph, which he had invented on August 12, 1877:

  1. Letter writing and all kinds of dictation without the aid of a stenographer.
  2. Phonographic books, which will speak to blind people without effort on their part.
  3. The teaching of elocution.
  4. Reproduction of music.
  5. The "Family Record"--a registry of sayings, reminiscences, etc., by members of a family in their own voices, and of the last words of dying persons.
  6. Music-boxes and toys.
  7. Clocks that should announce in articulate speech the time for going home, going to meals, etc.
  8. The preservation of languages by exact reproduction of the manner of pronouncing.
  9. Educational purposes; such as preserving the explanations made by a teacher, so that the pupil can refer to them at any moment, and spelling or other lessons placed upon the phonograph for convenience in committing to memory.
  10. Connection with the telephone, so as to make that instrument an auxiliary in the transmission of permanent and invaluable records, instead of being the recipient of momentary and fleeting communication."
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Listening to the Earliest Surviving Recording of a Musical Performance June 22, 1878 – October 2012

In October 2012 computing technology made it possible to listen to the oldest playable recording of an American voice and the first-ever capturing of a musical performance.  The recording on tinfoil, which lasts 78 seconds, was made on a phonograph in St. Louis, Missouri on June 22, 1878, months after Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.

" 'In the history of recorded sound that's still playable, this is about as far back as we can go,' said John Schneiter, a trustee at the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady, where it was played Thursday night in the city where Edison helped found the General Electric Co.

"The recording opens with a 23-second cornet solo of an unidentified song, followed by a man's voice reciting 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' and 'Old Mother Hubbard.' The man laughs at two spots during the recording, including at the end, when he recites the wrong words in the second nursery rhyme.

" 'Look at me; I don't know the song,' he says.

"When the recording was played using modern technology during a presentation Thursday at a nearby theater, it was likely the first time it had been played at a public event since it was created during an Edison phonograph demonstration held June 22, 1878, in St. Louis, museum officials said. The recording was made on a sheet of tinfoil, 5 inches wide by 15 inches long, placed on the cylinder of the phonograph Edison invented in 1877 and began selling the following year. A hand crank turned the cylinder under a stylus that would move up and down over the foil, recording the sound waves created by the operator's voice. The stylus would eventually tear the foil after just a few playbacks, and the person demonstrating the technology would typically tear up the tinfoil and hand the pieces out as souvenirs, according to museum curator Chris Hunter.

"Popping noises heard on this recording are likely from scars left from where the foil was folded up for more than a century.

" 'Realistically, once you played it a couple of times, the stylus would tear through it and destroy it,' he said. Only a handful of the tinfoil recording sheets are known to known to survive, and of those, only two are playable: the Schenectady museum's and an 1880 recording owned by The Henry Ford museum in Michigan.

"Hunter said he was able to determine just this week that the man's voice on the museum's 1878 tinfoil recording is believed to be that of Thomas Mason, a St. Louis newspaper political writer who also went by the pen name I.X. Peck. Edison company records show that one of his newly invented tinfoil phonographs, serial No. 8, was sold to Mason for $95.50 in April 1878, and a search of old newspapers revealed a listing for a public phonograph program being offered by Peck on June 22, 1878, in St. Louis, the curator said. A woman's voice says the words 'Old Mother Hubbard,' but her identity remains a mystery, he said. Three weeks after making the recording, Mason died of sunstroke, Hunter said" (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5izrvFWaR6h-FWye-Eq2bZN5RCqOg?docId=c9195e25da6f473e90e726152ddbc4d6, accessed 10-26-2012).

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The First Telephone Directory is Published in New Haven, Connecticut November 1878

Eleven months after its foundation, in November 1878 The Connecticut District Telephone Company of New Haven, Connecticut issued the world's first telephone book. The telephone directory contained the names and addresses of 391 subscribers who paid $22 per year for service. There were no phone numbers, but there were advertisements and listings of businesses in the back of the book—the first, embryonic "yellow pages." The advertisers included physicians and carriage companies. Customers were limited to three minutes per call, and no more than two calls an hour without permission from the central office.

"Besides rules, the embryonic phone book also featured pages of tips on placing calls — pick up the receiver and tell the operator whom you want — and how to talk on this gadget. Having a real conversation, for example, required rapidly transferring the telephone between mouth and ear.“When you are not speaking, you should be listening,” it says at one point. You should begin by saying, “Hulloa,” and when done talking, the book says, you should say, “That is all.” The other person should respond, “O.K.” Because anybody could be on the line at any time, customers should not pick up the telephone unless they want to make a call, and they should be careful about what others might hear. “Any person using profane or otherwise improper language should be reported at this office immediately.”

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Filed under: Book History, Telephone

The Incandescent Light Bulb is Invented 1879

In 1879 Thomas Alva Edison produced the first incandescent light bulb capable of burning for a substantial period of time.

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The First Extensively Used Scientific Method of Criminal Identification 1879

In 1879 French police officer and biometric researcher Alphonse Bertillon first published a description of his method of anthropometry. He developed this system, which used five measurements— head length, head breadth, length of middle finger, length of left foot, and length of forearm from elbow to extremeity of middle finger  — as a means for identifying people. It was the first scientific method for the identification of criminals. Until this time, criminals could only be identified based on eyewitness accounts, which were known to be unreliable. 

Bertillon first employed his method, which was eventually called "Bertillonage," in the successful identification of a criminal in 1883. It became the first extensively used scientific method of criminal identification.

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Index Medicus Begins 1879

Under the direction of John Shaw Billings, in 1879 the Library of the Surgeon General's Office (to be redesignated in 1956 the National Library of Medicine) began publication of the Index Medicus—  an effort to index all of medical periodical literature.

Index Medicus finally ceased publication in print in 2004.

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Foundation of Modern Mathematical Logic 1879

In 1879 Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege published in Halle, Germany his Begriffsschrift, eine der arithmetischen nachgebildete Formelsprache des reinen Denkens.

“. . . although a mere booklet of eighty-eight pages, it is perhaps the most important single work ever written in logic. Its fundamental contributions, among lesser points, are the truth-functional propositional calculus, the analysis of the proposition into function and argument(s) instead of subject and predicate, the theory of quantification, a system of logic in which derivations are carried out exclusively according to the form of the expressions, and a logical definition of the notion of mathematical sequence. Any single one of these achievements would suffice to secure the book a permanent place in the logician’s library” (Van Heijenoort, From Frege to Gödel (1967) 1).

“In his attempt to give a satisfactory definition of number and a rigorous foundation to arithmetic, Frege found ordinary language insufficient. To overcome the difficulties involved, he devised his Begriffschrift as a tool for analyzing and representing mathematical proofs completely and adequately. This tool has gradually developed into modern mathematical logic, of which Frege may justly be considered the creator“ (Dictionary of Scientific Biography article on Frege).

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Filed under: Mathematics / Logic

George Carey Invents One of the Earliest Systems of Television Transmission 1880

In 1880 George R. Carey, a professional surveyer employed by the city of Boston, proposed one of the earliest systems of television transmission

"In the May 17, 1878 issue of Scientific American, the editors alluded to their earlier article about the 'telectroscope invented by M. Senlecq of Ardres.' This was followed by the news that they had before them 'some very ingenious and curious applications of selenium, in which its peculiar property of changing its electrical conductivity when exposed to light varying in intensity is utilized. The several devices are the invention of Mr. George R. Carey, of Boston, Mass.' A more detailed article was published in the June 5, 1880 Scientific American" (Wikipedia article on George R. Carey, accessed 02-05-2012).

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Adriano de Paiva Issues the First Separate Publication on Television 1880

In 1880 Adriano de Paiva, a professor of chemistry and physics at the Polytechnic Academy at Porto (Portugal) issued the first separate publication on television: La telescopie électrique basée sur l'emploi du selenium, a 48-page pamphlet published in Porto.

Paiva's paper represented the first theoretical formulation of the possibility of using selenium to transmit images at a distance. Paiva became interseted in the possibility of transmitting images by wire after the demonstration of Alexander Graham Bell's telephone in Lisbon in November 1877.

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Could Life From Other Planets Have Been Carried to Earth by Meteorites? 1880

In 1880 Lawyer, Swedenborgian, poet, agent for Canadian emmigration, economist, and amateur petrologist in Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany Otto Hahn published Die Meteorite (Chondrite) und ihre Organismenwith 32 plates containing 144 images of photomicrographs of cross-sections of meteorites. Hahn claimed that the mysterious structures shown in his photographs were  evidence of fossilized plants and simple animals, carried within meteorites from extra-terrestrial origins.

Though other scientists realized that Hahn had confused mineral structures with organic structures, it was claimed, without concrete substantiation, that Darwin enthusiastically endorsed Hahn's interpretation, even making an uncharacteristic reference to God in the context. See The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online at this link (accessed 05-28-2009). Darwin did own copies of Hahn's works and may also have visited with Hahn at Down House.

My thanks to Jörn Koblitz of MetBase for this reference.

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Foundation of Brain Imaging 1880

In "Sulla circolazione del sangue nel cervello dell’uomo. Ricerche sfigmografiche," Reale Accademia dei Lincei. Memorie, 3rd series, 5 (1879-80) published in Rome in 1880 Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso reported his discovery that blood circulation in the brain increases in certain discrete areas during mental activity, and published the records of this activity produced by the machine he invented to record these changes. As the first method of imaging brain function, Mosso's work paved the way for modern-day brain imaging techniques such as CT scans, PET scans and magnetic resonance imaging.

“Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso was the first to experiment with the idea that changes in the flow of blood in the brain might provide a way of assessing brain function during mental activity. Mosso knew that, in newborn children, the fontanelles—the soft areas on a baby’s head where the bones of the skull are not yet fused—can be seen to pulsate with the rhythm of the heartbeat. He noticed similar pulsations in two adults who had suffered head injuries that left them with defects of the skull, and observed, in particular, a sudden increase in the magnitude of those pulsations when the subjects engaged in mental activities” (Kolb & Whishaw, Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology,  132).)

Mosso devised a graphic recorder to document these pulsations, demonstrating that blood pressure changes in the brain caused by mental exertion occur independently of any pressure changes in the rest of the body. Mosso concluded that brain circulation changes selectively in accordance with mental activity, stating that “we must suppose a very delicate adjustment whereby the circulation follows the needs of the cerebral activity. Blood very likely may rush to each region of the cortex according as it is most active” (quoted in Shepherd, Creating Modern Neuroscience, 185).

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The First Wireless Telephone Communication April 1, 1880

On April 1, 1880 American inventor Alexander Graham Bell and his then-assistant Charles Summer Tainter transmitted the first wireless telephone message 213 meters on a beam of light between the roof of the Franklin School and the window of Bell's Washington, D. C. laboratory using the photophone

"The photophone used crystalline selenium cells at the focal point of its parabolic receiver. This material's electrical resistance varies inversely with the illumination falling upon it, i.e., its resistance is higher when it is in the dark, and lower when it is exposed to light. The idea of the photophone was thus to modulate a light beam: the resulting varying illumination of the receiver would induce a corresponding varying resistance in the selenium cells, which were then used by a telephone to regenerate the sounds captured at the receiver. The modulation of the transmitted light beam was done by a mirror made to vibrate by a person's voice: the thin mirror would alternate between concave and convex forms, thus focusing or dispersing the light from the light source. The photophone functioned similarly to the telephone, except the photophone used light as a means of projecting information, while the telephone relied on a modulated electrical signal carried over a conductive wire circuit" (Wikipedia article on Photophone, accessed 03-27-2010).

Bell's and Tainter's invention, for which Bell received the master patent (U.S. Patent 235,199) in December 1880, was the forerunner of wireless telecommunications and the far-advanced forerunner of fiber-optic telecommunications.

According to Long & Groth, Bibliography of Early Optical (Audio) Communications (2005) Bell's first paper on the photophone, "Prof. A. G. Bell on Selenium and the Photophone," was first published in The Electrician No 5, 18 September 1880, 220-221 and 2 October 1880, 237. The complete paper also was published in Nature (London) Vol 22, 23 September 1880, 500 - 503. Thus the first complete publication appears to be the version published in Nature.

Bell's longer paper "On the Production and Reproduction of Sound by Light: the Photophone" was first published in American Assocation  for the Advancement of Science, Proceedings, Vol 29., October 1880, 115-136. This paper was widely reprinted in other journals. "In these papers, Bell accords the credit for the first demonstrations of the transmission of speech by light to a Mr A C Brown of London 'in September or October 1878' "(Wikipedia article on Photophone, accessed 03-27-2010).

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Fingerprints as a System of Identification October 8, 1880

In a letter published in the London journal Nature on October 8, 1880, Henry Faulds was the first to propose the use of fingerprints as a system of identification, including the scientific identification of criminals. In his letter entitled "On the Skin-Furrows of the Hand," Faulds, a missionary, physician and superintendent of Tuskiji Hospital (Tsukiji) in Tokyo, wrote:

"I am sanguine that the careful study of these patterns may be useful in several ways.

1. We may perhaps be able to extend to other animals the analogies found by me to exist in the monkeys.

2. These analogies may admit of further analysis, and may assist, when better understood, in ethnological classifications.

3. It so, those which are found in ancient pottery may become of immense historical importance.

4. The fingers of mummies, by special preparation, may yield results for comparison. I am very doubtful, however, of this.

5. When bloody finger-marks or impressions of clay, glass, &c., exist, they may lead to the scientific identification of criminals " (http://www.clpex.com/Articles/History/Faulds1880.htm, accessed 03-27-2010).

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The First Complete Catalogue of the British Museum Library Following Panizzi's Rules 1881 – 1905

The Catalogue of Printed Books in the Library of the British Museum  was published in 393 parts from 1881-1900, followed by a Supplement in 44 parts published from 1900-05. Various other supplements were later published. This was the first iteration of the complete British Museum catalogue implementing Antonio Panizzi's 91 Rules, promulgated in 1841, for standardizing the cataloguing of printed books. 

"The General Catalogue is, by common consent, a research tool of undisputed importance for historians of European civilisation from the invention of printing to the present day. Its utility and the universal esteem in which it is held derive from two principal factors: the richness of the collections it seeks to describe, and the principles underying the methods of that description. Unlike most library catalogues which provide access to collections via the main entry-points of author title, the General Catalogue has, from the beginning, sought rather to incorporate the best traditions of German analytic cataloguing into the general framework of an author catalogue. The logic of its structure is derived from thesaural rather than lexical principles. Generations of scholars have testified to the benefits for research which its rich contextual organisation make possible. The juxtaposition of related materials, frequently arranged in a chronological rather than merely alphabetic sequence (in recognition of the scholar's needs), is a feature designed to encourage a systematic and exploratory response from the user. Thus, the search for a specific item (especially if that item was published anonymously) can yield a rich and perhaps unsuspected harvest of related items, and opportunities for discovery are further multiplied by the elaborate system of cross-references between authors and headings. The format of the catalogue was itself devised to encourage the user to explore sequences of entries rather than to focus upon the individual entry. It is as though Panizzi conceived of books as members of a vast related community and obligingly sought to demonstrate their relationship within the constraints of a library catalogue. For certain kinds of anonymous publication, Panizzi's rules were designed to allow a subject approach, based on the wording of the title page. But within such headings the sequences are where possible based on historical principles. Such familiar collective headings as:- ENGLAND, FRANCE, AMERICA; LONDON, ROME, PARIS; BIBLE, LITURGIES; GEORGE III, LOUIS XIV, PIUS IX, PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS- represent the imposition of an historically understood order upon a considerable body of heterogeneous publications. For the user in search of a specific anonymous title the catalogue's disposition to arrange items in an historical context (derived from a significant element within the title) can be frustrating if only the first few words of the title are known, or if the cataloguing principles for choice of heading are imprefectly understood. But the alternative, now widely regarded as standard, procedure of entering anonymous titles under first word, while facilitating access to individual works (the title-index to ENGLAND is undoubtedly invaluable) distributes irrecoverably related items frequently crucial to the user's requirements. It is clear that for the collections of a major research library multiple access is desirable, but for a machine-readble catalogue such as ESTC the search possibilities provided by the computer fortunately make these problems less acute" (Alston & Jannetta, Bibliography, Machine-Readable Cataloguing and the ESTC [1978] 20).

McCrimmon, Power, Politics, and Print. The Publication of the British Museum Catalogue 1881-1900 (1981).

(This entry was last revised on 08-23-2014.)

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The Cash Register is Patented 1882 – 1883

Ritty and Birch's "Incorruptible Cashier."

James Ritty.

On February 15, 1882 American inventors James Ritty and John Birch of Dayton, Ohio applied for a patent on a cash register. It had a large display to record money received and a locked drawer to hold cash receipts. U.S. patent 271,363 was granted to Ritty and Birch on January 30, 1883 for "Cash register and indicator."

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Hollerith's Electromechanical Punched Card Tabulating Machine, Ancestor of IBM 1882 – 1924

In 1882 physician John Shaw Billings, at the U.S. Census Bureau, suggested to statistician Herman Hollerith that there ought to be a machine for speeding up the process of tabulating population and similar statistics. Billings was founder and librarian of the Surgeon General's Library (now the National Library of Medicine).

Inspired by Billings, in 1889 Hollerith of Georgetown, Washington, D. C. was awarded three U.S. patents (395,781, 395,782, and 395,783) for an electromechanical machine for tabulating information stored on punched cards.  

"These patents described both paper tape and rectangular cards as possible recording media. The card shown in U.S. Patent 395,781 of June 8 was preprinted with a template and had holes arranged close to the edges so they could be reached by a railroad conductor's ticket punch, with the center reserved for written descriptions. Hollerith was originally inspired by railroad tickets that let the conductor encode a rough description of the passenger:  

"I was traveling in the West and I had a ticket with what I think was called a punch photograph...the conductor...punched out a description of the individual, as light hair, dark eyes, large nose, etc. So you see, I only made a punch photograph of each person." 

"Use of the ticket punch proved tiring and error prone, so Hollerith invented a pantograph 'keyboard punch' that allowed the entire card area to be used. It also eliminated the need for a printed template on each card, instead a master template was used at the punch; a printed reading board could be placed under a card that was to be read manually. Hollerith envisioned a number of card sizes. In an article he wrote describing his proposed system for tabulating the 1890 U.S. Census, Hollerith suggested a card 3 inches by 5½ inches of Manila stock "would be sufficient to answer all ordinary purposes."  

"The cards used in the 1890 census had round holes, 12 rows and 24 columns. A reading board for these cards can be seen at the Columbia University Computing History site. At some point, 31⁄4 by 73⁄8 inches (82.550 by 187.325 mm) became the standard card size, a bit larger than the United States one-dollar bill of the time (the dollar was changed to its current size in 1929). The Columbia site says Hollerith took advantage of available boxes designed to transport paper currency. Hollerith's original system used an ad-hoc coding system for each application, with groups of holes assigned specific meanings, e.g. sex or marital status. Later designs standardized the coding, with twelve rows, where the lower ten rows coded digits 0 through 9. This allowed groups of holes to represent numbers that could be added, instead of simply counting units " Wikipedia article on Punched Cards, accessed 12-21-2011).

Hollerith's electric punched card tabulator was used in the 1890 United States census — the first major data-processing project to use electrical machinery. It reduced data-processing time by 80 percent over manual methods. 

In 1896 Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company, the world's first electric tabulating and accounting machine company. According to Alex Wright, Cataloguing the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age (2014) 42 in the spring of 1896, Hollerith and Melvil Dewey agreed on a three-year partnership under which Dewey's Library Bureau would supply cards and cabinets to commercial and government customers who used Hollerith's tabulating equipment. 

The next significant improvement that Hollerith made was the addition an automatic card feed to his electric punched card tabulating machine. This sped up processing of the 1900 census. 

In 1911 Hollerith sold the Tabulating Machine Company to Charles R. Flint, a noted trust organizer.  Flint merged Hollerith's Tabulating Machine Company with the Computing Scale Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Bundy Manufacturing Company to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR), producing and selling Hollerith tabulating equipment, time clocks, and other business machinery. The new company was based in Endicott, New Yorkand had 1300 employees. In 1924 CTR became International Business Machines (IBM).
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3,500,000 Quotations on Individual Slips of Paper 1882 – 1884

In 1882 Scottish lexicographer and philologist James Murray, working in a corrugated out-building on the grounds of Mill Hill School, in Mill Hill, London called "The Scriptorium, " began the process of accumulating and organizing the data for what became known as the Oxford English Dictionary.

In the summer of 1884, Murray and his family moved to a large house on the Banbury Road in north Oxford.  There Murray had a second corrugated iron Scriptorium lined with bookshelves and 1,029 pigeon-holes for quotation slips built in the back garden— a larger building than the first, with more storage space for the ever-increasing number of slips being sent to Murray and his team. Anything addressed to ‘Mr Murray, Oxford’ would always find its way to him, and such was the volume of post sent by Murray and his team that the Post Office erected a special post box outside Murray’s house. Each day Murray received 1000 quotations from contributors to the A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles.

Murray eventually accumulated 3,500,000 quotations sent in by contributors, each on an individual slip of paper.

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Richard Owen Calls Darwin the "Copernicus of Biology" November 5, 1882

Following the death on April 19, 1882 of Charles Darwin, English Paleontologist Richard Owen wrote to Spencer Walpole, Home Secretary in several governments and a trustee of the Natural History Museum in London, which had been built largely as a result of Owen's efforts. The purpose of the letter was to recommend that a statue of Darwin be placed in Westminster Abbey. This was the highest honor that England could bestow.

In the 1970s I acquired this letter as part of the Paul Victorius collection on Darwin and evolution. I sold it at auction in 1992 when I dispersed my Darwin's Century collection. It was described as lot 311 in the auction catalogue. I had always thought of the letter as a remarkable tribute to Darwin's achievements by his greatest opponent, and had viewed the letter as a kind of reversal of Owen's opposition to Darwin's ideas in Owen's old age. In the letter Owen acknowledges the general acceptance by scientists of Darwin's theory of natural selection and points out the progress that has occurred in science by its acceptance. He compares Darwin to Copernicus in the sense that Darwin caused caused rejection of the origin of species by "primary law' or creation, replacing it with the "secondary law" of natural selection, while Copernicus caused rejection of the geocentric theory of the solar system, replacing it by the heliocentric.

In February 2011 at the San Francisco Antiquarian Book Fair David Archibald pointed out the criticisms of Darwin's work which were cached, so-to-speak, in Owen's letter, and sent me a copy of the article by Kevin Padian "Owen's Parthian Shot," Nature, 412, July 12, 2001, 123-124. In this paper Padian pointed out various subtle criticisms of Darwin expressed in the letter, for details of which see his paper.

Where Owen expresses ambivalence seems primarily to be in the continuation of his comparison of Darwin with Copernicus. To me, just comparing the two is a reflection of Owen's appreciation of Darwin's place in history. However, Owen points out that Copernicus did not understand how the planets rotated around the sun and it took Galileo, Kepler, and Newton to answer these questions. Similarly Darwin did not understand the specific nature of the biological processes that caused natural selection to work, and Owen expresses the expectation that biology will eventually have its own Galileo, Kepler, and Newton. But, while Copernicus wrote a theoretical work, Darwin did understand the phenomenon accurately enough in terms of species populations. The hereditary mechanisms did not become understood in any detail until Watson and Crick's discovery of the "double helix," which had an impact on biology similar to Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Owen also points out that the "adoption of Darwin's hypothesis of the evolutional way of work is not general. . . ." Clearly, as Padian points out, Owen remained ambivalent about Darwin's contributions to science even as he acknowledged Darwin's place in history. 

Here is the text of Owen's letter:

"Sheen Lodge, Richmond Par, E. Sheen, S.W.

"5th November 1882

"Dear Mr. Walpole,

"In compliance with your request I have the pleasure to send the following on the subject we last discussed. Charles Darwin had peculiar claims to fitting posthumous recognition of his services to natural science. Of independent means, he devoted himself to the successful termination of his University career to the advancement of natural history. His desi re to accompany as naturalist the circumnavigatory expedition of H.M.S. Beagle under Captain Fitzroy was granted. The results to his favorite science were equal to, if they did not surpass, those of the naturalist Banks and Solander in the circumnavigatory voayge of Captain Cook. Darwin brough home rich collections in zoology, botany and palaeontology, and liberally made them over to national museums, on the condition of their being described by the competent officers.

"The results are the richly illustrated quartos, published by the Government, forming with Darwin's own Notes on the Voyage, in the well-known 8vo work, the most instructive and exemplary record of the natural-history gains of the circumnavigation. Perhaps the most important and novel researches made during the voyage are those in the nature and growth of coral-formations classified by him as 'atolls', barrier-reefs' and 'fringing-reefs', the description and explanation of which Darwin gives in his classical work on The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs (8vo, 1842).

"Since that date he has enriched his favorite science from time to time by monographs throwing most acceptable light on structures and vital actions of plants and animals; they are classical and perennial acquisitions to biology. The guiding principle underlying these works is that advocated in the Philosophie Zoologique of Lamarck, on the origin, viz., of species by secondary law, or evolution. But Lamarck's notion of the way of operation of that 'law', viz., by conditions affecting the exercise or disuse of parts of the body, is but partially accepted by Darwin; he substitutes another, a wider, and as he deems, a truer way of the operation of such 'secondary law', which he sums up under the term 'Natural Selection'.

"The great value of Darwin's series of works, summarizing all the evidences of embryology, physiology, paleontology then accessible, with experiments on the variation of species, is exemplified in the general acceptance by biologists of the 'secondary law by evolution' of the 'origin of species.' As a result, summaries and monographs now published in natural history are penned under the influence or in acceptance of that 'law'. In this respect Charles Darwin stands to biology in the relation in which Copernicus stood to astronomy. The rejection of the origin of species by primary law, or direct creation, is equivalent to the rejection of the fixity, centrality, and supreme magnitude of the Earth; it parallels the substitution of the heliocentric for the geocentric hypothesis. The accelerated progress of natural history under the guidance of 'evolution' resembles that of astronomy under the guidance of 'heliocentricity.'

"But the adoption of Darwin's hypothesis of the evolutional way of work is not general: Lamarck's hypothesis is found in some cases to be more applicable. And so it seems that Darwin parallels Coperncicus; save that the latter no only knew not, nor feigned to know, how the planets revolved round the sun.

"For that knowledge were requisite the subsequent labours of a Galileo, a Kepler, a Newton. Analogy raises the cheerful hope, if not condident expectation, that the science of living things will also be helped by its Galileo, its Kepler, finally its Newton; and that the way of operation of the 'secondary law originating species' will be as firmly established as the 'law of gravitation'. Meanwhile our British 'Copernicus of Biology' merits the mainfestation of gratitude and the honour which the Empire confers by a Statue in Westminster Abbey. In the British Museum sculptural memorials have been accorded to meritorious offers;—to Panizzi in relation to the Department of Printed Books; to John Edward Gray, in relation to the Department of Zoology. Whether the estimate of scientists at home or abroad of Charles Darwin's claims to posthumous honour be met, or their expectations fulfilled, by placing a statue in the Museum of Natural History may be a question for 'Administration.'

"Believe me,

   "Faithfully yours,

      "Richard Owen

"Rt. Hon. Spencer Horatio Walpole, M.P.

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Invention of the Linotype 1883 – July 15, 1885

German-American clock-maker and inventor Ottmar Mergenthaler of Baltimore invented the first mechanical typesetting machine or composing machine that could set complete lines of type, or slugs. By speeding up typesetting this machine revolutionized print production, first in newspapers where speed in producing frequent daily editions was required.  The machine eventually became known as the Linotype.

Mergenthaler developed the first simple prototype in 1883, and in 1884 he

"conceived the idea of assembling a line of dies or female matrices and casting into them molten metal to form a complete slug or line of type. . . . The matrices in these machines were stamped on the edges of upright bars, each bar containing the letters of the entire alphabet, the operation of the keyboard acting to set up stops which allowed these bars to descend to the proper distance, when a cast was taken from the aligned matrices. The wedge justifier, or the invention of which litigation afterward developed, was incorporated in the second machine built, in 1885.

"The impossiblity of correcting errors as soon as discovered led to the conception of the independent matrix machine, which was next built in 1885, and this marked the advent of the Linotype as a new factor in the printing world."

The first "direct band type casting machine" was in test operation by July 1884.  The first machine with "independent or free matrices" was in operation on July 15, 1885.

Because the Linotype in operation was very loud, it was common for deaf people to be hired to operate them because they were not bothered by the high noise level:

Schlesinger ed., The Biography of Ottmar Mergenthaler, Inventor of the Linotype (1989) 18-23. Thompson, History of Composing Machines (1904) 100.

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Imagining a Library 100 Years in the Future 1883

In 1883 Charles Ammi Cutter, Librarian of the Boston Atheneum, and author of Cutter Expansive Classification, published a short story entitled The Buffalo Public Library in 1983. In it he predicted how a library would operate one hundred years into the future. Here is a selection:

“ 'But what,' he continued, 'will be a novelty to you, is the listening-room, where works, of which we have fonografic editions prepared by the best readers, are read by machines, often to crowded audiences. The rooms are distributed all over the city, fifty or more, and we are intending to increase the number. People go to them with their whole families, except to those where smoking is allowed, which are frequented for the most part by men alone. There they listen to the reading of a story or an entertaining history or biografy, or book of travels, or a work of popular science. Sometimes one work occupies the whole evening, sometimes selections are read. The program for the whole city is advertised in the papers each day. The reading-machines have reached such a pitch of perfection that it is as if one were listening to an agreeable elocutionist. I prefer to do my own reading, but there are many whose eyes are weak, or who do not read with ease, or have not comfortable homes, or do not own the book that is to be read, or prefer to listen in company. We are very particular about the ventilation. We do not want any one to go to sleep.” I asked him whether he thought these readings gave any real instruction, or only amusement. He admitted that an exciting novel would draw better than anything else, but said that they did not allow the selection to run too much to fiction. 'In the circulation of books we have to follow the public taste, but in these listening-rooms we have the matter more in our control. Of course we must select bright books which the people will come to hear. Dull books must be rigidly excluded; but that is not difficult, because no dull book is published in reading-machine editions. Yes, I think a great deal of information is spread that way, and at any rate they are a valuable rival to the dram-shops, and keep many a young man out of bad places. The readings are usually in the evening. Where a school-room is used for the purpose it must be so; but, for our own branches, we have a rule that if ten people ask for a reading in the day-time it shall be granted, with any book they choose. When trade is dull there are readings going on all day.'

"I omit many details in which their ways did not differ much from ours, — the book-trucks, the fall-power lifts just large enough for one person, the means of communication between all parts of the building by telefone or pneumatic tubes, or in any other way that the situation required. Their intention was to make the work easy and quick, and to reduce time and space as nearly as possible to zero. I cannot stop to describe the arrangements for allowing the public access to the shelves. But I may mention that the library was open every day in the year, without any exception; that one study-room was kept open as late at night as anybody wanted it, and on several occasions, when there was a special need, it had been kept open all night.

“ 'One other practical point: The fonograf,' I was told, 'plays a great part in our library work. If Boston or Philadelphia has a rare book from which we wish extracts, instead of having it sent on with the risk of loss, we have a fonografic foil made of the desired passages, which are read off to us, or, if we pay a little more, are sent on. In the latter case, a duplicate, made by a new process, is kept at the library, so that librarians gradually accumulate fonografic reproductions of all their rarest books, and when they are called for have only to put the foil in the machine and have it read off through the wires to the end of the Union. All the libraries in the country, you see, are practically one library.' ”

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The First Carnegie Library 1883

In 1883 Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated his first public library to his hometown of Dunfermine, Scotland. Making books more widely available through the construction of public libraries became a major philanthropic cause for the remainder of Carnegie's life.

Between 1883 and 1929 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built, including some belonging to public and university library systems. 1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in Britain and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, the Caribbean, and Fiji. Few towns that requested a grant and agreed to Carnegie's terms were refused. When the last grant was made in 1919, the year of Carnegie's death, there were 3,500 libraries in the United States, nearly half of them built with construction grants funded by Carnegie.

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Suggesting that the Nucleus Contains the Material Basis of Heredity 1883

Wilhelm Roux

A diagram of mitosis

In Über die Bedeutung der Kerntheilungsfiguren (Leipzig, 1883) German zoologist and embryologist Wilhelm Roux presented the report of his investigation why the nucleus undergoes the precise division of mitosis while the rest of the cell undergoes a rather crude division when one cell splits into two. He argued that mitosis ensures a precise halving of the nucleus, suggesting that the nucleus contains the material basis of heredity.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography (1991) no. 229.

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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions 1884

In 1884 English clergyman and headmaster of the City of London School  Edwin A. Abbott published a work of scientific fantasy or mathematical fiction entitled Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. With illustrations by the Author, A SQUARE.

"It is a charming, slightly pedestrian tale of imaginary beings; polygons who live in a two-dimensional universe of the Euclidean plane. Just below the surface, though, it is a biting satire on Victorian values--especially as regards women and social status-- and an accomplished and original piece of scientific popularization about the fourth dimension. And, perhaps, an allegory of a spiritual journey" (Ian Stewart, editor, The Annotated Flatland [2002] ix).

♦ In 2008 Ladd Ehlinger Jr. produced an excellent computer-animated film of Flatland, which he characterized as a tale of "math, physics, dimensionality, philosophy, religion and war." 

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The Mimeograph: The First Widely Used Duplicating Machine 1884

Advertisement from 1889 for the Edison-Dick Mimeograph.

Edison-Dick Mimeograph.

Thomas Edison's US Patent (No. 224,665) for a method of preparing autographic stencils for printing.


Thomas Edison's US Patent (No. 180,857) for an autographic printing machine.

In 1885 Thomas Edison, who had invented the Electric Pen in 1876, agreed to sell his patents for this device to Albert Blake Dick, who had invented the mimeograph stencil. Edison also agreed to help Dick market the mimeograph under the name, Edison Mimeograph. Marketed by the AB Dick company of Chicago, the mimeograph became the first widely used duplicating machine.

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NCR is Founded 1884

In 1884 John H. Patterson of Dayton, Ohio, and his associates acquired the Ritty patents on the cash register, and established the National Cash Register Company (NCR).

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The American Historical Association 1884

In 1884 the American Historical Association was founded in Washington, D.C. "for the promotion of historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical documents and artifacts, and the dissemination of historical research."

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The First Scientific Study of the Effects of Cocaine 1884

In 1884 Austrian physician Sigmund Freud published "Ueber Coca," Centralblatt für die gesamte Therapie 2 (1884) 289-314.

This essay provided the best comprehensive review of the subject that had yet appeared, describing the early history of the coca plant and its use by South American native populations, the first European accounts of the plant in the sixteenth century, and the isolation of the alkaloid cocaine in 1859. Freud also presented his observations (with himself as subject) on the effects of the drug, describing its abolition of hunger and fatigue, the exhilaration and lasting euphoria it produced, and its supposed non-addictiveness— a misapprehension he would later bitterly regret, as misuse of the drug contributed to the death of his dear friend Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow.

Freud recognized cocaine's anesthetic qualities and suggested its use as a topical or local anesthetic; unfortunately, Leopold Königstein, the colleague to whom he suggested its trial, procrastinated, and the crucial experiments were performed by Carl Koller, who subsequently achieved worldwide recognition as the discoverer of local anesthesia. Freud's suggestion that the drug might act by abolishing the effect of agencies that depress bodily feeling has since been confirmed.

Freud published a revised separate edition of Über coca in 1885.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) nos. F7 and F8.

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Filed under: Medicine, Science

"La Marquise", The World's Oldest Running Automobile, is Sold 1884

On October 8, 2011 the world's oldest running motor car, a 1884 De Dion-Bouton Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout, sold for $4.62 million at RM Auctions in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Commissioned by French entrepreneur, Count de Dion, the car was named ‘La Marquise’ after his mother. 

"In 1887, the Count of Dion drove La Marquise in an exhibition that has sometimes been called the world’s first car race, though his was the only car that showed up. It made the 20-odd-mile Paris-to-Versailles round trip at an average speed of almost 16 m.p.h. The next year, he beat Bouton on a three-wheeler with an average speed of 18 m.p.h.

"Fueled by coal, wood and bits of paper, the car takes half an hour to forty minutes to build up enough steam to drive. Top speed is 38 miles per hour (61 km/h).

As the oldest car, it wore the number "0" in the 1996 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. The vehicle was sold at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance for US$3,520,000" (Wikipedia article on La Marquise, accessed 10-09-2011).

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Hypothesizing that the Cell Nucleus Contains the Material Basis of Heredity 1884

Like Wilhelm Roux, Polish-German botanist Eduard Adolf Strasburger hypothesized that the cell nucleus contained the material basis of heredity. He developed the idea with evidence from microscopical observations in Neue Untersuchungen über den Befruchtungsvorgang bei den Phanerogamen als Gründlage für eine Theorie der Zeugung (Jena, 1884).

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography (1991) no. 229.1.

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"Paleographie des classiques latins" and its Digital, Updated Version 1884 – 1900

From 1884 to 1900 French librarian and paleographer Émile Chatelain issued Paléographie des classiques latins in 14 fascicules, the whole comprising more than 200 facsimiles of leaves from medieval manuscripts with explanatory text. The leaves reproduced ranged in date from the fourth to the fifteenth century. More than thirty classical authors were represented, with the facsimiles arranged chronologically by author. Often the page reproduced depicted a significant problem in the transmission of the text. Authors included were, according to the catalogue reference in OCLC in December 2013: 

"Vol. 1, Principaux manuscrits de Plaute, Térence, Varron, Catulle, Cicéron, César, Salluste, Lucrèce, Virgile, Horace.

"Vol. 2, Principaux manuscrits d'Ovide, Properce, Tibulle, Tite Live, Perse, Juvénal, Pline l'ancien, Pline le jeune, Tacite, Pétrone, Martial, Lucian, Stace Valerius Flaccus, Phèdre, Sénèque, Quintilien, Valère Maxime Cornélius Népos, Suétone, Justin, Quinte Curce, Histoire Auguste Aurelius Victor, Ammien Marcellin."

In 1902 Chatelain issued Uncialis scriptura codicum latinorum novis exemplis illustrata (Paris, 1902).

As a service to paleographers, and also to preserve their copies of the original printings, the University Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provided a website reproducing all of Chatelain's plates with his commentaries, and with references to more recent publications such as E. A. Lowe's, Codices Latini Antiquiores, that provided updated paleographical information. This I accessed in December 2013.

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Foundation of The Grolier Club January 23, 1884

On January 23, 1884 printing press manufacturer and book collector, Robert Hoe, and eight of his book collector friends, founded The Grolier Club in New York. It became the leading society of bibliophiles in the United States, and a leading venue for exhibitions relating to book history. 

The library of The Grolier Club became a leading research center for book history, for the history of libraries, the history of book collecting and the book trade.

I was very pleased to join The Grolier Club in 1989.

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The O E D Finally Begins Publication February 1, 1884 – April 19, 1928

Twenty-three years after the project began, on February 1, 1884, the first fascicule of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society was published, under the editorship of James Murray

The 352-page volume, covering words from A to Ant, cost 12s.6d or U.S. $3.25. The total sales of this fascicule were 4000 copies. The dictionary was eventually complete in 126 fascicules, the last of which was published on April 19, 1928, 44 years after publication began. The name Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was first used for the work in 1895. The first Supplement was published in 1933.

According to Rob Rulon-Miller in his 2014 rare book catalogue 147: Wordswords: Books on Language, No. 664, there were numerous variants of the fascicules issued during the publication history of the OED between 1884 and 1928, resulting in wide variation in the number of fascicules required to make up a complete set. In his catalogue note Rulon-Miller mentioned that he had handled complete sets with fascicules numbering 126, 112, 100, and 67, and 51. He also mentioned that many prefaces, prefatory notes, titles and half titles, etc. present in the fascicules were not included in the book edition of the dictionary.

(This entry was last revised on 05-06-2014.)

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Development of an Efficiently Functioning Fountain Pen Circa February 12, 1884

Though efforts to invent a fountain pen occurred much earlier, efficiently functioning fountain pens were developed in several places by several different inventors from the 1850s through 1880s.

"Starting in the 1850s there was a steadily accelerating stream of fountain pen patents and pens in production. It was only after three key inventions were in place, however, that the fountain pen became a widely popular writing instrument. Those inventions were the iridium-tipped gold nib, hard rubber, and free-flowing ink" (Wikipedia article on Fountain Pen, accessed 04-15-2011).

The development of free-flowing ink was the invention of the American insurance salesman Lewis E. Waterman of New York City who employed the capillarity principle to allow air to induce a steady and even flow of ink in his fountain pen, receiving U.S. patent number 293545 in February 1884. Waterman's mechanism allowed a careful balance between ink leaving the pen and air entering:

"The downward flow of the ink by gravity and through the action of capillary attraction in the act of writing causes it to pass through [a] groove, and tends to create a vacuum within the reservoir, which is met by the influx of air passing upward through the groove. The direction of the current of air entering the ink-reservoir being opposite to that of the outflowing ink, the volume of the latter is somewhat lessened, and excessive discharge prevented" (Patent 293545).

♦ Thanks to Norman Hills for suggesting this entry and supplying key information.

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Daimler Invents the Internal Combustion Engine 1885

In 1885 German engineer, industrial designer and industrialist Gottlieb Daimler invented the internal combustion engine, and with his business partner Wilhelm Maybach fitted this to a two-wheeler— the first internal combustion motorcycle. In 1886 Daimler and Maybach fitted the engine to a stagecoach, and a boat. Daimler baptized it the Grandfather Clock engine (Standuhr) because of its resemblance to an old pendulum clock. 

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The First Automobile 1885

In 1885 German engine designer and automobile engineer of Mannheim Karl Benz designed the Benz Patent Motorwagon, the first automobile designed to generate its own power, not work as a motorized stage coach or horse carriage.

"The Benz Patent Motorwagen was a three-wheeled automobile with a rear-mounted engine. The vehicle contained many new inventions. It was constructed of steel tubing with woodwork panels. The steel-spoked wheels and solid rubber tires were Benz's own design. Steering was by way of a toothed rack that pivoted the unsprung front wheel. Fully-elliptic springs were used at the back along with a live axle and chain drive on both sides. A simple belt system served as a single-speed transmission, varying torque between an open disc and drive disc.

"The first Motorwagen used the Benz 954 cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine. This new engine produced ⅔ hp (½ kW) at 250 rpm in the Patent Motorwagen, although later tests by the University of Mannheim showed it to be capable of .9 hp (0.7 kW) at 400 rpm. It was an extremely light engine for the time, weighing about 100 kg (220 lb). Although its open crankcase and drip oiling system would be alien to a modern mechanic, its use of a pushrod-operated poppet valve for exhaust would be quite familiar. A large horizontal flywheel stabilized the single-cylinder engine's power output. An evaporative carburettor was controlled by a sleeve valve to regulate power and engine speed" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benz_Patent_Motorwagen, accessed 06-01-2009).

The Motorwagen was patented on January 29, 1886 as DRP-37435: "automobile fueled by gas."

"The 1885 version was difficult to control, leading to a collision with a wall during a public demonstration. The first successful tests on public roads were carried out in the early summer of 1886. The next year Benz created the Motorwagen Model 2 which had several modifications, and in 1887, the definitive Model 3 with wooden wheels was introduced, showing at the Paris Expo the same year" (Wikipedia article on Karl Benz, accessed 06-01-2009).

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"Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology" 1885

In 1885 German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus published Über das Gedachtnis: Untersuchungen zur experimentellen Psychologie in Leipzig through Duncker & Humblot, publishers. As a result of this book Ebbinghaus was made professor at the University of Berlin. Almost 30 years after it was published Ebbinghaus's book was translated into English by Henry A. Ruger & Clara E. Bussenius as Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology (New York, 1913), reflecting the continuing usefulness of his work.

". . . this monograph marked the beginning of programmatic experimental research on higher mental processes. Using himself as a subject, gathering data for over a year (1879-80), and then replicating the entire procedure (1883-4) before publishing, Ebbinghaus not only brought learning and memory into the laboratory, he set a standard for careful scientific work in psychology that has rarely been surpassed.

"In order to proceed with his research, Ebbinghaus had first to invent stimulus materials. These needed to be relatively simple, neutral as to meaning, and homogeneous. They needed to be available in large numbers and to allow quantitative manipulation of the amount of material to be retained. In answer to these needs, Ebbinghaus hit upon the idea of a 'nonsense syllable.' As he described it: 'Out of the simple consonants of the alphabet and our eleven vowels and diphthongs all possible syllables of a certain sort were constructed, a vowel sound being placed between two consonants. These syllables, about 2,300 in number, were mixed together and then drawn out by chance and used to construct series of different lengths, several of which each time formed the material for a test.'

"Next Ebbinghaus had to develop novel methods for controlling the degree of learning and measuring the amount of retention. At first glance, it would seem that the most obvious method for controlling learning would have been to standardize the number of learning trials. The problem with this method, however, is that the degree to which any given material is learned in a fixed number of trials may vary as a function of the material or the mental state (e.g., attention, fatigue) of the learner. To circumvent this limitation and assure that material was learned to approximately the same degree from test to test, Ebbinghaus introduced the method of learning to criterion. In learning to criterion, the subject repeated the material as many times as was necessary to reach an a priori level of accuracy (e.g., one perfect reproduction).  

"Measuring the amount of retention also presented Ebbinghaus with a puzzle. Because it is influenced by whole host of factors, conscious recall of material can vary from moment to moment even when the material has been well learned; worse yet, material may not be available to conscious recall at all even though it has been retained to some degree. To avoid this problem, Ebbinghaus invented the 'savings method'. Subtracting the number of repetitions required to relearn material to a criterion from the number originally required to learn the material to the same criterion provided an index of retention that was independent of whether the material could be consciously recalled.

"With these methods, Ebbinghaus obtained a remarkable set of results. He was the first to describe the shape of the learning curve. He reported that the time required to memorize an average nonsense syllable increases sharply as the number of syllables increases. He discovered that distributing learning trials over time is more effective in memorizing nonsense syllables than massing practice into a single session; and he noted that continuing to practice material after the learning criterion has been reached enhances retention.  

"Using savings as an index, he showed that the most commonly accepted law of association, viz., association by contiguity (the idea that items next to one another are associated) had to be modified to include remote associations (associations between items that are not next to one another in a list). He was the first to describe primacy and recency effects (the fact that early and late items in a list are more likely to be recalled than middle items), and to report that even a small amount of initial practice, far below that required for retention, can lead to savings at relearning. He even addressed the question of memorization of meaningful material and estimated that learning such material takes only about one tenth of the effort required to learn comparable nonsense material.  

"Finally, in the treatment of his results, Ebbinghaus made considerable use of mathematics. He not only assessed statistical significance but characterized his findings in mathematical terms. Given this quantitative treatment, Ebbinghaus's methodological innovations, and the care with which he carried out his research, it is not surprising that his results have stood the test of time. Indeed, in the century since the publication of his monograph, surprisingly little has been learned about rote learning and retention that was not already known to Ebbinghaus" (Robert A. Wozniak, Introduction to Memory, Hermann Ebbinghaus (1885/1913), accessed 12-30-2012).

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Pioneering Sociological Study of China 1885

In the early 1860s French agricultural engineer and diplomat G. Eugène Simon traveled to China  and spent four years touring the country and studying its inhabitants and customs. During the latter part of the 1860s he served as France’s consul in China. After his return to France in 1885 Simon published from Paris La cité chinoise, a work that helped to counter the prevailing mid-nineteenth century European view of China as a stagnant, despotic and morally inferior society. Simon’s book

"idealizes China as a peasant society where liberty in all its forms—political, economic, religious, and intellectual—is realized. Simon’s book, which was very popular, prophesied that all European attempts to subject China to industrialization, colonization, or modernization would fail because of the astounding vitality of the rural nation and its naturalistic civilization. On contemporaries, Simon’s book . . . had an impact out of all proportion to its intrinsic importance. Paul Ernst, the German poet, was inspired by Simon to adulate the collectivist peasant culture of China for giving a higher place to spiritual than to material values" (“China in Western Thought and Culture,” Dictionary of the History of Ideas, I, p. 371).

One of the more unusual manuscripts that I handled during my career as an antiquarian bookseller was the autograph manuscript of Simon's book. The volume contained the autograph manuscript of La cité chinoise that Simon sent to the printer (as evidenced by typesetters’ notations on several leaves), as well as an additional, apparently unpublished shorter work entitled “Le village abandonee.” Also included was a section titled “Pages détachées,” which appeared to contain drafts, revisions or deleted pages from La cité chinoise. Some of these pages had portions cut from them; these probably corresponded to some of the pasted-in corrections in Simon’s manuscript. Simon's work reached an unusually wide audience underoing seven editions between 1885 and 1891. It was translated into English aswas translated into English as China: its Social, Political, and Religious Life in 1887.

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Filed under: Social / Political

AT&T is Founded March 3, 1885 – 1892

On March 3, 1885  American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (A T & T) was established to to create a nationwide long-distance network with a commercially viable cost-structure.  Starting from New York, the network reached Chicago in 1892.

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A Prayerbook Entirely Woven by the Jacquard Loom 1886 – 1887

During 1886 and 1887 bookseller and publisher, A. Roux, in textile center Lyon, France, issued Livre de Prières tissé d'après les enluminures des manuscrits du XIVe au XVI siecle. It consisted of monochrome sheets of woven silk, designed by R.P. J. Hervier after pages from manuscript books of hours from the 14th to 16th century. The weaving was undertaken by the firm of J. A. Henry. Perhaps 50 or 60 copies were produced.

The pages included elaborate borders, decorative initials, and three miniatures of the Virgin and Child, Crucifixion and Nativity, all produced on the Jacquard loom by J. A. Henry, the designs having been punched into thousands of Jacquard cards. The work was issued with the approval of the Archbishop of Lyon.

The technical virtuosity, and degree of finesse achieved in this production represented a high point in the application of the Jacquard loom to the weaver's art. It is not known how many punched cards it took to produce the book, but estimates are between 200,000 and 500,000 cards to weave 400 woof threads per 2.5 cm. (approximately one square inch), demanding machine movements of not more than a tenth of a millimeter. Fine quality gray and black silk threads were used.

It took two years and close to fifty trials before a copy was successfully completed. Once woven, the fragile sheets of silk were carefully folded in half (the recto of one page on the left and the
verso of the preceding page on the right) and glued over a piece of cardboard that served to give the necessary stiffening to the delicate fabric. 

"The designer’s use of facsimile illustrations of manuscript illumination has been treated by L. Randall (1981). She notes that Hervier (whose identity she was unable to discover) used a composite manuscript facsimile entitled the Imitation de Jésus-Christ published by Gruel and
Engelmann in the late 1870s or early 1880s. The donor portraits that occur in the Lyon imprint on pp. 1 and 4 occur also in the Imitation, plates XXXI-XXXII, and these plates in turn copy a manuscript from Ghent, datable to c. 1425 made for Elizabeth van Munte and Daniel Rym now on the Walters Art Museum (W. 166). Two of the large illustrations, the Nativity and Christ with the Virgin and John the Baptist, were inspired by Italian Renaissance paintings—respectively the Linaiouoli Triptych attributed then to Fra Angelico (the Nativity) and Raphael’s Disputà in the Stanza della Segnatura (cf. Randall, 1981, pp. 655-58). The Crucifixion derives from a painting by Fra Bartholomeo. The celebrated Jean Bourdichon, made popular by the facsimile of the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany published by Engelmann and Graf between 1846 and 1849, influenced much of the border decoration. The title page is indebted to the Grandes Heures du duc de Berry (BnF, MS lat. 919, f. 86), surely also available in facsimile during the period.

"With regard to its illustrative content, the Livre de Prières exemplifies nineteenth-century attitudes toward manuscript illumination. Through editions such as Gruel’s Imitation de Jésus-Christ, devotional publishing sought to teach catechism to children and to promote “good taste” through manuscript illumination. The Imitation de Jésus-Christ appeared in fascicules on the tenth, twentieth, and thirtieth day of each month, not unlike the serial publication of novels. With
Gruel, Geoffreoy Engleman, later joined by Auguste Graf, held a near-exclusive on the production of the gift book, that is, books for the Mass, “livres de raison,” and marriage books, churned out in large editions, but also sometimes written and illuminated entirely by hand by neo-Gothic artists. These facsimiles and the related neo-Gothic manuscripts went a long way toward forming a basis for the re-appreciation of medieval manuscript illumination on the eve of
modern times. The Livre de Prières figures in that history of recovery. In some ways, it is an elegant, though unorthodox, version of the nineteenth-century gift book, entirely in keeping
with the taste of the times (Hindman et al, 2001, esp. pp. 132-143). Comparing the Lyon imprint to gift books, Harthan declared it to be the “final exaltation of the medieval Book of Hours” (Harthan, 1977, p. 174" (http://www.medievalbooksofhours.com/boh_description-pdf/boh_84---livre-de-prieres-tisse.pdf, accessed 12-14-2013).

The original designs for the whole work are held by the Musées des Tissus et des Arts décoratifs de Lyon

Randall, L.M.C. “A Nineteenth-Century ‘Medieval’ Prayerbook Woven in Lyon,” in Art the Ape of Nature. Studies in Honor of H. W. Janson, ed. Moshe Barasch and Lucy Freeman Sandler (1981)  651-668. 

P. Arizzoli-Clementel, La Musée des Tissus de Lyon (1990) 100.

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Formation of the National Audubon Society 1886

In 1886 Forest and Stream magazine editor George Bird Grinnell, appalled by the negligent mass slaughter of birds that he saw taking place, urged the formation of the National Audubon Society for the protection of wild birds and their eggs. 

"The public response to Grinnell's call for the protection of fowl was said to be instant and impressive: Within a year of its foundation, the early Audubon Society claimed 39,000 members, each of whom signed a pledge to 'not molest birds.' Prominent members included jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., abolitionist minister Henry Ward Beecher, and poet John Greenleaf Whittier" (Wikipedia article on National Audubon Society, accessed 01-18-2009).

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Charles Sanders Pierce Recognizes that Logical Operations Could be Carried Out by Electrical Switching Circuits 1886

In 1886 American American philosopher, logician, mathematician, and scientist Charles Sanders Peirce recognized that logical operations could be carried out by electrical switching circuits. This idea he mentioned in a letter to his former student Allan Marquand

Prior to receiving Peirce's letter, in 1881-82, inspired by William Stanley Jevons' logical piano, Marquand built a mechanical logical machine that is still exant according to the Wikipedia article on Marquand. Marquand first published a description of his mechanical machine in 1885. After receiving Peirce's letter, in 1887 Marquand "outlined a machine to do logic using electric circuits. This necessitated his development of Marquand diagrams" (Wikipedia article on Allan Marquand, accessed 10-08-2013).

In October 2013 history-computer.com reproduced a circuit diagram for the electromagnetic logical machine in Marquand's archive that was made about 1890. Other than diagrams of this kind there is no evidence that Marchand or Peirce ever built an electrical logic machine. 

The Peirce-Marquand communication or collaboration on the use of electrical switching circuits to carry out logical operations is a remarkable precursor of ideas later developed by Claude Shannon in his thesis of 1937.

(This entry was last revised on 02-23-2016.)

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Gaston Tissandier Issues The First Book on Aerial Photography 1886

French chemist, meteorologist, aviator and editor Gaston Tissandier published La photographie en ballon.  This pamphlet included a frontispiece consisting of an original photographic print by Jacques Ducom mounted on stiff card with a tissue overlay key. The key was thought necessary to explain the photograph because people were completely unaccustomed to looking at images from an aerial point of view.

The history of aerial photography began in 1858, when the photographer Nadar took the first photographs from a balloon. His results were only partially successful, as were those of other experimenters who followed him, and it was not until 1878, when factory-made gelatin dry plates were introduced, that aerial photography came into its own. Using gelatin plates, which were twenty times faster than the old wet-collodion plates, the photographer Paul Desmarets obtained two birds-eye views of Rouen in 1880 from a balloon at 4,200 feet. However, Desmarets' results were surpassed five years later by Jacques Ducom, who, in a balloon navigated by Gaston Tissandier, was able to take superb aerial photographs of Paris from a height of 1,800 feet.

"Ducom's view of the Ile Saint-Louis, Paris from 1,800 ft leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. Through a magnifying glass people can be counted on the bridge. The exposure of this and the other photographs taken on this flight was 1/50 second, using a specially constructed guillotine shutter which was opened pneumatically and closed automatically with a rubber spring" (Gernsheim & Gernsheim, The History of Photography 1685-1914 p. 508). Tissandier's La photographie en ballon records his and Ducom's achievements in aerial photography, and also surveys the work of Nadar, Desmarets, Shadbolt, Triboulet, Pinard, Weddel and other aerial photographers. The preface mentions the pioneering aerial photograph of Boston taken in 1860 by J. W. Black from a tethered balloon at 1,200 feet. Tissandier, who saw a print of Black's photograph, described it as "assurément fort curieuse, mais comme les précédentes elle manque de netteté et semble en outre avoir été prise  très faible hauteur" (p. vi). Gernsheim & Gernsheim, pp. 507-8. Frizot, A New History of Photography, p. 391.

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Isolation of Nucleic Acid & Naming its Five Constituent Organic Compounds 1886 – 1901

In "Zur Chemie des Zellkerns," Hoppe-Seyl. z. physiol. Chem. 7 (1882-83) 7-22; 10 (1886) 248-64; 22 (1896-97) 176-87, German biochemist Albrecht Kossel of Berlin showed that the substance called "nuclein" consisted of a protein component and a non-protein component. Kossel further isolated and described the non-protein component. This substance has become known as nucleic acid, which contains the genetic information found in all living cells.

Between 1885 and 1901, Kossel isolated and named the five constituent organic compounds of nucleic acid: adeninecytosineguaninethymine, and uracil. Now known collectively as nucleobases, these compounds provide the molecular structure necessary in the formation of stable DNA and RNA molecules.

Kossel, "Ueber die Nucleinsäure," Arch. Anat. Physiol., Physiol. Abt., (1893) 157-64; (1894) 194-203.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) nos. 702, 719.

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The First Subject Index to the Library of the British Museum 1886

As the Catalogue of Printed Books in the Library of the British Museum, the first series of which was published from 1881 to 1900, was primarily arranged by author with some limited thesaural principles, and publication of the catalogue was ongoing, there was a need for a subject index, since the subject arrangement of the library was by a shelving system developed by librarian Thomas Watts, and readers were very rarely permitted access to shelves other than those in the reading room. Accordingly, librarian G[eorge] K[nottesford] Fortescue, Keeper of Printed Books, undertook the compilation of a subject index. This was first published in 1886 as A Subject Index of the Modern Works added to the Library of the British Museum in the Years 1880-1885. No attempt was ever made to compile or publish a subject index to the huge General Catalogue.

"The primary of the object of the index being to assist readers in the library of the British Museum, it was not considered necessary to reproduce such portions of the great printed catalogue (which is mainly an author catalogue) as were the nature of a class catalogue, such as the headings of Bibles and Liturgies, and for the same reason personal names were omitted as subject headings. Novels, poems, plays, and miscellaneous essays were also ignored. The index was at once found to be a great boon to readers; a second volume describing the additions of the years 1885-90 was published in 1891, and a third in 1897 for those of 1891-95. The number of entries in the third volume was about 37,760, while the total number of entries in three volumes covering the period between 1990 and 1895 was about 124,700. The three volumes were incorporated in one alphabet with the addition of the titles of books added during the years 1896-1900, aw well as the Slavonic, Hungarian, and Finnish books published between 1881 and 1900 which had not been included in the former indexes. The new edition was published as Subject Index of the Modern Works added to the British Museum in the years 1881-1900 (1902-3, 3 vols., 8vo). The edition contained about 155,00 entries in one alphabet of subjects with many sub-headings. The British Museum shelfmarks are added to the titles. . . ."(obituary of Mr. G. K. Fortescue published in The Times, October 28, 1912.

F. J. Hill, " 'Forescue': The British Museum and British Library Subject Index," British Library Journal, 1986.

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The "New York Daily Tribune" Publishes the First Application of the Linotype July 3, 1886

Ottmar Mergenthaler's Blower Linotype composing machine was first used by the New York Daily Tribune newspaper on page four of its issue of July 3, 1886. The parts composed by the Linotype can be distinguished from the hand-set type because of a single wrong-font bold face apostrophe. This appears in only three of the stories in columns two and three of the page.

Mechanical composing machines resulted in greatly increased production speed, and lowered typesetting cost, resulting in longer newspapers. Because of the time involved in hand-typesetting, and the constant deadlines to be met, before the Linotype no newspaper consisted of more than eight pages.

Schlesinger, ed., The Biography of Ottmar Mergenthaler, Inventor of the Lintotype (1989) 113-116, with a full-size facsimile of page 4 of the July 3, 1886 issue of the newspaper folded into the volume. Schlesinger, who was an experienced Linotype operator, discovered the first published typesetting done on the Linotype, as the the New York Daily Tribune quietly introduced the new technology without an announcement.

(This entry was last revised on 01-27-2015.)

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"Le Journal Illustré" Publishes the First Photo-Interview September 5, 1886

On September 5, 1886 Le Journal Illustré in Paris published on pp. 284-88 "L'Art de vivre cent ans. Trois entretiens avec Monsieur Chevreul." This appeared in Vol. 23, No. 36 of the periodical.  Besides the portrait of Chevreul on the cover, the article included  half-tone reproductions of a series of twelve unposed photographs taken on August 18, 1886 by photographer Paul Nadar of his father, the photographer and aeronaut Félix Nadar, interviewing the chemist and sceptic Michel Eugène Chevreul on Chevreul's 100th birthday. This was the first photographic interview, sometimes called the first media interview. 

In front of the camera, Nadar and Chevreul discussed photography, color theory, Molière and Pasteur, the scientific method, the crazy ideas of balloonists, and – of course – how to live for 100 years. It was a lively and interesting conversation between two legends of the 19th century: one born before the French revolution; the other destined to see the marvels of the airplane and motion pictures.  

In 2012 ABC Australia made a commercial documentary film re-creating the interview in the style of an early motion picture.  

Auer, Paul Nadar. Le premier interview photographique. Chevreul. Félix Nadar. Paul Nadar (1999), included a reduced-size fold-out reproduction of the issue of Le Journal Illustré in which the photo-interview was published so that the images could be viewed side-by-side in sequence.

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The Berne Convention September 9, 1886

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, an international agreement governing copyright, was ratified in Berne, Switzerland on September 9, 1886.

"The Berne Convention was developed at the instigation of Victor Hugo of the Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale. Thus it was influenced by the French "right of the author" (droit d'auteur), which contrasts with the Anglo-Saxon concept of "copyright" which only dealt with economic concerns. Under the Convention, copyrights for creative works are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared. An author need not "register" or "apply for" a copyright in countries adhering to the Convention. As soon as a work is "fixed", that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work and to any derivative works, unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them or until the copyright expires. Foreign authors are given the same rights and privileges to copyrighted material as domestic authors in any country that signed the Convention."

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The Flat Disc Gramophone 1887

In 1887 Emile Berliner invented the flat disc Gramophone in Washington, D.C. The flat disc eventually replaced the Edison wax cylinder as a recording and playback device, and enabled the birth of the recording industry.

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Hertz Proves the Existence of Electromagnetic Waves 1887

In 1887 Heinrich Hertz, professor physics at the University of Karlsruhe, proved the existence of electromagnetic waves, the theoretical basis for wireless communication.

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Dorr E. Felt Invents the Comptometer 1887

Early comptometer.

Dorr E. Felt.

In 1887 American inventor Dorr E. Felt introduced the Comptometer, a non-printing key-driven calculating machine whose chief advantages were speed, versatility, and ease of use.

"Use. For each digit a push button from 1 to 9 is selected which rotates a Pascal-type wheel with the corresponding number of increments. Numbers are subtracted by adding the complement (shown in smaller numbers). The carrying of tens is accomplished by power generated by the action of the keys and stored in a helical spring, which is automatically released at the proper instant to perform the carry.  

"Through effective marketing and training of skilled operators versed in complement arithmetic at Comptometer Schools, these machines became the workhorse of the accounting profession in the first part of the [20th] century. They never successfully advanced into the electro-mechanical era, but remained purely mechanical, two-function adding and subtracting machines" (Gordon Bell's website, accessed 10-12-2011).

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Appleton Publishes Imaginary Historical Biographies 1887 – 1889

Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, published in New York from 1887 to 1889, contained biographical information about thousands of people (some famous, some more obscure) in American history.

"But thirty years after the Cyclopedia's initial publication, questions began to be raised about its reliability. . . . To date over 200 suspicious entries have been flagged. But due to the enormity of the work it's doubtful that all of the false information it contains will ever be identified" (Museumofhoaxes.com, accessed 11-21-2008).

    • Barnhart, John Hendley. "Some Fictitious Botanists." Journal of the New York Botanical Garden 20 (September 1919): 171-81.
    • O'Brien, Frank M. "The Wayward Encyclopedias", New Yorker, XII (May 2, 1936), pp. 71-74.
    • Schindler, Margaret Castle. "Fictitious Biography." American Historical Review 42 (1937), pp. 680-90.
    • Dobson, John Blythe. "The Spurious Articles in Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography—Some New Discoveries and Considerations." Biography 16(4) 1993: 388-408.
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First Use of the Term "Credit Card" 1887

In his utopian novel Looking Backward (1887), describing life in the year 2000, Edward Bellamy used the term credit card eleven times—the first description of the use of a card for purchases.

"The book tells the story of Julian West, a young American who, towards the end of the 19th century, falls into a deep, hypnosis-induced sleep and wakes up one hundred and thirteen years later. He finds himself in the same location (Boston, Massachusetts), but in a totally changed world: It is the year 2000 and, while he was sleeping, the United States has been transformed into a socialist utopia. The remainder of the book outlines Bellamy's thoughts about improving the future. The major themes are the dangers of the stock market, the use of credit cards, the benefits of a socialist legal system, music, and the use of an "industrial army" to make tasks run smoother.

"The young man readily finds a guide, Doctor Leete, who shows him around and explains all the advances of this new age; including drastically reduced working hours for people performing menial jobs and almost instantaneous, Internet-like delivery of goods. Everyone retires with full benefits at age 45, and may eat in any of the public kitchens. The productive capacity of America is nationally owned, and the goods of society are equally distributed to its citizens. A considerable portion of the book is dialogue between Leete and West wherein West expresses his confusion about how the future society works and Leete explains the answers using various methods, such as metaphors or direct comparisons with 19th-century society.

"Although Bellamy's novel did not discuss technology or the economy in detail, commentators frequently compare Looking Backward with actual economic and technological developments. For example, Julian West is taken to a store which (with its descriptions of cutting out the middleman to cut down on waste in a similar way to the consumers' cooperatives of his own day based on the Rochdale Principles of 1844) somewhat resembles a modern warehouse club like BJ's, Costco, or Sam's Club. He additionally introduces a concept of credit cards in chapters 9, 10, 11, 13, 25, and 26, but these bear no resemblance to the instruments of debt-finance. All citizens receive an equal amount of "credit." Those with more difficult, specialized, dangerous or unpleasant jobs work fewer hours. Bellamy also predicts both sermons and music being available in the home through cable "telephone". Bellamy labeled the philosophy behind the vision "nationalism", and his work inspired the formation of more than 160 Nationalist Clubs to propagate his ideas"(Wikipedia article on Looking Backward, accessed 02-07-2012)

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Foundation of Aquatic Ecosystem Science 1887

In 1887 Stephen Alfred Forbes, State Entomologist of Illinois and Professor of Zoology and Entomology at Illinois State University, published "The Lake as a Microcosm" in the Bulletin of the Scientific Association of Peoria, Illinois (1887) 77-87. A pioneer of aquatic ecosystem science, Forbes was the first to apply ecological principles to limnology. He emphasized population regulation and the dynamic nature of the community.

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"The Tribune Book of Open-Air Sports", the First Book Typeset by Linotype 1887

In 1887 The New York Daily Tribune newspaper published the first book typeset by Linotype, The Tribune Book of Open-Air Sports. The New York Daily Tribune was the first paper to use the Linotype, introducing mechanized typesetting for the first time in its issue of July 3, 1886.

Printed on the front and back pastedown endpapers the well-produced and attractively bound book was a statement that the book could be obtained only with a one-year paid subscription to The New York Tribune Weekly, Semi-Weekly, or Daily. Only the title page of this 500 page book was printed from hand-set type.

On the verso of the title page was printed two lines set in small nonpareil capitals and small caps:

"This Book is Printed Without Type, being the First Product in Book Form of the Mergenthaler Machine which wholly Supercedes the Use of Movable Type."

At this time the Mergenthaler typesetting machine was not yet known as the Linotype.

In January 2015 I obtained a fine copy of this book for my collection bound in the original red cloth from Peter Daly in Hampshire, England. I had been searching for a fine copy for several years; most copies are heavily worn. To my surprise when I studied pencil notes on the rear endpaper of the copy I noticed that a previous owner had indicated in a small neat hand that they bought the book from me in San Francisco on August 14, 1972. It was fortunate that the buyer, of whose name I have no recollection, kept it with great care.

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Establishment of the First Library School, the "School of Library Economy" 1887

In 1887 Melvil Dewey established the first library school at Columbia University. It was originally known as the School of Library Economy of Columbia College.  

On its 50th anniversary in 1937 the library school, by then known as the School of Library Service of Columbia University, published a volume containing reproductions of the founding documents of the school under the title of School of Library Economy of Columbia College 1887-1889. Documents for a History. This substantial quarto volume of 271 pages was issued in an edition of 400 copies. From this we learn that Dewey's first paper on the need for systematic preparation for librarianship, with suggestions on how to provide it, concerned improving the traditional method of apprenticeship training: "Apprenticeship of Librarians," Library Journal V, No. 4 (May 31, 1879) 147-48. By 1883 Dewey's ideas had advanced to sufficiently that he proposed the creation for a library school at Columbia College at a conference of the American Library Association at Buffalo, New York on August 16, 1883. In this paper, "School of Library Economy," Library Journal V, No. 8, (September-October 1883) 285-90, Dewey gave the school its original name. According to the first brief published report on school operation published in Library Notes in March 1887 the school began with a class of 20 students.

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Thomas C. Mendenhall Issues One of the Earliest Attempts at Stylometry 1887 – 1901

In "The Characteristic Curves of Composition," Science 9, No. 214, 237-249, American autodidact physicist and meteorologist Thomas. C. Mendenhall of The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, published one of the earliest attempts at stylometry, the quantitative analysis of writing style. Prompted by a suggestion made in 1851 by the English mathematician Augustus de Morgan, Mendenhall  “proposed to analyze a composition by forming what may be called a ‘word spectrum,’ or ‘characteristic curve,’ which shall be a graphic representation of an arrangement of words according to their length and to the relative frequency of their occurrence." (p. 238) These manually computed curves could then be used as a means of of comparing models of the writing style of authors, and potentially as a means of identifying the writing of different authors.

"Mendenhall attempted to characterize the style of different authors through the frequency distribution of words of various lengths. In this article Mendenhall mentioned the possible relevance of this technique to the Shakespeare Authorship Question, and several years later this idea was picked up by a supporter of the theory that Sir Francis Bacon was the true author of the works usually attributed to Shakespeare. He paid for a team of two people to undertake the counting required, but the results did not appear to support this particular theory. It has however since been shown by Williams that Mendenhall failed to take into account 'genre differences' that could invalidate that particular conclusion. For comparison, Mendenhall also had works by Christopher Marlowe analysed, and those supporting the theory that he was the true author seized eagerly upon his finding that 'in the characteristic curve of his plays Christopher Marlowe agrees with Shakespeare about as well as Shakespeare agrees with himself' "(Wikipedia article on Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, accessed 05-18-2014) 

Writing at the end of the nineteenth century, Mendenhall described his counting machine, by which two ladies computed the number of words of two letters, three, and so on in Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bacon, and many other authors in an attempt to determine who wrote Shakespeare.

Mendenhall, "A Mechanical Solution of a Literary Problem," The Popular Science Monthly 60 (1901) 97–105.

A Companion to Digital Humanities, ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004. 


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Tolbert Lanston Invents the Monotype Machine June 7, 1887 – 1899

In 1887 American inventor Tolbert Lanston of Washington, D.C. demonstrated his prototype of the Monotype machine, a machine that set individual characters of type in justified lines rather than "lines of type" like the Linotype machine. Lanston's initial typesetting machine consisted of a keyboard producing a perforated record of a job in a paper spool, something like a player piano roll, which controlled an associated machine for fashioning types from cold strips of metal with 196 matrices. 

The concept of driving a typesetting machine from punched paper, similar to Jacquard cards, had originally been patented by William Martin as early as 1849, and had been improved by Alexander Mackie in 1867, but there was little demand for mechanized typesetting at that time, and, perhaps more importantly, neither of those machines were sufficiently functional to become established in the typesetting community. To produce his new machine Lanston originally founded the Lanston Type Machine Company in Virginia on November 13, 1886.

"The perforated tapes, of which he employed two, caused a strip of type metal to be fed into a compression box and the proper die to be centered above it, a section of the type metal cut off and compressed to form the type, which was then ejected on to the gallery, the entire operation of the typemaking machine being automatic. Justification was provided for on a novel principle.  A scale indicated to the operator of the perforating mechanism on completion of a line the amount of space yet unfilled and the perecentage which this bore to the filled space, he thereupon striking certain keys to cause perforations to be made at the end of the line. The tape was fed backward through the automatic typemaking machine and these last perforations caused the body of each letter in the line, or, if desired, only the spaces therein, to be increased above the normal such a percentage as to produce a line of justified type. In this machine electromagnets were employed to control the mechanism" (Thompson, History of Composing Machines  [1904] 120-21).

Notably Lanston demonstrated his machine three years after Mergenthaler invented the Linotype, and one year after the Linotype was usefully applied to production of the New York Daily Tribune newspaper.

Both Lanston's U.S. and British patents are dated June 7, 1887. The British patent specification No. 8183, Improvements in the Art of Printing, in my collection makes 64 claims with respect to a mechanism for line justification and a method of type forming. It consists of 29 pages of text and 9 diagrams, of which 8 are double-page.

Lanston's statement begins:

"While astonishing progress has been made in those branches of the art of printing which relate to the taking of impressions and to the folding and delivery of the matter printed, but comparatively little practical advance has been made in that department which relates particularly to the setting up and justification of the lines from which the impressions are to be taken.

"Type setting machines of more or less efficiency it is true have been employed to assemble the types but, even where such machines have been successfully used it has always been found necessary to subject each line of composition to a process of justification involving, usually the introduction of suitable mechanism, or by hand, of additional spaces, or of the substitution of wide or narrow spaces, and vice versa, much the same as in the case of matter set up by hand.

"Machines have also been constructed with a view to the production of solid lines of justified composition, even in such machines the justification of the line is only secured by justifying the dies or molds which produce them and this justifying operation is performed in the ordinary manner, above referred to.

"My invention is a wide departure from the previous methods and proceeds upon a principle, which I believe to be radically new. Instead of producing a line of composition and then justifying it I form my types for a given line in such manner as to cause them when assembled, to form a complete justified line ready for printing direct or for making an impression for stereotype or electrotype purposes without further manipulation.

"In attempting to surplant by machinery the ancient process of setting type by hand the advantages to be derived from copying as many of the conditions of such hand set type as possible as [sic; should be "are"] manifest. By so doing, the mechanical products will be in harmony with all the other conditions of the art of printing as now practiced, will involve no departure from its usages and will permit the same method of correction of errors, interpolations, shifting of matter &c. as are now in vogue. It is well known that in ordinary composition where common type is used it rarely ever exactly fills a line of given length, the rule being that a space of greater or less length is left at the end of the line which must be filled up or absorbed in the process of justification. Now, since it is apparent that in every case this unoccupied space at the end of the line must bear a certain relation to the part of the line filled by the characters or in other words, represent a certain percentage of the combined width of such characters, it follows, that if there be added to the normal width of the body of each of the assembled types a percentage of increase, corresponding to the percentage which said unoccupied space represents to the occupied space, the line composed of types so formed will be rendered self justifying. . . . "(pp. 1-2).

To develop his invention Lanston moved his business to Philadelphia where he formed the Lanston Monotype Company. As the technology progressed this company became known as the Lanston Monotype Machine Company. In 1890 Lanston abandoned the concept of stamping letter shapes into cold metal and introduced casting techniques. Within a year he had developed a version of this idea called the "Hot-Metal Machine." For this he obtained US Patent 557994, granted in 1896.

According to the best book on the history of American Monotype, Hopkins, Tolbert Lanston and the Monotype. The Origin of Digital Typesetting (2012), the first published article on the Monotype machine appeared in Paper and Press in September, 1891. This article I have not seen. Before that the company published in New York in 1889 a pamphlet entitled The Lanston Type-Machine. Expert Report of Coleman Sellers, and Church & Church and W.W. Gordon. This pamphlet, surviving perhaps in only one copy, previously in the Franklin Institute, and now preserved in the Getty Research Institute, provides the earliest technical description of the operation of the machine, including examples of actual typesetting. It was published as a promotional effort to raise money for development of the company.

The first typeface issued by the Lanston Monotype Machine Company in the USA was Modern Condensed (Series 1) in 1896.  

"It was made for the Model C Keyboard which mirrored the layout of the die-case on the caster. That is, the narrow characters occupied designated rows, as did the wider characters. Effectively the character widths allocated were imposed uniformly on all early designs. To do otherwise would have meant a different keyboard layout for each typeface."

By 1897 American mechanical engineer John Sellers Bancroft converted the Monotype into a casting apparatus that was controlled from a perforated paper job record. This required reducing the number of available typographic characters from 225 to 132, thereby becoming known as the "Limited Font Machine." Also, a justification wedge was perfected for expanding word spaces, instead of adding space to every character in a line. These enhancements represented the beginning of the "modern" Monotype system.

Running short of funds, J. Maury Dove and Harold M. Duncan of the Lanston Monotype Machine Company decided to raise money by taking four of the Limited Font Machines to London for demonstrations. On the Atlantic crossing the two Americans encountered Lord Dunraven, who bought the British and Colonial (except Canada) patent rights to the Monotype system for £220,000: the equivalent of one million dollars at the time. This enabled William Sellers & Co. to continue efforts to improve the caster.

Dunraven founded Lanston Monotype Corporation Ltd in London, later known as Monotype Corporation. Two years later, in 1897 John Sellers Bancroft re-engineered the Monotype caster to restore the character component to the originally intended 225. The American and English companies developed independently and each developed many notable and enduring type fonts.

(This entry was last revised on 02-17-2015.)

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The First Motion Picture Shot in the United States 1888 – 1894

In 1894 Thomas Edison of Menlo Park (now Edison), New Jersey formally introduced the Kinetograph, the first practical moving picture camera, and the Kinetoscope, a hand-cranked, single-viewer, lighted box to display the resulting films. This group of inventions was for the most part developed by Edison's employee, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson.

The first surviving experimental films Edison's group produced were Monkeyshines, No. 1 shot by Dickson and William Heise as early as 1889 or 1890:

"Scholars have differing opinions on whether the first was shot in June 1889 starring John Ott or sometime between November 21-27, 1890 starring G. Sacco Albanese. Both men were fellow lab workers at the company; contradictory evidence exists for each laim. Monkeyshines, No. 2 and Monkeyshines, No. 3 quickly followed to test further conditions" (Wikipedia article on Monkeyshines, accessed 01-19-2014).

"In 1888, American inventor and entrepreneur Thomas Alva Edison conceived of a device that would do 'for the Eye what the phonograph does for the Ear'. In October, Edison filed a preliminary claim, known as a caveat, with the U.S. Patent Office outlining his plans for the device. In March 1889, a second caveat was filed, in which the proposed motion picture device was given a name, the Kinetoscope. Dickson, then the Edison company's official photographer, was assigned to turn the concept into a reality.

"Dickson invented the first practical celluloid film for this application and decided on 35 mm for the size, a standard still used.

"Dickson and his team at the Edison lab then worked on the development of the Kinetoscope for several years. The first working prototype was unveiled in May 1891 and the design of system was essentially finalized by the fall of 1892. The completed version of the Kinetoscope was officially unveiled at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences on 9 May 1893. Not technically a projector system, it was a peep show machine showing a continuous loop of the film Dickson invented, lit by an Edison light source, viewed individually through the window of a cabinet housing its components. The Kinetoscope introduced the basic approach that would become the standard for all cinematic projection before the advent of video. It creates the illusion of movement by conveying a strip of perforated film bearing sequential images over a light source with a high-speed shutter. Dickson and his team also devised the Kinetograph, an innovative motion picture camera with rapid intermittent, or stop-and-go, film movement, to photograph movies for in-house experiments and, eventually, commercial Kinetoscope presentations" (Wikipedia article on William Kennedy Dickson, accessed 02-15-2013).

Kinetescope parlors were supplied with fifty-foot film snippets shot by Dickson, in Edison's "Black Maria" studio. The invention was a widely imitated, international success.

In June 1894 Dickson and his sister Antonia published "Edison's Invention Of The Kineto-Phonograph" in Century Magazine, and the following year they published History of the Kinetograph, Kinetoscope and Kinetophonograph. In 2001 the Museum of Modern Art published a facsimile edition of Dickson's own annotated copy of this 55-page pamphlet.

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Gregg Shorthand is Introduced 1888 – 1988

In 1888 John Robert Gregg published Light-Line Phonography. The Phonetic Handwriting, describing Gregg shorthand A 28-page pamphlet, the first edition was issued in Liverpool, England, by the Light-Line Phonography Institute. Gregg's system used the curvilinear motion of longhand writing while employing phonetic rather than alphabetic spelling. It also placed all components on the same line rather than above or below the line, thus maintaining the natural flow of the writing.  These factors represented significant advantages over other shorthand systems.

Gregg shorthand was adapted to many languages, but was most popular in its Spanish adaptation. The final edition of Gregg shorthand, known as the Centennial edition, was published in 1988.

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Historical Graphic Interpretation of Man's Quest for Knowledge of the Universe 1888

In 1888 astronomer and prolific writer Camille Flammarion published  L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire in Paris.  What remains most notable about this work was a single wood engraved image which it published for the first time, known historically as the Flammarion engraving. This pastiche is one of the most widely studied and reproduced historical interpretations of man's quest for knowledge of the universe.

"The engraving depicts a man, clothed in a long robe and carrying a staff, who kneels down and passes his head, shoulders, and right arm through a gap between the starry sky and the earth, discovering a marvellous realm of circling clouds, fires and suns beyond the heavens. One of the elements of the cosmic machinery bears a strong resemblance to traditional pictorial representations of the "wheel in the middle of a wheel" described in the visions of the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel. One of the most significant features of the landscape is the tree, which some people have interpreted as the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The caption that accompanies the engraving in Flammarion's book reads

"A missionary of the Middle Ages tells that he had found the point where the sky and the Earth touch..."

"In 1957, astronomer Ernst Zinner claimed that the image dated to the German Renaissance, but he was unable to find any version published earlier than 1906. Further investigation, however, revealed that the work was a composite of images characteristic of different historical periods, and that it had been made with a burin, a tool used for wood engraving only since the late 18th century. The image was traced to Flammarion's book by Arthur Beer, an astrophysicist and historian of German science at Cambridge and, independently, by Bruno Weber, the curator of rare books at the Zürich central library.

"Flammarion had been apprenticed at the age of twelve to an engraver in Paris and it is believed that many of the illustrations for his books were engraved from his own drawings, probably under his supervision. Therefore it is plausible that Flammarion himself created the image, though the evidence for this remains circumstantial. Like most other illustrations in Flammarion's books, the engraving carries no attribution. Although sometimes referred to as a forgery or a hoax, Flammarion does not characterize the engraving as a medieval or renaissance woodcut, and the mistaken interpretation of the engraving as an older work did not occur until after Flammarion's death. The decorative border surrounding the engraving is distinctly non-medieval and it was only by cropping it that the confusion about the historical origins of the image became possible. According to Bruno Weber and to astronomer Joseph Ashbrook, the depiction of a spherical heavenly vault separating the earth from an outer realm is similar to the first illustration in Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia of 1544, a book which Flammarion, an ardent bibliophile and book collector, might have owned.

"In Flammarion's L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire, the image refers to the text on the facing page (p. 163), which also clarifies the author's intent in using it as an illustration:

Whether the sky be clear or cloudy, it always seems to us to have the shape of an elliptic arch; far from having the form of a circular arch, it always seems flattened and depressed above our heads, and gradually to become farther removed toward the horizon. Our ancestors imagined that this blue vault was really what the eye would lead them to believe it to be; but, as Voltaire remarks, this is about as reasonable as if a silk-worm took his web for the limits of the universe. The Greek astronomers represented it as formed of a solid crystal substance; and so recently as Copernicus, a large number of astronomers thought it was as solid as plate-glass. The Latin poets placed the divinities of Olympus and the stately mythological court upon this vault, above the planets and the fixed stars. Previous to the knowledge that the earth was moving in space, and that space is everywhere, theologians had installed the Trinity in the empyrean, the glorified body of Jesus, that of the Virgin Mary, the angelic hierarchy, the saints, and all the heavenly host.... A naïve missionary of the Middle Ages even tells us that, in one of his voyages in search of the terrestrial paradise, he reached the horizon where the earth and the heavens met, and that he discovered a certain point where they were not joined together, and where, by stooping his shoulders, he passed under the roof of the heavens...

"The same paragraph had already appeared, without the accompanying engraving, in an earlier edition of the text published under the title of L'atmosphère: description des grands phénomènes de la Nature ("The Atmosphere: Description of the Great Phenomena of Nature," 1872). The correspondence between the text and the illustration is so close that one would appear to be based on the other. Had Flammarion known of the engraving in 1872, it seems unlikely that he would have left it out of that year's edition, which was already heavily illustrated. The more probable conclusion therefore is that Flammarion commissioned the engraving specifically to illustrate this particular text, though this has not been ascertained conclusively (Wikipedia article on Flammarion engraving, accessed 11-29-2012).

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Decisive Proof of Chromosomal Individuality 1888

Theodor Boveri

Human chromosomes

Diagram of a centrosome

In "Zellen-Studien", Jena Z. Naturw., 22 (1888) 685-882, German biologist Theodor Boveri presented decisive proof of the maintenance of chromosomal individuality. Boveri's work with sea urchins showed that it was necessary to have all chromosomes present in order for proper embryonic development to take place. This discovery was an important part of the Boveri–Sutton chromosome theory. His other significant discovery was the centrosome, which he first described and named in this paper.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) 231.1.

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The Telautograph July 31, 1888

Inventor Elisha Gray of Highland Park, Illinois received the first of six patents for the Telautograph, an early precursor of the fax machine.  

The telautograph transmitted electrical impulses recorded by potentiometers at the sending station to servomechanisms attached to a pen at the receiving station, reproducing a drawing or signature made by the sender at the receiving station.  It was the first device to transmit drawings to a stationary sheet of paper; previous inventions in Europe had used rotating drums to record these transmissions.

In an interview in The Manufacturer & Builder (Vol. 24: No. 4 (1888) 5–86) Gray made this statement:

"By my invention you can sit down in your office in Chicago, take a pencil in your hand, write a message to me, and as your pencil moves, a pencil here in my laboratory moves simultaneously, and forms the same letters and words in the same way. What you write in Chicago is instantly reproduced here in fac-simile. You may write in any language, use a code or cipher, no matter, a fac-simile is produced here. If you want to draw a picture it is the same, the picture is reproduced here. The artist of your newspaper can, by this device, telegraph his pictures of a railway wreck or other occurrences just as a reporter telegraphs his description in words. The telautograph became very popular for the transmission of signatures over a distance, and in banks and large hospitals to ensure that doctors' orders and patient information were transmitted quickly and accurately" (quoted in Wikipedia article on Telautograph, accessed 03-02-2011).

Gray's patents on the telautograph are:

Gray, Elisha. "Art of Telegraphy", United States Patent 386,814, July 31, 1888.

Gray, Elisha. "Telautograph", United States Patent 386,815, July 31, 1888.

Gray, Elisha. "Telautograph", United States Patent 461,470, October 20, 1891.

Gray, Elisha. "Art of and Apparatus for Telautographic Communication", United States Patent 461,472, October 20, 1891.

Gray, Elisha. "Telautograph", United States Patent 491,347, February 7, 1893.

Gray, Elisha. "Telautograph", United States Patent 494,562, April 4, 1893.

Jean Renard Ward, History of Pen and Gesture Computing http://rwservices.no-ip.info:81/pens/biblio70.html#Gray1888b, accessed 03-02-2011

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"Roundhay Garden Scene": The Earliest Surviving Film October 14, 1888

The Roundhay Garden Scene, a short film shot by French inventor Louis Le Prince, is considered the earliest surviving motion picture by the Guiness Book of Records. Le Prince made the film using a single lens camera and Eastman's paper film at 12  frames per second, and runs for 2.11 seconds. According to Le Prince's son, Adolphe, it was filmed at Oakwood Grange, the home of Joseph and Sarah Whitley, in RoundhayLeedsWest Riding of Yorkshire, England on October 14, 1888.

The film "features Adolphe Le Prince, Sarah Whitley, Joseph Whitley and Harriet Hartley in the garden, walking around. Note that Sarah is walking backwards as she turns around, and that Joseph's coat tails are flying as he also is turning. Sarah Whitley was Le Prince's mother-in-law being the mother of John Whitley and Le Prince's wife Elizabeth Whitley LePrince. Sarah Whitley died ten days after the scene was taken" (Wikipedia article on Roundhay Garden Scene, accessed 01-19-2014).

"He [Le Prince] was never able to perform a planned public demonstration in the United States because he mysteriously vanished from a train on 16 September 1890. His body and luggage were never found, but, over a century later, a police archive was found to contain a photograph of a drowned man who could have been him. Not long after this, Thomas Edison tried to take credit for the invention. But Le Prince’s widow and son, Adolphe, were keen to advance his cause as the inventor of cinematography. In 1898 Adolphe appeared as a witness for the defence in a court case brought by Edison against the American Mutoscope Company, claiming that Edison was the first and sole inventor of cinematography (and thus entitled to royalties for the use of the process). He was not allowed to present the two cameras as evidence (and so establish Le Prince’s prior claim as inventor) and eventually the court ruled in favour of Edison; a year later that ruling was overturned" (Wikipedia article on Louis le Prince, accessed 01-19-2014).

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One of the Most Dramatic Problems in the Preservation of Media 1889 – 1955

In 1889 inventor and entrepreneur George Eastman of Rochester, New York used Cellulose Nitrate as a base for photographic roll film. Cellulose nitrate was used for photographic and professional 35mm motion picture film until the 1950s, eventually creating one of the most dramatic problems in the preservation of media.

"It is highly inflammable and also decomposes to a dangerous condition with age. When new, nitrate film could be ignited with the heat of a cigarette; partially decomposed, it can ignite spontaneously at temperatures as low as 120 F (49C). Nitrate film burns rapidly, fuelled by its own oxygen, and releases toxic fumes.

"Decomposition: There are five stages in the decomposition of nitrate film:

"(i) Amber discolouration with fading of picture.
"(ii) The emulsion becomes adhesive and films stick together; film becomes brittle.
"(iii) The film contains gas bubbles and gives off a noxious odour
"(iv) The film is soft, welded to adjacent film and frequently covered with a viscous froth
"(v) The film mass degenerates into a brownish acrid powder.

"Film in the first and second stages can be copied, as may parts of films at the third stage of decomposition. Film at the fourth or fifth stages is useless and should be immediately destroyed by your local fire brigade because of the dangers of spontaneous combustion and chemical attack on other films. Contact your local environmental health officer about this.

"It has been estimated that the majority of nitrate film will have decomposed to an uncopiable state by the year 2000, though archives are now deep-freezing film."

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The Most Complete Work on Babbage's Computers 1889

Charles Babbage’s son Henry Prevost Babbage completed and published his father’s unfinished edition of writings on the Difference Engine No. 1 and the Analytical Engine, together with a listing of his father’s unpublished plans and notebooks. These appear under the title of Babbage’s Calculating Engines.

This work was the principal source of information for the technical operation of Babbage’s Difference and Analytical engines. Toward the end of his life, Babbage began assembling his own and other’s previously published writings on his Difference and Analytical Engines with the intent of publishing a history of his work designing the machines, and descriptions of the way that the machines would operate. However, Babbage died before he could accomplish this task. He had the first 294 pages of this work typeset and printed on slightly varying qualities of paper during his lifetime. The differences in the paper used for portions of the work would suggest that sections were printed intermittently rather than all at one time. It would appear that Babbage’s purpose in producing this work was to collect the most significant published writings on his calculating engines, most of which had appeared as obscure pamphlets or in little-read journals, together with a listing of what remained unpublished, including all of Babbage’s notebooks and engineering drawings (listed on pp. 271-294), in the hope that his unfinished projects might be completed at some future date.

Almost twenty years after Babbage’s death, his youngest son, Major-General Henry Prevost Babbage, to whom Babbage had bequeathed his parts for his calculating engines, and everything else pertaining to them, completed the book, incorporating the printed sheets that Babbage had produced along with concluding material, reflecting his own frustrated efforts to effect realization of Babbage’s engines. Were it not for this volume, and for the bibliography of Babbage’s works published both here (on the last three printed pages of the book) and in Babbage’s autobiography, Babbage’s achievements might have been forgotten. Henry Babbage also completed six small demonstration pieces of the Difference Engine No. 1, and in 1910 at the age of 86, Henry Babbage also completed an experimental four-function calculator for the Mill for the Analytical Engine.  This was the only portion of the Analytical Engine that was ever produced in metal.

As it turned out Babbage’s designs were not implemented until the 20th century because in the era of human computers there was no pressing need for the machines that Babbage envisioned and designed. Yet because of these published works, Babbage’s ambitions and his ideas remained alive in the minds of people working in mechanical computation long after his technology had fallen into obsolescence. When Vannevar Bush suggested in 1936 that electromechanical technology might be the way to realize “Babbage’s large conception” of the Analytical Engine, he cited this volume among his references; and in building the electromechanical Harvard Mark I, Howard Aiken saw himself fulfilling Babbage’s ambition. However, some experts have inferred that Aiken’s knowledge of Babbage’s work may have been limited to what he read in Babbage’s autobiography, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, as Aiken did not include conditional branching in the design of the Mark I—a key idea that Babbage designed into the Analytical Engine.

Hyman, Charles Babbage, Pioneer of the Computer, 254. Van Sinderen, Alfred W. "The Printed Papers of Charles Babbage" Annals of the History of Computing, 2 (April 1980) :169-185 mentions in item CB80, that Babbage listed a History of the Analytical Engine as being “in the press” in 1864.

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77 Windmill Factories Employ 1,100 Workers in the U.S. 1889

in 1889 about 77 windmill factories scattered across the United States employed about 1,100 workers. They sold water-pumping windmills to railroads, who needed water for their steam locomotives, and to farmers, to pump water for their animals.

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The First Textbook of Mechanical Flight 1889

In 1889 German pioneer of human aviation Otto Lilienthal, known as the Glider King, published Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst. Lilienthal's study of the method and aerodynamics of bird flight was the first textbook of mechanical flight. Lilienthal applied the the results of his bird-flight studies to the problem of human flight, constructing one-man gliders based on the shape of a bird's wing. The experiments he conducted with these gliders from 1891 until his tragic death in 1896 demonstrated the practical application of his theories of flight and inspired others to build upon his initial investigations.

While gliding on 9 August 1896 Lilienthal fell from a height of 17 m (56 ft), breaking his spine. He died the next day, saying, "Kleine Opfer müssen gebracht werden!" ("Small sacrifices must be made!") and was buried at Lankwitz public cemetery in Berlin.

"Lilienthal's book [became] one of the chief bibles for the aeronautical world after he demonstrated that his theories could be put into practice. . . . It was the basis on which the Wrights first started building their aerodynamic work, and they were always high in praise of its pioneering value, even when they were led to modify Lilienthal's findings" (Gibbs-Smith, The Invention of the Aeroplane [1799-1909] 23, and 23-25).

Lilienthal's work was translated into English as Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation and published in London in 1911.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 1353.

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Postulating that Inheritance of Specific Traits is Controlled by Particles Called Pangenes 1889 – 1909

Hugo de Vries

Wilhelm Johannsen

In 1889 Dutch botanist and geneticist Hugo de Vries published Intracellulare Pangenesis in Jena at the press of Gustav Fischer. In this brief book he postulated that inheritance of specific discrete traits was transmitted during cell division by particles which he called pangens (English: pangenes). These he described as the smallest particle representing one hereditary characteristic. 

♦ Twenty years later Danish botanist and geneticist Wilhelm Johannsen abbreviated de Vries's term to gen to describe the fundamental physical and functional units of heredity. "Gen" in Danish and German word was translated into English as "gene."

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The First Electric Subway System 1890

In 1890 the City & South London Railway (C&SLR, now part of the Northern Line) opened between Stockwell and the now closed original terminus at King William Street. It was the first "deep-level" electrically operated railway, and the first railway to use electric traction.

"When opened in 1890, the line had six stations and ran for 3.2 miles (5.1 km) in a pair of tunnels between the City of London and Stockwell, passing under the River Thames. The diameter of the tunnels restricted the size of the trains, and the small carriages with their high-backed seating were nicknamed padded cells." (Wikipedia article on City & South London Railway, accessed 01-07-2013).

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Filed under: Transportation

"How the Other Half Lives": Pioneering Photojournalistic Muckraking 1890

Camera lenses of the 1880s were slow, as was the emulsion of photographic plates, the technology used before film negatives. Thus photographers could not take pictures in the dark or in most interior scenes. However, in early 1887 Danish American social reformer, journalist and photographer Jacob Riis of New York learned that flash power, a mixture of magnesium with potassium chlorate and antimony sulfide for added stability, could be used in a pistol-like device that fired cartridges, for flash photography. Using this technology Riis illustrated his book How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York, published in 1890.  

"The title of the book is a reference to a sentence by French writer François Rabelais, who famously wrote in Pantagruel: "one half of the world does not know how the other half lives" ("la moitié du monde ne sait pas comment l'autre vit").

"In How the Other Half Lives Riis describes the system of tenement housing that had failed, as he claims, due to greed and neglect from wealthier people. He claims a correlation between the high crime rate, drunkenness and reckless behaviour of the poor and their lack of a proper home. Chapter by chapter he uses his words and photographs to expose the conditions inhabited by the poor in a manner that “spoke directly to people's hearts”.

"He ends How the Other Half Lives with a plan of how to fix the problem. He asserts that the plan is achievable and that the upper classes will not only profit financially from such ventures, but have a moral obligation to tend to them as well.

"How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York explained not only the living conditions in New York slums, but also the sweatshops in some tenements which paid workers only a few cents a day. The book explains the plight of working children; they would work in factories and at other jobs. Some children became garment workers and newsies (newsboys).

"The effect was the tearing down of New York's worst tenements, sweatshops, and the reformation of the city's schools. The book led to a decade of improvements in Lower East Side conditions, with sewers, garbage collection, and indoor plumbing all following soon after, thanks to public reaction" (Wikipedia article on How the Other Half Lives, accessed 01-12-2013).

My attention to Riis's book was drawn by an article published in The New York Times on January 11, 2014 by journalist Ted Gup, entitled "The 1890 Book I Had to Have." It described Gup's experience in 2009-2010 buying the author's annotated copy of Riis's How the Other Half Lives, his appreciation of the unique copy, and the book's relevance to socio-economic problems today.

In January 2014 an audio version of Riis's complete book was available from LibriVox.org at this link.

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Publication of the Tables of de Prony 1891

In 1891 the logarithmic and trigonometric tables of Gaspard Riche de Prony, compiled in 19 volumes of manuscript, mostly by hairdressers unemployed after the French Revolution, were finally published in an abbreviated form in one volume. They were the most monumental work of calculation ever carried out by human computers.

France. Service Geographique de l'Armee. Tables des logarithmes a huit decimales des nombres entiers de 1 a 120000 et des sinus et tangentes de dix secondes en dix secondes d'arc dans le systeme de la division centesimale du quadrant. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1891.

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2001) no. 301.

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Nomograms: A Graphical Method of Calculation 1891

In 1891 French engineer and applied mathematician Philbert Maurice d'Ocagne published Nomographie, les calculs usuels effectués au moyen des abaques. In this work on nomograms or nomographs he

"presented the first outline of a rationally ordered discipline embracing all the individual procedures of nomographical calulation then known. Pursuing this subject, he succeeded in defining and classifying the most general modes of representation applicable to equations with an arbitrary number of variables. The results of all these investigations, along with a considerable number of applications . . .  [he] set forth in Traité de nomographie (1899), which was followed by other more or less developed expositions. This material appeared in fifty-nine partial or entire translations in fourteen languages" (Dictionary of Scientific Biography X [1974] 170). 

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Government Surveillance of Refugee Reading Habits at the British Museum, 1891-1905 1891 – 1905

In 2008 Robert Henderson, then of the British Library, completed a PhD thesis at the University of London entitled "Vladimir Bursev and the Russian revolutionary emigration: surveillance of foreign political refugees in London, 1891-1905." Chapters 3 and 4 describe:

"...how, despite (or perhaps because of) its reputation as (in Trotsky’s words) a ‘sanctuary’ for political exiles, the British Museum gave readers’ tickets to plain clothes policemen from Scotland Yard to enable them to keep an eye on refugees working in the Reading Room. Following the Greenwich Observatory bomb outrage of 1894 (the inspiration for Conrad’s Secret Agent) it was found that information on the explosives had been taken from a book in the British Museum, and the Museum’s authorities agreed to remove a second edition of the book on explosives from the catalogue and keep it in a reserved collection. (Apparently the origins of the collection of books suppressed on security or legal grounds which was still in place when I worked at the Library, when copies of ’Spycatcher’ received under legal deposit were placed in a Deputy Keeper’s cupboard under lock and key). This eventually led to the arrest of the writer and journalist Vladimir Burtsev by one of the plain clothes policemen with a reader's  ticket as he left the Museum Reading Room. Burtsev was subsequently the first Russian exile to be imprisoned in Britain. The case of Regina v. Bourtzeff remains central to law in this area and was recently cited, as Robert points out,  in the litigation concerning the deportation of Abu Al Hamza" (Andrew Prescott, Dept. of Digital Humanities, Kings's College London, Humanist Discussion Group 12-03-2013). The links within the quote are my additions..

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The Invention of "Basket Ball" (Basketball) December 1891

In December 1891 Canadian sports coach, physician, and innovator, James Naismith, invented basketball as an indoor sport to be played in winter by writing thirteen rules for the new sport and posting these rules in the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA gym. As far as I know, this is the only major sport in which the invention can be traced to a specific document.

"The first game of "Basket Ball" was played in December 1891. In a handwritten report, Naismith described the circumstances of the inaugural match; in contrast to modern basketball, the players played nine versus nine, handled a soccer ball, not a basketball, and instead of shooting at two hoops, the goals were a pair of peach baskets: 'When Mr. Stubbins brot [sic] up the peach baskets to the gym I secured them on the inside of the railing of the gallery. This was about 10 feet from the floor, one at each end of the gymnasium. I then put the 13 rules on the bulletin board just behind the instructor's platform, secured a soccer ball and awaited the arrival of the class... The class did not show much enthusiasm but followed my lead. . . I then explained what they had to do to make goals, tossed the ball up between the two center men & tried to keep them somewhat near the rules. Most of the fouls were called for running with the ball, though tackling the man with the ball was not uncommon.' In contrast to modern basketball, the original rules did not include what is known today as the dribble. Since the ball could only be moved up the court via a pass early players tossed the ball over their heads as they ran up court. Also, following each 'goal' a jump ball was taken in the middle of the court. Both practices are obsolete in the rules of modern basketball

"By 1892, basketball had grown so popular on campus that Dennis Horkenbach (editor-in-chief of The Triangle, the Springfield college newspaper) featured it in an article called 'A New Game', and there were calls to call this new game 'Naismith Ball', but Naismith refused. By 1893, basketball was introduced internationally by the YMCA movement. From Springfield, Naismith went to Denver where he acquired a medical degree and in 1898 he joined the University of Kansas faculty at Lawrence, Kansas" (Wikipedia article on James Naismith, accessed 12-11-2010).

♦ On December 10, 2010 Sotheby's in New York auctioned Naismith's original typewritten and hand-written manuscript of the rules which created basketball. To promote the sale, which benefited the Naismith Foundation, they published a separate catalogue which was available online. The document sold for $4,338,500, including buyer's premium. According to CBSsports.com, the buyers were David and Suzanne Booth, who intended to donate the manuscript to the University of Kansas at Lawrence where Naismith was the first basketball coach. Mr. Booth is an alumnus of the University of Kansas. The price was a record high for sports memorabilia.

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The Burroughs Dependable Key-Driven Printing Adding Machine 1892

In 1892 American inventor William Seward Burroughs of St. Louis, Missouri, founder of the American Arithmometer Company (1886; (Burroughs Adding Machine Company 1904) began commercial production of his dependable key-driven printing adding machine.

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Electromagnetic Waves: the Basis for Radio 1892

In 1892 German physicist Heinrich Hertz of the University of Karlsruhe published his collected papers on electromagnetic waves, Untersuchungen ueber die Ausbreitung der elektrischen Kraft, in Leipzig at the press of Johann Ambrosius Barth. For the edition Hertz added a 31-page introduction.  Hertz's book was translated into English, with a preface by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, as Electric Waves: Being Researches on the Propagation of Electric Action with Fine Velocity Through Space, and published by Macmillan in London in 1893.

The death of Hertz in 1894 evoked reviews of his discoveries which interested Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi.  

"He was permitted to briefly study the subject under Augusto Righi, a University of Bologna physicist and neighbour of Marconi who had done research on Hertz's work. Righi had a subscription to The Electrician where Oliver Lodge published detailed accounts of the apparatus used in his (Lodge's) public demonstrations of wireless telegraphy in 1894.

"Marconi began to conduct experiments, building much of his own equipment in the attic of his home at the Villa Griffone in Pontecchio, Italy, with the help of his butler Mignani. His goal was to use radio waves to create a practical system of "wireless telegraphy"—i.e. the transmission of telegraph messages without connecting wires as used by the electric telegraph. This was not a new idea—numerous investigators had been exploring wireless telegraph technologies for over 50 years, but none had proven commercially successful. Marconi did not discover any new and revolutionary principle in his wireless-telegraph system, but rather he assembled and improved a number of components, unified and adapted them to his system" (Wikipedia article on Guglielmo Marconi, accessed 02-08-2012).

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Finger Prints as a Means of Identification 1892

In 1892 Victorian polymath, geographer, meteorologist, explorer, statistician, psychometrician, and proto-geneticist Francis Galton published a detailed statistical model of fingerprint analysis and identification, and encouraged their use in forensic science in his book, Finger Prints published in London.

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Stepanov System of Dance Notation 1892

In 1892 Vladimir Ivanovich Stepanov, dancer at the Imperial Ballet in Saint Petersburg, published L'alphabet des Mouvements du Corps Humain. The pamphlet was issued in Paris. Stepanov's system of dance notation

"encodes dance movements with musical notes and not with pictographs or newly invented abstract symbols. Stepanov breaks complex movements down to elementary moves which single parts of the body can make. These basic moves are then enciphered as musical signs" (Wikipedia article on Vladimir Ivanovich Stepanov, accessed 04-05-2009).

The Stepanov method of dance or choreographic notation archive is preserved in the Sergeyev Collection at the Harvard University Library Theatre Collection.

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The Earliest Miniature Printed Editions of the Qur'an 1892 – 1900

About 1900 Glasgow publishers of miniature books David Bryce & Son issued a miniature edition of the Qu'ran (Koran) with illuminated opening pages, 2.5 x 1.9 cm. It was sold with a metal locket and a magnifying glass. Many copies were supplied to Indian and other Muslim soldiers fighting for the British in World War I, and also served as talismans.

"The production of miniature Korans in manuscript has a long tradition, but the printing of them in this [miniature] form had to await the arrival of photolithographic techniques in the late 19th century. Such Korans were published in Delhi in 1892 and Istanbul c. 1899, but the one which seems to have achieved the widest circulation is this Scottish edition. It was one of a long series of miniature books produced by David Bryce and Sons. All the copies were issued with metal lockets and magnifying glasses. Many were supplied to Indian and other Muslim soldiers fighting for the British in the First World War, and served also as talismans’ (Hanebutt-Benz, Glass, Roper (eds) Middle Eastern Languages and the Print Revolution: A cross-cultural encounter. A catalogue and companion to the Exhibition at Gutenberg-Museum Mainz,[2002] No. 79, p. 490).

An "almost legendary title published by Bryce … The bindings vary from richly gilt-stamped red or black morocco with gilt edges to plain stiff wrappers and yellow edges . . . (Bondy, Miniature Books [1981] 111–2).

In The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Book 4, Chapter 53) T. E. Lawrence wrote:

"[Auda] told me later, in strict confidence, that thirteen years before he had bought an amulet Koran for one hundred and twenty pounds and had not since been wounded. . . . The book was a Glasgow reproduction, costing eighteen pence; but Auda’s deadliness did not let people laugh at his superstition." 

Simon Beattie, Recent Acquisitions. List prepared for the 46th California International Antiquarian Book Fair, San Francisco, February 2013, No. 23.

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The Weissmann Barrier 1892

August Weismann

In 1892 German physician, zoologist and evolutionary biologist August Weismann, of Freiburg im Breisgau, published two books providing experimental evidence that acquired characteristics were not inherited. Aufsätze über Vererbung und verwandte biologische fragen and Das Keimplasma. Eine Theorie der Verebung.

According to Weissman's germ plasm theory, in a multicellular organism inheritance only takes place by means of the germ cellsgametes such as egg cells and sperm cells. Other cells of the body, somatic cells, do not function as agents of heredity. The effect is one-way: germ cells produce somatic cells and are not affected by anything the somatic cells learn, or any ability the body acquires during its life. Therefore genetic information cannot pass from soma to germ plasm and on to the next generation. This is referred to as the Weismann barrier.

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The Sierra Club is Founded May 28, 1892

On May 28, 1892 John Muir and a group of professors from the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University founded the Sierra Club in San Francisco. It is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States.

"The Club's first goals included establishing Glacier and Mount Rainier national parks, convincing the California legislature to give Yosemite Valley to the US Federal government, and saving California's coastal redwoods. Muir escorted President Theodore Roosevelt through Yosemite in 1903, and two years later the California legislature ceded Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove to the Federal government. The Sierra Club won its first lobbying victory with the creation of the country's second national park, after Yellowstone in 1872. In the first decade of the 1900s, the Sierra Club became embroiled in the famous Hetch Hetchy controversy that divided preservationists from "resource management" conservationists. For years the city of San Francisco had been having problems with a privately-owned water company that provided poor service at high prices. Mayor James D. Phelan’s reform administration wanted to set up a municipally-owned water utility and revived an earlier proposal to dam the Hetch Hetchy valley. The final straw was the water company's failure to provide adequate water to fight the fires that destroyed much of the city following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Gifford Pinchot, a progressive supporter of public utilities and head of the US Forest Service, which then had jurisdiction over the national parks, supported the creation Hetch Hetchy dam. Muir appealed to his friend US President Roosevelt, who would not commit himself against the dam, given its popularity with the people of San Francisco (a referendum in 1908 confirmed a seven-to-one majority in favor of the dam and municipal water). Muir and attorney William Colby began a national campaign against the dam, attracting the support of many eastern conservationists. With the 1912 election of US President Woodrow Wilson, who carried San Francisco, supporters of the dam had a friend in the White House. The bill to dam Hetch Hetchy passed Congress in 1913, and so the Sierra Club lost its first major battle. In retaliation, the Club supported creation of the National Park Service in 1916, to remove the parks from Forest Service oversight. Stephen Mather, a Club member from Chicago and an opponent of Hetch Hetchy dam, became the first National Park Service director" (Wikipedia article on Sierra Club)

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The First Animated Films are Shown October 28, 1892

In 1892 Charles-Émile Reynaud, inventor of the praxinoscope, an animation system using loops of 12 pictures, created the first animated films.

"On October 28, 1892 at Musée Grévin in Paris, France he exhibited animations consisting of loops of about 500 frames, using his Théâtre Optique system - similar in principle to a modern film projector" (Wikipedia article on History of Animation, accessed 05-24-2009).

"The show, billed as Pantomimes Lumineuses, included three cartoons, Pauvre Pierrot, Un bon bock, and Le Clown et ses chiens, each consisting of 500 to 600 individually painted images and lasting about 15 minutes. Reynaud acted as the projectionist and the show was accompanied by a piano player. Although the films shown by the Lumière Brothers in 1895 eclipsed it, the show stayed at the Musée Grévin until 1900 by which time over 500,000 people had seen it" (Wikipedia article on Théâtre Optique, accessed 05-24-2009).

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The Millionaire Calculator 1893

Millionaire mechanical calculator.

In 1893 the "Millionaire" mechanical calculator, about the size of a small desk top, was introduced in Switzerland. The "Millionaire" was the first commercially successful calculator that could perform multiplication directly, rather than by repeated addition. It was designed by Otto Steiger, a Swiss engineer and was first patented in Germany in 1892. Patents were issued in France, Switzerland, Canada and the USA in 1893. Production by Hans W. Egli of Zurich started in 1893, and continued to 1935. Most models were driven by hand-crank but some were electrified.

Roughly 4000-5000 Millionaires were sold. 

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The First Production Automobiles 1893 – 1894

Karl Benz of Mannheim, Germany created the Victoria, a two-passenger, 4-wheeled automobile with a 3-hp engine, which could reach the top speed of 11 mph and had a pivotal front axle operated by a roller-chained tiller for steering. The model was successful with 85 units sold in 1893.

"In 1894 Benz improved this design in his new Velo model. This was produced on such a remarkably large scale for the era—1,200 total from 1894 to 1901— that it may be considered the first production automobile. The Benz Velo also participated in the first automobile race, the 1894 Paris to Rouen Rally" (Wikipedia article on Karl Benz, accessed 06-01-2009).

By the end of the nineteenth century Benz was the largest automobile company in the world with 572 units produced in 1899.

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The First International Exhibition of Mathematical Devices September 1893

The recently established Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung held an exhibition in Munich of Mathematical and Mathematical-Physical Models, Apparatus, and Instruments in September 1893. This was the first international exhibition limited to mathematical devices, including calculating instruments; it reflected the huge growth in the field since the London exposition of 1876. The exhibition had been planned for the previous year but was canceled because of an outbreak of cholera in northern Germany.

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The First Successful Gas-Engine Automobile Built in the United States September 21, 1893 – 1895

On September 21, 1893 Charles Duryea and Frank Duryea demonstrated their one-cylinder "Ladies Phaeton" at Chicopee, Massachusetts. This was the first successful gas-engine automobile built in the United States.

In 1894 the brothers built a second automobile. This car, driven by Frank, won the Chicago Times Herald race in Chicago on a snowy Thanksgiving day in 1895. Frank Duryea travelled 54 miles (87 km) at an average 7.5 mph (12 km/h), marking the first U.S. auto race in which any entrants finished. That same year, the brothers founded the Duryea Motor Wagon Company, and began commercial production, selling thirteen cars by the end of 1896.

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d'Ocagne Publishes the First Systematic Classification of Calculating Machines 1894

In 1894 Philbert Maurice d'Ocagne published Le Calcul simplifiée par procèdes mécaniques et graphiques. This contained the first systematic classification of calculating machines.

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The First Moving Picture: "Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon" Circa 1894 – March 19, 1895

There is much dispute as to the identity of the cinématographe, a film camera which also serves as a film projector and developer. "Some argue that the device was first invented and patented as "Cinématographe Léon Bouly" by French inventor Léon Bouly in February 12, 1892. It is said that, due to a lack of fee, Bouly was not able to pay the rent for his patent the following year, and Auguste and Louis Lumière's engineers bought the license.

"Popular thought, however, dictates that Louis Lumière was the first to conceptualise the idea, and both Lumière brothers shared the patent. They made their first film, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon, in 1894" (Wikipedia article on Cinematograph, accessed 04-22-2009).

"The date of the recording of their first film is in dispute. In an interview with Georges Sadoul given in 1948, Louis Lumière tells that he shot the film in August 1894. This is questioned by historians (Sadoul, Pinel, Chardère) who consider that a functional Lumière camera didn't exist before the end of 1894, and that their first film was recorded March 19th 1895, and then publicly projected March 22nd at the Société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale in Paris" (Wikipedia article on Auguste and Louis Lumiere, accessed 04-22-2009).

Seventeen meters long, when cranked through the cinématograph, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon ran for approximately 50 seconds.

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The Press on which William Morris Printed the Kelmscott Chaucer is Sold, Again 1894

On December 6, 2013 the Floor Model Albion Press No. 6551 produced by Hopkinson & Cope, and used by William Morris's Kelmscott Press in Kelmscott, England, to print the Kelmscott Chaucer and other books, was auctioned by Christie's in New York. The press was consigned by Jethro K. Lieberman, who inherited it from his father J. Ben Lieberman. Ben Lieberman acquired the press in 1960, prior to which it had been owned by typographer Frederic W. Goudy, and by C. R. Ashbee at his Essex House Press. The price realized was $233,000. 

"Undoubtedly the most famous printing press in the annals of modern fine press publishing, William Morris's Albion 6551 handled the monumental task of printing his masterpiece, Chaucer's Works in 1896. The Kelmscott Press started printing in January 1891 at the press's premises on Upper Mall, a few doors down from Kelmscott House. About ten or twelve pressmen and compositors were employed, and as output increased rooms were taken in the adjacent building known as Sussex House. Soon after T.J. Cobden-Sanderson set up his Doves Bindery opposite Sussex House in 1893, Morris was able to rent rooms upstairs for his proofreaders who stayed there in the summer of 1894. Additional premises were taken on 1 January 1895 to accommodate this third Albion press, which was specifically purchased to print the folio Chaucer, which had fallen behind schedule (see Linda Parry, ed., William Morris, New York, 1996, pp.313-4).

Called "THE FINEST BOOK SINCE GUTENBERG" by Colin Franklin, the Chaucer is the supreme achievement of the forty-year artistic collaboration between Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris and the Kelmscott Press: "the final chapter of co-operation; the venture in which their particular talents are combined for the last time, and to spectacular effect" (Robinson). It is the largest and most highly praised of all the Kelmscott books, which Burne-Jones famously referred to as "a pocket cathedral -- it is so full of design." Earliest plans for the work dated to 1891 but printing of the book did not begin until August 1894, and it was only issued to subscribers in June 1896.

Purchased by Morris in 1894 for £52.10s, No. 6551 was one of the three full-sized Albions he was to own at the Kelmscott Press. Morris chose this Albion for the formidable task of printing the Kelmscott Chaucer and had the press reinforced with iron bands to keep the staple from cracking under the extra pressure required to print the heavy forms of this monumental book. After Morris' death, the Albion was owned first by C.R. Ashbee's Essex House Press, and then subsequently by the Old Bourne and Pear Tree Presses, before it was purchased by Bertha and Frederic Goudy in 1924. The Goudys brought the Albion to America where it joined the typecasters and other foundry equipment of the Village Press and their Press of the Woolly Whale. In 1960, Elizabeth and Ben Lieberman acquired the press after it had resided with several additional printers. When the Liebermans' Herity Press took possession of the Albion, its history was so ingrained that it was dubbed the Kelmscott/Goudy Press, nicknamed "K/G." The Liebermans placed a Liberty Bell to the top of the press, and the Morris Society approved of the alteration "as a pledge to the freedom of the press which the personal printer represents and helps sustain." 
See William S. Peterson, The Kelmscott Press: A History of William Morris's Typographical Adventure, University of California Press, 1991, p. 342'; Franklin, Private Presses, p.192; Peterson A40; Robinson,William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and the Kelmscott Chaucer; Sparling 40" (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/books-manuscripts/kelmscott-press-floor-model-albion-press-5754413-details.aspx, accessed 12-08-2013).

On December 10, 2013 the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology announced that they bought the press:

"In 1924, American type designer Frederic Goudy imported Albion No. 6551 from England to Marlborough, N.Y., for use in his Village Press. Shortly thereafter, Goudy sold it to Spencer Kellogg Jr., who ran the Aries Press of Eden, N.Y.

“From 1932 to 1941, Albion No. 6551 was owned by the Cary Collection’s namesake, Melbert B. Cary Jr., director of Continental Type Founders Association and proprietor of the private Press of the Woolly Whale,” Galbraith explained.

“Cary bequeathed the press to his pressman George Van Vechten, and in 1960, J. Ben and Elizabeth Lieberman acquired Albion No. 6551 for their Herity Press. They topped the press with a Liberty Bell, a reminder of the vital role that private presses play in the freedom of the press.”

"Albion No. 6551 will join the Cary Collection’s Arthur M Lowenthal Memorial Pressroom, a working collection of 15 historical printing presses and more than 1,500 fonts of metal and wood type. Supporting study of the press is a collection of Kelmscott Press publications and archives of material related to Frederic Goudy and Cary’s Press of the Woolly Whale."

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The First Organized and Published Collection of Aviation Research 1894

In 1894 American railroad engineer Octave Chanute published his book, Progress in Flying Machines, in New York at the press of the American Engineer and Railroad Journal. This book was the first organized and published collection of aviation research, and a work which profoundly influenced the Wright Brothers. Chanute first became interested in aviation in 1875, and after his retirement in 1890 devoted all of his time to promoting this new science. He began collecting data from flight researchers all over the world, which he published in a series of articles in The Railroad and Engineering Journal between 1891 and 1893, and collected a year later for publication in book form.

In collaboration with other researchers, Chanute also conducted several experiments with various types of gliders, concluding from these investigations that the best way to achieve extra lift without a prohibitive increase in weight was to stack several wings one above the other. This led him to design the unmotorized Chanute biplane, upon which the Wright brothers based their first glider. Chanute and the Wright brothers became acquainted in 1900, when Wilbur Wright wrote to Chanute after reading Progress in Flying Machines. Chanute visited Kitty Hawk several times and helped to publicize the Wrights' work.

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The Palmer Method 1894

In 1894 American educator and handwriting teacher Austin Norman Palmer of Cedar Rapids, Iowa published Palmer's Guide to Business Writing, describing a uniform system of cursive writing with rhythmic motions. The 46-page pamphlet, reproducing many examples, was issued by Palmer's Western Penman Publishing Co.

"Palmer's method involved 'muscle motion' in which the more proximal muscles of the arm were used for movement, rather than allowing the fingers to move in writing. In spite of opposition from the major textbook companies, this textbook enjoyed great success: in 1912, 1,000,000 copies were sold throughout the country. The method garnered awards, including the Gold Medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, California, in 1915, and the Gold Medal at the Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1926.

"Palmer's style fell out of popularity and was replaced by a movement to teach children manuscript before teaching them cursive, in order to provide them with a means of written expression as soon as possible and thus develop writing skills. This effectively reduced the emphasis on handwriting in elementary school . . . . " (Wikipedia article on Palmer Method, accessed 09-19-2010).

When I was taught to write c. 1950 I was taught the Palmer Method.

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The First Known Motion Picture with Live-Recorded Sound: Invention of the Kinetophone 1894 – 1895

In 1894 or 1895 inventor William K. L. Dickson, working for Thomas Edison, made The Dickson Experimental Sound Film at Edison's Black Maria movie production studio in West Orange, New Jersey. This was the first known film with live-recorded sound.  It also appears to be the first motion picture made for the Edison-Dickson Kinetophone, the first sound film system.

The version below from the Library of Congress does not include the sound track:

"Reports suggest that in July 1893, a Kinetoscope accompanied by a cylinder phonograph had been presented at the Chicago World's Fair. The first known movie made as a test of the Kinetophone was shot at Edison's New Jersey studio in late 1894 or early 1895; now referred to as the Dickson Experimental Sound Film, it is the only surviving movie with live-recorded sound made for the Kinetophone. In March 1895, Edison offered the device for sale; involving no technological innovations, it was a Kinetoscope whose modified cabinet included an accompanying cylinder phonograph. Kinetoscope owners were also offered kits with which to retrofit their equipment. The first Kinetophone exhibitions appear to have taken place in April. Though a Library of Congress educational website states, 'The picture and sound were made somewhat synchronous by connecting the two with a belt,' this is incorrect. As historian David Robinson describes, 'The Kinetophone...made no attempt at synchronization. The viewer listened through tubes to a phonograph concealed in the cabinet and performing approximately appropriate music or other sound.' Historian Douglas Gomery concurs, '[Edison] did not try to synchronize sound and image.' Leading production sound mixer Mark Ulano writes, '[O]nly 45 Kinetophones were made. They did NOT play synchronously other than the phonograph turned on when viewing and off when stopped.' Though the surviving Dickson test involves live-recorded sound, certainly most, and probably all, of the films marketed for the Kinetophone were shot as silents, predominantly march or dance subjects; exhibitors could then choose from a variety of musical cylinders offering a rhythmic match. For example, three different cylinders with orchestral performances were proposed as accompaniments for Carmencita: "Valse Santiago", "La Paloma", and "Alma-Danza Spagnola" (Wikipedia article on Kineophone, accessed 02-15-2013).

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Discontinuous Variation as a Source of Evolutionary Change 1894

William Bateson

In 1894 English geneticist and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, William Bateson published Materials for the Study of Variation Treated with Especial Regard to Discontinuity. This was Bateson's major work before his rediscovery of Mendel's laws of heredity. Like many other scientists during the last decades of the 19th century, Bateson rejected the orthodox Darwinian doctrine of natural selection, which taught that evolutionary change was the result of gradual and continuous accretion of seemingly insignificant variations. Bateson emphasized the importance of major or discontinuous variation as the source of evolutionary change, studying plant hybrids in an effort to determine how discontinuous variations are inherited, and summarizing his discoveries in the Materials.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 237.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science & Medicine (1991) no. 134. 

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The First Illustrated Song: Precursor of the Music Video 1894

In 1894 sheet music publishers Edward B. Marks and Joe Stern hired electrician George Thomas and various performers to promote sales of their song "The Little Lost Child." Using a magic lantern, Thomas projected a series of still images on a screen during live performances of the song. As a result of the illustrated song performances, "The Little Lost Child" became a nationwide hit, selling more than two million copies of its sheet music. The illustrated song became a popular form of entertainment, and is considered the first step toward music video

"The Edward B. Marks Music Company was founded in 1894 by Mr. E. B. Marks, a traveling salesman of hooks, eyes, and whalebones who teamed up with a necktie salesman, Joseph W. Stern. Originally called Joseph W. Stern & Co., because Marks did not want to risk losing his regular job, it was among the first firms to usher in the modern era in pop music, which it did from a 100-square-foot basement space at 304 E. 14th Street near Second Avenue in Manhattan. Their success was launched with a song they penned themselves (Marks as lyricist and Stern as composer), a tear jerker in the popular current of the day called “The Lost Child.” This was followed up with their own first publication, another  “weeper” called “Mother Was a Lady.” (Among the many firsts accredited to Marks is the first-ever music video, when he accompanied performances of “The Lost Child” with graphic colored-lantern slides which were screened opposite the performer.)" (http://www.ebmarks.com/about/, accessed 01-23-2014).

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"The Enzyme and Substrate Must Fit Each Other Like a Lock and a Key" 1894

In his paper "Einfluss der Configuration auf die Wirkung der Enzyme," Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft 27 (1894) 2985-2993, German chemist Emil Fischer at the University of Berlin provided a structural interpretation of the selectivity of enzymes—their ability to discriminate among very similar molecules, confirming Pasteur's observations in fermentation of tartaric acid. Fischer wrote, “Only with a similar geometrical structure can molecules approach each other closely, and thus initiate a chemical reaction. To use a picture, I should say that the enzyme and substrate must fit each other like a lock and key.” (Quoted by Lesk, Protein Structure, 36).

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"Fred Ott's Sneeze": The First Silent Movie Copyrighted in the U. S. January 9, 1894

Fred Ott's Sneeze, or Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, a 5-second black-and-white silent documentary film was shot at 16 frames per second on January 9, 1894 by William K.L. Dickson. Staring one of Edison's assistants, Fred Ott, it was the first motion picture to be copyrighted in the United States. In the very brief film Fred Ott takes a pinch of snuff and sneezes. According to the Library of Congress the short was filmed for publicity purposes as a series of still photographs to accompany an article in Harper's Weekly.  The Library of Congress preserves a gelatin paper print of the film

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Invention of Radio 1895

Working at his father's estate in Ponteccio, Italy in 1895 Guglielmo Marconi invented wireless telegraphy (radio). 

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An Analog Search Engine to Organize All the World's Knowledge 1895

In 1895 Belgian author, entrepreneur, visionary, lawyer and peace activist Paul Otlet and Belgian professor of international law and legislator Henri La Fontaine founded the Institut International de Bibliographie in Brussels. In this organization they began the creation of a system of 3 x 5 index cards cataloguing facts that became known as the "Repertoire Bibliographique Universel" (RBU). By the end of 1895 it had grown to 400,000 entries. Eventually it reached 16 million cards.  The goal was to organize all the knowledge of the world.

To organize the cards Otlet and La Fontaine developed the Universal Decimal Classification based on the Dewey Decimal Classification, but using auxiliary signs to indicate various special aspects of a subject and relationships between subjects. "It thus contains a significant faceted or analytico-synthetic element, and is used especially in specialist libraries. UDC has been modified and extended through the years to cope with the increasing output in all disciplines of human knowledge, and is still under continuous review to take account of new developments" (Wikipedia article on Universal Decimal Classification, accessed 03-13-2012).

"In 1896, Otlet set up a fee-based service to answer questions by mail, by sending the requesters copies of the relevant index cards for each query; scholar Alex Wright has referred to the service as an 'analog search engine'. By 1912, this service responded to over 1,500 queries a year. Users of this service were even warned if their query was likely to produce more than 50 results per search.

"Otlet envisioned a copy of the RBU in each major city around the world, with Brussels holding the master copy. At various times between 1900 and 1914, attempts were made to send full copies of the RBU to cities such as Paris, Washington, D.C. and Rio de Janeiro; however, difficulties in copying and transportation meant that no city received more than a few hundred thousand cards" (Wikipedia article on Paul Otlet, accessed 03-02-2009).

Following World War I, in 1920 the organization, then called the Mundaneum, opened in the left wing of the palace of the Cinquantenaire de Bruxelles called the Palais Mondial-Mundaneum.

In 1931 the Institut International de Bibliographie was renamed the Institut International de Documentation, IID.  World War II and the deaths of La Fontaine in 1943 and Otlet in 1944 slowed the project. Although many of the cards were stored, some of them in the Brussels subway, volunteers kept the dream alive. In 1998, Belgium’s French community government revived the Mundaneum’s memory, bringing most of the archives to a beautiful Art Deco building in the city of Mons.

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The First Mainline Railway is Electrified 1895

In 1895 the first mainline electrification was installed on a four-mile stretch (Baltimore Belt Line) of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

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About 240,000 Telephones are in Use in the U.S.A. 1895

By 1895 about 240,000 telephones were in use in the United States.

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The Origin of Psychoanalysis 1895

In 1895 Viennese physicians Joseph Breuer and Sigmund Freud published Studien über Hysterie. This workwhich provided the first detailed account of the free-association method, is customarily regarded as the starting-point of psychoanalysis. Joseph Breuer had discovered the "cathartic" method of curing hysteria in the early 1880s while treating the patient who would later be immortalized as "Anna O."; this patient, who exhibited a myriad of severe hysterical symptoms, found that the symptoms would disappear when she told Breuer the details of their onset. (Freud's biographer, the pioneering psychoanalyst Ernest Jones, gives "Anna O.," whose real name was Bertha Pappenheim, a large share of the credit for inventing what she called the "talking cure.")

Freud learned of this interesting case from Breuer shortly after its termination in June 1882. The case made a strong impression on him, and a few years later he began using a combination of hypnosis and the cathartic method in his own neurological practice. From this Freud gradually developed the method of free association, in which the patient was encouraged to say whatever came into his/her mind however "nonsensical" or "irrelevant," since Freud believed that the patient's statements provided clues about the network of associations already established in the mind, and would thus lead the therapist to the source of the patient's neurosis. "It was through devising the new method that Freud was enabled to penetrate into the previously unknown realm of the unconscious proper and to make the profound discoveries with which his name is imperishably associated" (Jones, Sigmund Freud I, 265).  

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) F26.

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Filed under: Medicine, Science

The Invention of Cinematography February 13, 1895

On February 13, 1895 Louis Jean and Auguste Marie Louis Nicholas Lumière of Lyon patented the cinématographe, a three-in-one motion picture camera, developer and projector. Prior to inventing the cinématographe the Lumière brothers invented sprocket holes in the film strip as a means of getting the film through the camera and projector.

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The First Private Screening of a Motion Picture March 22, 1895

The first private screening of a motion picture "took place in Paris, at the "Society for the Development of the National Industry," in front of an audience of 200 people on March 22, 1895. Among the audience was Léon Gaumont, then director of the Comptoir de la photographie. To Louis Lumière, the main focus of this conference were the recent developments in the photograph industry, mainly research on polychromy (color photography). It was much to Lumière's surprise that the moving black-and-white images retained more attention than the colored still photographs" (Wikipedia article on Auguste and Louis Lumière, accessed 04-22-2009).

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The First Public Screening of a Film at the World's First and Oldest Cinema September 28, 1895

The first moving picture ever made, La sortie des usines Lumière. . . , was first publically screened at L'Eden, the world's first and oldest cinéma, located in La Ciotat in southeastern France.

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Rontgen Discovers X-Rays November 8, 1895

Because physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen had his lab notes burned after his death, there are conflicting accounts of the discovery of X-rays, but this is a likely reconstruction: while investigating cathode rays with a fluorescent screen painted with barium platinocyanide and a Crookes tube, which he had wrapped in black cardboard so the visible light from the tube wouldn't interfere, Röntgen, then teaching at the University of Würzburg, noticed a faint green glow from the screen, about one meter away. The invisible rays coming from the tube to make the screen glow were passing through the cardboard. He found they could also pass through books and papers on his desk. These events probably occurred on November 8, 1895.

Upon investigation Röntgen found that the fluorescence was caused by unknown rays, originating from the spot where cathode rays hit the glass wall of the vacuum tube. These unknown rays he temporarily designated X-rays.

Röntgen discovered the medical use of X-rays when he saw a picture of his wife's hand on a photographic plate formed due to X-rays on December 22, 1895. This inadvertent photograph of his wife's hand was the first X-ray photograph of a part of the human body.

In his initial report on the discovery Röntgen described the rays' photographic properties and their amazing ability to penetrate all substances, even living flesh. Although he was unable to determine the true physical nature of the rays, Röntgen was certain that he had discovered something entirely new.  He published his initial report, "Eine neue Art von Strahlen," in the relatively obscure Sitzungs-Bericht der physiikalisch-medicinischen Gesellschaft zu Würburg at the end of December 1895. The advantage of publishing in this obscure journal was that Röntgen obtained extremely rapid publication. The publishers of the journal issued offprints of the paper for commercial sale. These offprints went through several printings, reflecting unusually wide interest in the discovery from the international scientific and medical community. X-rays were among the most rapidly adopted and exploited scientific discoveries. Within a year roughly 1000 publications appeared on the subject.

For this discovery Röntgen received the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1841.

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The First Public Commerical Screening of Films December 28, 1895

On December 28, 1895 August and Louis Lumière held their first public screening of films at which admission was charged, at Paris's Salon Indien du Grand Café.

"This history-making presentation featured ten short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory). Each film is 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, runs approximately 50 seconds" (Wikipedia article on August and Louis Lumière, accessed 04-22-2009).

The first two of the ten films were:

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Northcliff Founds the Daily Mail; Circulation Soon Reaches 1,000,000 1896

In 1896 Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe, founded the Daily Mail. It soon achieved a daily circulation of 1,000,000. "The Daily Mail was Britain's first daily newspaper aimed at the newly literate 'lower-middle class market resulting from mass education, combining a low retail price with plenty of competitions, prizes and promotional gimmicks".... It was, from the outset, a newspaper for women, being the first to provide features especially for them, and is the only British newspaper whose readership is more than 50% female" (Wikipedia article on the Daily Mail, accessed 02-15-2012).

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The Largest and Most Diverse Collection of Medieval Manuscripts in the World 1896 – 1902

In 1896 Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson, identical-twin sisters and Semitic scholars, who between them learned twelve languages, returned to Cambridge from a trip to the Middle East bearing leaves from several ancient Hebrew manuscripts that they had purchased from a Cairo bookseller. They showed the parchment leaves to Solomon Schechter, reader in Talmudic Studies at Cambridge, who was surprised to discover among them in May 1896 an 11th or 12 century copy of the Hebrew proverbs of Ben Sira, a second-century BCE Hebrew book of wisdom. Through translations, where it is known as Sirach in Greek, or Ecclesiasticus in Latin (not to be confused with Ecclesiastes) the work became part of the Christian Bible,  This he published with English translation, introduction, and notes in the Expositor for July 1896, (p. i seqq.)

Wanting to share news of his discovery Schechter wrote to his friend Adolf Neubauer, sublibrarian at the Bodleian Library and reader in Rabbinic Hebrew at Oxford, that he had discovered a fragment of Sirach (xxxix. 15 to xl. 7) in Hebrew. In response to Schechter's postcard, Neubauer replied  two weeks later that he and his assistant, Arthur Cowley, had “coincidentally" discovered nine pages of Ben Sira at Oxford. Of course, this was no coincidence. Schechter's discovery had prompted Neubauer to restudy much more carefully a collection of Hebrew manuscripts that he had previously dismissed and had intended to sell—a box of about 10,000 pages of manuscripts that had been obtained from the genizah in 1895 by Oxford Assyriologist and linguist Archibald Sayce. Using Schechter's discovery and finds from Sayce's donation, in 1897 Neubauer and A. E. Cowley published The Original Hebrew of a Portion of Ecclesiasticus (xxxix.14 to ILIX.11) Together with the Early Versions and an English Translation Followed by the Quotations from Ben Sira in Rabbinical Literature. This was probably the first scholarly book in English on manuscripts from the Cairo genizah. 

Not wanting to miss out on any more discoveries, Schechter set out for Egypt where, with the financial assistance of Hebraist Charles Taylor, then Master of St. John's College, Cambridge, he purchased what he considered the most significant portion of the contents of the genizah (Geniza), a sacred storeroom in the loft of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, presently Old Cairo.

"According to rabbinic law (see, for instance, Mishna Shabbat 16:1), once a holy book can no longer be used (because it is too old, or because its text is no longer relevant) it cannot be destroyed or casually discarded: texts containing the name of God should be buried or, if burial is not possible, placed in a genizah.  

"At least from the early 11th century, the Jews of Fustat, one of the most important and richest Jewish communities of the Mediterranean world, reverently placed their old texts in the Genizah. Remarkably, however, they placed not only the expected religious works, such as Bibles, prayer books and compendia of Jewish law, but also what we would regard as secular works and everyday documents: shopping lists, marriage contracts, divorce deeds, pages from Arabic fables, works of Sufi and Shi'ite philosophy, medical books, magical amulets, business letters and accounts, and hundreds of letters: examples of practically every kind of written text produced by the Jewish communities of the Near East can now be found in the Genizah Collection, and it presents an unparalleled insight into the medieval Jewish world" (http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/genizah, accessed 12-14-2012).

Schechter sent back to Cambridge about 193,000 manuscripts from the genizah. These became the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library. In 2012 this entire collection was in the process of being digitized and placed online as part of the Cambridge Digital Library.

        When Schechter assumed the presidency of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York in 1902 he brought an additional collection of manuscripts from the genizah to that library. Currently the Jewish Theological Seminary holds about 40,000 manuscripts or fragments from the Cairo genizah. An additional 11,000 fragments are at the John Rylands University Library at the University of Manchester, purchased from the estate of Dr. Moses Gaster in 1954. Smaller portions are preserved in other universities around the world.

"The Cairo Genizah, mostly discovered late in the nineteenth century but still resurfacing in our own day, is a collection of over 200,000 fragmentary Jewish texts (which may well equal three times that number of folios). Many of these were stored in the loft of the ancient Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat medieval Cairo, to the south-west of the modern city) between the 11th and 19th centuries. A genizah is a storage room where copies of respected texts with scribal errors or physical damaged, or unusable documents, are kept until they can be ritually buried. The dark, sealed, room in the arid Egyptian climate contributed to the preservation of the documents, the earliest of which may go back to the eighth and ninth centuries.

"These manuscripts outline a 1,000-year continuum of Middle-Eastern history and comprise the largest and most diverse collection of medieval manuscripts in the world. The Genizah can be described as one of the greatest Jewish treasures ever found.

"Early visitors to the Genizah were wary of examining its contents because of the local superstition that foretold disaster for anyone who might remove any of its contents. This, too, contributed to the preservation of the documents.

"In the second half of the 19th century some texts were sold by synagogue officials to dealers, scholars and visitors. Famous libraries in St. Petersburg, Paris, London, Oxford, Cambridge and Philadelphia acquired major collections.

"In the early 1890's Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Wertheimer, a Torah scholar, collector and researcher, living in Jerusalem, began publishing manuscripts that he had purchased from the Cairo Genizah with his identifications and explanations – among them rare and important texts. He also sold some of these manuscripts to collectors in order to finance the purchase of additional ones. To some extent, he was one of the first to recognize the treasure trove that was the Cairo Genizah."

These quotations were from the website of the Friedberg Genizah Project, an effort underway in Jerusalem to digitize and preserve all surviving portions of the Cairo Genizah from around the world.


In December 2013 BBC News announced that historic rivals Oxford and Cambridge Universities had jointly raised £1.2m to purchase the Lewis-Gibson Genizah collection, containing about 1,700 documents and fragments, that twin-sisters Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson had acquired in Cairo and donated to Westminster College, Cambridge.

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The First to Quantify the Impact of Carbon Dioxide on the Greenhouse Effect 1896

In 1896 Swedish physical chemist Svante Arrhenius published "Ueber den Einfluss der atmosphärischen Kohlensäregehalts auf die Temperatur der Erdoberfläche," Bihan til kungliga vetenskapaskademiens handlingar 22, no. 1 (1896) 102ff.  Excerpts of this paper were translated as "On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground," Philosophical Magazine 41 (1896) 237-276.

Arrhenius's paper was "the first to quantify the impact of carbon dioxide on the Earth's greenhouse effect and to suggest that its variations have been an important influence on previous long-term changes in climate. His crude estimate that a doubling of carbon dioxide would result in a ~5 °C warming is larger but not greatly different from the 1.5-4.5 °C now estimated for such a doubling (IPCC 2001)" (http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Arrhenius_pdf, accessed 04-26-2009).

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The Monotype Converts to Hot-Metal Casting 1896

In 1896 Tolbert Lanston of Washington, D.C., the American inventor of the typesetting machine that would later be called Monotype, obtained a patent for a typesetting system based on hot-metal casting.

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Foundation of the Dow Jones Industrial Average May 26, 1896

On May 26, 1896 Wall Street Journal editor and Dow Jones & Company founder Charles Henry Dow founded the Dow Jones Industrial Average. This represented the dollar average of twelve stocks from leading American industries.

"Previously in 1884, Dow had composed an initial stock average called the Dow Jones Averages, which contained nine railroads and two industrial companies that appeared in the Customer's Afternoon Letter, a daily two-page financial news bulletin which was the precursor to The Wall Street Journal. The original group of 12 stocks ultimately chosen to form the Dow Jones Industrial Average did not contain any railroad stocks, but purely industrial stocks. Of these, only General Electric currently remains part of that index.

"The other 11 were:

"American Cotton Oil Company, a predecessor company to Bestfoods, now part of Unilever.

"American Sugar Company, became Domino Sugar in 1900, now Domino Foods, Inc.

"American Tobacco Company, broken up in a 1911 antitrust action.

"Chicago Gas Company, bought by Peoples Gas Light in 1897, now an operating subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group.

"Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company, now Millennium Chemicals, formerly a division of LyondellBasell, the latter of which recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"Laclede Gas Company, still in operation as the Laclede Group, Inc., removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1899.

"National Lead Company, now NL Industries, removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1916.

"North American Company, an electric utility holding company, broken up by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1946.

"Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in Birmingham, Alabama, bought by U.S. Steel in 1907; U.S. Steel was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1991.

"U.S. Leather Company, dissolved in 1952.

"United States Rubber Company, changed its name to Uniroyal in 1961, merged with private B.F. Goodrich in 1986, bought by Michelin in 1990.

"When it was first published in the late 1890s, the index stood at a level of 40.94, but ended up hitting its all-time low of 28.48 during the summer of 1896 during the depths of what later became known as the Panic of 1896" (Wikipedia article on Dow Jones Industrial Average, accessed 01-11-2013).

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The First Cathode Ray Tube 1897

In 1897 Karl Ferdinand Braun, director of the Physical Institute and professor of physics at the University of Strassbourg, built the first cathode ray tube (CRT).

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Filed under: Science

The Library of Congress Classification 1897

In 1897, before he was appointed Librarian of Congress, Herbert Putnam, with the assistance of Charles Ammi Cutter, developed the Library of Congress Classification (LCC). This and the Dewey Decimal Classification became the most widely used systems of library classification.

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Galton's "Law of Ancestral Heredity" 1897

Francis Galton

In his paper "The average contribution of each several ancestor to the total heritage of the offspring," published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society 61 (1897) 401-413, English polymath Francis Galton published his “Law of Ancestral Heredity,” based on both human and basset hound pedigrees. Galton first proposed the law in 1876, and revised it several times over the next two decades. His basic conception was that on average, parents provide offspring with half of inherited traits, grandparents contribute one quarter, great grandparents one eighth, and so on.

"The "law of ancestral heredity," as it turned out, was mistaken. Although he was interested in individual variations, Galton's mathematical methods treated them as "errors." In Gregor Mendel's more carefully conceived experiments with culinary peas, variations represented the expression of discrete alternative factors or (as we would say today) genes. Galton, in his personal correspondence with Darwin, came close to this conception, but never proceeded to a testable formulation." (http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/resources/timeline/1876_Galton.php,)

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 239.

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Mallarmé: Experimentation with the Relationship Between the Word and the Printed Page May 1897

In May 1897 French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé issued his poem Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance) in the magazine CosmopolisMallarmé's death in 1898 prevented him from realizing the full expression of his experimentation with the relationship between the word and the printed page. The poem was first published in book form on July 10, 1914 by the Imprimérie Sainte Catherine at Bruges, in an edition limited to 60 copies. In this edition the printers attempted to follow Mallarmé's specific instructions for the typography:

"The poem is spread over 20 pages, in various typefaces, amidst liberal amounts of blank space. Each pair of consecutive facing pages is to be read as a single panel; the text flows back and forth across the two pages, along irregular lines.

The sentence that names the poem is split into three parts, printed in large capital letters on panels 1, 6, and 8. A second textual thread in smaller capitals apparently begins on the right side of panel 1, QUAND MÊME LANCÉ DANS DES CIRCONSTANCES ÉTERNELLES DU FOND D'UN NAUFRAGE ("Even when thrown under eternal circumstances from the bottom of a shipwreck"). Other interlocking threads in various typefaces start throughout the book. At the bottom right of the last panel is the sentence Toute Pensée émet un Coup de Dés ('Every Thought issues a Throw of Dice')" (Wikipedia article on Un Coup de Dés . . . , accessed 01-27-2014). 


"Prior to 2004, "Un Coup de Dés" was never published in the typography and format conceived by Mallarmé. In 2004, 90 copies on vellum of a new edition were published by Michel Pierson et Ptyx. This edition reconstructs the typography originally designed by Mallarmé for the projected Vollard edition in 1897 and which was abandoned after the sudden death of the author in 1898. All the pages are printed in the format (38 cm by 28 cm) and in the typography chosen by the author. The reconstruction has been made from the proofs which are kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, taking into account the written corrections and wishes of Mallarmé and correcting certain errors on the part of the printers Firmin-Didot.

"A copy of this new edition can be consulted in the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand. Copies have been acquired by the Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques-Doucet and University of California - Irvine, as well as by private collectors. A copy has been placed in the Museum Stéphane Mallarmé at Vulaines-sur-Seine, Valvins, where Mallarmé lived and died and where, according to Paul Valéry, he made his final corrections on the proofs prior to the projected printing of the poem" (Wikipedia article on Stéphane Mallarmé, accessed 01-27-2014).

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The First Automobile Assembly Line August 21, 1897 – 1901

On August 21, 1897 Ransom E. Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan.  In 1899 copper and lumber magnate Samuel L. Smith bought Olds' company and renamed it Olds Motor Works. The new company was relocated from Lansing to Detroit, and Smith became President while Olds became vice president and general manager. 

In 1901 Olds designed and introduced the Curved Dash Oldsmobile.  Selling for $650, this was the first high-volume, mass-produced, low-priced American motor vehicle, produced on the first assembly line, a development of immense consequence which Olds patented. Although the factory was destroyed by fire that year, the company still sold over 600 models of the Curved Dash. The assembly line approach to building automobiles enabled Olds to more than quintuple his factory’s output, from 425 cars in 1901 to 2,500 in 1902, to up to 5000 units in 1904.

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The Questionable Quality of Paper 1898

In his annual report for 1898 Librarian of Congress John Russell Young commented on the "questionable quality of the paper upon which so much of the Library material is printed." Referring to the wood pulp paper that is inferior to paper previously made from linen rags, Young warned that many of the works coming into the Library "threaten in a few years to crumble into a waste heap, with no value as record."

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The Garden City Movement 1898

In 1898 urban planner Ebenezer Howard published To-Morrow: A peaceful path to real reform. This book was the origin of the garden city movement, which sought to remedy the evils caused by uncontrolled urban growth and rural depopulation by building planned communities of limited size combining the best features of both city and country, whose construction would be motivated not by private interest but by the best interests of the inhabitants. Howard's movement inspired the foundation of numerous garden cities throughout the world, embodying his principles either wholly or in part. It also had important effects on the more general problem of urban development, drawing people's attention to the necessity for controlling the growth of towns and cities-the modern city planning department can be said to owe its existence to Howard.

Howard believed wholly in the rightness of his ideas, and was very successful in inspiring others to do the same. Although he remained poor all his life, his powers of persuasion were such that he was able to obtain financing for the construction of two garden cities in England. Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) No. 387.

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Standardization of Archival Practice 1898

Dutch archivist Samuel Muller, Dutch jurist and historian Johan Adriaan Feith and Dutch historian Robert Fruin published Handleidung voor het Ordenen en Beschriejven van Archieven.

This work, which represented the culmination of European archival development up the time of its publication, attempted to impose standardization on archival practice from records management to the management of archival repositories, from the use of archival terms to the preparation of inventories. It was translated into German in 1905, into Italian in 1908, into French in 1910, and into Bulgarian from the French in 1912.  A summary of its contents appeared in Russian in 1925. The work was translated into English from the second Dutch edition of 1920 by Arthur H. Leavitt of the U.S. National Archives in 1940. As Manual for the Arrangement and Description of Archives, it was reissued in 1968. A centennial edition with a 105-page introduction by Peter Horsman, Eric Ketelaar, and Theo Thomassen was issued in Dutch in 1998. The most recent edition, reprinting the Leavitt translation, with a condensation of the  Horsman, Ketelaar, and Thomassen introduction and a reprint of  Marjorie Rabe Barritt, "Coming to America: Dutch Archivistiek and American Archival Practice", Archival Issues 18 (1993) was published by the American Society of Archivists in 2003.

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Filed under: Archives

Prediction of the Polypeptide Nature of the Protein Molecule 1898

In his paper "Ueber die Eiweissstoffe,” Dtsch. med. Wschr. 24 (1898) 581-82 and later papers German biochemist Albrecht Kossel of Berlin forecast the polypeptide nature of the protein molecule. He proposed “that amino acids and their spatial arrangement with the protein must become the chemical key to understanding of proteins” (Tanford & Reynolds, Nature's Robots, 52). 

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography (1991) no. 721.

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The Library of Congress Establishes Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) 1898

In 1898 the Library of Congress established Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)  to catalog materials held at the Library of Congress. This became the most widely used library classification system worldwide.

"By virtue of cooperative cataloging other libraries around the United States also use LCSH to provide subject access to their collections. In addition LCSH is used internationally, often in translation. LCSH in this service includes all Library of Congress Subject Headings, free-floating subdivisions (topical and form), Genre/Form headings, Children's (AC) headings, and validation strings* for which authority records have been created. The content includes a few name headings (personal and corporate), such as William Shakespeare, Jesus Christ, and Harvard University, and geographic headings that are added to LCSH as they are needed to establish subdivisions, provide a pattern for subdivision practice, or provide reference structure for other terms. This content is expanded beyond the print issue of LCSH (the "red books") with inclusion of validation strings" (http://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects, accessed 08-21-2016).

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Lewis Carroll Wrote or Received 98,000 Letters January 14, 1898

On January 14, 1898 the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican clergyman, and photographer, best known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, died. He had spent nearly his entire life at Christ Church College, Oxford, in various capacities. In addition to his published writings, which included Alice in Wonderland, Dodgson maintained a meticulous ledger recording his incoming and outgoing correspondence over his lifetime. As a reflection of how many letters an individual could exchange in this era before telephone, Dodgson/Carroll wrote or received approximately 98,000 letters.

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The Cumulative Book Index February 1898

Bookseller Halsey William Wilson of Minneapolis published the first issue of the Cumulative Book Index

"As a bookseller, Wilson had to constantly search through publishers' catalogs in order to keep track of currently published books that his customers might want. It was tedious and time-consuming work that prompted him to long for a comprehensive, up-to-date index of published works. He eventually decided to create such an index himself. What made the concept work economically was Wilson's idea to keep the publication current by placing each entry on a printer's "slug," which could then be later sorted with slugs from new entries. It may have been an obvious solution to someone who had experience as a job printer, but it was a revolutionary concept in bibliographical publishing. In February 1898 Wilson first published Cumulative Book Index, a comprehensive alphabetic list of currently published books in English, featuring the key elements of future Wilson indexes: the listing of author, title, and subject. The work sold for $1 to 300 subscribers, who would then receive periodically updated versions."

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The Last Great Original Work in Science to be Published First as a Monograph Rather than in a Scientific Journal November 4, 1899

Austrian physician and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud issued Die Traumdeutung through the publisher Franz Deuticke in Leipzig and Vienna. This work on The Interpretation of Dreams has been called the last great original work in science or medicine to appear first as a monograph rather than as an article or series of articles published in scientific or medical journals.

The volume is dated 1900 on the title page but Freud's presentation copy to his close friend Wilhelm Fleiss bears the date 24 October 1899 on the title page. "In a letter to Fliess dated 27 October 1899 Freud thanked Fliess for his 'kind words in response to my sending you the dream book,' and noted that 'it has not yet been issued; only our two copies have so far seen the light of day.'

Jones, Sigmund Freud I, 395 states that the book 'actually published on November 4, 1899, but the publisher chose to put the date 1900 on the title page' " (Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine [1991] no. F33).

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Perhaps the Earliest Example of Stop-Motion Animation December 1899

Matches: An Appeal, an English short subject by Arthur-Melbourne Cooper, developed for the Bryant and May Matchsticks company of Bow, London in December 1899, may be the earliest surviving example of stop-motion animation. It involved stop-motion animation of wired-together matches writing a patriotic call to action on a blackboard.

"The film contains an appeal to send money to Bryant and May who would then send matches to the British troops which were fighting in the Boer War in South Africa. It was shown in December 1899 at The Empire Theatre in London. This film is the earliest known example of stop-motion animation. Little puppets, constructed of matchsticks, are writing the appeal on a black wall. Their movements are filmed frame by frame, movement by movement. With this film Britain was 6 or 7 years ahead of animation pioneers in France and the United States" (Wikipedia article on Arthur Melbourne-Cooper, accessed 02-15-2012).

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