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

1900 to 1910 Timeline


David Hilbert's "Mathematische Probleme" 1900

In 1900, at the beginning of a new century, German mathematician and physicist David Hilbert of the University of Göttingen published in Mathematische Probleme a list of twenty-three problems that he predicted would be of central importance to the advance of mathematics in the twentieth century.

In the second of these problems Hilbert called for a mathematical proof of the consistency of the arithmetic axioms—a question that influenced both the development of mathematical logic and computing.

Hilbert's paper was first published in Nachrichten der Königliche Gesellschaft zur Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Mathematische-physikalischen Klasse, 3 (1900).

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2002) no. 320.

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652,000 Tons of Paper Produced in the U.K. 1900

In 1900 652,000 tons of paper were produced in the United Kingdom— roughly a sixfold increase since 1860. By this time 99% of paper was produced by machine.

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The Automatic Punched Card Feed 1900

To improve data processing of the 1900 census, American statistician and inventor Herman Hollerith added an automatic card feed to his electric punched card tabulating machine. 

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Most of the Civilized World is Connected by Telegraph 1900

By 1900 telegraph systems connected most of the civilized world.

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The American Booksellers Association is Founded 1900

The American Booksellers Association was founded in 1900.

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The Oldest Surviving Magnetic Audio Recording 1900

At the World Exposition of 1900 in Paris Danish inventor Valdemar Poulsen recorded the voice of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria using his Telegraphone magnetic wire recorder.

This 10 second recording is the oldest surviving magnetic audio recording.


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Foundation of Quantum Theory 1900

In 1900 Max Planck Professor of physics at the Humboldt University of Berlin published "Zur Theorie des Gesetzes der Energieverteilung im Normalspectrum," Verhandlungen der deutschen physikalischen Gesellschaft 2, 237-45. Planck’s paper on quantum theory marked the dividing line between classical and modern physics. Around 1896 Planck became interested in solving one of the outstanding difficulties in classical physics: the lack of agreement between observed specific heats of molecules and those predicted by the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution theorem on the equipartition of energy among the degrees of freedom of molecular systems.

“[Planck] applied Boltzmann’s equation from the theory of gases (relating entropy and probability) to a set of resonators, the energy of which, he hypothesized, occurred only in discrete multiples of ε. From Wien’s displacement law he reasoned that the entropy was a function of E/v (energy/frequency). He was then led to the famous relation between a quantum of energy and the frequency, and to the introduction of the constant named after him: E = hv” (Weber, Pioneers of Science, p. 58).

Planck’s radiation law agreed with all the experimental data, and played a decisive role in Einstein’s explanation of the photoelectric effect (1905), as well as his derivation of a more satisfactory theory of specific heats (1906).

“This new application of the quantum theory was soon followed by others. As a result, quantum theory, a theory which exhibited features clearly distinct from the previous classical theories of mechanics and electrodynamics (including relativity theory), turned into one of the most revolutionary fields of physics in the early twentieth century” (Mehra & Rechenberg, Historical Development of Quantum Physics, I, p. 24).

This volume also contains Planck’s two papers prefiguring his final formulation of the quantum theory: “Ueber eine Verbesserung der Wien’schen Spectralgleichung” (pp. 202-4) and “Ein vermeintlicher Widerspruch des magneto-optischen Faradayeffects mit der Thermodynamik” (pp. 206-10).

Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science, 26a. Dibner, Heralds of Science, 166. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1713. Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man, no. 391a. 

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Rediscovery and Confirmation of Mendel's Laws Simultaneously by Three Scientists 1900

Hugo de Vries

Carl Correns

Erich Tschermak, Elder von Seysenegg

In 1900 three scientists independently rediscovered Mendel's laws or ratios, which had remained unnoticed by the scientific community since Mendel had originally published them in 1866. Both de Vries and Correns rediscovered the laws before reading Mendel's paper.

Dutch botanist and geneticist Hugo de Vries published his account of the rediscovery in two papers: 

"Sur la loi de disjonction des hybrides," Comptes rendus Academie des Sciences (Paris) 130 (1900) 845-47.

His more detailed paper was "Das Spaltungsgestetz der Bastarde," Berichte der Deutsche Botanischen
Gesellschaft 18 (1900) 83-90.

Reading de Vries's paper in German led German botanist and geneticist Carl Correns of the University of Tübingen to write his own paper, although Correns claimed he had previously and independently arrived at the same conclusions. Correns's paper was:

"G. Mendel's Regel über das Verhalten der Nachkommenschaft der Rassenbastarde," Berichte der Deutsche Botanischen
Gesellschaft 18 (1900) 158-67.

The third scientist to "rediscover" Mendel's laws was the Austrian agronomist Erich Tschermak, Edler von Seysenegg (Erich von Tschermak).  Tschermak's first paper on the subject was:

"Über künstsliche Kreuzung bei Pisum sativum," Berichte der Deutsche Botanischen Gessellschaft 18 (1900) 232-39. 

His more detailed paper was "Über künstliche Kreuzung von Pisum sativum," Z. landwirsch. Versuchsw. in Osterreich," 3 (1900) 465-555.

Along with de Vries and Correns, Tschermak brought Mendel's work into prominence and confirmed it, though it is thought that Tschermak may not have fully understood the Mendelian laws before he read Mendel's work.

♦ Rediscovery of Mendel's laws clarified inheritance, but Mendel worked with traits of whole organisms (plants).  How characteristics are sorted and combined on a cellular level where reproduction takes place became the research projects of 20th century scientists.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) nos. 239.01, 239.1, 239.2.

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Coining the Term "Genetics" 1900 – 1902

William Bateson

Wilhelm Johannsen

A cover of The Journal of Genetics

Reginald Punnett

In 1900, very soon after Mendel's laws were rediscovered by De Vries, Correns, and Tschermak, the Royal Horticultural Society of England published an English translation of Mendel's 1866 paper as "Experiments in Plant-Hybridisation" in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society. Two years later, in 1902, English geneticist and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, William Bateson issued Mendel's Principles of Heredity: a Defense as a small book in a small edition from Cambridge University Press, reprinting 1900 translation together with the first English translation of Mendel's second paper on Hieracium (1869). Bateson's book was the first English textbook on genetics, though the word did not yet exist; Bateson named the science "genetics: in 1905-6. 

Bateson became the chief popularizer of the ideas of Mendel following their rediscovery. In 1909 he published a much-expanded version of his 1902 textbook entitled Mendel's Principles of Heredity. This book, which underwent several printings, was the primary means by which Mendel's work became widely known to readers of English.

"Bateson first suggested using the word "genetics" (from the Greek gennō, γεννώ; "to give birth") to describe the study of inheritance and the science of variation in a personal letter to Alan Sedgwick... dated April 18, 1905. Bateson first used the term genetics publicly at the Third International Conference on Plant Hybridization in London in 1906. This was three years before Wilhelm Johannsen used the word "gene" to describe the units of hereditary information. De Vries had introduced the word "pangene" for the same concept already in 1889, and etymologically the word genetics has parallels with Darwin's concept of pangenesis.

"Bateson co-discovered genetic linkage with Reginald Punnett, and he and Punnett founded the Journal of Genetics in 1910. Bateson also coined the term "epistasis" to describe the genetic interaction of two independent traits" (Wikipedia article William Bateson, accessed 12-16-2013).

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The First Transmission of Speech over Radio Waves December 23, 1900

On December 23, 1900 Canadian-American physicist Reginald A. Fessenden was the first to transmit human speech over radio waves using a spark-gap transmitter from his transmitter at Brant Rock, Massachusetts.  He said:

“One, two, three, four, is it snowing where you are Mr. Thiessen? If it is, would you telegraph back to me?”

Mr. Thiessen, one mile way, heard the transmission.

Fessenden’s voice was the first ever to be transmitted by radio waves and heard by another person.

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The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature 1901

In 1901 bookseller and bibliographer Halsey William Wilson of Minneapolis published the first issue of the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature.

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Early Facsimile Transmission Circa 1901 – 1907

From 1901 to 1907 electrical engineer Arthur Korn of Munich invented an effective system of telephotography, or fax, called the Bildtelegraph.

Bildtelegraph became "widespread in continental Europe especially since a widely noticed transmission of a wanted-person photograph from Paris to London in 1908, used until the wider distribution of the radiofax. Its main competitors were the Bélinograf by Édouard Belin first, then since the 1930s the Hellschreiber, invented in 1929 by Rudolf Hell, a pioneer in mechanical image scanning and transmission" (Wikipedia article on Fax, accessed 04-22-2009).

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The Earliest Fictional Account of a Universal Library, Foreshadowing the Virtual Library on the Internet 1901

In 1901 German scientist, philosopher and science fiction writer Kurd Lasswitz at Gotha, Germany published a story entitled Die Universalbibliothek, describing a library which was universal in the sense that it not only contained all existing written works, but all possible written works.

"In 1901 Kurd Lasswitz wrote a short story, 'The Universal Library,' elaborated upon by Jorge Luis Borges as 'The Library of Babel' in 1941. 'When it was proclaimed that the Library contained all books, the first impression was one of extravagant happiness,' Borges explained. 'All men felt themselves to be the masters of an intact and secret treasure. There was no personal or world problem whose solution did not exist.' Borges described the library in magical tones, whereas Lasswitz, a mathematician as well as a philosopher, got down to practical details. 'You say that everything will be in the library? The complete works of Goethe? The Bible? The works of all the classical philosophers?" Professor Wallhausen's companion, the magazine editor Max Burkel, asked. 'Yes, and with all the variations in wording nobody has thought up yet. You'll find the lost works of Tacitus and their translations into all living and dead languages. Furthermore, all of my and my friend Burkel's future works, all forgotten and still undelivered speeches in all parliaments, the official version of the Universal Declaration of Peace, the history of all the subsequent wars...'

" 'I'm going to subscribe right now,' Burkel exclaimed. 'This will furnish me with all the future volumes of my magazine; I won't have to read manuscripts any more!' Professor Wallhausen decided to calculate how many volumes (a large but finite number) the universal library would have to contain.  ' 'Will you — ' he turned to his daughter — 'hand me a sheet of paper and a pencil from my desk?' Max Burkel added, 'Bring the logarithm table too.' After a few minutes Wallhausen had the result, and wrote it down: 10^2,000,000.

" 'You make your life easy,' remarked Mrs. Wallhausen. 'Why don't you write it down in the normal manner?'

" 'Not me. This would take me at least two weeks, without time out for food and sleep. If you printed that figure, it would be a little over two miles long.'

' 'What is the name of that figure?' the daughter wanted to know.

"It has no name," Wallhausen replied.

"The number of books in the Universal Library lies somewhere between a googol (10^100) and a googolplex (10^googol), numbers which were named, by 8-year-old Milton Sirotta and his uncle Edward Kasner, in 1938. In Lasswitz's tale, Wallhausen went on to demonstrate that there would not be enough room in the visible universe to contain all possible printed books. Editor Max Burkel's hope for the 'elimination of the author from the literary business' was doomed" (Edge: The Third Culture, "The Universal Library" by George Dyson, 11.30.05, accessed 05-25-2009).

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LC Cards 1901

In 1901 the Library of Congress began making printed Library of Congress catalogue cards (LC cards) available to libraries, thus promoting the development of catalogue card systems.

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Revealing a Hidden Image in a 1901 Painting by Picasso in a 2012 Newspaper Article 1901 – October 24, 2012

Since 1989 conservators and art historians have known that hidden beneath the surface of Picasso's “Woman Ironing”  preserved in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, is the upside-down ghost of another painting — a three-quarter-length portrait of a man with a mustache. The hidden image was first seen in photographs of this painting from Picasso's Blue Period (1901-1904) taken with an infrared camera in 1989.  

On October 24, 2012 The New York Times published an article by Carol Vogel on this painting and the painting hidden underneath entitled "Under One Picasso, Another."  From the standpoint of this database on the history of media what I find most interesting about this is the "interactive feature" published in association with the article entitled "Scratching the Surface, Two Picassos Revealed."

A very clever imaging program in the interactive feature invited the reader to "click and drag your mouse over the painting to see what was hidden beneath it." As I wiped the top image of the painting off with mouse strokes the painting underneath was revealed.  I could also rotate the image and reset it back to the top layer.

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Mutation Theory is Expounded 1901 – 1903

A painting of Hugo de Vries in his retirement, by Thérèse Schwartze


In 1886 Dutch botanist and geneticist Hugo de Vries began studying and experimenting with Oenothera lamarckiana, a species of evening primrose, after discovering a number of variants of this species growing wild in a meadow. Taking seeds from these, and growing them in his experimental gardens, he found that over the years several new forms appeared, most of which bred true.  De Vries called these new forms “mutations” and formulated a series of theses—the Laws of Mutation—in which he postulated that new elementary species arose through a process of discrete steps (“mutations” or “saltations”), and usually remained constant from their moment of origin. The results of his more than ten years of experimentation and study he published in Die Mutationstheorie. Versuche un Beobachtungen über die Entsehung von Arten im Pflanzenreich (2 vols., Leipzig, 1901-1903), in which he described in detail his work on the segregation laws, on phenomena of variation, and on plant mutations as the basis of evolution. 

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 240.   

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"Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung", the First Photographically Illustrated News Magazine 1901

In 1901, when it became technically feasible to print halftones of photographs inside a magazine, publisher Leopold Ullstein introduced this innovation into the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitungdeveloping it into the prototype of the modern news magazine. The magazine pioneered the photo-essay, maintained a specialized staff and production unit for photographs and a photo library.

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L. Frank Baum's "The Master Key" Imagines a Kind of Augmented Reality 1901

L. Frank Baum's 1901 illustrated novel, The Master Key: An Electrical Fairy Tale, Founded Upon the Mysteries of Electricity and the Optimism of its Devotees, describes the adventures of a 15 year old boy who experiments with electricity and accidentally touches "the Master Key of Electricity," encountering a Demon who gives him various gifts.  One of these gifts is a "Character Marker" introduced on p. 94:

"It consists of this pair of spectacles. While you wear them every one you meet will be marked upon the forehead with a letter indicating his or her character. The good will bear the letter 'G,' the evil the letter 'E.' The wise will be marked with a 'W' and the foolish with an 'F.' The kind will show a 'K' upon their foreheads and the cruel a letter 'C. Thus you may determine by a single look the true natures of all those you encounter."

This character marker has been viewed retrospectively as an early foreshadowing of features analogous to those obtainable in augmented reality devices.

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Invention of the Motorized Airplane September 18, 1901 – May 2, 1906

In 1901 American inventor Wilbur Wright of Dayton, Ohio published "Some aeronautical experiments," Journal of the Western Society of Engineers 6 (1901) 489-510. This speech, delivered at the Western Society of Engineers in Chicago on September 18, 1901, was the Wright brothers' first publication on aeronautics, and the work which first made their experiments with motorless gliders known to the world. Wilbur Wright's paper, illustrated with photographs, described the brothers' progress over three seasons of glider flight, including their work from 1900 and 1901 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, during which they began to master the art of flight control and they solved the problem of wing warp drag by the addition of a vertical rear rudder. 

Wright made this address to the Western Society of Engineers at the urging of engineer Octave Chanute, who was to a large degree responsible for encouraging the brothers' early work. The paper is prefaced by some remarks by Chanute, discussing the possibility of motorized flight using a new lightweight steam or gas engine.

From October to December 1901 the Wrights built a six-foot wind tunnel in their shop and conducted systematic tests on miniature wings.

"The 'balances' they devised and mounted inside the tunnel to hold the wings looked crude, made of bicycle spokes and scrap metal, but were 'as critical to the ultimate success of the Wright brothers as were the gliders.' The devices allowed the brothers to balance lift against drag and accurately calculate the performance of each wing. They could also see which wings worked well as they looked through the viewing window in the top of the tunnel."

". . . The Wrights took a huge step forward and made basic wind tunnel tests on 200 wings of many shapes and airfoil curves, followed by detailed tests on 38 of them. The tests, according to biographer Howard, 'were the most crucial and fruitful aeronautical experiments ever conducted in so short a time with so few materials and at so little expense'. An important discovery was the benefit of longer narrower wings: in aeronautical terms, wings with a larger aspect ratio (wingspan divided by chord—the wing's front-to-back dimension). Such shapes offered much better lift-to-drag ratio than the broader wings the brothers had tried so far.

"With this knowledge, and a more accurate Smeaton number, the Wrights designed their 1902 glider. Using another crucial discovery from the wind tunnel, they made the airfoil flatter, reducing the camber (the depth of the wing's curvature divided by its chord). The 1901 wings had significantly greater curvature, a highly inefficient feature the Wrights copied directly from Lilienthal. Fully confident in their new wind tunnel results, the Wrights discarded Lilienthal's data, now basing their designs on their own calculations.  

"With characteristic caution, the brothers first flew the 1902 glider as an unmanned kite, as they had done with their two previous versions. Rewarding their wind tunnel work, the glider produced the expected lift. It also had a new structural feature: a fixed, rear vertical rudder, which the brothers hoped would eliminate turning problems. By 1902 they realized that wing-warping created 'differential drag' at the wingtips. Greater lift at one end of the wing also increased drag, which slowed that end of the wing, making the aircraft swivel—or yaw—so the nose pointed away from the turn. That was how the tailless 1901 glider behaved.

The improved wing design enabled consistently longer glides, and the rear rudder prevented adverse yaw—so effectively that it introduced a new problem. Sometimes when the pilot attempted to level off from a turn, the glider failed to respond to corrective wing-warping and persisted into a tighter turn. The glider would slide toward the lower wing, which hit the ground, spinning the aircraft around. The Wrights called this 'well digging'. Orville apparently visualized that the fixed rudder resisted the effect of corrective wing-warping when attempting to level off from a turn. He wrote in his diary that on the night of October 2, 'I studied out a new vertical rudder'. The brothers then decided to make the rear rudder movable to solve the problem. They hinged the rudder and connected it to the pilot's warping 'cradle', so a single movement by the pilot simultaneously controlled wing-warping and rudder deflection. Tests while gliding proved that the trailing edge of the rudder should be turned away from whichever end of the wings had more drag (and lift) due to warping. The opposing pressure produced by turning the rudder enabled corrective wing-warping to reliably restore level flight after a turn or a wind disturbance. Furthermore, when the glider banked into a turn, rudder pressure overcame the effect of differential drag and pointed the nose of the aircraft in the direction of the turn, eliminating adverse yaw.

"In short, the Wrights discovered the true purpose of the movable vertical rudder. Its role was not to change the direction of flight, but rather, to aim or align the aircraft correctly during banking turns and when leveling off from turns and wind disturbances. The actual turn—the change in direction—was done with roll control using wing-warping. The principles remained the same when ailerons superseded wing-warping.

"With their new method the Wrights achieved true control in turns for the first time on October 8, 1902, a major milestone. During September and October they made between 700 and 1,000 glides, the longest lasting 26 seconds and covering 622.5 feet (189.7 m). Hundreds of well-controlled glides after they made the rudder steerable convinced them they were ready to build a powered flying machine. Thus did three-axis control evolve: wing-warping for roll (lateral motion), forward elevator for pitch (up and down) and rear rudder for yaw (side to side).  

"On March 23, 1903, the Wrights applied for their famous patent for a 'Flying Machine', based on their successful 1902 glider. Some aviation historians believe that applying the system of three-axis flight control on the 1902 glider was equal to, or even more significant, than the addition of power to the 1903 Flyer. Peter Jakab of the Smithsonian asserts that perfection of the 1902 glider essentially represents invention of the airplane" (Wikipedia article on Wright Brothers, accessed 12-19-2009).

♦ On June 24, 1903 Wilbur Wright delivered a second paper at the Western Society of Engineers entitled "Experiments and Observations in Soaring Flight." This paper, illustrated with photographs, was published in the Journal of the Western Society of Engineers VIII (1903) 400-417. It contained a summary of their work leading up to the patent application. During the question session after the paper Wilbur stated that "We have not applied a motor to any of machines. The driving force has been gravity." (p. 415). 

Of the work described in their second paper Wilbur later testified in 1912:  

"This was the first time in the history of the world that lateral balance had been achieved by adjusting wing tips to respectively different angles of incidence on the right and left sides. It was also the first time that a vertical vane had been used in combination with wing tips, adjustable to respectively different angles of incidence, in balancing and steering an aeroplane . . . .We were the first to functionally employ a movable vertical tail in a flying aeroplane. We were the first to employ wings adjustable to respectively different angles of incidence in a flying aeroplane. We were the first to use the two in combination in a flying aeroplane (quoted in Freudenthal Flight into History.The Wright Brothers and the Air Age [1949] 60).

Upon returning to Kitty Hawk, the Wrights built their first motorized flyer, the Wright Flyer 1. Wilbur made the first unsuccessful attempt to fly it on December 14, 1903. On December 17th they made the first "sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight"over the Kill Devil Hills (852 feet in 59 seconds). During the two following years the Wrights developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed wing aircraft. But until their patent was granted they made no public demonstration of motorized flight and published nothing further about their invention.

♦ The Wrights were granted patent 821,393 for their "Flying-Machine" on May 22, 1906. The patent described their method of three-axis control.

"The patent illustrates a non-powered flying machine—namely, the 1902 glider. The patent's importance lies in its claim of a new and useful method of controlling a flying machine, powered or not. The technique of wing-warping is described, but the patent explicitly states that other methods instead of wing-warping could be used for adjusting the outer portions of a machine's wings to different angles on the right and left sides to achieve lateral (roll) control. The concept of varying the angle presented to the air near the wingtips, by any suitable method, is central to the patent. The patent also describes the steerable rear vertical rudder and its innovative use in combination with wing-warping, enabling the airplane to make a coordinated turn, a technique that prevents hazardous adverse yaw, the problem Wilbur had when trying to turn the 1901 glider. Finally, the patent describes the forward elevator, used for ascending and descending" (Wikipedia article on Wright Brothers, accessed 12-19-2009).

Gibbs-Smith, The Invention of the Aeroplane 1799-1909 (1966) 37-40. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 2266 & 2267 (stating incorrectly that Wright's second paper discusses motorized flight).

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The First Transatlantic Radio Transmission? December 12, 1901

On December 12, 1901 Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi believed that he heard the letter “S” transmitted by Morse Code from Poldhu in south Cornwall, England, to Signal Hill, St. John's Newfoundland.

For many years this feat was considered the first transatlantic radio transmission, but later researchers concluded that the reception may not have been possible, and that Marconi may have heard static caused by lightning instead of transmitted information.

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Proof that Different Chromosomes Perform Different Functions in Development 1902

Theodor Boveri

In his paper "Über mehrpolige Mitosen als Mittel zur Analyse des Zelkerns," Verhandlungen der physicalisch-medizinischen Gesselschaft zu Würzburg. Neu Folge 35, 67-90 (1902) 67-90, German biologist Theodor Boveri described experiments involving multipolar mitoses in sea urchin eggs feritized by two sperm. The experiments showed that different chromosomes perform different functions in development, and a full complement of chromosomes is necessary for reproduction.

"In culture, fertilized sea-urchin eggs undergo a complex cell division to form four cells without passing through the normal two-cell stage. This cell division involves four distinct spindle poles and the resulting cells, if gently separated, all have the potential to develop into normal adults. Occasionally, eggs will be fertilized simultaneously by two sperm, and in this case cell division also produces four cells or, more rarely, three. By comparing two populations of fertilized eggs, one exposed to a high concentration of sperm and the other to a low concentration, Boveri saw a direct correlation between the number of resulting deformed embryos and the amount of dispermic eggs.

"Boveri then looked at the development of the individual cells from dispermic eggs when separated at the four-cell stage. Unlike the conventionally fertilized eggs, the individual 'quarter embryos' very rarely developed normally. He also observed that the four separated cells tended to develop differently from each other. Boveri quantified these observations and found that the chance of one of a dispermic egg's quarter embryos developing normally was much greater than that of a dispermic egg as a whole: "certain quarters achieve more separately than all four quarters together".

"The nuclear material of each quarter embryo from dispermic eggs was different, because the chromosomes separated randomly towards the four poles. Boveri hypothesized that each cell needed a full set of chromosomes for normal development. If any chromosomes were missing, the cell would lack 'developmental potential', but duplication of chromosomes would have relatively minor effects, in keeping with Mendel's dominant characters" (http://www.nature.com/celldivision/milestones/full/milestone01.html, accessed 12-16-2013).

J. Norman (ed.) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 241.1

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The First Proof of Mendelian Heredity in Humans 1902 – 1908

In 1908 English physician Archibald Garrod delivered the Croonian Lectures at the Royal College of Physicians in London on inborn errors of metabolism. In his studies of the rare disease alkaptonuria, which affects about one in one million people, Garrod noted that over twenty-five percent of the recorded cases were the offspring of first cousins. In 1902 he consulted the pioneer English geneticist William Bateson about whether the disease might be hereditary. In a footnote to the first of his "Reports to the Evolution Committee of the Royal Society" (1902), Bateson noted Garrod's work and suggested that since first cousins are often similar genetically, Garrod's data might be best understood if one assumed alkaptonuria to be caused by a recessive gene:

"In illustration of such a phenomenon we way perhaps venture to refer to the extraordinarily interesting evidence lately collected by Garrod regarding the rare condition known as "Alkaptonuria." In such persons the substance, alkapton, forms a regular constituent of the urine, giving it a deep brown colour which becomes black on exposure. The condition is exceedingly rare, and, though met with in several members of the same families, has only once been known to be directly transmitted front parent to offspring. Recently, however, Garrod has a noticed that no fewer than five families containing alkaptonuric members, more than a quarter of the recorded cases, are the offspring of unions of first cousins. In only two other families is the parentage known, one of these being the case in which the father was alkaptonuric. In the other case the parents were not related. Now there may be other accounts possible, but we note that the mating of first cousins gives exactly the conditions most likely to enable a rare and usually recessive character to show itself. If the bearer of such a gamete mates with individuals not bearing it, the character would hardly ever be seen; but first cousins will frequently be bearers of similar gametes, which may in such unions meet each other, and thus lead to the manifestation of the peculiar recessive characters in the zygote. See A. E. Garrod, 'Trans. Med. Chir. Soc.,' 1899, p. 367, and 'Lancet,' November 30, 1901."

This was the first proof of Mendelian heredity in humans, and the foundation of human biochemical genetics. Garrod recognized alkaptonuria to be a genetic disease and, in his Croonian lectures of 1908, hypothesized that each such biochemical defect, or "inborn error of metabolism," was caused by an interruption or block in a metabolic sequence due to the congenital lack of a particular enzyme. Little notice was taken of Garrod's work at the time, in part because his hypothesis regarding the "one gene-one enzyme" link could not be tested until the late 1930s-early 1940s, notably in the work of Beadle and Tatum (1941).

Garrod's lectures were first published as "The Croonian Lectures on Inborn Errors of Metabolism," Lancet 2 (1908) 1-7, 142-8. 173-9, 214-20. They were published in book form as Inborn Errors of Metabolism (London, 1909). Garrod's first paper on the subject dealt with alkaptonuria (Lancet 2, 1901, 1484-6.)

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) nos. 244.1, 3921.

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Ira Rubel Invents the First Offset Press 1903 – 1904

Between 1903 and 1904 paper manufacturer Ira Washington Rubel of Nutley, New Jersey developed the first commercial lithographic offset system, or offset press, for printing on paper. 

"The inspiration was an accident. While operating his lithographic press he [Rubel] noticed that if he failed to insert paper the stone plate would transfer its image onto the rubber impression cylinder. When he then placed paper into the machine it would have the image on two sides, one from the stone plate and one from the rubber impression cylinder. To Rubel’s amazement, the image from the rubber impression cylinder was much clearer; the soft rubber was able to give a sharper look than the hard stone litho plate. Soon he created a machine that repeated this original “error”. This process was also noted by two brothers, Charles and Albert Harris, at about the same time. They produced an offset press for the Harris Automatic Press Company not long after Rubel created his press" (Wikipedia article on Offset printing, accessed 04-22-2009).

Rubel's first offset press was operated in Rubel's New York plant for a year before it was sold to the Union Lithographic Company of San Francisco for $5,000. After it had been shipped out to California, the press waited out the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire on a wharf in nearby Oakland. It began operation in San Francisco in 1907. Rubel's original offset press is preserved in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.

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Genetic Variability, Phenotype and Genotype 1903

In 1903 the Danish geneticist Wilhelm Johannsen issued Ueber Erblichkeit in Populationen und in reinem LinienThis work, published in Jena by Georg Fischer, provided more support for the Mendelian laws of inheritance by showing that in certain self-fertilizing plants a pure line of descendants can be maintained indefinitely, in which case natural selection is not effective; selection depends upon genetic variability.

In "Om arvelighed i samfund og i rene linier," Oversigt over det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Forhandlinger, 3 (1903) 247-270, Johannsen coined the terms phenotype and genotype. Johannsen pubished a German translation of this paper in Ueber Erblichkeit....

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Theorizing that Chromosomes Carry the Hereditary Material 1903

In "The Chromosomes in Heredity," Biological Bulletin 4 (1903) 231-51 American geneticist and physician Walter Stanborough Sutton advanced the theory that Mendel's factors were hereditary particles borne by the chromosomes, and that Mendel's laws for his factors were the direct result of the behavior of chromosomes in meiosis. 

Independently of Sutton, German biologist Theodor Boveri proposed a similar view in Ergebnisse über die Konstitution der chromatischen Substanz des Zelkerns (1904), causing the theory to be known as the "Sutton-Boveri theory or the Boveri-Sutton chromosome theory."

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) nos. 242.1, 242.2.

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DNA is Distinguished from RNA 1903

In his paper “Darstellung und Analyse einiger Nucleinsäuren,” Hoppe-Seyl. Z. physiol. Chem. 39 (1903) 4-8, 133-35, 479-83 Lithuanian American biochemist Phoebus Aaron Theodore Levene, working in New York, distinguished between DNA and RNA.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 725.1.

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The Beginnings of Modern Spaceflight Theory May 1903 – 1914

In 1903 Russian schoolteacher and scientist Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (Tsiolkovskii) (Константи́н Эдуа́рдович Циолко́вский) published from Saint Petersburg "Issledovanie mirovykh prostrantsv’ reaktivnymi priborami" ["Exploration of Space Using Reactive Devices"] in Научное Обозрьніе [Nauchnoe Obozrenie (Science review)] no. 5, May 1903, followed by part 2: "Issledovanie mirovykh prostrantsv’ reaktivnymi priborami" in Въстникъ Воздухоплаванія [Vestnik’ Vozdukhoplavania] / Revue de navigation aérienne (1911-12), numbers 19, 20, 21, 22, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, followed by part 3: Issledovanie mirovykh prostrantsv’ reaktivnymi priborami privately issued by Tsiolkovsky as a pamphlet in Kaluga in 1914.

These papers represented the beginnings of the modern era of spaceflight theory, preceding the earliest publications of Robert Goddard (1919) and Robert Esnault-Pelterie (1913). "Tsiolkovsky had grasped the principle of reaction flight as early as 1883, and his 'Exploration of Space Using Reactive Devices' (1903) contains the first mathematical exposition of the reaction principle operating in space. In ‘Issledovanie mirovykh prostranstv reaktivnymi priborami’ . . . Tsiolkovsky set forth his theory of the motion of rockets, established the possibility of space travel by means of rockets, and adduced the fundamental flight formulas” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).

“Tsiolkovsky not only solved theoretically such age-old questions as how to escape from the Earth’s atmosphere and gravitational field, but he also described several rockets. The first, conceived in 1903, was to be powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen—a very modern propellant combination . . . [Tsiolkovsky] made another discovery—the multistage rocket, which he called the ‘rocket train.’ Actually, this concept was not as new as Tsiolkovsky, who discovered it independently, thought; firework makers had used the principle for at least 200 years. But Tsiolkovsky was the first to analyze the idea in a sophisticated manner. The multistage technique, he concluded, was the only feasible means by which a space vehicle could attain the velocity necessary to escape from the Earth’s gravitational hold” (Von Braun & Ordway, History of Rocketry and Space Travel [1975] 42).

Tsiolkovsky’s “Issledovanie mirovykh prostrantsv’ reaktivnymi priborami” was published in three parts, issued irregularly over a period of 13 years. Both the first and second parts were published as journal articles, the second part appearing over ten numbers of the Vestnik’ Vozdukhoplavania between 1911 and 1912. The third part, published by Tsiolkovsky, was intended as a supplement to the first two parts, which even then had become very difficult to find: In a note printed on the inside front cover of the 1914 pamphlet, Tsiolkovsky stated that the earlier works were unobtainable, and that he himself had only one copy.  According to historian of rocketry Frank Winter, most copies of Tsiolkovsky's 1903 paper were suppressed, as  “the May 1903 issue of Nauchnoe Obozrenie also contained a politically revolutionary piece that led to the confiscation of almost all issues by the authorities” (Winter, "Planning for Spaceflight: 1880s to 1930s," in Blueprint for Space, ed Ordway and Liebermann [1992] 104-05.)

The significance of Tsiolkovsky's work in rocketry and space travel was greatest in Russia where it inspired the early development of rocketry and aerospace research independent of American and European workers. Tsiolkovsky's writings were also known to German rocketry researchers by the 1920s.

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Probably the First History of Ink, by a Celebrated Questioned Documents Examiner 1904

In 1904 David N[unes] Carvalho, a questioned documents examiner of ink, handwriting and paper in New York City, of Sephardic Jewish descent, issued what appears to be the first extensive history of ink, with the following verbose explanatory title: 

Forty Centuries of Ink, or A Chronological Narrative Concerning Ink and its Backgrounds, Intoducing Incidental Observations and Deductions, Parallels of Time and Color Phenomena, Bibliography, Chemistry, Poetical Effusions, Citations, Anecdotes and Curiosa Together with Some Evidence Respecting the Evanescent Character of Most Inks of To-Day and an Epitome of Chemico-Legal Ink.

Carvaho's book was published by the Banks Law Publishing Company of New York, and appeared in the standard dark yellowish brown buckram binding with red and black labels on the spine. Written before the widespread use of typewriters, when virtually all legal documents were handwritten, the study of ink was applied more frequently in legal cases than it is today, when so many legal documents are wordprocessed. Yet some of the issues still apply to handwritten legal documents, or any documents on paper. 

This book came to my attention when in 2014 I ordered a copy of the first edition that contained a handwritten letter from Carvalho to William G. Pengelly, whose signature is on the front free endpaper of my copy. Pengelly also made neat notes in pencil, indexing to pages of interest on the back rear pastedown endpaper.

Carvalho's letter reads as follows:

New York, March 2, 1905.

Wm. G. Pengelly Esq,

My dear Sir:- Per your request I append my autograph to these lines for insertion in "Forty Centuries of Ink, They are written with a Tanno-gallate of Iron ink without added color. May success corwn your effots in the establishment of an official ink for the state of Ohio.


David N. Carvalho.

In looking up the word "Tanno-gallate" online I was surprised to find a Carvhalho's personal explanation of the term in a transcript of his very interesting testamony published in Documents of the State of New York, Vol. 16, Proceedings of the Senate in the Matter of Investigation Demanded by Senator Jotham P. Allds (1910), pp. 1923-1941. Carvalho's definition appears on p. 1924:

"Q. Would you say in a few words what you mean by tanno-gallate of iron ink? A. Gallate acid is found ready made in the bark of some oak tree in connection with tanno. But it is best found in a little excrescence on certain oak trees due to a puncture by a female wasp, making what is called, after the bud dies, what is called gall nuts. Now in that gall nut is found gallate anno acid. Gallo tanic acid when brought into contact with iron, with sulphate of iron, forms the compound which was used in our father's time known as ink, when it was suspended in water by the use of a little gum. The inks, however, of to-day, which are known as chemical writing fluids, are not what we call oxidized inks, as they were in olden times, before bottling. But there is put into the ink as made to-day, by a cold process and not by a boiling process, what we designate as a provisional color, mostly blue, so that when you write first, the ink writes blue, and after a period of time the tanno-gallate of iron, which has an affinity for the oxygen of the atmosphere, begins to blacken and overcomes the blue coloring matter. That blue coloring matter, however, which is aniline—and aniline is a generic term for certain by-products of coal tar, is fugitive in character—that is to say, does not loosen, and after a period of time that blue which is in the ink gradually disappears, leaving the oxidized iron ink present. That is what we mean by a tanno-galle of iron ink, where something taken from nut galls is brought into union with sulphate of iron."

An issue in the legal case in which Carvalho testified was the dating of writing in documents that could be calculated by the level of fading of the blue provisional color. Thus, for permanence of records, Carvalho recommended using "Tanno-gallate of Iron ink" wihout added color, and one of his pet projects was to lobby governments of the various states to standardize ink for permanence. William Pengelly, to whom Carvalho addressed his letter, was a questioned documents examiner in Ohio. From Carvalho's letter we may assume that Pengelly was also attempting to get the government of Ohio to standardize ink used in state documents at the time.

After Carvalho's death his daughter Clare published Crime in Ink, co-authored with Boyden Sparkes. (1929). This work recounted some of Carvalho's most notable cases, including his participation exonerating Dreyfus in the Dreyfus Affair.  Most of Carvalho's cases described in involved unfaithful spouses and disputed wills. Claire noted that 'long before his career had passed its zenith my father estimated that he had affected the courts’ decision as to the ownership and possession of property aggregating over $200,000,000.' This amount, adjusted for more than 100 years of inflation, amounted to over $4.5 billion in 2014.

Carvalho was also a rare book collector; Dodd, Mead offered his collection of 15th and 16th century books for sale for $10,000 in 1911 in A Catalogue of the David N. Carvalho Collection of Incunabula Consisting of a Sequence of Dated Books, 1470-1499, together with a Number of Sixteenth Century Books  The unusually thorough bibliographical catalogue contained a preface by Carvalho.

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The Beginning of Electronics November 16, 1904 – September 21, 1905

English physicist and electrical engineer John Ambrose Fleming, who had worked with Thomas Edison’s company in London, invented and applied for the patent for the two-electrode vacuum-tube rectifier on November 16, 1904.  He filed the complete specification on August 15, 1905 and received British patent no. 24,850 on September 21, 1905 for "Improvements in Instruments for Detecting and Measuring Alternating Electric Currents." Fleming had been aware since 1884 of the “Edison effect,” more commonly known as thermionic emission, of “unilateral flow of particles from negative to positive electrode, and he repeated some of the experiments, with both direct and alternating currents, beginning in 1889. . . . [In 1904] he returned to his experiments on the Edison effect, with a view to producing a rectifier that would replace the inadequate detectors then used in radiotelegraphy. He named the resulting device a ‘thermionic valve,’ for which he obtained a patent in 1904. This was the first electron tube, the diode, ancestor of the triode and the other multielectrode tubes which have played such an important role in both telecommunications and scientific instrumentation” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). 

Fleming's first written document on the valve was the British patent. However, his first distributed publication on the topic was "On the Conversion of Electric Oscillations into Continuous Currents by Means of a Vacuum Valve," Proceedings of the Royal Society 74 (1905) 476-487, which appeared in the issue of the Proceedings dated March 16, 1905. Fleming’s patent, and this scientific paper introducing the basic principle of the two-electrode vacuum tube or diode, marked the beginning of electronics.

Aside from its multitude of users in radio, radar and other devices, before the development of the transistor the vacuum tube became the first switch used in the earliest electronic computers. Using vacuum tubes as switches, the first general purpose electronic computer, the ENIAC, operated 10,000 times the speed of a human computer. By comparison, the Harvard Mark 1, which used electromechnical relays as switches, computed at 100 times the speed of a human computer.

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 396 (Proc. Roy. Soc. paper)

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Problems with Leather Used in Bookbinding 1905

The final "Report of the Committee of the Society of Arts on Leather for Bookbinding" published in London in 1905 confirmed the view that bookbinding leathers being used were inferior to those used 50 years earlier. It attributed degradation to changes in methods of manufacture and tanning, and also to the "injurious effect of light and gas fumes" which were common in many libraries.

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Einstein's Annus Mirabilis 1905

In 1905, his Annus Mirabilis, German born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein published three papers in the periodical, Annalen der Physik issued in Leipzig from the press of Johann Ambrosius Barth:

(1)         Ueber einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichtpunkt.

(2)         Ueber die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wärme gefordete Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten suspendierten Teilchen.

(3)         Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper.

In the first paper Einstein suggested that light be considered a collection of independent particles of energy, which he called "light quanta."  Such a hypothesis, he argued, would provide an answer to the problem of black-body radiation where classical theories had failed, and would also explain several puzzling properties of fluorescence, photoionization and the photoelectric effect  Subsequent investigation led Einstein to propose, in 1909, the theory of wave-particle duality in radiation.  For this paper, and his paper on the photoelectric effect ("Zur Theorie der Lichterzeugung und Lichtabsorption," 1906), Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

In his second paper Einstein used the old and puzzling phenomenon of Brownian motion as a demonstration of the fluctuation phenomena predicted by statistical mechanics, from which he deduced the correctness of the molecular-kinetic theory of heat and determined the basic scale of atomic dimensions.  This paper, and the experimental verification of its predictions, helped to convince skeptics of the physical reality of molecules.

The third paper, on the electrodynamics of moving bodies, was Einstein's first paper on special relativity.  Two revolutionary conclusions were reached in this paper: first, that all motion was relative to the inertial system in which it was measured; and second, that matter and energy are equivalent.  These theories, which were proved some years later, provided a radical reinterpretation of the universe, dethroning the Newtonian view which had ruled for over two centuries.

Concerning the early publishing histories of these papers see Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Medicine and Science (1991) nos. 689-91.               

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Filed under: Science

Study of Museums and Research Libraries 1905

In 1905 German anthropologist, ornithologist, and entomologist, and Director of the Royal Zoological, Anthropological and Ethnographical Museum in Dresden, Adolf Bernard Meyer, published "Studies of the Museums and Kindred Institutions of New York City, Albany, Buffalo, and Chicago, with Notes on Some European Institutions".This appeared in the Report of the United States National Museum [Smithsonian Institution] for 1903, pp. 311-608, with forty plates. It was a translation revised by the author of studies he first published in German in 1900-02, and 1902-03.

Meyer's work was a pioneering illustrated study of the main museums of science and art in the United States and Europe as well as a survey of major research libraries in both America and Europe.  It includes striking images of building exteriors and interiors either no longer in existence or which have been extensively modified, and it also contains images of state of the art museum displays from the time.

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Lee de Forest Invents the Triode 1906

In 1906 American inventor Lee de Forest introduced a third electrode called the grid into the vacuum tube. The resulting triode could be used both as an amplifier and a switch.

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A New Standard for Descriptive Bibliography in the History of Science 1906

In 1906 chemist, historian of chemistry, and bibliographer John Ferguson published Bibliotheca Chemica. A Catalogue of the Alchemical, Chemical, and Pharmaceutical Books in the Collection of the Late James Young of Kelly and Duris.  The work was finely printed on handmade paper by James Maclehose of Glasgow in an edition of unknown size, in full buckram or quarter morocco bindings, and presented "With the Compliments of the Trustees and Family of the Late Dr. James Young of Kelly."

One of the earliest technical chemists, Young's discovery of the distillation of paraffin from coal and oil-shales made him the founder of the Scottish shale oil industry. In about 1850 Young set out to collect the classic original works in the history of alchemy, chemistry, and pharmacy, eventually aided in this pursuit by Ferguson. Along with Augustus de Morgan and Latimer Clark, Young was one of the earliest collectors of the history of science.

The Young collection numbered about 1400 separate items, many of which were already of the greatest rarity by the end of the nineteenth century. Ferguson's 2-volume catalogue of more than a thousand densely printed quarto pages, with bibliographical details of each work, biographical notices of each writer, and exhaustive lists of references in chronological order, set a new standard in scope and accuracy for the descriptive bibliography of the history of science. Sir William Osler considered Ferguson's catalogue the model of descriptive scientific bibliography, writing in his inimitable style:

"though an absorbing and profitable study, the results of bibliography are too often recorded in tomes of intolerable dullness. The merit that appeals to me [in Ferguson's Bibliotheca Chemica] is the combination of biography with bibliography. Beside the book is a picture of the man sketched by a sympathetic hand "

The Young collection is preserved in the Andersonian Library, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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"The Story of the Kelly Gang": The First Full-Length Feature Film 1906

The first feature length multi-reel film in the world was the 1906 Australian production called The Story of the Kelly Gang, written and directly by Charles Tait. The Film, which ran for more than one hour, traced the life of the legendary infamous Australian  outlaw and bushranger Ned Kelly. Its reel length was approximately 4,000 feet (1,200 m), but only fragments survive. The film was first shown at the Athenaeum Hall in Collins Street, Melbourne, Australia on  December 26, 1906, and in the England in January 1908.

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The First Audio Radio Broadcast of Entertainment and Music December 24, 1906

On December 24, 1906 Canadian American inventor Reginald A. Fessenden made the first audio radio (as distinct from Morse code) broadcast of entertainment and music to a general audience, broadcasting from Brant Rock on the coast of Massachusetts. This is considered the beginning of amplitude modulation broadcasting, or AM radio.

The program included Fessenden playing the song O Holy Night on the violin and reading a passage, Luke Chapter 2, from the Bible. The main audience for this transmission was an unknown number of shipboard radio operators along the Atlantic Coast. 

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The Photomicrographic Book 1907

In 1907 engineer Robert Goldschmidt and Belgian author, entrepreneur, visionary, lawyer and peace activist Paul Otlet published "Sur une forme nouvelle du livre-- le livre microphotographique" in l'Institut international de bibliographie bulletin. In this paper they "proposed the livre microphotographique as a way to alleviate the cost and space limitations imposed by the codex format. Otlet’s overarching goal was to create a World Center Library of Juridical, Social and Cultural Documentation, and he saw microfiche as way to offer a stable and durable format that was inexpensive, easy to use, easy to reproduce, and extremely compact" (Wikipedia article on Microform, accessed 04-26-2009). 

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The First Prediction of the Possibility of Man-Made Global Warming 1907

In 1907 Swedish physical chemist Svante Arrhenius published Das Werden der Welten. In this work he was the first to predict the possibility of man-made global warming. His prediction that significant global warming would take ~3000 years to develop is now recognized as a substantial underestimate due in part to his failure to foresee the rapid increases in fossil fuel use during the twentieth century.

(This entry was last revised on 12-26-2016.)

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Curtis's The North American Indian 1907 – 1930

IN 1907, using funds supplied by J. Pierpont Morgan, entrepreneur and photographer Edward S. Curtis began publication and sale by subscription in Seattle, Washington, of The North American Indian, Being a Series of Volumes Picturing and Describing the Indians of the United States and Alaska.

The massive work was written and illustrated by Curtis, and edited by anthropologist Frederick Webb Hodge. Volume one contained an introduction by Theodore Roosevelt. The original publication project was intended to occur over five years.  Twenty-three years later the work was finally complete,  in 20 volumes of text and illustrations, and 20 large portfolios, including 723 leaves of photogravure reproductions of photographs.

"This publication follows the nineteenth-century Euro-American tradition of capturing the 'otherness' of indigenous American Indian life in photography and narrative chronicles. It is set apart by its ambitious scale, and by the striking effect of its images, which are essentially contrived reconstructions rather than true documentation.

"Originally planned for five years, the complicated project was slowed by prohibitive expenses. Public reception was mixed. Less than half of 500 projected sets were printed. Scholars, while interested in staff notes on vocabulary and lore, were dubious of Curtis’s methods of observation. In the 1970s the photographs began to enjoy a nostalgic revival in reprints, and have had a lasting, if controversial, influence on views of the American Indian" (http://curtis.library.northwestern.edu/curtis/aboutwork.html).

"The lavishly illustrated volumes were printed on the finest paper (Dutch etching stock or Japanese tissue paper) and bound in expensive leather, making the price prohibitive for all but the most avid collectors and libraries.

"Subscriptions started at $3000 on the Van Gelder paper in 1907; by 1924 the base price had risen to $4200.

"Although the plan was to sell 500 sets, it appears that Curtis secured just over 220 subscriptions over the course of the project, and printed less than 300 sets.

"In 1935 the assets of the project were liquidated, and the remaining materials were sold to the Charles Lauriat Company, a rare book dealer in Boston. Lauriat acquired nineteen unsold sets of The North American Indian, thousands of individual prints, sheets of unbound paper, and the handmade copper photogravure plates. The book dealer printed a sales brochure and sold nearly seventy more sets at the reduced price of $1245 each. The sets sold apparently included the nineteen remaining original sets plus additional ones made up from loose sheets and newly printed plates" (http://curtis.library.northwestern.edu/curtis/description.html).

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Forerunner of United Press International July 17, 1907

On July 17, 1907 newspaper publisher E. W. Scripps of San Diego, California combined three regional news services into the United Press Associations, the forerunner of UPI.

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A New Version of Babbage's Analytical Engine, Lost 1908 – 1914

IN 1908 Irish accountant Percy Ludgate, working in Dublin, designed a general purpose programable computer about which he published "On a proposed analytical engine," Scientific Proceedings of the Royal Dublin Society, n.s., 12 (1909-10) 77-91. This described "the result of about six years' work, undertaken . . . with the object of designing machinery capable of performing calculations, however, intricate or laborious, without the immediate guidance of the human intellect" (p. 77).

Ludgate's efforts followed about eighty years after Babbage began designing his Analytical Engine, and although Ludgate knew nothing of Babbage's work until after he had completed the first design of his own machine, he was "greatly assisted in the more advanced stages of the problem by, and [received] valuable suggestions from, the writings of that accomplished scholar" (p. 78).

Ludgate was the only person to attempt to build a general purpose programable computer between Babbage and Howard Aiken, whose Harvard Mark I became operational in the early 1940s. Ludgate's machine, as designed, was much smaller than Babbage's, handling 192 variables of 20 figures each compared to Babbage's 1000 variables of 50 figures each, and using "shuttles" to store the variables instead of Babbage's bulkier columns of wheels.  Ludgate was never able to obtain funding to build his machine and he died at the early age of 39. His drawings of his machine were lost; the only records are in his 1909-10 paper, and in a very brief account embedded in Ludgate's report on automatic calculating machines published in the 1914 Handbook of the Napier Tercentenary Celebration (also issued as Modern Instruments and Methods of Calculation). Randell, Origins of Digital Computers (3d ed.) 73-87 reprints the text. Norman, From Gutenberg to the Internet (2005) Reading 6.3 reprints Ludgate's 1914 article.

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The First Library of Rare Science Books Formed by an American 1908

In 1908 historian of mathematics David Eugene Smith published Rara arithmetica: A Catalogue of the Arithmetics Written Before the Year MDCI with a Description of Those in the Library of George Arthur Plimpton of New York. This two-volume work, issued by Plimpton's textbook publishing company, Ginn & Company, described and illustrated Plimpton's library of early mathematical books and medieval manuscripts before 1601.  Two versions of the catalogue were published:

  1. A deluxe numbered edition limited to 151 copies printed on handmade paper and bound in full vellum, elaborately gilt, in two volumes, with the plates printed in color on Japan vellum, enclosed in a slipcase
  2. A trade edition of indeterminate number, printed on regular paper and bound in one volume in cloth-backed boards. 

Plimpton’s mathematical library, preserved at Columbia University Library, is the first specialized private collection of antiquarian scientific books formed by an American for which we have an annotated bibliographical catalogue.  Smith also discussed some of Plimpton’s early manuscripts in his History of Mathematics (Boston: Ginn & Co., 1923–25), and issued a pamphlet addendum to his catalogue of Plimpton’s library in 1939 (Rara arithmetica: Addenda to “Rara arithmetica" [Boston: Ginn & Co.]).

Plimpton did not comment on his library in any of Smith’s works, all, or nearly all of which were published by Plimpton's Ginn & Company. The only place where I found published remarks by Plimpton on his mathematical library was in “The History of Elementary Mathematics in the Plimpton Library", Atti del Congresso Internazionale dei Matematici Bologna 3–10 Settembre 1928, VI (1932) 433–42.

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Henry Ford Sponsors Improvements in the Automotive Assembly Line 1908 – December 1, 1913

In 1908 American industrialist Henry Ford began development of the assembly line for the Ford Model T. The line became operational in Detroit on December 1, 1913, and fully operational in 1915. Contrary to popular mythology, Ford did not invent the automotive assembly line. That was accomplished by Ransom E. Olds in 1901. (Examples of assembly line production have survived from as early as 215-210 BCE.)

"Despite oversimplistic attempts to attribute it to one man or another, it [Ford's Model T assembly line] was in fact a composite development based on logic that took 7 years and plenty of intelligent men. The principal leaders are discussed below. The basic kernel of an assembly line concept was introduced to Ford Motor Company by William "Pa" Klann upon his return from visiting a Chicago slaughterhouse and viewing what was referred to as the 'disassembly line', where animals were butchered as they moved along a conveyor. The efficiency of one person removing the same piece over and over caught his attention. He reported the idea to Peter E. Martin, soon to be head of Ford production, who was doubtful at the time but encouraged him to proceed. Others at Ford have claimed to have put the idea forth to Henry Ford, but Pa Klann's slaughterhouse revelation is well documented in the archives at the Henry Ford Museum and elsewhere, making him an important contributor to the modern automated assembly line concept. The process was an evolution by trial and error of a team consisting primarily of Peter E. Martin, the factory superintendent; Charles E. Sorensen, Martin's assistant; C. Harold Wills, draftsman and toolmaker; Clarence W. Avery; Charles Ebender; and József Galamb. Some of the groundwork for such development had recently been laid by the intelligent layout of machine tool placement that Walter Flanders had been doing at Ford up to 1908.

"In 1922 Ford (via his ghostwriter Crowther) said of his 1913 assembly line:

'I believe that this was the first moving line ever installed. The idea came in a general way from the overhead trolley that the Chicago packers use in dressing beef.'

Charles E. Sorensen, in his 1956 memoir My Forty Years with Ford, presented a different version of development that was not so much about individual 'inventors' as a gradual, logical development of industrial engineering:

" 'What was worked out at Ford was the practice of moving the work from one worker to another until it became a complete unit, then arranging the flow of these units at the right time and the right place to a moving final assembly line from which came a finished product. Regardless of earlier uses of some of these principles, the direct line of succession of mass production and its intensification into automation stems directly from what we worked out at Ford Motor Company between 1908 and 1913. Henry Ford is generally regarded as the father of mass production. He was not. He was the sponsor of it.'

As a result of these developments in method, Ford's cars came off the line in three minute intervals. This was much faster than previous methods, increasing production by eight to one (requiring 12.5 man-hours before, 1 hour 33 minutes after), while using less manpower. It was so successful, paint became a bottleneck. Only japan black would dry fast enough, forcing the company to drop the variety of colors available before 1914, until fast-drying Duco lacquer was developed in 1926. In 1914, an assembly line worker could buy a Model T with four months' pay.

"The assembly line technique was an integral part of the diffusion of the automobile into American society. Decreased costs of production allowed the cost of the Model T to drop within the budget of the American middle class. In 1908, the price of a Model T was around $825, and by 1912 it had dropped to around $575. This price reduction is comparable to a drop from $15,000 to $10,000 in dollar terms from the year 2000" (Wikipedia article on Assembly Line, accessed 02-16-2012).

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The Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium 1908

In 1908 mathematician G. H. Hardy of Cambridge University and general practitioner and obstetrician Wilhelm Weinberg of Stuttgart independently discovered what came to be known as the "Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (Hardy–Weinberg principle). This 

"states that allele and genotype frequencies in a population will remain constant from generation to generation in the absence of other evolutionary influences. These influences include non-random matingmutationselectiongenetic driftgene flow and meiotic drive. Because one or more of these influences are typically present in real populations, the Hardy–Weinberg principle describes an ideal condition against which the effects of these influences can be analyzed."

"Mendelian genetics were rediscovered in 1900. However, it remained somewhat controversial for several years as it was not then known how it could cause continuous characteristics. Udny Yule (1902) argued against Mendelism because he thought that dominant alleles would increase in the population. The American William E. Castle (1903) showed that without selection, the genotype frequencies would remain stable. Karl Pearson (1903) found one equilibrium position with values of p = q = 0.5. Reginald Punnett, unable to counter Yule's point, introduced the problem to G. H. Hardy, a British mathematician, with whom he played cricket. Hardy was a pure mathematician and held applied mathematics in some contempt; his view of biologists' use of mathematics comes across in his 1908 paper where he describes this as "very simple".

To the Editor of Science: I am reluctant to intrude in a discussion concerning matters of which I have no expert knowledge, and I should have expected the very simple point which I wish to make to have been familiar to biologists. However, some remarks of Mr. Udny Yule, to which Mr. R. C. Punnett has called my attention, suggest that it may still be worth making...
Suppose that Aa is a pair of Mendelian characters, A being dominant, and that in any given generation the number of pure dominants (AA), heterozygotes (Aa), and pure recessives (aa) are as p:2q:r. Finally, suppose that the numbers are fairly large, so that mating may be regarded as random, that the sexes are evenly distributed among the three varieties, and that all are equally fertile. A little mathematics of the multiplication-table type is enough to show that in the next generation the numbers will be as (p+q)2:2(p+q)(q+r):(q+r)2, or as p1:2q1:r1, say.
The interesting question is — in what circumstances will this distribution be the same as that in the generation before? It is easy to see that the condition for this is q2 = pr. And since q12 = p1r1, whatever the values of p, q, and r may be, the distribution will in any case continue unchanged after the second generation

"The principle was thus known as Hardy's law in the English-speaking world until 1943, when Curt Stern pointed out that it had first been formulated independently in 1908 by the German physician Wilhelm WeinbergWilliam Castle in 1903 also derived the ratios for the special case of equal allele frequencies, and it is sometimes (but rarely) called the Hardy–Weinberg–Castle Law" (Wikipedia article on Hardy-Weinberg principle, accessed 12-16-2013).

Hardy, "Mendelian Proportions in a Mixed Population," Science 28 (1908) 49-50.

Weinberg, "Über den Nachweis der Vererbung beim Menschen," Jahr. Ver.f. Vaterland Nat. Würz. 64 (1908) 369-82.

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Pathé Invents the Newsreel 1908

In 1908 the French film production company Pathé invented the newsreel that was shown in theaters prior to the feature film. The news clips featured the Pathé logo of a crowing rooster at the beginning of each reel. This form of film was a staple of North American, British, and Commonwealth countries (especially Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and throughout European cinema programming schedule from the silent era until the 1960s when television news completely supplanted its role.

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Campbell-Swinton Describes the Earliest Concept for Electronic or CRT Television June 18, 1908

In a letter written to the journal Nature dated June 18, 1908 English electrical engineer A.A. Campbell-Swinton described his concept of electronic television using the cathode ray tube which had been invented in 1897 by the German physicist and Nobel Prize winner Karl Ferdinand Braun.

Swinton "proposed using an electron beam in both the camera and the receiver, which could be steered electronically to produce moving pictures. He lectured on the subject in 1911 and displayed circuit diagrams, but no one, including Swinton, knew how to realize the design. Although his system was never built, the cathode ray tube did come to be used to display images in almost all television sets and computer monitors until the invention of the LCD panel."

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The Wheeler Gift Catalogue of the History of Electricity and Telegraphy 1909

In 1909 William D. Weaver published Catalogue of the Wheeler Gift of Books, Pamphlets, and Periodicals in the Library of the American Institute of Engineers.With Introduction, Descriptive and Critical Notes by Brother Potamian. This 2-volume work, which remains the most comprehensive historical bibliography on the subjects, described primarily the library of Latimer Clark, a British electrical engineer and inventor working in London who, in partnership with Sir Charles Tilson Bright, was responsible for laying many of the first submarine telegraphic cables. While pursuing a remarkably successful and creative scientific and entrepeneurial career, Clark also found time to build one of the most complete collections ever formed of early books and manuscripts on the history of electricity and magnetism, including virtually every known publication in English on these subjects prior to 1886.

In collecting the history of electricity and telegraphy Clark followed in the path of Francis Ronalds, another telegraphy pioneer who assembled a somewhat smaller library on the subjects, the catalogue of which appeared in 1880. Nearly coincident with the publication of the catalogue of the Ronalds Library, in 1881 Francesco Rossetti and Giovanni Cantoni issued Bibliografia Italiana di Elettricità e Magnetismo, on the occasion of an international fair on electricity held in Paris in 1881. This briefly annotated bibliography presented the history of the Italian literature on the subject.

In 1901 Clark's library was purchased by the American engineer, Schulyer Skaats Wheeler, and donated by him to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE]) in New York. The extensively annotated and illustrated catalogue of the collection of 5,966 items, edited by William Weaver and annotated by Brother Potamian, was financed by Andrew Carnegie. Though the title page of the catalogue takes no notice of it, a high percentage of the items in Clark's library, particularly the final 2000 items, concern telegraphy.

Problematic Management of the Latimer Clark Library in the Twentieth Century:

"In 1913 the Engineering Societies Library was established in New York City, a joint venture of the AIEE, the ASME (Mechanical Engineers), and the AIME (Mining Engineers), funded by a $1.5 million gift from Andrew Carnegie. The AIEE’s main contribution to the Library was the Wheeler Gift Collection. For many years the collection was accessible according to the terms above, but in the 1990s the ESL decided that it could no longer maintain its Manhattan premises and closed the library there.

"By that time the Wheeler Gift Collection had been merged with other works at the library, and had suffered from neglect over the years, much of the material being kept in poor physical conditions. A 1985 survey of the collection showed about 9% (532 items) were missing, and it seems unlikely that the situation improved in the following ten years, prior to the dispersion of the collection.

"Constrained by the terms of the Gift to keep the collection in New York City, the ESL boxed up whatever could be definitely identified as part of the original Wheeler Gift and in 1995 sent 205 cartons of books and papers to the Humanities and Social Sciences division of the New York Public Library at 42nd Street. The rest of the collection, including items in the 1909 catalog that were part of the Wheeler Gift but did not have identifying labels, went to Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, MO"(http://atlantic-cable.com/CablePioneers/LatimerClark.htm, accessed 07-31-2009).

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2001) No. 211.

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The First Large-Scale Investigation of Species Differences at the Molecular Level 1909

In 1909 American scientists Edward Tyson Reichert and Amos Peaslee Brown published from the Carnegie Institution (now Carnegie Institution for Science) in Washington, D.C. The Differentiation and Specificity of Corresponding Proteins and other Vital Substances in Relation to Biological Classification and Organic Evolution: The Crystallography of Hemoglobins

This massive work with 100 plates including 600 images, was the first large-scale investigation of species differences at the molecular level.

“In 1909 appeared an extraordinary volume, The Crystallography of Hemoglobins, by Edward Tyson Reichert, a physiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and Amos Peaslee Brown, a mineralogist there. Reichert had conceived the ambition to plot the evolutionary relationships among species by the divergences among their protein molecules. His essential idea was merely seventy years ahead of the technology: only with the advent of Frederick Sanger’s methods for sequencing amino acids could students of evolution begin to measure the similarities among proteins, and only with Sanger’s means of sequencing nucleotides in DNA, beginning in 1976, could such measurements of genetic similarity begin to be accurate. But Reichert understood the enormous scope for diversity if proteins were large, specific molecules; he settled on crystal forms—and recruited his colleague Brown—as the means to get at degrees of difference, and on hemoglobin as the easily crystallized protein universal among animals. Their book surveyed the nineteenth-century literature of hemoglobin; catalogued crystals of the stuff from a hundred and nine different vertebrate species—Philadelphia had a good zoo—complete with drawings and measurements of the crystal forms; and ended with six hundred large, clear, well-printed photomicrographs of hemoglobin crystals” (Judson, The Eighth Day of Creation, p. 492).

“Physiologist Edward Reichert of the Carnegie Institution of Washington proposed in 1909 that if a definite relationship between differences in proteins and physiological differences between species could be demonstrated, then ‘a fundamental principle of the utmost importance would be established in the explanation of heredity, mutation, the influence of food and environment, the differentiation of sex, and other great problems of biology, normal and pathological.’ Reichert, together with Amos Brown, examined hemoglobin crystals from about two hundred mammalian species, establishing a taxonomy of hemoglobins that paralleled traditional organismic classification. Mammalian visible attributes were thus replaced by the properties hidden in their molecular structures. Specificity therefore served as a probe into evolutionary change . . .” (Kay, Who Wrote the Book of Life, pp. 43-44). 

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The Theory of Polygenic Inheritance 1909 – 1911

In 1909 Swedish botanist Nils Herman Nillson-Ehle, a professor at Lund University, advanced the "multiple factor" theory, or theory of polygenic inheritance, in which a trait is produced from the cumulative effects of more than one gene. Traits that display a continuous distribution, such as height, hair or skin color, are polygenic. The inheritance of polygenic traits does not show the phenotypic ratios characteristic of Mendelian inheritance, though each of the genes contributing to the trait are inherited as described by Mendel. Einvironmental factors may affect polygenic inheritance, thus adding still other contributing factors to the "multiple factor" theory.

Nilsson-Ehle, "Kreuzungsuntersuchungen an Hafer und Weizen," Lunds Univiversitets Årsskrift. N.F. Atd 2, 5, Nr. 2 (1909) 1-122, N.F. Afd. 2, 7 (1911) Nr. 6, 1-84.

♦ Independently of Nilsson-Ehle, in 1910 American plant geneticist Edward Murray East of Harvard University published an essentially identical theory in "A Mendelian Interpretation of Variation that is Apparently Continuous," American Naturalist 44 (1910) 65-82. 

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) nos. 245, 245.1.

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"The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism" January – February 20, 1909

On February 5, 1909 Italian poet and editor Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published Manifesto iniziale del Futurismo in the newspaper Gazzetta dell'Emilia in Bologna. In Milan, Marinetti had begun writing its list of eleven demands in October or November 1908, and in January 1909 he circulated to his friends a two-page leaflet entitled Manifesto del Futurismo containing the programmatic section. Later that month Marinetti wrote the narrative preamble that would accompany his list of demands, and sent the document to the Gazzetta dell'Emilia, and other newspapers. Within the month of February, Marinetti's first manifesto of futurism was reprinted, according to the article on Marinetti in the Italian Wikipedia, in 5 Italian newspapers and one magazine: in Il Pungolo of Naples on February 6, in Arena in Verona on February 9, in Il Piccolo of Trieste on February 10, in Il Giorno of Rome on February 16, and in the weekly magazine Tavola rotonda of Naples on February 14. On February 20, through the influence of one of the major shareholders of Le Figaro, who had been a friend of Marinetti's father, the manifesto was published in French on the front page of the leading French newspaper, Le Figaro. From this version, which was headed simply, "Le Futurisme" on the front page of the newspaper, but which is typically translated as The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, Marinetti became an international celebrity. On the issue of whether or not Marinetti revised the text during the various rapid reprints or in the French translation I have seen no scholarship. 

"The Futurist Revolution did not seem, at first, to be much concerned with books. In Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's intitial Futurist Manifesto . . . books are hardly mentioned; whereas trains, airplanes, the automobile are gloried as tools and symbols of the modern age, libraries, like museums are to be burned. But it would be wrong to view this book-burning—an image inevitably associated for us with all too real subsequent occurences under totalitarian regimes—in sinister terms. The primary impulse of Futurism, indeed its raison d'être, was to shake Italy and Italians out of what Marinetti and his friends saw as a paralyzing obsession with the glories of the past. Passéism—a futurist coinage—was the enemy. A recent nation-state, far from unified within its own borders and unsure of its status among other European powers, Italy, in their view, needed to embrace modernity wholeheartedly; instead of looking at the past, with the inevitable result of an inferiority complex, it ought to confront the future, boldly assert its own creative voice. And books, in the development of which Renaissance Florentine, Milanese, and Ventian printers had played such a prominent part, were a thing of the past.

"Yet, paradoxically, Futurism was also a revolution of the book, and there rests, in fact, one of its greatest artistic legacies. This revolution, as in many other -isms of the twentieth-century, began as a revolution of the word, an opening up of language to all kinds of hitherto unexplored possibilities. But Futurism was much more than a literary movement: as much as the writing of the book and its contents, Futurist poets and artists were interested in its making—its design, thpography, printing, and final appearance. . . ." (Vincent Firoud, Marinetti's Metal Book. Code(x)+2 Monograph Series No. 1, Berkeley: Codex Foundation, 2012). 

Rainey, Poggi, Wittman (eds) Futurism: An Anthology (2009).

In January 2014 an English translation of Marinetti's first manifesto and a reproduction of its appearance in Le Figaro were available from Italianfuturism.org at this link.

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An Early Sci-Fi View of the Internet and Virtual Reality November 1909

In 1909 English writer E. M. Forster published a short story entitled The Machine Stops.

Describing a world in which people live beneath the surface of the earth, with technology running virtually all aspects of their lives, the story anticipated instant messaging and videoconferencing with a machine called "the speaking apparatus." It also anticipated television with a machine called the "cinematophote."

The only book that the main character in the story uses is an enormous technical manual about "the Machine."

Reacting to H. G. Wells's optimism about science and technology, and fearing that man might be unable to live without the all-encompassing technology that he created, or eventually might not even remember that the technology was man-made, Forster stressed the value of actual or direct experience versus "virtual" experience.

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