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

1920 to 1930 Timeline


Introduction of the Word "Robot" 1920

In 1920 Czech novelist, playwright, journalist and translator Karel Capek published R. U. R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in Prague. This play, written in Czech except for the title, introduced the word “robot” and explored the issue of whether worker-machines would replace people.

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Skolem's Contribution to the Lowenheim-Skolem Theorem 1920

In 1920 Norwegian mathematician Thoraf Albert Skolem of the University of Oslo proved the Lowenheim-Skolem theorem, a landmark in mathematical logic. Skolem's paper was first published as "Logisch-kombinatorische Untersuchungen über die Erfüllbarkeit oder Beweisbarkeit mathematischer Sätze nebst einem Theoreme über dichte Mengen", Videnskapsselskapet Skrifter, I. Matematisk-naturvidenskabelig Klasse 6 (1920) 1–36.

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2002) No. 365. An English translation of Skolem's paper appears in van Heijenoort, From Frege to Gödel (1967) 254-63.

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Station 8MK in Detroit Broadcasts the First Radio News Program August 31, 1920

On August 31, 1920 the first radio news program was broadcast by station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan. The station, owned by The Detroit News newspaper, which was owned by E.W. Scripps, had begun broadcasting less than two weeks earlier, on August 20. It was the first radio station owned by a newspaper, started by the Scripps family as an experiment in the use of the new medium of radio for the publication of news. For the first ten days the station broadcast only music until the system of news presentation could be worked out by the radio staff of The Detroit News. 

 The Detroit News summed up the momentous event a few years later:

"Everything was found to be satisfactory, and on Aug. 31, which was primary election day, it was announced that the returns — local, state and congressional — would be sent to the public that night by means of the radio.

The News on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 1920, carried the following announcement: “The sending of the election returns by The Detroit News’ radiophone Tuesday night was fraught with romance and must go down in the history of man’s conquest of the elements as a gigantic step in his progress.

In the four hours that the apparatus, set up in an out-of-the-way corner of The News Building, was hissing and whirring its message into space, few realized that a dream and a prediction had come true. The news of the world was being given forth through this invisible trumpet to the waiting crowds in the unseen market place” (http://www.wired.com/2010/08/0831first-radio-news-broadcast/, accessed 10-19-2014).

8MK changed its call letters to WBL in 1921 and then to WWJ in 1922.

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Invention of the Theremin October 1920

In October 1920 Russian and Soviet physicist and inventor Lev Sergeevich Termen, known in the West as Léon Theremin, working at the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg, invented the Theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments, and the first musical instrument that was played without being touched. The instrument was invented as the result of research into proximinity sensors. It was originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminox. 

"The controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas which sense the position of the player's hands and control radio frequency oscillator(s) for frequency with one hand, and volume with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. The theremin is an electrophone, a subset of the quintephone family.

"To play, the player moves his or her hands around the antennas, controlling frequency (pitch) and amplitude (volume). The theremin is associated with an "eerie" sound, which has led to its use in moviesoundtracks such as those in Spellbound, The Lost Weekend, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Theremins are also used in art music (especially avant-garde and 20th century "new music") and in popular music genres such as rock."

". . . After positive reviews at Moscow electronics conferences, Theremin demonstrated the device to Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. Lenin was so impressed with the device that he began taking lessons in playing it, commissioned six hundred of the instruments for distribution throughout the Soviet Union, and sent Theremin on a trip around the world to demonstrate the latest Soviet technology and the invention of electronic music. After a lengthy tour of Europe, during which time he demonstrated his invention to packed houses, Theremin found his way to the United States, where he patented his invention in 1928 (US1661058 ). Subsequently, Theremin granted commercial production rights to RCA."  

In April 2014 I was surprised to learn that Robert Moog, best known for his invention of the Moog Synthesizer, began his career in 1954 by building Theremins. In April 2104 the Moog website stated:

"The Moog Music story begins in 1954, when a young Bob Moog began building theremins, one of the oldest electronic instruments, and the only one known that you play without touching, in his basement with his father. For the uninitiated, the theremin is a single oscillator instrument that uses two metal rod antennas to control pitch and amplitude. The left antenna (a horizontal hoop) reduces the amplitude as the left hand is moved closer to it, while the right antenna (a vertical pole) increases the pitch as the right hand is moved towards it. For the last 57 years, the company Bob Moog founded has sold more theremins to more professionals than anyone in history. When it comes to quality, dependability, and tone, no one can touch the Etherwave Theremin."

(This entry was last revised on 04-29-2014.)

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The First Commercial Radio Broadcast November 2, 1920

On November 2, 1920 KDKA, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Westinghouse station, transmitted the first commercial radio broadcast.

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Imagining Using 64,000 Human Computers to Predict the Weather 1922

Meteorologist Lewis Fry Richardson, creator of the first dynamic model for weather prediction, proposes the creation of a “forecast factory” that would employ some 64,000 human computers sitting in tiers around the circumference of a giant globe. Each calculator would be responsible for solving differential equations related to the weather in his quadrant of the earth. From a pedestal in the center of the factory, a conductor would orchestrate this symphony of equations by shining a beam of light on areas of the globe where calculation was moving too fast or falling behind.

In 1922 English mathematician, physicist, meteorologist, psychologist and pacifist Lewis Fry Richardson, an early advocate of the team approach to the solution of large-scale computing problems, published Weather Forecasting by Numerical Process in Cambridge at Cambridge University Press.  In this work Richardson described a fantasy weather forecast “factory” of sixty-four thousand human computers working in “a large hall like a theatre,” calculating the world’s weather forecasts from meteorological data supplied by weather balloons spaced two hundred kilometers apart around the globe.

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The Index of Coincidence Method of Code-Breaking 1922

In 1922 U.S. Army cryptologist William F. Friedman published The Index of Coincidence and its Applications in Cryptography, Department of Ciphers. Publ 22. Geneva, Illinois, USA: Riverbank Laboratories.

Friedman's report presented the coincidence counting, or index of coincidence method of code-breaking.

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Jenkinson Publishes A Manual of Archive Administration 1922

In 1922 Hilary Jenkinson, Deputy Keeper of the British Public Record Office, published A Manual of Archive Administration, Including the Problem of War Archives and Archive Making.

Part II. Origin and Development of Archives and Rules for Archive Keeping, included §1. The Evolution of Archives.

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Filed under: Archives

George Owen Squier Invents Muzak 1922 – 1936

In 1922 American Army Signal Corps officer and inventor Major General George Owen Squier of Washington, D. C. created "Wired Radio," a service that piped music to businesses and subscribers over wires. Squier, who, in the early 1920s, was granted several US patents related to transmission of information signals, including a system for the transmission and distribution of signals over electrical lines, recognized the potential of this technology for delivering music to listeners without the use of radio, which at the time required fussy and expensive equipment. Squier sold the rights to his information transmission patents to the North American Company utility conglomerate, which created a company named Wired Radio Inc. with the intent to use the technique to deliver music subscriptions to private customers of the utility company's power service.

Squier remained involved in the Wired Radio project. Intrigued by the use of the neologism "Kodak" as a trademark, he took the "mus" syllable from "music" and added the "ak" from "Kodak" to create the name "Muzak" for the service. By the time a workable Muzak system was fully developed, commercial radio had become well established, so the company re-focused its efforts on delivering music to hotels and restaurants. The first actual delivery of Muzak to commercial customers took place in New York City in 1936, two years after Squier's death.

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The Largest Paid Circulation Print Magazine in the World 1922

In 1922 DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace founded Reader's Digest, an American general interest family magazine published monthly. It was based in Chappaqua, New York.

"For many years, Reader's Digest was the best-selling consumer magazine in the United States, losing the distinction in 2009 to Better Homes and Gardens. According to Mediamark Research, it reaches more readers with household incomes of $100,000+ than FortuneThe Wall Street JournalBusiness Week and Inc. combined.

"Global editions of Reader's Digest reach an additional 40 million people in more than 70 countries, with 49 editions in 21 languages. It has a global circulation of 10.5 million, making it the largest paid circulation magazine in the world. It is also published in Braille, digital, audio, and a version in large type called Reader's Digest Large Print. The magazine is compact, with its pages roughly half the size of most American magazines'. Hence, in the summer of 2005, the U.S. edition adopted the slogan, "America in your pocket." In January 2008, it was changed to 'Life well shared' " (Wikipedia article on Reader's Digest, accessed 10-29-2013).

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The BBC is Founded October 18 – November 14, 1922

On October 18, 1922 the British Broadcasting Company, the first national broadcasting organization, was formed for radio broadcasting by a group of British telecommunications companies. Its first broadcast from Marconi House in London occurred on November 14, 1922.

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Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamum November 4, 1922

On November 4, 1922 British Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty Tutankhamum underneath the remains of workmen's huts built during the Ramesside Period. Nearly intact, this was the only virtually undisturbed tomb of an Egyptian pharoah ever found. Known as KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamum in the Valley of the Kings became world famous for the treasure it contained. Excavation was not completed until November 1930.  

The great majority of the incomparable treasures from Tutankhamum's tomb are preserved in Cairo's Egyptian Museum. Through loan exhbitions in other museums, many have been viewed by millions of people around the world.  However, various treasures from the tomb also somehow made their way into other museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, leading some to suggest that Carter, who was also an agent for building museum collections, stole certain items from the tomb before turning over all the finds to the Egyptian government.

In 1923, 1927, and 1933 Carter published a three-volume account of the discovery entitled The Tomb of Tut·Ankh·Amen Discovered by the late Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter.

On June 12, 2012 a significant portion of Carter's personal papers concerning the discovery remaining with his descendents were offered for sale at auction by Bonham's in London with an estimate of £100,000-150,000.

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Invention of the Iconoscope, the First Electronic Television Camera 1923

In 1923 Vladimir Zworykin, a Russian immigrant to the United States, working at Westinghouse Laboratories in Pittsburgh, patented the iconoscope, the first electronic television camera. His design, however, was incomplete:

"Vladimir Zworykin is also sometimes cited as the father of electronic television because of his invention of the iconoscope in 1923 and his invention of the kinescope in 1929. His design was one of the first to demonstrate a television system with all the features of modern picture tubes. His previous work with Rosing on electromechanical television gave him key insights into how to produce such a system, but his (and RCA's) claim to being its original inventor was largely invalidated by three facts: a) Zworykin's 1923 patent presented an incomplete design, incapable of working in its given form (it was not until 1933 that Zworykin achieved a working implementation), b) the 1923 patent application was not granted until 1938, and not until it had been seriously revised, and c) courts eventually found that RCA was in violation of the television design patented by Philo Taylor Farnsworth, whose lab Zworykin had visited while working on his designs for RCA. 

"The controversy over whether it was first Farnsworth or Zworykin who invented modern television is still hotly debated today. Some of this debate stems from the fact that while Farnsworth appears to have gotten there first, it was RCA that first marketed working television sets, and it was RCA employees who first wrote the history of television. Even though Farnsworth eventually won the legal battle over this issue, he was never able to fully capitalize financially on his invention" (http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Colour-television, accessed 12-22-2009).

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The Enigma Machine is Introduced 1923

In 1923 German electrical engineer and inventor Arthur Scherbius began marketing a mechanical cipher rotor machine based on rotating wired wheels, and called Enigma. Thousands of the machines are thought to have been produced from the 1920s to the end of World War II, during which the devices were used by the Third Reich to encrypt messages in a form they believed was undecipherable.

On September 11, 2011 a three-rotor Enigma machine in its original wooden box, and dated circa 1939, sold at Christie's London for £133,250.  This was a record price for an Enigma Machine.  The machine had been used in the 2001 film entitled Enigma.

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The First Suburban Shopping Center Designed for Shoppers Arriving by Automobile 1923

In 1923 American real estate developer J. C. Nichols built the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Designed architectually after Seville, Spain, it was the first suburban shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. In 2013 the Country Club District, which Nichols developed around the shopping center, was the largest contiguous master-planned community in the United States.

Nichols "called his method 'planning for permanence,' for his objective was to 'develop whole residential neighborhoods that would attract an element of people who desired a better way of life, a nicer place to live and would be willing to work in order to keep it better.' Nichols invented the percentage lease, where rents are based tenants' gross receipts. The percentage lease is now a standard practice in commercial leasing across the United States" (Wikipedia article on J C Nichols, accessed 04-05-2009).

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Foundation of Public Relations 1923

In 1923 Edward L. Bernays, founder of the public relations industry and double nephew of Sigmund Freud, published Crystallizing Public Opinion in New York through Boni & Liveright. 

Bernays combined the ideas of French sociologist Gustave Le Bon, originator of crowd psychology, with the psychoanalytic ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud , and those of British surgeon and social psychologist Wilfred Trotter, who promoted similar ideas in the anglophone world in his book Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War.

"Trotter, who was a head and neck surgeon at University College Hospital, London, read Freud's works, and it was he who introduced Wilfred Bion, whom he lived and worked with, to Freud's ideas. When Freud fled Vienna for London after the Anschluss, Trotter became his personal physician, and Wilfred Bion and Ernest Jones became key members of the Freudian psychoanalysis movement in England, and would develop the field of Group Dynamics, largely associated with the Tavistock Institute where many of Freud's followers worked. Thus ideas of group psychology and psychoanalysis came together in London around World War II.

"Bernays' public relations efforts helped to popularize Freud's theories in the United States. Bernays also pioneered the PR industry's use of psychology and other social sciences to design its public persuasion campaigns:

"If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits." He called this scientific technique of opinion-molding the 'engineering of consent'" (Wikipedia article on Edward Bernays, accessed 02-17-2012).

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An Early Vision of Transhumanism, and the First Proposal of a Hydrogen-Based Renewable Energy Economy. February 4, 1923

On February 4, 1923, British-born geneticist and evolutionary biologist John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (J.B.S. Haldane), delivered a speech at the Heretics Society, an intellectual club at Cambridge University, entitled Daedalus; or, Science and the Future. In this work, which is considered an early vision of transhumanism, Haldane foresaw the exhaustion of coal for power generation in Britain and proposed a network of hydrogen-generating windmills. This was the first proposal of a hydrogen-based renewable energy economy.

"his [Haldane's] "vision of a future in which humans controlled their own evolution through directed mutation and use of in vitro fertilization ("ectogenesis") was a major influence on Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The book ends with the image of a biologist, much like Haldane himself, in a laboratory: 'just a poor little scrubby underpaid man groping blindly amid the mazes of the ultramicroscope... conscious of his ghastly mission and proud of it' " (Wikipedia article on Daedalus; or, Science and the Future, accessed 10-20-2013).

"Personally, I think that four hundred years hence the power question in England may be solved somewhat as follows: The country will be covered with rows of metallic windmills working electric motors which in their turn supply current at a very high voltage to great electric mains. At suitable distances, there will be great power stations where during windy weather the surplus power will be used for the electrolytic decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen. These gasses will be liquefied, and stored in vast vacuum jacketed reservoirs, probably sunk in the ground. If these reservoirs are sufficiently large, the loss of liquid due to leakage inwards of heat will not be great; thus the proportion evaporating daily from a reservoir 100 yards square by 60 feet deep would not be 1/1000 of that lost from a tank measuring two feet each way. In times of calm, the gasses will be recombined in explosion motors working dynamos which produce electrical energy once more, or more probably in oxidation cells. Liquid hydrogen is weight for weight the most efficient known method of storing energy, as it gives about three times as much heat per pound as petrol. On the other hand it is very light, and bulk for bulk has only one third of the efficiency of petrol. This will not, however, detract from its use in aeroplanes, where weight is more important than bulk. These huge reservoirs of liquified gasses will enable wind energy to be stored, so that it can be expended for industry, transportation, heating and lighting, as desired. The initial costs will be very considerable, but the running expenses less than those of our present system. Among its more obvious advantages will be the fact that energy will be as cheap in one part of the country as another, so that industry will be greatly decentralized; and that no smoke or ash will be produced" http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Daedalus.html, accessed 10-20-2013).

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From "The Rocket in Interplanetary Space" to "Frau im Mond" June 1923 – 1929

In 1923 Romanian-German physicist Hermann Oberth published Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen in Munich and Berlin at the press of R. Oldenbourg. This book began as a doctoral thesis on the rocket in interplanetary space which Oberth submitted to the University of Heidelberg in 1922. When the thesis was rejected by the university Oberth paid for its commercial publication. The work was highly influential on the founding in 1927 of the German amateur rocket society, Verein für Raumschiffahrt, to which most of the early German rocketeers belonged, and which became a focal point of early rocketry research.

In his book Oberth set out to prove four propositions: (1) that the technology of the time permitted the building of machines capable of rising above the earth’s atmosphere; (2) that these machines could attain velocities sufficient to prevent their falling back to earth, or even to escape the earth’s gravitational pull; (3) that such machines could be built to carry human beings; and (4) that under certain conditions, their manufacture might be profitable. Oberth demonstrated that a rocket can operate in a vacuum and that it can surpass the velocity of its own exhaust; he also pointed out the superiority of liquid fuels in producing maximum exhaust velocity. He described in detail the designs of a prototypical instrument-carrying rocket and a theoretical space-ship, and developed the first sketchy model of a space station.

Oberth's work became more widely known through its greatly expanded third edition, retitled Wege zur Raumschiffahrt (1929), which contained over 400 pages compared to the 1923 edition’s 92 pages.

Oberth dedicated the 1929 work to Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou, director and writer respectively of Frau im Mond (1929) one of the world’s first serious science fiction films. Oberth served as a consultant on the film, which was the first to present the basics of rocketry to a mass audience, and his income from that project was crucial in allowing him to complete the book.

Wege zum Raumschiffahrt was the first work to receive the REP-Hirsch International Astronautics Prize established in 1928 by French rocketry pioneer Robert Esnault-Pelterie and André-Louis Hirsch; the prize was awarded annually between 1929 and 1939. The purpose of the prize was to recognize “the best original theoretical or experimental works capable of promoting progress in one of the areas permitting the realization of interstellar navigation or furthering knowledge in a field related to astronautics.” In the epilogue to his book, Oberth acknowledged receipt of the REP-Hirsch Prize and expressed his surprise and gratitude that a French organization “would award such a prize to a German . . . It is encouraging to see that science and education are able to bridge national differences” (p. [424]).

An English translation of Oberth's 1929 book, Ways to Spaceflight, was published by NASA in 1972, and is downloadable from NASA's website.

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IBM is Founded 1924

In 1924 Thomas J. Watson, president of CTR (Computer Tabulating Recording Corporation), of Endicott, New York, changed the name of the company to International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).

"Encouraged by George F. Johnson, who saw Endicott as the world's first industrial 'park' with a 'Square Deal' for everyone, IBM began building a factory complex in Endicott just to the east of the Endicott-Johnson factories. The original Bundy building (a Binghamton company) was erected on North Street as early as 1906 and stands to this day. Many of the IBM factory buildings, including Factory #1 and the IBM Schoolhouse, still stand to this day. Endicott was the original location of all IBM manufacturing, research, and development from the early 1920s through World War II" (Wikipedia article on Endicott, New York, accessed 02-18-2012).

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A Logarithmic Law for Communication 1924

In “Certain Factors Affecting Telegraph Speed,” Bell System Technical Journal 3 (1924) 324–346, information theorist Harry Nyquist analyzed factors affecting telegraph transmission speed, presenting the first statement of a logarithmic law for communication, and the first examination of the theoretical bounds for ideal codes for the transmission of information.

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The First Electrical Sound Recording 1924 – April 1925

In 1924 Henry C. Harrison at Bell Labs developed a matched-impedance recorder, which improved the frequency range from the previous narrow 250-2,500 cycles range of acoustic recorders to a wider range of 50-6,000 cycles using the condenser microphone, tube amplifier, balanced-armature speaker, and a rubber-line acoustic recorder with a long tapered horn. This system was licensed to the Victor Talking Machine Company which used it in April, 1925 to make the first electrical recording a symphony orchestra: the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski, performing 'Danse macabre' by Camille Saint-Saëns: 

The new system was sold in October by Victor as the Orthophonic phonograph capable of playing back acoustically-produced and electrically-produced records. It extended the reproducible sound range by more than an octave on the high and low end.

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"Mathematical Theory of Natural and Artificial Selection" 1924

With R. A. Fisher and Sewall Wright, British-born geneticist and evolutionary biologist John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (J.B.S. Haldane) developed the mathematical theory of population genetics. In 1924 Haldane began publication of his "Mathematical Theory of Natural and Artificial Selection." The first part appeared in the Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 23 (1924) 19-41. Parts II through IX appeared in the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society from 1924 to 1932. The tenth and final part, "Some Theorems on Natural Selection," appeared in Genetics 19 (1934) 412-429.

In "A Mathematical Theory of Natural and Artificial Selection" Haldane showed the direction and rates of change of gene frequencies. He also pioneered investigation of the interaction of natural selection with mutation and with migration.

In 1932 Haldane issued a book, The Causes of Evolution, summarizing these results for a wider audience, and including the majority of his mathematical treatment of the subject in an extensive appendix. This body of work was a component of what came to be known as the "modern evolutionary synthesis", re-establishing natural selection as the premier mechanism of evolution by explaining it in terms of the mathematical consequences of Mendelian genetics.

In December 2013 when I wrote this entry parts 1 and 10 of Haldane's "Mathematical Theory...." were available at the links provided above, along with part V, which was available at this link. The remaining parts were available to subscribers from the Cambridge Journals website.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 254. 

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S. R. Ranganathan Develops Colon Classification (CC), the First Faceted Classification 1924 – 1933

Between 1924 and 1933 Indian mathematician and librarian Slyall (Sirkazhi) Ramamrita Ranganathan (S. R. Ranganathan) developed Colon classification, the first faceted (or analytico-synthetic) classification system, as a general classification system for libraries. Ranganathan first published the system in his book, Colon Classification issued by the Madras Library Association in 1933. He continued to develop the system through the fifth edition of this work in 1959, and in numerous other books on the subject. 

" ... 'colon classification' comes from the use of colons to separate facets in class numbers. However, many other classification suchemes, some of which are completely unrelated, also use colons and other punctuation in various functions. They should not be confused with colon classification.

"In CC, facets describe "personality" (the most specific subject), matter, energy, space, and time (PMEST). These facets are generally associated with every item in a library, and so form a reasonably universal sorting system.[1]

"As an example, the subject "research in the cure of tuberculosis of lungs by x-ray conducted in India in 1950" would be categorized as:


"This is summarized in a specific call number:

"L,45;421:6;253:f.44'N5" (Wikipedia article on Colon classification, accessed 08-21-2016).

See M.P. Satija & Jagtar Singh, "Colon Classification: A Requiem", DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology 33, No. 4 (2013) 265-276.

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The Beginning of "Talk Radio" February 1924

Some of the earliest "talk radio" programs were sermons by Aimee Semple McPherson, the evangelist and "media sensation," broadcasting on her Four Square Gospel station, KFSG, in Los Angeles, in February 1924. 

Another pioneer of radio evangelism, S. Parkes Cadman, preceded McPherson by a few months.

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The Creation of Bell Labs 1925

In 1925 Walter Gifford, president of AT&T, consolidated Western Electric Research Laboratories and part of the engineering department of the American Telephone & Telegraph company (AT&T)  to form Bell Telephone Laboratories. From 1925 to 1966 the physical location of Bell was was 463 West Street in Manhattan.

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A Massive Central Library on Microform for Printing on Demand 1925

In 1925 Robert B. Goldschmidt and Paul Otlet published "La Conservation et la diffusion internationale de la pensée" as publication no. 144 of the Institut international de bibliographie (Brussels). This work described their plans for a massive library where each volume existed as master negatives and positives on microform, and where items were printed on demand for interested patrons.

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Blue-Print for The Third Reich 1925 – 1927

In 1925 and 1927 Adolf Hitler published Mein Kampf, the first volume of which he dictated in prison to his associate Rudolf Hess after the abortive Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, November 1923. One of the most influential books ever published, and possibly the most evil, the publication history, as well as the contents of this work, continue to be intensively reviewed by scholars, and read by people of different political persuasions, including extremists. The Wikipedia article on Mein Kampf contains unusually thorough documentation concerning its publication history.

Though publication of Mein Kampf was banned in some countries in 1947, it continued to sell widely in print in many languages, and according to a New York Times article published in November 2011, it had sold over 70 million copies by 2008.  It was also freely distributed on the Internet.  In 2011, with the pending expiration of its copyright, issues were raised concerning the dangers of allowing this text to circulate freely, and how it might be used to counteract prejudice and Holocaust denial, if that would be possible: 

"In 1947, Austria adopted the Verbotsgesetz — or “Prohibition Act” — banning the Nazi Party and criminalizing the celebration, promotion, or adulation of Nazi ideology; in the 1990s, it was amended to prohibit Holocaust denial. (It was under this law that the English writer David Irving was jailed a few years ago for denying the existence of the gas chambers.) Distributing and displaying Nazi paraphernalia is forbidden here. Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Lithuania — all these countries also criminalize revisionism and restrict various forms of speech and publications about the Holocaust. And for nearly 70 years, the German state of Bavaria, which holds the copyright for “Mein Kampf,” has fought heartily against the book’s publication in any country where it is possible to fight it.  

But now the rationale behind these restrictions is being questioned. While they may have helped limit the widespread distribution of “Mein Kampf” in Europe, repressive tactics of this kind have not aged well in the Internet era. (The book was never fully blocked anyway: in the 1980s, the U.S. Army sold it in some of its “Stars and Stripes” shops across Germany. And libraries often held copies.) Preventing a book’s publication today is largely a symbolic move.  

“Mein Kampf” is widely available, in its entirety, across the Web. It has been a hit in Japan and Turkey in recent years; it has sold briskly in South America and the Middle East; and it has shown up, like a nefarious inspiration, in such ugly places as the rantings of the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik. By 2008, an estimated 70,000,000 copies had been put into circulation since the book was first published in 1925, according to HatePrevention.org, a consortium of academics and activists. In other words, the restrictions on its publication may have enabled a kind of willful ignorance, a means of not recognizing the continued impact of the book’s ideas on society.  

"And so as Europe faces the end of the copyright on one of the most painful texts of the 20th century, some people now believe that the best course of action is not to extend the ban, but to publish 'Mein Kampf' with extensive annotations that explain how the book was used and what it wrought — that recognize its continued presence. 'Our idea is a zero-censorship effort,' says Philippe Coen, a French attorney at the forefront of HatePrevention.org, which organized the recent conference in Paris. He, like Dreyfus, favors the pedagogical approach to the publication of Hitler’s manifesto" (http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/the-return-of-mein-kampf/?nl=opinion&emc=tyb1, accessed 12-14-2011).

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Sarnoff Creates NBC 1926

In 1926 David Sarnoff of Radio Corporation of America (RCA) created the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) for radio broadcasting.

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The Basic Equations for Two-Species Interactions 1926

In 1926 Italian mathematician and physicist, Vito Volterra of Sapienza – Università di Roma known for his contributions to mathematical biology, published "Varizioni e fluttuazioni del numero d'individui in specie animali conviventi" in Mem. R. Acad. Naz. dei Lincei (ser.6) II, 31-113. In this paper Volterra created the basic equations for two species interactions.

This work was translated into English and published in the journal Nature the same year as "Fluctuations in the abundance of a species considered mathematically". 

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Virginia Woolf's "How Should One Read a Book?" 1926

In 1926 English writer Virginia Woolf wrote an essay entitled, "How Should One Read a Book?" to deliver as a lecture at a private girls' school in Kent, England. In revised form it appears to have been first published in The Yale Review, October, 1926. Along with other essays, it first appeared in book form in Woolf's The Common Reader: Second Series in 1932. 

Woolf's essay first came to my attention when Maria Popova presented intriguing quotations from it with commentary and images in her Brain Pickings weekly blog on March 6, 2013.

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John Logie Baird Presents the First Demonstration of Electromechanical Television January 26, 1926

On January 26, 1926 Scottish engineer and inventor John Logie Baird gave the world's first demonstration of his electromechanical television system to fifty scientists assembled in his attic workshop at 22 Frith Street in the Soho district of London.

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The International Federation of Library Associations is Founded 1927

In 1927 the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Filed under: Libraries

Invention of Magnetic Tape 1927

In 1927 German-Austrian engineer Fritz Pfleumer invented magnetic tape for recording sound, coating very thin paper with iron-oxide using lacquer as glue. He sold the rights to AEG in 1932.

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Animal Ecology 1927

In 1927 English biologist and animal ecologist Charles Sutherland Elton published Animal Ecology in London at the press of Sidgwick & Jackson. It appeared as part of a series of textbooks in animal biology edited by Julian Huxley, who contributed a very informative introduction. In this book Elton integrated the concepts of food chains, pyramids of numbers, and the "niche" into a useful framework for ecology.

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The Literature and Culture of Suicide 1927

In 1927 journalist and suicide researcher Hans Rost published one of the more unusual specialized bibliographies: Bibliographie des Selbstmords mit textlichen Einführungen zu Jedem Kapitel.  This bibliography on the literature of suicide considered the subject from many points of view including philosophical, medical, psychological, religious, literary, and artistic, as well as topics like family suicide, mass suicide and euthanasia, from the 15th to 20th centuries. The bibliography listed about 4000 works in thematic chapters, to each of which Rost wrote an introduction. The book included 54 illustrations, which may have represented the first published collection of historical images on suicide. 

Rost's library of suicide literature was acquired by the city library of Augsburg in 1928.  Since 1988 the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Suizidprävention (DGS)(German Association for Suicide Prevention) has presented the Hans Rost Prize for outstanding scientific achievements in suicidology and for outstanding practical solutions toward the prevention of suicide.

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Proof that X-Rays Can Induce Mutations 1927

In 1927 American geneticist and educator Herman J. Muller, of the University of Texas at Austin, showed that radiation causes mutations that are passed on from one generation to the next. This was the first suggestion that inherited traits might be altered or controlled, and it created a sensation. “Man’s most precious substance, the hereditary material which he could pass on to his offspring, was now potentially in his control. X rays could  ‘speed up evolution,’ if not in practice at least in the headlines. Like the discoveries of Einstein and Rutherford, Muller’s tampering with a fundamental aspect of nature provoked the public awe “(Carlson, "An unacknowledged founding of molecular biology: H. J. Muller’s Contribution to Gene Theory, 1910-36," Journal of the History of Biology 4 (1971) 149-70). 

A student of Thomas Hunt Morgan, Muller studied mutations and sought to map genes to specific chromosomes, but unlike most other early geneticists, Muller was particularly interested in the physical and chemical nature and operations of genes. Beginning in November 1926 Muller subjected male fruit flies to relatively high doses of radiation, then mated them to virgin female fruit flies. In a few weeks' time he was able to induce more than 100 mutations in the resulting progeny—about half the number of all mutations discovered in Drosophila over the previous fifteen years.

From Muller's work a clear, quantitative connection between radiation and lethal mutations quickly emerged. Some mutations were deadly; the effects of other mutations in offspring were visible but not lethal. As Muller interpreted his results, radioactive particles passing through the chromosomes randomly affected the molecular structure of individual genes, rendering them either inoperative or altering their chemical functions. Muller's discovery created a media sensation after he delivered a paper entitled "The Problem of Genetic Modification" at the Fifth International Congress of Genetics in Berlin. This was published in Verhandlungen des V. Internationalen Kongress fur Veresbungswissenschaft 1927 (1928) 234-260. 

Muller, "Artificial Transmutation of the Gene," Science 66 (1927) 84-87. 

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Fortunato Depero's "Bolted Catalogue" of Futurist Graphics 1927

For the 1927 Biennale Internazionale delle Arti Decorative in Monza, Italy, Italian futurist painter, writer, sculptor and graphic designer, and industrial designer Fortunato Depero designed a Book Pavilion  for publishers Bestetti Treves Tumminelli, built entirely out of giant block letters. This was considered a significant architectural achievement. He also produced a lavish printed catalogue of his own graphic work from 1913 to 1927 entitled Depero futurista, reproduced both by letter press and photography. The book was bound in futurist style using two industrial bolts.

 "It featured for the first time a mechanical binding consisting of two bolts holding the pages together, as conceived by Fedele Azari, the publisher. Influenced by the focus on the machine that characterized Futurism in the early 1920s, this book should be considered a manifesto of the Machine Age. However, Depero's innovation was not confined to the cover; the inside text features a wealth of typographic inventions including the use of different typefaces, the text formed into various shapes, the use of different papers and colours, and several other devices.

"After seeing this book, Kurt Schwitters wanted to meet Depero and enthusiastically showed his copy to every visitor to his personal library. This book was published in an edition of 1000 copies, most of which bear a stamp of the number of the copy. The edition, showed at least three different front pages with different color prints. There are four or five copies with a metal binding -- books of great rarity but of minor visual impact. Finally, there were even four to five copies provided with a box case expressly designed by the author.... " (http://www.colophon.com/gallery/futurism/1.html, accessed 01-03-2014).

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Formation of Remington Rand January 25, 1927

On January 25, 1927 American industrialist James Henry Rand, Jr. merged Rand-Kardex with Remington Typewriters and several other office supply companies to form Remington Rand.

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Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover Participates in the First American Demonstration of Electromechanical Television April 7, 1927

On April 7, 1927 newspaper reporters and dignitaries gathered at the AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories auditorium in New York City to see the first American demonstration of television. The live picture and voice of Secretary of Commerce (later President) Herbert Hoover were transmitted over telephone lines from Washington, D.C., to New York.  

“Today we have, in a sense, the transmission of sight for the first time in the world’s history,” Hoover said. “Human genius has now destroyed the impediment of distance in a new respect, and in a manner hitherto unknown.”

A second telecast followed that day, via radio transmission from Whippany, N.J. The telecasts demonstrated television’s potential as an adjunct to telephone service and as a medium for entertainment.

The live demonstration of television at Bell Labs was filmed, and in February 2013 that short movie was viewable on Facebook at this link:


In April 1930 Bell Labs issued a pamphlet entitled Two-Way Television and a Pictorial Account of its Background, documenting the technology involved and the historic demonstration, plus some later developments.  An unusual dust jacket added to the 40-page illustrated pamphlet dramatized the new technology.

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Philo Farnsworth Invents the First All-Electronic Television September 7, 1927

On September 7, 1927 American inventor Philo T. Farnsworth transmitted an image through the purely electronic means of a device called an "image dissector." This was the first all-electronic television.

"When Philo T. Farnsworth was 13, he envisioned a contraption that would receive an image transmitted from a remote location—the television. Farnsworth submitted a patent in January 1927, when he was 19, and began building and testing his invention that summer. He used an "image dissector" (the first television camera tube) to convert the image into a current, and an "image oscillite" (picture tube) to receive it. On this day his tests bore fruit. When the simple image of a straight line was placed between the image dissector and a carbon arc lamp, it showed up clearly on the receiver in another room. His first tele-electronic image was transmitted on a glass slide in his S[an] F[rancisco] lab at 202 Green St" (http://www.timelines.ws/subjects/Television.HTML, accessed 12-22-2009).

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The First Full-Length Film with Synchronized Dialogue October 1927

The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences was released in October 1927. The film included sound sequences running about two minutes, and the rest of its dialogue was done through the sound cards of traditional silent films.  However, the commercial impact the synchronized sound was sensational, and the release of The Jazz Singer heralded the commercial ascendance of the "talkies" and the decline of the silent film era. Produced by Warner Bros. of Burbank, California with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system, the movie starred Al Jolson, who performed six songs. The film, written by and staring Jewish Americans, focussed on Jewish-American culture as well as American jazz.

"The story begins with young Jakie Rabinowitz defying the traditions of his devout Jewish family by singing popular tunes in a beer hall. Punished by his father, a cantor, Jakie runs away from home. Some years later, now calling himself Jack Robin, he has become a talented jazz singer. He attempts to build a career as an entertainer, but his professional ambitions ultimately come into conflict with the demands of his home and heritage. . . 

"While many earlier sound films had dialogue, all were short subjects. D. W. Griffith's feature Dream Street (1921) was shown in New York with a single singing sequence and crowd noises. It was preceded by a program of sound shorts, including a sequence with Griffith speaking directly to the audience, but the feature itself had no talking scenes.Similarly, the first Warner Bros. Vitaphone features, Don Juan (premiered August 1926) and The Better 'Ole (premiered October 1926), like two more that followed in early 1927, had only a synchronized instrumental score and sound effects. The Jazz Singer contains those, as well as numerous synchronized singing sequences and some synchronized speech: Two popular tunes are performed by the young Jakie Rabinowitz, the future Jazz Singer; his father, a cantor, performs the devotional Kol Nidre; the famous cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, appearing as himself, sings another religious melody. As the adult Jack Robin, Jolson performs six songs, five popular "jazz" tunes and the Kol Nidre. The sound for the film was recorded by British-born George Groves, who had also worked on Don Juan. To direct, the studio chose Alan Crosland, who already had two Vitaphone films to his credit: Don Juan and Old San Francisco, which opened while The Jazz Singer was in production.

"The spoken words that made movie history (over considerable crowd noise) and the opening of "Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo' Bye)" Problems listening to this file? See media help. Jolson's first vocal performance, about fifteen minutes into the picture, is of "Dirty Hands, Dirty Face," with music by James V. Monaco and lyrics by Edgar Leslie and Grant Clarke. The first synchronized speech, uttered by Jack to a cabaret crowd and to the piano player in the band that accompanies him, occurs directly after that performance, beginning at the 17:25 mark of the film. Jack's first spoken words—"Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet"—were well-established stage patter of Jolson's. He had even spoken very similar lines in a 1926 short, Al Jolson in "A Plantation Act." The line had developed as something of an in-joke. In November 1918, during a gala concert celebrating the end of World War I, Jolson ran onstage amid the applause for the preceding performer, the great operatic tenor Enrico Caruso, and exclaimed, "Folks, you ain't heard nothin' yet." The following year, he recorded the song "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet". In a later scene, Jack talks with his mother, played by Eugenie Besserer, in the family parlor; his father enters and pronounces one very conclusive word. In total, the movie contains barely two minutes worth of synchronized talking, much or all of it improvised. The rest of the dialogue is presented through the caption cards, or intertitles, standard in silent movies of the era" (Wikipedia article on The Jazz Singer, accessed 01-07-2012).

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Hilbert Asks, Is Mathematics Complete, is it Consistent, and is it Decidable? 1928

At the International Congress of Mathematicians held in Bologna, Italy, in 1928 mathematician and physicist David Hilbert returned to the second of the twenty-three problems posed in his 1900 paper Mathematische Probleme, asking is mathematics complete, is it consistent, and is it decidable?

Three years later, the first two of these questions were answered in the negative by Kurt Gödel. Working independently, Alonzo Church, Alan Turing, and Emil Post published answers to the third question in 1936.

Hilbert's paper was first published in Atti del Congresso Internazionale dei Matematici, Bologna 3-10 settembre 1928 (VI) I (1929) 135-41.

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

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IBM Adopts the Eighty-Column Punched Card, Standard for the Next 50 Years 1928

In 1928 IBM adopted the eighty-column punched card, the standard for about the next fifty years, and one of IBM's most profitable products.

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Key Achievements of Leslie J. Comrie, Including Foundation of the First Independent Scientific Computing Service 1928 – 1937

In 1928 English astronomer and mechanical computation pioneer Leslie J. Comrie, working in London, discovered how to use a commercial accounting machine as a difference engine. With this technique Comrie reformed the production of the Nautical Almanac, greatly increasing the accuracy of the navigation tables. 

Comrie used electric punched-card tabulating machines to calculate the motions of the moon. This project, in which twenty million holes were punched into five hundred thousand cards, continued into 1929. It was the first use of punched cards in a purely scientific application.

In 1937 Comrie founded Scientific Computing Service in London. It was the first independent scientific computing service bureau in the world

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Hartley's Law 1928

In 1928 information theorist Ralph V. R. Hartley of Bell Labs published “Transmission of Information,” in which he proved "that the total amount of information that can be transmitted is proportional to frequency range transmitted and the time of the transmission."

Hartley's law eventually became one of the elements of Claude Shannon's Mathematical Theory of Communication.

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Von Neumann Invents the Theory of Games 1928

In 1928 Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, economist and polymath John von Neumann then working at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, published "Zur Theorie der Gesellschaftsspiele" in Mathematische Annalen, 100, 295–300. This paper "On the Theory of Parlor Games" propounded the minimax theorem, inventing the theory of games.

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"Lights of New York": The First All-Talking Feature Film 1928

Having introduced the first feature-length part-talkie film, The Jazz Singer in 1927,  the following year Warner Brothers introduced the first all-talking feature film, Lights of New York, directed by Bryan Foy.

 "The film, which cost only $23,000 to produce, grossed over $1,000,000. It was also the first film to define the crime genre. The enthusiasm with which audiences greeted the talkies was so great that by the end of 1929, Hollywood was producing sound films exclusively" (Wikipedia article on Lights of New York (1928 film), accessed 06-04-2012).

Lights of New York was shot at 24 frames per second, which became the industry standard.

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Demonstration that Bacteria Can Transfer Genetic Information Through an Unidentified Transforming Factor 1928

At the English Ministry of Health's Pathological Laboratory bacteriologist Frederick Griffith was sent pneumococci samples taken from patients throughout the country. He amassed a large number, and would type—in other words classify—each pneumococci sample to research patterns of pneumonia epidemiology. In 1928 he published "The Significance of Pneumococcal Types," Journal of Hygiene (Cambridge) 27 (1928) 113-59. In this paper he showed that Streptococcus pneumoniae, implicated in many cases of lobar pneumonia, could transform from one strain into a different strain. This phenomenon he attributed to an unidentified transforming principle or transforming factor.

Griffith's research was one of the first experiments that suggested that bacteria are capable of transferring genetic information through a process known as transformation. Research by Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty reported in 1944 isolated DNA as the material that communicated this genetic information.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1992) no. 251.2.

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The Dirac Equation 1928 – 1975

In "The Quantum Theory of the Electron," Proceedings of the Royal Society. Series A 117 (778) (1928) 610–24 English theoretical physicist Paul Dirac proposed the Dirac equation as a relativistic equation of motion for the wavefunction of the electron. This work led Dirac to predict the existence of the positron, which he interpreted in terms of what came to be called the Dirac sea. The positron was observed by Carl Anderson in 1932. Dirac's equation also contributed to explaining the origin of quantum spin as a relativistic phenomenon.

Even among sometimes eccentric theoretical physicists Dirac's behavior stood out; he was known to exhibit autistic traits that made him appear very unusual. Einstein said of him, "This balancing on the dizzying path between genius and madness is awful."

In 1975, Dirac gave a series of five lectures at the University of New South Wales which were subsequently published as a book, Directions in Physics (1978). Remarkably these lectures, which seem to have been given without notes, were filmed. Nothing in the lectures makes Dirac seem particularly eccentric. In 2013 the films of several of these lectures, which had developed quality problems, were made available on YouTube. They may be the only extensive films of Dirac lecturing.

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Filed under: Science

The Beginning of "Regular" Electromechanical Television Broadcasting in the United States January – May 11, 1928

In January 1928, GE (General Electric) began broadcasting in Schenectady, New York as 2XB, on 790 kHz using a 24 line mechanical standard. Soon afterward the station switched to 48 lines. On May 11, 1928  began "regular" television broadcasting from a station that became WGY in Schenectady, New York. Programs were transmitted Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. By the end of 1928 over 15 stations were licensed for TV broadcasting.

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The First Television Magazine Begins Publication in London March 1928

In March 1928 Television. The World’s First Television Journal, began publication in London. (See Readings 5.5 and 5.6.)

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Filed under: Publishing, Television

John Logie Baird Demonstrates the First Mechanical Color Television Transmission July 3, 1928

The idea of using three monochrome images to produce a color image had been experimented with almost as soon as black-and-white televisions were built. On July 3, 1928 Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrated the world's first color transmission. He used scanning discs at the transmitting and receiving ends with three spirals of apertures, each spiral with filters of a different primary color; and three light sources at the receiving end, with a commutator to alternate their illumination.

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Filed under: Television

CBS September 1928

In September 1928 William S. Paley took over the failing United Independent Broadcasters network with its 16 affiliate stations and reorganized it as the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) for radio broadcasting.

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The First Broadcast of a Play by Television September 11, 1928

On September 11, 1928 W2XB, owned by General Eelectric's WGY in Schenectady, New York, televised the first dramatic program in the United States. The play broadcast was The Queen's Messenger by J. Harley Manners, "a blood and thunder play" with guns, daggers, and poison.

"There were more technicians required for special effects than there were actors. In fact, technical limitations were so great and viewing screens so small, that only the actor's individual hands or faces could be seen at one time. Three cameras were used, two for the characters and a third for obtaining images of gestures and appropriate stage props. Two assistant actors displayed their hands before this third camera whenever the occasion demanded.

"E. F.W. Alexanderson, General Electric's engineer in charge of television, remembered the presentation as "a little drama, a playlet, that was not a great work of art by any means." The director was a man brought up from New York City especially to work on the play. Everyone became very annoyed with him when he kept calling his rehearsals at 4:00 a.m.

"According to the New York Herald Tribune's article of September 11, 1928, "...Director Mortimer Stewart stood between the two television cameras that focused upon Miss Isetta Jewell, the heroine and Maurice Randall, the hero.  In front of Stewart was a television receiver in which he could at all times see the images that went out over the transmitter; and by means of a small control box he was able to control the output of pictures, cutting in one or another of the cameras and fading the image out and in.  Whether it was successfully received at any point, other than the operation installation of the General Electric Laboratory, could not immediately be ascertained. It was the general opinion among those that watched the experiment that the day of radio moving pictures was still a long, long way in the future.  Whether the present system can be brought to commercial practicability and public usefulness, remains a question."  With all its technical weaknesses, however, "The Queen's Messenger" marked the first step toward modern dramatic programs" (http://www.earlytelevision.org/queens_messenger.html, accessed 10-18-2014).

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John Logie Baird Begins the First Experimental Television Service at the German Post Office 1929 – 1930

In 1929 Scottish engineer and inventor John Logie Baird began the first experimental television service at the German Post Office using his 30 line mechanical system.  In this system sound and images were initially sent alternately, and only began to be transmitted simultaneously from 1930.

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The Relationship between Information and Thermodynamics 1929

While working at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in 1929, Austro-Hungarian physicist and inventor Leo Szilard published "Über die Entropieverminderung in einem thermodynamischen System bei Eingrffen intelligenter Wesen," Zeitschrift für Physik 53 (1929) 840-856. The paper described a theoretical model that served both as a heat engine and an information engine, establishing the relationship between thermodynamics (manipulation and transfer of energy and entropy,) and information (manipulation and transmission of bits).

Szilard was one of the first to show that "Nature seems to talk in terms of information" (Seife, Decoding the Universe, 77).

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The Expanding Universe 1929

In 1929 American astronomer, astrophysicist and cosmologist Edwin Hubble of the Mount Wilson Observatory near Pasadena, California published "A Relation Between Distance and Radial Velocity among Extra-Galactic Nebulae," Proceedings National  Academy of  Sciences, 15 (1929) 168-173. 

This was Hubble’s first paper on his discovery that the degree of redshift observed in light coming from a galaxy increased in proportion to the distance of that galaxy from the Milky Way. This became known as Hubble's law on the proportionality of distance and radial velocity of galaxies, indicating an expanding universe.

“Though only six pages in length, Hubble’s first paper on the velocity-distance relation represented a giant step in modern cosmology. . . . In place of a static picture of the cosmos, it seemed to many that the universe must be regarded as expanding, the rate of the mutual recession of its parts increasing with their relative distance” (Christianson, Edwin Hubble, Mariner of the Nebulae, 191, 188-192).

It has been said that Hubble’s discovery made as great a change in man’s conception of the universe as the Copernican revolution 400 years before.

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Filed under: Science

The First Flight Simulator 1929

In 1929 Edwin Albert Link of Binghamton, New York designed and constructed  the Link Trainer, the first flight simulator, as a safe way to teach new pilots how to fly by instruments. Link used his knowledge of pumps, valves and bellows to create a flight simulator that responded to the pilot's controls and gave an accurate reading on the included instruments.

Link Trainers became famous in World War II and were used by almost every combatant nation. The Link Company became a leader in flight simulation and training.

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A Portion of a 15th Century Medical Library for Sale in 1929 1929

In 1929 London antiquarian booksellers Maggs Bros. issued Catalogue of Medical Works from the Library of Dr. Nicholaus Pol, Born c1470; Court Physician to the Emperor Maximilian I. Maggs further characterized the 34 items offered in the catalogue as "A remarkable collection of 'Editiones principes' and other early editions of Medical Authors, Classical, Arabian, and medieval from famous early presses of France and Italy in the original Gothic Bindings executed for Dr. Pol".

The asking price for the collection—£2500, even when the pound equalled nearly $5— seems exceptionally reasonable today, considering the optimal significance and quality of the books involved.

The catalogue was bought in its entirely by the Cleveland Medical Library and it is preserved in the Howard Dittrick Medical History Center at Case Western Reserve University.

"Through a clerical error, Dr. Harvey Cushing did not receive a copy of the catalogue, but his nephew Dr. Edward H. Cushing of Cleveland did. He promptly persuaded President Vinson of Western Reserve University to cable for the collection and hold it until the Cleveland Medical Library Association could raise the money. This was soon supplied by a donor who asked to be nameless, and the collection came to rest in the Cleveland Medical Library as a memorial to Mr. Charles H. Bingham" (http://www.cwru.edu/artsci/dittrick/site2/books/pol.html, accessed 08--02-2009).

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Henry E. Bliss Develops the Bliss Bibliographic Classification 1929 – 1953

In 1929 Henry Evelyn Bliss, then Associate Librarian of the College of the City of New York, issued The Organization of Knowledge and the System of the Sciences. This work, with an introduction by philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey, was the result of decades of study of knowledge organization. Part IV was Bliss's "A Historical Survey of Systems of Knowledge," This included Bliss's critique of prior systems.

In 1933 Bliss issued The Organization of Knowledge in Libraries and the Subject-Approach to Books (New York: H.W. Wilson). This work applied ideas developed more academically in his 1929 work to specific problems in modern libraries.

In 1935 Bliss extended his previous research with A System of Bibliographic Classification (New York: H.W. Wilson) in which he outlined his proposed system in detail.

Between 1940 and 1953 Bliss published his full library classification system, as A Bibliographic Classification, Extended by Systematic Auxiliary Schedules for Composite Specification (4 vols. New York: H.W. Wilson). The system was mainly adapted by various British libraries who belong to the Bliss Classification Association.

"What is the Bibliographic Classification?

The Bibliographic Classification (BC2 or Bliss) is the leading example of a fully faceted classification scheme. It provides a detailed classification for use in libraries and information services of all kinds, having a broad and detailed structure and order.

The vocabulary in each class is comprehensive and complemented by an exceptionally brief faceted notation considering the detail available, providing indexing to any depth the classifier wishes.

The structure of the subject within each class is clearly and simply laid out with rules provided for the quick and consistent placing of any item. A thorough A-Z index is provided in each volume. Users can access a subject catalogue record via any part of the whole, depending upon the primary interest of the user.


The Classification (known as BC) was originally devised by Henry Evelyn Bliss and was first published in four volumes in the USA between 1940 and 1953. Bliss stated that one of the purposes of the Classification was to "demonstrate that a coherent and comprehensive system, based on the logical principles of classification and consistent with the systems of science and education, may be available to services in libraries, "to aid revision ... of long established ... classifications" and to provide an "adaptable, efficient and economical classification, notation and index." A fundamental principle is the idea of subordination - each specific subject is subordinated to the appropriate general one. This version of the classification is now known as BC1.

BC1 was first applied in broad outline at the College of the City of New York (where Bliss was librarian) in 1902. The full scheme followed the publication of two massive theoretical works on the organization of knowledge. Its main feature was the carefully designed main class order, reflecting the Comptean principle of gradation in speciality. Work on a radical revision of BC1, incorporating the great advances in logical facet analysis initiated by Ranganathan and developed by the Classification Research Group in Britain, began in the early 1970s" (http://www.blissclassification.org.uk/bchist.shtml, accessed 08-21-2016).

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Bruce Rogers Creates Monotype Centaur August 1929

In 1929 American book designer and typographer Bruce Rogers, then on a sojourn in London, and the Lanston Monotype Corporation of London first published the Centaur types, and and new cutting of the Arrighi Italic types designed by Frederick Warde in a 14-page small folio type specimen printing of a text by Alfred W. Pollard entitled The Trained Printer and the Amateur: and the Pleasure of Small Books. To this brief text Rogers prefixed a "Printer's Note." Pollard's essay was followed by type specimens of Centaur from 72 point to 10 point. The cover in 72 point Centaur read: New Series of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers and the Arrighi Italics of Frederick Warde. Cut by Monotype and here first used to print a paper by Alfred W. Pollard.

Regarding the development of Centaur Rogers wrote in his "Printer's Note":

"The type known as 'Montaigne,' for which I had been largely responsible, had met his [Pollard's] warm approbation; for in those days we all liked heavier and cruder types than our reconsideration of the matter now leads some of us to prefer. It may be that I reacted earlier than most from the types made popular in the nineties by the so-called revival of printing; at any rate the Montaigne type soon seemed to me unsatisfactory, and I began to consider means for improving upon it; but for one reason or another it was nearly ten years later that actual work upon a refinement of it was accomplished, in the type which is now known as 'Centaur.'

"In the meantime I had had the good fortune to come into possession of a copy of Jenson's 'Eusebius' of 1470, supposedly the first of the folios printed in his Roman letter, and the only one I have ever seen in which his type appears in all its delicate crispness of cutting and casting—a marvel of accuracy for those times.

"When portions of the clearest page in my copy were enlarged to about five times the original size I was at once struck by the pen-like characteristics of the lower-case letters; so with a flat pen cut to the width of the heavier lines, I wrote on the photographic print as rapidly as I could, thus preserving the proportions, at least, of Jenson's own characters. Being but an indifferent calligrapher many of my letters were rather crudely done, but I selected those that seemed to be the most successful and touched them up somewhat with pen and brush; and these, with capitals drawn with a pointed pen over photographs of the originals, served as models for the first cutting of the Centaur type.

"The close approximation to Jenson's type attained by these means leads me to hazard the theory that Jenson, having been director of the mint at Tours, was probably quite conversant with the roman capital forms; but when he embarked in the printing business at Venice and needed a model for his lower-case letters he selected what seemed to him the finest humanistic writing at hand and copied it as faithfully as possible with graver and punch.

"It will be seen that no claim for originality can be put forward for my type; neither is it an accurate reproduction of Jenson's letter. Having no reputation to maintain as a designer of type I have endeavoured only to produce a clear and legible letter that may be used in printing either ancient or modern works without attracting undue attention to itself."

Besides the specimen in printed wrappers, Rogers also issued a few copies in a buckram binding with a special gilt Centaur design and the letters "Centaur & Arrighi" stamped on the upper cover. The copy of that version in my library has the original printed wrappers of the regular specimen bound in.

Using his Centaur types during his London sojourn Rogers designed two of his greatest masterpieces: the T. E. Lawrence translation of Homer's Odyssey printed by Emery Walker Ltd in 1932, and the Oxford Lectern Bible (1935).

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