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

1930 to 1940 Timeline


The Contributions of Vannevar Bush to Analog Computing, Information Retrieval, and the Concept of Hypertext 1930 – June 1949

American engineer and information visionary Vannevar Bush's work related to the history of information began at MIT in 1930 with the differential analyzer, a large analog computer more accurate than previous devices of this type. Bush's primary paper about this machine was: Bush,V. & Hazen, H., "The Differential Analyzer. A New Machine for Solving Differential Equations," Journal of the Franklin Institute 212 (1931) 447-88. In July 2014 three-dimensional computer graphic images visualizing the Bush differential analyzer were available from the MIT website at this link.

By 1936 Bush was working on the Rapid Arithmetical Machine Project. In a paper called "Instrumental Analysis" publshed in Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society 42  (1936) pp. 649-69, he suggested how an electromechanical machine might be built to accomplish Charles Babbage’s goals for the Analytical Engine. This was almost exactly one hundred years after Babbage began designing his Analytical Engine. In the same paper Bush wrote that four billion punched cards were being used annually in electric tabulating machines. This amounted to ten thousand tons of punched cards.

On March 7, 1940 Bush wrote a memorandum entitled “Arithmetical Machine.” This memorandum, shows that the Rapid Arithmetical Machine Project begun conceptually in 1936 was already well-advanced. However, Bush continued to focus most of his computational energy on building the Rockefeller Differential Analyzer II, a 100 ton analog machine that included 2000 vacuum tubes and 150 electric motors that was more accurate and faster than the first Differential Analyzer. It contained two thousand vacuum tubes and weighed about one hundred thousand pounds. For security reasons its existence was not publicized until October 1945.

Bush published a popular description of the aims of his Rapid Selector information retrieval machine in his 1945 article, As We May Think, which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 176, No. 1 (1945) 641-49. This paper described the Memex, an electromechanical microfilm machine, which Bush began developing conceptually in 1938. As conceived, the Memex was capable of making permanent associative links in information. Features of the hypothetical Memex foreshadowed aspects of the personal computer and hyperlinks on the Internet. Bush was unable to patent his Rapid Selector because of its similarity to aspects of prior work on electronic document retrieval previously patented by Emanuel Goldberg.

On September 10, 1945 Bush published a condensed, illustrated version of "As We May Think" in Life magazine, 19, No. 11 (1945) 112-114, 116, 121, 123-24. Life's editors added the following subtitle: "A Top U.S. Scientist Foresees a Possible Future World in Which Man-Made Machines Will Start to Think." They also replaced the Atlantic Monthly's numbered sections with headings, and added illustrations of the "cyclops camera," the "supersecretary" and the "Memex" microfilm machine in the form of a desk. This was the first published illustration of what the Memex might look like. In From Memex to Hypertext: Vannever Bush and the Mind's Machine (1991) James Nyce and Paul Kahn published a version of "As We May Think" that shows the differences between the two different versions of Bush's essay published in 1945. Nyce and Kahn also developed a brief animated film showing how the Memex might have operated. Bush, himself, never seems to have developed a working version of the machine, though his group worked on a prototype.

In August 1947 Ralph R. Shaw, Director of Libraries for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with Engineering Research Associates of St. Paul, Minnesota, using funds provided by the Office of Technical Services of the Department of Commerce, began the development of the Rapid Selector machine for the electronic searching of information recorded in reels of microfilm. Shaw's device incorporated technology developed by Emanuel Goldberg in 1928-1931, and by Bush starting in 1938. Shaw's Rapid Selector was an attempt to realize goals described in Bush's 1945 publication, As We May Think. Shaw's machine

"was based on the earlier prototype developed from 1938 to 1940 by a team at MIT under Bush's direction. The project manager for the Bush prototype was John H. Howard and the research assistants were Russell C. Coile, John Coombs, Claude Shannon, and Lawrence Steinhardt. Eastman Kodak and National Cash Register each provided $10,000 funding. The project's objective was to develop, within two years, a prototype machine capable of selecting microfilmed business records from microfilm rapidly: A microfilm rapid selector. Bush's selector was indeed rapid because it took advantage of two new developments: Improved photoelectric cell technology; and the stroboscopic lamp pioneered by his colleague Harold E. Edgerton. By creating a bright flash of light lasting only one-millionth of a second, the stroboscopic lamp made it possible to copy a selected microfilm image "on the fly," without stopping the film (and the search) to make a copy. The Bush microfilm selector was never used operationally, except that it seems to have been used for cryptanalysis: It was, after all, designed to be effective at identifying (selecting) every occurrence of a specified code" (http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~buckland/goldbush.html, accessed 02-20-2012).

Until December 2013 I was never able to find any truly detailed information on the version of the Rapid Selector built after World War II. I did learn that in 1951 physicist Louis N. Ridenour, librarian, inventor and publisher Ralph R. Shaw, and physicist Albert G. Hill published a thin volume entitled Bibliography in an Age of Science. This book included three lectures delivered at the University of Illinois the previous year, one of which described the Rapid Selector which had been built under Shaw's supervision, asserting that it did operate. This work I came across several years after publishing Origins of Cyberspace and From Gutenberg to the Internet. Shaw's chapter included illustrations on pp. 60-61 of the Rapid Selector prototype which was in operation at this time. This machine stored 72,000 frames of information on a 2,000 foot reel of film. The prototype could search through data at the rate of 78,000 "codes per minute." "Improvement of this searching speed to 120,000 codes per minute is now in sight."

However, further information about Shaw's Rapid Selector in use eluded me for several more years, and I wondered whether it really operated like Shaw claimed. In December 2011 I acquired a copy of Roberto Busa's Varia specimina condordantiarum (Milano, 1951). This bi-lingual work with texts in English and Italian was subtitled, "A First Example of Word Index Automatically Compiled and Printed by IBM Punched Card Machines." Before deciding to employ IBM electric punched card tabulators to produce his concordance Father Busa took the opportunity to see the Rapid Selector in operation at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. He wrote that he was able to see it operating in November 1949, and that:

"Its principal feature is the whirlwiind speed with which it explores the reels of microfilm— 10,000 photograms per minute— and instantaneously rephotographs on another microfilm strip all and only those photograms which bear a determined item.

"I shall not give a detailed description because I thought not suitable to apply this system to the composition of concordances; I will only say that, besides not allowing automatic printing of the concordances, such as can be done with the system hereunder, the rapid selector necessitates on the one hand that all the cards, to be made from the sorted microfilm, be of photosensitive paper, and on the other hand all the different words and forms of each word be previously coded, for the entire text must be translated into numerical symbols by hand" (Busa, op cit, 22.)

Then in December 2013 I discovered that the Hathi Trust had digitized and made available Report for the Microfilm Rapid Selector. Contract Cac-47-24. 20 June 1949 published by Engineering Research Associates. This 29-page report with 11 illustrations provided all the detail that one might desire concerning the design and characteristics of the machine, without providing information concerning its efficiency or utility. From the Foreword I quote:

"The incentive for this development arose form a basic need for a more efficient mechanism for organization and dissemination of scientific information. The facilities of the Department of Agriculture Library and the specialized experience of its Librarian and staff fitted the requirement for a testing agency equipped to handle varied categories of technical data in large volumes. Hence, the project developed cooperatively between the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and Engineering Research Associates, Inc.. Specifications for a system meeting the requirements were drawn up by ERA in August, 1947, under the title "General Description and Proposed Technical Specifications for Microfilm Selector'. In general, the machine developed meets the goals set up in that document.

"In brief, the system provides for microfilm storage of abstracts and corresponding code areas by which each abstract may be associated with six different fields of interest. The Microfilm Selector scans the film at the rate of more that 10,000 frames per minute which may correspond to as many as 60,000 subjects per minute. It selects all abstracts which are associated with an interest category specified by the operator, and recopies the selected items on a separate roll of 35mm film by the use of high-speed photoflash techniques. (p. ii)

"Report-Microfilm Rapid Selector

 "This machine is similar in basic concept to a prior experimental development known as the Bush Rapid Selector which was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940. Several memebers of the ERA staff were engaged in this earlier development, and it was possible to utilize their experience as a starting point in the present project.

"The intent of the original contract (which was to have been concluded by 30 June 1948) was toward the construction of a pilot machine to demonstrate the principles involved. In recognition of the immediate needs of the Department of Commerce Library, however, and as evidence of ERA's special interest in the development, it was decided to continue the work beyond the term and scope of the original contract, at the Contractor's own expense. Thus it was possible to complete a practical working machine which would fully demonstrate the possibilities of the system. The resulting Microfilm Selector (completed 25 January 1949) goes well beyond the requirements of an experimental model; it is, in fact, a close approach to an engineering model.

"At the present time, the Microfilm Selector has not yet been subjected to thorough performance tests. On the basis of preliminary tests, howover, it is considered that all of the important components have been proved fundamentally sound. It would be very surprising if the intitial period of use did not reveal some weaknesses in design and construction, but there is every reason to believe that such faults will be minor in character, and capable of correction without extensive rebuilding or further development." (p. iii).

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2002) no. 244, and other entries.

(This entry was last revised on 01-11-2015.)

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Jacques Herbrand Proves the Deduction Theorem 1930

In his doctoral thesis, Recherches sur la théorie de la démonstration, printed in Warsaw, Poland, in 1930 French mathematician Jacques Herbrand, a student at the École normale supérieure in Paris proved "the deduction theorem." 

 “The main product of Herbrand’s short life (he died in a skiing accident [at the age of 23]) was his thesis, in which he found two ways of proving that tautologies are provable. One was based upon a means of matching any quantified formula with a quantifier-free mate and proving that each was derivable; it reversed the handling of quantifications in Principia mathematica, *9, and also its systematic application in the second edition. The other method drew on model theory and normal forms, as developed by Leopold Löwenheim and Thoraf Skolem. A highlight was a result which became known as ‘the deduction theorem’; it took the form that if the premises of a theory were stated as a single conjunction H, then a proposition P was true within it if and only if ‘H ∩ P be a propositional identity’ . . . In effect though not in intention, he clarified some of Bertrand Russell’s conflations and implication and inference, and also removed a standard sloppiness among mathematicians when (not) relating a proof to its theorem. While several proofs were unclear and even defective, the thesis inspired important new lines of research” (Grattan-Guinness, The Search for Mathematical Roots 1870-1940 [2000] 550).

Van Heijenoort, From Frege to Gödel. A Source Book in Mathematical Logic (1967) 525-81.

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Filed under: Mathematics / Logic

Hundreds of Thousands of Wind Turbines Power Farms in the U.S. Circa 1930 – 1945

"In the 1930s and 1940s, hundreds of thousands of electricity-producing wind turbines were built in the U.S. Just like wind turbines today, they had two or three thin blades, which rotated at high speeds to drive electrical generators. These wind turbines provided electricity to farms beyond the reach of power lines and were typically used to charge storage batteries, operate radios and power a few lights" (Michigan renewable energy, accessed 04-20-2009).

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Bob Brown: Visionary of New Reading Machines and Changes in the Process of Reading 1930 – 1931

In 1930 prolific American avant-garde writer Bob Brown (Robert Carlton Brown), published an essay entitled "The Readies" in the international avant-garde journal transition issued from Paris, no. 19/20, 167-73, calling for a new reading machine, and new reading material for it called "The Readies."  Brown intended these innovations as ways for literature to keep up with the advanced reading practices of a cinema-viewing public, as epitomized in the then new expression for sound films, "the talkies." The first feature film originally presented as a talkie had been The Jazz Singer, released in October 1927. 

"The word 'readies' suggests to me a moving type spectacle, reading at the speed rate of the day with the aid of a machine, a method of enjoying literature in a manner as up-to-date as the lively talkes. In selecting the "The Readies' as title for what I have to say about modern reading and writing I hope to catch the reader in a receptive progressive mood. I ask him to forget for the moment the existing medievalism of the BOOK (God bless it, it's staggering on its last leg and about to fall) as a conveyer of reading matter. I request the reader to fix his mental eye for a moment on the ever-present future and contemplate a reading machine which will revitalize this interest in the Optical Art of Wrting.

"In our aeroplane age radio is rushing in television, tomorrow it will be commonplace. All the arts are having their faces lifted, painting (the moderns), sculpture (Brancusi), music (Antheil), architecture (zoning law), drama (Strange Interlude), dancing (just look around you tonight) writing (Joyce, Stein, Cummings, Hemingway, transition). Only the reading half of Literature lags behind, stays old-fashioned, frumpish, beskirted. Present-day reading methods are as cumbersone as they were in the time of Caxton and Jimmy-the-Ink. Though we have advanced from Gutenberg's movable type through the linotype and monotype to photo-composing we still consult the book in its original form as the only oracular means we know for carrying the word mystically to the eye. Writing as been bottled up in books since the start. It is time to pull out the stopper.

"To continue reading at today's speed I must have a machine. A simple reading machine which I can carry or move around and attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred thousand word novels in ten minutes if I want to, and I want to. A machine as handy as a portable phonograph, typewriter or radio, compact, minute operated by electricity, the printing done microscopically by the new photographic process on a transparent tough tissue roll which carries the contents of a book and is no bigger than a typewriter ribbon, a roll like a minature serpentine that can be put in a pill box. This reading film unrolls beneath a narrow magnifying glass four or give inches long set in a reading slit, the glass brings up the otherwise unreadable type to comfortable reading size, and the read is rid at last of the cumbersome book, the inconvenience of holding its bulk, turning its pages, keeping them clean, jiggling hs weary eyes back and forth in the awkward pursuit of words from the upper left hand corner to the lower right, all over the vast confusing reading surface of a page. . . .

"My machine is equipped with controls so the reading record can be turned back or shot ahead, a chapter read or the happy ending anticipated. The magnifying glass is so set that it can be moved nearer to or father from the type, so the reader may browse in 6 points, 8, 10, 12, 16 or any size that suits him. Many books remain unread today owing to the unsuitable size of type in which they are printed. A number of readers cannot stand the strain of small type and other intellectual prowlers are offended by Great Primer. The reading machine allows free choice in type-point, it is not a fixed arbitrary bound object but an adaptable carrier of flexible, flowing reading matter. . . .

"The machine is equipped with all modern improvements. By pressing a button the roll slows down so an interesting part can be read lesurely, over and over again if need be, or by speeding up, a dozen books can skimmed through in an afternoon without soiling the fingers or losing a dust wrapper. . . .

"The material advantages of my reading machine are obvious, paper saving by condensation and elimination of waste margin space which alone takes up a fifth or sixth of the bulk of the present-day book. Ink saving in proportion, a much smaller surface needs to be covered. . . Binding will be unnecessary, paper pill boxes are produced at the fraction of the cost of cloth cases. Manual labor will be minimized. Reading will be cheap and independent of advertising which today carries the cost of the cheap reading matter purveyed exclusively in the interests of the advertiser" (167-69).

Brown also intended his device as one way of achieving "The Revolution of the Word," as called for in the manifesto published in issue 16/17 of transition by its editor Eugene Jolas in 1929. Later in 1930 Brown privately published a 52-page pamphlet entitled The Readies in an edition of 150 or 300 copies. The imprint of the pamphlet read Bad Ems: Roving Eye Press. (It is possible that the publishing location was a joke.) The pamphlet represented an expansion with examples given, of Brown's essay from transition, a revised version of which it republished as chapter 3.

Written before anyone imagined electronic computers, and even longer before anyone imagined a hand-held electronic computer, one goal of Brown's vision of new media for reading was saving space, paper and ink through media more compact than traditional printed books. Though he could not foresee how the changes would actually occur, he was also an extremely early predictor of changes to the traditional codex book that would occur sixty years later with electronic publishing. In the pre-electronic computer era Brown, like Emanuel Goldberg and Vannevar Bush, saw the future of of information primarily in the context of film and microfilm, and in developing more verbally compact means of communication. While Goldberg and Bush were focussed on developing more efficient means of information storage and retrieval, Brown was focussed on the creative aspects of new writing and new forms of communication with the reader:

"This important manifesto, on a par with André Breton's Surrealist manifestos or Tristan Tzara's Dadaist declarations, includes plans for an electric reading machine and strategies for preparing the eye for mechanized reading. There are instructions for preparing texts as “readies” and detailed quantitative explanations about the invention and mechanisms involved in this peculiar machine.

"In the generic spirit of avant-garde manifestos, Brown writes with enthusiastic hyperbole about the machine's breathtaking potential to change how we read and learn. In 1930, the beaming out of printed text over radio waves or in televised images had a science fiction quality—or, for the avant-garde, a fanciful art-stunt feel. Today, Brown’s research on reading seems remarkably prescient in light of text-messaging (with its abbreviated language), electronic text readers, and even online books like the digital edition of this volume. Brown's practical plans for his reading machine, and his descriptions of its meaning and implications for reading in general, were at least fifty years ahead of their time.  . . .

"Brown’s reading machine was designed to 'unroll a televistic readie film' in the style of modernist experiments; the design also followed the changes in reading practices during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Gertrude Stein understood that Brown’s machine, as well as his processed texts for it, suggested a shift toward a different way to comprehend texts. That is, the mechanism of this book, a type of book explicitly built to resemble reading mechanisms like ticker-tape machines rather than a codex, produced—at least for Stein—specific changes in reading practices.  

"In Brown’s Readie, punctuation marks become visual analogies. For movement we see em-dashes (—) that also, by definition, indicate that the sentence was interrupted or cut short. These created a 'cinemovietone' shorthand system. The old uses of punctuation, such as employment of periods to mark the end of a sentence, disappear. Reading machine-mediated text becomes more like watching a continuous series of flickering frames become a movie" (Afterward from: The Readies, edited with an Afterward by Craig Saper, Houston: Rice University Press,[2009] accessed 05-23-2010).

After Brown published The Readies authors in the transition circle sent  him pieces intended for publication on the hypothetical machine. In 1931 he self-published these as a 208-page book, Readies for Bob Brown's Machine, in an edition of 300 copies also from the Roving Eye Press, but this time from Cagnes-sur-mer. That work, which contained contributions by 42 authors including Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and Paul Bowle's first appearance in a book, contained two crude illustrations of a prototype of Brown's reading machine — a wooden contraption that hardly embodied machine-age sleekness; part of it looked a bit like a waffle iron. It is unclear whether Brown's machine ever operated; probably it did not. What matters more are Brown's futuristic ideas.


♦ Following the "all digital" policy of Rice University Press since it was re-organized in 2006, the Rice edition of The Readies was available as a free download from their website, or as print-on-demand from QOOP.com. When I clicked on the purchase button on 05-23-2010, I was given the following purchase options at QOOP.com:

"+Hard Bound Laminate for $25.85

"+Hard Bound - Dust Jacket for $32.35

"+Wire-O for $16.00

"+eBook for $7.00."

♦ When I attempted to access QOOP.com in June 2013 it appeared that the site had closed down. An electronic version of Bob Brown's The Readies was then freely available at Connexions (cnx.org).

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R. A. Fisher's "The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection" 1930

The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection published at Oxford in 1930 by English statistician, evolutionary biologist, geneticist, and eugenicist Ronald A. Fisher, developed ideas on sexual selection, mimicry and the evolution of dominance.

"He famously showed that the probability of a mutation increasing the fitness of an organism decreases proportionately with the magnitude of the mutation. He also proved that larger populations carry more variation so that they have a larger chance of survival. It was in this book that he set forth the foundations of what was to become known as population genetics. Fisher's book also had a major influence on the evolutionary biologist W. D. Hamilton and the development of his later theories on the genetic basis for the existence of kin selection.

"Fisher had a long and successful collaboration with E.B. Ford in the field of ecological genetics. The outcome of this work was the general recognition that the force of natural selection was often much stronger than had been appreciated before, and that many ecogenetic situations (such as polymorphism) were not selectively neutral, but were maintained by the force of selection. Fisher was the original author of the idea of heterozygote advantage, which was later found to play a frequent role in genetic polymorphism. The discovery of indisputable cases of natural selection in nature was one of the main strands in the modern evolutionary synthesis" (Wikipedia article on Ronald Fisher, accessed 12-21-2013).

Fisher issued a second, slightly revised edition of the work in 1958. In 1999 The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection. A Complete Variorum Edition edited by Henry Bennett was published by Oxford University Press, reprinting the original 1930 text with footnotes added showing where changes were made in 1958, and with editorial notes and an annotated bibliography of papers by Fisher on topics related to The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection. 

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Statistical Quality Control in Manufacturing is Conceptualized and Introduced by Shewhart and Deming April 1930 – 1950

"Economic Quality Control of Manufactured Product, published by American physicist, engineer and statistician Walter Andrew Shewhart of Bell Labs in "Bell System Technical Journal IX, No. 2 (April, 1930) 364-89, and its expansion in book form entitled Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product issued by Shewhart in 1931, represent the first publications on statistical quality control in manufacturing. 

"Shewhart framed the problem in terms of assignable-cause and chance-cause variation and introduced the control chart as a tool for distinguishing between the two. Shewhart stressed that bringing a production process into a state of statistical control, where there is only chance-cause variation, and keeping it in control, is necessary to predict future output and to manage a process economically. Dr. Shewhart created the basis for the control chart and the concept of a state of statistical control by carefully designed experiments. While Dr. Shewhart drew from pure mathematical statistical theories, he understood data from physical processes never produce a 'normal distribution curve' (a Gaussian distribution, also commonly referred to as a 'bell curve'). He discovered that observed variation in manufacturing data did not always behave the same way as data in nature (Brownian motion of particles). Dr. Shewhart concluded that while every process displays variation, some processes display controlled variation that is natural to the process, while others display uncontrolled variation that is not present in the process causal system at all times" (Wikipedia article on Walter A. Shewhart, accessed 01-08-2013). 

In 1939 Shewhart issued Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control . . . With the editorial assistance of W. Edwards Deming. Strangely the book was published in Washington, D.C. by The Graduate School of the Department of Agriculture.  Shewhart and Deming's book was the first work to extend the principles of statistical quality control in industry to the wider realms of science and statistical inference. Shewhart “extended the applications of statistical process control to the measurement processes of science, and stressed the importance of operational definitions of basic quantities in science, industry and commerce . . . [Statistical Method] has profoundly influenced statistical methods of research in the behavioral, biological, and physical sciences, and in engineering” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).

Shewhart’s long and fruitful collaboration with the physicist, statistician and consultant W. Edwards Deming began in 1938. It involved work on productivity during World War II and Deming’s championship of Shewhart’s ideas in Japan from 1950 onwards, which was “the catalyst that gave birth to Japan’s industrial efficiency and emphasis on highest attainable quality of manufactured products” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). Only after Japan successfully adopted Deming's ideas, and set higher standards for manufacturing, did competition motivate American manufacturers to aggressively implement statistical quality control in the United States.

In July 2014 a 21-minute radio interview with Deming was available from the Internet Archive at this link. Thanks to John F. Ptak for this reference.

(This entry was last revised on 07-03-2014).

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Foundation of Texas Instruments May 16, 1930

On May 16, 1930 John Clarence Karcher and Eugene McDermott founded Geophysical Service in Newark, New Jersey. This was the origin of Texas Instruments, which would become a key producer of integrated circuits and other electronic components. Geophysical Service was the first independent contractor specializing in the reflection seismograph method of exploration of oil fields in Texas.

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Godel's Incompleteness Theorems 1931

In 1931 Austrian logician, mathematician and philosopher Kurt Gödel published while in Vienna Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der "Principia Mathematica" und verwandter Systeme (called in English "On Formally Undecidable Propositions of 'Principia Mathematica' and Related Systems"). That article dated November 17, 1930, which first appeared in the 1931 volume of Monatshefte für Mathematik, contained Godel's first and second incompleteness theorems

van Heijenoort, ed. From Frege to Gödel: A Source Book on Mathematical Logic 1879–1931 (1967) 592-617.

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The IBM 601 Multiplying Punch 1931

In 1931 IBM of Endicott, New York began manufacture of the 601 multiplying punch.

"It read two factors up to eight decimal digits in length from a card and punched their product onto a blank field of the same card. It could subtract and add as well as multiply. It had no printing capacity, so was generally used as an offline assistant for a tabulator or accounting machine."

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The First Commercially Successful Ballpoint Pen 1931 – June 15, 1938

In 1931 Lázló Biró, a Hungarian newspaper editor frustrated by the amount of time wasted filling up fountain pens and cleaning up smudged pages, noticed that the ink used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge-free. He tried using the same ink in a fountain pen but found that it would not flow into the tip, as it was too viscous. Working with his brother Georg, a chemist, Biró developed a new tip consisting of a tiny ball that was free to turn in a socket, which would pick up ink from a cartridge as it turned, and then roll to deposit it on the paper. He presented the first production of the ball pen at the Budapest International Fair in 1931, and patented it in Paris in 1938. This was the first commercially successful ballpoint pen, still known in England as a "Biro."

"Earlier pens leaked or clogged due to improper viscosity of the ink, and depended on gravity to deliver the ink to the ball. Depending on gravity caused difficulties with the flow and required that the pen be held nearly vertically. The Biro pen both pressurized the ink column and used capillary action for ink delivery, solving the flow problems."

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The First "Talking-Books" 1931

In 1931 the U. S. Congress established the talking-book program, intended to help blind adults who couldn’t read print.

This program was called "Books for the Adult Blind Project." The American Foundation for the Blind developed the first talking books in 1932. One year later the first reproduction machine began the process of mass publishing talking books.

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Wright's Quantitative Theory of the Effects of Natural Selection on Populations 1931

In 1931 American geneticist Sewall Wright at the University of Chicago published "Evolution in Mendelian Populations," Genetics 16 (1931) 97-159. This was the first detailed presentation of Wright's quantitative theory of the effects of mutation, migration, selection, and population size on changes in gene frequencies in populations. Together with R. A. Fisher and J.B.S. Haldane, Wright blended the science of population genetics with Darwin's theory of natural selection to create what was known as the modern evolutionary synthesis.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 253.1.

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"The Inborn Factors in Disease" 1931

In 1931 English physician Archibald Garrod, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, issued The Inborn Factors in Disease from Oxford at the Clarendon Press. The result of his continuing researches on what he previously designated as Inborn Errors of MetabolismGarrod argued that chemical individuality could result in individuals having a predisposition to certain diseases. This concept, which Garrod initially called diathesis, he regarded an an inherited predisposition expressed as chemical individuality in forms more subtle than those so obvious in the inborn errors of metabolism. This view was later much appreciated with the development of recominbant DNA methods to identify inherited genetic defects.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 253.2.

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The First Studies of Proteins by X-Ray Analysis 1931

In 1931 English physicist and molecular biologist at the University of Leeds William Astbury, a student of William Lawrence Bragg, was the first to study proteins by X-ray analysis. He applied X-ray analysis to the structure of hair, wool, and related fibers, of which the protein keratin is the principal component, and identified two states: α-keratin and β-keratin.

"At Leeds Astbury studied the properties of fibrous substances such as keratin and collagen with funding from the textile industry. (Wool is made of keratin.) These substances did not produce sharp patterns of spots like crystals, but the patterns provided physical limits on any proposed structures. In the early 1930s, Astbury showed that there were drastic changes in the diffraction of moist wool or hair fibres as they are stretched significantly (100%). The data suggested that the unstretched fibres had a coiled molecular structure with a characteristic repeat of 5.1 Å (=0.51 nm). Astbury proposed that (1) the unstretched protein molecules formed a helix (which he called the α-form); and (2) the stretching caused the helix to uncoil, forming an extended state (which he called the β-form). Although incorrect in their details, Astbury's models were correct in essence and correspond to modern elements of secondary structure, the α-helix and the β-strand (Astbury's nomenclature was kept), which were developed twenty years later by Linus Pauling and Robert Corey in 1951. Hans Neurath was the first to show that Astbury's models could not be correct in detail, because they involved clashes of atoms. Interestingly, Neurath's paper and Astbury's data inspired H. S. Taylor (1941,1942) and Maurice Huggins (1943) to propose models of keratin that are very close to the modern α-helix.

"In 1931, Astbury was also the first to propose that mainchain-mainchain hydrogen bonds (i.e., hydrogen bonds between the backbone amide groups) contributed to stabilizing protein structures. His initial insight was taken up enthusiastically by several researchers, including Linus Pauling" (Wikipedia article William Astbury, accessed 01-16-2014).

W. T. Astbury and A. Street, "X-ray Studies of the Structures of Hair, Wool, and Related Fibres. I. General," Philosophical Transactions, Series A, 230 (1932), 75-101.

Tanford & Reynolds, Nature's Robots, 80-81. 

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Pauling's Six Rules for the Shared Electron Bond 1931

In 1931 American chemist and biochemist Linus Pauling at Caltech presented six rules for the shared electron bond:

"The first three, restatements of Lewis's, Heitler's, and London's, and his own earlier work, noted that the electron-pair bond was formed through the interaction of an unpaired electron on each of two atoms; that the spins of the electrons had to be opposed; and that once paired, the two electrons could not take part in additional bonds. His last three rules were new. One stated that the electron-exchange terms for the bond involved only one wave function from each atom; another, that available electrons in the lowest energy levels would form the strongest bonds. Pauling's final rule asserted that of two orbitals in an atom, the one that could overlap the most with an orbital from another atom would form the strongest bond and that the bond would tend to lie in the direction of that concentrated orbital. This allowed the prediction and calculation of bond angles and molecular structures.

"Appropriately for his audience of mathematics-shy chemists, Pauling did not present lengthy mathematical proofs of his rules, for, as he wrote in the paper, "even the formal justification of the electron-pair bond in the simplest cases. . . requires a formidable array of symbols and equations." But he outlined the way others could work through the proofs and presented a number of examples of his reasoning at work.

"From the principles of quantum mechanics he was now able to derive everything from the strengths and arrangements of bonds to a complete theory of magnetism in molecules and complex ions. Even better, using his new system Pauling was also able to predict new electronic structures and properties for atoms. Quantum mechanics, in other words, did not just confirm what was already known; it pointed the way to new insights" (http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/coll/pauling/bond/narrative/page24.html, accessed 01-16-2014).

Pauling, “The Nature of the Chemical Bond. Application of Results Obtained from the Quantum Mechanics and from a Theory of Paramagnetic Susceptibility to the Structure of Molecules,” Journal of the American Chemical Society 53 (1931) 1367-1400. In January 2014 images of Pauling's original manuscript for this paper could be downloaded from Oregon State University's Pauling website at this link

Goertzel & Goertzel, Linus Pauling, 70-77. 

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Emanuel Goldberg Invents the First Successful Electronic Document Retrieval Device December 29, 1931

On December 29, 1931 Emanuel Goldberg of Zeiss Ikon in Dresden received U.S. Patent No. 1,838,389 for a photoelectric microfilm selector which he called "Statistical Machine." Goldberg designed the machine by May 1927. The patent, applied for in 1928, and similar patents Goldberg obtained in other countries, described an electromechanical machine for searching through data encoded on reels of film, using "radiating energy to actuate a recorder when the explored indications upon the search plate and record element are identical, the indications on one of said elements being penetrable by the rays and the indication on the other element being impenetrable by the rays."

"Two prototypes were built at Zeiss Ikon by 1931 and, perhaps, constitute the first successful electronic document retrieval. Microfilm selector technology was known in at least two leading research centers in the U.S.A. (Eastman Kodak and IBM) by 1931 or shortly thereafter and in both cases a direct connection to Goldberg can be shown. This technology was reported at international congresses in 1931 and 1935 and a number of U.S. inventors were working on it by 1938 (e.g. Bryce, H. Davis, Gould, and Morse)" (http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~buckland/goldbush.html, accessed 02-20-2012).

Vannevar Bush incorporated technology similar to this in the Rapid Selector machine on which he began development in 1938. The existence of Goldberg's patent prevented Bush from patenting his Rapid Selector, that came to be known as the Memex. Bush's Memex became famous conceptually after publication in 1945 of his article, "As We May Think." 

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Public Television Broadcasting Begins in England 1932

In 1932 the BBC began public television broadcasting in England. By 1935 the transmissions reached only the 2000 homes with television sets within a 35-mile range of the Alexandria Palace transmitting station. Each TV set cost £100—then roughly the cost of a small car.

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Filed under: Television

Marinetti's Metal Book: "Parole in Liberta . . ." 1932

Five years after Fortunato Depero issued his sensational Depero futurista, a "mechanical" book full of futurist poetry and graphics that featured a binding held together with two machined bolts, in 1932 Italian poet and editor Filippo Tommaso Marinetti introduced his definitive model of the mechanical book, Parole in libertà: olfattive, tattili, termichea collection of his poetry, designed by futurist artist Tullio Mazzoti, better known by his pseudonym, Tullio d'Albisola, and produced by industrialist Vincenzo Nosenzo. Nosenzo owned a tin can factory in Zinola, a suburb of Savona, and had perfected and patented a method of lithographing on tin, called "lito-latta," the English translation of which would be "lithotin." Publication was shared by Nosenzo's firm, Lito-Latta in Savona (Nosenzo's imprint), which was responsible for the book's production, and Marinetti's Futurist publishing house "Poesia" in Rome. Thus, while Depero's book was printed on paper, Marinetti's book was printed entirely on tin sheets, reflective of the materials and textures of the Machine Age. It was also intended to be an imperishable book. The book's content was also innovative, as Marinetti introduced new references between words and physical interaction with olfactory, tactile, and thermal sensations.

Copies of Marinetti's metal book weigh 852 grams, not including the slipcase. Though dimensions apparently vary from copy to copy, its 15 sheets of tin are typically 24 x 24 centimeters, bound with a tubular aluminum spine, on which they rotate on metal wire spindles attached at head and foot—a feat of book engineering credited to Nosenzo. The tin leaves are extremely thin (no more than 1 mm each), and to prevent cuts they are very slightly folded on their edges.

"Notwithstanding its unusual components and the originality of Tullio's design, the Metal Book features all the elements we expect to find in a book. It has a front and a back cover, the front cover doubling as a title page; three preliminary 'leaves,' including copyright page, frontispiece, and dedication page (not necessarily found in this order from copy to copy); a body of text, comprising nine leaves printed on both sides; and an advertisement and table of contents at the end. None of the 28 'pages' is paginated" (Vincent Giroud, Parole in Liberta. Marinetti's Metal Book. Berkeley: Codex Foundation Code(x) +2 Monograph Series No. 1, 2012).

The edition was 101 unnumbered copies, of which 50 were for sale, and the rest for presentation. "A unique copy was printed on paper, comprising a different title page (with the imprint of the Edizioni Futuriste di 'Poesi'), the copyright page, a different frontispiece portrait of Marinett (wearing his Accademia d'Italia uniform), the deication page, the nine poems as printed in the Metal Book (but without any of the typographical plates), and the table. Measuring 34 x 31.5 cm., this unicum is bound in a full red and green leather binding held together, in the manner of Depero futurista, with five bolts— one of which is now missing. Destined for Marinetti, and inscribed to him by Tullio and Nosenzo on 5 December 1932, it is now in the Beinecke Library, where a significant part of Marinetti's library now rests" (Giroud, op.cit., 20-21).  

In January 2014 digital images of Yale's complete tin copy were available from the Beinicke Library at this link.

As a companion to Giroud's study of Marinetti's Metal Book, fine printer Peter Koch and the Codex Foundation also issued in 2012, as No. 2 in the Code(x) +2 Monograph Series, a reduced-format color reproduction of the copy at Yale. The reproduction is entirely printed on black paper to emphasize the metallic aspects. This also reproduces the very rare slipcase, missing from some copies. In my opinion Giroud's 22-page essay, and its companion reproduction, are among the most interesting studies of an individual publication.

In 2009 the British Library acquired a copy of Marinetti's metal book for £83,000.

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The Times New Roman Typeface Debuts October 3, 1932

On October 3, 1932 Times New Roman, a serif typeface, made its debut in the London newspaper, The Times. Its design was supervised by typographer and typographic historian Stanley Morison of the English branch of Monotype, and drawn by Victor Lardent, an artist from the advertising department of The TimesMorison used an older font named Plantin as the basis for his design, but made revisions for legibility and economy of space. 

"The Times considers the introduction of Times New Roman in 1932 as their “greatest change in presentation” (Driver, 2009). Although they only had an exclusive usage right for one year, they stuck with the typeface for forty years. In 1972 Times New Roman was replaced by Times Europa, which was a redesign adapted to faster presses and paper of lower quality. The Times entered the computer age in 1986 with Times Roman. The computer drawn version of the original Times New Roman did not make a quality impression and was therefore replaced by Times Millennium in 1991, which was the first version that was redesigned on a computer. Times Millennium was narrower than its forerunner but allowed more white space around the letters. Times Classic followed in 2002. Seven years later, Times Modern was introduced as the new typeface for the headlines. It was the answer to less space in a smaller-sized newspaper. Hence it is a condensed face" (https://beatwicki.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/times-new-roman/, accessed 01-17-2015).

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Edwin Armstrong Invents Frequency Modulation (FM Radio) 1933 – 1936

Edwin Howard Armstrong developed wide-band frequency modulation, FM radio, which delivered clearer sound, free of static. 

Armstrong received a patent on wideband FM on December 26, 1933.

"Armstrong conducted the first large scale field tests of his FM radio technology on the 85th floor of RCA's (Radio Corporation of America) Empire State Building from May 1934 until October 1935. However RCA had its eye on television broadcasting, and chose not to buy the patents for the FM technology.  A June 17, 1936, presentation at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) headquarters made headlines nationwide. He played a jazz record over conventional AM radio, then switched to an FM broadcast. 'If the audience of 50 engineers had shut their eyes they would have believed the jazz band was in the same room. There were no extraneous sounds,' noted one reporter. He added that several engineers described the invention 'as one of the most important radio developments since the first earphone crystal sets were introduced' " (Wikipedia article on Edward Howard Armstrong, accessed 07-12-2009).

Armstrong's first paper on FM radio was "A Method of Reducing Disturbances in Radio Signaling by a System of Frequency Modulation," presented to the New York section of the Institute of Radio Engineers on November 6, 1935, and first published in Proceedings of the IRE, 24, no. 5, (1936) 689–740.

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IBM Markets the First Commercially Successful Electric Typewriter 1933

In 1933 IBM marketed the first commercially successful electric typewriter, the Electromatic.

IBM produced electric typewriters until 1990.

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Wallace J. Eckert and IBM Develop the First Machine to Perform Complex Scientific Calculations Automatically 1933 – 1934

From 1933 to 1934 Wallace J. Eckert, who would become founder and Director of the Thomas J. Watson Astronomical Computing Bureau at Columbia University (1937-40), commissioned from IBM a special model of the 601 multiplying punch that was capable of doing direct interpolation—a very unusual feature. The punch was especially designed for Eckert by one of IBM's top engineers at Endicott, New York.

Eckert connected the 601 to a Type 285 Tabulator and a Type 016 Duplicating Punch through a calculation control switch of his own design, forming the first machine to perform complex scientific computations automatically.

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Petr Petrovich Troyanskii of St. Petersburg Invents a Mechanical "Translating Machine" Circa 1933

In 1933 Russian educator and telecommunications engineer Petr Petrovich Troyanskii (Petr Petrovic Trojanskij) of St. Petersburg received a patent for a mechanical "translating machine": “a machine for selecting and typing words when translating from one language into another or several others simultaneously.” Troyanskii described an automatic bilingual dictionary, a scheme for coding interlingual grammatical roles (based on Esperanto) and an outline of how analysis and synthesis might work. However, the Russian patent office failed to understand his purposes and classified the patent as a novel method of typesetting. Troyanskii's ideas were unknown in the west until they were published in Russian during the 1950s.

"The patent submitted on 5 September 1933 describes a machine consisting of 'a smooth sloping desk, over which moving easily and freely in different directions is a belt provided with perforations which position the belt in front of an aperture' ... This broad belt was a large dictionary, with entries in six languages in parallel columns. The operator located a word of the source language and moved the belt to display in the aperture the corresponding word of the target language. The operator would then type in a code indicating the grammatical category or role of the word in question – codes that Trojanskij referred to as ‘signs for logical parsing’ – and the combination of target word and code were then photographed onto a tape. Then the next source word would be located and ‘translated’ in the same way. From a tape of the target language words in sequence, a typist would then produce a ‘coherent text’ for a reviser to substitute the correct morphological forms for each word based on the assigned codes. As a final stage a ‘literary editor’ would produce the final target text. Unlike the operator and the reviser, who needed to know only their own languages (those of the source and the target respectively), the editor would need to know both languages in order, in Trojanskij’s words, 'to extract the meaning of the translation, to choose synonyms, to polish the unevenness, i.e. to do general literary finishing' " (John Hutchins, Two precursors of machine translation: Artsrouni and Trojanskij [2004], accessed 12-28-2013.)

An earlier paper by Hutchins,  "Petr Petrovich Troyanskii (1894-1950): A forgotten pioneer of mechanical translation," Machine Translation 15 (2000) 187-221 provides more information, including translations of Troyanskii's patents and other documents concerning machine translation.

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Eugen Sänger's "Raketenflugtechnik" Expounds the Theory of What Would Become the X-Planes and the Space Shuttle 1933 – 1944

Austrian-German aerospace engineer Eugen Sänger published Raketenflugtechnik in 1933. This treatise on rocket flight engineering was Sänger's thesis for a degree in engineering, which had been rejected by the Technical University of Vienna as "too imaginative." Sänger was allowed to graduate when he submitted a more mundane thesis on the statistics of wing trusses. Raketenflugtechnik was the first study leading to the eventual development of a reusable human-piloted rocket-powered space plane, a concept which evolved into the X-planes and the space shuttle.

Sänger introduced his goals and purposes for the book as follows: 

“By rocket flight is meant here the motion of such a vehicle within the general air space, the propulsive force being provided by a rocket motor. 

“Rocket flight in the narrow sense is taken to be motion in the upper levels of the stratosphere with a speed such that inertial forces arising from the curvature of the path have a marked effect on the lift.

“This type of rocket flight is the next major development from trophospheric flight, which has been the product of the last thirty years; it is also the forerunner of space travel, the greatest technical problem of the present time.

“This forerunner and the installation of a space station* are the noblest tasks of rocketry, but for the present they are still not realizable.

“There are also several directly practical purposes to be served. Rocket flight should especially:

"1. Provide rapid intercontinental travel around the globe with the highest possible terrestrial speeds.

"2. Advance scientific research in certain fields, especially geophysics and astrophysics.

"3. If necessary provide a war weapon of exceptional power.

“These three purposes can now be reckoned as in part technically feasible. The present book is concerned with the technical basis of the realization of this first stage of rocket flight.

“* In cosmonauts’ plans this is a vehicle that revolves around the Earth outside the sensible atmosphere with a speed such that the weight is balanced by the centripetal force. The space station would serve as starting point for flights to even greater heights” (Sänger, Rocket Flight Engineering. Nasa Technical Translation F-223 [1965] 3).

Sänger and his associate, Irene Bredt, who later became his wife, intended to publish their continuing researches as a second volume of Raketenflugtechnik.  However, with the advent of World War II, their space vehicle project had to be repurposed for military use if it was to survive. A 900-page report on space vehicles, prepared by the two in 1941, was rejected by the German Research Institute for Aviation due to its size and complexity; Sänger and Bredt reworked this into a shorter 376-page secret report on a long range bomber with a rocket engine, intended to drop a dirty bomb on a U.S. city, issued as the GRIA’s “Secret Command Report” UM 3538. The report entitled Über einen Raketenantrieb für Fernbomber was issued in a highly-controlled edition of 100 copies for the Nazi German State Ministry for Aviation in 1944. In 2011 three copies of this original report were recorded worldwide in OCLC, one in the United States.

The Sänger-Bredt Silverbird (Silbervogel), the designs for which were described in the secret report, was a reusable winged vehicle “propelled by a rocket engine burning liquid oxygen and kerosene, capable of reaching Mach 10.0 at altitudes in excess of 100 miles” (Jenkins, Space Shuttle, p. 1).  The Sänger/Bredt report was "the first serious proposal for a vehicle which could carry a pilot and payload to the lower edge of space" (Wikipedia article on Silbervogel).

In order to realize his concept of a reusable rocket engine, Sänger had to solve the major problem of how to cool the engine. “Between 1932 and 1934, [Sänger] performed a series of pioneering experiments with reinforced cooled liquid rocket motors capable of burning mixtures of gas-oil and liquid oxygen (LOX), achieving thrust levels up to 30kp, pressures up to 50 bars, and exhaust velocities of about 3,000 m/s” (Sänger & Szames, “From the Silverbird to interstellar voyages,” 2).

In 1934 Sänger published these studies in "Neuere Ergebnisse der Raketenflugtechnik," Flug: Zeitschr. f. d. gesamte Gebiet der Luftfahrt, Sonderheft 1. This paper contained the results of Sänger’s extensive tests of various rocket engine models in 1933 and 1934, leading up to his 1935 patent for regenerative forced-flow cooling of rocket engines. This he accomplished by designing a “regeneratively cooled” engine cooled by its own fuel circulating around the combustion chamber. This rocket engine was a lasting feature of the Silverbird design. "Almost all modern rocket engines use this design today and some sources still refer to it as the Sänger-Bredt design" (Wikipedia article on Silbervogel).

“Sänger’s former rocket-powered civilian space transport airplane project now evolved into an Earth-orbiting, single-stage, rocket-powered intercontinental bombing machine with a launch weight of 100 tons . . . It would be propelled by a rocket engine using highly efficient fuels with liquid oxygen used as an oxidizer in a combustion chamber at a pressure of 100 atmospheres and creating 100 tons of thrust” (Myrha, p. 78).

This rocket-powered bomber was designed to attack strategic targets in the United States: New York City, Washington DC, Chicago and the steel-refining plants in Pittsburgh. Page 339 of Sänger and Bredt’s report shows a map of lower Manhattan superimposed with a bull’s-eye and containing calculations of the expected destruction pattern.  

After World War II Sänger emigrated from Germany to France where he worked for the Arsénal de l’Aéronautique. During his time in France “he was the subject of a botched attempt by Soviet agents to win him over. Joseph Stalin had become intrigued by reports of the Silvervogel design and sent his son, Vasily, and scientist Grigori Tokaty to convince [Sänger] to come to the Soviet Union, but they failed to do so. It has also been reported that Stalin instructed the NKVD to kidnap him” (Wikipedia). In 1954 Sänger returned to Germany, where he founded a research center in Stuttgart and earned unwelcome notoriety through his involvement with Egypt’s military buildup in the early 1960s. From 1963 until his death, he was a professor of astronautic technologies at the technical university in Berlin.

An English translation of the Sänger-Bredt report, prepared by the Technical Information Branch of U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics in 1946, was also limited to a small number of copies.  A condensed version of the translation was published in 1952. The work was also studied in Russia where a Russian translation was published.

Sänger-Bredt, “The Silver Bird story: A memoir,” in Hall, ed., Essays on the History of Rocketry and Astronautics, vol. 1 (1977), pp. 195-228. Sänger-Bredt & Engel, “The development of regeneratively cooled liquid rocket engines in Austria and Germany, 1926-42,” Durant & James, eds., First Steps toward Space, 217-46. Myrha, Sänger: Germany’s Orbital Rocket Bomber in World War II (2002).

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42,500 Camps and Ghettos Were in Operation During the Holocaust 1933 – 1945

Researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D. C. who in the year 2000 began documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories in operation during the Nazi regime, documented 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, located in German-controlled areas from France to Russia and in Germany from 1933 to 1945. 

In 2009 the Holocaust Memorial Museum began publication of The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945. The vast encyclopedia would be complete in 7 volumes by 2025. In March 2012 the first two volumes were print: 

"Published by Indiana University Press in association with the Museum, each of the encyclopedia's seven volumes will address a group of sites according to type or subordination so that each volume can stand on its own. In this way, the reader can gain some appreciation for the conditions at a particular site as well as for how the system functioned as a whole. Photographs, charts, and maps will supplement the text.


"VOL. I:


"Contains entries on 110 early camps, 23 main SS concentration camps (including Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau), 898 subcamps, 39 SS construction brigade camps, and three so-called youth protection camps. Introductory essays provide broader context, while citations and source narratives offer the basis for additional research. The volume is more than 1,700 pages, with 192 photographs and 23 maps. 


"GHETTOS IN GERMAN-OCCUPIED EASTERN EUROPE. General Editor: Geoffrey P. Megargee; Volume Editor: Martin Dean; Introduction: Christopher R. Browning. Published April 2012.

Provides a comprehensive account of how the Nazis conducted the Holocaust throughout the scattered towns and villages of Poland and the Soviet Union. It covers more than 1,150 sites, including both open and closed ghettos. Regional essays outline the patterns of ghettoization in 19 German administrative regions. Each entry discusses key events in the history of the ghetto; living and working conditions; activities of the Jewish Councils; Jewish responses to persecution; demographic changes; and details of the ghetto's liquidation. Personal testimonies help convey the character of each ghetto, while source citations provide a guide to additional information. Documentation of hundreds of smaller sites—previously unknown or overlooked in the historiography of the Holocaust—make this an indispensable reference work on the destroyed Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. 


"CAMPS AND GHETTOS RUN BY EUROPEAN STATES AFFILIATED WITH NAZI GERMANY, including camps and ghettos in Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Vichy France. Editor: Joseph White.


CAMPS AND OTHER DETENTION FACILITIES UNDER THE GERMAN MILITARY, including prisoner-of-war camps and military brothels. Co-editor: Rüdiger Overmans; Advisor: Pavel Polian.

"VOL. V:

"CAMPS UNDER THE SS-REICH SECURITY MAIN OFFICE AND THE HIGHER SS AND POLICE LEADERS, including the Operation Reinhard extermination camps, Gestapo prisons, and some categories of forced labor, detention, and transit camps.


"NON-SS FORCED LABOR CAMPS, including forced labor camps under Organisation Todt, REIMAHG, local labor offices, and private firms.


"OTHER KILLING AND DETENTION FACILITIES, including so-called euthanasia centers, Justice Ministry penal camps, “Germanization” camps for Polish children, and civilian prisons."

" 'The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the institute, said in an interview after learning of the new data.  

“ 'We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was,” he said, “but the numbers are unbelievable.”  

"The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.  

"Auschwitz and a handful of other concentration camps have come to symbolize the Nazi killing machine in the public consciousness. Likewise, the Nazi system for imprisoning Jewish families in hometown ghettos has become associated with a single site — the Warsaw Ghetto, famous for the 1943 uprising. But these sites, infamous though they are, represent only a minuscule fraction of the entire German network, the new research makes painfully clear.  

"The maps the researchers have created to identify the camps and ghettos turn wide sections of wartime Europe into black clusters of death, torture and slavery — centered in Germany and Poland, but reaching in all directions."

"The numbers astound: 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, 'Germanizing' prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.  

"In Berlin alone, researchers have documented some 3,000 camps and so-called Jew houses, while Hamburg held 1,300 sites.

"Dr. Dean, a co-researcher, said the findings left no doubt in his mind that many German citizens, despite the frequent claims of ignorance after the war, must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time.  

“ 'You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps,' he said. 'They were everywhere.'" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/sunday-review/the-holocaust-just-got-more-shocking.html?hp, accessed 03-02-2013).

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Niels Bohr Asks if Living Processes Could be Described in Terms of Pure Physics and Chemistry 1933

In 1933 Danish physicist Niels Bohr delivered a lecture on Light and Life before an international congress of light therapists in Copenhagen. His lecture marks his first detailed attempt to apply concepts arising from quantum mechanics (particularly complementarity) to areas outside physics.

“Here, for the first time, Bohr raised a question that was to preoccupy him, off and on, until his death: Would it ever be possible to push the analysis of living processes to the limit where they can be described in terms of pure physics and chemistry?” (Pais, Niels Bohr's Times, 411, 441-42, quote from 442).

Bohr’s lecture may be viewed as one of the foundation stones of molecular biology, in that it inspired the young physicist Max Delbrück (who was in the audience when Bohr delivered it) to switch from physics to biology “to find out whether indeed there was anything to this point of view” (quoted in Pais, p. 442). In 1935, two years after hearing Bohr’s lecture, Delbrück and two other scientists published a paper on genetic mutations caused by x-ray irradiation, in which they concluded that the gene must be a molecule. The ideas expressed in that paper inspired Schrödinger to write his famous What is Life?, a work which in turn motivated Watson, Crick, Wilkins and other scientists to devote their careers to unraveling “the secret of the gene” (quoted in Moore, Schrödinger, p. 403). Delbrück himself became a leader of what was known as the “phage group” of bacterial geneticists; in 1969, he received a share of the Nobel Prize for physiology / medicine for describing the means by which living cells are infected with viruses. “It is fair to say that with Max [Delbrück], Bohr found his most influential philosophical disciple outside the domain of physics, in that through Max, Bohr provided one of the intellectual fountainheads for the development of 20th century biology” (quoted in Pais, p. 442).

Bohr's lecture was published in Danish as "Lys og liv," Naturens Verden 17 (1933) 49-59. It was published in English as "Light and Life," Nature 131 (March 25, 1933) 421-423, and it was also published in German.  

Judson, The Eighth Day of Creation, 32-35.

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The Henry Graves Supercomplication, the Most Valuable Watch in the World 1933

In 1933 Patek Philippe of Geneva delivered to New York banker Henry Graves, Jr. "the Supercomplication," a gold pocket watch with 24 functions. The watch, which took Patek Philippe three years to research and five years to manufacture, cost Graves 60,000 Swiss francs in 1933 (USD $15,000). It is considered the most complicated of all mechanical watches; only one was ever made.

Among the watch's features are a double face, perpetual calendar, phases of the moon, a chronograph that can time two simultaneous events, Westminster chimes, and indications for the time of sunset and sunrise, and a celestial chart depicting the night sky over New York's Central Park, as seen from Graves' home on Fifth Avenue.

"Graves died in 1953. His heirs sold the watch in 1968 to The Time Museum in Rockford, Illinois, which closed in March 1999. (From January 2001 through February 2004 the Time Museum collection was displayed at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, then sold.)] The watch was held in the Rockford Time Museum until it was sold at Sotheby's for a record breaking $11,002,500 to an anonymous bidder in New York City on December 2, 1999. The owner was later known to be a member of the Qatari Royal Family, Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Thani. The watch was on loan to the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, Switzerland for several years, and was the most expensive single piece on display.
On July 10, 2014, Sotheby's announced that in November 2014, the watch would once again be auctioned. It sold for 23.2 million Swiss francs (≈USD $24 million/ ≈19.3 million Euros) at Sotheby’s in Geneva on November 11, 2014, setting a new record price for any timepiece sold at auction" (Wikipedia article on Henry Graves (banker) accessed 11-12-2014).

On November 11, 2014 the New York Times published an article by Reuters on the sale of the "Supercomplication" which included a particularly striking image of the watch.

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Invention of the Sociogram: Some of the Earliest Graphic Depictions of Social Networks April 3, 1933 – 1934

On April 3, 1933 The New York Times published an article entitled and summarized in sub-headings, as follows: "Emotions Mapped by New Geography: Charts seem to Portray the Psychological Currents of Human Relationships. FIRST STUDIES EXHIBITED. Colored Lines Show Likes and Dislikes of Individuals and of Groups. MANY MISFITS REVEALED. Dr. J.L. Moreno Calculates There Are 10 to 15 Million Isolated Individuals In Nation." The article reported on an interview with Romanian-born Austrian-American psychiatrist, psychosociologist, and group psychotherapy pioneer Jacob L Moreno. This article contained the first reproduction of one of Moreno's sociograms—an early network visualization.

The following year Moreno published a book entitled Who Shall Survive? A New Approach to the Problem of Human Interrelations in Washington, D.C. Apart from its psychiatric and sociological significance, this work contained some of the earliest graphic depictions of social networks— data visualization methods later applied to numerous other disciplines. These images were later called sociograms. For a second edition published in New York in 1953 Moreno revised the title to Who Shall Survive? Foundations of Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy and Sociodrama

Lima, Visual Complexity. Mapping Patterns of Information (2011) 75-76.

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Hitler Seizes Power in Germany and the Nazis Begin Purging Germany of Jews & Jewish Culture, Eventually Burning 100,000,000 Books and Killing About 20 Million People April 6, 1933 – 1945

The ultra-nationalism and antisemitism of German middle-class, secular student organizations had been intense and vocal for decades prior to the rise of Nazism. After World War I, most students opposed the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and found in National Socialism a suitable vehicle for their political discontent and hostility. After Adolf Hitler seized power on January 30, 1933 German university students became the vanguard of the Nazi movement, and many filled the ranks of various Nazi formations.

Following Hitler's plans, in 1933 Nazi Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels began the synchronization of culture, to bring the arts in Germany in line with Nazi goals. The German government purged cultural organizations of Jews and others alleged to be politically or artistically suspect. On April 6, 1933, the German Student Association's Main Office for Press and Propaganda proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit,” to climax in a literary purge or “cleansing” (Säuberung) by fire. Local chapters were to supply the press with releases and commission articles, sponsor well-known Nazi figures to speak at public gatherings, and negotiate for radio broadcast time. On April 8 the students association drafted its twelve "theses"—deliberately evocative of Martin Luther—declarations and requisites of a "pure" national language and culture. Placards publicized the theses, which attacked “Jewish intellectualism,” asserted the need to “purify” the German language and literature, and demanded that universities be centers of German nationalism. The students described the “action” as a response to a worldwide Jewish “smear campaign” against Germany and an affirmation of traditional German values.

On the night of May 10, 1933, in most university towns in Germany, nationalist students marched in torchlight parades "against the un-German spirit." The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, rectors, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. At the meeting places, students threw "un-German" books into the bonfires with great joyous ceremony, band-playing, songs, "fire oaths", and incantations. The students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of "un-German" books, "presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture." The book burning of May 10 was based on meticulously compiled "black lists" were collected in the spring of 1933 by the Berlin librarian Dr. Wolfgang Herrmann

The formation of the Reichsschrifttumskammer on November 1, 1933 began not only targeted management and monitoring of authors, publishers and booksellers, but expansion of the Herrmann list. By decree of April 25, 1935, the  Reichsschrifttumskammer received the order, "[to compile] a list of such books and records that jeopardize Nazi culture. A first, undisclosed draft was prepared before the end of 1935. Ultimately, the "list of harmful and undesirable writings" consisted of more than 4500 entries, often the entire work of an author or the entire back list of a publisher.

 "Not all book burnings took place on May 10, as the German Student Association had planned. Some were postponed a few days because of rain. Others, based on local chapter preference, took place on June 21, the summer solstice, a traditional date of celebration. Nonetheless, in 34 university towns across Germany the "Action against the Un-German Spirit" was a success, enlisting widespread newspaper coverage. And in some places, notably Berlin, radio broadcasts brought the speeches, songs, and ceremonial incantations "live" to countless German listeners" (United States Holocaust Museum website).

On the night of November 9, 1938—called Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass—92 Jews were murdered, and 25,000–30,000 were arrested and deported to concentration camps. More than 200 Synagogues were destroyed along with tens of thousands of Jewish businesses and homes. This marked the beginning of the Holocaust.

On December 31, 1938 the Reichsministerium fur Volksaufklaerung und Progaganda published the Liste des schädlichen und unerwünschten SchrifttumsThis list of "damaging and undesirable writing" included authors, living and dead, whose works were banned from the Reich because of their Jewish descent, pacifist or communist views, or suspicion thereof.

Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany systematically destroyed an estimated 100 million books throughout occupied Europe, an act inextricably bound up with the murder of 6 million Jews, and millions of other people they considered undesirable. By burning and looting libraries and censoring "un-German" publications, the Nazis aimed to eradicate all traces of Jewish culture along with the Jewish people themselves. 

In March 2011 I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. You cannot grasp the scale of the Holocaust until you visit Birkenau, especially— a giant factory of death capable of processing 20,000 people per day. The impact of the Holocaust was still reverberating in my head in April 2011 when I wrote this database entry. Needing to understand more, I read Richard Rhodes' book, Masters of Death, from which the horrifying wider scope of the Holocaust, unfolded in my consciousness, and from which I quote: 

“The notorious gas chambers and crematoria of the death camps have come to typify the Holocaust, but in fact they were exceptional. The primary means of mass murder the Nazis deployed during the Second World War was firearms and lethal privation. Shooting was not less efficient than gassing, as many historians have assumed. It was hard on the shooters’ nerves, and the gas vans and chambers alleviated the burden. But shooting began earlier, continued throughout the war and produced far more victims if Slavs are counted, as they must be, as well as Jews. ‘The Nazi regime was the most genocidal the world has ever seen,’ writes sociologist Michael Mann. ’During its short twelve years (overwhelmingly its last four) it killed approximately twenty million unarmed persons. . . . Jews comprised only a third of the victims and their mass murder occurred well into the sequence. . . . Slavs, defined as Untermenschenwere the most numerous victims—3 million Poles, 7 million Soviet citizens and 3.3 million Soviet POWs.’ Even among Jewish victims, Daniel Goldhagen estimates, ‘somewhere between 40 and 50 percent’ were killed ‘by means other than gassing, and more Germans were involved in these killings in a greater variety of contexts than in those carried out in the gas chambers’ ” (Richard RhodesMasters of Death. The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust [2002] 156-157).

In tracing and documenting the crimes committed by the SS summarized in these statistics Rhodes did not intend in any way to diminish the incredible losses suffered by the Jews, nor to blur the particular focus of the Nazis' Final Solution on the Jews. His exploration of SS crimes exposed a scope of criminality that was wider, almost beyond comprehension.

 Rose (ed.), The Holocaust and the Book: Destruction and Preservation (2000).

 (Information adapted from the United States Holocaust Museum website).

(This entry was last revised on 01-17-2015.)

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Key Contributions of Konrad Zuse to the History of Computer Design and Software 1934 – 1958

Konrad Zuse made numerous original contributions to computer design and software that predated American and English developments, but because Zuse worked in Nazi Germany his ideas were unknown outside of Germany until well after World War II, and thus had no influence on the development of the computer industry in America and England. While completing his engineering degree at the Technische Universität Berlin in 1934, Zuse,realized that an automatic calculator would need only a control, a memory, and an arithmetic unit. On April 11, 1936 Zuse applied for a patent on his electromagnetic, program-controlled calculator, called the Z1, which he built in the living room of his parents’ apartment in Berlin. Zuse completed the ZI, which had 30,000 parts, in 1938. Independently of Claude Shannon, Zuse developed a form of symbolic logic to assist in the design of the binary circuits

The Z1 was the first freely programmable, binary-based calculating machine ever built, but it did not function reliably, and it was destroyed in World War II. Zuse's patent application is the only surviving documentation of Zuse's prewar work on computers. Between 1986 and 1989 Zuse and three associates created a replica of the Z1, which is preserved in the Deutsche Technikmuseum, Berlin.

With his associate Helmut Schreyer, Zuse began work on his Z2 shortly after completing the Z1. In 1939 the men completed the Z2 machine in Berlin. It used the same kind of mechanical memory as the Z1, but used 800 relays in the arithmetic and control units. On October 15, 1939 Helmut Schreyer wrote a memorandum concerning the Z2, Rechnische Rechenmachine (unpublished at the time), in which he stated that it would be possible to build a computer with vacuum tubes that would process “10,000 operations per second.” This memorandum and the rest of Zuse's and Schreyer's ideas only became known in the west after World War II.

In 1940 the German government began funding Zuse's work through the Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt (AVA, Aerodynamic Research Institute, forerunner of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V, DLR). At this time Zuse built the S1 and S2 computers —special purpose machines for computing aerodynamic corrections to the wings of radio-controlled flying bombs.

"The S2 featured an integrated analog-to-digital converter under program control, making it the first process-controlled computer. These machines contributed to the Henschel Werke Hs 293 and Hs 294 guided missiles developed by the German military between 1941 and 1945, which were the precursors to the modern cruise missile. The circuit design of the S1 was the predecessor of Zuse's Z11. Zuse believed that these machines had been captured by occupying Soviet troops in 1945" (Wikipedia article on Konrad Zuse, accessed 03-03-2012).

Continuing to work in Berlin, with the assistance of Helmut Shreyer, Zuse completed his Z3 machine on May 12, 1941. This was the world’s first fully functional Turing-complete electromechanical digital computer—with twenty-four hundred relays. The Z3 ran programs punched into rolls of discarded movie film. In 1944 it was destroyed in bombing raids. Also in 1941 Schreyer received his doctorate in telecommunications engineering from the Technische Universität Berlin with a dissertation on the use of vacuum-tube relays in switching circuits. Schreyer converted Zuse’s logical designs into electronic circuits, building a simple prototype of an electronic computer with 100 vacuum tubes, which achieved a switching frequency of 10,000 Hz. Because no one outside of Germany had any knowledge of the Z3, Zuse's design had no influence on the development of computing in the the United States or England during or after World War II. In 2012 there was a replica of the Z3 on display in the Deutsches Museum, Munich.

In 1942 Zuse started work on the Z4 electromechanical computer in Berlin, completing the work shortly before V-E Day in 1945. Built by his company, Zuse Apparatebau, the Z4 was the world's first commercial digital computer. To safeguard it against bombing, the machine was dismantled and shipped from Berlin to a village in the Bavarian Alps. In 1950 it was refurbished, modified, and installed at ETH in Zurich. For several years it was the only working electronic digital computer in continental Europe, and it remained operational in Zurich until 1955. It is preserved in the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

"The Z4 was very similar to the Z3 in its design but was significantly enhanced in a number of respects. The memory consisted of 32-bit rather than 22-bit floating point words. A special unit called the Planfertigungsteil (program construction unit), which punched the program tapes made programming and correcting programs for the machine much easier by the use of symbolic operations and memory cells. Numbers were entered and output as decimal floating point even though the internal working was in binary. The machine had a large repertoire of instructions including square root, MAX, MIN and sign. Conditional tests included tests for infinity. When delivered to ETH Zurich the machine had a conditional branch facility added and could print on a Mercedes typewriter. There were two program tapes where the second could be used to hold a subroutine (originally six were planned).

"In 1944 Zuse was working on the Z4 with around two dozen people, including several women. Some engineers who worked at the telecommunications facility of the OKW also worked for Zuse as a secondary occupation. To prevent it from falling into the hands of the Soviets, the Z4 was evacuated from Berlin in February 1945 and transported to Göttingen. The Z4 was completed in Göttingen in a facility of the Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt (AVA, Aerodynamic Research Institute), which was headed by Albert Betz. But when it was presented to scientists of the AVA the roar of the approaching front could already be heard, so the computer was transported with a truck of the Wehrmacht to Hinterstein in Bad Hindelang, where Konrad Zuse met Wernher von Braun" (Wikipedia article on Z4, accessed 01-01-2015).

For the Z4 Zuse developed Plankalkül, the first "high-level" non-von Neumann programming language. Some of his earliest notes on the topic date to 1941. The language was well-developed by 1945. Because of war time secrecy, and Zuse's efforts to commercialize the Z3 computer and its sucessors, Zuse did not publish anything on Plankalkühl at the time he developed it. Zuse wrote a book on the subject in 1946 but this remained unpublished until it was edited many years later for Internet publication. In 1948 he published a summary paper,  "Über den Allgemeinen Plankalkül als Mittel zur Formulierung schematisch-kombinativer Aufgaben", Archiv der Mathematik I (1948) 441-449. However, this did not attract much attention.

" . . . for a long time to come programming a computer would only be thought of as programming with machine code. The Plankalkül was eventually more comprehensively published in 1972 and the first compiler for it was implemented in 1998. Another independent implementation followed in the year 2000 by the Free University of Berlin" (Wikipedia article on Plankalkühl, accessed 12-04-2011).

Because of his Nazi affiliation Zuse was not allowed to get back into the computer industry until the 1950s. In 1958 he produced the Z22, the first commercial electronic digital computer produced in Germany. The Z22 used vacuum tubes—a relatively late date for that technology, as most American computer companies switched to solid state by 1957. Zuse's company, Zuse KG, became the first independent German electronic computer company. It was eventually purchased by Siemens.

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The First Practical Tape Recorder 1934 – April 27, 1935

In 1934 engineers at AEG developed the Magnetophon K1. The K1 was the first practical reel-to-reel magnetic tape recorder, using magnetic tape invented by Fritz Pfleumer.  It was first demonstrated at the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (International radio exhibition Berlin, aka 'Berlin Radio Show') in 1935. The recording embedded in this entry was made on April 27, 1935.

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Creation of the FCC 1934

In 1934 Congress passed the Communications Act of 1934, abolishing the Federal Radio Commission and transferring jurisdiction over radio licensing to a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC also received the telecommunications jurisdiction previously handled by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

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Picasso Depicts His Lover Reading at a Table 1934

An oil painting Pablo Picasso created in 1934 entitled Reading at a Table, preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depicted Picasso's 25 year-old lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, sitting at a table reading and wearing a crown of flowers. This "chaste scene" was set at the artist's country home in Le Boisgeloup, in Gisors in the Eure about 63 km from Paris, where, in addition to painting, Picasso produced large-scale sculptures and prepared many etchings.

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The Beginning of Protein Crystallography: Possibly the Beginning of Structural Molecular Biology 1934

In 1934 British crystallographer, polymath and writer John Desmond Bernal at the University of London, and British chemist and crystallographer Dorothy Crowfoot (Hodgkin), took the first X-ray photograph of a protein structure—crystalline pepsin. They showed that crystals of pepsin give an X-ray diffaction pattern, beginning protein crystallography. This may also be the beginning of structural molecular biology.

Bernal & Crowfoot, "X-Ray Photographs of Crystalline Pepsin," Nature 133 (1934) 794-95.

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Bradford's Law January 26, 1934

In a paper entitled "Sources of Information on Specific Subjects," (Engineering 137 [1934], 85-6), British mathematician, librarian and documentalist at the Science Museum in London Samuel C. Bradford published Bradford's Law, also known as  "Bradford's law of scattering" and as the "Bradford distribution," showing the "exponentially diminishing returns of extending a library search."

"In many disciplines this pattern [described by Bradford's Law] is called a Pareto distribution. As a practical example, suppose that a researcher has five core scientific journals for his or her subject. Suppose that in a month there are 12 articles of interest in those journals. Suppose further that in order to find another dozen articles of interest, the researcher would have to go to an additional 10 journals. Then that researcher's Bradford multiplier bm is 2 (i.e. 10/5). For each new dozen articles, that researcher will need to look in bm times as many journals. After looking in 5, 10, 20, 40, etc. journals, most researchers quickly realize that there is little point in looking further.

"Different researchers have different numbers of core journals, and different Bradford multipliers. But the pattern holds quite well across many subjects, and may well be a general pattern for human interactions in social systems. Like Zipf's law, to which it is related, we do not have a good explanation for why it works. But knowing that it does is very useful for librarians. What it means is that for each specialty it is sufficient to identify the core publications' for that field and only stock those. Very rarely will researchers need to go outside that set" (Wikipedia article on Bradford's Law, accessed 02-21-2012).

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The Hammond Electric Organ April 24, 1934 – April 1935

On April 24, 1934 American engineer and inventor Laurens Hammond of Chicago received patent 1,956,350 for an "Electrical Musical Instrument," and introduced the Hammond Organ Model A the following year.

The Hammond Organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to wind-driven pipe organs, but in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard instrument for jazz, blues, rock music and gospel music.

"The original Hammond organ used additive synthesis of waveforms from harmonic series made by mechanical tonewheels which rotate in front of electromagnetic pickups. The component waveform ratios are mixed by sliding drawbars mounted above the two keyboards. Although many different models of Hammond organs were produced, the Hammond B-3 organ is the most well-known type. In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, the overdriven sound of B-3 (and in Europe, the C-3) organs were widely used in progressive rock bands and blues-rock groups. Although the last electromechanical Hammond organ came off the assembly line in the mid-1970s, thousands are still in daily use.

"In the 1980s and 1990s, musicians began using electronic and digital devices to imitate the sound of the Hammond, because the vintage Hammond organ is heavy and hard to transport. By the 1990s and 2000s digital signal processing and sampling technologies allowed for better imitation of the original Hammond sound" (Wikipedia article on Hammond organ, accessed 08-30-2009).

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Foundation of the U.S. National Achives June 19, 1934

On June 19, 1934 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the National Archives Act, creating the National Archives as an independent agency (48 Stat. 1122), with the Archivist of the United States as its chief administrator, and also creating the National Historical Publications Commission (NHPC).

Previously each governmental department maintained its own records, resulting in considerable losses.

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Filed under: Archives

The Social Security Program Creates a Giant Data-Processing Challenge 1935 – 1936

The Social Security Act of 1935 required the U. S. government to keep continuous records on the employment of 26 million individuals.

The first  Social Security Numbers (SSNs) were issued by the Social Security Administration in November 1936 as part of the New Deal Social Security program.

"Within three months, 25 million numbers were issued.

"Before 1986, people often did not have a Social Security number until the age of about 14, since they were used for income tracking purposes, and those under that age seldom had substantial income. In 1986, American taxation law was altered so that individuals over 5 years old without Social Security numbers could not be successfully claimed as dependents on tax returns; by 1990 the threshold was lowered to 1 year old, and was later abolished altogether." (Wikipedia article on Social Security Number, accessed 01-17-2010).

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Charga-Plate Precursor of the Credit Card Circa 1935 – 1950

The Charga-Plate bookkeeping system, a precursor of the credit card issued by Charga-Plate Group, Inc. New York, was utilized from 1935 to 1950, and somewhat later.

"It was a 2 1/2" x 1 1/4" rectangle of sheet metal, similar to a military dog tag, that was embossed with the customer's name, city and state (no address). It held a small paper card for a signature. It was laid in the imprinter first, then a charge slip on top of it, onto which an inked ribbon was pressed. Charga-Plate was a trademark of Farrington Manufacturing Co. Charga-Plates were issued by large-scale merchants to their regular customers, much like department store credit cards of today. In some cases, the plates were kept in the issuing store rather than held by customers. When an authorized user made a purchase, a clerk retrieved the plate from the store's files and then processed the purchase. Charga-Plates speeded back-office bookkeeping that was done manually in paper ledgers in each store, before computers" (Wikipedia article on Credit card, accessed 12-26-2008).

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Kodachrome, the First Color Transparency Film for Cinematography and Still Photography, is Developed 1935 – December 30, 2010

Kodachrome, the first color transparency film, was invented by musicians Leopold Godowsky, Jr. and Leopold Mannes. The project began even before the two young men graduated from high school. After viewing the 1917 film Our Navy in the early two-color additive color system, Prizma Color, Mannes and his friend Godowsky began experimenting with the use of colored filters and film, patenting a new process even before their high school graduation. They continued their experimentation and research while Mannes was studying physics and piano at Harvard and Godowsky was studying violin at UCLA. Eventually, with backing from an investor, the pair was able to convince Kodak of the value of their discoveries. In 1930, they moved to Kodak's Rochester headquarters, and within three years they developed the technique of three-color emulsion on which Kodachrome was based.

Kodachrome 16mm movie film was released for sale in 1935, and in 1936 Kodachrome 35mm still and 8mm movie film were released. To some Kodachrome was the best slide and movie film ever produced. Kodak produced the film and the chemicals required to develop Kodachrome from 1935 to 2009, by which time digital photography had, for the most part, replaced film photography.

According to the The New York Times, the last remaining roll of Kodachrome was developed on at Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas on December 30, 2010.

(This entry was last revised on 07-10-2014.)

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Timofeeff-Ressovsky Publishes One of the Key Conceptual Papers in the Early History of Molecular Biology 1935

In 1935 Soviet biologist and geneticist Nikolai Vladimirovich Timofeeff-Ressovsky (Nikolaj Vladimirovich Timofeev-ResovskijНиколай Владимирович Тимофеев-Ресовский), working in Berlin, in collaboration with German physicist and radiation biologist Karl Zimmer and German-American biophysicist Max Delbrück, published "Ueber die Natur der Genmutation und der Genstruktur," Nachrichten von der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, mathematisch-physikalische Klasse, Fachgruppe VI, 1, (1935), [189]-245. 

One of the key conceptual papers in the early history of molecular biology, this work represented the debut in genetics of the physicist Max Delbrück, a student and lifelong friend of Danish physicist Niels Bohr. Delbruck turned from quantum physics to biology after being inspired by speculations in Bohr's 1932 lecture "Light and life," about the application of quantum mechanics to problems in biology. 

"Über die Natur der Genmutation und der Genstruktur" (often referred to as "the green paper" after the color of its printed wrappers, or the "Dreimanner" paper after the number of its authors) was divided into four sections. The first, by Timofeeff-Ressovsky, described the mutagenic effects of x-rays and gamma rays on Drosophila melanogaster; the second part, by Zimmer, analyzed Timofeeff-Ressovsky's results theoretically. The third and most remarkable section, by Delbrück, put forth a model of genetic mutation based on atomic physics that "shows the maturity, judgment and breadth of knowledge of someone who had been in the field for years . . . its carefully worded predictions have stood the test of time" (Perutz, p. 557).

The three authors of the paper "concluded that a mutation is a molecular rearrangement within a particular molecule, and the gene a union of atoms with which a mutation, in the sense of a molecular rearrangement or dissociation of bonds, can occur. The actual calculations of the size of the gene, deduced from calculations on the assumption of a spherical target, were not cogent, as Delbrück [later] wryly admitted in his Nobel Prize lecture, but the entire approach to the problem of mutation and the gene adopted by the three collaborators was highly stimulating to other investigators" (DSB [suppl.]).

The Timofeeff-Zimmer-Delbrück paper provided much of the material for Erwin Schrodinger's book What is Life? (1944), a work that takes a "naive physicist's" approach to the problems of heredity and variation; it is often cited as having inspired Watson, Crick, Wilkins and others to focus their careers on the problems of molecular biology. In his 1987 paper, "Physics and the Riddle of Life," Max Perutz examined the relationship between Schrodinger's book and the Timofeeff-Zimmer-Delbrück paper, pointing out, among other things, that the two most important chapters in Schrodinger's book were paraphrased from "Ueber die Natur der Genmutation und der Genstruktur."

"In retrospect, the chief merit of What is Life? is its popularization of the Timofeeff, Zimmer and Delbrück paper that would otherwise have remained unknown outside the circles of geneticists and radiation biologists" (Perutz, p. 558). Perutz, "Physics and the riddle of life," Nature 326 (1987) 555-559.

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 254.1

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"Pygmalion's Spectacles," Probably the First Comprehensive and Specific Fictional Model for Virtual Reality 1935

In 1935 American science fiction writer Stanley G.Weinbaum presented a comprehensive and specific fictional model for virtual reality in his short story Pygmalion's Spectacles. In the story, the main character, Dan Burke, met an elfin professor, Albert Ludwig, who invented a pair of goggles which enabled "a movie that gives one sight and sound [...] taste, smell, and touch. [...] You are in the story, you speak to the shadows (characters) and they reply, and instead of being on a screen, the story is all about you, and you are in it."

Weinbaum's career in science fiction was very short but influential. His first story, "A Martian Odyssey", was published to great, and enduring, acclaim in July 1934, but he died from lung cancer within eighteen months, and the age of only 33.

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Foundation of The Wilderness Society January 21, 1935

On January 21, 1935 Robert Marshall, chief of recreation and lands for the Forest Service, and Aldo Leopold, noted wildlife ecologist and later author of A Sand County Almanac, and Robert Sterling Yard, publicist for the National Park Service, and Benton MacKaye, the "Father of the Appalachian Trail", and Ernest Oberholtzer, Harvey Broome, Bernard Frank, and Harold C. Anderson founded The Wilderness Society.

"Since 1935, The Wilderness Society has led the conservation movement in wilderness protection, writing and passing the landmark Wilderness Act and winning lasting protection for 107 million acres of Wilderness, including 56 million acres of spectacular lands in Alaska, eight million acres of fragile desert lands in California and millions more throughout the nation" (The Wilderness Society website).

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Robert Watson-Watt Invents Radar February 12, 1935

On February 12, 1935, as head of the Radio Research Station at Ditton Park near Slough, England, Robert Watson-Watt published a report entitled The Detection of Aircraft by Radio Methods.

"On February 26, 1935 Watson-Watt and [his assistant Arnold] Wilkins demonstrated a basic radar system to an observer from the Air Ministry Committee the Detection of Aircraft. The previous day Wilkins had set up receiving equipment in a field near Upper Stowe, Northamptonshire, and this was used to detect the presence of a Handley Page Heyford bomber at ranges up to 8 miles by means of the radio waves which it reflected from the nearby Daventry shortwave radio transmitter of the BBC, which operated at a wavelength of 49 m (6 MHz). This convincing demonstration, known as the Daventry Experiment, led immediately to development of radar in the UK."

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Allen Lane & Penguin Books Invent the Mass-Market Paperback July 30, 1935

In 1935 Allen Lane founded Penguin Books in London to bring high quality, paperback fiction and non-fiction to the mass market. Lane is credited with essentially inventing the mass marketing of paperbacks. According to company legend, Lane got his idea while standing in a railway station in Devon, where he had been spending the weekend with the mystery writer Agatha Christie and her husband. He couldn’t find anything worthwhile to buy to read on the train back to London. So he launched Penguin Books, with ten titles, including The Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie. The books sold well right from the start.  

The key to Lane’s innovation was not the format; it was the method of distribution. Lane designed the mass-market paperback to be displayed in wire racks that could be conveniently placed in virtually any retail space. People who didn’t have a local bookstore, and even people who would never have ventured into a bookstore, could now browse the racks while filling a prescription or waiting for a train and buy a book on impulse. Lane believed that his books should not cost more than a pack of cigarettes. This meant that people could spot a book they had always meant to read, or a book with an enticing cover, and pay for it with spare change.

"Anecdotally Lane recounted how it was his experience of the poor quality of reading material on offer at Exeter train station that inspired him to create cheap, well designed quality books for the mass market. Though the publication of literature in paperback was then associated mainly with poor quality, lurid fiction the Penguin brand owed something to the short lived Albatross imprint of British and American reprints that briefly traded in 1932. Inexpensive paperbacks did not initially appear viable to Bodley Head, since the deliberately low price of 6d. made profitability seem unlikely. This helped Allen Lane purchase publication rights for some works more cheaply than he otherwise might have done since other publishers were convinced of the short term prospects of the business. In the face of resistance from the traditional book trade it was the purchase of 63,000 books by Woolworth that paid for the project outright, confirmed its worth and allowed Lane to establish Penguin as a separate business in 1936. By March 1936, ten months after the company's launch on 30 July 1935, one million Penguin books had been printed (Wiklipedia article on Penguin Books, accessed 07-11-2013).

In 1985, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the company, Penguin Books issued a boxed set reproducing in facsimile the first ten titles issued in 1935.

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

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IBM's German Subsidiary, Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen, Introduces the First Automatic Sequence-Controlled Calculator September 1935

In September 1935 IBM’s German subsidiary, Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen (Dehomag) introduced the Dehomag D11 tabulator, the first automatic sequence-controlled calculator, incorporating internal instructions programmed with a plug board.

Kistermann, "The way to the first automatic sequence-controlled calculator: The 1935 DEHOMAG D 11 tabulator," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing XVII (1995): 33-49.

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Alonzo Church Proves Undecidability 1936

In 1936 American mathematician and logician Alonzo Church of Princeton published his logical proof of the undecidability of arithmetic, using his lambda calculus.

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The Voder, the First Electronic Speech Synthesizer: a Simplified Version of the Vocoder 1936 – 1939

Between 1936 and 1939 electronic and acoustic engineer Homer Dudley and a team of engineers at Bell Labs produced the first electronic speech synthesizer, called the Voder ("Voice Operation DEmonstratoR").

The Voder was demonstrated at the 1939-1940 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York and the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, San Francisco Bay, by experts who used a keyboard and foot pedals to play the machine and emit speech.

♦ The Voder was a simplified version of the Vocoder (short for voice encoder) developed by Dudley from 1926 onward, and for which Dudley received US patent 2151091 A for Signal Transmission on March 21, 1939. Dudley's vocoder was used in the SIGSALY system built by Bell Labs engineers in 1943. SIGSALY was used for encrypted high-level voice communications during World War II.  Since then the Vocoder has been widely applied in music, television production, filmmaking and games, usually for robots or talking computers.

On August 19, 2014 Nate Lavey and Jay Caspian Kang posted an outstanding video in NewYorker.com as Object of Interest: The Vocoder. The video, which is embedded here, can be slow to load.

On April 14, 2016 Episode 208, Vox Ex Machina of 99percentinvisible.org posted this outstanding page on Vocoder and SIGSALY: http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/vox-ex-machina/

(This entry was last revised on 05-04-2016.)

(This entry was last revised on 08-20-2014.)

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Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times" 1936

In Los Angeles in 1936 Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in the film, Modern Times. In his final silent-film appearance Chaplin portrayed his Little Tramp character struggling to survive in the industrialized world in which assembly lines dehumanize work and robots replace people. The film is also a comment on the desperate employment and fiscal conditions many people faced during the Great Depression—conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization. The movie also starred Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Stanley Sandford and Chester Conklin.

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The First NBC / RCA Television Broadcast Is Recorded on Film July 7, 1936

On July 7, 1936 the NBC division of RCA made its first television broadcas in New York. The broadcast was filmed:

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H. G. Wells and the "World Brain" November 20, 1936 – 1938

In 1936 H. G. Wells issued a pamphlet of 32 pages entitled The Idea of a World Encyclopaedia, publishing a lecture he had delivered at The Royal Institution on November 20, 1936. The lecture was republished in the United States in the April 1937 issue of Harpers Magazine.  

In 1938 Methuen publishers issued a volume of Wells's essays and speeches on this theme entitled World Brain. In this book his 1936 speech was renamed simply "World Encyclopedia."  The 1938 book included an essay entitled "The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia." This essay first appeared in the new Encyclopédie Française, August, 1937. Another essay in the book entitled "The Brain Organization of the Modern World" described Wells' vision for

". . .a sort of mental clearing house for the mind, a depot where knowledge and ideas are received, sorted, summarized, digested, clarified and compared." (p. 49)

Wells believed that technological advances such as microfilm could be utilized towards this end so that

"any student, in any part of the world, would be able to sit with his projector in his own study at his or her convenience to examine any book, any document, in an exact replica" (p. 54).

In his ideas for a "mental clearing house" Wells was probably influenced by "Die Brucke" and its Goals for a World Information Clearing House.

Pages 72-73 of World Brain reproduced an early information graphic entitled "Knowledge Correlated through a World Encyclopaedia."

♦Aspects of Wells's vision were eventually realized on the Internet through the Wikipedia in ways that Wells could not have imagined. 

Börner, Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know (2010) 25ff.

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Alan Turing Publishes "On Computable Numbers," Describing What Came to be Called the "Turing Machine" November 30, 1936

In issues dated November 30 and December 23, 1936 of the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society English mathematician Alan Turing published "On Computable Numbers", a mathematical description of what he called a universal machine— an astraction that could, in principle, solve any mathematical problem that could be presented to it in symbolic form. Turing modeled the universal machine processes after the functional processes of a human carrying out mathematical computation. In the following issue of the same journal Turing published a two page correction to his paper.

Undoubtedly the most famous theoretical paper in the history of computing, "On Computable Numbers" is a mathematical description an imaginary computing device designed to replicate the mathematical "states of mind" and symbol-manipulating abilities of a human computer. Turing conceived of the universal machine as a means of answering the last of the three questions about mathematics posed by David Hilbert in 1928: (1) is mathematics complete; (2) is mathematics consistent; and (3) is mathematics decidable.

Hilbert's final question, known as the Entscheidungsproblem, concerns whether there exists a defiinite method—or, in the suggestive words of Turing's teacher Max Newman, a "mechanical process"—that can be applied to any mathematical assertion, and which is guaranteed to produce a correct decision as to whether that assertion is true. The Czech logician Kurt Gödel had already shown that arithmetic (and by extension mathematics) was both inconsistent and incomplete. Turing showed, by means of his universal machine, that mathematics was also undecidable.

To demonstrate this, Turing came up with the concept of "computable numbers," which are numbers defined by some definite rule, and thus calculable on the universal machine. These computable numbers, "would include every number that could be arrived at through arithmetical operations, finding roots of equations, and using mathematical functions like sines and logarithms—every number that could possibly arise in computational mathematics" (Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma [1983] 100). Turing then showed that these computable numbers could give rise to uncomputable ones—ones that could not be calculated using a definite rule—and that therefore there could be no "mechanical process" for solving all mathematical questions, since an uncomputable number was an example of an unsolvable problem.

From 1936 to 1938 Mathematician Alan Turing spent more than a year at Princeton University studying mathematical logic with Alonzo Church, who was pursuing research in recursion theory. In August 1936 Church gave Turing's idea of a "universal machine" the name "Turing machine." Church coined the term in his relatively brief review of "On Computable Numbers." With regard to Turing's proof of the unsolvability of Hilbert's Entscheidungsproblem, Church acknowledged that "computability by a Turing machine. . . has the advantage of making the identification with effectiveness in the ordinary (not explicitly defined) sense evident immediately—i.e. without the necessity of proving elementary theorems." Church working independently of Turing, had arrived at his own answer to the Entscheidungsproblem a few months earlier. Norman, From Gutenberg to the Internet, Reading 7.2.  

Independently of Alan Turing, mathematician and logician Emil Post of the City College of New York developed, and published in October 1936, a mathematical model of computation that was essentially equivalent to the Turing machine. Intending this as the first of a series of models of equivalent power but increasing complexity, he titled his paper Formulation 1. This model is sometime's called "Post's machine" or a Post-Turing machine.

In 1937 Turing and John von Neumann had their first discussions about computing and what would later be called “artificial intelligence” (AI). Always interested in practical applications of computing as well as theory, also while at Princeton, in 1937, believing that war with Germany was inevitable, Turing built in an experimental electromechanical cryptanalysis machine capable of binary multiplication in a university machine shop. After returning to England, on September 4, 1939, the day after Britain and France declared war on Germany, Turing reported to the Government Code and Cypher SchoolBletchley Park, in the town of Bletchley, England.

♦ In June 2013 it was my pleasure to purchase the famous copy of the offprint of "On Computable Numbers" along with the offprint of "On Computable Numbers . . . A Correction" that Turing presented to the English philosopher R. B. Braithwaite. One of very few copies in existence of the offprint, and possibly the only copy in private hands, the offprint sold for £205,000.  It was a price record for any offprint on a scientific or medical subject, for any publication in the history of computing, and probably the highest price paid for any scientific publication issued in the twentieth century.

Norman, From Gutenberg to the Internet, Reading 7.1. Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2002) No. 394. 

(This entry was last revised on 12-31-2014.)

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Founding of the Society of American Archivists December 1936

In December 1936 the Society of American Archivists was founded.

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Filed under: Archives

Elektro, the Most Famous Robot of the 1930s 1937 – 1938

Elektro, a robot built by the Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Corporation in its Mansfield, Ohio facility between 1937 and 1938, was seven feet tall and weighed 265 pounds.  Humanoid in appearance, he (it) could walk by voice command, speak about 700 words (using a 78-rpm record player), smoke cigarettes, blow up balloons, and move his head and arms. Elektro became the most famous robot of the 1930s.

Elektro's body consisted of a steel gear, cam and motor skeleton covered by an aluminum skin. His photoelectric "eyes" could distinguish red and green light. He was on exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair and reappeared at that fair in 1940, with "Sparko", a robot dog that could bark, sit, and beg.

"Elektro toured North America in 1950 in promotional appearances for Westinghouse, and was displayed at Pacific Ocean Park in Venice, California in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He also appeared as "Thinko", in Sex Kittens Go to College (1960), which starred Mamie Van Doren and Tuesday Weld. In the 1960s, his head was given to a retiring Westinghouse engineer and his body was sold for scrap." (Wikipedia article on Elektro, accessed 02-21-2012).

Remarkably Elektro seems to have survived the scrap heap, and in 2012 was reportedly being restored for the Mansfield Memorial Museum.

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"Trees to Tribune": Film on the Production of the Chicago Tribune Newspaper 1937

Trees to Tribune, an advertising film produced by the Chicago Tribune newspaper in 1937,  shows how newspapers were produced during the 1930's. We see the complete process beginning in the forest with the felling of trees, the transport of logs to the sawmill, chipping and pulping of the wood, processing of the pulp to form paper, and all the behind the scenes work required to print on the newspaper.

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The Only Known Complete Inventory of Art Labeled "Degenerate" by the Nazis 1937 – 1942

At the end of January 2014 the Victoria & Albert Museum in London made available online the only known copy of a complete inventory of Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) confiscated by the Nazi regime from public institutions in Germany, mostly during 1937 and 1938. The 2-volume typed list of more than 16,000 artworks was produced by the Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda) circa 1941-42. It seems that the inventory was compiled as a final record after the sales and disposals of the confiscated art had been completed in the summer of 1941. The two volumes provide crucial information concerning provenance, exhibition history, and disposition of each artwork. 

"The inventory consists of 482 pages (including blank pages and a missing page), split into two volumes. The entries are organised alphabetically by city, institution and artist's name. Volume 1 covers the cities Aachen to Görlitz, while Volume 2 covers Göttingen to Zwickau.

"Each page gives the name of the city and museum at the top, followed by two groups of columns containing information about each artwork. The first columns provide a running number, the artist’s surname, the inventory number and a short title. The remaining columns provide additional details, and were evidently added later. The contents include information about the medium and the buyer or dealer (if any), a code indicating the exhibition history or fate of the work, and any payments made in foreign currency and/or Reichsmarks" (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/e/entartete-kunst/, accessed 02-02-2014).

In February 2014 the first volume of the Nazi Degenerate Art Inventory, with an Introduction by Douglas Dodds and Heike Zech, was available at this link; the second volume was available at this link.

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Shannon's "Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits," "The Most Significant Master's Thesis of the 20th Century" August 10, 1937

Claude Shannon, in his master’s thesis entitled A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits, submitted to MIT on August 10, 1937, showed that the two-valued algebra developed by George Boole could be used as a basis for the design of electrical circuits. It was first published in a revised and abridged version in Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers 57 (1938) 713-23.

This thesis became the theoretical basis for the electronics and computer industries that were developed after World War II. Shannon wrote the thesis while working at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City. As examples of circuits that could be built using relays, Shannon appended to the thesis theoretical descriptions of "An Electric Adder to the Base Two," and "A Factor Table Machine." The "Factor Table Machine" was not included in the published version.

Shannon's thesis was later characterized as "the most significant master's thesis of the 20th century."  

♦ In October 2013 I was surprised to learn that as early as 1886 the American philosopher and logician Charles Sanders Peirce recognized that logical operations could be carried out by electrical switching circuits, and that circuit diagrams for a logic machine constructed from electrical circuits were produced for one of Peirce's students, Allan Marquand. Neither Peirce nor Marquand published on an electrical logic machine, and the concept seems not to have been pursued by either Peirce or Marquand beyond the drawing stage. Nor have I seen evidence of any further development of the concept until Shannon's thesis.

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George Stibitz Builds the First Electromechanical Computers in America November 1937 – October 1941

In November 1937 George Stibitz, a research mathematician at Bell Telephone Labs in New York City, built a binary adder out of a few light bulbs, batteries, relays and metal strips cut from tin cans on his kitchen table. This device was similar to a theoretical design described a few months earlier by Claude Shannon in his master's thesis. Stibitz's "Model K" (for “Kitchen”) was the first electromechanical computer built in America.

In 1939 Stibitz and Samuel Williams of Bell Labs in New York City began construction of the Complex Number Calculator (later known as the Bell Labs Model I). This machine was called “the first electromechanical computer for routine use.” It used telephone relays and coded decimal numbers as groups of four binary digits (bits) each.

On January 8, 1940 the Complex Number Calculator was operational. On September 11 the machine, located in New York, was demonstrated via a remote teletype terminal at the American Mathematical Association Meeting in Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. This was the first demonstration of remote computing. At the demonstration mathematician Norbert Wiener, and physicist John Mauchly spent a lot of time experimenting with the system. 

Inspired by the demonstration of remote computing using Wiener sent a letter to Vannevar Bush enclosing a “Memorandum on the Mechanical Solution of Partial Differential Equations.” This outlined a machine that had all the features of an electronic digital computer except for a stored program. The memorandum was not published until it appeared in Wiener’s Collected Works issued from 1976 to 1984.

On October 8, 1941 mathematician and computing pioneer Edmund C. Berkeley, an actuary at the Prudential Insurance Company in Boston, wrote a report on the possible application of Stibitz’s Complex Number Calculator for insurance-company calculations. This was one of the earliest reports on the application of an electromechnical computer in industry.

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Key Aspects of the Development of the Harvard Mark 1 and its Software November 1937 – 1946

American computing pioneer Howard H. Aiken first conceived of building a powerful, large-scale calculating machine in 1935 while pursuing graduate studies in physics at Harvard University. In 1937, after Aiken had become a professor of applied mathematics at Harvard's Graduate School of Engineering, he proposed his idea to a number of calculating-machine manufacturers, drafting a proposal for an automatic calculating machine, and receiving several rejections before finally convincing IBM to undertake the project. The project, known initially as Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC), and later called the Harvard Mark I, was partly funded by money from the United Statses Navy; the remainder came from IBM, whose president, Thomas J. Watson, viewed the undertaking as good publicity and as a showcase for IBM's talents. 

Aiken's machine began construction in May 1939 at IBM's North Street Laboratory in Endicott, New York. The chief engineers on the project were Clair D. Lake, James W. Bryce, Francis E. Hamilton, and Benjamin Durfee; these men were responsible for translating Aiken's design ideas into workable machinery, and Aiken never hesitated to acknowledge them as co-inventors of the Mark I. To give the machine a beautiful appearance, Watson commissioned the avant-garde industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes to design a metal cabinet for the machine. Geddes's work gave the machine a very modernistic look. By January 1943  the machine was operational at IBM Endicott Labs under wartime security. The completed electromechanical calculating machine weighed five tons.

Construction of the Mark I was completed in early 1943, and a year later the machine was dismantled and shipped to Harvard, where it became operational in May 1944. he electromechanical machine solved addition problems in less than a second, multiplication in six seconds, and division in 12 seconds. Grace Hopper wrote some of its first programs, which ran on punched tape.The machine was officially presented to Harvard by IBM at a dedication ceremony held on August 7. Unfortunately, the press release announcing the event slighted IBM by describing Aiken as the machine's sole inventor, ignoring the crucial role IBM had played in its creation. This regrettable faux pas infuriated Watson, who was in attendance at the ceremony, and put an end to any hopes of a continuing partnership between IBM and Harvard. 

In 1945, probably in October, Aiken published Tables of the Modified Hankel Functions of Order One-Third and of their Derivatives. These tables, calculated by the Harvard Mark I were the first published mathematical tables calculated by a programmed automatic computer, finally fulfilling the dream of Charles Babbagefirst expressed in 1822. Calculating these tables required the equivalent of forty-five days of computer processing time on the Mark I. Prior to the Mark I, calculating the tables would have required years of human computation.

In 1946 Aiken and Grace Hopper published Manual of Operation for the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator. The instruction sequences scattered throughout this volume on the Harvard Mark I were among the earliest published examples of digital computer programs. Aiken saw himself as Babbage's intellectual successor, and in an excellent historical introduction to this technical manual he and Hopper placed the Harvard Mark I in its historical context.  The introduction began with the following quotation from Babbage's autobiography (1864):

"If, unwarned by my example, any man shall undertake and shall succeed in really constructing an engine embodying in itself the whole of the executive department of mathematical analysis upon different principles or by simpler mechanical means, I have no fear of leaving my reputation in his charge, for he alone will be fully able to appreciate the nature of my efforts and the value of their results."  

I. B. Cohen, in his biography of Aiken, Portrait of a Computer Pioneer (2000) pointed out that Aiken was not well informed about the actual design of Babbage's Analytical Engine when he was designing the Mark I; otherwise Aiken would have included conditional branch facilities in its original design. Before designing the machine Aiken seems to have read Babbage's autobiography rather than the posthumous Babbage's Calculating Engines, in which more details of the design of the Analytical Engine were given. An imposing thick quarto with large photographs of the very modernistic looking Mark I, this technical volume full of computer programs must have been perceived as radically new when it was published. The computer historian Paul Ceruzzi implies as much in the following description:

"[The Harvard Mark I] manual was a milepost that marked the state of the art of machine computation at one of its critical places: where, for the first time, machines could automatically evaluate arbitrary sequences of arithmetic operations. Most of this volume (pp. 98-337, 406-557) consists of descriptions of the Mark I's components, its architecture, and operational codes for directing it to solve typical problems. . . . The Manual is one of the first places where sequences of arithmetic operations for the solution of numeric problems by machine were explicitly spelled out. It is furthermore the first extended analysis of what is now known as computer programming since Charles Babbage's and Lady Lovelace's writings a century earlier. The instruction sequences, which one finds scattered throughout this volume, are thus among the earliest examples anywhere of digital computer programs" (Ceruzzi 1985, xv-xvii).

The Mark I was an electromechanical machine, based largely on existing IBM punched-card technology. Paul Ceruzzi, in his introduction to the 1985 reprint of the Mark I's manual, described it as follows:

"The architecture of the Mark I was unlike that of any modern computer. Its basic units were a set of seventy-two accumulators that could both store and add 23-digit signed decimal numbers. There was no clear separation of the storage and arithmetic functions. Besides the accumulators there were sixty constant registers whose contents could be read but not altered during a program run, a multiply-divide unit, and paper tape readers for reading numbers and sequences of operations. . . ."  

"The basic computing element of the Mark I was a multipole rotary switch, connected by a clutch to a drive shaft, by which decimal units, carry, and timing information were stored. Banks of twenty-four switches (holding twenty-three decimal digits and the sign of a number), made up one accumulator. The drive shaft rotated continuously; electrically activated clutches engaged the wheels of an accumulator whenever a number was to be transferred. The clutches were in turn driven by double-throw relays. The Mark I was an electromechanical calculator: it held numbers in mechanical elements (the rotary switches), which were electrically controlled (by the clutch relays). Electrical pulses traveling along a common bus conveyed numbers to and from the accumulators. . . . Getting the Mark I to execute a desired sequence of operations involved a combination of two processes: preparing a sequence tape fed into the Sequence Control Unit (coding) and plugging cables into plugboards located at several places on the machine (setup). . . . The Sequence Tape reader had no provision for backing up the tape or for skipping steps. This meant that the Mark I executed only simple, linear sequences of instructions. Sequence (and Value) tapes could be cemented into endless loops, however, and this was frequently done. After 1947 a Subsidiary Sequence mechanism was attached to the Calculator that allowed such endless loops of tape to supply sub-sequences to the main sequence control (Ceruzzi 1985, xxi-xxvi).

After the Mark I was set up at Harvard in 1944 it was immediately commandeered for war work by the United States Navy. Aiken, a commander in the United States Naval Reserve (USNR), was put in charge of the navy's computation project, and he later joked that he was first naval officer ever to command a computer. Most of Aiken's staff at the Computation Laboratory also held commissions in the USNR. One of these was Lieutenant (later Admiral) Grace M. Hopper, a mathematician who, in her own words, had "never met a digit" until joining the Computation Laboratory (quoted in Ceruzzi 1985, xviii); she would go on to become one of the most famous of the postwar computer pioneers, making fundamental contributions to the development of the first compilers.  

The operating manual for the Mark I calculator - published as Volume 1 of the Annals of the Computation Laboratory of Harvard University - was written largely by Hopper, who was the chief author of chapters 1-3 and the eight appendices following chapter 6. Chapters 4 and 5 were written by Aiken and Robert Campbell, and chapter 6, containing directions for solving sample problems on the machine, was primarily the work of Brooks J. Lockhart.

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace, no. 411 and other entries.

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Chester Carlson invents Xerography; It Becomes Successful About 20 Years Later 1938 – 1949

In 1938 American physicist, inventor, and patent attorney Chester F. Carlson of Astoria, Queens, New York invented xerography, Originally called electrophotography, xerography did not become a commercial success until the wide adoption of the xerographic copier during the late 1950s.

In 1949 the Haloid Company of Rochester, New York introduced the Model A, the first commercial xerographic copier. Manually operated, it was also known as the Ox Box. An improved version, Camera #1, was introduced in 1950. The company renamed itself Haloid Xerox in 1958, and shortened its name to Xerox Corporation in 1961.

(This entry was last revised on 01-17-2015.)

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La Réalité virtuelle 1938

In 1938 French poet, playwright, actor and director Antonin Artaud, working in Paris, published Le théâtre et son double. Artaud described theatre as  "la réalité virtuelle," a virtual reality "in which characters, objects, and images take on the phantasmagoric force of alchemy's visionary internal dramas."  Arnauld's description may be the first use of the phrase, virtual reality.

(This entry was last revised on April 6, 2014.)

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Otto Bettman Founds The Bettmann Archive: the Beginning of "The Visual Age" 1938

The Bettmann Archive, founded in New York in 1936 by Otto Bettmann, a refugee from Nazi Germany, contained 15,000 images by 1938.  Bettmann later characterized this period of time as "the beginning of the visual age." By 1980, the year before Bettmann sold the archive to the Kraus-Thomson Organization, the archive contained 2,000,000 images, carefully selected for their historical value, mainly under the five categories of world events, personalities, lifestyles, advertising art, and art and illustrations.

In 1984 the Kraus-Thomson Organization acquired the extensive United Press International (UPI) collection, containing millions of worldwide news and lifestyle photographs taken by photographers working for United Press International, International News Photos, Acme Newspictures, and Pacific and Atlantic.

In 1995 Corbis, a company controlled by Bill Gates, bought the Bettmann Archive.

"Beginning in 1997, Corbis spent five years selecting images of maximum historical value and saleability for digitization. More than 1.3 million images (26% of the collection) have been edited and 225,000 have been digitized. Because of this effort, more images from the Bettmann Archive are available now than ever before.

"In 2002, the Archive was moved to a state-of-the-art, sub-zero film preservation facility in western Pennsylvania. The 10,000-square-foot underground storage facility is environmentally-controlled, with specific conditions (minus -20°C, relative humidity of 35%) calculated to preserve prints, color transparencies, negatives, photographs, enclosures, and indexing systems" (http://www.corbis.com/BettMann100/Archive/Preservation.asp, accessed 01-17-2010).

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Felix Haurowitz Suggests that Hemoglobin is a Molecular Lung 1938

In 1938, while working at the Charles University in Prague, Czech-American biochemist Felix Haurowitz discovered that crystalline deoxyhemoglobin changes in shape and color on reaction with oxygen, suggesting that it is a molecular lung. Haurowitz, “Das Gleichgewicht zwischen Hämoglobin and Sauerstoff,” Hoppe-Seyl. Z. Physiol. Chem. 254 (1938) 266-72.

To escape the holocaust, in April 1939 Haurowitz and his family emigrated to Turkey, where Haurowitz became Professor and Director of the Institute for Biological and Medical Chemistry in Istanbul. After World War II Haurowitz emigrated to the United States and became professor at Indiana University in Bloomington. There in 1949 James D. Watson took Haurowitz’s course on proteins and nucleic acids.

Max Perutz, Science is Not a Quiet Life, xviii. (Haurowitz was married to one of Perutz's cousins.)

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Warren Weaver Coins the Term "Molecular Biology" 1938

Perhaps the only mathematician to name a new biological discipline, in 1938, as Director of the Natural Sciences Division of the Rockefeller Foundation, Warren Weaver coined the term molecular biology to describe the use of techniques from the physical sciences (X-rays, radioisotopes, ultracentrifuges, mathematics, etc. ) to study living matter. In the same year the Rockefeller Foundation awarded research grants to Linus Pauling for research on the structure of hemoglobin. Under Weaver's direction the Rockefeller Foundation became a primary funder of early research in molecular biology.

Warren Weaver, "Molecular biology: origin of the term", Science 170 (1970) 591-2. 

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John Logie Baird Makes the First Mechanical Color Broadcast February 4, 1938

On February 4, 1938 Scottish inventor John Logie Baird made the world's first color broadcast, sending a mechanically scanned 120-line image from Baird's Crystal Palace studios to a projection screen at London's Dominion Theatre.

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Filed under: Television

Mass Hysteria Induced by Electronic Media October 30, 1938

On October 30, 1938 Orson Wells and the Mercury Theatre in New York broadcast over CBS radio H. G. Wells' 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds. The broadcast was heard by 6,000,000 people, some of whom believed that the story of the invading Martians was real. To the extent that a large number of people were deceived, this may be one of the earliest examples of mass hysteria induced by electronic media.

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Fantasies of an All-Encompassing Archive or "Universal Library" 1939

In 1939 Argentine writer and librarian Jorge Luis Borges in Buenos Aires published an essay entitled La bibliotheca total (The Total Library), describing his fantasy of an all-encompassing archive or universal library.
In Borges' work this universal library was created, remarkably, by an abstract device that produced a random sequence of letters and symbols, ad infinitum. In his essay Borges

"traced the infinite-monkey concept back to Aristotle's Metaphysics. Explaining the views of Leucippus, who held that the world arose through the random combination of atoms, Aristotle notes that the atoms themselves are homogeneous and their possible arrangements only differ in shape, position and ordering. In De Generatione et corruptione (On Generation and Corruption), the Greek philosopher compares this to the way that a tragedy and a comedy consist of the same "atoms", i.e., alphabetic characters. Three centuries later, Cicero's De natura deorum (On the Nature of the Gods) argued against the atomist worldview:

" 'He who believes this may as well believe that if a great quantity of the one-and-twenty letters, composed either of gold or any other matter, were thrown upon the ground, they would fall into such order as legibly to form the Annals of Ennius. I doubt whether fortune could make a single verse of them.'

"Borges follows the history of this argument through Blaise Pascal and Jonathan Swift, then observes that in his own time, the vocabulary had changed. By 1939, the idiom was 'that a half-dozen monkeys provided with typewriters would, in a few eternities, produce all the books in the British Museum.' (To which Borges adds, 'Strictly speaking, one immortal monkey would suffice.') Borges then imagines the contents of the Total Library which this enterprise would produce if carried to its fullest extreme:

" 'Everything would be in its blind volumes. Everything: the detailed history of the future, Aeschylus' The Egyptians, the exact number of times that the waters of the Ganges have reflected the flight of a falcon, the secret and true nature of Rome, the encyclopedia Novalis would have constructed, my dreams and half-dreams at dawn on August 14, 1934, the proof of Pierre Fermat's theorem, the unwritten chapters of Edwin Drood, those same chapters translated into the language spoken by the Garamantes, the paradoxes Berkeley invented concerning Time but didn't publish, Urizen's books of iron, the premature epiphanies of Stephen Dedalus, which would be meaningless before a cycle of a thousand years, the Gnostic Gospel of Basilides, the song the sirens sang, the complete catalog of the Library, the proof of the inaccuracy of that catalog. Everything: but for every sensible line or accurate fact there would be millions of meaningless cacophonies, verbal farragoes, and babblings. Everything: but all the generations of mankind could pass before the dizzying shelves—shelves that obliterate the day and on which chaos lies—ever reward them with a tolerable page' " (Wikipedia article on Infinite Monkey Theorem, accessed 05-25-2009).

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DDT is Discovered, and Eventually Banned 1939 – 1972

During World War II, 1939, Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller of J. R. Geigy AG in Basel discovered the high efficiency of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) as a contact poison against several athropods.  Throughout the war DDT was used with great effect among both military and civilian populations to control mosquitoes spreading malaria and lice transmitting typhus, resulting in dramatic reductions in the incidence of both diseases.

In 1948 Müller received the Nobel Prize in Biology and Medicine for this discovery, which is thought to have saved the lives of over 21,000,000 people worldwide. After the war, DDT was made available for use as an agricultural insecticide, and its production and use skyrocketed with unexpected disastrous effects upon the environment. 

As a result of the 1962 book, Silent Spring, by American marine biologist and nature writer, Rachel Carson, the disastrous consequences of DDT began to be understood by politicians and the public, and DDT was eventually banned in the United States in 1972.

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One of the First "Maps of Science" 1939

In 1939 British physicist, x-ray crystallographer, molecular biologist, historian and sociologist of science John Desmond Bernal published The Social Function of Science in London. This pioneering sociological study work contained two large folding information graphics. The first was one of the first attempts at a "map of science." It divided science into physical, biological, and social sectors and distinguished between fundamental and technical research.

Börner, Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know (2010) 11.

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Pauling's "The Nature of the Chemical Bond" 1939

In 1939 American chemist Linus Pauling issued his textbook The Nature of the Chemical Bond and the Structure of Molecules and Crystals: An Introduction to Modern Structural Chemistry. This set forth in detail his valence-bond theory based on the quantum-mechanical concept of resonance between two energy states, which led to his highly innovative idea that the hybridization of orbitals (electron waves) between atoms is what makes molecular structure possible. Pauling’s work “taught a couple of generations of chemists that the sizes and electrical charges of atoms determine exactly [emphasis mine] their arrangement in molecules” (Judson, The Eighth Day of Creation, p. 57); in biochemistry, it proved essential to understanding the helical structure of DNA and other complex proteins. Pauling was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1954 for his research into the nature of the chemical bond.

"The Nature of the Chemical Bond was written in language that chemists could understand. Pauling purposely left out almost all mathematics and detailed derivations of bonds from quantum mechanics, concentrating instead on description and real-world examples. The book was filled with drawings and diagrams of molecules. It was, considering the breadth of its approach, amazingly readable.

"And it was vitally important. In it Pauling had, as Nobel Laureate Max Perutz later said, shown that "chemistry could be understood rather than being memorized."

"The response to its publication was immediate and enthusiastic. A letter Pauling received from a University of Illinois professor was typical: "I cannot refrain from taking the opportunity to express to you congratulations and my personal appreciation for one of the finest contributions to chemical literature that I have ever read."

"G. N. Lewis, to whom Pauling dedicated the book, wrote him, "I have just returned from a short vacation for which the only books I took were half a dozen detective stories and your ‘Chemical Bond.’ I found yours the most exciting of the lot."

"The book soon became a standard text at most of the nation’s leading universities. It would go through a number of new editions, be translated into French, Japanese, Russian, German and Spanish, and stay in print for almost three decades. It would become a Bible for a new generation of chemists and one of the most cited references in the history of science (http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/coll/pauling/bond/narrative/page47.html, accessed 01-16-2014). 

Judson, The Eighth Day of Creation, 51-70. James, Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, 368-78; 422-26. Goertzel & Goertzel, Linus Pauling, 66-77. 

In January 2014 a very comprehensive website on Pauling's work on the nature of the chemical bond, including his classic textbook, was available from Oregon State University at this link.

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RCA Introduces of Regularly Scheduled Electronic TV Broadcasting in America April 1939

In April 1939 RCA's National Broadcasting Company (NBC) introduced regularly scheduled, electronic television broacasting in America. The first television broadcast aired was the dedication of the RCA pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fairgrounds. It was introduced by David Sarnoff himself.

Later that month on April 30, opening day ceremonies at The World's Fair were telecast in the medium's first major production, featuring a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first US President to appear on television.

These telecasts were seen only in New York City and the immediate vicinity, since NBC television had only one station at the time, W2XBS Channel 1, now WNBC Channel 4. The broadcast was seen by an estimated 1,000 viewers from the roughly 200 televisions sets which existed in the New York City area at the time.

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Filed under: Television

Highlights of Alan Turing and Colleagues' Cryptanalysis Work at Bletchley Park Circa September 1939 – 1945

On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II. Two days later, on September 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany. The following day Alan Turing appeared for work at the Code Code and Cypher School at Bletchley, England, with the goal of deciphering military communications encoded by means of Enigma machines.

As early as December 1932 the Biuro Szyfrów ("Cipher Bureau") in Warsaw, the Polish interwaragency charged with both cryptography  and cryptanalysis, had broken the German Enigma machine cipher.Over the next nearly seven years before World War II, the Polish "Cipher Bureau" overcame the growing structural and operating complexities of the plugboard-equipped Enigma, the main German cipher device during the Second World War.

Prior to the beginning of World War II, in October 1938 Polish Cipher Bureau mathematician and cryptologist Marian Rejewski designed the bomba, or bomba kryptologiczna  ("bomb" or "cryptologic bomb,") a special-purpose machine for breaking German Enigma machine  ciphers. On July 25, 1939 the Biuro Szyfrów revealed Poland's Enigma-decryption techniques and equipment, which it had achieved using the bomba device, to the French and British. Poland thereby made possible the western Allies' vitally important decryption of Nazi German   secret communications (Ultra) during World War II.

"Up to July 25, 1939, the Poles had been breaking Enigma messages for over six and a half years without telling their  French  and British allies. On December 15, 1938, two new rotors, IV and V, were introduced (three of the now five rotors being selected for use in the machine at a time). As Rejewski wrote in a 1979 critique of appendix 1, volume 1 (1979), of the official history of British Intelligence in the Second World War, 'we quickly found the [wirings] within the [new rotors], but [their] introduction [...] raised the number of possible sequences of drums from 6 to 60 [...] and hence also raised tenfold the work of finding the keys. Thus the change was not qualitative but quantitative. We would have had to markedly increase the personnel to operate the bombs, to produce the perforated sheets (60 series of 26 sheets each were now needed, whereas up to the meeting on July 25, 1939, we had only two such series ready) and to manipulate the sheets.'

"Harry Hinsley suggested in British Intelligence . . . that the Poles decided to share their Enigma-breaking techniques and equipment with the French and British in July 1939 because they had encountered insuperable technical difficulties. Rejewski refuted this: 'No, it was not [cryptologic] difficulties [. . .] that prompted us to work with the British and French, but only the deteriorating political situation. If we had had no difficulties at all we would still, or even the more so, have shared our achievements with our allies as our contribution to the struggle against Germany' ' (Wikipedia article on Bomba (cryptography), accessed 12-21-2008).

In the first few months after arriving at Bletchley Turing made a key deduction that led to his development of Banburismus, a cryptanalytic process used by Turing and his co-workers at Bletchley's Hut 8 to help break German Kriegsmarine (Naval) messages enciphered by Enigma.

"The process used sequential conditional probability to infer information about the likely settings of the Enigma machine. It gave rise to Turing's invention of the ban as a measure of the weight of evidence in favour of a hypothesis. This concept was later applied in Turingery and all the other methods used for breaking the Lorenz cipher.

"The aim of Banburismus was to reduce the time required of the electromechanical Bombe machines by identifying the most likely right-hand and middle wheels of the Enigma. Hut 8 performed the procedure continuously for two years, stopping only in 1943 when sufficient bombe time became readily available. Banburismus was a development of the "clock method" invented by the Polish cryptanalyst Jerzy Różyck

To develop Banburismus Turing

"deduced that the message-settings of Kriegsmarine Enigma signals were enciphered on a common G rundstellung (starting position of the rotors), and were then super-enciphered with a bigram and a trigram lookup table. These trigram tables were in a book called the Kenngruppenbuch (K book). However, without the bigram tables, Hut 8 were unable to start attacking the traffic. A breakthrough was achieved after the Narvik pinch in which the disguised armed trawler Polares, which was on its way to Narvik in Norway, was seized by HMS Griffin in the North Sea on 26 April 1940. The Germans did not have time to destroy all their cryptographic documents, and the captured material revealed the precise form of the indicating system, supplied the plugboard connections and Grundstellung for April 23 and 24 and the operators' log, which gave a long stretch of paired plaintext and enciphered message for the 25th and 26th.

"The bigram tables themselves were not part of the capture, but Hut 8 were able to use the settings-lists to read retrospectively, all the Kriegsmarine traffic that had been intercepted from 22 to 27 April. This allowed them do a partial reconstruction of the bigram tables and start the first attempt to use Banburismus to attack Kriegsmarine traffic, from 30 April onwards. Eligible days were those where at least 200 messages were received and for which the partial bigram-tables deciphered the indicators. The first day to be broken was 8 May 1940, thereafter celebrated as "Foss's Day" in honour of Hugh Foss, the cryptanalyst who achieved the feat.

"This task took until November that year, by which time the intelligence was very out of date, but it did show that Banburismus could work. It also allowed much more of the bigram tables to be reconstructed, which in turn allowed April 14 and June 26 to be broken. However, the Kriegsmarine had changed the bigram tables on 1 July. By the end of 1940, much of the theory of the Banburismus scoring system had been worked out.

"The First Lofoten pinch from the trawler Krebs on 3 March 1941 provided the complete keys for February - but no bigram tables or K book. The consequent decrypts allowed the statistical scoring system to be refined so that Banburismus could become the standard procedure against Kriegsmarine Enigma until mid-1943" (This and the earlier quotation are from the Wikipedia article on Banburismus, accessed 01-04-2015.)

About December 1940 Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman at Bletchley Park designed an improved Bombe cryptanalysis machine for deciphering Enigma messages.

Between 1940 and 1941 Max Newman and his team at Bletchley, including Turing, created the top-secret Heath Robinson cryptographic computer named after the cartoonist-designer of fantastic machines. This special-purpose relay computer successfully decoded messages encrypted by Enigma, the Nazis' first-generation enciphering machine.

In July 1942 Turing developed  the hand codebreaking method known as Turingery or Turing's Method (playfully dubbed Turingismus by Peter Ericsson, Peter Hilton and Donald Michie)  for use in cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher produced by the SZ40 and SZ42 teleprinter rotor stream cipher machines, one of the GermansGeheimschreiber (secret writer) machines. The British codenamed non-Morse traffic "Fish", and that from this machine "Tunny".

"Reading a Tunny message required firstly that the logical structure of the system was known, secondly that the periodically changed pattern of active cams on the wheels was derived, and thirdly that the starting positions of the scrambler wheels for this message—the message key—was established.The logical structure of Tunny had been worked out by William Tutte and colleagues over several months ending in January 1942. Deriving the message key was called "setting" at Bletchley Park, but it was the derivation of the cam patterns—which was known as "wheel breaking"—that was the target of Turingery.

"German operator errors in transmitting more than one message with the same key, producing a "depth", allowed the derivation of that key. Turingery was applied to such a key stream to derive the cam settings" (Wikipedia article on Turingery, accessed 01-04-2015).

In 1943 Alan Turing traveled to New York to consult with Claude Shannon and Harry Nyquist at Bell Labs concerning the encryption of speech signals between Roosevelt and Churchill.

In January 1944 the top-secret Colossus programmable cryptanalysis machine designed by Tommy Flowers and his team at the Post Office Research Station, Dollis Hill, in North West London, was installed at Bletchley Park to crack the higher level encryption of the Nazi Lorenz SZ40 machine. Colossus employed vacuum tubes and was between one hundred and one thousand times faster than Heath Robinson. "It exceeded all expectations and was able to derive many of the Lorenz settings for each message within a few hours, compared to weeks previously" (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/remembering-colossus-worlds-first.html, accessed 03-0-2012). The Colossus machines have been called the first operational programmable electronic digital computers.

On June 1, 1944 the first improved Colossus Mark 2 with 2400 vacuum tubes was operational at Bletchley Park just in time for the Normandy Landings. By the end of the war there were ten Colossus computers operating. They enabled the decryption of 63,000,000 characters of high-grade German messages. Even though these machines incorporated features of special purpose electronic digital computers, and had incalculable influence on the outcome of WWII, they had little influence in the conventional sense on the development of computing technology because they remained top secret until about 1970.

"The Colossus computers were used to help decipher teleprinter  messages which had been encrypted using the Lorenz SZ40/42 machine — British codebreakers referred to encrypted German teleprinter traffic as "Fish" and called the SZ40/42 machine and its traffic as 'Tunny'. Colossus compared two data streams, counting each match based on a programmable Boolean function. The encrypted message was read at high speed from a paper tape. The other stream was generated internally, and was an electronic simulation of the Lorenz machine at various trial settings. If the match count for a setting was above a certain threshold, it would be sent as output to an electric typewriter" (Wikipedia article on Colossus computer, accessed 11-23-2008).

In March 2012 the Colossus Rebuild Project at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park had completed an operating reconstruction of a Colossus II, after 10 years and over 6,000 man-days of volunteer effort. The Rebuild stands in its historically correct place, the room in H Block, in Bletchley Park, where Colossus No. 9 stood in WW II.

(This entry was last revised on 01-17-2015.)

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Alfred Wiener Creates the First Holocaust Museum September 1, 1939

On September 1, 1939, the day that German troops marched into Poland, German Jew Alfred Wiener opened the Jewish Central Information Office in London. This library, which was later called the "oldest holocaust museum," functioned during World War II as a private intelligence service, and Wiener was paid by British government departments for keeping them informed of developments in Germany.

In 1919 Wiener was a high-ranking official in the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, CV). As early as 1925 he identified the Nazi Party as the chief danger to the Jews of Germany and to German society as a whole. In 1933, Wiener fled Germany for Amsterdam. Together with Prof. David Cohen, he set up the Jewish Central Information Office, collecting and disseminating information about events happening in Nazi Germany. In 1939 Wiener transferred the library to London, and Wiener made the resources available to the British and other governments' intelligence departments, and the international press, especially the BBC. The library soon became known as "Dr Wiener's Library" and the name was adopted. After the end of World War II, the library used its extensive collections on National Socialism and the Third Reich to provide material to the United Nations War Crimes Commission and for bringing war criminals to justice.

In December 2011 the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide moved to 29 Russell Square, a revovated Georgian townhouse flanked by the Birkbeck College history department and the School of Orient and African Studies at the University of London.

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