Paid Cable Television Channels

Background Charles Dolan was a cable TV pioneer who received a license to build a cable television system in lower Manhattan. Due to New York City restrictions, cables needed to run underground, vastly increasing the cost of the infrastructure. New Yorkers lacked enthusiasm. By 1971, Dolan only had 400 subscribers. To increase sales, Dolan eventually […]

Consumer Shared Computer Network (CompuServe)

CompuServe is the first computer network targeted towards ordinary people though it did not start out that way. Background Jeff Wilkins sold burglar alarms. His father-in-law ran a small insurance company and needed to buy a computer. However, the DEC model he wanted had far more computing power than his father required. Wilkins realized he […]

35-millimeter Photography

35mm film remained the standard for photography for decades until digital photography. The film is important because it enabled the miniaturization of cameras. Background The Houston brothers invented roll film and sold the rights to George Eastman. Eventually, Thomas Edison purchased 70mm roll film from Eastman to make movies. Subsequently, Edison employee William Dickson sliced […]

Broadcast News

The Scripps newspaper family-owned, among other newspapers, The Detroit News. They noticed when the Titanic sunk, in 1912, that radio sent the news far faster than telegraphs or telephones. An Experiment In 1920 radio was for what today we’d call early adopters. There were few broadcasts and most of those were sporadic broadcasting of recorded […]

Modern Art

Background Towards the late 1800s, two new technologies radically changed the world of painting. The first photography. Images were primitive, expensive, and slow at first. However, by the late 1800s photography would eventually produce entirely realistic images in less time and at less cost than any painter could. Painting as a functional exercise, to preserve […]

Modern Advertising

Before Albert Lasker advertisements tended to be crude, raising awareness or reinforcing a brand name. Many ads were not much more than offers to purchase something, with no overarching idea. Lasker used the emerging science of psychology and budding technology of radio to radically change advertising. Background Born in Germany, Lasker moved to the US […]

Stepping Switch

Stepping switches change the direction of a magnetic flow to one of multiple channels, stepping through them incrementally. Which sounds incredibly boring until we realize they enabled the modern phone system and powered the decryption machines which morphed into the modern computer. Stepping switches were literally a step from the industrial revolution to the modern […]

Metric System

The metric system standardized weights and measures enabling trade and improving communication. Before the metric system, every country and also countless regions, used different forms of measurement. This vastly complicated international trade. Metric The metric system derives from the natural world and uses a decimal counting system for simplicity. Length derives from the meter, a […]