Just as the younger generation who live in the big cities could be forgiven for not knowing that milk comes from out of a cow before it comes out of a bottle, we could all be excused for thinking that the things that surround us in our homes have always been around. Such is not the case, of course - products have to be invented, day to day items that are commonplace around our homes were once just an idea in someone's mind, either invented to make a task easier or in the case of food products, to give the consumer a new taste to savour.
Many of the household items we take for granted and can't even begin to imagine what life would be like without them have not only not always been around, but the majority were only introduced during the lifetimes of our Baby Boomer generation, that is, the people who were born in 1946 and after. Here are just some of the inventions and innovations that were introduced to Australian consumers after the end of World War II.
Hugh Le Caine (1914-1977) not only built the world's first voltage controlled music synthesizer (1945), touch sensitive keyboard, and variable speed multi-track tape recorder, he also composed unique works that helped to popularize electronic music. Le Caine, a Canadian electronic music pioneer, designed over twenty analogue musical instruments. Early synthesizers were often experimental special-built devices, usually based on the concept of modularity. Don Buchla, Raymond Scott and Paul Ketoff were also among the first to build such instruments, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Only Buchla later produced a commercial modular synthesizer. Robert Moog, who had been a student of Peter Mauzey, one of the engineers of the RCA Mark II, created a revolutionary synthesizer that could actually be used by pop musicians. Moog designed the circuits used in his synthesizer while he was at Columbia-Princeton. The Moog synthesizer was first displayed at the Audio Engineering Society convention in 1964. Like the RCA Mark II, it required a lot of experience to set up the machine for a new sound, but it was smaller and more intuitive. Less like a machine and more like a musical instrument, the Moog synthesizer was at first a curiosity, but by 1968 had caused a sensation.
Micky Dolenz of The Monkees bought one of the first three Moog synthesizers and the first commercial release to feature a Moog synthesizer was The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., in 1967, which also became the first album featuring a synthesizer to hit #1 on the charts. Also among the first music performed on this synthesizer was the million-selling 1968 album Switched-On Bach by Wendy Carlos. Switched-On Bach was one of the most popular classical-music recordings ever made.
During the late 1960s, hundreds of other popular recordings used Moog synthesizer sounds. The Moog synthesizer even spawned a subculture of record producers who made novelty "Moog" recordings, depending on the odd new sounds made by their synthesizers (which were not always Moog units) to draw attention and sales. Moog also established standards for control interfacing, with a logarithmic 1-volt-per-octave pitch control and a separate pulse triggering signal. This standardization allowed synthesizers from different manufacturers to operate together. Pitch control is usually performed either with an organ-style keyboard or a music sequencer, which produces a series of control voltages over a fixed time period and allows some automation of music production.
Planning for Australian television began only in the late 1940s, more than a decade after the first television services were introduced overseas. In 1954, the Federal Government announced that a Government-funded service and two commercial services would be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne in 1956 in time to broadcast the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Services in other cities and regions were to be introduced in stages. This broadly followed the recommendations of a Royal Commission. Australians took to television enthusiastically. By 1960, 70 per cent of homes in Sydney and Melbourne had a television set. As television was introduced to other capital cities in the late 1950s and to regional centres from the early 1960s, the reaction was just as enthusiastic.
By the mid-1960s, television was available in most of Australia and 90 per cent of homes in established markets had a television set. Television had become the main form of entertainment and information for most Australians, supplanting radio and cinema, and challenging newspapers and magazines. It had also become a major advertising medium. As television was making its way into smaller markets in the mid-1960s in the form of a national (ABC) service and a single commercial station third commercial services were licensed in most capital cities. By the time colour television was introduced in 1975, only the most remote areas remained unserved by television. Virtually every home had at least one television set. Within five years, almost 80 per cent of homes had a colour television set the fastest adoption of colour television in the world.
Though Australia didn't see colour television until 1975, the US was introduced to colour on 25th June 1951. At that time, there were 12 million TV sets in US homes, of which only two dozen could receive CBS color. CBS made history by presenting an hour long color TV program hosted by Ed Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey with 16 stars that performed song, dance and comedy routines. More ...
The Howdy Doody Show (1955) was the first television series to be produced in colour. In 1956, an image of Douglas Edwards checking tape broadcast equipment on 30th November 1956 became the first television broadcast to be made from a tape recording.
Altair 8800 Home Computer
PC's (Personal Computers)
The first true computers were only built around the 1940s, and the progress of the computer since that time is undoubtedly one of the most important technological stories of the 20th century. The world's first commercial computer began use on 14th June 1951. The Univac weighed eight tons but has since been surpassed by today's laptop computers. The computer revolution was made possible by microchips - microscopically small components etched into strips of the element silicon. These microchips were invented in 1959 by American Jack Kilby and first made in the 1960s. These days they are present everywhere - from toasters to toys, and from car engines to cookers. And computers are a part of everyday life. In November, 1971, Intel publicly introduced the world's first single chip microprocessor, the Intel 4004, invented by Intel engineers Federico Faggin, Ted Hoff, and Stan Mazor. The 4004 contained 2250 transistors on a single chip.
The Mits Corporation introduced the first popular home computer, the Altair 8800 Home Computer, in 1975. The Altair computer kit sold for about $400 and began the personal computer revolution. The 80s witnessed an incredile computer war as systems and manufacturers battled for supremacy. Before Windows XP and the iMac were conceived, millions of man-hours were wasted by schoolchildren in a vain attempt to key in a basic programme in order to load games such as Manic Miner and Atic Atac. In 1981, IBM launched its Personal Computer (or PC). IBM asked Intel to produce the all-important microchip, and the software house Microsoft to write the operating system software (MS-DOS). The IBM PC, model No.5150, was conceived by a team of IBM engineers in Boca Raton, Florida in early 1980 and was launched in the US on 12th August 1981.
IBM's name on the computer (rather than that of its smaller rivals Altair and Apple) gave buyers confidence in their PCs and IBM took the lead. It was the first time computers had been affordable for personal use, and PCs became a best-seller. In 1984, IBM was selling more than 3 million PCs a year when Apple launched a radical new machine - the Macintosh. A pointing device called a mouse - it had a body and tail like a mouse, hence its name - made the Macintosh much easier touse, and files were represented graphically on the screen as little icons instead of the long lists of words in MS-DOS. Microsoft ultimately responded by creating Windows, which had a similar look and feel to the Mac operating system.
Commodore Amiga A1000 Home Computer
First shown in 1984, marketed 1985, The Commodore Amiga A1000 was the very first personal computer with superior graphics and sound capabilities with a GUI environment. It provided multi-tasking capability with driver-and-library-using design. There were two versions of the Amiga 1000. The first one sold only in the USA, had a NTSC display, and no EHB video mode. Later versions would have this built in. The second version had a PAL display, the enhanced video modes (EHB), and was built in Germany. It could digitize pictures, video, and display still images with 4096 colors when in the HAM mode (static display).
The Amiga A1000 was a significant advance over other systems at the time as it included a 32bit pre-emptive multi-tasking GUI, 4 channel stereo sound, 880k 3-1/2 inch floppy disks, and video modes which provided 4096 colors as standard equipment when other systems were monotasking at just 16 colors. The Amiga could simultaneously display multiple windos at different resolutions on a single monitor. It became a favorite of artists and animators because its multiple co-processors allowed it to do complex images and animations that other systems of the time could not handle (with the exception of expensive workstations). The Amiga A1000 has the signatures of all of it's designers cast into the inside of it's case, including the paw print of Jay Miner's (Amiga developer) dog Mitchy. MSRP $1300.
The floppy disk drive (FDD) was invented at IBM by Alan Shugart in 1967. The first floppy drives used an 8-inch disk (later called a "diskette" as it became smaller), which evolved into the 5.25-inch disk that was used on the first IBM Personal Computer in August 1981. In 1970, IBM released its 3740 system which utilised a "floppy disk" - a thin, flexible plastic disc 8 inches across, covered with magnetic iron oxide. The "floppy" was designed to be inserted into a slot in the computer which could copy data on to it or read information from it. It was far faster than the reel to reel magnetic tapes used by older systems. It has now been replaced the the CD-Rom which can contain over 1000 times more data than the floppy disc.
The original Apple I personal computer built by Steve Jobs
In 1977, 26-year-old Steve Wozniak and 29-year-old Steve Jobs, the most famous members of the Homebrew Computer Club, introduced their new invention, the Apple I personal computer. The Apple I was based on the MOStek 6502 chip, whereas most other "kit" computers were built from the Intel 8080. The Apple I was sold through several small retailers and included only the circuit board. Users bought the workings and built their own case. A tape-interface was sold separately. The Apple I's initial cost was $666.66. Many leaders in mainline computer companies like IBM and Digital did not believe that personal computers were powerful enough to have a market. Sales of the Apple I and other PC's that followed proved them wrong. The vastly improved and updated Apple II was released a year later. The first Apple II's were shipped in June 1977. The Apple II was the first computer with a color display, and it had the BASIC programming language built-in, so it was ready-to-run right out of the box. The Apple II could be considered the first user-friendly system.
Apple II Computer (1977)
In 1984, the revolutionary Apple Macintosh was released, and launched in the most expensive television commercial ever made - the ad was based on George Orwell's novel 1984 and cost $600,000 to make, and a further $1,000,000 for it to be screened during the NFL Super Bowl in January 1984. The impact of the ad was so great and the recall so high, that it is considered to be one of the most cost-effective commercials ever made. It was shown only twice - it had a single test run on a small station in the US a month before the NFL Super Bowl screening. It depicted an IBM world being overrun by a new machine - the Mac. Apple Computers were so named because a unit of information stored by a computer is referred to as a byte. The name Macintosh comes from a variety of apple popular in the US.
In 1978 the Midway Company in the USA imported Space Invaders from Japan - The game quickly became the hottest arcade game in the country, and eventually the world. Video Arcades in the US raked in five billion dollars in 1981, their highest revenues to date. The era of the computer video arcade game was ushered in with Computer Space in 1976. It was not a commercial success but it encouraged the inventor, Norman Bushnell, to set up a new company called Atari. Atari s first product was Pong , the classic tennis game of 1977. Pong was released the following year, and a phenomenon is born. Pong was made cheaply after the extravigant computer space - hence the wooden case - but it turned out to be highly successful, both in arcades and later as a home TV game.
Games like Tank, Gun Fight, Breakout and Sea Wolf proved that video games were no flash in the pan, but it took Space Invaders to take the craze to a galactic new level. Meanwhile, in the non-video world, a hockey fan turned his passion into a year-round sport with Air Hockey, and Whac-a-Mole let players work out life's little frustrations with a padded mallet. Very soon they made it to the small screen as electronic games. The Who's "Pinball Wizard" launched a new pinball craze, and celebrities from The Harlem Globetrotters to KISS began to grace the machines' playfields. But by the end of the 70s, video was clearly the new king, and Asteroids wore the crown. Next, the entire world gots a major case of Pac-Man fever, and video games get their first true superstar. The Arcade Games.
Through the eighties and early nineties arcade video games were always faster and had better graphics than home TV games. However, as PCs became more powerful and better equipped for graphics, they caught up. Today, the arcade video games of yesteryear are little better than the early Playstation games. See also Computer Games.
The early history of radio is the history of technology that produces and uses radio instruments that use radio waves. Within the timeline of radio, many people contributed theory and inventions in what became radio. Radio development began as "wireless telegraphy". Later radio history increasingly involves matters of broadcasting. On Christmas Eve 1906, Reginald Fessenden used a synchronous rotary-spark transmitter for the first radio program broadcast, from Ocean Bluff-Brant Rock, Massachusetts. Ships at sea heard a broadcast that included Fessenden playing O Holy Night on the violin and reading a passage from the Bible. This was, for all intents and purposes, the first transmission of what is now known as amplitude modulation or AM radio. In June 1912 Marconi opened the world's first purpose-built radio factory at New Street Works in Chelmsford, England.
The first radio station in Australia was the Sydney broadcaster 2BE, in November 1924. It went broke in 1929, so the oldest surviving commercial station is Sydney station 2UE, which first went on air on Australia Day 1925. ABC Radio in Australia began on 1st July 1932 when, at 8.00pm, the Prime Minister Joseph Lyons inaugurated the ABC. The ABC then controlled twelve stations 2FC and 2BL in Sydney, 3AR and 3LO in Melbourne, 4QG in Brisbane, 5CL in Adelaide, 6WF in Perth, 7ZL in Hobart and the relay stations 2NC in Newcastle, 2CO at Corowa, 4RK in Rockhampton and 5CK at Crystal Brook. Opening day programs included the first Children's Session with Bobby Bluegum, the first sports program, Racing Notes with W A Ferry calling the Randwick races, British Wireless News received by cable from London, weather, stock exchange and shipping news, the ABC Women's Association session (topics were 'commonsense housekeeping' and needlecraft), a talk on goldfish and their care, Morning Devotions, and music.
ABC stations opened in the morning and evening with a break in transmission during the day. At first, each State ran its own programmes. After a few months, Melbourne and Sydney broadcast, on alternate evenings, a 'national program' to the eastern States. By the end of 1933, there were regular programme relays between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide and Perth. Until the Bass Strait cable was in operation in March 1936, however, the Hobart station could only augment its local program with disc-based recordings from the mainland. All programs went to air live in the early days. It was not until 1935 that a disc recorder was installed in the ABC's Sydney studios. Until the arrival of tape in the mid-fifties, hard disc and later the wire recorder were the only means for recording programme material.
Well into the 1960s, radio content typically included a balance of comedy, drama, news, music and sports reporting. Radio soap operas began in the US in 1930 with Painted Dreams. Other nations, including Britain and Australia, followed with their own daily or weekly serials, which were themed similarly to the television programmes of today - variety entertainment, situation comedy, family drama (soap opera), adventure, science fiction, thriller etc. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, television began to erode the popularity of radio comedy, drama and variety shows. By the late 1960s, radio broadcasting began to take on much the form it has today - strongly focused on music, news and sports.
The Crystal Set
A crystal radio receiver, also called a crystal set, is a simple radio receiver, popular in the early days of radio. It uses only the power of the received radio signal to produce sound, needing no external power. It is named for its most important component, a crystal detector, originally made from a piece of crystalline mineral such as galena. This component is now called a diode. Crystal radios are the simplest type of radio receiver and can be made with a few inexpensive parts, such as a wire for an antenna, a coil of wire, a capacitor, a crystal detector, and earphones. Around 1920, crystal sets were superseded by the first amplifying receivers, which used vacuum tubes. Crystal sets became obsolete for commercial use but continued to be built by hobbyists, youth groups, and the Boy Scouts mainly as a way of learning about the technology of radio.
The Transistor Radio
Popularly known as the Tranny, the first commercial transistor radio, the Regency TR-1, was announced on 18th October, 1954 in Indianapolis, Indiana and put on sale in November of 1954. Within a year, transistor radios were widely available in Australia. Other makes and models, many of which were Japanese imports, came onto the market Raytheon and Zenith transistor radios soon followed and were priced even higher. Even the first Japanese imports (in 1957)and were priced at $30 and above. Transistor radios did not achieve mass popularity until the early 1960s when prices of some models fell below $20, then below $10 as markets became flooded with radios from Hong Kong.
Electronics company Texas Instruments was behind the Regency transistor radio. RCA had demonstrated a prototype transistor radio as early as 1952 and it is likely that they and the other radio makers were planning transistor radios of their own. But as it often does in business, it took smaller, aggressive companies (like Texas Instruments and Regency) to push innovation forward. In Japan, big firms like Matsushita and Toshiba who might have been expected to push forward with a transistor radio acted more like their big American counterparts. It was Sony, then a small, aggressive concern, who produced Japan's first transistor radio (in 1955).
The use of transistors instead of vacuum tubes as the amplifier elements meant that the device was much smaller and required far less power to operate than a tubed radio.
The typical portable radio of the fifties was about the size and weight of a lunchbox, and contained several heavy (and non-rechargeable) batteries. By comparison, the "transistor" could fit in a pocket, weighed around 225 gms and was powered by standard flashlight batteries or a single compact 9 V battery. (The now-familiar 9 V battery was introduced specifically for powering transistor radios). Most tansistor radios had earphone jacks and came with single earphones affording middling quality sound reproduction. Listeners sometimes held an entire transistor radio directly against the side of the head, with the speaker against the ear, to minimize the "tinny" sound. Teenagers, with an earphone plugged into one ear, immersed in a private musical world, became a familiar sight. To consumers familiar with the earphone listening experience of the transistor radio, the first Sony Walkman cassette player, with a pair of high-fidelity stereo earphones, would come as a revelation.
The Boombox/Ghetto Blaster
The Boombox was a development of the transistorized portable music player featuring one or two cassette tape recorder/players and AM/FM radio, generally with a carrying handle. Beginning in the mid 1980s, a CD player was often included. Sound is delivered through an amplifier and two or more integrated loudspeakers. The desire for louder and heavier bass led to bigger and heavier boxes; by the 1980s, some boomboxes had reached the size of a suitcase. The boombox quickly became associated with urban society in the United States, particularly African American and Hispanic youth. The wide use of boomboxes in urban communities led to the boombox being coined a "ghetto blaster", a pejorative nickname which was soon used as part of a backlash against the boombox and hip hop culture.
The Long Play (LP) Record
Since the invention of sound-recording technology by Thomas Edison (1847 1931) in the 1800s, people have looked for new and better ways to bring recorded sound to mass audiences. Before cassettes, compact discs, and MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3 (MP3) files, the long-playing record (LP) was for more than forty years the main way people heard recorded music.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the celluloid 78-rpm record - spinning on a turntable 78 times, or revolutions, per minute - was the major way people heard recorded music. But the 78-rpm record had a number of drawbacks: It could only hold a few minutes worth of music on each side, it was heavy, and it broke easily. Peter Goldmark (1906-1977), working for Columbia Records, developed the LP in 1948. He overcame the 78's limitations in two ways. First, he lowered the speed of the recording to 33 1/3 revolutions per minute. Second, he squeezed more and smaller grooves onto each side of the record so that more sound could fit on each side of the disc. Those grooves would reach more than a kilometre if stretched out in a straight line. Many of vinyl, the LP also required a diamond needle to play the records, which resulted in improved sound. The LP was immediately hailed by classical music lovers because the longer pieces of classical music could now be heard in a mostly uninterrupted format.
By the 1950s, the LP was the dominant form for recorded music, and it changed the face of popular music in many ways. The LP also improved the sound quality of recordings, lasted longer than 78s, were less prone to breaking, and were cheaper to produce. Although 45-rpm singles (developed at the same time as the LP) and EPs (extended play, containing two songs per side) were preferred for single songs, the LP allowed musicians to experiment with longer works, including related songs on a single disc. By the 1960s, rock and roll musicians in particular were using the extended format to produce concept albums, the most famous of which was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) by the Beatles. In the late 1960s, FM disc jockeys preferred to play songs from LPs rather than from 45-rpm singles. Although the arrival of the CD in 1982 seemed to spell the end of the LP, and while most people now prefer CDs, many people still listen to their old LPs. Some new recordings continue to be released in LP format, a testament to the enduring appeal of this Baby Boomer era technology.
Reel to Reel tape recorders came into domestic use in the 1950s. They were cumbersome creatures, and it was only time before they would be replaced by something not only a little more practical, but also more portable. That happened in 1962 when the Philips Company of the Netherlands invented and released the first compact audio-cassette. They used high-quality polyester 1/8-inch tape produced by BASF. Recording and playback was at a speed of 1.7/8 inches per second. The next year in the U.S. sales began of the Norelco Carry-Corder dictation machine that used the new cassette tape. The consumer's demand for blank tape used for personal music-recording was unanticipated by Philips. The Compact Cassette became the universal standard format for portable high fidelity recorded sound until the 1990s when home burnt compact discs began replacing it. Radio cassette players began to be installed in cars in the late 1960s. In the 1990s, they were gradually phased, being replaced by compact disc players.
Sony Walkman WM-3EX
In 1978, Kozo Ohsone, general manager of Sony's Tape Recorder Business Division, begin work on a stereo version of the Pressman, a small, monaural tape recorder that Sony had launched in 1977. Of its prototype, Sony Founder Akio Morita said in February 1979, "This is the product that will satisfy those young people who want to listen to music all day. They'll take it everywhere with them, and they won't care about record functions. If we put a playback-only headphone stereo like this on the market, it'll be a hit."
Sony invented the compact and extremely lightweight H-AIR MDR3 headphones for their new cassette player. At that time, headphones weighed on average between 300 to 400 grams, the H-AIR headphones weighed just 50 grams with comparable sound quality. The name Walkman was a natural progression from Pressman. On June 22 1979, the Sony Walkman was launched in Tokyo. Journalists were treated to an unusal press conference. The first Walkmans had two headphone sockets so friends could share the music, but later they got rid of the extra socket, but it was still a significant leap from the old AM transistor radio with the 'hearing aid' ear-piece. By 1995, total production of Walkman units reached 150 million and over 300 different Walkman models have been produced to date.
The Walkman's release was timed perfectly. With the popularity of jogging on the rise, providing hi fi quality portable audio was just what joggers wanted. The Walkman was revolutionary, allowing people to live their lives to a rock soundtrack - fitness freaks could listen to Sheena Easton while jogging, while the rest of us could do the same while taking the morning train. Two things impressed people; How small the tape deck was and how good the sound quality was. Walkmans with radio tuners followed and later came sport and waterproof versions. Half tool, half fashion accessory, the Walkman was an instant hit. in much the same way that the iPod is today.
The portable tape player virtually changed the listening habits of a generation and was single-handedly responsible for the tremendous boom in cassettes sales during the early half of the the 1980s. In 1984 the compact disc-playing Discman went on sale. The term "Walkman" eventually became synonymous with any headphone radio or cassette player. The Sony Corporation in America originally maintained that the word 'Walkman' was not proper English and unsuitable for their market. The Walkman was therefore initially known in the US as The Soundabout. In the UK it was known as The Stowaway and in Australia as The Freestyle. Sony ultimately put its foot down and insisted the name 'Walkman' be used worldwide.
8 Track Cartridge
"Bill" William Lear, who was the designer of the Lear Jet executive airplane, was also the inventor of the 8-track stereo cassette. Lear founded the Lear Electronics Corporation, merging with the Siegler corporation in 1960 to become Lear Siegler Inc. William Lear used the capital he acquired from the Lear Siegler merger to develop Learjet (a company he eventually sold to Gates rubber Co.) where Lear dedicated his life to the development of an antipollution steam engine and new materials for airplanes.
The car culture of the United States spawned the notion of tapes as an alternative to popular records, conceived as a means to give the American driver the option of listening to the music of his or her choice while in transit. The 8-track format was developed by a diverse consortium that included the Ampex Magnetic Tape Company, Lear Jet Company and Motorola and RCA-Victor records, and enjoyed the tremendous advantage of being championed at its inception by Ford Motors, which in 1965 (debuted 15th September) offered Motorola 8-track players as an option in their complete line of 1966 model Ford and Mercury cars.
The 8-track cartiridge had a continuous tape loop system that travelled in just one direction and had the pinch roller as part of the cartridge. Four 'stereo' audio tracks (so a total of 8 tracks) were recorded across the 0.25" magnetic tape. The tape speed was twice that of the Philips compact cassettes at 3.75" per second. The advantage of having four audio tracks travelling in the same direction with different music on each, was that it gave the user the ability to jump between the tracks easily. The track selection was achieved by moving the tape head across the tape by means of a magnetic solenoid selecting each twin track in turn. The British music industry began releasing 8-track cartridges at the same time as it introduced cassettes, but while the 8-track format was still enjoying success in the U.S., it did not sell well elsewhere and, even in the US, had faded by the late-1970s. 8-track tapes were univerally discontinued around 1980.
QWERTYUIOP these letters (or something similar) made up the first message to be sent electronically over e-mail. If the letters looks familiar, it's because they make up the top row of the standard keyboard. The person responsible for the first e-mail was Ray Tomlinson (left), a computer engineer. Tomlinson was employed by Bolt Beranek and Newman, a company contracted by the United States Defense Department in 1968 to build ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. Before the first message could be sent Tomlinson needed to come up with an address. He chose the @ symbol to distinguish addresses to mailboxes in a local machine and messages that were to be sent out onto the network.
Tomlinson says that he chose the @ symbol because it wasn't a person's name and for it's symbolic meaning, at; someone@someplace. The first two machines to communicate via email were actually sitting right next to each other, both connected to the ARPANET. At that time, computers communicated through a separate computer on the ARPANET network. This was where the transfer of "QWERTYUIOP" took place. Within two years seventy-five percent of ARPANET traffic was e-mail.
Phonediscs and Videodisks
The laserdisc is an optical disc with pictures and sounds recorded on it. A forerunners to the DVD, the disc is played back by laser. The material recorded onto the video disc is stamped on to the disk in a similar same way that compact disc are produced. As with the early CDs the home use cannot record onto a Laserdisc. The earliest disc to contain recorded images appeared in 1928 when the Scottish inventor John Logie Baird developed the Phonodisc. This was a 250 mm, 78 rpm record, similar to the discs being produced for sound recording at that time. On the Phonodisc a 30-line television signal was recorded.
Despite its novelty, the Phonodisc was not a commercial success and was abandoned in 1936. David Paul Gregg first envisioned the optical disk (or Videodisk as he named it) in 1958 and patented the technology in 1961 and 1969. Gregg's company Gauss Electrophysics was acquired by MCA in the early 1960s. MCA also bought the patent rights for the optical disk which included a the process for making a video record disc and other optical disk technology. In 1978, MCA Discovision released the first consumer Optical disk player in Atlanta, Georgia.
In the late 1970s, Philips and Sony brought video discs on to the market. Called laserdisc it recorded images and sound as tiny pits on the surface of the disc. Pioneer made use of the format as a form of Karaoke Entertainment which made the format popular in commercial circles of Asia. Laserdiscs were never really widely accepted as discs could not be used to record and viewers were restricted to pre-recorded films. In addition, the hardware was expensive, only the very serious video buff were purchasing the home laserdisc format. The average user was very happy with videotape due to its recording capabilities.
In Australia the laserdisc was unpopular due to the fact that the major film distributors there refused to support the Media for the laserdisc leaving only a few company's parallel importing discs which was illegal. Despite a last push from the format to showcase its superior video and audio capabilities laserdiscs have largely been superseded by a new format based on a two layer CD called DVD which has already superseded video tape. DVDs are cheap to manufacture and are being pushed heavily by film companies due to this reason. It is expected one day recordable DVD players will be as cheap as VHS recorders.
The development of the videocassette followed the replacement by cassette of other open reel systems in consumer items: the compact audio cassette and Instamatic film cartridge in 1963, and the Super 8 home movie cartridge in 1966. Sony demonstrated a videocassette prototype in October 1969, then set it aside to work out an industry standard by March 1970 with seven fellow manufacturers. The result, the Sony U-matic system, introduced in Tokyo in September 1971, was the world's first commercial videocassette format. Its cartridges, resembling larger versions of the later VHS cassettes, used 3/4-inch (1.9 cm) tape and had a maximum playing time of 90 minutes.
In 1970 the Dutch electronics company Philips developed a home videocassette format. Confusingly, Philips named this format "VCR" (although it is also referred to as "N1500", after the first recorder's model number). The format was also supported by Grundig and LOEWE. It used square cassettes and half-inch (1.3 cm) tape, giving a recording time of one hour. The first model, released in 1972, was equipped with a crude timer that used rotary dials. The system was expensive and the format barely caught on for home use. However, a later (and incompatible) long-play version ("VCR-LP") or N1700, which could use the same tapes, sold quite well to schools and colleges.
Avco Cartrivision Cassette
The Avco Cartrivision system, a combination television set and VCR from Cartridge Television Inc. was the first videocassette recorder to have pre-recorded tapes of popular movies available for rent. The square Cartrivision cassette had the two reels of half-inch tape mounted on top of each other, but could record up to 114 minutes. It did so using a crude form of video compression that recorded only every third video field and played it back three times. Cassettes of major movies were ordered via catalogue at a retailer, delivered by parcel mail, and then returned to the retailer after viewing. Other cassettes on sports, travel, art, and how-to topics were available for purchase. An optional monochrome camera could be bought to make home videos. Cartrivision was first sold in June 1972. It was abandoned thirteen months later after poor sales. Later, it was found that Cartivision tapes that had been stored in a warehouse had disintegrated.
It was not until the late 1970s, when European and Japanese companies developed more technically advanced machines with more accurate electronic timers and greater tape duration, that the VCR started to become a mass market consumer product. By 1980 there were three competing technical standards, with different, physically incompatible tape cassettes. The two major standards were Sony's Betamax (also known as Betacord or just Beta), and JVC's VHS, which battled for sales in what has become known as the original and definitive format war.
Early video recorder using a format that was replaced by VHS
The Video Recorder
The history of the videocassette recorder follows the history of videotape recording in general, though the battle for format supremacy was unprecedented in electronics history. In 1951 Bing Crosby Laboratories introduced the video tape recorder which recorded electrical impulses on magnetic tape. Ampex introduced its first commercially successful videotape recorder in 1956. It was referred to as the 2" Quadruplex format, using two-inch (5.1 cm) tape. In 1965, Sony released its all-transistor CV-2000 video tape recorder, using the reel to reel technology. Although Ampex had launched its coluor video recorder nine years earlier, Sony's was the first model aimed at the consumer market - CV stood for "Consumer Video". Sony's VTR weighed 70 pounds and had a built-in monitor for viewing the color picture. Sony introduced the first portable video tape recorder, the DV-2400, in 1967.
The Home Video Format War
Betamax was first to market in November 1975, and was argued by many to be technically more sophisticated. The first machines required an external timer, and could only record one hour. The timer was later incorporated within the machine as a standard feature. The first Betamax product released in the United States, the combination LV-1901 TV/VCR floor model, appeared in November 1975 priced at $2295. The one hour Betamax cartridges were considerably smaller than the earlier U-matic cartridges, and the system derived its name from the resemblance of the tape path inside the mechanism to the Greek letter "Beta."
The rival VHS format (introduced in the US in September 1976 by RCA) boasted a longer two-hour recording time. Sony halved the tape speed to allow two hours; RCA copied the change to allow four hours. Sony made thinner tape and still slower speed to allow over five hours, while RCA, which now had licenced the VHS format to many other manufacturers, copied the move and enabled six-hour recording time. Ultimately, VHS offered nine-hour recording with T-180 tapes, but never had any kind of automatic tape-changing technology.
The first VHS home video cassette recorder was introduced in Japan by Japan Victor Corporation in September of 1976. In April of 1976 JVC had demonstrated a VHS prototype to Sony, but Sony considered VHS to be a copy of Beta and refused to adopt the VHS design. Beta was arguably superior in picture quality, but VHS, because of wide licensing, was easier to get hold of, particularly in the rental market. Sony was focusing a lot of its energies into the development of the Walkman at the time, and it is thought that, had Sony been able to concentrate on winning the video format war rather than having to split its time between video and the give the same degree of attention tolaunch of the Walkman, Beta would probably have run VHS out of town. After competing head-to-head for several years, VHS began to pull ahead, and as more VHS recorders came into use, and more VHS films became available, network effects eventually squeezed Betamax out of the consumer market. Beta machines continued to be made for a niche market of videophiles, and the Beta format was also used for one format of micro-cassettes for hand-held home video cameras, surviving in the market for longer than the VCR version.
A third format, Video 2000, or V2000 (also marketed as "Video Compact Cassette") was introduced by Philips in 1978, and was sold mainly in Europe. It featured piezoelectric head positioning to dynamically adjust the tape tracking. V2000 cassettes had two sides, and like the audio cassette had to be flipped over halfway through their recording time. The half-inch tape used contained two parallel quarter-inch tracks, one for each side. It had a recording time of 4 hours per side. V2000 hit the market after its two rivals, and its limited features and a reputation for unreliability ensured only limited sales before it was cancelled in 1985. A VCC videocassette recorder is illustrated above right.
The JVC GR-C1 was the first VHS single-unit video camcorder. Released in 1984, this camcorder used Compact VHS tape which JVC introduced in 1982. This was the same tape as standard VHS and the same recording format, but in a cassette which was only 1/3 the size. This compact cassette could be inserted into in a full-sized VHS adaptor shell so that it could be played back in any VHS machine. In this way, JVC achieved miniaturization without compromising compatibility with older equipment. Immortalized in the movie 'Back To The Future', it is the original, definitive camcorder. In the same year, Konica released its CV-301, which was the world's smallest video camera at that time, but still used a image pickup tube rather than a CCD or CMOS chip. It was unusual for its pistol-grip shape which was made possible by the clever placement of the pickup tube - in the handle! The CV-301 could be used with portable VHS, VHS-C, CVC and some other types of recorders, but not Betamax.
In 1985, sony introduced the CCD-V8 Camcorder, the world's first camcorder capable of recording video on standard 8mm videotape. The original CCD-V8 which was manually focused. It featured 250K pixel CCD. 6X zoom and weighed 1.97kg. Sony also released a range of camcorders named Betamovie, which used full sized Betamax videocassettes, allowing for tapes to be taken straight out of the camcorder and played in the domstic Betamax VCR. JVC followed suit with a similar camcorder, only their used a full-size VHS videocassette. Canon released the Canovision 8 VM-E1, its first integrated (all in one unit) 8mm video camcorder, in 1985. Canon was second after Sony in releasing an 8mm camcorder.
Colour Still Video Camera
A new era In photography began on 25th August 1981 when, at a packed conference in Tokyo, Sony unveiled a prototype of the company's first still camera, the Mavica (Magnetic Video Camera). It recorded images on two-inch floppy disks and played them back on a TV set or Video monitor. The Mavica was a TV camera capable of writing TV quality stills onto magnetic disks, with a shutter that would allow it to freeze frames within the limits set by twin-field interlace making up the complete frame. The Mavica was a single lens reflex with interchangeable lenses. The original Mavica was provided with three bayonet-mounted lenses: a 25mm f/2, a 50mm f/1.4, and 16-65mm f/1.4 zoom. CCD size was 570 x 490 pixels on a 10mm x 12mm chip. F/stop was controlled manually according to lighted arrows that appeared in the viewfinder. Light sensitivity was rated at ISO 200. The original Mavica had only one shutter speed, 1/60th second. Each image was recorded in its own single circle on the floppy disk that Sony called the Mavipak. Up to fifty color photos could be stored on one Mavipak. Multiple exposure of 2, 4, 8. or 20 images could be selected. The Mavica was powered by three AA-size batteries. Images were displayed on a television set and were considered to be equal in quality to the maximum capability of a TV set of that time.
In July, 1984, Canon conducted a trial of a professional color still video camera (the RC-701) and an analog transmitter at the Los Angeles Olympics. The images were transmitted back to Japan via phone lines in less than 30 minutes. They were then printed in the Yomiuri newspaper. Immediately before the Games, Canon announced its successful development of a color electronic still camera designed for commercial broadcasting use. Using a regenerator and transmitter developed at the same time, the company conducted practical tests at the '84 Olympics. The color electronic still video camera with a 400K pixel CCD used in the tests was the first practical application for public use. With the cooperation of the Yomiuri Shimbun, a leading Japanese daily newspaper, images taken by the still camera were experimentally transmitted to Japan over telephone lines, and proved to be supremely successful. Based on data and experience from those tests, Canon began product development, culminating in the Canon Still Video System of 1986.
In 1986, Canon became the first to market a still video camera, the professional model RC-701 (one source states that the 1981 Sony Mavica was marketed, but this has not been independently verified as of yet). The RC-701 was aimed mainly at the press market. It had four dedicated interchangeable lenses and also offered an adapter for 35mm lenses. Price of the RC (RC stood for Realtime Camera) with an 11-66mm f/1.2 lens was about $3,000. The complete RC-701 system consisting of the camera, a player/recorder, a printer, a laminator, and a unit for phone transmission cost about $27,000. The CCD was 6.6mm x 8.8mm with 780 pixels horizontally. This was equal to about 300 horizontal and 320 vertical lines on a TV monitor. The RC-701 had a swing-up mirror similar to a conventional SLR and had shutter speeds of 1/8 to 1/2000 second. It could capture 1, 2, 5, or 10 frames per second. Additional lenses included a 6mm f/1.6, comparable to a 24mm wide angle 35-mm lens, and a 50-150mm telephoto zoom.
Both lenses were for the RC-701 only and could not be used on other cameras.
Sony Mavika floppy disk digial camera
The Sony Mavika A7AF, released in 1986, was a still video camera which recorded images onto two-inch floppy disks (MP-50) and the first to provide audo annotation. One disk could hold up to 50 images in Field mode or 25 images in Frame mode. The Field mode recorded on a single track of the disk while the Frame mode required two tracks, but provided better quality images. While recording in Field mode ISO rating was 160, and 80 for Frame mode. The A7AF could also record 9.6 seconds of audio to accompany each image by use of an additional recording track. Images were registered by a 2/3-inch charge coupled device (CCD) of 380,000 pixels. The lens was a 6X zoom, 12-72mm, f/1.4-1.7, with macro capability. The lens could be focused manually or automatically and had a focal plane shutter with speeds of 1/15 to 1/1000 second. The viewfinder was TTL (through-the-lens) with an adjustment for individual eyesight.
The A7AF specifications included auto white balance, EV adjustment of + or -2 in 0.5 EV steps, shutter priority and AE modes, self-timer, remote control option (RM-S7), date indicator, and shoe for an optional flash (MFL-30). Other options included an NP-4000 battery pack which could record approximately 50 disks per charge, a DCC-2600A car battery cord, an MVR-A770 still video recorder/player, and a variety of optional microphones to supplement the built-in microphone. The Sony MVR-A770 still video recorder/player, also released in 1986, was a desktop model into which a colour still video camera could be attached by cable.
Japanese and Dutch scientists invented the Compact Disc (CD) in 1981. It was able to record sound as microscopic changes in the surface of a plastic disc, with the changes "read" by a laser in a CD player and changed back into sound electronically. The CD player prototype, Goronta (left), by Sony, was shown at the US Audio Fair in 1981. On 1st October 1982 the Sony CDP-101 was released - the world's first consumer compact disk player. Although pundits predicted that it would be at least ten years before CDs made serious inroads into LP sales, and that CD players would never be made for automobiles because they "weren't needed," CDs quickly took over the recorded music market and relegated LPs to the realm of collectors and vinyl diehards.
Philips and Sony jointly launched the lightweight plastic compact disc. The discs were just 12cm in diameter, compared to 12 inches (30 cm) for LP records. The shiny, un-scratchable (at least that is what we were told) 45-sized digitally encoded discs appealed to the older, richer, more discerning record buyer disenchanted with floppy, scratchable, 12 inch vinyl. CD customers were interested in purity of sounds, and more importantly, were reluctant to have to get up in the middle of a dinner party to turn an album over! By he late 80s the digital sound of the CD had buried the LP, transforming the humble 12-inch into into car boot-sale trash (and the occasional over-priced collector's item).
On the downside, CDs had smaller, less attractive covers, suffered from a "sterile" sound and were initially more expensive. Still the public went wild for them, but for many, the love of vinyl is still a real part of their lives and will continue to be so for as long as needles and turntables are being manufactured. In 1985, the CD-ROM, which uses the same media, was developed by Philips/Hitachi and began to be used for storing data generated on a computer. It quickly became the default standard for computer storage media. Sony introduced its range of portable CD players in 1984. Similar in concept to the Walkman, except it played compact discs rather than audio cassettes, the player was called the Discman.
Xerox 914 copier
In 1957, Russell A. Kirsch of the National Bureau of Standards scaned the first photograph into a computer, an image of his baby son. Kirsch and his colleagues, working at the National Bureau of Standards in the mid-1950's, constructed a simple mechanical drum scanner and used it to trace variations of intensity over the surfaces of photographs. They converted the resulting photomultiplier signals into arrays of 176 by 176 binary digits, fed them to a SEAC (Standards Electronic Automatic Computer) 1500 word binary computer, and programed that computer to extract line drawings, count objects, recognize characters of type, and produce oscilloscope displays.
First manufactured in 1959, the Xerox 914 was the first automatic office copier to make copies on plain paper. It was introduced by Haloid Xerox. A floor-mounted device, it was designed by James G. Balmer of Armstrong-Balmer & Associates, in collaboration with Don Shepardson, John Rutkus and Hal Bogdenoff of Xerox, who had developed an engineering prototype. Xerox named their first product the 914 because it could reproduce documents up to 9 inches by 14 inches in size. It took about 15 seconds for the first copy to come out, and 7 seconds for each additional copy. It was 42 in. high, 46 in. long, 45 in. wide and weighed 648 pounds. The advertising campaign consisted on a TV commercial with a little girl making copies for her father who was dressed as a businessman.
A single 914 had a price tag of $29.500 while competitors wet copiers were sold for about $400, so Xerox copied IBM's leasing system, whereby a company could lease the copier for $95 per month (2000 copies free) and 5c per extra copy. Xerox made four versions of the machine: 914, 420, 720 and 1000. The only difference being the motor speed. The 914 could make 7 copies a minute while the 1000 could make 17 copies a minute. The Xerox 914 sold in the first 6 months what was projected to be the entire lifetime demand for the product - and the number was that low only because they couldn't physically make enough 914's to meet the demand.
Epson A4 CCD flatbed scanner
The first CCD flatbed scanner was introduced in 1975 by Kurzweil Computer Products using the first integrated chip. Ray Kurzweil and his team at Kurzweil Computer Products created the Kurzweil Reading Machine and the first omni-font OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. They did this work in support of individuals who are blind. In 1979, Scitex, an Israel-based company, marketed the Response 300 System which created full-color separations and allowed the operator to change image details or combine images. The Scitex Response 300 represented the first generally available technology that allowed treatment of a graphic arts page as a data file that could be electronically manipulated as a complete entity. Prior to that time, electronics and computers had seen use in graphic arts, but only to process data on the fly, without storage and without the ability to edit, change and manipulate complete page images.
Gestetner Spirit Duplicator
The Gestetner duplicating machine was named after its inventor, David Gestetner (1854 1939). David Gestetner was born in Hungary in 1854, and after working in Vienna and New York, he moved to London, England, filing his first copying patent there in 1879. A later patent in 1881 was for the Cyclostyle, a stylus that was part of the Cyclograph copying device. The most popular Gestetner duplicating machine in Australia was its spirit duplicator, invented in 1923 by Wilhelm Ritzerfeld. The term "spirit duplicator" refers to the alcohols that were a major component of the solvents used as "inks" in these machines. Other brands of spirit duplicators sold in Australia included Banda and Ditto. Spirit duplicators were used mainly by schools, churches, clubs, and other small organizations, such as in the production of fanzines, because of the limited number of copies one could make from an original, along with the low cost (and corresponding low quality) of copying.
1930s Sunbeam Mixmasters
Sunbeam Mixmaster & pop-Up Toaster
After World War II had ended, NSW manufacturing company, Cooper Engineering Co., returned to its traditional manufacturing, with an ever-increasing focus on small appliances. 1946 saw Cooper Engineering Co. change its name to Sunbeam Corporation and the slogan "Best Electric Appliances Made" was adopted. In 1948, the Sunbeam Mixmaster, model 9B, was launched. It was the first small electrical appliance manufactured in Australia, and cost more than a months wages. It was an instant success, selling more than 725,000 units in the 10 years to 1958. In 1950 an arrangement was struck with Brown & Dureau Limited to export Sunbeam appliances to New Zealand. With Sunbeam's increasing focus on small appliances, the need for a second manufacturing plant became apparent. In 1951, the company purchased an 11 acre site at Campsie, Sydney, in addition to sites in Woodville, South Australia and Maribyrnong, Victoria.
The world's first automatic pop-up toaster
On 12 December 1952, the company changed its name to Sunbeam Corporation Limited and became a public company. This year was also significant as it saw the launch of Shavemaster - the first locally made electric shaver. Competing with high quality imported shavers, the Shavemaster became market leader. Production began at Campsie in 1954 with the Cooker/Deep Fryer and Mixmaster Junior, but it was not until 1955 that the appliance revolution really hit Australia. That year consumers were dazzled by the Pop-Up Toaster, the Electric Frypan, and the Ironmaster Dry Iron- Sunbeam's first Australian-manufactured iron. Soon after, in 1956, the benefits of steam were realised and Sunbeam launched its first Steam iron. No longer did people have to dampen clothing before ironing.
Digital modems developed from the need to transmit data for North American air defense during the 1950s. Modems were used to communicate data over the public switched telephone network or PSTN. Analog telephone circuits can only transmit signals that are within the frequency range of voice communication. A modem sends and recieves data between two computers. Modem stands for modulate/demodulate. In 1962, the first commercial modem was manufactured - the Bell 103 by AT&T. The Bell 103 was also the first modem with full-duplex transmission, frequency-shift keying or FSK, and had a speed of 300 bits per second or 300 bauds. The 56K modem was invented by Dr. Brent Townshend in 1996.
The press has often stated that ethernet was invented on 22nd May 1973, when Robert Metcalfe wrote a memo to his bosses stating the possibilities of ethernet's potential, but Metcalfe claims ethernet was actually invented very gradually over a period of several years. Metcalfe left Xerox in 1979 to promote the use of personal computers and local area networks (LANs). He successfully convinced Digital Equipment, Intel, and Xerox Corporations to work together to promote ethernet as a standard. Now an international computer industry standard, ethernet is the most widely installed LAN protocol.
The ethernet is a system for connecting computers within a building using hardware running from machine to machine. It differs from the Internet, which connects remotely located computers by telephone line, software protocol and some hardware. Ethernet uses some software (borrowed from Internet Protocol), but the connecting hardware was the basis of the patent (No.4,063,220) involving newly designed chips and wiring. The patent* describes ethernet as a "multipoint data communication system with collision detection".
Robert Metcalfe was a member of the research staff for Xerox, at their Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where some of the first personal computers were being made. Metcalfe was asked to build a networking system for PARC's computers. Xerox's motivation for the computer network was that they were also building the world's first laser printer and wanted all of the PARC's computers to be able to print with this printer. Metcalfe had two challenges: the network had to be fast enough to drive the very fast new laser printer; and it had to connect hundreds of computers within the same building. Never before had hundreds of computers been in the same building - at that time no one had more than one, two or maybe three computers in operation on any one premise.
The Microwave Oven
Shortly after the end of World War II, Percy Spencer (above), already known as an electronics genius and war hero, was touring one of his laboratories at the Raytheon Company. He stopped momentarily in front of a magnetron, the power tube that drives a radar set. Feeling a sudden and strange sensation, Spencer noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket had begun to melt. Spencer, who obtained 120 patents in his lifetime, knew how to apply his curiosity. So he did what any good inventor would - he went for some popcorn. Spencer didn't feel like a snack, he asked for unpopped popcorn. Holding the bag of corn next to the magnetron, Spencer watched as the kernels exploded into puffy white morsels. At that moment, he realised the potential of what he had witnessed.
From this simple experiment, Spencer and Raytheon developed the microwave oven. The first microwave oven weighed a hefty 750 pounds and stood five feet, six inches. At first, it was used exclusively in restaurants, railroad cars and ocean liners -- places where large quantities of food had to be cooked quickly. But culinary experts quickly noticed the oven's shortcomings. Meat refused to brown. French fries turned white and limp. To make matters worse, Raytheon chairman Charles Adams' cook quit because Adams demanded he prepare food with a microwave oven. In fact, it took decades after the invention of the microwave oven for it to be refined to a point where it would be useful to the average consumer. Today, Percy Spencer's radar boxes melt chocolate and pop popcorn in millions of homes around the world.
Mobira Talkman, NMT450 portable car phone, 1984
The Moblie (cellular) Phone
The basic concept of cellular phones began in 1947, when researchers looked at crude mobile (car) phones and realised that by using small cells (range of service area) with frequency reuse they could increase the traffic capacity of mobile phones substantially. However at that time, the technology to do so was non-existent. In 1947, it was proposed in the US to allocate a large number of radio-spectrum frequencies so that widespread mobile telephone service would become feasible and AT&T would have a incentive to research the new technology. The US Government decided to limit the amount of frequencies available in 1947, the limits made only twenty-three phone conversations possible simultaneously in the same service area - not a market incentive for research. The Government reconsidered its position in 1968, stating "if the technology to build a better mobile service works, we will increase the frequencies allocation, freeing the airwaves for more mobile phones."
Dr Martin Cooper
Nothing further was done until the first modern portable handset was invented by Dr Martin Cooper, a former general manager for the systems division at Motorola. Cooper made the first call on a portable cellular phone in April 1973. He made the call to his rival, Joel Engel, Bell Labs head of research. Bell Laboratories introduced the idea of cellular communications in 1947 with the police car technology. However, Motorola was the first to incorporate the technology into portable device that was designed for outside of a automobile use. By 1977, AT&T and Bell Labs had constructed a prototype cellular system. A year later, public trials of the new system were started in Chicago with over 2000 trial customers. In 1979, in a separate venture, the first commercial cellular telephone system began operation in Tokyo. Despite the incredible demand, it took many years for the service to become commercially available worldwide.