Today in TIME Tech History: Piston-less Power (1959), IBM’s Decline (1992), TiVo (1998) and More

Let’s hop in the TIME Wayback Machine to see which notable tech-related stories were published on December 28 between 1923 and today.

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Let’s hop in the TIME Wayback Machine to see which notable tech-related stories were published on December 28 between 1923 and today.

If you’re a TIME subscriber, you can click each headline to read the entire story.

Science: Soundless (Dec. 28, 1925):

Can anything be done to keep you from hearing simultaneously the matrimonial differences of the slovenly young couple upstairs, the radio in 4-A, the quacking of the saxophone across the hall and the telephonic improprieties of the bachelor below? Steel girders, plaster and cement can muffle but never quite extinguish sound; but last week a scientist came forward with the statement that noise can be kept out of a room just as well as a snowstorm can; that a scream can be locked up. He, Dr. Paul Heyl, Chief of the U. S. sound laboratory (Bureau of Standards), has invented a soundproof partition, which he demonstrated in Washington. On a night when two dances were being given in the Mayflower Hotel—a charity ball in one ballroom and a party for members of the Diplomatic Corps in another—he put up his partition between the two dance floors.

Science: Curved Light (Dec. 28, 1936):

At the Pittsburgh meeting of the American Chemical Society last September, Dr. Harry Robert Dittmar of the du Pont Research Laboratories described “Pontalite,” a new plastic known chemically as methyl methacrylate polymer, as clear as optical glass, only half as heavy as common glass, flexible, non-shattering (TIME, Sept. 21). Last week du Pont scientists in Manhattan demonstrated that a pretzel shaped length of Pontalite could conduct light, carry it around bends as a cable carries electricity.

Science: Speed Run (Dec. 28, 1953):

High above Muroc, Calif, last week, almost 50 years to the day since the Wright Brothers twirled their first pusher propeller, the Air Force’s Major Charles E. (“Chuck”) Yeager, 30, attained the highest known speed ever to be reached by pilot and plane. His rocket-powered aircraft (released from a B-29 bomber at 30,000 ft. for the run): the experimental Bell XIA, a new relative of the XI, with which Chuck Yeager first cracked the sound barrier in level flight (TIME, April 18, 1949). His speed: more than 1,600 m.p.h., 2½ times the speed of sound.

Science: Power Without Pistons (Dec. 28, 1959):

Instead of cylinders and pistons, the Wankel engine has a single combustion chamber shaped like a fat-waisted figure eight. Inside, it is a three-cornered rotor with curved sides. A shaft passes through the rotor and makes it move on an eccentric orbit by means of two gears. All three corners of the triangle stay in contact with the wall of the chamber at all times. To make the contacts gaslight, each corner is tipped with an inset metal strip that, as the drive shaft revolves, is pushed tight against the cavity’s inner walls by centrifugal force.

Reconnaissance: Cameras Aloft: No Secrets Below (Dec. 28, 1962):

Both high-and low-altitude photo work have improved spectacularly since World War II. Cameras that work at 20-mile altitudes—up where the U-2 flies—have 36 in.-100 in. focal lengths that turn their lenses into virtual telescopes. Some of them swing from side to side, reaching both horizons. But though the pictures show surprising clarity, their scale is still too small to illuminate fine details of objects on the ground. Clouds are another frustrating disadvantage; over humid Cuba they often spoil the view.

How IBM Was Left Behind (Dec. 28, 1992):

When it comes to dominating an industry, few companies have done so with the overpowering force of International Business Machines. From gigantic mainframes and tiny laptops to semiconductors and software, IBM ruthlessly called the shots for the entire industry after the computer became a commercial item about 40 years ago. So tight was IBM’s market grip that it was practically impossible for any computer company to do business without being tied in some way to the Big Blue colossus.

How the mighty have fallen.

Favorite Things (Dec. 28, 1998):

Another thing I want is a DVD player. I’ve been “testing” the Panasonic A310 ($599), a splendid machine with built-in Dolby audio, and I’ve been dragging my feet in returning it. DVD is to videotape what CDs were to records. If you haven’t seen it, you’ll be surprised by the clarity of the picture. I only wish I had DVD on my laptop.

Your Technology (Dec. 28, 1998):

Many tech companies would have you believe that heaven is a TV set-top box that lets you surf the Web and send e-mail from the couch. The TiVo box knows better. The new service, available in the next year from some cable operators, lets you pause, rewind or watch regular TV in slow motion–handy during a ball game or when the phone interrupts ER. TiVo will also store up to 20 hours of programming based on your viewing habits.

More tech history here…

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