Today in TIME Tech History: The Television Apparatus (1928), the U.S. Technocratic Party (1933), the Thinking Machine (1950) and More

Let’s hop in the TIME Wayback Machine to see which notable tech-related stories were published on January 23 between 1923 and today.

  • Share
  • Read Later

Let’s hop in the TIME Wayback Machine to see which notable tech-related stories were published on January 23 between 1923 and today.

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

Practical Television (1928)

Said Dr. Lee De Forest, inventor of the three-element vacuum tube: “I do not think that any marked advance has been made in the Alexanderson television apparatus, except in the synchronization system. I think that television will never be practical in the home, due to the fact that the present methods require large rotating parts operated by a motor. The difficulty is that the operator at the receiving end must constantly regulate a little knob or dial, to prevent the picture from becoming distorted. We are still a million miles away from the application of television on a large theatre screen, because eighteen inches today constitutes approximately the largest television screen in use. A new system must be developed, based on another branch of physics, which will get away from heavy and rotating parts before seeing by radio can be made practical for private use.”

Technocracy’s Week (1933)

It still rode bulbously about the land last week. It created hundreds of miscellaneous news items. In Chicago Patrolman John Shannon arrested two men as “Reds” when he heard them argue about it. In Roseland, Manhattan dance hall, a new dance was named after it. In Chicago was formed the Technocratic Party of the U. S., sponsored by the sponsors of the Anti-Rodeo League and the Mental Patients Defenders’ Association.

Quick as a Flash (1939)

In Chicago last week Drs. Francis Wood Godwin and Alfred Orpheus Walker showed pictures of a .22 calibre bullet in flight taken at speeds of about one-millionth of a second, fastest exposure ever accomplished. These photographs revealed the bullet “stopped” in its course, a clear-cut image with highlights gleaming on its surface; stopped again so close to a pane that its reflection could be dimly seen in the glass; passing through and emerging in a cloud of glass dust.

The Thinking Machine (1950)

On Oxford Street in Cambridge, Mass. lives a sibyl, a priestess of science. Her devotees take their problems to her as devout ancient Greeks took their insolubles to Delphi. She is no mumbling, anonymous priestess, frothing her mouth with riddles. Her name is Bessie; she is a long, slim, glass-sided machine with 760,000 parts, and the riddles that are put to her and that she unfailingly answers concern such matters as rocket motors, nuclear physics and trigonometric functions.

For a computing machine, Bessie is old: she has been steadily at work since 1944. And she is not the brightest of her breed. Compared to her children and grandchildren (one of whom, Harvard’s Mark III lives on the floor below in Harvard’s Computation Laboratory), she is dim-witted and slow. But Bessie is a progenetrix, a sort of mechanical Eve. By proving what computing machines could do, she started one of the liveliest developments in modern science.

Master Clock (1956)

The Copenhagen clock is the product of some 40 years’ planning by onetime Locksmith Jens Olsen, who died in 1945. A self-taught astronomer, physicist and engineer, Olsen conceived the idea of his clock after seeing the famed astronomical clock in Strasbourg. He devoted all of his spare time to planning it and calculating its complex mathematical functions. With funds raised by clockmakers’ societies, he completed the plans in 1944, lived just long enough to supervise the first months of production of the clock’s 15,000 different parts. Since then, a million dollars has gone into the clock. It is housed in an airtight, humidity-and-temperature-controlled glass case.

Cars, Computers and Coptermania (1984)

They never complain. They never forget their lines. They have no agents or egos. They are composed of moving parts, but their parts are rarely moving. They are sex objects who do not object to being handled, symbols of power whose judgments go unquestioned, the most impersonal of actors in the most personal of media. They are the new stars of prime-time network television: machines.

Helicopters, cars and computers dominate such action-adventure shows, as Magnum, P.I., Matt Houston, Trauma Center, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Cutter to Houston and The Fall Guy.

Boosting Your Home’s IQ (1989)

Home automation took a major step forward last week, when the Electronic Industries Association/Consumer Electronics Group — a trade organization that includes such giants as Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Tandy, Mitsubishi and RCA — unveiled a new wiring standard called the Consumer Electronics Bus, or CEBus. CEBus will enable microprocessor-equipped appliances built by one company to communicate with those built by any other. In the first public demonstration, at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, enthusiastic manufacturers showed off a prototype CEBus-controlled home of the future packed with high-tech features. When a telephone rings in a CEBus home, the stereo automatically lowers its volume. As someone walks into a room, the lights go on. If a visitor pushes the doorbell, his or her face is displayed on a TV in the living room. Commuters unable to reach home in time to cook dinner can set the oven timer by calling home and pushing buttons on the telephone.

Hacker Homecoming (1995)

THE NIGHTCLUB IN DOWNTOWN Manhattan is swarming with reporters, cameramen, Internet bohemians and online celebrities, people with handles like “Mnemonic,” “Razor” and “Garbled Uplink.” The center of attention — a fashionably wan, cigarette-smoking ex-con known as Phiber Optik — shows up an hour late, even though the party is in his honor…

Phiber Optik, 23, is decidedly not a soft drink — and probably not a sex aid. According to his supporters, who gathered last week to celebrate his release from prison, he’s the first underground hero of the Information Age, the Robin Hood of cyberspace. Arrested two years ago in a federal crackdown on computer break-ins, he became a cause celebre among the Net intelligentsia: a master hacker jailed not only for what he did but also for what he knew how to do.

More tech history here…