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This Week in Tech History: A Dragon Flies to the Space Station

The telegraph industry is born, the first 3D cartoon premiers and a dragon flies to the space station… It all happened This Week in Tech History.

1844 – Samuel Morse sent the first message via telegraph. The message, “What hath God wrought”, a quote from the bible, was sent from a committee room in the US Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail in Maryland. While Samuel Morse did not invent the telegraph, he did develop hi, commercialize it and invent the famous code that now bears his name. This first message officially inaugurated America’s telegraph industry.

1900 – Edwin Votey, who was regarded as a “Genius of the Music World”, patented his pianola. Commonly known as the player piano. The original Pianola was a large wooden cabinet in front of an ordinary piano. At the rear of the cabinet was a row of “wooden fingers” aligned with the piano keyboard. These fingers were activated by air passing through a roll of paper perforated with holes that determined which note to play. The air was generated by pressing two foot pedals at the base of the pianola.

1953 – The first 3-D (three-dimensional) cartoon premiered at the Paramount Theatre in Hollywood, California. The production, a Walt Disney creation/RKO picture, was titled, “Melody”. It involves an owl teaching his class full of birds about music and melody. The 3D process never really caught on with theater audiences because of the need to wear the polarized glasses, but the show remained a novelty at Disneyland for several years.


1961 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy gave one of his famous speeches, when he announced before a special joint session of the Congress his goal to initiate a project to – before the end of the decade – put a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth. That goal was realized 8 years later in 1969 with the Apollo 11 mission.

1985 – GTE, General Telephone and Electronics, was named by Fortune Magazine as the largest utility in the US. GTE was founded in 1934 and provided telephone service to a large number of areas in the US. In 2000, GTE was acquired by Bell Atlantic, one of the regional operating companies formed after the breakup of the Bell System. After the acquisition, the combined company changed its name and became Verizon

2012 – The SpaceX Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station. Before this only four governments, the US, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency had accomplished this feat. SpaceX began developing the Dragon spacecraft in late 2004. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, reportedly named the spacecraft after the 1963 song “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary as a response to critics who considered his spaceflight projects impossible.

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Written by Chris Graveline

Chris has covered consumer technology for over 20 years. He is the host of This Week in Tech History as well as a regular co-host on "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline" and our Technical Director.

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