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This Week in Tech History: First American in Space

Thomas Edison gives us a new way to hear music, a camera gives us instant pictures and the first American flies in space… It all happened This Week in Tech History.

This week in 1878 – Thomas Edison, famed inventor – and subject of more This Week in Tech Histories than any other human being – patented a music player at his laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ. This music device is the one we know as the phonograph. Originally, Edison had set out to invent a telegraph repeater, but instead came up with the phonograph or, as he called it, the speaking machine.

1947 – Edwin Land demonstrated a nifty new gadget to the Optical Society of America in New York City. It was the first camera to take, develop and print a picture on photo paper (in black and white back then) all in about a minute. He called his invention the Polaroid Land Camera. It became an ‘instant’ success.

1962 – While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, making three orbits in four hours, 55 minutes. Piloted by astronaut John Glenn and operated by NASA as part of Project Mercury, this was the fifth human spaceflight, preceded by two Soviet orbital flights and two American sub-orbital flights.

And this week in 1965 – The Ranger 8 space probe crashed into the Moon after a successful mission of obtaining the first close-up images of the lunar surface. These pictures were used for scientific study, as well as helping to select landing sites for the Apollo program astronauts.

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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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