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This Week in Tech History: Henry Ford’s First Car

The ice cream freezer is patented just in time for summer, Thomas Edison flops, and Henry Ford completes his first car… It all happened This Week in Tech History.

1848 – William Young of Baltimore, MD patented a hand-cranked paddle freezer and invented the technique that survives today. It cut the time from hours to minutes and resulted in a uniform and smooth ice cream. And it brought the frozen confection to many more people. Before his invention, making ice cream was a feat of strength. A smaller bowl of cream, milk and sugar was placed in a larger bowl of ice. The ice was salted to make it colder, and a servant beat the mixture until his arms gave out. Then another would take over, then another.

1869 – At the age of 22, Thomas Edison of Boston, MA received a patent for his electric voting machine. At that time, lawmakers voted by simply yelling out “yay” or “nay” and a scribe would tally the votes by hand. Edison hoped to speed up the process with his machine that recorded the ballots of voters with the help of a simple switch and an electric current. This was one of the first patents for Edison who ended up with a total of 2,332 during his lifetime. This was also known as one of his biggest flops, with one lawmaker quoted as saying “If there’s one invention on earth we don’t want down here, that is it.” Thomas Edison is credited with my favorite quote of all time, saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

1896 – Henry Ford completed the Ford Quadricycle, his first gasoline-powered automobile, and gives it a successful test run. This was Ford’s first car and was a simple frame with a gas-powered engine and four bicycle wheels mounted to it. The Quadricycle was steered by a tiller handle, had a two-speed transmission, put out a whopping four horsepower and had a top speed of 20 miles per hour. The original Quadricycle still survives today and is housed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

1929 – Warner Brothers debuted the first all-color, all-talking motion picture. The film debuted at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City. Ethel Waters, Joe E. Brown and Arthur Lake starred in “On With the Show”. The film generated a lot of buzz in Hollywood and virtually overnight, most other studios began shooting all-color films. Unfortunately, the original color print of On with the show was lost and only black and white copies remain. One of which is held in the Library of Congress.

1971 – The U.S. space probe Mariner 9 blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a journey to Mars. Mariner 9 arrived at Mars on November 3, and became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. Mariner 9 returned photographs of the entire surface of Mars, including some images that revealed what appear to be riverbeds on the surface, suggesting the presence of water on Mars at some point in the past.

2008 – Google announced the leasing of 42 acres at Moffet Field, a former U.S. naval air station near Mountain View, CA. The Internet search giant said it planned to build a high-tech campus on the land. The deal called for an annual rent of $3.7 million to NASA.

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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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