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This Week in Tech History: Introduction of the Compact Disc

The telephone is patented, the Soviets prep for human spaceflight and a new storage technology makes its debut… It all happened This Week in Tech History.

This week in 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell ‘rang’ up a patent for his invention, the telephone. It was an invention, incidentally, that almost bankrupted his company in the beginning. Just a few days later, Bell sent the first clear telephone message — into a nearby room — to his assistant, Mr. Watson. “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you,” were the first words spoken into the invention that Bell had created.

1891 – Almon Strowger patented the Strowger switch, a device which led to the automation of telephone circuit switching, and eliminating the need for telephone switchboard operators. The story goes that the invention came about because Strowger, an undertaker by trade, believed that phone calls were being routed to his competitor, who was married to one of the operators. Strowger sold his patents for $1,800 to his associates – who subsequently sold them to Bell Systems in 1916 for $2.5 million.

1961 – In the midst of the “Space Race”, The Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik 9, carrying a dog and a human dummy – named Ivan Ivanovitch – along with some mice and a guinea pig. The spacecraft was only intended to complete a single orbit, so it was deorbited shortly after launch, and reentered on its first pass over the Soviet Union. The launch demonstrated that the Soviet Union was ready to begin human spaceflight.

And this week in 1979 – Philips demonstrated the compact disc publicly for the first time. At the time of the technology’s introduction to the market in 1982, a CD could store much more data than a personal computer hard disk drive, which would typically only hold about 10 megabytes.

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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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