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This Week in Tech History: Play-Doh is Born

A new way of putting out fires is patented, A popular toy is introduced and Microsoft releases a new OS for a new millennium… It all happened This Week in Tech History.



1872 – Phillip W. Pratt, of Abington, MA, patented an automatic sprinkler system for putting out fires. The system was operated by means of a valve to which cords and fuses were attached. The cords held the valve closed with a spring-loaded lever. In case of a fire, when the fuses ignited, the cords burned, and the valve opened, releasing a stream of water.


1955 – Play-Doh was introduced. Joe McVicker of Cincinnati was the man behind Play-Doh. His sister-in-law, a nursery school teacher, had been complaining about the modeling clay she had been using. It wouldn’t model! So McVicker sent her some of the non-toxic wallpaper cleaning stuff his company had created. What a hit! Soon the Cincinnati Board of Education was using it in all their elementary schools. McVicker then took his invention to an educational convention where department store Woodard & Lothrop picked it up to carry in their toy department.


1956 – IBM introduced the Model 305 RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control), a computer capable of storing 20 megabytes of data. IBM lab leader Reynold B. Johnson developed a way to store computer data on a metal disk instead of on a tape or drum. RAMAC was the beginning of the disk drive industry.


2000 – Microsoft Windows Me (Millennium Edition) was released. It was the successor and last version of the popular Windows 9x series of operating systems which began with the enormously popular Windows 95. It also was, “Quite possibly, the most under-hyped version of Windows ever created.”

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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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