"Officers and guests lunch under giant cactus near Fort Thomas, Arizona." February 18, 1886
From the series: Signal Corps Photographs of American Military Activity, 1754 - 1954
Thomas A. Edison’s Patent for An Improvement in Electric Lamps, 1/27/1880
From the Records of the Patent and Trademark Office
On January 27, 1880, The Patent Office granted Thomas Edison’s patent for “an Improvement in Electric Lamps” His patent was an improvement on electric lamps, not the invention of them, but because of Edison’s design changes and the materials he used—such as a carbon filament—his patent allowed for an electric lamp that was reliable, safe, and practical.
Patent Drawing for H. Hollerith’s Apparatus for Compiling Statistics, 01/08/1889
One of the earliest successful “mechanical computers,” Herman Hollerith's invention used punched cards to sort, tabulate and compile statistics, including the 1890 Census. His firm would go on to become part of International Business Machines (IBM).
Patent Drawing for E. Berliner’s Gramophone, 11/08/1887
While this drawing shows one of Emile Berliner’s early cylinder-style Gramophones (a format first patented by Thomas Edison), he would go on to develop the well known disc format record that would eventually replace cylinder recordings.
Patent Drawing for W. Le Conte Stevens’ Stereoscope , 08/15/1882
Our somewhat ersatz stereograms of Lower Yellowstone Falls and Giant’s Club, Wyoming come courtesy of the Hayden Survey photographs series by William H. Jackson, photographer.
Happy 130th to the Brooklyn Bridge!
When it opened on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Designed and built by German-born John A. Roebling and his son, Washington A. Roebling, the bridge connected New York and Brooklyn. The remarkable design used Roebling’s patented system of steel wire cable construction. Its graceful limestone and granite towers, pictured here, took 5 years to build.
- Photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge Across the East River, 04/1974. From the EPA’s DOCUMERICA Series
- Plan of One Tower for the East River Bridge, 1867
- Pedestrians on the upper deck promenade of Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, ca. 1910
File under: Undertaking, Coffins, Life Signals.
In case Eisenbrandt’s spring-loaded coffin wasn’t creepy enough, on December 5, 1882 J. G. Krichbaum patented his device for indicating life in buried persons. We’re curious if this was ever successfully employed?
Patent Drawing for J. G. Krichbaum’s Device for Indicating Life in Buried Persons, 12/05/1882
“…Shipping first cargo of halibut caught in Puget Sounds by crew of schooner Oscar and Hattie. September 20, 1888.” By N. B. Miller.
In 1887, the U.S. Fish Commission sent the steamer Albatross on a three-year voyage to explore fishing grounds and gather data on the commercial fishing industry in the northeastern Pacific and Bering Sea. On a stop in Tacoma, Washington, its photographer captured these proud crewmen from the Oscar and Hattie showing off their catch.
Following the assassination of President James A. Garfield by a disgruntled job seeker, Congress passed the Pendleton Act, establishing a merit-based system of selecting government officials and supervising their work. It was signed into law on January 16, 1883, by President Chester A. Arthur, who had become an ardent reformer after Garfield’s assassination.
Party Like It’s 1889
The first coin operated phonograph (an early version of the jukebox) appeared in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco on November 23, 1889. We’d love to know what sorts of tunes played on the wax cylinder for a nickel.
Drawing of a Coin Actuated Attachment for Phonographs by L. Glass and W. S. Arnold, 05/27/1890