News From Our Blog

Celebrating American Inventions: The World at Your Fingertips

image

The 4th of July celebrates the birthday of our country, and allows us to take time to reflect on life, liberty and all the other great freedoms we have living here.  As part of that celebration, this week we’re highlighting some prominent inventions that have impacted all of our lives since the founding of our country.

We’ll highlight one invention from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. We can’t cover every invention, so feel free to share other great inventions in the comments, and check back throughout the week to share how you’ve been impacted by the inventions we’ve selected.

The Internet

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’re using the Internet. You’re one of the more than 2 billion Internet users worldwide - a number that has grown by 566 percent since 2000!

It seems absurd, now, that there was ever a time before the Internet existed. Today, there are Internet-enabled smartphones, wireless Internet connection exists in restaurants and coffee shops across the country, and often it’s difficult to even imagine accomplishing tasks or homework without access to the Internet.

This wasn’t always the case, though. There was a time when the Internet was a distant dream, far from reality. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the United States government started looking into what we know now as the Internet.

The government commissioned a research program to investigate technologies for communications via computer networks. The creation of this program, known as ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) marked the beginning of a new era of computer exploration.

In 1973, Vinton Cerf, an American computer scientist known as the “Father of the Internet,” developed the TCP/IP Protocol Suite, a complicated name for what is essentially the system of protocols that underlie the workings of the Internet. This new system, created with American engineer Robert Kahn, improved the efficiency of the network and allowed different networks to connect - essentially creating what we know as the Internet today.

Though the World Wide Web came later, with the contributions of the British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the creation of TCP/IP and the Internet by Cerf and Kahn allowed the idea of a global network to become a reality - and has transformed life as we know it today.

To learn more about the Internet, you can visit the kid-friendly site “The History of… The Internet”.

Whether you’re watching fireworks or barbecuing with friends, make sure your own 4th of July celebration is safe and fun with these tips. And check the #july4 and #madeintheusa hashtags on Twitter to read about more American inventions this week.

Read this post in Spanish.

Do you have what it takes to invent the next “big thing”? Learn how to apply for a patent.

Celebrating American Inventions: Beyond Morse Code

image

The 4th of July celebrates the birthday of our country, and allows us to take time to reflect on life, liberty and all the other great freedoms we have living here.  As part of that celebration, this week we’re highlighting some prominent inventions that have impacted all of our lives since the founding of our country.

We’ll highlight one invention from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. We can’t cover every invention, so feel free to share other great inventions in the comments, and check back throughout the week to share how you’ve been impacted by the inventions we’ve selected.

The Telephone

“Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.”

These famed words, the first communicated clearly over telephone, are historic in the world of American inventions. Spoken by Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant on March 10, 1876, they marked the beginning of a new era - the era of the telephone.

It’s hard to imagine a world without telephones now, but prior to 1876, the world communicated without them, often with a telegraph and Morse code. While Alexander Graham Bell was attempting to improve the telegraph, he came up with the idea of a telephone and the ability to “talk with electricity.”

The first sound transmitted over a telephone, the twanging of a clock spring, occurred June 2, 1875, and provided more motivation for Bell to continue improving his invention. He filed for a patent on February 14, 1876 and received United States Patent No. 174,465 on March 7 of the same year.

The patent filing came with some controversy surrounding it, as Elisha Gray, another inventor, filed for a caveat hours later on the day! A famous legal battle later ensued between Western Union (Gray’s telephone company) and Bell Telephone, which Bell won.

To see a full collection of Bell’s letters and drawings - including his experimental notebook - you can visit the “Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers”  from the Library of Congress.

Whether you’re watching fireworks or barbecuing with friends, make sure your own 4th of July celebration is safe and fun with these tips. And check the #july4 and #madeintheusa hashtags on Twitter to read about more American inventions this week.

Read this post in Spanish.

Celebrating American Inventions: The Deep Dive

image

The 4th of July celebrates the birthday of our country, and allows us to take time to reflect on life, liberty and all the other great freedoms we have living here.  As part of that celebration, this week we’re highlighting some prominent inventions that have impacted all of our lives since the founding of our country.

We’ll highlight one invention from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. We can’t cover every invention, so feel free to share other great inventions in the comments, and check back throughout the week to share how you’ve been impacted by the inventions we’ve selected.

The Submarine

Today, scientists use high-tech submarines to dive deep into the ocean and research underwater life. Tourists can take a submarine dive and visit underwater coral reefs. The military uses submarines to stealthily target the enemy with little to no detection.

But did you know all of this began with a wooden submarine named “Turtle,” first used in military action during the Revolutionary War?

David Bushnell, along with his brother Ezra, created the world’s first military submarine in Connecticut and launched it for the first time in 1776. The submarine they created featured ideas still used today, including the use of water as ballast for the craft, and the screw propeller.

Describing the Turtle, George Washington wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1785, “I then thought, and still think, that it was an effort of genius,” according to the Navy Department Library.

According to the Navy, during the actual Revolutionary War battle, Turtle didn’t fare as well as Bushnell hoped. Despite successful test runs (one of which Benjamin Franklin attended, according to reports!), Turtle’s attack did not succeed. Despite this hurdle, Turtle provided an invaluable ‘first draft’ of what would later develop into today’s submarine.

To hear from veterans of more recent wars about their experiences on a submarine, check out the Library of Congress’ video project, “The Silent Service.” Meet some of the Navy’s current submarine force, in this video from Inside Today’s Military.

Whether you’re watching fireworks or barbecuing with friends, make sure your own 4th of July celebration is safe and fun with these tips. And check the #july4 and #madeintheusa hashtags on Twitter to read about more American inventions this week.

Read this post in Spanish.