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A Science Odyssey Technology at Home


    Text Version of Technology at Home


    Phonograph
    1900 phonograph1900: Phonographs play sound recorded on cardboard cylinders coated with wax. Invented in 1885, they replaced Thomas Edison's foil-wrapped metal cylinders.
    1901 phonograph1901: Emile Berliner invents the Gramophone, which uses flat disks made of shellac, in 1901. The disks produce a better quality of sound, are more durable, and are easier to mass produce than the wax cylinder. They quickly replace all cylinders.
    1925 phonograph1925: Some phonographs made in 1925 use electric motors and amplifiers. The conventional acoustic/hand-cranked player, however, still sees a lot of use in the years to come.
    1948 phonograph1948: The first LP records, developed at the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) Laboratories in 1948, are sold to the public. Instead of spinning at 78 rpm (revolutions per minute), these "Long Playing" records spin at 33 1/3 rpm. The records, made of plastic, are more durable than the clay and shellac 78s.
    1958 phonograph1958: Stereophonic phonographs and records appear in homes in 1958, adding a new dimension to high-fidelity sound.
    1980s CD player



    1983: CDs (Compact Discs), developed in the 1970s, appear on the shelves of music stores. Music is stored on the CD as digital information and is "read" by CD players with the help of a laser.


    Telephone
    1900 phone1900: There are over one million telephones in the U.S. at the turn of the century -- still, this works out to fewer than two phones for every 100 people. To make a call, an operator manually plugs wires into a switchboard to connect two phones.
    1905 phone1905: Almon Brown Strowger, an undertaker, develops a switching system that is controlled by a dial on the telephone. Users can now dial directly to another phone without the assistance of an operator. Although Bell Telephone Laboratories installs Strowger's new system in many locations, switchboard operators are still used well into the second half of the century.
    1937 phone1937: Introduced in 1937, the "300" model telephone offered a built-in bell in its base.

    1967 phone


    1967: Telephones with push buttons and touch-tone dialing appear in homes in selected areas around 1967.

    Refrigerator
    1900 icebox1900: An icebox is used in 1900 to keep food cool. Your friendly local iceman delivers blocks of ice several times a week.
    1913 fridge1913: The first electric refrigerators are sold to the home market in 1913, although their sales won't climb until the 1920s. These fridges use a motor and a compressor to remove heat from the cabinet's interior.
    1931 fridge1931: Freon, a gas developed by Thomas Midgley, Jr. a year earlier, is mass produced by the Kinetic Chemical Corporation starting in 1931. Although it will later be identified as harmful to the Earth's ozone layer, its non-toxic, non-flammable properties make it a safe alternative to the gases used in refrigerators.
    1995 fridge



    1995: In addition to being energy efficient (a repercussion of the 1970s enerGy crisis), new refrigerators no longer use ozone-harming CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons, or freon).


    Tape Recorder
    1947 tape recorder1947: Tape recorders, like the Brush model, appear in homes in 1947. These recorders use magnetic plastic tape, which was developed in Germany in 1930.
    1955 tape recorder1955: Stereo tape recorders are sold to the home market in 1955.
    1963 tape recorder1963: Tape recorders using compact cassettes are introduced. Compact cassettes offer high-fidelity sound in a small, easy-to-use format.
    1980 tape player



    1980: The Sony Walkman appears in homes and on hips across the country.


    Television
    1946 television1946: Television quickly becomes a part of American life starting around 1946. One year before, there were fewer than 10,000 TV sets. By 1950, there are 6 million. By 1960, there will be almost 60 million.
    1953 television1953: NBC transmits the New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade in color in 1953, but it is not until 1966 that the three networks broadcast all their prime time programs in color. In 1972, only half the households in the U.S. have a color television.
    1975 VCR



    1975: Sony's Betamax, a VCR (video cassette recorder) selling for $1300, is introduced to the home market in 1975. VHS decks, which make their debut in 1977, eventually dominate the home VCR market.


    Radio
    1910 radio1910: Crystal radio receivers are available to the public. Manufactured by the de Forest Radio Telephone Company, these kits are geared for amateur radio enthusiasts.
    1919 radio1919: The superheterodyne radio, developed by Edwin Armstrong, is sold to the general public. The radio uses vacuum tubes to amplify and tune in signals.
    1950 radio1950: In response to an increasing interest in high-fidelity sound, FM (frequency modulation), gains popularity in the 1950s. FM was perfected in 1933 by Edwin Armstrong. The first FM broadcasts aired in 1940; by 1960, FM stations will begin to broadcast in stereo.
    1955 radio1955: The Regency is introduced in 1954. The first lightweight, portable radio, it uses recently-developed transistors instead of tubes. In 1955, Sony's popular version of the transistor radio is made available to the public.
    1980s radio



    1980s: The 1980s see miniature AM/FM radios that are incorporated into lightweight headphones.


    Computers
    1975 computer1975: The Altair 8800, a build-it-yourself computer kit, appears in U.S. homes in 1975. Complete with an Intel 8080 processor and 256 bytes (not kilobytes) of memory, it can run BASIC programming language.
    1977 computer1977: A revolution in computing begins in 1977 when the first fully assembled personal computer, the Apple II, is made available to the public. Within twenty years, two out of five households will have a computer.
    1989 computer1989: Making use of LCD (liquid crystal displays) and ever smaller components, laptop computers see more and more use in the late 1980s.
    1994 computer



    1994: Spurred by the introduction of Mosaic, interest in the World Wide Web rapidly takes off starting in 1994. Within four years, an estimated 30 million people (including you) are browsing the Web.


    Microwave Oven
    1965 microwave1965: Microwave ovens are sold to the general public, although they won't see widespread use until the early 1980s. Microwave ovens designed for commercial use have been around since 1947.
    1980s microwave



    1980s: The sale of microwave ovens take off throughout the 1980s. These ovens offer digital readouts, push button controls, and turntables to help cook food evenly.


    Tupperware
    1945 Tupperware



    1945: Tupperware containers become available in retail stores in 1945, but consumers have little confidence in the plastic containers. In 1951 Tupperware products are removed from retail shelves and instead sold through "Tupperware parties." Sales take off.


    Nylon
    1940 nylons1940: The first nylon products are made available to the public. On May 15, 1940, four million pairs of nylon stockings are bought within several hours in New York City. Nylon, the first man-made fiber, was developed in 1935 by Wallace H. Carothers.


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