Wednesday, July 4, 2018

'Murica, Land of Innovation

Let's just consider 1946 to 1991, shall we?

Just a small, tiny taste:

  • Control-Alt-Delete, often abbreviated as Ctrl-Alt-Del, is a computer keyboard command on PC compatible systems that can be used to reboot a computer, and summon the task manager or operating system. It is invoked by pressing the Delete key while holding the Control and Alt keys: Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Thus, it forces a soft reboot, brings up the task manager (on Windows and BeOS) or a jump to ROM monitor. Control-Alt-Delete was invented in 1981 by David Bradley while working at IBM.[250]
  • A total internal reflection fluorescence microscope is a type of microscope with which a thin region of a specimen, usually less than 200 nm, can be observed. It can also be used to observe the fluorescence of a single molecule, making it an important tool of biophysics and quantitative biology. Daniel Axelrod invented the first total internal reflection fluorescence microscope in 1981.[251]

The Space Shuttle: World's most complex machine
The Space Shuttle, part of the Space Transportation System (STS), is a spacecraft operated by NASA for orbital human spaceflight missions. It carries payloads to low Earth orbit, provides crew rotation for the International Space Station (ISS), and performs servicing missions. The orbiter can also recover satellites and other payloads from orbit and return them to Earth. In 1981, NASA successfully launched its reusable spacecraft called the Space Shuttle. George Mueller, an American from St. Louis, Missouri is widely credited for jump starting, designing, and overseeing the Space Shuttle program after the demise of the Apollo program in 1972.[252]
1981 Paintball
Paintball is a game in which players eliminate opponents by hitting them with pellets containing paint usually shot from a carbon dioxide or compressed-gas, HPA or N20, in a powered paintball gun. The idea of the game was first conceived and co-invented in 1976 by Hayes Noel, Bob Gurnsey, and Charles Gaines. However, the game of paintball was not first played until June 27, 1981.[253]
Short for Graphic User Interface, the GUI uses windows, icons, and menus to carry out commands such as opening files, deleting files, moving files, etc. and although many GUI Operating Systems are operated by using a mouse, the keyboard can also be used by using keyboard shortcuts or arrow keys. The GUI was co-invented at Xerox PARC by Alan Kay and Douglas Engelbart in 1981.[254]
1983 Internet

ARPANET logical map, 1977
Not to be confused with a separate application known as the World wide web which was invented much later in the early 1990s (see article on the English inventor Tim Berners-Lee), the Internet is the global system of overall interconnected computer networks that use the standardized Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private and public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope that are linked by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless connections, and other technologies. The concept of packet switching of a network was first explored by Paul Baran in the early 1960s,[255] and the mathematical formulations behind packet switching were later devised by Leonard Kleinrock.[256] On October 29, 1969, the world's first electronic computer network, the ARPANET, was established between nodes at Leonard Kleinrock's lab at UCLA and Douglas Engelbart's lab at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International).[257] Another milestone occurred in 1973 when Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf co-invented Internet Protocol and Transmission Control Protocol while working on ARPANET at the United States Department of Defense.[10] The first TCP/IP-wide area network was operational on January 1, 1983, when the United States' National Science Foundation (NSF) constructed the university network backbone that would later become the NSFNet. This date is held as the "birth" of the Internet.[258][259]
  • In cryptography, a blind signature, as invented by David Chaum in 1983, is a form of digital signature in which the content of a message is disguised before it is signed. The resulting blind signature can be publicly verified against the original, unblinded message in the manner of a regular digital signature. Blind signatures are typically employed in privacy-related protocols where the signer and message author are different parties. Examples include cryptographic election systems and digital cash schemes.[260]
  • A laser turntable is a phonograph that plays gramophone records using a laser beam as the pickup instead of a conventional diamond-tipped stylus. This playback system has the unique advantage of avoiding physical contact with the record during playback; instead, a focused beam of light traces the signal undulations in the vinyl, with zero friction, mass and record wear. The laser turntable was first conceived by Robert S. Reis, while working as a consultant of analog signal processing for the United States Air Force and the United States Department of Defense.[261]
  • An LCD projector is a type of video projector for displaying video, images or computer data on a screen or other flat surface. It is a modern equivalent of the slide projector or overhead projector. To display images, LCD (liquid-crystal display) projectors typically send light from a metal-halide lamp through a prism or series of dichroic filters that separates light to three polysilicon panels – one each for the red, green and blue components of the video signal. The LCD projector was invented in 1984 by Gene Dolgoff.[262]
  • The pointing stick is an isometric joystick operated by applied force and is used as a pointing device on laptop computers. It takes the form of a rubber cap located on top of the keyboard embedded between the 'G', 'H' and 'B' keys. The pointing stick was invented by American computer scientist Ted Selker in 1984.[263]
  • The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a technique widely used in molecular biology. It derives its name from one of its key components, a DNA polymerase used to amplify a piece of DNA by in vitro enzymatic DNA replication. As PCR progresses, the DNA generated is used as a template for replication. The polymerase chain reaction was invented in 1984 by Kary Mullis.[264]


  1. We certainly have more than our share of innovations. Interestingly, the rest of the world often improves on our inventions, without actually conceiving anything. When others criticize Western culture and in particular, the United States, I respond with a list of critical American innovations. Without such, modern life, and in particular, health and prosperity, would be impossible.

  2. The stealth program was bazaar for those involved with it. If you were enlisted and associated with it you got re-trained for another career field when you rotated off the project. The re-training was also away from jobs involved directly with aircraft and into support roles. There were a lot of PO'd air techs that got thrown into communications, construction, and admin.