Electric Chair

Lead: Caught up in the frenzy of competition in the early days of electric power, Thomas Edison gave impetus to development of the twentieth century’s most fearsome form of judicial execution, the electric chair.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the 1880s, inventor Thomas Edison and industrialist George Westinghouse were locked in a fierce competition over the future of electric power. The issue was transmission. Edison championed direct current, Westinghouse, in alliance with the brilliant and erratic Nikola Tesla, was an advocate of alternating current. Westinghouse eventually prevailed because AC, with its more efficient distribution over longer distances, was clearly the superior choice.

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Spruce Goose II

Lead: With Allied shipping in serious jeopardy due to German submarine attacks during the early years of World War II, military planners turned to aircraft manufacturers. Howard Hughes responded with the Spruce Goose.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Metal for the construction of experimental aircraft was scarce in 1942. Therefore, when the designers at Hughes Aircraft began their mock-up of the gigantic new cargo plane, they built their model using Duramold, lightweight plywood saturated with synthetic glue to make it waterproof and very strong. The basic airframe had no nails, screws or rivets, no metal at all. Skilled woodworkers crafted special joints that were bonded with glue for strength.

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Spruce Goose I

Lead: Of all the problems the Allies faced in the summer of 1942, none was more threatening than unrestrained submarine warfare. German U-boats were sinking transport ships faster than they could be built.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Fresh challenges seemed to inspire Howard Robard Hughes, Jr.. At the age of 17 he took control of the Hughes Tool Company upon the death of his father. This provided the financial base for Howard's other interests. In 1926 he migrated to Hollywood where over the years he produced numerous motion pictures and premiered actors such as Jean Harlow and Jane Russell. Hughes eventually owned and later sold RKO Pictures.

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Teflon

Lead: In the history of industrial innovation, often the most profound discoveries come as accidents. Such was certainly the case with Teflon.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the years before they were considered by many to be harmful to the environment, chlorofluorocarbons, (CFCs) often known as Freon, brought a safe, efficient means of refrigeration into commercial and household use. Development of Freons emerged from a joint venture between the Frigidaire division of General Motors and the DuPont Chemical Company. Work with Freons led to the accidental discovery of Teflon. In spring 1938, two DuPont chemists were working with a promising new refrigerant, tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) combined with hydrochloric acid. As a convenience the TFE was stored in pressurized cylinders packed in dry ice. On the morning of April 6th, the chemists discovered that the TFE would not come out. When the cylinders were sawed open the interior walls were lined with a smooth, white, waxy substance. Something in the pressure and low temperature had caused the TFE to polymerize or solidify.

 

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Thomas Edison’s Invention of the Phonograph

Lead: In 1877, Thomas Alva Edison stumbled upon his most original invention, the audio phonograph. He captured sound.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Most of Thomas Edison's inventions were either improvements on other ideas or adaptations of existing technology. His incandescent lamp was vastly more efficient than any before, making home lighting economically viable. His kinetoscope laid the foundation for the modern motion picture. It was with the phonograph, however, that Edison made his most creative contribution to modern life and its discovery was by accident.

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Charlie Crocker’s $10K Bet (Transatlantic Railroad)

Lead: Charlie Crocker's men lay ten miles of track and won for their boss a $10,000 bet.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: It all started in late October 1868. Thomas C. Durant, of the Union Pacific Railroad, had just witnessed his own men laying 7 3/4 miles of track, a record for a single day's work. He then cabled Charlie Crocker, chief engineer of the Central Pacific working eastward on the first continental rail link. He wagered $10,000 that the Union Pacific's record could not be broken surpassed. Crocker thought he could beat it, accepted the bet, and bragged that his crew could lay ten miles of track in a single day.

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Garrett Augustus Morgan, Inventor

Lead: Garrett Augustus Morgan excelled in creativity and public service. He invented the predecessor of one of the most familiar sights in the world, the stoplight.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Garrett Morgan was born in Paris, Kentucky in 1877. His parents had been slaves and raised him on a farm. He received a limited formal schooling but was mostly self-educated.

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Cyrus McCormick: Inventor and Salesman

Lead: Denied a renewal on his patent for a mechanical reaper in 1848, Cyrus McCormick transformed himself into a marketing genius and blew the competition away.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the early 1800s the harvesting of grain had not caught up with other agricultural improvements. You could grow grain in great abundance, particularly in the rich soils of the newly settled mid-west, but getting it out of the ground was a problem. Harvesting wheat was labor intensive. If you could find workers, slave or free, they were very expensive in proportion to the revenue generated by the crop. The first commercially practical reaper for the harvesting of wheat was invented in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1831 by Cyrus Hall McCormick, the studious and clever son of a blacksmith. It consisted of a vibrating cutting blade, a reel to bring the stalks within reach and a platform to receive the falling grain. This basic design has changed but little in the years since. McCormick took out a patent in 1834 but lost interest until hard times forced him in the late 1830s to consider exploiting his invention. He sold several but discovered that during his absence others had entered the market most especially Obed Hussey whose design was different and whose reaper was popular in Pennsylvania and New York.

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