Tales From The Black Chambers

THE MAKING AND BREAKING OF CODES AND CIPHERS HAS PLAYED AN EXCITING AND OFTEN CRUCIAL PART IN AMERICAN HISTORY

By choice, cryptographers are an unsung and anonymous lot. In war and peace they labor in their black chambers, behind barred doors, dispatching sheets of secret symbols and reading encoded messages from the innermost councils of foreign governments. Few tales have leaked from those rooms. Read more »

“gems Of Symmetry And Convenience”

So Richmond proudly described its electric trolleys, the first truly successful system in the world

For the citizens of Richmond, Virginia, in 1888 the city’s new trolley system was a source of inordinate pride. “All are modelled on the Broadway style and are gems of symmetry and convenience,” proudly wrote a reporter for the Richmond Dispatch of the little four-wheeled electric cars that were clanging cheerfully through downtown streets on their route between Church Hill and New Reservoir Park. “Brilliantly lighted” by incandescent lamps, heated by Dr.Read more »

“what Good Is A New-born Baby?”

OF BALLOONS, THE FIRST AIR-MAIL LETTERS, AND THE EVER-ENTERPRISING FRANKLIN FAMILY

Seventy-seven-year-old Benjamin Franklin was at the top of his form in the fall of 1783. Minister to the court of France since 1776, this revered figure from the new young country had scored widely in France. Finally, in September, 1783, he had signed the definitive treaty of peace between America and England, bringing the Revolution to its formal end. The crowned heads of Europe saluted him; the diplomats admired him; the ladies adored him. Read more »

“you Press The Button, We Do The Rest”

In the year 1854 a young man named George Washington Eastman rather reluctantly maintained a residence in Waterville, New York. The reluctance arose from the fact that while the hamlet was pleasant enough, its population of a few hundred souls offered no scope for the ambitions and needs of a father of two little girls, with a third child on the way.Read more »

Dos Passos: The Wizards Meet

Steinmetz was a hunchback, son of a hunchback lithographer. He was born in Breslau in eighteen sixtyfive, graduated with highest honors at seventeen from the Breslau Gymnasium, went to the University of Breslau to study mathematics; mathematics to Steinmetz was muscular strength and long walks over the hills and the kiss of a girl in love and big evenings spent swilling beer with your friends; on his broken back he felt the topheavy weight of Read more »

Here Comes Superplane

For a very long time it has been supposed that man could adjust himself to almost anything in the way of speed, noise, or financial outlay, just to get from one place to another in the least possible time.Read more »