John Harrison

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention, and without a doubt, British horologist John Harrison brought that age-old proverb to life.

Born on this day in 1693, in Foulby, Yorkshire, England, Harrison was a self-educated clockmaker and carpenter who came to the rescue of countless sailors by creating the first marine chronometer to calculate longitude at sea.

Seeking to remedy naval disasters, the British government created the Board of Longitude in 1714, which offered a reward of £20,000 to anyone who could devise a navigational instrument that could find the longitude within 30 miles of a sea voyage.

Harrison took on the challenge. He set to work on his chronometer in 1728 and completed it in 1735, following up this feat with three watches that were even smaller and more on the money than his first.

Harrison’s extraordinary invention brought him much acclaim. Thanks to him, seamen could determine not only gauge latitude but longitude, making their excursions far safer.

Our colorful Doodle shows the inventor hard at work, surrounded by the tools of his trade. Today, time is on his side.


Early stethoscopes
Early stethoscopes

The stethoscope is an acoustic medical device for auscultation, or listening to the internal sounds of an animal or human body. It typically has a small disc-shaped resonator that is placed against the chest, and two tubes connected to earpieces. It is often used to listen to lung and heart sounds. It is also used to listen to intestines and blood flow in arteries and veins. In combination with a sphygmomanometer, it is commonly used for measurements of blood pressure.

The stethoscope was invented in France in 1816 by René Laennec at the Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital in Paris. It consisted of a wooden tube and was monaural. Laennec invented the stethoscope because he was uncomfortable placing his ear on women’s chests to hear heart sounds. He observed that a rolled notebook, placed between the patient’s chest and his ear, could amplify heart sounds without requiring physical contact. Laennec called his device the “stethoscope” (stetho + scope “chest scope”), and he called its use “medicateauscultation”, because it was auscultation with a tool intermediate between the patient’s body and the physician’s ear. In 1840, Golding Bird described a stethoscope he had been using with a flexible tube. Bird was the first to publish a description of such a stethoscope but he noted in his paper the prior existence of an earlier design (which he thought was of little utility) which he described as the snake ear trumpet. Bird’s stethoscope had a single earpiece.

In 1851, Irish physician Arthur Leared invented a binaural stethoscope, and in 1852 George Philip Cammann perfected the design of the stethoscope instrument (that used both ears) for commercial production, which has become the standard ever since.

Rappaport and Sprague designed a new stethoscope in the 1940s, which became the standard by which other stethoscopes are measured, consisting of two sides, one of which is used for the respiratory system, the other for the cardiovascular system. The Rappaport-Sprague was later made by Hewlett-Packard. HP’s medical products division was spun off as part of Agilent Technologies, Inc., where it became Agilent Healthcare. Agilent Healthcare was purchased by Philips which became Philips Medical Systems.

Invention of Internet

The history of the Internet begins with the development of electronic computers in the 1950s. Initial concepts of packet networking originated in several computer science laboratories in the United States, United Kingdom, and France.The US Department of Defense awarded contracts as early as the 1960s for packet network systems, including the development of the ARPANET. The first message was sent over the ARPANET from computer science Professor Leonard Kleinrock’s laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to the second network node at Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

Nikola Tesla toyed with the idea of a “world wireless system” in the early 1900s, and visionary thinkers like Paul Otlet and Vannevar Bush conceived of mechanized, searchable storage systems of books and media in the 1930s and 1940s. Still, the first practical schematics for the Internet would not arrive until the early 1960s, when MIT’s J.C.R. Licklider popularized the idea of an “Intergalactic Network” of computers. Shortly thereafter, computer scientists developed the concept of “packet switching,” a method for effectively transmitting electronic data that would later become one of the major building blocks of the Internet.

The first workable prototype of the Internet came in the late 1960s with the creation of ARPANET, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. Originally funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, ARPANET used packet switching to allow multiple computers to communicate on a single network. The technology continued to grow in the 1970s after scientists Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf developed Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP, a communications model that set standards for how data could be transmitted between multiple networks. ARPANET adopted TCP/IP on January 1, 1983, and from there researchers began to assemble the “network of networks” that became the modern Internet. The online world then took on a more recognisable form in 1990, when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

First Successful Airplane.

World's first successful airplane
World’s first successful airplane

The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904–05 the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft.

The brothers’ fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became and remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving “the flying problem”. This approach differed significantly from other experimenters of the time who put more emphasis on developing powerful engines. Using a small homebuilt wind tunnel, the Wrights also collected more accurate data than any before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers that were more efficient than any before. Their first U.S. patent, 821,393, did not claim invention of a flying machine, but rather, the invention of a system of aerodynamic control that manipulated a flying machine’s surfaces.

They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles in particular influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle like a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice. From 1900 until their first powered flights in late 1903, they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots.