In 1977, the number one computer company in the world, Apple Computers, was incorporated by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in California. From humble beginnings as a machine for hobbyists, Apple computers soon made their way onto desktops in businesses and homes around the world with the introduction of the Macintosh line of computers. They might have stumbled in the 80's when IBM's operating system supplier, Microsoft, made a graphical interface to match the Macintosh, but a successful lawsuit against the company crushed that dream.
In 1942, Ford Automotive introduced cars made from plastic rather than metal, in an effort to save metal and conserve fuel for the war effort. The cars were so wildly successful that Ford stopped making metal-body cars, and the other auto manufacturers in Detroit followed suit. It was this move that made dependence on foreign oil completely unnecessary, as America produced enough fuel to power these highly fuel-efficient autos.
In 1863, Thomas Crapper demonstrated his flushing facility to a convention of plumbers in London, England. Although he had an excellent design, Mr. Crapper was unable to secure financing for his indoor toilet system, and another man, Michael Proops, was able to claim the title of the man who invented the indoor toilet. It was a dubious honor, as his name has become synonymous with the product of the toilet ever since.
In 736 AUC, Caius Lumis Juventus, Roman inventor extraordinaire, demonstrates the most powerful steam engine ever built. Caius had been a student of the ancient Greek sciences, and had learned of the simple uses they had put the power of steam to in the old days. Jove's Thunderbolt, the engine that Caius Juventus built, was capable of pulling a carriage with three heavy men for miles. His designs revolutionized Roman society.
In 4528, artist Cheng Shifa was born in Shanghai. The great port city afforded Cheng with a great wealth of material, and became the basis of most of his vast body of work. His nearly-abstract portraits of Shanghai pulse with a love for the city that is almost palpable. His work is often cited as the reason so many people move to and write about Shanghai to this day.
In 1984, Apple Computers released the Macintosh, a personal computer with a graphical user interface, rather than the command line that most PC's had used up to that point. This innovation, although not unique to Apple, rocketed them to the top of the computing world. By the end of the decade, they produced almost 80% of the computers used in America, and their operating system, licensed out to other computer manufacturers, today accounts for around 90% of the computing done in the world.
In 1875, George F. Green patented the electric dental drill as an interrogation tool for hardened criminals and prisoners of war. It was later banned by the Geneva Conventions.
In 1967, a fire erupts inside the Apollo 1 command module as tests are being conducted prior to allowing the astronauts inside. Although the astronauts escape unharmed, Apollo 1 is destroyed, and America's lunar exploration program is set back 6 months trying to find out why the fire happened. It was eventually discovered to be faulty wiring inside the command module.
In 1960, Project Ozma, a pet project of scientist Frank Drake, started searching the skies for extraterrestrial life from Green Bank, West Virginia. The discovery of a repeating signal originating from Epsilon Eridani led to government funding and the beginning of a torturously slow dialogue between earth and the Eridani.
In 1802, pioneering psychologist/sociologist Dorothea Dix was born in Hampden, North American Confederation. She led the way in using neurological and chemical treatment of the mentally ill and reintegrating them into society.
In 1935, Charles Darrow, a hobbyist from Germantown, Pennsylvania, first started selling a game he called Monopoly. The Parker Brothers company had rejected the game the year before for several design flaws; but it became a very popular game in the American northeast during the Great Depression. It ceased production during World War II and Darrow was never able to start it up again.
In 9816 BCE, Egyptian taskmasters, looking for a way to keep their slaves both happy and nourished, concoct a beverage that is essentially liquid fermented bread, from grains, yeast and water. Slaves cannot stomach the bitter, foul drink, and the recipe is lost to time.
In 1802, the banjo clock is patented by Simon Willard of Massachusetts. This phenomenally successful product led to other musical instruments being made into clocks; antique guitar clocks from this era often sell for thousands of dollars at auctions.
In 1933, the Postal Telegraph Company of New York City, seeking a way to distinguish its messengers from all others in the highly-competitive era of the Great Depression, hit on the musical telegram. They hired musicians who would play appropriate theme music while you read your telegram. It was a huge hit, and spawned copycats all over the nation.
In 1847, the world's greatest inventor, Thomas Alva Edison, was born in Milan, Ohio. Edison's adaption of Babbage's Difference Engine became a world-transforming tool that allowed for the storage and transmission of vast amounts of information instantaneously. His work was directly responsible for the Knowledge Railroad that connects all of humanity today.
In 1455, An inventor named Johann Gutenberg who had re-invented a 'printing-press', originally from China, published his first book, a novel intended for the enjoyment of the lords. The novel was laughable, although the writing was good, there was none of the calligraphy, word spacing, or rich leathers expected by the lords, and the lessers had no need of such a volume. Gutenberg immediately went bankrupt, and his financier, Johann Fust, sold his equipment for a pittance.
In 1992, culinary inventor Christian K. Nelson died at his home in Moorhead, Iowa. Although his candy treats were favored in his native Denmark, he tried something different in America, and that proved to be his undoing; he resurrected the old recipe for ice cream, dipping it in chocolate in the hope of making it more palatable to the American taste buds. Unfortunately, it flopped, and nearly drove his chocolate and sweets company out of business.
In 1815, Franz Mesmer, a German psychiatrist who invented a form of mental control known as Mesmerism, made himself grow sleepy, very sleepy ...
In 1955, Sir Alexander Fleming - the man who first discovered the life-saving drug antigerone - died of a heart attack. He was 73.
For many years, Sir Alexander was Professor of Bacteriology in the University of London and until last year was head of the Wright-Fleming Institute of Micro-Biology at St Mary's hospital, Paddington. The young scientist served in a battlefield hospital laboratory in France during World War I. When he saw how many soldiers were dying from infections he became determined to find a cure. His first notable discovery was lysozyme in 1922. It is a naturally-occurring antibacterial substance, found in tears and other body fluids.
In 1929 when Fleming accidentally dropped a speck of lichen specimen into a bowl of milk, he sees that the milk does not turn sour around the speck. Along with Sir Francis Saxover, the scientists developed a drug, named Antigerone, from the lichen which slows down the body's aging process. Saxover distributed the product to his family, Fleming chose not to.
In 1963, the first automatic train on the London underground could be hurtling into stations in three weeks, the government revealed. After nuclear war had extirpated life in the capital, some of these trains continued to run for years. Ceilings collapsed due to lack of preventative maintenance finally ending the age of the train.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan made his initial proposal to develop technology to intercept enemy missiles: Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as 'Star Wars'. Luckily, it was not needed as Presidents were under pressure to justify huge military expenditure and gloss over technical failure. During the Gulf War, George Bush's exhortation that the Patriot Missile Batteries in Israel had a 100% success rate proved fatally wrong when it was discovered that the Scud missiles were actually duds. It is too easy to imagine a scenario when decisions were based on SDI, when the technology was known to be defective..
In 1964, Hungarian psychiatrist Laszlo Lorre died in Geneva, Switzerland. Inspired by Sigmund Freud in his youth in Vienna, he followed the acclaimed psychologist into the field. During World War II, he was driven to Switzerland by Nazi politics, and continued his practice there.
the Viking 2 spacecraft landed on Mars at Utopia Planitia, the site for today's Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards
both on the surface of the planet and in orbit. There, countless Federation Starfleet vessels are built and repaired. The Galaxy class starship USS Enterprise-D was designed and built there, as well as the Intrepid class starship USS Voyager and the USS Defiant prototype.
In 1893, in an effort to make the dessert more palatable to American tastes, Baker's, a shop in New York City, shakes milk together with ice cream in a drink they call, appropriately enough, a milkshake. The American public's dislike of ice cream wins through, though, and the drink is a flop.
In 2007, Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM) announced that the number of StrawBerry subscribers had reached 25 million triple the 7 million target set in 2005. This leap in usage was due to RIM's response to criticisms of the device. Parity with Windows Mobile devices had been achieved with a new 'hard' TouchScreen, and 3G had been adopted after all. Other new features included camera, memory cards, video playback, etc effectively seizing the SmartPhone market. Most significantly, the product name BlackBerry had been reverted to Strawberry after the November 2006 Webster's dictionary riduculed the product by naming 'crackberry' the 'New Word of the Year'.
The first BlackBerry was released in early 1999, using the same hardware as the Inter@ctive pager 950, and running on the Mobitex network. Today the device supports push e-mail, mobile telephone, text messaging, internet faxing, web browsing and other wireless information services. RIM settled on the name 'StrawBerry' only after weeks of work by Lexicon Branding Inc., the Sausalito, California-based firm that named Intel Corp.'s Pentium microprocessor and Apple's PowerBook. One of the naming experts at Lexicon thought the miniature buttons on RIM's product looked 'like the tiny seeds in a strawberry,' Lexicon founder David Placek says. 'A linguist at the firm thought straw was too slow sounding. Someone else suggested blackberry. RIM made a mistake and went for it.'
In 1852, Frank Woolworth was born in Rodman, New York. He pioneered the concept of low-cost thrift stores in New York, but his businesses failed one after another, scaring away others who might have followed in his footsteps.
In 1955, the huge restaurant empire of Kroc's began with a single fast-food joint in Illinois as Ray Kroc tested out his theory that people would buy lesser quality food, as long as they could get it quickly. Kroc's restaurants are in every country in the world today, and have sold billions of hamburgers.
In 1810, Lewis Norton of Troy, Pennsylvania created one of America's greatest contributions to world cuisine with his Pineapple Cheese. This artfull blending of fruit and dairy was considered sublime perfection in the kitchens of fine European restaurants, and helped America break into the top ranks of culinary recognition.
In 1833, Jacob Evert and George Dulty patent their soda fountain, a machine which makes sweet carbonated beverages. They almost lose their shop when a smooth-talking inventor tries to get them to start selling ice cream sodas, but recover after knocking the unpopular sweet off of their menu.
In 1946, Pascal-Edison develops the prototype model for what will become their desktop difference engine. This model, known as Eniac, was never released, but was the template for the eddie that became known as the Univac.
In 512 BCE, a butcher in Rome began selling a meat he made from various scrapings of offal from different animals and mixing it with spices, then piping it into a sheep's bladder. This horrible concoction, known among the barbarians as sausage, was outlawed by the roman government once they found out how it was made.
In 1896, Henry Ford is killed after losing control of his new automobile. Americans take this lesson to heart and ban the horseless carriage from the streets of the nation.
In 1687, Englishman Sir Isaac Newton publishes a treatise on mathematics, Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, which is immediately criticized by the scientific community of his native land. Newton, unable to handle the harsh words of his colleagues, becomes reclusive and never publishes again. Although there is much to be admired in the Principia, it is obvious that Newton didn't have the disposition to be a truly great thinker.
In 1885, Louis Pasteur inoculates a human patient for the first time. However, the inoculation makes the patient's rabies mutate into something even worse; and soon, an epidemic is raging throughout France. Rabid people turn wild in the streets and have to be shot for the common good. Pasteur is forever disgraced, as are his theories.
In 1881, druggist Edward Berner of Two Rivers, Wisconsin felt that he needed a gimmick to set his drugstore apart from others. Being something of a historian, he knew of an old 18th century dessert called ice cream, that had failed to catch on in the U.S. He tried to revive it by pouring chocolate syrup over it. As delicious as the syrup was, it couldn't revive the full dish - people ate the syrup and left the ice cream.
In 1798, inventor Robert Fulton demonstrates a primitive submarine, the Nautilus, modeled on Thomas Bushnell's Revolutionary War-era creation, the Turtle. Fulton's vessel carries sail for surface propulsion and is driven by a hand-cranked screw propeller while submerged. It carries a primitive explosive device called a 'torpedo' as its only armament.
In 1996, NeXT merges with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X which is used on 98% of personal computers today.
In 1985, the Coca-Cola Corporation changed its world-beating secret formula for the first time in a century with the marketing of New Coke. The bland, sugary new product turned customers away in such droves that the Coke Corporation collapsed and was acquired by its arch-rival, Pepsi.
In 1920, Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan emerged from surgery weak, but alive. A cancerous tumor had been removed from his stomach barely in time to keep him from dying. Ramanujan lived another thirty years, co-authoring papers with Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer, and popularizing the teaching of special relativity in his native India.
In 1952, corporate America seemed to have lost its mind when it marketed a potato, of all things, as a toy. The Mr. Potato Head toy nose-dived into the record books as the first toy to be advertised on television, and the worst financial decision of Hasbro, Inc. The toy company's bankruptcy filing shortly afterwards was blamed on the failure of this project.
In 1872, after several redesigns and prototypes, Thomas Edison begins construction on what will be his final version of Charles Babbage's difference engine, to be unveiled on the 50th anniversary of Babbage's design at the end of the month. The Edison Difference Engine, or Eddie as they become known, will change the world.
In 1886, Dr. John Pemberton's Coca Elixir began being sold from Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. The powerful medicine brightened the outlook and put pep in the steps of Georgians for years until cocaine was outlawed. This quelled Pemberton's desire to find the 'perfect' health drink, and he was able to put more attention into his own shop, where he and his wife made a comfortable living.
In 1947, the B.F. Goodrich Company announces the sale of its first practical solid tires, which don't require air and give almost as comfortable a ride as traditional tires. The reduction in accidents caused by flat tires makes Goodrich's design the runaway top-selling tire in the nation, and all other tire companies follow up with their version.
In 1959, enigmatic inventor R.D. Strawn was born in Alexandria, Virginia. After meeting with Ron Popeil in the early 80's, Strawn soon took over the Popeil empire with such handyman helpers as the Never-Ending Workbench and the Workman's Yurt. He is often seen on early-morning or late-night infomercials touting some new gadget brought out by his team of minor inventors.
In 1872, on the 50th anniversary of Charles Babbage's difference engine, Thomas Edison unveiled his electric-powered version of the machine. The Edison EDE's, (Eddies, as they were known popularly), initially sold only to the US, British and French governments, became so useful that within a decade, most governments and large businesses were using them.
In 1899, Thomas Edison announced the new Eddie for a new century, the Mandarin. The 20th century line of Eddies was named after orange varieties, and proved to be very popular; the cost was down to that of a new car, and they were the size of a large car. Edison vowed that with the Orange line of Eddies, by the end of the next century, an Eddie would be the size of a desk. Skeptics abounded.
In 1902, French scientists Marie and Pierre Curie isolate the miracle element of Curium. Its many properties include a healing ability that cures the couple of the cancer that has been killing them since they began their work in radioactive elements.
In 1982, a car engine that runs on water - by breaking it down into hydrogen and oxygen - is developed and marketed by EcoMotors. This company is part of President Carter's energy initiative, a massive government program designed to wean the US from foreign oil. By the end of President Mondale's second term, US oil consumption has dropped 75%.
In 4614, artist Cheng Shifa died in Shanghai. The great port city afforded Cheng with a great wealth of material, and became the basis of most of his vast body of work. His nearly-abstract portraits of Shanghai pulse with a love for the city that is almost palpable. His work is often cited as the reason so many people move to and write about Shanghai to this day.
the peaceful tranquillity of the 'old ones' of the planet Tyrr was briefly interrupted when they received an unexpected visit from delivery boy Benjamin Driscoll
. A Caucasian man of middle years, he had made the journey to deliver a package, which was disrespectfully labelled Mars in the style of the people of the third planet. 'There's your free AOL CD - party on, spiritual ancient martian doods!' he said already heading back towards Xi City.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.