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Goin' Like Sixty

Rich Galen

Wednesday December 20, 2006


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  • What things cost in 1946:
    Car: $1,400
    Gasoline: 21 cents/gal
    House: $12,500
    Bread: 10 cents/loaf
    Milk: 70 cents/gal
    Postage Stamp: 3 cents
    Stock Market: 177
    Average Annual Salary: $3,150
    Minimum Wage: 40 cents per hour

  • Automatic Transmission: The 1948 Buick had the first modern automatic transmission called the "Dynaflow."

  • Television: In 1946 Darryl F. Zanuck, head of the 20th Century Fox movie studio was quoted saying: "Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."

  • Sputnik: On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world's first artificial satellite was about the size of a basketball, weighed only 183 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race.

  • ZIP Codes: In 1963 Postmaster General John A. Gronouski announced that the ZIP Code would begin on July 1.

  • Area Codes: The first customer-dialed call involving any area code took place in late 1951. The most populous areas were given the fewest number of dial-pulls (as telephone technology was still pulse-based) (New York is 212, New Jersey 201, DC is 202, etc.)

  • Cell Phones:: In 1982, the FCC authorized commercial cellular service for the USA. A year later, the first American commercial analog cellular service or AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Service) was made available in Chicago by Ameritech.

  • Father Knows Best: Starring Robert Young ran from 1954 to 1963 on each of the three networks at various times.

  • Leave it to Beaver: Debuted 1957 and aired on CBS. In the fall of 1958, CBS dropped the series and ABC, having faith in it, picked it up and ran it for an additional 5 years.

  • DC-3: The first flight of the Douglas Sleeper Transport (DST) - soon to be known as DC-3 - was on the 17th of December 1935. Over 70 years later there are approximately 1,500 aircraft still flying.

  • ENIAC: In 1946, John Mauchly and J Presper Eckert developed the ENIAC I (Electrical Numerical Integrator And Calculator). The ENIAC contained 17,468 vacuum tubes, along with 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors, 1,500 relays, 6,000 manual switches and 5 million soldered joints. It covered 1800 square feet (167 square meters) of floor space, weighed 30 tons, consumed 160 kilowatts of electrical power.

  • Walkman: The final design of the Sony TPS-L2 (later to be named the "Walkman"), the personal stereo cassette player was completed on March 24, 1979.

  • iPod: A brand of portable media player designed and marketed by Apple Computer launched in 2001.

  • Transistor: In 1947, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, working at Bell Telephone Laboratories, realized that by making two point contacts very close to one another, they could make a three terminal device - the first "point contact" transistor. They, along with William Shockley, won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1956.

  • Shoe Store X-Ray Machines: In the late 1940's and early 1950's, the shoe-fitting x-ray unit was a common shoe store sales promotion device and nearly all stores had one. It was estimated that there were 10,000 of these devices in use.

    The radiation hazards associated with shoe fitting x-ray units were recognized as early as 1950. The machines were often out of adjustment and were constructed so radiation leaked into the surrounding area.

  • Cigarettes: In 1942 Brown and Williamson claimed that Kools keep the head clear and give extra protection against colds. Lucky Strike, Chesterfield, and Camels all promote the health benefits of their cigarettes, including the prominent display of physicians. In 1952 Kent introduced the 'Micronite' filter, which Lorillard claims "offers the greatest health protection in cigarette history." It turns out to be made of asbestos.

  • Polio : Polio, or more properly poliomyelitis, was one of the most feared and studied diseases of the first half of the 20th Century. It appeared unpredictably, striking its victims, mostly children, with a frightening randomness that resulted in near panic during the epidemics of the 1940s and 50s.

    In 1955, a breakthrough occurred when, after massive field trials involving nearly two-million children, the Salk vaccine was shown to be effective in preventing the disease. Today, polio is all-but-forgotten as it has completely disappeared from developed countries, however, polio's legacy remains. It is estimated that there are 600,000 polio survivors living in the United States

  • Peanut Allergy: [From the BBC] More children are developing potentially dangerous peanut allergies, research has found.

    Scientists believe the rise could be due to more women eating peanuts when they are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, it is also possible that children become sensitised by coming into contact with pre-packed food contaminated with traces of peanuts.

  • Law & Order: SVU: "Special Victims Unit" is one of the many variants of the popular Law & Order franchise. It stars Mariska Hargitay as Det. Olivia Benson and Christopher Meloni as Det. Elliott Stabler.

  • Food Pyramid: Prompted by President Franklin Roosevelt, a National Nutrition Conference was called to action in 1941. For the first time, the USDA came up with Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA's) for Americans to follow. RDA's specified caloric intake as well as essential nutrients. Also, the USDA announced the "Basic Seven" in 1943, which was a special modification of the nutritional guidelines to help people deal with the shortage of food supplies during the war.

    Mullfoto of the Day

    Another harbinger of Spring. This photo is a little foggy because I was, er, uh, NOT actually driving while taking it.

    Catchy Caption of the Day

    Actual Caption:

    An employee(C) at a newly-launched public toilet booth receives instructions on her mobile phone while flanked by two models in traditional attire, during the official unveiling of a self-cleaning toilet booth in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

    Mom! Mom! I got a gig! What? Oh, it's ... it's ... demonstrating a public, self-cleaning toilet. Oh, gotta hang up now. Love you. Bye.

    (AFP/Tengku Bahar)

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