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Technology Trivia

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On March 13, 1951, Western Union demonstrated the High Speed Fax, transmitting printed matter over microwave radio beams at a rate of 3,000 words per minute.

IBM was incorporated in 1911 as the Computer-Tabulating-Recording Co., and had a product line that included time clocks, scales, and punch card tabulators. The company's name was changed in 1924. IBM stands for International Business Machines.

If you bought one of the first clunky calculators way back in the 1970s and still have it you may be in luck. Collectors are beginning to show interest in those oversized dinosaurs. It is anticipated that the first Game Boys put out by Nintendo in 1990 will likely be collectors' items in just a few years.

In 1853, pocket watches were produced in quantity for the first time by the American Waltham Watch Company in Massachusetts. More than 30 watch factories were derived from the Waltham works, but watches would not be mass-produced for nearly 40 years. Wristwatches did not appear for 54 years.

In 1878, John Wanamaker had the first electric light installed in a commercial store.

In 1878, Wanamaker's of Philadelphia was the first U.S. department store to install electric lighting.

In 1900, there were 8,000 cars in the United States; by 1919, there were 6 million cars.

In 1903, the first few flights of the Wright brothers' planes averaged a speed of just a bit over 30 mph.

The Wright brothers' historic flight covered a distance less than the length of today's Space Shuttle.

There are 420 seats on the standard 747 jumbo jet.

Only sixteen Concordes were ever made, the last in 1980. On New Year's Eve 1994, one Concorde plane carried wealthy revelers on a 32-hour trip to nowhere. These travelers, who paid $23,000 apiece for the trip, rang in the New Year twice because they twice crossed the International Date Line.

There are exactly 1,048576 bytes in one megabyte. Half a byte is called a "nybble."

Otto Lilienthal (1848 - 1896), a German inventor, made about 2,000 flights in gliders he had designed and built by himself. He died following a glider crash.

There are five types of simple machines: the lever, the pulley, the inclined plane, the screw, and the wheel and axle.

Party lines are telephone lines shared by more than one household. While there are no exact numbers available as to how many remain in the United States, it's estimated that there are as few as 5,000 out of 167 million access lines. No phone company offers new party-line service; existing party lines are gradually being converted to singly party lines.

There are hefty pricetags on some Internet domain names. The highest-selling domain name to date, business.com, went for $7.5 million in 1999. The buyer was eCompanies.

Penicillin causes about 300 deaths in the United States every year.

There are more than 200 satellites orbiting Earth solely for the purpose of private communications services, including pagers, telephones, and computers.

Peter de Jager was the world's foremost expert on the Y2K computer problem that many believed would cause computer systems to collapse because their software mistook the double zeroes of 2000 to mean 1900. He wrote the "Doomsday 2000" article that initially publicized the problem, then spent the 1990s helping companies all over the world fix their computers. De Jager's Web site, www.year2000.com, was the world's clearing house for Y2K bug-related information. When at midnight, January 1, 2000, planes did not fall from the sky, de Jager was angrily accused of setting the hysterical stage for billions of dollars to be wasted.

There are odor technicians in the perfume trade with the olfactory skill to distinguish 19,000 different odors at twenty levels of intensity each.

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