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Posts Tagged ‘Dick Tracy

“I want the entire smartphone, the entire Internet, on my wrist”*…

 

As the world watches the clock for the release of the Apple Watch, the Computer History Museum reminds us that watches-that-compute have a very long history…

Ubiquitous, wearable computers have been a dream since at least the 1930s. Chester Gould’s comic strip Dick Tracy introduced the 2-Way Radio Watch worn by members of The City police force. At first merely a combination radio and wristwatch, eventually Tracy’s watch added television and other technical capabilities.

This comic strip, in turn, influenced Gene Roddenberry’s communicators on the television series Star Trek, and other images of watch-like communication/computation devices can be found throughout science fiction. The recent announcement of the Apple Watch has renewed interest in computerized wristwatches and revived the idea of a wrist-worn computer that is cool. Of course, the idea is hardly new but it took a long time for the wristwatch computer to reach levels that Dick Tracy achieved.

The earliest combination of the watch form factor with a computational device dates from late 19th century. English company Boucher’s received a patent for a circular slide rule in a pocket watch shape in 1876.

Boucher’s Calculator – circular slide rule

 

French company Meyrat & Perdrizet made a slide rule chronograph in 1890. The central portion of the device was a standard pocket watch face, with a circular slide rule with an independent hand surrounded it. Two dials at the top of the watch allowed it to perform calculations…

Follow the story– the introduction of wrist instruments in the early 20th century, the advent of electronics– at “It’s About Time: The Computer on Your Wrist.”

* Steve Wozniak

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As we strap it on, we might send timely birthday greetings to John Harrison; he was born on this date in 1693.  A self-educated English carpenter and clockmaker, Harrison invented the marine chronometer,  In the absence of a way for ships at sea accurately to ascertain their longitude, sailing was dangerous; cumulative errors in dead reckoning over long voyages led to ship wrecks and loss of life.  Indeed, the perceived threat– thus, the desire of a defense– was so great that Parliament offered a Longitude prize of £20,000 (£2.75 million) for a solution.  Harrison’s approach, which won that prize, was to create a clock so accurate that it could eliminate those errors. His “chronometers” were accurate to within seconds over long periods; his winning clock was off only 39.2 seconds over a voyage of 47 days… and helped create the conditions in which the Age of Sail flourished.  (More detail on the longitude problem and Harrison’s answer here.)

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Written by LW

March 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

How are you supposed to make a fish act that way? Some kind of local weed in the water or something?*…

On screen, Dick Van Dyke has been rescued from untimely death by flying cars and magical nannies. Off screen, the veteran star of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins had to rely on the help of a pod of porpoises after apparently dozing off aboard his surfboard. “I’m not kidding,” he said afterwards.

Van Dyke’s ordeal began during an ill-fated trip to his local beach. “I woke up out of sight of land,” the 84-year-old actor told Craig Ferguson on his TV chat show. “I started paddling with the swells and I started seeing fins swimming around me and I thought ‘I’m dead!'”

Van Dyke was wrong. “They turned out to be porpoises,” he said. “And they pushed me all the way to shore.” The porpoises were unavailable for comment.

Van Dyke made his screen debut on the Phil Silvers Show before bagging his own TV sitcom in 1961. His film credits include Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dick Tracy, while his TV drama Diagnosis: Murder ran from 1993 to 2001. In recent years he has appeared on screen in Night at the Museum and its 2009 sequel.

Via The Guardian.

* How are you supposed to make a fish act that way? Some kind of local weed in the water or something? – Flipper’s New Adventure (1964)

As we celebrate cooperation across the animal kingdom, we might recall that this date in 2002 a U.S. patent for “Registered pedigree stuffed animals” was issued to David L. Pickens of Honolulu, Hawaii (No. 6,482,067). The toy animals are designed “to simulate the biological laws of inheritance both for educational, recreational and aesthetic purposes.”  Pairs of opposite sex “parent” toy animals were to be sold with serial numbers encoding the parents’ genotype and phenotype. So, owners of the “parent” toy animals, having registered with the manufacturer, could later request “breeding”– and receive at least one “offspring” toy animal randomly selected from a litter having traits determined according to the registered genotypes of the parents, as dictated by the Mendelian laws of inheritance.

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The interspecies possibilities were alluring; but sadly, the concept never found commercial acceptance.

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