1840 – Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph.
As noted, in 1825 New York City had commissioned Morse to paint a portrait of Lafayette in Washington, DC. While Morse was painting, a horse messenger delivered a letter from his father that read, “Your dear wife is convalescent”. The next day he received a letter from his father detailing his wife’s sudden death. Morse immediately left Washington for his home at New Haven, leaving the portrait of Lafayette unfinished. By the time he arrived, his wife had already been buried. Heartbroken that for days he was unaware of his wife’s failing health and her death, he decided to explore a means of rapid long distance communication.
While returning by ship from Europe in 1832, Morse encountered Charles Thomas Jackson of Boston, a man who was well schooled in electromagnetism. Witnessing various experiments with Jackson’s electromagnet, Morse developed the concept of a single-wire telegraph. He set aside his painting, The Gallery of the Louvre. The original Morse telegraph, submitted with his patent application, is part of the collections of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. In time the Morse code, which he developed, would become the primary language of telegraphy in the world. It is still the standard for rhythmic transmission of data.
1884 – Mary R. Calvert, American astronomer and author is born.
Mary Ross Calvert was an American astronomical computer and astrophotographer.
In 1905, she started work at Yerkes Observatory, as assistant and computer for her uncle, the astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard (1857–1923), who was also professor of astronomy at the University of Chicago, and the discoverer of Barnard’s star.
In 1923, when Barnard died, she became curator of the Yerkes photographic plate collection and a high-level assistant, until her retirement in 1946.
Barnard’s work A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way was completed after his death in 1923 by Edwin B. Frost, director of the Yerkes Observatory, and Calvert, and published in 1927. The Astronomy Compendium calls it a “seminal work”.
1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters”.
Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel of the same name. In the story, a giant man-eating great white shark attacks beachgoers on Amity Island, a fictional New England summer resort town, prompting the local police chief to hunt it with the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter. The film stars Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, Murray Hamilton as Larry Vaughn, the mayor of Amity Island, and Lorraine Gary as Brody’s wife, Ellen. The screenplay is credited to both Benchley, who wrote the first drafts, and actor-writer Carl Gottlieb, who rewrote the script during principal photography.
Shot mostly on location on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, the film had a troubled production, going over budget and past schedule. As the art department’s mechanical sharks suffered many malfunctions, Spielberg decided to mostly suggest the animal’s presence, employing an ominous, minimalistic theme created by composer John Williams to indicate the shark’s impending appearances. Spielberg and others have compared this suggestive approach to that of classic thriller director Alfred Hitchcock. Universal Pictures gave the film what was then an exceptionally wide release for a major studio picture, over 450 screens, accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign with a heavy emphasis on television spots and tie-in merchandise.
Now considered one of the greatest films ever made, Jaws was the prototypical summer blockbuster, with its release regarded as a watershed moment in motion picture history. Jaws became the highest-grossing film of all time until the release of Star Wars (1977). It won several awards for its soundtrack and editing. Along with Star Wars, Jaws was pivotal in establishing the modern Hollywood business model, which revolves around high box-office returns from action and adventure pictures with simple “high-concept” premises that are released during the summer in thousands of theaters and supported by heavy advertising. It was followed by three sequels, none with the participation of Spielberg or Benchley, and many imitative thrillers. In 2001, Jaws was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
2003 – The Wikimedia Foundation is founded in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF) is an American non-profit and charitable organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. It is mostly known for participating in the Wikimedia movement. It owns the internet domain names of most movement projects and hosts sites like Wikipedia. The foundation was founded in 2003 by Jimmy Wales as a way to fund Wikipedia and its sister projects through non-profit means.
As of 2015, the foundation employs over 280 people, with annual revenues in excess of US$75 million. Christophe Henner is chair of the board. Katherine Maher is the executive director since March 2016.