June – An Inventive Month
years, June has been a prolific month for inventions: for instance, on 20 June
1840, Samuel Morse – inventor of Morse Code – was granted a patent for
telegraphy signal; almost four years later on 15 June, Charles Goodyear received
patent number 3,633 for vulcanizing rubber, a process that enabled the
production of rugged car tires, elastic bands and, no doubt to the delight of
kids and convention delegates everywhere, more durable balloons.
June 1929 saw the first color television demonstrated in New York City. Rather
more recently, the first two video games to be copyright registered were
Atari’s ‘Asteroids’ and ‘Lunar Lander’ on 17 June 1980.
scientists born this month include English biologist Julian S Huxley in 1887. A
proponent of natural selection, he was the first Director of UNESCO and a
founding member of the World Wildlife Fund. Renowned physicists with June
birthdays include: Frenchman
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (born 1736), who went
on to write Coulomb’s Law and invent the torsion balance; Irish scientist
William Thomson Kelvin (born 1824), who lent his name to the SI unit of
temperature and defined absolute zero as -273.15oC; and Scot James
Clerk Maxwell (born 1831), who discovered the electro-magnetic field.
Sunday of the month also happens to be when we celebrate Father’s Day – on 16
June this year; so, without further ado, here are three relatively recent
inventions from scientists with June birthdays that are likely to appeal to
- Let’s start with Frenchman Jacques-Yves
Cousteau, born 11 June, 1910. His claim to fame, apart from starring in
numerous documentaries about oceanic life and pioneering marine conservation,
was to revolutionize diving with the invention of the Aqua-Lung. Along with
Emile Gagnan, who invented the modern demand regulator based on diaphragm
technology to supply the diver with breathing gas at ambient pressure, Cousteau
pioneered the SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) gear used
today. The pair began selling the Aqua-Lung in 1943.
- On 9 June 1915, guitar-maker Les
Paul, full name Lester William Polsfuss, was born in
Wisconsin. As if it wasn’t
enough to pioneer solid-body electric guitars which made the rock and roll sound
possible, he is also credited with numerous recording innovations.
Although not the first to use the technique, his early experiments with
overdubbing, tape delay, reverb, phasing and multi-track recording were among
the first to attract widespread attention. And, of course, he is responsible
for the design of the legendary Gibson Les Paul guitar: the 1959 Les Paul
standard, which is considered the ‘holy grail’ of Gibson guitars, of which only
643 were produced, sells for up to $500,000 – if you can find one. That’s an
expensive Father’s Day present!
- Thirdly, possibly a less
well-known name but with the invention that has defined the modern age, is Tim
Berners-Lee. Born in 1955 in London, Berners-Lee is considered the ‘father of the internet’ and led the
development of the World Wide Web. Between 1989 and 1991, he was the primary author of HTML (hypertext
markup language) used to create web pages. Along with colleagues at CERN in
Geneva, Switzerland, he helped define HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and
URLs (Universal Resource Locators).
two more June dates for Dad’s diary. More active fathers may like to note that
on 25 June 1929, a patent was granted to G L Pierce for a basketball.
Meanwhile, more sedentary types, who perhaps model themselves on Homer Simpson,
will probably recall that on 22 June 1847 the donut was invented. If we remember
rightly, Homer once sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a donut and was
sent to the ironic punishment lab to suffer. We prefer the more sporty antics of his son, Bart 😉