The Wang Freestyle (warning: Google Video; part one of video). A curious footnote in the history of computing that took the desktop metaphor to new levels back in 1988. Featured sampled sound, high-res graphics, and the ability to stack documents on top of each other, the last of which is due in a certain big cat operating system later this year. Watch for how slow the system is, and the subsequent magician-like distraction techniques used by the presenter to avoid people noticing.
On this day in 1737, 38 guineas was stolen from under a lump of butter, having been hidden there during a journey from Bedfordshire to London. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London 1674 to 1834.
Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand, the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles. Meetings are held in a tumble-down shack on Azusa Street, near San Pedro Street, and devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal. [mi]
Northwestern University hosts a fine collection of historic East African photographs, viewable as sample sets or in their original photo-albums (requires flash). But the real prize is their wonderful collection of 113 historic maps of Africa, which are zoomable to incredible detail, also 1, 2, 3. via
Silk Road links: Silk Road Seattle, The Silkroad Foundation, The British Library's Silk Road site, The Ancient Way of Trading, Lost Cities of the Silk Road and some pictures
Telephone Central Office Histories - A fascinating collection of personal anecdotes and histories about telephony from the US and around the world, from The Telephone Exchange Name Project. Coral Cache links -1- -2- (via)
17 years since the Tiananmen Square Massacre: The Tank Man [Video Link] Long, but worth it.
The Dance, historic illustrations of dancing from 3300 B.C. to 1911 A.D. A Project Gutenberg ebook. Brief, illustrated history of dance in India. Vintage belly dance YouTube videos.
A nice set of photographic glass-plate transparencies depicting life in Japan ca. 1910. These "Yokohama photographs" were sold to foreign tourists between about 1868 and 1912. I found the Crafts and Trades section most interesting.
The Coins and History of Asia contains information and scans of over 2500 coins from 600 BC to 1600 AD. Also on the same site, an article about Hephthalites, the so-called White Huns of Iran who had an empire in Central Asia before disappearing from historical record after a little bit more than a century.
"It is with extreme modesty that I present the following pages to be read by other eyes than mine..."
Went To Kansas: Being A Thrilling Account Of An Ill-Fated Expedition To That Fairy Land, And Its Sad Results. A personal account by Mrs. Miriam Davis Colt (based on her daily diaries) about her family's move from New York to Kansas in the 1850s, and the tragic story of the Vegetarian Settlement Company, which sold cheap land to settlers (if they signed an oath swearing they would never consume alcohol, tobacco or animal flesh) along with the promise of a prairie utopia.
Japanese Bicycle History Research Club With a nice gallery of photos, illustrations, and ukiyo-e of vintage bicycles in Japan.
How the Other Half Lives :: Studies Among the Tenements of New York (1890)
The Internet Library of Early Journals :: A digital library of 18th and 19th Century journals
The Western Tradition, an outstanding 52-part instructional video series about the history of western civilization, is available as free streaming video.
Trulia Hindsight merges real estate data showing the year properties were built with animated maps (US Only). Search for your town by name; here's mine.
Operation Dynamo, aka The Miracle of Dunkirk, began on this day in 1940. Before it ended, nearly 340,000 British and Allied troops would make it to safety and fight another day. Why would the Germans allow them to escape? Was it fear? Hubris? Or was it, as historian B.H. Liddell Hart wrote after the war, Hitler's appreciation for the British Empire?
An informative, gossipy and surprisingly engaging 6-page exploration of the life of Charles Dickens, including his up-and-down relationship with the U.S. press, his inexcusable behavior during his messy and very public separation from his wife, the "histrionic flair" of his performance career, and, of course, his works, including the one George Bernard Shaw called "a more seditious book than Das Kapital." Lots of interesting images, too.
Public libraries with Online Content: Residents of Missouri can get a free account at the Kansas City Public Library that will let them access digital databases including the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and downloadable audiobooks. Residents of the Empire State can get a digital library card at the New York Public Library to access a wealth of digital databases. (The rest of us can get a NYPL card for $100.) And the Boston Public Library will give digital access to most of the above, plus JSTOR and (sigh) the Early American Imprints collection of nearly everything printed in North America to 1820. Unfortunately you have to show up at a branch of the BPL and prove Massachusetts residence to get your card. Your turn--what other public libraries offer access to subscription online information databases?
Excerpts from and pictures of Ronald Reagan's diaries while president, with a brief intro from historian Douglas Brinkley.
Summer of Love: 40 Years Later, a series of articles appearing this week in the San Francisco Chronicle, revisits the fabled, far-out, semi-spontaneous happening of 1967 in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Videos and oral history interviews help tell the story of a utopian vision which created a pivot point for American social values, before going a bit rancid around the edges. For more consciousness expansion, see PBS' The American Experience episode on the same topic. Check out that summer's San Francisco Oracle. Oh, and the Diggers are still around.
The U.S. Civil War in four minutes. Simple yet enlightening animation showing the shifting battle lines of the war. (This is a one-link YouTube post. Thank you.)
The Evolution of Modern Speech balloons (in painting and caricature). One small part of Andy's Early Comics Archive.
Enertia is producing "innovative new homes of remarkable strength, economy, and beauty, brought to life by an elegant new architecture and the discovery of a new source of pollution-free energy." The design took first prize in the Modern Marvels/Invent Now competition (previously). In an interview, the inventor, Michael Sykes, says "he was inspired by the way the earth’s own atmosphere keeps the planet at a relatively constant comfortable temperature despite the frigidity of space." He also notes that his wife calls herself a "homemaker," natch.
Console Portraits: A 40-Year Pictorial History of Gaming. Inventor Ralph Baer designed the first videogame console for the home. In May 1967 he played the first-ever two-player game. "I lost!" Baer notes. At times offensive and controversial, console videogames have survived hard times to remain at the forefront of videogame history, and at times a reflection of ourselves.
The Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory compiles a fascinating array of primary sources about the 1871 fire that destroyed 4 square miles of the city of Chicago, killing hundreds and leaving nearly one out of five residents homeless. Explore 3D images, music [embedded], children's drawings, and personal recollections. See also a pictorial survey of the damage, including fused marbles and metal hardware, related documents and images at the Library of Congress, and an exoneration of Mrs. O'Leary and her bovine companion, along with a suggestion by John Lienhart that police corruption and class struggle were more to blame than a cow [embedded audio].
Darwin wrote to 2000 people during his life; 14,500 of these letters still survive. The Darwin Correspondence Project is putting annotated transcriptions of these online, and they've covered about 5,000 so far, including a letter written when he was 12 after he had got into trouble with his sister for not washing regularly while at school. There's an intro here. See also Darwin Online, discussed here. And the prolific network theorist Albert-Laszlo Barabasi has co-authored a paper on statistical similarities between Darwin's and Einstein's correspondence (#51 on the list).
12 Byzantine Rulers is a podcast lecture series about The Byzantine Empire by Lars Brownworth, a history teacher at The Stony Brook School on Long Island, New York. 1123 years of awesomeness ready to go onto your iPod! [iTunes link]
The Free Voice of Labour [Flash video 57.11] traces the history of a Yiddish anarchist newspaper publishing its final issue after 88 years. One of 200+ films on anarchist and related themes at the ChristieBooks channel on Brightcove. Other films include Gordon Carr's documentary on the Angry Brigade, a wealth of Spanish-language material on the civil war and revolution, a Russian-language biopic of Nestor Makhno, the story of the Bonnot Gang and a history of Uruguay's Tupamaros. In other news, Franco is dead.
Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security "By far the most ambitious and integral project in the burgeoning field of cold war history"
Time travel exists. It's called old pictures.
A creepy info minute from the ADA concerning “mice teeth in a dish.” Please don’t watch “mice teeth in a dish” if you think there’s some kind of dentist/alien connection. You won’t like it. Try “the barbaric history of the toothbrush” instead.
RIP Wally Schirra, 1923-2007. One of the original Mercury Seven "Right Stuff" astronauts (just two left now), Schirra flew on Sigma 7, Gemini 7, and Apollo 7. From there on, it's stationkeeping.
"Web History helps deliver more personalized search results based on what you've searched for on Google and which sites you've visited." Google unveils Web History, a new feature to help you "view and manage your web activity." You can also get an idea of what sites you visit frequently, broken down by time of day, and search across the full text of pages you've visited. "If you remember seeing something online, you'll be able to find it faster and from any computer with Web History. " What could possibly go wrong?
End of an Empire Sadly (for me, anyway) the Empire Rollerdrome, last roller rink in New York City, closed its doors for good this weekend after nearly 70 years in business. Although it had a checkered history of sex, drugs, and hip hop, the Empire was in recent years a much-loved family and community center in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. DJ Julio (who kept the crowd rolling at the Roxy for decades until they too closed earlier this year) maintains a fabulous archive of material about all of NYC's bygone rinks. If you want to see what you've been missing, check out the Central Park Dance Skaters.
3-D images have a longer history than you might imagine. Stereographs were invented in the mid-1800s, and quickly became very popular. You can still view 3-D pictures of the Civil War, cowboys and Native Americans, World War I, Egypt circa 1900, small town America of the 19th century, and zeppelin wrecks(!). How do you view them? You can buy or build a viewer (like this classic), but a better way might be to learn to do it with the naked eye (try this method if you have trouble). A new technique converts stereograms into "wiggle images" [prev.] the approach has been used on this picture of a downed zeppelin and this picture from the Civil War. Free software will let you make your own wiggle images.
"WANTED: Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily." The Pony Express Home Station, The Pony Express Museum and The St. Joseph Museum all have interesting histories of America's short-lived, but legendary, "fastest mail service across the west." For more extensive reading, there's the National Park Service's Pony Express: Historic Resource Study. (Second link via The Presurfer)
This Sunday will be Yom HaShoah "Holocaust Martyrs' Remembrance Day" in Israel. A month ago Eric Muller, a law professor at UNC, went to Germany to find what he could about his great uncle Leopold Müller. Today he got something unexpected in the mail. (via)
America's forgotten war. Are we winning?
"I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their brain (innermost thoughts)..." From the 14th to 16th Century, The Border Reivers turned the border regions between England and Scotland into "a permanent battleground" or lawless area much like the American Wild West. Learn more about these strange groups or cheer for the Rugby team.
In their own words... Researchers at the National Institutes of Health recall the early years of AIDS, from diagnosis of the then-unknown disease, to discovering the viral cause, and from there to the search for treatments. The site features interviews (including several with virologist Robert Gallo), early publications, and a collection of archived image materials.
“A Congresswoman must look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, speak on any given subject with authority and most of all work like a dog.” -- Rep. Florence Dwyer, R-NJ, 1957-73
Where is Kai Krause? If you were a web designer back in the day, you probably used Kai’s Power Tools (my how web design has grown). A user interface visionary, Kai bailed at the dot.com peak (just in time) and retired to Byteburg, a 1000 year old castle in Bonn, where he peacefully lives and works today.
As legends go, the first recorded instance of violence in the feud occurred after an 1873 dispute about the ownership of a hog: Floyd Hatfield had it and Randolph McCoy said it was his. The rest is Appalachian history. But it turns out that history may have had a helping hand in something called Von Hippel-Lindau disease. It weren't the moonshine, Pa. It was the DNA that did it.
For anyone with even a passing interest in Islamic history or cartography, 'The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes' site at Oxford University's Bodleian Library will provide a thoroughly interesting timesink. This recently discovered 13th/14th century copy of an 11th century Egyptian manuscript was partly based on Ptolemy and includes the oldest rectangular map of the world...not to mention the famed human-bearing Waq-Waq tree. [via]
Although I Am Dead (YouTube) (Parts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10) Compelling documentary by Hu Jie (胡杰) on the death during the Cultural Revolution of Bian Zhongyun (卞仲耘), recalled by her now octogenarian husband. He photographed her corpse after she was beaten to death by Red Guards, students at the middle school of which she was deputy principal. The film's inclusion in the documentary section of YunFest has apparently led to the authorities shutting down the event. (Via)