TBT: Back to school inventions, and the birth of the father of Google

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This TBT brings us some more Back-to-School insights, first in the form of a patent granted 126 years ago today.

On August 21, 1888, William Seward Burroughs was issued a patent for the first successful calculating machine — designed with the hopes of alleviating hours of tedious math work in his other life as a bank clerk. While adding machines were available at the time, they were unreliable.

Also an engineer, Burroughs did his drawings on metal plates under a microscope for absolute accuracy. In 1886, he founded the American Arithomomether Company, which became the Burroughs Adding Machine Company in 1904 — 110 ten years ago.  His company evolved and eventually merged with Sperry Corporation in 1986 to form Unisys.

Then, on August 22, 1955, the first computer user’s group, SHARE, was born. The goal was to share information and programs between computer installations. The project was a success and resulted in substantial software innovation by IBM.

Today also marks the 41st birthday of Sergey Brin, born August 21, 1973, the father of Google. Which goes without saying has revolutionized how students gather information, for better or worse.

Two long-ago scientists also had birthdays today: Charles Gerhardt and Jean Servais Stas, born three years apart — Stas, on August 21, 1813, and Gerhardt on August 21, 1816. Both men contributed greatly to what students have come to know and love (well, some…) as the Periodic Table of Elements. Gerhardt developed a classification of organic compounds, while Stas became known for his accurate determination of atomic weights.

TBT calculating machine TBT share

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.