20th Century: 1957 – The Race for Space

1957 started out like 2020 with a pandemic. The Asian Flu began in China and spread worldwide, killing an estimated 2 million people.

First digital computer acquisition of scanned photographs, by Russell Kirsch at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now NIST).

Russia launched the first artificial satellite, named Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. A modified R-7 two-stage ICBM launches the satellite Sputnik from Tyuratam. The Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States begins.

In response to Sputnik, the United States creates a new agency, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). This agency creates technology for the creation of the internet, military applications, and much more. The Sputnik launch also calls for the creation of NASA in 1958. This civilian agency is tasked with the peaceful exploration of space.

Digital Equipment Corporation was founded.

Nov. 3, 1957: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2 with the first living passenger, the dog Laika, aboard.

Laika became the first animal launched into Earth orbit, paving the way for human spaceflight during the upcoming years. This photograph shows her in a flight harness.

Dec. 6, 1957: A Vanguard TV-3 carrying a grapefruit-sized satellite explodes at launch; a failed response to the Sputnik launch by the United States.

The Bernstein Program is the earliest known chess game that implemented the complete ruleset. The game examines two levels of moves, but unlike earlier chess games doesn’t try out every possible move but only the seven most plausible moves. After determining what the most plausible moves are the game uses static factors and minimaxing to determine the best move. Running on the IBM 704 computer the program took about eight minutes to determine its move and never managed to defeat a human opponent.

Meanwhile, The Hackers of MIT “learn to hack” on the TX-O, an early fully transistorized computer that contained a then-huge 64KB of magnetic core memory.

News of Sputnik Oct 7, 1957:

The Race for Space:

Now Unclassified – NASA’s Origins and the Dawn of the Space Age: Sputnik’s response – World Opinion and the Soviet Satelight:  NASA_NTRS_Archive_20040045203

The top film of 1957:

© Columbia Pictures Corporation / Public Domain

Top Song of 1957:

20th Century: 1956

Werner Buchholz (24 October 1922 – 11 July 2019) was a German-American computer scientist. After growing up in Europe, Buchholz moved to Canada and then to the United States of America. He worked for International Business Machines (IBM) in New York. In June 1956, he coined the term “byte” for a unit of digital information. In 1990, he was recognized as a computer pioneer by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

On September 13, 1956, the IBM 305 RAMAC was the first computer to be shipped with a hard drive. The drive contained 50 24-inch platters, was the size of two refrigerators, and weighed a ton. It could store only five megabytes of information, and each megabyte cost $10,000.

The programming language FORTRAN was introduced to the public on October 15, 1956.

Dr. Robert Adler of Zenith invented the first cordless TV remote control.

John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their work on the transistor.

Wen Tsing Chow develops programmable read-only memory (PROM).

“I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processings is a fad that won’t last out the year.”
– The editor in charge of business books for Prentice-Hall, 1956

The first broadcast of The Edge of Night, As the World Turns, The Price Is Right, Playhouse 90, the Eurovision Song Contest, and Hancock’s Half Hour.

Top Film of 1956:


Top song of 1956:



20th Century: 1955

MIT introduced the Whirlwind machine on March 8, 1955, a revolutionary computer that was the first digital computer with magnetic core RAM.

The first broadcast of The Honeymooners, The Mickey Mouse Club, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Sunday Night at the London Palladium, The Benny Hill Show, The Sooty Show, Gunsmoke and Captain Kangaroo; ITV launches in the UK.

The first conference on artificial intelligence held at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

The Top film of 1955: “MARTY”

Copyright 1955 United Artists – Public Domain


Top Song of 1955: Bill Haley and the Comets – Rock Around the Clock



20th Century: 1954

There are about 100 operational computers in use worldwide.

IBM introduced its first calculating machine that used solid-state transistors instead of vacuum tubes.

Texas Instruments announces the start of commercial production of silicon transistors.

Commodore was founded.

The first broadcast of The Tonight Show, Father Knows Best, Disneyland and Lassie. NTSC video standard for color television is introduced, and National Educational Television (NET) is launched.

Top Film of 1954 – On the Waterfront:


Copyright Columbia Pictures – 1954 – Public Domain

Top song of 1954: Little Things Mean a Lot  – Kitty Kallen


20th Century: 1953

There are about 100 operational computers in the world.

The first high-speed printer was developed by Remington-Rand. It was designed to be used with the UNIVAC computer.

The first plotter is invented by Remington-Rand.

The Colgate Comedy Hour on N.B.C. became the first TV show to broadcast in color on November 22, 1953.

The first broadcast of Panorama, the coronation of Elizabeth II, is the first of its kind to be broadcast on television.

The top film of 1953: From Here to Eternity

Copyright 1953 Columbia Pictures – Public Domain

Top Song of 1953: Percy Faith – Song From Moulin Rouge

Images from 1953:

Popeye the Sailor – 1953


20th Century: 1952

Bwana Devil, a low-budget polarized 3-D film, premieres in late November and starts a brief 3-D craze that begins in earnest in 1953 and fades away during 1954.

Alexander Sandy Douglas created the first graphical computer game of Tic-Tac-Toe on an EDSAC known as “OXO.”

Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA is a trade group first established in 1952 that has been set up to represent the U.S. recording industry.

The first broadcast of Today (NBC), This Is Your Life, Omnibus, and Flower Pot Men; Hockey Night in Canada and The Guiding Light moves from radio to TV; Adverts: Everyone Loves a Slinky and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Tony the Tiger.

Geoffrey Dummer, a British radar engineer, introduces the concept of the integrated circuit at a tech conference in the United States.

Top Film of 1952: The Greatest Show on Earth.

However, I like this one better: The Quiet Man.

May incorporate artwork by Clement Hurel – see Nollen, Scott Allen (2013) Three Bad Men: John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond, McFarland, p. 352 ISBN: 9780786458547. / Public domain

Top Song of 1952: Leroy Anderson – Blue Tango

Images of 1952:

Chevy Advertisement 1952:


Space Patrol – Interplanetary Smugglers (1952)

20th Century: 1951

J Lyons, a United Kingdom food company, famous for its tea, made history by running the first business application on an electronic computer.

The oldest known recordings of computer-generated music were played by the Ferranti Mark 1 computer.

Grace Hopper develops A-0, the first Arithmetic language.

Jay Forrester applies for a patent for magnetic-core memory, an early type of random access memory (RAM) on May 11, 1951.

A nixie tube is a display tube first introduced in 1951 by Burroughs Corporation that is capable of displaying numbers 0 through 9. These tubes were found in early electronic devices such as calculators, frequency counters, voltmeters, and other devices that needed a method of displaying numeric values.

Geophysical Service Incorporated was renamed to Texas Instruments in 1951.

IBM introduces the IBM 701, the first computer in its 700 and 7000 series of large scale machines with varied scientific and commercial architectures, but common electronics and peripherals. Some computers in this series remained in service until the 1980s.

The first broadcast of I Love Lucy, See It Now, Dragnet, the Hallmark Hall of Fame, Search for Tomorrow, Love of Life, and The Roy Rogers Show.

The Top film of 1951:

Top Song of 1951: Nat King Cole – Too Young

Images of 1951:

Differential Analyzer built under Mergler in Instrument Research. The technician is preparing a data report. This equipment is located at the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory, LFPL, now John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, Cleveland Ohio.


Burns & Allen – 1951

Leslie Claire Margaret Caron – Actress

Gene Kelly Actor – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Public domain

20th Century: 1950

The British mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing published a paper describing the potential development of human and computer intelligence and communication. The paper would come later to be called the Turing Test.

The Pilot ACE computer, with 800 vacuum tubes, and mercury delay lines for its main memory, became operational on 10 May 1950 at the National Physical Laboratory near London. It was a preliminary version of the full ACE, which had been designed by Alan Turing.

The United States Government received the UNIVAC 1101 or ERA 1101. This computer was considered to be the first computer that was capable of storing and running a program from memory.

Bertie the Brain is an early computer game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Built for the 1950 Canadian National Exhibition the game allowed players to play against an AI opponent. Player input was given using a lit keypad and the state of the game displayed on panels lit by light bulbs rather than a conventional screen. An additional panel with light bulbs would show whether the player or AI was on. The difficulty of the AI could be adjusted by the operator. Bertie the Brain was created to demonstrate the additron tube, which was soon surpassed by the transistor.

Bertie the Brain – 1950

The first broadcast of Come Dancing, Broadway Open House, Your Show of Shows, and What’s My Line?. Jack Benny and Burns & Allen move from radio to TV.

Cuba is the first Caribbean country to receive TV. Brazil is the first South American country to receive TV.

Nielsen Media Research begins to provide television rating data.

Top Film of 1950:

Top Song of 1950: Goodnight Irene by Gordon Jenkins and The Weavers.

Images of 1950:

A new chapter in space flight began in July 1950 with the launch of the first rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida: the Bumper 2.

1950 magazine ad

20th Century: 1949

Maurice Wilkes and a team at Cambridge University executed the first stored-program on the EDSAC computer, which used paper tape input-output. Based on ideas from John von Neumann about stored program computers, the EDSAC was the first complete, fully functional von Neumann architecture computer.

CSIR Mk I (later known as CSIRAC), Australia’s first computer, ran its first test program. It was a vacuum-tube-based electronic general-purpose computer. Its main memory stored data as a series of acoustic pulses in 5 ft (1.5 m) long tubes filled with mercury.

The Contax S camera is introduced, the first 35 mm SLR camera with a pentaprism eye-level viewfinder.

The first atomic clock was built in 1949 at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards.

First broadcast of The Lone Ranger, Crusader Rabbit and Mama; the first Emmy Awards are given.

Top Movie of 1949:

Public Domain

Top Song of 1949:

Vaughn Monroe – Riders In The Sky

Images of 1949:


Judy Garland, Lana Turner, and James Stewart on the set of Ziegfeld Girl – 1949 Public Domain