As we begin 2013 and we wonder what the year will bring, have a thought for what happened 50 years earlier, in 1963 and consider what a momentous year it was.
There were numerous cultural and artistic milestones, most notably the year marked the beginning of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ with the Beatles first number one single Please Please Me on 22nd February, followed by their first album of the same name, beginning their domination of the singles and album charts for the rest of the decade.
But what inventions were made that year? Was anything invented in 1963 that we still use and perhaps take for granted today? There are actually many more than the ten presented here, but I decided that this selection presents us with an interesting mix that help define 1963 as the dawn of the modern world that we find ourselves in today.
So here are 10 surprising inventions from 1963:
1. The Lava Lamp
The Lava Lamp was invented by British inventor, entrepreneur and eccentric Edward Craven-Walker in 1963 and still manufactured today by his company, Mathmos.
2. The smiley face
The smiley face was invented in 1963 to motivate bored office workers. Harvey Bell was hired by a State Mutual Life Assurance Company to come up with something to make their unhappy employees a little less grumpy. It was originally just the smile, but he realized people could turn it upside down and make a frown, so he added two dots for eyes.
3. Push-button telephone
The first publicly available push-button telephone was released in 1963, by the Bell System. Dials remained the standard method of entering numbers on telephones for another twenty years.
4. Computer mouse
Doug Engelbart invented the computer ‘mouse’ in 1963 in his research lab at SRI International (then Stanford Research Institute), for which the patent was issued in 1970. he basic idea first came to him while sitting in a conference session on computer graphics in 1961. He wondered what would be an efficient and easy way to control a pointer on a graphic display screen. One idea he had was to use small wheels traversing the tabletop, one turning horizontally, one turning vertically, each transmitting their rotation coordinates for analysis. With the wheels mounted in a small wooden box, and a cable connecting the box to the computer, ‘mouse’ was an obvious name for the new device.
5. Instant coffee
Freeze-dried instant coffee was first introduced by Maxwell House in this year.
6. Weight Watchers
Jean Nidetch founded Weight Watchers. Another sign that 1963 was the dawn of our modern world with its wonders and its side effects following post-war austerity.
The word “hypertext”, the idea behind a common text based system for linking computer information that led to the internet, was first coined by Ted Nelson in 1963.
8. The Hang-glider
John Dickenson from Australia, invented the modern hang glider.
9. Cassette tapes
They would become the dominant medium for music and computer data in the the 1980s but were first introduced in 1963 (they had been invented the previous year by Philips). Rumour has it that the first four cassette recorders arriving in the UK were given to the Beatles.
10. Doctor Who and the Daleks
The BBC television programme Doctor Who began on 23rd November, the first episode was delayed due to extended news coverage of the assassination of president Kennedy the day before. The first adventure featuring the Daleks began on 21st December.
Many inventions and discoveries, like those here, often take time to catch on, to be fully realised, or in some cases, their significance is not fully known at the time. It reminds us that if we make a discovery, or invent a new product idea or method, we need to try to take that idea as far as we can, to make sure we’re giving it all it needs to make the biggest impact it deserves.
Click here for a similar list of inventions from 1913, 100 years ago and here for inventions from 1912.
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Wow! What a list!
Well I was born in 1963, still used today and taken for granted! Hee hee
As always, a fascinating blog leading to the ultimate paragraph that packs a punch.
Standard instant coffee actually goes back decades before 1963