This Day In History
Saturday, December 15, 2018
On This Day

Events

in 1872

Control handle and valve for a Westinghouse Air Brake
Control handle and valve for a Westinghouse Air Brake
George Westinghouse patents the air brake. An air brake is a conveyance braking system actuated by compressed air. Modern trains rely upon a fail-safe air brake system that is based upon a design patented by George Westinghouse on March 5, 1872. The Westinghouse Air Brake Company (WABCO) was subsequently organized to manufacture and sell Westinghouse's invention. In various forms, it has been nearly universally adopted. The Westinghouse system uses air pressure to charge air reservoirs (tanks) on each car. Full air pressure signals each car to release the brakes. A reduction or loss of air pressure signals each car to apply its brakes, using the compressed air in its reservoirs.
air brake, patent

in 1943

First flight of Gloster...
First flight of Gloster Meteor jet aircraft in the United Kingdom. The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet, although the German Messerschmitt Me 262 was the world's first operational jet the Meteor was the first production jet as it entered production a few months before the Me 262. The Meteor's development was heavily reliant on its ground-breaking turbojet engines, developed by Sir Frank Whittle and his company, Power Jets Ltd. Development of the aircraft began in 1940, work on the engines had started in 1936. The Meteor first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF). Although the Meteor was not an aerodynamically advanced aircraft, it proved to be a successful and effective combat fighter.
Gloster Meteor, first flight, jet fighter, fighter

in 1975

First meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club The Homebrew Computer Club was an early computer hobbyist users' group in Silicon Valley, which met (under that name) from March 5, 1975 to December 1986. Several very high-profile hackers and IT entrepreneurs emerged from its ranks, including the founders of Apple Inc.
Homebrew Computer Club, Apple

Births

in 1512
Gerardus Mercator

Gerardus Mercator was a cartographer, born in Rupelmonde in the Hapsburg County of Flanders, part of the Holy Roman Empire. He is remembered for the Mercator projection world map, which is named after him. This proved very useful to many later navigators who could (using his map) sail across the entire ocean on approximately straight paths (called rhumb lines). He died in Duisburg.
in 1794
Jacques Babinet

Jacques Babinet was a French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer who is best known for his contributions to optics.
in 1871
Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen. She was successively a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD), and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).

Deaths

in 1827
Pierre-Simon Laplace

Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace was a French mathematician and astronomer whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics. He summarized and extended the work of his predecessors in his five volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) (1799–1825). This work translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. In statistics, the so-called Bayesian interpretation of probability was mainly developed by Laplace.
in 1929
David Dunbar Buick

David Dunbar Buick was a Scottish-born Detroit inventor, best known for founding the Buick Motor Company. He headed this company and its predecessor from 1902 until 1906, thereby helping to create one of the most successful nameplates in United States motor vehicle history.
in 1953
Joseph Stalin

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili) was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and later held the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. While the office of the General Secretary was officially elective and not initially regarded as the top position in the Soviet state, Stalin managed to use it to consolidate more and more power in his hands after the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924 and gradually put down all opposition groups within the Communist Party. This included Leon Trotsky, a socialist theorist and the principal critic of Stalin among the early Soviet leaders, who was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929. Whereas Trotsky was an exponent of world revolution, it was Stalin's concept of socialism in one country that became the primary focus of Soviet politics.
in 1966
Anna Akhmatova

Anna Andreyevna Gorenko better known by the pen name Anna Akhmatova, was a Russian and Soviet modernist poet, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Russian canon.
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