Last post we looked at the serious side of 1963 and the events of the civil rights movement that will mark their 50th anniversaries in the coming year. But since this blog is called "Ridiculous to Sublime," the writer always reserves the right to leap into the lighter side at a moment's notice. So, what do Lamborghinis, zip codes and push button phones have in common? They will also celebrate their golden anniversaries in 2013.
Today we set the controls of the WABAC Machine for a world tour of 1963's inventions and start-ups. Ready, Sherman? Our first stop is Sant'Agata Bolognese, a small community in northern Italy, just outside the city of Bologna, where in May of 1963, Ferruccio Lamborghini built a "large and ultramodern factory" in which to manufacture luxury sportscars. Even though he was the wealthy and successful owner of several businesses, including a tractor manufacturing company, people thought it was absolute "madness" to try to build a car to compete with Ferrari. Well, perhaps. But Lamborghini was a very hands-on owner and out of his belief rose a masterpiece. (We shall know them by their cost.)
"And what became of the rivalry with Ferrari, Mr. Peabody?"
"Well that you may ask, Sherman. Short answer: Ferrari sells more, Lamborghini is faster. But here's a lovely infographic smackdown to explain it all."
Via: Car Insurance List
Next we travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Robert Moon, a mild-mannered postal inspector (these being the days when the expression "going postal" could be interpreted as sending a letter through the mail, rather than engaging in homicidal behavior) pondered the age-old question of improving mail delivery. In the late 1940's, he actually came up with a three-digit system for a zone improvement plan, hence the acronym ZIP code. He submitted his proposal and it languished for awhile, until some genius rebranded it with more digits. It was finally implemented in 1963 as a five-digit system. Now of course, they are up to nine. (Someday they might even go to eleven...)
As always, there is a downside to these things... without the ZIP Code, we would never have had to suffer through a single episode of "Beverly Hills 90210."
Let's extend our sojourn in Pennsylvania and traverse to the Pittsburgh metropolitan area and the towns of Carnegie and Greensburg, where the touch-tone telephone was introduced. AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph, back in the day) offered the first public commercial service, for an extra charge. (Of course!) Proto-type push button phones had been around since the 1940's but the Western Electric 1500 model was the first sold to consumers. It featured 10 buttons instead of the standard rotary dial. A 12-button model featuring the * and # keys was introduced soon afterward and replaced the 10-button model. For a look at 17 configurations that didn't make it, check out this article at Mental Floss.
"Golly, Susie, what'll they think of next? Sending messages to someone without even talking?"
"Oh, don't be silly, Bobby. The telegraph is so last Wednesday."
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