THE FIRST PODCAST This is the history of the future.
Robots conjure up thoughts of distant technological landscapes and even apocalyptic scenarios, but the truth is, robots are a very old creation, tracing back to the ancient world.
We can thank science fiction writers for inventing new serious ideas about robots, automatons previously relegated as mere amusement. But they remained an unimaginable concept — rendered in a corny, campy fashion in the 1940s and 50s — until the development of computing and cybernetics.
In 1961 the first industrial robot named Unimate not only changed the automobile industry, but it opened the door for the vast, realistic possibilities of robotics in our everyday lives.
THE FIRST PODCAST In 1907, the professional swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested on a Massachusetts beach for wearing a revealing bathing suit — a skin-tight black ensemble which covered most of her body.
Less than forty years later, in 1946, the owner of a Parisian lingerie shop named Louis Réardinvented the bikini, perhaps the smallest amount of fabric to ever change the world, courtesy Micheline Bernardini, the young woman who debuted this scandalous outfit.
In this podcast, I’ll tell you what happened to change people’s perception of public decency in those forty years and explain how the bikini represents the best — and the worst — instincts of modern American culture.
THE FIRST PODCAST The story of how electricity became a tool of death for the state of New York and the strange circumstances behind the invention of the electric chair.
The harnessing of electricity by the great inventors of the Gilded Age introduced the world to the miracle of light at all hours of the day. But exposure to electricity’s raw power was dangerous to man. Awful deaths of men on electrical wires terrified New Yorkers. A few thought this might be useful in the employment of the state’s darkest responsibilities — capital punishment.
This is the story of the first electric chair, the peculiar rivalry which helped create it — an epic feud between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, between DC and AC — and its fateful effects upon the life and punishment upon a man named William Kemmler, the first to be killed in this morbid seat.
ALSO: Hear the words of Harold Pitney Brown, an electrician who worked to help sully the reputation of Westinghouse and his collaborator Nikola Tesla by pairing their alternating-current devices with electrical execution.
Or listen to it straight from here: 07 THE MORBID INVENTION: THE STORY OF THE FIRST ELECTRIC CHAIR
The horrors of the modern world — New York electrician John Feeks is killed on the electrical wires as hundreds watched.
Harold Pitney Brown, who secretly assisted in diminishing the reputation of alternating current (AC) power on behalf of Edison, who was promoting direct current (DC).
Brown’s bizarre and cruel experiments — proving the dangers of AC — involved killing animals by electrocution. One such experiment at Edison’s lab in New Jersey slaughtered calves and horses to demonstrate his theories.
The mechanism of the first electric chair at Auburn Prison. You can see some of these components in the photo below.
A picture of the notorious first electric chair, used in the execution of William Kemmler
An illustration from Scientific American, June 30 1888, showing an ‘ideal’ depiction of electric-chair functioning.
An illustration (not very accurate) of the execution of William Kemmler.
THE FIRST PODCASTThe Pledge of Allegiance feels like an American tradition that traces itself back to the Founding Fathers, but, in fact, it’s turning 125 years old in 2017. This is the story of the invention of the Pledge, a set of words that have come to embody the core values of American citizenship. And yet it began as part of a for-profit magazine promotion, written by a Christian socialist minister!
In this podcast listen to the Pledge wording evolve throughout the years and discover the curious salute that once accompanied it.
Featuring: Tom Meyers as the voice of Francis Bellamy, the inventor of the pledge!
Or listen to it straight from here: 05THE MAKING AND REMAKING OF THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Francis Bellamy, the author of the Pledge of Allegiance:
What the Bellamy salute used to look like
Other forms of the salute had students lift their hands palms up, not down.
San Francisco, California, 1942: Flag of allegiance pledge at Raphael Weill Public School (Geary and Buchanan Streets). The original caption to this photo read: “Children in families of Japanese ancestry were evacuated with their parents and will be housed for the duration in War Relocation Authority centers where facilities will be provided for them to continue their education.”
Young scouts on a hike. Photo by Roy Perry, 1940. Most people were saluting the flag in other methods than the ‘Bellamy salute’ which remained in the Flag Code until the 1940s.
Second graders pledge allegiance in an elementary school in Rockport, Massachusetts, February 1973
From the Youth’s Companion in September 1892, outlining the day’s ceremonies and the first use of the pledge.
This is a special preview for the new Bowery Boys spin-off podcast series The First: Stories of Inventions and their Consequences, brought to you by Bowery Boys host Greg Young.
01: The first Ferris Wheel was invented to become America’s Eiffel Tower, making its grand debut at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The wheel’s inventor George Washington Gale Ferris was a clever and optimistic soul; he did everything in his power to ensure that his glorious mechanical ride would forever change the world.
That it did, but unfortunately, its inventor paid a horrible price.
FEATURING a visit the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, one of the most famous wheels in the world, and a trip to one of Chicago’s newest marvels — the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier.
The Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast is brought to you …. by you!
We are now producing a new Bowery Boys podcast every two weeks. We’re also looking to improve the show in other ways and expand in other ways as well — through publishing, social media, live events and other forms of media. But we can only do this with your help!
We are now a member of Patreon, a patronage platform where you can support your favorite content creators for as little as a $1 a month.
Please visitour page on Patreon and watch a short video of us recording the show and talking about our expansion plans. If you’d like to help out, there are five different pledge levels (and with clever names too — Mannahatta, New Amsterdam, Five Points, Gilded Age, Jazz Age and Empire State). Check them out and consider being a sponsor.
We greatly appreciate our listeners and readers and thank you for joining us on this journey so far. And the best is yet to come!