History of 9mm Luger, The Most Prolific Centerfire Pistol Round ~VIDEO

H/T AmmoLand.



Logan digs deep into the development of the 9mm Luger cartridge. Is this the most produced pistol round in history?

 

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- The 9mm Luger cartridge is, arguably, the most popular and adaptable cartridge to come out of the 20th century. To take it a step further, it might be the most popular handgun cartridge of all time. Up until very recently, the 9mm cartridge could be found literally everywhere for less than a quarter apiece. Now, they’ve become harder to find than an honest person in Washington.

To help ease the ammo hardship, one lucky AmmoLand subscriber is going to win 5,000 rounds of Blazer Brass 9mm 115-grain FMJ ammo. We’ll tell you how you can win in a minute, but first, what do you really know about the history of the round? In 1902, Austrian arms designer Georg Luger created the new cartridge for DWM to compliment the semi-automatic pistol that they were making that also just so happened to bear his name.

Georg Luger

Nothing ever happens in a vacuum, and all new creations come to be by standing on the shoulders of things that came before them. Georg Luger was no exception to this. He came up with the 9x19mm cartridge by altering his previous 7.65x21mm cartridge that was introduced in 1898.

That cartridge owed its development to an even earlier design: the 7.65x25mm Borchardt, which was developed by Hugo Borchardt for use in his C-93 semi-automatic pistol. Like every proud parent of an ugly child, Hugo thought his gun was great. Unfortunately, anyone not related to him felt otherwise. Sales languished and the guns sat as surplus for about 20 years.

Borchardt’s pistol and cartridge were reworked by Luger to create the first version of the pistol that would bear his name in the 7.65x21mm cartridge, but the Germans were anxious to adopt a larger caliber sidearm.

Luger set to work designing a new cartridge and redesigning his pistol to match it. He removed the bottleneck shape from the cartridge and created a tapered, rimless design. The result was the 9x19mm Parabellum. Or, the 9x19mm Luger, 9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm NATO, or, what most of us simply call the 9mm.

The cartridge was submitted for testing to the British Small Arms Committee in 1902 and to the US for tests at Springfield Armory in Massachusetts in 1903. The following year, an additional 50 pistols and 25,000 rounds of 9mm ammo were sent to Springfield for more serious testing.

Hugo Borchardt

The German Navy adopted the new cartridge in 1904 and the German Army followed suit four years later in 1908. That date provided the name most often associated with the adopted pistol: the Luger P08. Unlike the Germans, the US would, ultimately, choose the .45 ACP cartridge in March 1911 and ignited a caliber war that still rages today.

The idea of developing a variety of different bullet types and grain weights was not something that waited until the cartridge’s popular adoption. Instead, it happened fairly quickly.

For example, in the years before World War I, DWM manufactured truncated hollow point bullets for use by colonial troops in Africa.

During World War I, Germany’s earliest 9mm loads used 124-grain FMJ bullets with truncated noses. By 1915, they had switched to 115-grain FMJ bullets with round noses.

Before getting too far into the 20th century, we have to address the 19th-century elephant in the room: the Hague Convention of 1899. This “meeting of the minds” resulted in a treaty with three major declarations, the final one stating that signatory nations agreed to a “Prohibition of the Use of Bullets which can Easily Expand or Change their Form inside the Human Body such as Bullets with a Hard Covering which does not Completely Cover the Core, or containing Indentations.”

In plain terms, this was meant to prohibit the use of soft-point bullets, which had a partial metal jacket and an exposed soft tip, as well as rounds with incisions in the tip to aid in expansion. The latter is, of course, a distant cousin to the modern hollow point round. This prohibition would limit signatory states to ball ammo.

The 9x19mm cartridge evolved from the 7.65x21mm cartridge.

Countries that participated in the Convention agreed to these declarations and signed on the dotted line … with one big exception: the United States signed part, but not all, of the document. Most notably, we did not sign the portion that limited the type of ammo that could be used.

So, no, the US was not bound to use ball ammo by the Hague Convention, simply because we didn’t sign that part of it. Even if we had, it wouldn’t have mattered much anyway. Germany signed the declaration that forbid use of projectiles whose sole purpose was to spread asphyxiating poison gas, but they made quick use of such weapons (followed quickly by plenty of other countries) in World War I.

Alright, moving on!

9mm Mauser P08 Luger
Despite the first models entering service during the First World War, the P08 was made for several years afterward like this 1936 Mauser-made S/42 Luger. IMG Jim Grant

After World War I, the caliber’s popularity picked up some steam with the widespread development of the machine pistol (or, submachine gun), most of which were chambered in 9mm. Both semi-automatic pistols and submachine guns chambered for 9mm Parabellum were introduced in Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland all before World War II.

During World War II, Germany attempted to conserve lead by introducing rounds with iron cores encased in lead. They were identified by a black jacket to begin with, but by 1944 had become the standard, so the colored jacket was discontinued.

At the same time, the Germans also developed a 150-grain FMJ bullet with subsonic properties for use with silenced weapons.

Beretta 92x 9mm Jim Grant
The 92 series of Beretta pistols became the M9 under military use and even morphed into tactical versions like this from Langdon Tactical.IMG Jim Grant

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, better known simply as NATO, was formed in 1949. In 1955, they adopted the 9x19mm cartridge as its official sidearm cartridge. This made sense as many of the member nations were already fielding sidearms chambered for the round.

In the coming decades, the 9mm would steadily increase its foothold in the global ammo market. The United States military adopted the Beretta M9 semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9mm in 1985, ending the .45 ACP’s reign after 74 years.

At the same time, law enforcement firearms underwent a dramatic shift away from revolvers in .38 Special or .357 Magnum to semi-automatic pistols. While there has been some adoption of .40 caliber for these purposes, the 9mm has undeniably risen to the top.

A very similar trend was seen in the civilian handgun market. The prevalence of military, law enforcement, and civilian preference for the cartridge has cemented its place in ammo history. By 2013, the 9mm Luger accounted for 21.4% of the entire world cartridge market.

Seven years later, in 2020, the 9mm is more popular than ever before, but recent developments have certainly made it harder to find on physical shelves and in digital shopping carts.

That’s why we’re coming full circle to the beginning of this history lesson. Now that you know all about the 9mm Luger’s history and development, it means you’ll appreciate it all the more if you’re the lucky AmmoLand subscriber who is chosen to win 5,000 rounds of Blazer Brass 9mm 115-grain FMJ ammo.

So, what are you waiting for!? Enter the contest now!

The Man Who Invented the First Gas Mask

H/T Smithsonian Magazine.

I did not know this about gas mask.

John Haldane came up with a rudimentary gas mask to protect Allied troops during WWI

Haldane_in_his_laboratory_at_Oxford,_1911crop.jpg

John Scott Haldane at his laboratory in Oxford. (Boston Medical Library/Wikimedia Commons)

 

Unprepared for German forces to use chlorine gas as a weapon, many Allied soldiers suffocated, unprotected, during the Battle of Ypres in 1915.

But they gained protection thanks to the efforts of scientists who worked on the home front. One of these scientists was John Scott Haldane, whose spectacular moustache (see above) would likely have prevented him from getting a good seal when wearing a gas mask.

Haldane, born on this day in 1860 in Edinburgh, Scotland, got his medical degree in 1884. But he wasn’t a practicing doctor: instead he was a medical researcher, writes the Science Museum in London. He taught at several universities and developed medical remedies for common industrial ailments. Haldane’s particular project was mining. Smithsonian has written about Haldane before, because he was the man who devised the idea of using canaries and other small animals in coal mines to detect odorless, deadly gases. He had also done previous work on how to protect miners from gas using respirators, according to Jerry Chester for the BBC.

But Haldane’s other big contribution didn’t just endanger birds: It endangered him and his family. Thirty years into his career, in 1915, Haldane was sent to Ypres after the battle, the BBC writes.

His job was to ID the kind of gas that was being used. Haldane and his team were able to identify the gas used at Ypres as chlorine by examining discolored metal buttons on soldiers’ uniforms.

After he returned to his home in Oxford, England, he started experimenting to find out what would keep the gas out. On himself. And his family.

The scientist’s lab was in his home, and he employed his daughter Naomi, then a teenager, as a research assistant, historian Steve Sturdy told the BBC. Haldane and his fellow researchers would expose themselves to gas and test its effects.

“Naomi was stationed outside the door, which had a window in it, with instructions that if any of them were incapacitated she should get them out as quickly as possible and perform artificial respiration on them,” Sturdy says.       

Before Haldane and his team made innovations in keeping soldiers safe from gas, the suggested remedy on the front lines was holding a urine-soaked handkerchief or urine-soaked socks to the face, Chester writes.

Then Haldane’s first effort was a “makeshift” respirator, Sturdy told the BBC, called the “Black Veil” respirator. “Basically it was pads of cotton waste that were wrapped in gauze and soaked in a solution, sodium thiosulphate, which neutralized the effects of low concentrations of chlorine gas.

But it was far from a solution. One stretcher bearer quoted in Chester’s article described being among the first to use the veil respirator:

But, I found using it in the gas cloud that after a couple of minutes one couldn’t breathe and so it was pushed up over the forehead and we swallowed the gas.

It was not a practical proposition at all.

As the frequency and concentration of gas attacks grew, the technology needed to change. Haldane helped to work on the box respirator, the direct ancestor of the modern gas mask.

Edward Harrison finally designed the small box respirator that was the direct ancestor of modern respirators. (Wikimedia Commons)

The box respirator was ultimately designed by another scientist, Edward Harrison, who died prematurely because of exposure to gas during testing.

“They were fighting a war in the laboratory at Oxford, and I think to understand what they were doing and the risks that they faced I think you need to understand the urgency of the situation that they saw themselves in,” Sturdy said.

Your Fridge Is the Most Important Invention in the History of Food

H/T Smithsonian Magazine.

I learned something new about refrigerators.

The Royal Society has decided that of all the things we’ve invented surrounding food, the refrigerator is the most important.

Earlier this year, the Royal Society set out to decide what the most important invention in the history of food was. The committee started with a list of 100 things and whittled it down to just 20. That list was then voted on by the fellows, along with food and drink industry experts. There were four criteria: accessibility, productivity, aesthetics, and health.

And the winner? Drumroll please: the refrigerator. Eeking out canning, irrigation and the knife, the refrigerator has spent the last 100 years keeping your food cold. The first two home refrigerators were reportedly revealed in Fort Wayne, Indiana, by General Electric. Several years before that, in 1889 and 1890, the winters were so warm that there was a shortage of natural ice in the United States, prompting inventors to look for ways to take commercial refrigeration into the home.

Of course, refrigeration is far older than the invention of the home refrigerator. The Chinese cut and stored ice as far back as 1,000 B.C. Later on, natural ice was harvested and shipped around—the ice trade was one of the first things to go during the Civil War. Boston supplied the south with a large amount of its ice. These days, nearly every American home (99.5 percent) has a refrigerator.

If this were the Olympics, we’d be comparing country medal count. So the Royal Society has a breakdown:

The top three result from Anglo-French scientific successes in the 18th and 19th centuries:  Artificial refrigeration was first demonstrated in Glasgow in 1748 and then produced commercially in 1805; the first pasteurisation test was completed in France in 1862; and a British merchant patented the tin can in 1810 (although a year earlier a Frenchman applied a similar process with glass jars and cork).

Here are the Top 20:

1. Refrigeration
2. Pasteurisation / sterilisation
3. Canning
4. The oven
5. Irrigation
6. Threshing  machine/combine harvester
7. Baking
8. Selective breeding / strains
9. Grinding / milling
10. The plough
11. Fermentation
12. The fishing net
13. Crop rotation
14. The pot
15. The knife
16. Eating utensils
17. The cork
18. The barrel
19. The microwave oven
20. Frying

 

 

Why You Should Appreciate the Invention of the Bendy Straw

H/T Smithsonian Magazine.

I learned a lot reading this story about bendy straws.

It’s the straw that bends, not the person.

Many inventions are intended to solve problems–like the bendy straw.

The now-ubiquitous drinking tool was patented on this day in 1937 by an inventor named Joseph Friedman. It took an existing invention, colloquially known as the “soda straw” and made it accessible to people who couldn’t sit up at a tall counter and bend their heads to just the angle required to drink out of a straight straw. 

Friedman wrote in the patent documents that his invention related to “that type of drinking tube known in the trade as a ‘soda straw.’” While these straws were sometimes actual pieces of straw, he writes, they were more usually “wound or otherwise formed from oiled paper, paraffin paper, Cellophane, or the like.”  

The first drinking straw of this type–made of coiled paper dipped in paraffin wax–dates back to the 1880s, writes Derek Thompson for The Atlantic, when it was invented and patented by a man named Marvin Chester Stone. While it was a popular invention, Friedman experienced a problem with it firsthand at some point in the 1930s, writes Thompson. According to the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Friedman was seated at the Varsity Sweet Shop in San Francisco with his young daughter Judith. After watching her struggle to drink a milkshake out of a too-tall straw, he had an idea. The center writes:

Friedman, an inventor with a natural curiosity and a creative instinct, took the straw and inserted a screw. He then wrapped dental floss around the paper into the screw threads, creating corrugations. After he removed the screw, the altered paper straw would bend conveniently over the edge of the glass, allowing a small child to better reach the beverage.

Friedman couldn’t make his daughter taller or make the counter shorter, so he designed a straw that would adapt to the situation. His patent acknowledged that he wasn’t the first to think of bending a straw, but he was the first to design a purpose-built bendy straw that could bend without creating a crease that blocked the flow of liquid.

It took some time to create the machinery necessary to make bendy straws on an industrial scale, but Friedman’s company Flex-Straw made its first sale in 1947, to a hospital, according to the Lemelson Center. “Solving the ‘Judith problem’ had created a multi-million dollar business,” writes Thompson.

Friedman held a number of other patents, Marianne Riley writes for the National Museum of American History. His first, for a fountain pen that showed the amount of ink left before it needed to be refilled, demonstrated the same talent for making small but crucial improvements to existing products. In the case of the bendy straw, his best-known invention, he looked at something and saw how it could be improved to make it accessible for more people–like his children and hospital patients or anyone else who had trouble bending their head to the exact angle required by a straight straw. Because of this, the straw is cited as a case study for “universal design,” a mode of thinking that tries to make products accessible to as many people as possible.

Dry Tortugas

H/T Atlas Obscura.

In the almost 30 years I lived in Florida I sadly never went to Dry Tortugas.

Remote Florida islands have a history of sea turtles, sunken treasures, and one of the world’s largest coastal brick fortresses. 

JUAN PONCE DE LEON FIRST stumbled upon this stretch of islands in 1513, back when they were nothing more than clusters of coral inhabited by sea turtles. Upon his discovery, de Leon named the islands “Las Tortugas” (meaning “the turtles”), and is said to have subsisted off 160 of these very animals while on his journey through the high seas. (“Dry” was later added to the islands’ name as an attempt to warn mariners of the lack of freshwater in the area.)

After de Leon’s discovery, the Dry Tortugas became a fixture on Spanish ship maps for merchants and explorers going to and from the Gulf Coast. Seventy miles west of the Florida Keys, and in a prime location between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, the Dry Tortugas soon became a popular shipping corridor.

 

Despite the passageway’s popularity, the Dry Tortugas also became the site of hundreds of shipwrecks. The seasonal shallow waters and hazardous weather conditions lent to the corridor’s infamous title as the “ship trap.” To this day, a large collection of sunken treasures still lies beneath the surface waters. Seventeenth-century vessel remains, cannons, and glassware are among some of the maritime relics.

Of all the Dry Tortugas treasures, though, Fort Jefferson perhaps remains the crown jewel. Once Florida was acquisitioned from Spain in 1822, the United States began plans to erect a naval station that would help combat piracy in the Caribbean. Eventually, the U.S. Navy agreed on the Dry Tortugas as the site for their fortress, arguing that U.S. shipping in the Gulf Coast would be in jeopardy if a hostile power were to take over the islands.

In 1847, after seventeen years of extensive planning, Fort Jefferson began construction on the Garden Key Island. The design plans called for a practically indestructible hexagonal fortress, complete with a massive 420 heavy-gun platform. Two sides of the fort measured 325 feet and four sides measured 477 feet. The structure stood 45-feet above sea level, surrounded entirely by a wall and a 70-foot wide moat. Though construction lasted for roughly thirty years, Fort Jefferson was never fully completed. Despite this, 16 million bricks were laid, making it one of the largest coastal forts ever built.

During the Civil War the fort was also used as a prison, mainly for Union deserters. The most famous inmate, however, was Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was convicted of conspiracy in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. After shooting President Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth jumped from the theater box, broke one of his legs, and immediately fled to Dr. Mudd’s farm where he received medical assistance.

In 1865, Dr. Mudd was sentenced to life in prison and sent to the remote fortress. Two years later, a yellow fever outbreak occurred at Fort Jefferson. The outbreak took a number of lives, including the lone doctor who had been stationed at the fort. Dr. Mudd agreed to step in as a replacement and, as a result, many lives were saved. Consequently, the soldiers started a petition demanding Dr. Mudd’s release; a petition which President Andrew Johnson granted only four years into Dr. Mudd’s life sentence.

The fort was abandoned by the Army in 1874. In later years it served as a coaling station, a quarantine station for the Marine-Hospital Service from 1888-1900, during which the location was also used in the Spanish-American War and, in 1935, it was registered by President Roosevelt as a National Monument. Today it operates as part of the Dry Tortugas National Park. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the Dry Tortugas are considered to be one of America’s most remote and least visited national parks.

How the Coffee Cup Sleeve Was Invented

H/T Smithsonian Magazine.

Not being a coffee drinker I never gave these sleeves any thought.

The cardboard sleeve became the ubiquitous finger-saver for coffee fanatics everywhere

The seemingly simple coffee cup sleeve represents the genius of design.
The seemingly simple coffee cup sleeve represents the genius of design. (Perrin Doniger)
 
 

Housed in the same building as Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” and Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” is a simple paper coffee cup sleeve. It can be found not in the café at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), but rather in the museum’s collections alongside renowned works of art worth millions. But it would be wrong to consider it out of place; the genius of the coffee cup sleeves makes it a million-dollar object as well.

 

For many, the morning ritual wouldn’t be complete without standing in line at a nearby coffee shop, placing an order with a frazzled cashier managing the A.M. rush and watching the barista pour the coffee, slap a slid on top of the cup and slip a cardboard sleeve over it. It’s a simple and logical ritual, but without that sleeve, what would have happened to our to-go coffee culture? In 2005, MoMA paid tribute to this ingenious design defining the modern American coffee tradition when it acquired a standard coffee cup sleeve for the exhibit “SAFE: Design Takes on Risk,” which featured products that were created to protect. The sleeve takes pride of place at MoMA, alongside Post-It notes, Bic pens and Band-Aids in a collection called “Humble Masterpieces.”

 

“The reasons for inclusion were very straightforward: a good, sensible, necessary, sustainable (by the standards at that time) solution for a common problem,” says MoMA’s curator Paola Antonelli of the cup sleeve. “While modest in size and price, these objects are indispensable masterpieces of design, deserving of our admiration.”

Like the inventors behind the other “humble masterpieces,” the man behind the sleeve is no artist, but an innovator. Jay Sorensen invented the Java Jacket in 1991 as a solution to a common problem—hot coffee burns fingers. The idea emerged in 1989 when he was pulling out of a coffee shop drive-through on the way to his daughter’s school and a coffee spill burned his fingers, forcing him to release a scalding cup of coffee onto his lap. At the time, he was struggling as a realtor in the years since closing his family-owned service station in Portland, Oregon. While the coffee accident was unfortunate, it gave him the germ of an innovative idea: there had to be a better way to drink coffee on the go.

One of Sorensen’s predecessors filed a patent for this cup to hold hot beverages.
One of Sorensen’s predecessors filed a patent for this cup to hold hot beverages. (Image courtesy of USPTO)

Sorensen initially set out to design an insulated cup that could replace paper cups and Styrofoam cups, which were slowly being phased out as cities across the United States began to ban polystyrene food containers. But he couldn’t figure out an efficient way to package the cups for clients, neither nesting nor folding would work. He also reasoned, correctly, that not all coffee drinks needed that much insulation; his research indicated that only 30 to 40 percent of drinks sold at coffee shops required protection beyond the paper cup. Iced coffee drinks and lattes aren’t hot enough. The cup idea wouldn’t be economical for stores, it would have to go.

Sorensen can’t say how he hit upon the idea for the cup sleeve. “It was kind of an evolution,” he says. He used embossed chipboard or linerboard after nixing corrugated paper because of the price point. (Starbucks, who obtained their own patent after Sorensen got his, used the more expensive corrugated paper on the inside of their cup sleeves and smooth paper on the outside.)

A close-up of the insulation of Sorensen’s coffee sleeve in his patent file.
A close-up of the insulation of Sorensen’s coffee sleeve in his patent file. (Image courtesy of USPTO)
 

He gave his invention a catchy name, the Java Jacket. Sorensen made his first sale out of the trunk of his car to the Oregon chain Coffee People. A few weeks later, he went to a coffee trade show in Seattle and sold 100 cases in just 30 minutes. “I was like a rock star or something there,” Sorensen says.

Success accelerated from there. In the first year alone, he enlisted more than 500 clients who were eager to protect the hands of their coffee-driven customers. Today, approximately 1 billion Java Jackets are sold each year to more than 1,500 clients.

Sorensen’s solution was simple and the problem so common that he was not surprised by the demand. “Everybody around me . . . was shocked,” he says. “I wasn’t.”

Although he is now among the most successful, Sorensen is not the first to patent a cup sleeve. Designs date back to the 1920s for similar devices. James A. Pipkin’s 1925 design was a sleeve for beverages in cold glass bottles and Edward R. Egger patented a “portable coaster” in 1947 that fit around a cup. Both were inspired by embarrassing and awkward situations relating to unwanted condensation from cold glass bottles.

A design from the 1920s for cold beverages in glass bottles.
A design from the 1920s for cold beverages in glass bottles. (Courtesy of USPTO)
A look at Egger’s patent for a portable coaster for a coffee cup.
A look at Egger’s patent for a portable coaster for a coffee cup. (Image courtesy of USPTO)

It’s possible that the standard paper coffee sleeve will be eclipsed by even more environmentally friendly reusable coffee sleeves, or even an end to the paper cup. Sorensen is facing a patent renewal process. And has the sleeve inventor got any new inventions up his sleeve?

“I think we’re just on this train until the tracks come to an end,” Sorensen says.

The Invention of the Baseball Mitt

H/T Smithsonian Magazine.

The history of the baseball mitt.

Once thought a sign of weakness, the baseball glove has become an iconic piece of equipment.

To round out our series on the the design of baseball equipment, let’s take a brief look at the baseball glove. Unlike the baseball bat or the baseball itself, the glove was not initially a part of the game.

Players just used the mitts they were born with.  Lest you think that all men were walking around with swollen and broken fingers, it’s important to remember that this was a very different game than the today.

There were a lot of differences in the game, not least of which is the fact that much of the throwing was underhand. In the beginning, there wasn’t much need for hand protection, but even as the game evolved and balls were thrown harder and faster, there was some reluctance to use any protection or padding. These were the days when the measure of a man was the number of calluses on his fingers and of broken bones in his hand. Wearing a glove just wasn’t manly.

 

The earliest gloves were simple leather work gloves, often with its finger removed to ensure that ball handling isn’t inhabited in any way. It’s hard to say exactly who wore the first glove, but some reports claim that catchers were wearing work gloves as early as 1860.

 A pitcher for the by the name of A.G. Spalding claims that it was New Haven first baseman Charles C. Waite who, in an 1875 game against Boston, first had the audacity (i.e. common sense) to take the field with a glove. Maybe “audacity” isn’t quite the right word.

Though there were no rules against gloves, Waite tried to preserve his masculinity by wearing a tan, flesh-colored work glove, hoping no one would notice. People noticed. And Waite was ridiculed mercilessly by fans and players alike. Nonetheless, he persevered.

Spalding thought Waite might be on to something.

“I had for a good while felt the need of some sort of hand protection for myself. For several years I had pitched in every game played by the Boston team, and had developed severe bruises on the inside of my left hand. Therefore, I asked Waite about his glove. He confessed that he was a bit ashamed to wear it, but had it on to save his hand. He also admitted that he had chosen a color as inconspicuous as possible, because he didn’t care to attract attention….Meanwhile, my own hand continued to take its medicine with utmost regularity, occasionally being bored with a warm twister that hurt excruciatingly. Still, it was not until 1877 that I overcame my scruples against joining the ‘kid-glove aristocracy’ by donning a glove. I found that the glove, thin as it was, helped considerably, and inserted one pad after another until a good deal of relief was afforded. If anyone wore a padded glove before this date, I do not know it.”

The year after Waite’s debut, Spalding and his brothers started a sports equipment company and one of their first products, alongside the first official baseball, was a baseball glove –though Spalding wouldn’t wear one himself until 1877 when he started playing first base. Unlike Waite’s glove, Spaldings was made from dark, almost black leather. Spalding’s reputation kept away the ridicule and in fact, he may be responsible for helping to remove the stigma that came with wearing a glove.

An 1889 advertisement for Spalding gloves (image: 19c Baseball)

With the stigma removed (mostly), the development of the glove accelerated. Along with that extra padding, shallow webbing was added between the fingers – most notably between the thumb and first finger. The glove caught on, much to the chagrin of some early baseball purists, and in 1895 the National League and American Association of Baseball Clubs created the first restrictions on glove size:

“The catcher and the first baseman are permitted to wear a glove or mitt of any size, shape or weight. All other players are restricted to the use of a glove or mitt weighing not over ten ounces, and measuring in circumference around the palm of the hand not over fourteen inches.”

A 1905 Advertisement for early Spadling gloves (image: wikimedia commons)

By the end of the century, every player in organized baseball was playing with a glove.

basebal glove patent

W.L. Doak’s patent for a fielder’s glove. Issued August 22, 1922 (image: google patents)

After padding, the next big innovation came in 1920 when St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bill Doak came up with a design to replace the leather webbing used in some gloves with a system of straps between the first finger and thumb, creating a larger, deeper pocket that would help relieve some of the impact on the players palms and fingers while also extending a fielder’s reach. Doak patented his idea, the precursor to all modern gloves, and sold it to Rawlings.

With it, Rawlings surpassed Spalding as the preferred glove of pro players and today, the sports equipment company provides gloves for about 50 percent of professional ballplayers and produces specialized designs for pitchers, catchers, first basemen, infielders and outfielders, as well as custom designs for individual players.

While the pillow-like catchers mitt is obviously unique, and has been from the beginning, the differences between other gloves emerged more slowly over the years, and can be subtle to accommodate different styles of play.

According to glove designer Bob Clevenhagen, known as “Michelangelo of the mitt,” “For outfielders, the ball will be funneled into the webbing. They are more apt to snag the ball up high in the web,” while “an infielder wants the ball where there’s no problem finding it with his bare hand, not in the webbing, but at the base of the fingers.”

From its humble beginnings as an home-made object of scorn and ridicule, the baseball glove has become an iconic piece of sports equipment and often stunningly crafted object that only gets better with time. Now quit reading the Internet and go have a catch.

 

The Accidental Invention of Bubble Wrap

H/T Smithsonian Magazine.com.

A failed attempt at textured wallpaper resulted in the invention of what we now know as bubble wrap.

Two inventors turned a failed experiment into an irresistibly poppable product that revolutionized the shipping industry

bubble wrap main.jpg
(monkeybusinessimages/iStock)
 

When a very young Howard Fielding carefully cradled his father’s unusual invention, he had no idea that his next action would make him a trendsetter. In his hands was a plastic sheet with air-filled bumps across it. As he fingered the funny-feeling film, he couldn’t resist the temptation: he started popping the bubbles—just like much of the rest of the world has been doing ever since.

 

And so Fielding, who was about 5 years old at the time, became the very first person—for fun—to pop Bubble Wrap. The invention revolutionized the shipping industry and made the e-commerce era possible, protecting billions of products shipped worldwide each year

“I remember looking at the stuff and my instinct was to squeeze it,” Fielding says. “I say I’m the first person to pop Bubble Wrap, but I’m sure it’s not true. The adults at my father’s firm likely did so for quality assurance. But I was probably the first kid.”

He adds with a chuckle, “They were really fun to pop. The bubbles were a lot bigger then, so they made a loud noise.”

Fielding’s father Alfred was co-inventor of Bubble Wrap with his business partner Marc Chavannes, a Swiss chemist. They were trying to create a textured wallpaper in 1957 that would appeal to the burgeoning Beat generation. They put two pieces of plastic shower curtain through a heat-sealing machine but were disappointed—at first—by the results: a sheet of film with trapped air bubbles.

However, the inventors did not totally dismiss their failure. They were granted the first of several patents for the process and equipment of embossing and laminating materials, then started thinking of uses: more than 400, in fact. One—greenhouse insulation—made it off the drawing board, but ultimately was about as successful as textured wallpaper. The product was actually tested in greenhouses, but it proved ineffective.

Bubble wrap patent 2.png
“Method for Making Laminated Cushioning Material,” patented July 28, 1964 (U.S. Pat. No. 3,142,599)

To continue developing their unusual product, which was branded Bubble Wrap, Fielding and Chavannes founded Sealed Air Corp. in 1960. It wasn’t until they decided the next year to use it as packaging material that they found success. IBM had recently introduced the 1401 unit—considered the Model-T of the computer industry—and needed a way of protecting the delicate device during transit. The rest, as they say, is history.

“It was the answer to IBM’s problems,” says Chad Stephens, vice president of innovation and development for Sealed Air’s Product Care Division. “They could ship their computers without damage. That opened the door for a lot of other businesses to start using Bubble Wrap.”

Small packaging companies quickly embraced the new technology. To them, Bubble Wrap was a godsend. Previously, the best way to protect an item during shipping was to surround it with balled up newsprint. It was messy since ink from the old newspapers often rubbed off on the product and those handling it. Plus, it really didn’t offer that much protection.

Sealed Air began to grow as Bubble Wrap caught on. The product evolved into different shapes, sizes, strengths and thicknesses for expanded uses: big and little bubbles, wide and short sheets, large and short rolls. All the while more people were discovering the joy of popping those air-filled pockets (even Stephens admits to being a “stress-relief popper”).

Still, the company wasn’t turning a profit. That’s when T.J. Dermot Dunphy became CEO in 1971. He helped build annual sales from $5 million in his first year to $3 billion in 2000 when he left the firm.

“Marc Chavannes was a visionary and Al Fielding was a first-class engineer,” says Dunphy, who at 86 years young still works every day at his private equity investment and management firm, Kildare Enterprises. “But neither wanted to run the company. They just wanted to work on their inventions.”

An entrepreneur by training, Dunphy helped Sealed Air stabilize its operation and diversify its product base. He even expanded the brand into the swimming pool industry. For several years, Bubble Wrap pool covers were extremely popular. With large air pockets, the covers helped trap solar rays and retain heat so pool water remained warm, although these bubbles weren’t poppable. The firm eventually sold the line.

Barbara Hampton, Howard Fielding’s wife who coincidentally is a patent information specialist, is quick to point out how patents enabled her father-in-law and his partner to do what they did. In all, they were granted six patents for Bubble Wrap, most of which dealt with the process for embossing and laminating plastic and the necessary equipment. In fact, Marc Chavannes received two earlier patents for thermoplastic film, but probably didn’t have poppable bubbles in mind when he did. “A patent provides a creative person with the opportunity to reap the rewards of his ideas,” Hampton says.

Today, Sealed Air is a Fortune 500 company with sales of $4.5 billion in 2017 and 15,000 employees serving customers in 122 countries. Originally located in New Jersey, the business moved its world headquarters to North Carolina in 2016. It produces and sells several products, including Cryovac, a thin plastic that is shrink-wrapped around food and other items. Sealed Air even offers an airless Bubble Wrap that is less expensive to ship to customers.

“It’s an inflatable version,” Stephens says. “Instead of large rolls of air, we sell rolls of tightly wrapped film with a mechanical unit that adds the air when needed. It’s a lot more efficient.”

 

November 22 ,1963 The End Of Camelot

 

 

If you are old enough, you can recall this terrible day.

You can recall where you were, and what you were doing when you heard the news.
Like the greatest generation and Pearl Harbor, the memory is vivid in our minds.
I was nine years old at the time. I recall the teacher turning on the television to warm up. ( Yes, TVs then had tubes so they needed to warm up.)
Instead of our usual science program, there was a newscaster saying President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. We were stunned and started to cry.
Then the announcement came that we were going home early.
The bus ride home was quiet except for our sobs.

When I got home my mother had the television on and we heard that President Kennedy had died. That added to the sorrow of that horrible day.

My younger brother was about five years old at that time.
He was a real fan of President Kennedy.
Whenever he heard the President’s voice, he would run into the room to listen.
He was really heart-broken.
Over the next few days we watched the events unfold in Dallas.
A suspect was named and then arrested. It was Lee Harvey Oswald.
Then we saw Jack Ruby murder Oswald on television.
President Kennedy’s funeral was broadcast along with John-John‘s salute to his fallen father.
Like the Twin Towers being brought down, this event is forever in my memory.

Gunny Hathcock – a Vietnam War sniper legend

llH/T War History OnLine.

Calling Gunny Hathcock a legend in ways does not begin to describe him.

 
 

Stories of exploits in Vietnam by legendary Marines are commonplace, but few Marines have had as many stories told about them as the sniper Carlos Hathcock. Though he held records for the most number of kills as well as the longest successful shot, he did not see these as important. Gunny Hathcock enjoyed the hunt rather than the killing.

 

The hunts that Gunny Hathcock undertook are the stuff of legends and movies. Hathcock was an uncannily successful marksman that showed his ability at a very young age. He was deployed to Vietnam in the military police but soon transferred to take up duty as a sniper.

It was quickly apparent that he had found his niche in the Army.

His trade-mark white feather worn in his gear was a taunt to the enemy to come and find him, which they never did. Gunny Hancock died of multiple sclerosis in 1999, but he gave a series of candid interviews about his time as a sniper in Vietnam before he died.

Carlos Norman Hathcock II. Courtesy of Carlos Hathcock (son).
Carlos Norman Hathcock II. Courtesy of Carlos Hathcock(Son)

A few against an entire company of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA)

Gunny Hathcock reminisced about the time he and his observer ran into an NVA infantry unit. The NVA were crossing an open rice paddy, and it was apparent that they were very new, with shiny new uniforms. The sniper noted that they had no means of communication.

Working in conjunction with his observer, he shot the officer at the front of the platoon, while his observer shot the rear officer. The snipers then shot four platoon members before the last remaining officer started running back across the paddy to the cover of trees on the side. Gunny Hathcock stopped him from reaching the safety of the trees.

The platoon hunkered down in the paddy with no leadership, so the sniper team decided to stay and fight rather than melt into the surrounding jungle.

For the next five days, the sniper team would harry the platoon during the day and call in artillery support at night. The sniper team would then move under cover of darkness, and the next morning the platoon would attack the position they held on the day before.

Lieutenant General P. K. Van Riper, Commanding General Marine Corps Combat Development Command, congratulates Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock (Ret.) after presenting him the Silver Star during a ceremony at the Weapons Training Battalion. Standing next to Gunnery Sgt. Hathcock is his son, Staff Sgt. Carlos Hathcock, Jr. (U.S. Marine Corps)
Lieutenant General P. K. Van Riper, Commanding General Marine Corps Combat Development Command, congratulates Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock (Ret.) after presenting him the Silver Star during a ceremony at the Weapons Training Battalion. Standing next to Gunnery Sgt. Hathcock is his son, Staff Sgt. Carlos Hathcock, Jr. (U.S. Marine Corps)

Once a person assumes legendary status, many takers always want to wrestle the crown from your head, and Gunny Hathcock was no exception. The NVA were well aware of Gunny Hathcock and were determined to remove him from the field, so they sent their counter-sniper, The Cobra, to undertake the task of killing Hathcock.

The Cobra made the mistake of shooting a Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant outside Hathcock’s quarters on the base. The man died in front of Hathcock, which made it personal for Hathcock to kill The Cobra.

Hathcock had come to the end of his first tour in Vietnam and had accumulated 86 confirmed kills with a mountain of probable kills.

Returning for his next tour, he and his observer took their kit and prepared to trail The Cobra.

Hathcock stumbled over a decaying tree, allowing The Cobra to take a shot. The shot missed Hathcock but hit his observer’s water canteen. The Cobra ran off, and Hathcock followed. Eventually, the two teams had switched places. This played into Hathcock’s hands as The Cobra now faced into the sun.

Hathcock remembers how he saw the sun glint off The Cobra’s scope, and he fired at that position. When Hathcock went to check that he had killed his man, he found that his shot had passed cleanly through his opponent’s telescopic sight, without touching the sides.

VC Sniper – Apache

The one story that Hathcock was reluctant to speak of concerned a Viet Cong (VC) sniper named The Apache.

The Apache was a sadistic woman who had served in the war long before Hathcock went to Vietnam. When Hathcock arrived with his platoon, they were told of The Apache and how she liked to torture Marines within earshot of the base to undermine the American soldiers’ morale.

Hathcock recalled how The Apache had skinned one young Marine alive for a day and a half until she let him go. He died in the wire, an act that made Hathcock determined to put an end to this sadistic person.

A female Vietcong guerrilla fighter.
A female Vietcong guerrilla fighter.

While out on a regular patrol, he came across a group of VC. He recognized one of the group as The Apache.

When she stopped to urinate, much to the troops’ concern with her, Hathcock shot her. Not content with killing her with his first shot, he sent a second down just to make sure that she was dead.

One sniper against an entire NVA base

Gunny Hathcock took his fellow Marines’ safety very seriously and often took on the most dangerous missions himself. One of these dangerous missions was to eliminate a high-ranking NVA officer, but it also meant that he had to infiltrate an NVA base.

Rather than undertaking the two-mile trek through hostile territory on his belly, he instead opted to use a sniper-crawl on his side as this minimized the trail left behind. He had to avoid patrols and slide around two machine-gun nests during his crawl to enter the base.

Sniping was an extremely effective tactic used by both sides of the Vietnam war.
Sniping was an extremely effective tactic used by both sides of the Vietnam war.

The NVA did not expect a single man to invade the base, and when NVA soldiers strolled past him, he knew that he had entered undetected. Ensuring that his escape route was clear, he set up a firing position around 700 yards from where he expected to see his target.

He took the shot, eliminated the officer, and made his escape, as the soldiers on the base did not run toward him but rather to the surrounding jungle to seek cover.

He did not need a sniper rifle to take a shot.

A story attributed to Gunny Hathcock concerned a VC sniper that was harassing Hathcock’s base. Hathcock was determined to end this sniper’s rule of terror.

Combatants of the People’s Army of Vietnam.
Combatants of the People’s Army of Vietnam.

One of the golden rules of sniping is that the sniper should never fire more than three shots from any one position before moving to a new post.

Hathcock noticed that the VC sniper seemed to prefer one specific position and took many shots from it. He did not have his sniper rifle, but that did not stop him from patiently zeroing in on that position using the base’s 105mm M40 Recoilless Rifle.

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When the sniper took his next shot, Hathcock fired back, and the sniping stopped.