It Happened On #92

It’s funny how every day after Christmas feels like a holiday. Maybe there’s too many celebrations around this time

It happened on December 28 1895…the world’s first commercial movie screening takes place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. The Lumiere brothers unveiled their invention to the public in March 1895 with a brief film showing workers leaving the Lumiere factory. On this day in 1895, the entrepreneurial siblings screened a series of short scenes from everyday French life and charged admission for the first time

Also on December 28 1938, silent film star Florence Lawrence commits suicide in Beverly Hills. She was 52 years old. Though she was best known for her roles in nearly 250 films, Lawrence was also an inventor: She designed the first “auto signaling arm,” a mechanical turn signal, along with the first mechanical brake signal. She did not patent these inventions, however, and as a result she received no credit or profit for either one

In 1914, she developed a mechanical signalling arm that, with the press of a button, raised or lowered a flag on the car’s rear bumper that told other drivers which way a car was going to turn. After that, Lawrence devised a rudimentary brake signal that worked on the same principle: when a driver pressed the brakes, a “STOP” sign flipped up from the back bumper

Lawrence’s mother, also an inventor, patented the first electrical windshield wipers in 1917 but never got much credit

Meanwhile, in Canada, on December 28 1795, Upper Canada Governor John Graves Simcoe orders start to building of 80 km highway from town of York to Lake Simcoe. It was to be used as a portage road for the North West Company, and as a military route to protect Upper Lake Huron. The road was completed in April, 1796, and named for Sir George Yonge (Yonge Street), then British Secretary of State for War

Lawrence’s inventions were great. Now we just have to get people to use them

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