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Happy Birthday, James Watt! (and JimOnLight, too!)

WHOA!  It’s good ol’ Jimmy Watt’s birthday!!!  That must also mean it’s MY birthday!!!

James-Watt

Gaaa, can you imagine humping a bunch of 4/0 feeder in THAT jacket?!  Oh no I didn’t.

Check out a post I wrote about the Amazing James Watt over here at…  uh… on, uh, JimOnLight!

Also, also, how about a FREE KINDLE BOOK about James Watt, written by Andrew Carnegie?!

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Watt!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NIKOLA TESLA! You Were A BADASS!

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Who is THAT?!  Wait, is that — is that Nikola Tesla?!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Nikola Tesla!

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

Well, it’s birthday time for one of the most prolific inventory of humanity — Nikola Tesla’s 207th birthday is today (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943)!  If he was still alive, I would definitely suggest we have a Tweet-up and buy that man a round!  A man who thought all human beings should have free energy, believed in the power of peace, and created more useful inventions than most people alive today — Nikola Tesla is one historical badass.  He also got legally fornicated by Thomas Edison, which is another post altogether, but still managed to do unbelievable work on alternating current electricity.

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We here at JimOnLight want to share your amazingness with the world:

The History of Nikola Tesla – a Short Story from Jeremiah Warren on Vimeo.

Also — from The OatmealMAD PROPS to our man Nikola Tesla!  I cross-post this with every positive intention possible:

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We celebrate your life here at JimOnLight.com — and here’s a toast to hoping someone makes your dreams of free energy generating devices and perpetual motion systems a reality!

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Until next year…  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NIKOLA TESLA!

Passing Through from Olafur Haraldsson on Vimeo.

Tesla’s obituary:

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Thanks to The Oatmeal, Wikipedia, The Daily Kos, EEP, and Brad DeLong!

It’s James Clerk Maxwell’s Birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, James Clerk Maxwell!!!

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There’s a guy we all have everything to thank for, and his name was Maxwell…  JAMES CLERK MAXWELL, to be precise!  Today is the birthday of Mr. James Clerk Maxwell, the man who pretty much discovered the laws that drive our physical universe.  When we talk about “let there be light,” we’re talking about Mr. Maxwell.

I wrote a post on Maxwell’s accomplishments, check it out — and Happy Birthday, James Clerk Maxwell!!!  If you weren’t already dead, you’d more than likely have a different hairdo today:

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But then again maybe not, the hipster/Steampunk thing seems to be working for you.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Benjamin Franklin!

What?!  It’s that time of year again, it’s the time to scream HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEN FRANKLIN!  Nevermind the fact that he’s dead, he was one cool mopho, and should be celebrated.

When people all across Ben Franklin’s close-minded little world said to him, BEN!  PLEASE don’t tie a key to a kite and fly it in a rainstorm, GOD will smite you, Ben Franklin just said hey f*ck you, I’m about to prove some serious scientific sh*t here.  

It was serious.  It was scientific.  AND, he was a LADIES’ MAN, all the same!  Check out my original HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN post!

Thanks, Motifake!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Stephen Hawking!!!

WHOA!  I can’t believe I almost missed this – dude!  Stephen!  Mr. Hawking!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, man!

We here at JimOnLight.com really respect your work – and hearing that you weren’t feeling well on your birthday sucks, brother, as we’re sorry to hear of it.  I usually end up feeling like the poops the day AFTER my birthday for obvious reasons, but then again I only pretend to have as much use of my brain matter as you do, sir.  One thing is for certain – JimOnLight.com and a whole bunch of people across the world think that you are one cool guy, and if I could buy you a pint right now, I’d be doing it!

Feel better tomorrow, which in your part of the world is in just a few hours.  Here in Central Time, we’re still shouting our HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEPHEN HAWKING chant!

If you *really* don’t know who Stephen Hawking is, I think you need to take a few minutes to look at some stuff:

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hawking, one last time for tonight!  I wish you were doing this instead of being sick:

photo credit:  1, 2

Happy BELATED Birthday, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson!

This is what happens when you live on a planet that is currently in flames with summer heat, you forget the birthdays of famous dead lighting guys.  A local pro performer here in town, Alissa Millar, who just rocked the living sh*t out of Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Civic Center Music Hall this last weekend (congratulations, cast!) can’t think of any dead famous lighting guys.  Here’s ANOTHER!

Check out the initial Happy Birthday, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson! post on JimOnLight.com!

Happy BELATED Birthday, Frank J. Sprague!

There were a few birthdays over the weekend that I totally missed, and now I feel horrible!  Oh wait, both of these people are dead.

Hmm.

Yeah.

HEY, so HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, Frank J. Sprague!  Check out this proper lookin’ military-turned-mucker dude!

This is Frank J. Sprague and Rear Admiral S. S. Robinson (I told you he was military, he was Navy).  This particular photograph is actually kinda neat, a bunch of folks presented him with a six-volume set of letters and papers on his 75th birthday.  I think back in that time people expressed their pleasure for birthday gifts by taking pictures that look terribly uncomfortable, as you can see here.  Fads change, I suppose, I guess you had to be there.

Thomas Edison and Frank Sprague were friends through a business partner of Edison’s, a guy named EH Johnson.  Edison, in all of his wisdom, actually convinced Sprague to give up his Navy commission and come work in Menlo Park as a technical assistant.  From the Elevator Museum (I’ll explain that later):

Graduating seventh in a class of 36 in 1878, Sprague was assigned to the USS Richmond, flagship of the Asiatic Fleet, where he filled a notebook with detailed drawings and descriptions of devices that evidenced his urge for invention. Among these were a duplex telephone, quadruplex and octoplex telegraph systems, a motor and a means of transmitting pictures by wire. Later, Sprague was ordered to the USS Minnesota. While his ship was in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1881, Sprague invented the inverted type of dynamo. Also in 1881, Spraque transferred to the USS Lancaster, flagship of the European Squadron, on which he installed the first crude electrical call-bell system in the Navy.

Sprague took leave to attend the Paris Electrical Exhibition and the Crystal Palace Exhibition in Sydenham, England, where he served as the only American member and as secretary of the jury of awards for gas engines, dynamos and lamps.

Meanwhile, Sprague’s ideas about motors and lamps had so impressed E.H. Johnson, a business associate of Thomas A. Edison, that he convinced Sprague to resign from the Navy in 1883 to become a technical assistant to Edison. While on Edison’s staff, Sprague assisted in the installation and operation of Edison’s pioneer three-wire electric light systems. Sprague also revised and corrected the Edison system of mains and feeders for central station distribution and developed a formula for determining the ratio of wire size to current amperage.

Now, the weird thing about celebrating Frank J. Sprague is not necessarily due to his contributions to the electric light bulb or electric light in general; Sprague’s contributions were to the electrical systems and main busses in Edison’s laboratory, as well as some of the three-wire lighting systems.  Sprague did a lot of correcting of Edison’s power distribution mains and feeders, and he also did a lot of mathematical “updating” to Edison’s methods.  Sprague knew that if he could do some math beforehand, Edison’s Muckers would have to do a lot less “noodling” and “fooling around” in the lab which would save time.  Seems like pretty good sense, right?

Frank Sprague didn’t last very long at Edison Power and Light – about a year and change.  Edison’s main interest was in light and lighting, but Sprague was more of a motor guy.  So, in a move that I would have loved to see firsthand as it happened (as I have to believe there were some wonderful words exchanged), Sprague left Edison’s employ and went off to start the Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company.  Suck on THAT, Edison.  What’s funny is that Edison actually DID suck on that, and he spoke very highly about Sprague’s electric motor to the world, and Sprague did pretty well.  From the NNDB archives:

After several years of theoretical work and experiments, it took Sprague and his men only about 90 days to plan the route, lay a dozen miles (19 km) of track, construct the 375 horsepower steam and electric plant, and motorize 40 formerly horse-drawn cars. The first test runs were made in November 1887, and regular service began on 2 February 1888. The first runs were not without difficulties, including frequent mechanical and electrical problems, the indignity of a horse reigned to the trolleys for the additional pulling power needed to climb the tracks’ steepest incline, and the further embarrassment of seeing broken-down trolleys towed away by mule. With some tinkering, though, the system was soon made reliable, and came to be seen as far superior to horse or horse-drawn transport.

Within two years, Sprague had contracts to construct 113 street rail systems, and the within a decade horse-drawn streetcars had virtually disappeared from America’s cities, replaced by an estimated 13,000 miles of urban streetcar tracks. He designed a multi-unit train control system in Chicago, where he built the first of the city’s elevated “L” electric railways. He engineered the electrification of New York’s Grand Central Station, and with William Wilgus he co-invented the “third rail” system of powering electric trains for the New York Central Railroad. Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company was eventually merged into Edison General Electric, which subsequently became General Electric.

Sprague’s talent lied in railways and motors, both electric, as well as a good bunch of other inventions.  One of my favorites is the elevator – yep, good ol’ Frank J. Sprague here invented the elevator.  I have to believe that he was sitting at a bar one day and realized that if he turned a train on its end and made it run vertically, BOOMelevator.  Done.

Bring me another ale, Bitterman.

Happy Birthday, Frank J. Sprague!  (Frank’s actual birthday is July 25.  Sorry, Frank!)

Thanks Wikipedia, The Elevator Museum, NNDB, the Edison Tech Center, and the Chapin Library!