The 1940s Science and Technology: Chronology

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The 1940s Science and Technology: Chronology

1940:     May 15 The Vought-Sikorsky corporation successfully flight-tests the first working helicopter.

1940:     June 15 President Franklin D. Roosevelt sets up the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC). Headed by Vannevar Bush, the NDRC organizes scientific research for the war.

1940:     July 8 Trans World Airlines (TWA) begins the first commercial flights using planes with pressurized cabins.

1941:      The Atanasoff Berry Computer (ABC) is the first prototype digital computer. It does not work.

1941:     April At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Radiation Laboratory or "Rad Lab" develops a prototype AI-10 radar machine that can detect aircraft and submarines.

1941:     June 28 In an executive order, President Roosevelt establishes the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD). It includes the earlier NDRC.

1942:      Napalm is developed for use in U.S. Army flame throwers.

1942:      The first American jet aircraft, the Bell P59-A is tested at Muroc Army Base in California.

1942:     June President Roosevelt approves the Manhattan Project, a secret research program that will eventually build and explode the first atomic bomb.

1942:     December 2 On a disused squash court at the University of Chicago, physicist Enrico Fermi conducts the first controlled experimental release of nuclear energy.

1943:      For the first time, radar is used to guide a plane to a landing. Physicist Luis Alvarez operates the guidance system.

1943:     December The Harvard-IBM Mark-1 Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator becomes the first computer to successfully follow a sequence of commands.

1944:      The U.S. military goes to war against body lice on troops and civilians using the insecticide DDT.

1944:      In biology, scientists find evidence that DNA is responsible for inherited genetic characteristics.

1944:     March 1 At Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the secret Manhattan Project laboratory produces a few milligrams of plutonium, the radioactive substance needed to make an atomic bomb.

1945:      The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC) becomes the first successful electronic digital computer.

1945:     July 16 In the Trinity Test, the world's first atomic bomb is detonated at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

1945:     August 6 The first atomic weapon used in warfare is a uranium bomb, dropped from an American Superfortress bomber on Hiroshima, Japan. It kills over fifty thousand people.

1945:     August 9 A second atomic bomb, this time made of plutonium, is dropped by an American bomber on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Over forty thousand people are killed instantly.

1946:     July 12 The technique of "cloud seeding" is pioneered by Vincent Schaefer, who uses dry ice to produce a rain shower.

1946:     August 1 The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) begins its job of monitoring and controlling nuclear power.

1947:      Using a type of carbon known as carbon-14, chemist Willard Libby develops his radiocarbon-dating method. This is the technique used to establish the age of archaeological finds, among other things.

1947:     February 21 The "camera-and-film" system is invented by Edwin Land. It later goes on sale as the Polaroid Land Camera, the first camera to develop its own photographs.

1947:     June Pan American Airways'America, a Lockheed Constellation airliner, becomes the first aircraft to circle the globe while carrying paying passengers.

1947:     October 14 The Bell X-1 rocket plane reaches a speed of seven hundred miles per hour. It is the first plane to travel faster than the speed of sound.

1948:      Chemist Karl Folkers isolates Vitamin B12.

1948:      Peter Goldmark markets the world's first long playing record.

1948:     June 3 At the Mount Palomar Observatory at the California Institute of Technology, the two-hundred-inch Hale telescope is completed. It is the largest telescope ever built.

1948:     November 20 A new balloon altitude record of 26.5 miles is set by the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

1949:     February 24 The first rocket with more than one stage is launched.

1949:     February 25 At White Sands, New Mexico, a U.S. Navy Corporal rocket sets a new rocketry altitude record of 250 miles. It also becomes the first true space vehicle.

1949:     March 2 The U.S. Air Force Superfortress B-50, known as Lucky Lady, completes the first nonstop flight around the world.

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The 1940s Science and Technology: Chronology