Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dorothea Lange

Great Photographer's week continues here at OPOD. To be honest with you, I was not sure whether to include the apostrophe on "photographer's" in the first sentence. Lets hope it passes muster. Anyway, we feature a picture today of Dorothea Lange. She is most famous for the "Migrant Mother" picture from the great depression. She was one of the photographers hired by the government to document the Great Depression.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Edward Curtis

Many of the Native American photographs we enjoy on this site can be credited to Edward Curtis, pictured above. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, Curtis realized that the traditional Native American lifestyle was coming to an end. He received a grant from J.P. Morgan to travel the country and photograph Native Americans in their traditional lifestyle and culture. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Civil War Photographer

Today's picture shows Civil War Photographer Sam Cooley. You can see two photographic wagons and, most interestingly, one of his cameras.

I was not able to find much information on Sam Cooley. Given how his name is prominently featured on the wagons, I am inclined to believe that he did not work for Mathew Brady.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mathew Brady

Today's picture is of Mathew Brady, one of the real pioneers of photography. Brady is remembered for creating the photographic record of the Civil War. He took portraits of most of the important figures in the Civil War. He also took photographs on the battlefield which for the first time brought the horrors of war home to the average citizen. Today, his photographs are considered masterpieces, but he died penniless and forgotten. His endeavor to photograph the Civil War turned out to be a business nightmare, and he never recovered from the financial losses. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Roger Fenton

Good Sunday Morning to you all! This week we are going to be looking at some pioneers in the field of photography. Most of us consider Mathew Brady as the photographer to first document a way. Actually, that distinction more accurately goes to Roger Fenton, pictured above. Roger and his photographic wagons produced an extensive photographic record of the Crimean War. The Crimean War predated the Civil War by about 10 years, and was a war between France, England, Russia and the Ottoman Empire, among others.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Teddy Roosevelt in Yellowstone

Today's picture was from 1903, and it shows Teddy Roosevelt on horseback, as he gets ready to tour Yellowstone. Teddy did a great job as president setting aside some of our most beautiful landscapes as National Parks. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cowboy Breakfast

Today's picture was taken in 1903 during Teddy Roosevelt's trip to Colorado. It appears to me that Teddy was quite fond of cowboys, and when he traveled he appeared to seek them out. In the picture above he is enjoying a Cowboy Breakfast near Hugo, Colorado. I believe he is somewhat overdressed for the occasion. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Roosevelt Wolf Hunt

This is a slightly different version of Yesterday's picture. In researching John Abernathy, and his amazing wolf catching abilities, I learned that famed Indian Chief Quanah Parker had also been on the wolf hunt with Roosevelt and Abernathy. I then found this picture. If you look at the right part of the picture, you see half the face of a Native American. I believe that is Quanah Parker, but would welcome your speculation. Also on the wolf hunt was legendary oil man Burke Burnett. Burnett might be the man in the dark suit and hat. 

I also found the following photograph of the same wolf hunt.

You can click on the image to get a closer look. Roosevelt is in the right of the picture. Quanah Parker might be in the dark suit and hat on the left side of the picture. Again, I welcome your speculations.

Blogspot Trouble

Folks, blogspot is not allowing me to upload pictures this morning. I have a couple of great pictures, but will have to wait for the technical glitch to be resolved.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Teddy Roosevelt on Horseback

Today we feature a photograph of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt of the Rough Riders, just back from Cuba. Prior to his stint as a Rough Rider, Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The real Secretary of the Navy was pretty much absent from his job, so Roosevelt pretty much wielded the full power of the Navy. Some have speculated that Roosevelt actually started the Spanish American War so he would have a war to fight in and show the metal he was made of.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rough Riders

Today's picture was taken in 1898, and shows Teddy Roosevelt as a Rough Rider. The photograph was taken in Florida, so the group would have been getting ready to Cuba for the Spanish American War.

Roosevelt was one of the more interesting characters in our Nation's history. I always respected him as he appears larger than life, and he was not afraid to take on large corporations, his own political party, and the ruling elites. I always liked his mantra of "Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick".

While I appreciate the magnitude of his character, I do think he was one of the first presidents to put us on the course of Big Government. In that sense he was a very early and very powerful "liberal" or "progressive" force. 


OK, I have myself a summer project. Every gentleman farmer needs some classic automobiles, so I have taken delivery of these two fine specimens.

The car on the left is a 1926 Model T touring car, and on the right is a 1924 roadster. Neither has been started in the last 30 years, but when they were put away, the fluids were drained, and they were stored indoors on blocks. So, the question is, will they start up now. The cars use six volt batteries, which I had to order. So, I need to put oil, water, and gas in them, and then get the batteries in, and we will see if they are still in running condition.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Slave Child

Today we wrap up our White Slavery week with this photograph of a recently emancipated white slave. The young lady is Fannie Virginia Casseopia Lawrence. She is 5 years old in the picture, and was redeemed in Virginia by Catharine S. Lawrence. She was baptized in Brooklyn at Plymouth Church by Henry Ward Beecher.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Emancipated Slaves

Today's picture shows three emancipated slaves from New Orleans. You will recognize Isaac White on the left from Sunday's Picture. On the right is Augusta Broujey. In the middle is Mary Johnson. I have found the following information on Mary.

MARY JOHNSON was cook in her master's family in New Orleans. On her left arm are scars of three cuts given to her by her mistress with a rawhide. On her back are scars of more than fifty cuts given by her master. The occasion was that one morning she was half an hour behind time in bringing up his five o'clock cup of coffee. As the Union army approached she ran away from her master, and has since been employed by Colonel Hanks as cook.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Slave Children

Today's picture shows three slave children, all white. On the left is Rebecca, whom you met yesterday. On the right is Rosina, whom you met on Sunday. In the middle is Augusta. The only info on her is presented below.

AUGUSTA BROUJEY is nine years old. Her mother, who is almost white, was owned by her half-brother, named Solamon, who still retains two of her children.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Slave Children

Yesterday's mystery person was Charley Taylor, who was a white slave from New Orleans. Today, we show another interesting case. Pictured are Isaac White and Rosina Downs. They both were slave children in New Orleans, and were emancipated in 1864 when General Butler took New Orleans. I was able to find an article on the topic of White Slaves in New Orleans. The article mentioned both Charley Taylor from yesterday, and Rosina Downs, pictured above.

ROSINA DOWNS is not quite seven years old. She is a fair child, with blonde complexion and silky hair. Her father is in the rebel army. She has one sister as white as herself, and three brothers who are darker. Her mother, a bright mulatto, lives in New Orleans in a poor hut, and has hard work to support her family.

CHARLES TAYLOR is eight years old. His complexion is very fair, his hair light and silky. Three out of five boys in any school in New York are darker than he. Yet this white boy, with his mother, as he declares, has been twice sold as a slave. First by his father and "owner," Alexander Wethers, of Lewis County, Virginia, to a slave-trader named Harrison, who sold them to Mr. Thornhill of New Orleans. This man fled at the approach of our army, and his slaves were liberated by General Butler. The boy is decidedly intelligent, and though he has been at school less than a year he reads and writes very well. His mother is a mulatto; she had one daughter sold into Texas before she herself left Virginia, and one son who, she supposes, is with his father in Virginia.

These three children, to all appearance of unmixed white race, came to Philadelphia last December, and were taken by their protector, Mr. Bacon, to the St. Lawrence Hotel on Chestnut Street. Within a few hours, Mr. Bacon informed me, he was notified by the landlord that they must leave. The children, he said, had been slaves, and must therefore be colored persons, and he kept a hotel for white people. From this hospitable establishment the children were taken to the "Continental," where they were received without hesitation.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

First Laptops

Today's picture shows one of the first "portable" computers, and it could be considered the first "laptop". The computer is the Osborne 1, and it came out in 1981. The computer cost $1,800, weighed 25 pounds, and had a 5 inch screen.

I have enjoyed this week in pictures and have appreciated the chance to read your memories of technology firsts.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Portable Phones

If you are young, you probably can not appreciate just how cool this first hand-held portable phone was. Prior to this phone, portable phones were carried around in a bag, and a small handset was connected to talk on. It was a huge big deal to get to the point that the entire phone could be held in your hand. This phone was expensive, and minutes were prohibitively expensive, and we will not even talk about roaming charges.

Billing is getting much simpler for most cell phone companies, but many people have on occasion not understood the rules and have gotten huge phone bills. A guy I worked with got his son a phone, and the company advertised "Free Games". The games were free, but the airtime to play was not free, and he got his first month's bill, and it was $2,700. Have you ever gotten a nasty surprise on a cell phone bill?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hard Drive

Today's picture is from 1956, and shows an IBM hard drive. This unit would be used to store information, not unlike your memory stick, thumb drive, or camera memory card. The hard drive pictured weighed over 1 ton, and was capable of storing 5 Mb or data. For comparison, it would take over 1,000 of these units to store the information held in a modern thumb drive.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Integrated Ciruit

Yesterday we showed a picture of the Eniac, which was the first modern computer. The individual computation elements in this computer were vacuum tubes. They made the computer large, expensive, and prone to breaking down every day or so. People soon realized that the vacuum tubes could be replaced by Shockley's transistor, which was very reliable. The problem remained, however, that tens of thousands of these transistors had to be manually soldered together, and all the solder connections were prone to failure.

In 1958 Jack Kilby had a brilliant idea. Instead of building individual transistors on a piece of Silicon and then wiring them together to make a useful computer, Kilby showed that you could build ALL the transistors on a single piece of silicon at the same time. This idea became the modern integrated circuit. It got rid of both the vacuum tubes and the wires and solder.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Eniac

It is actually a little hard to determine precisely what was the first modern computer. Computing machines were in use middle 1800's. These machines had some aspects of a modern computer, but the computations were done mechanically, not electrically. Also, player pianos have some attributes of a modern computer. 

It is generally agreed, however, that the first modern computer would be the Eniac machine, developed by the army in the 1940's. The army needed a way to more efficiently calculate balistic tables for artillery.

Modern computers work by basically cleverly configuring a series of on off switches to do useful computations. Prior to the development of the solid state transistors, the fundamental "switch" that was used was a vacuum tube. The Eniac machine used vacuum tubes as the switches. It had over 17,000 vacuum tubes, over 5,000,000 hand soldered joints, weighed 30 tons, and occupied over 1,800 square feet. Interesting to note that many of today's pocket calculators have more computation power than this machine.

Vacuum tubes were prone to failure, so it turned out that the machine would be down every day or two because of a burned out tube.

As it turned out, I don't believe the machine was ever used to calculate ballistic tables. The physicists on the Manhattan Project heard about the machine, and then took most of the time on it in developing the Atom Bomb.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Transistor

Today's picture shows the first transistor which was developed by William Shockley in the 1950's. While this device is crude in appearance, it demonstrated the physics which enabled the modern electronics revolution.

Prior to the transistor, all electronics were made of vacuum tubes. Vacuum tubes were fragile, relatively large, expensive, and burned out all the time. The more complicated an electronic device was, the more vacuum tubes it required, and hence the more often it stopped working, because one of the tubes would burn out. The transistor was a small, solid state device, built in a semiconducting material. Transistors could be built very affordably and pretty much would last forever. Initially they were used to simply replace vacuum tubes. Designs that had 20 tubes would be built instead with 20 individual transistors. The big breakthrough came a few years later when people realized that instead of building individual transistors on a piece of Silicon, and then assembling them that all the transistors could be built at the same time on a piece of silicon, batch fabricating the entire circuit. This is what became known as the modern Integrated Circuit. Today, Silicon chips the size of a postage stamp can have over 10 Billion transistors.


The thumbs up and thumbs down buttons have been causing problems with the operation of the WEB site, so I have taken them off, and replaced them with the google "+1" button. If you like the post, give it a plus one. Out to the side it should show how many people have given it a plus one. Google actually keeps track of the numbers and uses them to steer people to sites that people like.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Drought Refugees

Today's picture is from 1936, and it shows drought refugees from the Dust Bowl. Many families had to leave Oklahoma, and ended up in California looking for work. This picture was taken near Bakersfield. The photographer reported seeing 28 cars like this, all packed down, in a 45 minute period. Desperate people moving from place to place looking for a job.


Yesterday I reported that Lovie had renegotiated the 7-1 split of the chickies, and she had taken over all 8 of them, and she let Miss Kitty be "Assistant Mother". Basically Miss Kitty could stand around in the Peacock Palace and help Lovie if any help was needed.

Today I must sadly report that Lovie decided she no longer needed any help from Miss Kitty, and she has kicked her out of the Peacock Palace. Now it is Lovie and the 8 pea-chickies all to themselves. Miss Kitty just stands around outside looking sad, like she is saying, "what happened to my babies?" (In cases such as this, I have always wondered whether the question mark goes inside or outside the quotation mark.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Prickly Pear

Today's picture was taken during the Dust Bowl in the 1930's on a ranch near San Angelo, Texas. During a severe drought, the only plants that thrive are Prickly Pear. This is a particularly nasty type of cactus, known for its sharp thorns. The inside, however, is tender and juicy. During the droughts of the 1930's and 1950's, ranchers would go out with torches, and burn the thorns off the prickly pear leaves. With the thorns burned off, the cattle could eat the pear leaves. The issue is, however, that cattle really LOVE the taste of prickly pear. Once they get a taste for it, they become almost addicted, and will then go out and eat the prickly pear that still has the thorns on it. This of course is a huge problem, as the thorns become lodged in the cow's mouth, tongue, throat and stomach. 


I had explained yesterday how Lovie and Miss Kitty had decided to split the baby peacocks up. Lovie got 7 and Miss Kitty got 1. Well, that lasted for about a day, and then they renegotiated, and now Lovie has all 8. Miss Kitty has taken on the role of assistant mother. She stands around Lovie in case she can help with anything, but Lovie has all 8 babies following her around and under her wing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dust Storm

Today's picture is from 1935, and it shows a dust storm hitting Stratford, Texas. Helps you see why they called it the dust bowl. Several of you had commented that while we are having a drought in West Texas, many of you are enjoying record rainfall. I think the problem is that we have a high pressure system over the area, and we need something like a hurricane in the gulf to clear it out.


I had mentioned that Lovie and Miss Kitty Co-Sat on one big nest of peacock eggs, and that the babies hatched out yesterday. Well, the big question was how they would sort things out as to which babies belonged to which mama. It appears that they have things worked out and came up with a fair split. Lovie got 7 of the babies, and Miss Kitty got one.

The funny thing is that Lovie will be sitting on 7 of the little peachicks, and Miss Kitty will have one, and then Miss Kitty will move a little to adjust, and the one baby will run over and dive under Lovie. This Miss Kitty goes over and makes the clucking Mama Peacock noise trying to coax her ONE baby back out. I wonder if the babies just liked Lovie more, or if she did something to coral them.