Getting ready for the season of 2021, we found so many interesting things that we could not focus on anything special. Therefore, we decided to dedicate January to the things that have their traditional place in our lives, and it is hard to imagine how people lived before!


Telescope was discovered by Galileo Galilei 400 years ago. It was the beginning of the telescope story. Galilei used converging lens as an objective and diverging lens as the ocular. This optical setting gives a non-rotated (earthly) image. The very small visual field is the main disadvantage of the Galilei’s telescope. But this system is still in use in the theatre binoculars and sometimes in the home-made amateur telescopes.

Tuning fork is an instrument to set and reproduce a reference pitch of the sound, which is called “pitch”. In real life, the tuning fork is used to tune musical instruments, set the pitch for choirs, etc. and generally serves as a source of reference pitch. There are mechanical, acoustic, and electronic tuning forks. John Shore, a court trumpeter of the Queen of England, invented this simple instrument, that looks like a two-teeth metal fork, 310 years ago, in 1711. Now the tuning fork is indispensable for all musicians and musical instrument tuners. This fork got the name of “tuning fork”. Today symphonic orchestras rarely use the tuning fork. Though, if a grand piano plays with the orchestra, then all the orchestra instruments shall be tuned to the grand piano, which in turn, shall be well-tuned to the tuning fork before the concert.

Stopwatch – we use the smartphone function when we need it, but we should remember that before the age of mobile phones, the humankind used a mechanical stopwatch for accurate time measuring. The man has been using a clock for a long time. First, we measured time with the Sun, later with water, sand, and even fire. But there was no accuracy in these measurements. The tolerance was from several minutes to half an hour. The situation somehow improved when mechanical clock appeared. First, we could know the time to the minute, and when the second hand was added – to the second. But the real stopwatch was still far away. For example, you could not start and stop the clock arbitrarily. And the measurements were far from ideal precision. First “actual” stopwatch was mentioned in the late XVII – early XVIII centuries. As far as we can judge, these were almost the same devices that were still in use in the middle of the XX century – mechanical stopwatch.

Matches – we think that matches were always, but no, they were invented only 195 years ago, and it took years before the mass usage began. How did people make fire before? People first made fire by rubbing one piece of wood against another. Later they invented fire steel, striking stone against stone or metal against metal. In particular, the mineral named pyrites produced sparks – that is how it got the name – and firestone. To make fire with solar rays, people used lenses. You had to make fire out of glow to set fire in fireplace or oven, kindle a candle, and this was rather difficult. This was made with sulphur matches – thin splits, soaked in melted and later hardened sulphur. It was a common practice to keep live coal in the oven. You could also borrow it from your neighbours. Or you could keep a permanent fire in an oil lamp under icon.

Faraday law (electromagnetic induction) – year 1831; you might say “big deal,” but there would have been no radio, no meters (water, gas, electric power), synchrophasotron (an instrument for important physical studies) without it. Nor generators, transformers, and many more things that make up the modern world.

Saxophone is 180 years old! Is it much or little? Anyway, this is one of the favourite instruments for many, especially for jazz lovers. They say, that of all musical instruments saxophone most accurately delivers the warmth and tenderness of the human voice, and this is thanks to one person, Adolphe Sax. Interesting enough, in the course of his life Sax filed about 50 patents and certificates to patent offices. And still his main invention was motivated by Muses, not guns: in 1836 Sax came to Paris and got interested in the upcoming reforms of the local military bands; he understood that the powerful wind instrument that he was developing would be most suitable for wars and parades. In 1841, in Brussels, at the industrial exhibition he presented his first instrument where he combined a conical tube with the clarinet pipe, oboe valve mechanism, and bass clarinet shape.

NEPTUNE planet — the eights and the furthest from the Earth planet of the Solar system. By diameter it occupies the fourth place, and by mass – the third. Neptune’s mass is 17.2 and the diameter of equator – 3.9 times the Earth. The planet was named after Roman god of seas. Its astronomical sign is a shape of Neptune’s trident. Neptune was discovered om September 23rd, 1846 and became the first planet, found by calculations.

Zinger sewing machine – Isaac Zinger, American inventor and businessman, received his patent for the sewing machine 170 years ago, on August 12th, 1851. The innovative machine became incredibly popular due to reliable structure and advanced gears. But Isaac Zinger’s talent who used efficient marketing solutions to persuade millions of families to buy the products, also contributed much to the success of the company. Today ZINGER produces space and military machines, as well as home appliances (sewing machines, electric appliances), motors, furniture and other products.

Zipper is Judson’s most notorious invention of – he invented and developed the chain fastener in 1891. Judson was recognised as the inventor of zipper. The metal fastening then was called “box fastener,” and got the name “zipper” many years after his death. It is hard to imagine our clothes without zipper today.

Paper clip – in 2021 we celebrate the 120th anniversary of the invention; nobody knows who and when invented it (there are versions), and this does not matter! What matters is that today no office can function without this little thing.

Karaoke was invented in Japan. It was a musician Daisuke Inoue, born in 1940 in a small Japanese town. When he was 28, he started earning money by playing piano in cafeterias, where Japanese loved singing with live music. One day a president of a small company came up to Daisuke and asked him a favour. He was planning a business meeting in another town, and he knew that he would be asked to sing in the end of the party. And he could sing only if Daisuke played. So, the businessman asked the musician to record his favourite songs with reel tape recorder (yes, there was this kind of music system!). A couple of days later the businessman came back happy and asked to record more songs. At that moment Daisuke got the idea of a machine with microphone, dynamic, and amplifier, that could play a requested song for money. It was in Kobe in 1969. But the invention became popular only by 1971. Soon karaoke-mania conquered the word. Daisuke sold $100 mln worth his machines a year. But he did not patent the invention. Big companies got the idea and created a market of billions of dollars. And Daisuke’s company went bankrupt.