Thursday, April 27, 2006

inner dork: glasses

Did you know...

Nero used emerald colored glasses to watch the gladiator games in 60 A.D. However, no one knows whether they actually made him see better.

The first reading type glasses were developed around 1000 A.D. These were more of a magnifying glass than an eyeglass.

Most historians believe the first eyeglasses were invented around 1284 or 1285. No one knows the inventors name, however he was an Italian.

In the 1300's eyeglasses were a luxury item used by the rich as a symbol of their wealth and power.

When the printing press was invented in 1456 the use of reading glasses, of course, exploded and they filtered down to the common folk.

Even though glasses were now widely available it was a time consuming process of trying on one pair after another. (We think we have it bad with the, "now or now..")
In the 17th century the Spanish invented the first graded lenses. This solved the problem of the trial and error of switching back and forth of trying on several pairs.

Until the 18th century eyeglasses either balanced precariously on the person's nose or were held by the rim with one hand ala the monocle.
It wasn't until a Parisian optometrist added a frame that extended to the temple and then an English optometrist went the distance and continued the frame to the ear that we had frames for glasses.

Factoids:

Ben Franklin did not invent the bifocal. They were invented by an English optician 10 years before Franklin.

The first eyeglasses were quartz lenses set into bone or metal mountings.

Leonardo da Vinci had an idea for contact lenses back in 1508.
John Harshel had the same idea in 1845.
However, it took another 50 years before they appeared on the scene. The story goes that a German who made glass eyes blew a lens to cover the eyeball of a man who lost his eyelid to cancer. The man wore the lens until his death 20 years later and he never lost his vision.

3 comments:

JJ said...

We should have a trivia-off. A bottle of wine, two glasses, and the first person with nothing to say loses.

Okay, maybe more than one bottle.

Jay said...

This will be one of those few times where our dorking subjects don't mesh.

I am taking a trip down to Chicago this weekend for the first time in quite awhile and in honor of this fact: A brief history of Chicago, Illinois.

Father Jacques Marquette, French-born missionary of the Jesuit order, and Louis Jolliet, Canadian explorer and mapmaker, were the first Europeans to view the land on which the City of Chicago was to stand. Returning with five other Europeans from exploration of the Mississippi River, Marquette and Jolliet struck out alone and found a large Indian village near the present city of Ottawa. Guided by friendly Indians in the Fall of 1673, the two men first traversed the region that is now Chicago.

During the mid-1700s, the Chicago area was inhabited primarily by Potawatomis, who took the place of the Miami and Sauk and Fox. The first non-native settler in Chicago was Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable, a Haitian of African descent, who arrived in the 1770s, married a Potawatomi woman, and founded the area's first trading post. The Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi ceded the land to the United States in the 1816 Treaty with the Ottawa. (sidenote: the friend of mine whom I'm visiting in the city is a member of the Wisconsin Ojibwa tribe. Weird, huh!)

On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago organized with a population of 350. Within seven years a flood of new arrivals from New England and other points east gave the town a population of over 4,000. Chicago incorporated on March 4, 1837 when the State of Illinois granted Chicago a city charter. Thus began the next step in what would become massive early growth. Many factors contributed to that growth but early on the most important aspects could be attributed to Chicago's geographic proximity in an expanding nation. The city was the logical transportation link between eastern and western United States, using the Great Lakes and the river systems, and (after 1850) the railroads. The opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848 allowed shipping from the Great Lakes through Chicago to the Mississippi River. The first rail line to Chicago, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, was completed the same year. These projects foreshadowed Chicago's eventual development into the transportation hub of the United States.

In 1871, most of the city burned in the Great Chicago Fire. By this time the city had a population of over 300,000. Due to the fire much of the city needed to be rebuilt; this gave city planners a clean slate to fix the problems of the past. In the following years, Chicago architecture would become influential throughout the world. The first skyscraper in the world was constructed in 1885 using novel steel skeleton construction. The architecture, however, was not the only aspect of Chicago that flourished after the fire. The rebuilding kickstarted the metabolism of business in the city, and contributed to the economic prosperity of the last 135 years.

Timeline from 1900 to today.

1900 - Flow of Chicago River Reversed

1914 - Wrigley Field built. Originally known as Weeghman Park.

1942 - First Controlled Atomic Reaction (Manhattan Project)

1955 - Mayor Richard J. Daley Elected

1967 — Picasso Statue Unveiled In Civic Center Plaza

1972 - I was born in Northwest Hospital September 24 at 4:48am

1973 - Sears Tower Completed—World's Tallest Building Until 1996—Regains Tallest Title in 1997

1979 - Jane Byrne is Elected Mayor. First woman to be elected mayor of a major city in the US

1983 - Harold Washington is Elected Mayor. First black mayor of a major US city

1989 - Mayor Richard M. Daley is Elected Mayor. I'm SO glad he's nothing like his dad!

2004 - Millennium Park Opens

2006 - April 28th, sometime in the evening, I will be within 5 miles of the place I was born.

Party Girl said...

JJ: I am all for it! I see a new drinking game.

Actually one night this past winter my family and I (with me playing bartender, of course) we played scene it. I trivia game using the tv. Way, way too much fun. (My dorkness shines, again!)

Jay: you're beautiful
Have fun in Chicago!