On This Day, November 18th
1. 1883: Time zones created in the United States thanks to the railroads
Back in the late 1800’s, traveling by railroad was becoming a popular way to transport both people and goods across the country. The only problem was that there was no standard measure of time that was consistent across the board. With each station setting their own clocks, there was no way to determine when trains were coming or going. Not only was this incredibly inefficient, but also very dangerous and caused many accidents that could’ve been avoided had operators known the schedules of the surrounding trains. So it was on this date in 1883 that a universal time standard was put into place with a total of 4 different time zones nationwide.
2. 1963: The first push button phone invented
It was on this date in 1963 the technology known as “dual-tone-multi-frequency”, or DTMF, was introduced by the Bell System which allowed the use of push button phone systems over the old rotary style. The Bell System was a group of companies, led by the Bell Telephone Company that we know now as AT&T, who provided telephone service to the entire country as well as up into Canada. Testing on this device lasted more than three years in order to get it to function properly. It was the invention of the transistor that eventually played a major part in the advancement of this technology. It took a decade or more to convert all phone systems over to the touch tone, I know we all had a grandparent that had those old school rotary phones that were quite annoying to deal with. Just think, now we have touchscreens! Makes you wonder what’ll be next.
3. 1996: Devoted bird lover Tony Silva sentenced to prison for smuggling rare parrots
Well-known wildlife expert and protector of exotic birds, Tony Silva, was sentenced to a total of 7 years in prison on this date in 1996 for being a part of an illegal parrot smuggling operation. Only these weren’t just your regular old parrots, they were the incredibly rare Hyacinth Macaws. Silva was accused of smuggling more than 100 of the birds that apparently had a total value just over $1.4 million. That may seem hard to believe that even 100 birds could be worth that much money, but one thing to consider is that the Hyacinth Macaws are on the verge of extinction. Reports indicate that there are less than 5,000 in existence, so officials came down hard on Silva when it came to sentencing. Not only was he sentenced to a total of 82 months in prison, but also 200 hours of community service, a monster $100,000 fine, and three years of a supervised probation program after his prison release. Silva claimed he was framed, but there was video evidence of him claiming he had 50 Hyacinth Macaws for sale, plus a book with detailed information regarding the smuggling operation found in his home.