As we begin 2013 and we wonder what the year will bring, have a thought for what happened 50 years earlier, in 1963 and consider what a momentous year it was.
There were numerous cultural and artistic milestones, most notably the year marked the beginning of the 'Swinging Sixties' with the Beatles first number one single Please Please Me on 22nd February, followed by their first album of the same name, beginning their domination of the singles and album charts for the rest of the decade.
But what inventions were made that year? Was anything invented in 1963 that we still use and perhaps take for granted today? There are actually many more than the ten presented here, but I decided that this selection presents us with an interesting mix that help define 1963 as the dawn of the modern world that we find ourselves in today.
So here are 10 surprising inventions from 1963:
1. The Lava Lamp
The Lava Lamp was invented by British inventor, entrepreneur and eccentric Edward Craven-Walker in 1963 and still manufactured today by his company, Mathmos.
Lava Lamps were seen in the Dalek city in the 1965 film 'Doctor Who and the Daleks', just two years after they were invented.
2. The smiley face
The smiley face was invented in 1963 to motivate bored office workers. Harvey Bell was hired by a State Mutual Life Assurance Company to come up with something to make their unhappy employees a little less grumpy. It was originally just the smile, but he realized people could turn it upside down and make a frown, so he added two dots for eyes.
3. Push-button telephone
The first publicly available push-button telephone was released in 1963, by the Bell System. Dials remained the standard method of entering numbers on telephones for another twenty years.
4. Computer mouse
Doug Engelbart invented the computer 'mouse' in 1963 in his research lab at SRI International (then Stanford Research Institute), for which the patent was issued in 1970. he basic idea first came to him while sitting in a conference session on computer graphics in 1961. He wondered what would be an efficient and easy way to control a pointer on a graphic display screen. One idea he had was to use small wheels traversing the tabletop, one turning horizontally, one turning vertically, each transmitting their rotation coordinates for analysis. With the wheels mounted in a small wooden box, and a cable connecting the box to the computer, 'mouse' was an obvious name for the new device.
5. Instant coffee
Freeze-dried instant coffee was first introduced by Maxwell House in this year.
"We couldn't live our lives if we couldn't take certain things for granted, but now and again it is extremely useful to question why a thing is done a certain way and why we look at the world the way we do. Why should we align the globe of the Earth with the axis vertical?
As the Earth moves through the Solar System it is not vertical, it's not perpendicular to the rotation around the sun and how do we know if we're picturing the Solar System upside down or not? Why put north at the top and not at the bottom? Why picture the Earth as a spinning top and not like a wheel with a horizontal axle?
Until recently the BBC weather map of Britain was not aligned north-south. It was tilted to make the shape of the British Isles sit up square on the map. Why did they do that?Convenience and convention, that's why. Why is Europe in the centre of most maps of the World (known as the Mercator map)? It the same reason that modern maps in America have America at the centre of the map: convenience and convention.
If you want to think new thoughts, new ideas and create new possibilities your perspective in some area must change. Don't depend on what convenience and convention would have you believe. Look at the world differently, get your information from a different source, consider other points of view and find that alternative perspective."
Percy's new book needs to be written and he wants YOUR cats to contribute. If you want in, please reply to this email with FOR PERCY in the subject and send him a photo of your cat and the 50 to 200 words of wisdom they would like to feature in the book.