history

  • Recently, Jim Heppelmann (President and CEO of PTC, the company I currently work for) was featured in an article in the Boston Globe talking about PTC’s exciting move to the Boston Seaport, A.K.A. The Innovation District. The article also featured the story of how Boston’s Mayor, Marty Walsh, came to PTC for a visit and spoke to the employees at one of our famous socials. He praised the company and the employees for making the move to Boston’s newest up and coming hub for business and cultural innovation! And the seaport is pretty much an amazing new innovation district at that—especially with all the incredible simultaneous construction projects going on down there. However, it might be interesting to take quick walk down memory lane to reminisce about Boston’s other innovation districts, of the past. Let’s go all the way back to Colonial times. Over by where North Street meets Moon Street is Paul Revere’s House. This historical landmark is located in Boston’s North End district, now synonymous with the Italian-American community. However, back in the late 17th Century, this area was well known for it’s silversmiths (like Paul Revere, an innovator of his time), blacksmiths, artisans, journeymen, and laborers. For a city that was founded in 1630, this part of Boston became its innovation district of that time. Fast forward through the Industrial Age which affected the entire world, Boston included, and you will see that another innovation district presented itself. This time on the Boston waterfront known as Boston Harbor—part of which is where today’s Boston Seaport Innovation District now resides. For over two hundred years, Boston Harbor, which compromises all the famous Boston wharves such as Long Wharf, Rowes Wharf, Fish Pier, Commonwealth Pier, and Union Wharf to name a few, were the gateways to shipping, railroads, international commerce, jobs, markets, construction, and of course innovation. Without the wharves of the 18th and 19th Centuries, Boston could not have grown...
  • February 10, 2020

    Every Vote Counts and Counting

    Counting every precious vote accurately in a Democratic society has been a challenge that goes as far back to ancient times. Since The Tenth Sphere covers the latest trends happening in Digital Tech & Industry (among many other trendy topics), I thought it would be interesting to give my readers a brief history and discussion of voting machines, voting apps, and voting tech in general. Let’s begin with the earliest of voting machines, paper ballots, which existed as far back as the Roman Empire, ca. 139 BCE. The first use of paper ballots in the United States was in 1629, and was used in selecting a pastor for the Salem Church during the founding days of the Salem Massachusetts community. Fast forward to 1838 England. The Chartists (a working-class suffrage movement) demanded responsible election reforms. And in so doing, Benjamin Jolly of Bath invented arguably the very first voting machine. It worked like this: each voter was to cast his vote by dropping a brass ball into the appropriate hole in the top of the machine by the candidate’s name. Each voter could only vote once because they were given just one brass ball. The ball advanced a clockwork counter for the corresponding candidate as it passed through the machine. And then the ball fell out the front where it could be given to the next voter. Then came Henry Spratt (a British national) who in 1875 received the first US patent for a voting machine. It presented to the voter an array of push-button ballots. Next came American inventor Anthony Beranek of Chicago in 1881. His voting machine was specifically designed to meet the requirements of the United States general election cycle. It was another push-button style voting machine but with a twist: Interlocks behind each row prevented voting for more than one candidate per race, and an interlock with the door of the voting booth reset the machine for the...
  • So it turns out that Kevin Costner was right all along not to try to fake a British accent in the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves! In fact, if anyone spoke closer to the way the mythical Robin Hood would have spoken back in those days, it would have been Costner (portraying the titular character) and not the predominantly British cast (with the exception of Morgan Freeman of course who played the Moor Azeem sporting a Persian dialect)! Okay, now before my British friends flame the hell out of me listen to my reasoning on this matter: So last night while watching an episode of Sleepy Hollow I was intrigued by an exchange between Ichabod Crane and one of the modern-day police officers. The officer was trying to insult Crane by saying something that he wasn’t an American because he spoke with a British accent. However, the officer didn’t realize that Crane was transported through time from the American Revolution to modern times (by witchcraft) and that would explain his accent because back then (ca. 1776) American colonists and their British counterparts all pretty much spoke with the same accent. So then my interest was piqued, and I looked up when did American English and British English accents diverge. The answer surprised the hell out of me! It turns out that it weren’t Americans who lost their so-called British accent. It was the British who gained theirs over the last 300 years or so (242 years since the American Revolution)! I couldn’t believe it! I have a degree in English but I don’t recall this being covered in any of my English classes. Please no comments about the quality of American education—let’s just stick to the subject at hand. So anyway, that blew my mind. I’ll post the link to the research here. Now there are a few exceptions to...