The ESP Timeline (one of the site's most popular features) has been completely updated to allow the user to select (using the timeline controls above each column) different topics for the left and right sides of the display.
New Left Column
New Left Column
New Right Column
New Right Column
(no entry for this year)
(no entry for this year)
Between 1941 and 1945, the desperate need for labor in US defense plants and shipyards leads to the migration of 1.2 million African-Americans from the South to the North and West. This migration transforms American politics as blacks increasingly vote in their new homes and put pressure on Congress to protect civil rights throughout the nation. Their activism lays much of the foundation for the national civil rights movement a decade later.
On June 25, Pres. Franklin Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802, which desegregates US defense plants and shipyards and creates the Fair Employment Practices Committee.
The US Army creates the Tuskegee Air Squadron (the 99th Pursuit Squadron) — an all African-American flying unit.
Zuse Z3 machine completed
07 DEC 1941: Pearl Harbor bombed by Japanese The US immediately declares war on Japan. Germany quickly declares war on the United States. The US is now a full participant in World War II.
G. W. Beadle and E. L. Tatum publish their classic study on the biochemical genetics of Neurospora and promulgate the ONE-GENE, ONE-ENZYME theory.
K. Mather coins the term polygenes and describes polygenic traits in various organisms.
The Atanasoff-Berry Computer is completed
Kodacolor, the first color film that yields negatives for making chromogenic color prints on paper. Roll films for snapshot cameras only, 35 mm not available until 1958.
4-7 JUN 1942: The Battle of Midway occurs. Less than six months after Pearl Harbor the Japanese navy attempts to lure the remnants of the US Navy into a decisive battle at Midway Island. The Japanese plan backfires, as the battle proves to be a huge victory for US forces and the turning point in the war in the Pacific.
Ernst Mayr publishes Systematics and the Origin of Species, and Julian Huxley publishes Evolution: The Modern Synthesis. Both books are significant contributions to the neo darwinian synthesis combining elements of natural selection, genetics, mutation, population biology and paleontology.
S. E. Luria and T. F. Anderson publish the first electron micrographs of bacterial viruses. T2 has a polyhedral body and a tail.
The Colossus Mark 1 computer is delivered to Bletchley Park
The First Computing Journal
Work begins on ENIAC
On April 3, the United States Supreme Court in Smith vs. Allright declares white-only political primaries unconstitutional.
First Harvard Mark 1 shipped
D-Day landing On June 6th, the largest amphibious force ever assembled, led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, successfully attacks and establishes a landing on the coast of France at Normandy.
Theoretical physicist Erwin Schrödinger publishes What is Life? arguing that living organisms store and pass along information, perhaps using something like Morse code. This book will inspire James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, who will share the Nobel prize for discovering the structure of DNA.
O. T. Avery, C. M. MacLeod, and M. McCarty describe the pneumococcus transforming principle. The fact that it is rich in DNA suggests that DNA and not protein is the hereditary chemical.
30 APR 1945: Press reports Mussolini killed by Italian partisans, his body abused. Hitler commits suicide by gunshot while hiding in his Führerbunker, but news of his death will not surface for a few days.
27 JUL 1945: Churchill is defeated in British elections. Potsdam Declaration is reported, calling for Japan to surrender unconditionally or face "prompt and utter destruction."
06 AUG 1945: the first atomic bomb used in combat is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
07 AUG 1945: The world learns about the atomic bomb. President Truman announces "The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East" and he calls upon Japan to immediately accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration or expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth."
09 AUG 1945: The second atomic bomb used in combat is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. The primary target for this mission was actually the city of Kokura, but the bomber crew moved on to the secondary target of Nagasaki when Kokura proved to be too obscured by smoke to get a clear view for the bombsight. Russia declares war on japan.
15 AUG 1945: In the afternoon of August 15th (Japanese time), Japan announces its unconditional surrender. World War II is finally over. More than 60 million people have died as a result of the conflict.
Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr, is named commander of Godman Field, Kentucky. He is the first African-American to command a United States military base.
Grace Hopper recorded the first actual computer "bug"
Patent is Filed for the Harvard Mark I
Vannevar Bush publishes his ideas for MEMEX, a proto-hypertext system and forerunner to the World Wide Web
S. E. Luria demonstrates that mutations occur in bacterial viruses.
The United States Supreme Court, in Morgan vs Virginia, rules that segregation in interstate bus travel is unconstitutional.
Alan Turing Proposal For 'ACE' Automatic Computing Engine
ENIAC, short for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer was announced
Frederick Williams Receives Patent for RAM device
James B. Sumner, John H. Northrop, and Wendell M. Stanley share a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Sumner's discovery that enzymes can be crystallized and for Northrop and Stanley's preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form.
Genetic recombination in bacteriophage is demonstrated by M. Delbrück and W. T. Bailey and by A. D. Hershey.
J. Lederberg and E. L. Tatum demonstrate genetic recombination in bacteria.
On April 10, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers becomes the first African-American to play major league baseball in the 20th century.
J Lyons executives report on the potential of computers to automate clerical work
The Williams tube won the race for a practical random-access memory
Dennis Gabor invents holography.
Harold Edgerton develops the Rapatronic camera for the U.S. government.
(no entry for this year)
On July 26, Pres. Harry Truman issues Executive Order 9981, directing the desegregation of the armed forces.
The United States Supreme Court, in Shelley vs Kraemer, rules that racially restrictive covenants are legally unenforceable.
IBM´s Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator was built
The Manchester Baby, the world's first stored program computer, ran its first program
Edwin H. Land introduces the first Polaroid instant camera.
H. J. Muller coins the term dosage compensation.
J. Lederberg and N. Zinder, and, independently, B. D. Davis develop the penicillin selection technique for isolating biochemically deficient bacterial mutants.
EDSAC performed its first calculations
EDSAC ran its first programs
EDVAC goes onlline
Jay Forrester Records "Core Memory" Idea
Professor Bill Phillips unveils Phillips Hydraulic Economic Modelling Computer at the LSE
The Contax S camera is introduced, the first 35 mm SLR camera with a pentaprism eye-level viewfinder.
A. D. Hershey and R. Rotman demonstrate that genetic recombination occurs in bacteriophage.
J. V. Neel provides genetic evidence that the sickle-cell disease is inherited as a simple Mendelian autosomal recessive.
In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.
In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.
Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.
In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.
Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.
When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.
Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.
With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.
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