Friday, December 25th. Today is Christmas Day — a joyous religious observance for many, but for almost everyone, one of the happiest days of the year. Outside or indoors, whether in balmy or snowbound climates, children are busy trying out their shiny new treasures, ranging from traditional bikes to the latest high tech toys. Inside, others are busy with video games and other electronic marvels. Many will have attended church services to honor the day. And in many of the nearly 116 million households in America, holiday music, decorations and lights will be joined by the inviting aroma of a special dinner to be shared with family and friends. The men and women of the U.S. Census Bureau across the nation wish you and your loved ones a peaceful and happy holiday.
Saturday, December 26th. The millions of Americans who for a century and a half have enjoyed well-brewed coffee can direct their gratitude to James H. Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts. He received the nation’s first patent for a coffee percolator on this date in 1865. The percolator still has a market niche, but since the 1970s has been overtaken by automatic drip coffee makers, and increasingly, the elaborate variants of espresso brewers. One-point-five million metric tons of coffee and its extracts and preparations are imported annually. The vast majority of that is unroasted coffee, and its import value is about $440 million a month. You can find current data on the country’s economy by downloading the ‘America’s Economy’ mobile application at <www.census.gov/mobile>.
Sunday, December 27th. The reliable TV remote control, a crucial labor saving device for couch potatoes, was unveiled this month in 1957. Robert Adler of the Zenith Corporation received a patent for a mechanical unit that used a striker and four small aluminum chimes to generate ultrasound. The ultrasounds produced controlled on and off, and channel and sound up and down. There had been remotes before, but they were attached to the receiver by an awkward cord. Adler’s remote eventually incorporated electronically generated ultrasound and was in use until the early 1980s. Today’s remote controls use infrared technology to operate the nation’s television sets, sold in nearly 39,000 radio, TV and electronics stores across the country. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.