It is not an item, or an invention of sorts, but the craze of ‘planking’ was strangely a big cultural emergence of 2011, with ‘plankers’ taking to Facebook and YouTube with their ‘acheivements’ in laying-down. Regardless of its absurdity, though, all things seem to have an origin, so who was the ‘inventor’ of planking?
While the ‘act’ of pretending to be a plank of wood (done by lying face-down and rigidly in a crowded or unusual location), only broke out under its current name last year (with the term originating from Australia), a number of people or groups lay claim to having founded it.
A number of these (one from South Korea in 2003 (‘playing dead game’), France in 2004 (‘a plat venre’ – on one’s belly), and Australia in 2008 (extreme lying down)) can be noted as just renaming or re-launching the craze, with the earliest dated claim coming from Canadian comedian Tom Green, who believes that it was his original idea back in 1994.
Whether or not it was true, ‘planking’ began to take off with the world of social networking, as English pair Gary Langdon & Christian Clarkson set up a Facebook page for ‘the lying down game’ in 2006, when the movement (or lack of) started to take off (and at the time of writing has around 100,000 ‘fans’ worldwide compared to over 175,000 for the ‘Planking Australia’ page set up in 2011), although the duo claim to have started ‘planking’ with each other in 2000, and are also said to hold the official copyright papers to the ‘The Official Lying Down Game’.
While it is unknown how long ‘planking’ will remain popular for amongst people who have little in the brain cells department, it can be laughed at by non-participants even in its prime, as this compilation video of the best ‘plankers’ demonstrates:
The USB ‘memory stick’ (or ‘flash drive’, as it is commonly known) is a small storage device used for computers that implements ‘flash memory’ technology, and connects to computer systems via a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port. A flash drive is designed to be both portable and rewritable, with very large storage capacities considering their size. A primary purpose of the memory stick is that they can transferring data between two different computer system. But who created this innovation of technology?
The need for the flash drive came about after the computer developed to the extent that the original method of portable storage, the floppy disc, was seen as too slow and small (file size (up to 1.44MB of data)) for modern machines.
In 2000, IBM, together with Trek Technology, invented and sold the first-ever USB flash drives. Trek Technology, a Singaporean company, named their product the “thumb drive” due to its physical size.
Although the first memory sticks had a storage capacity of only 8MB (still a large improvement on floppy disks), the product would develop into an even more functional piece of technology, with storage sizes now as high as 258GB.
With a huge marketing potential, and by being sold in different shapes and sizes for novelty value, it is fair to say that the USB memory stick is one of the most important accessories to a modern computer system today. For the more confused customer, though, this video helps to explain further aspects of the device, and what ‘type’ is suitable for different people:
The QWERTY keyboard is the default keyboard used with computers, named after the first 6 letters on its top left side. The QWERTY design was not actually for computer keyboard design, and instead goes back much further than that.
American Christopher Sholes designed the original QWERTY keyboard. Sholes, while worked at a newspaper in Milwaukee. His main motivation was to invent a device that would number pages in a book easily, so that the newspaper did not need the man hours of tedious work in numbering. Together with another inventor, Samuel Soule, he created a machine for numbering in 1866. He may have just stopped there, but a fellow inventor, Carlos Glidden, suggested the machine could capeable of more, nameley typing letters. After reading an article about the Plerotype typewriter invented by John Pratt, an Englishman, Sholes then had the idea to invent his own typewriter.
Sholes got together with Soule and Glidden once again, and after several attempts, and the departure from the project of the latter two, a typewriter was produced, though a major issue with the product was key jamming. That is, the typing bars would stick together when the typist worked too fast, due to popular letters being close to eachother in the alphabet, on which the keypad was directly based. So Sholes decided to split up the most commonly used letters in the design, and after much trial and error, he came up with the QWERTY design. The final design made sure the word “TYPE WRITER” could be typed just from the top row. Producers Remington approved the design, and the rest is history, with QWERTY even being the most popular design in modern computers, which do not have the issue of jamming. Several other designs have been attempted, but QWERTY looks set to be the keyboard layout of choice for a long time.
Below is an example of someone seeming to use a QWERTY keyboard to its maximum potential, a speed which would probably have broken an early design keyboard within seconds: