On this day:
1704 – The first regular newspaper in British Colonial America, The Boston News-Letter, is published.
The Boston News-Letter, first published on April 24, 1704, is regarded as the first continuously published newspaper in British North America. It was heavily subsidized by the British government, with a limited circulation. All copies were approved by the governor. The colonies’ first newspaper was Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, which published its first and only issue on September 25, 1690. In 1718, the Weekly Jamaica Courant followed in Kingston. In 1726 the Boston Gazette began publishing with Bartholomew Green, Jr., as printer.
The News-Letter’s first editor was John Campbell, a bookseller and postmaster of Boston. Campbell had been actively writing and sending “news letters” of European occurrences to New England governors for a year or more and thought it would save trouble to print them for all. The News-Letter was originally issued weekly as a half sheet, single page printed on both sides, 8 inches (200 mm) x 12 inches (300 mm), dated “From Monday, April 17, to Monday, April 24, 1704.” The printer was Bartholomew Green.
During its early years, the News-Letter was filled primarily with news from London journals describing English politics and the details of European wars. As the only newspaper in the colonies at the time, it also reported on the sensational death of Blackbeard the pirate in hand-to-hand combat in 1718.
In 1707, John Allen took care of printing the paper. In 1722 the editorship passed to Green, who focused more on domestic events. After his death in 1732, his son-in-law John Draper, also a printer, took the paper’s helm. He enlarged the paper to four pages and filled it with news from throughout the colonies. He conducted the paper until his death in 1762, at which time his son, Richard Draper, became editor. Richard died in 1774, and his widow, Margaret Green Draper, published the New-Letter for the rest of its existence.
Richard Draper had been an ardent loyalist and firmly supported the mother country in the stormy times of the 1770s. His widow shared his feelings, and when the young man she installed as editor, Robert Boyle, showed sympathy with the Revolution, she replaced him with John Howe. Howe served as Mrs. Draper’s editor until the British evacuated Boston on March 17, 1776, taking John Howe and Margaret Draper with them. With the British withdrawal, the News-Letter ceased to exist. The British government gave Margaret Draper a life pension.
The Boston news-letter. Apr. 24, 1704 – Dec. 29, 1726.
The Weekly news-letter. Jan. 5, 1727 – Oct. 29, 1730.
The Boston weekly news-letter. Nov. 5, 1730 – Aug. 25, 1757.
The Boston news-letter. Sept. 1, 1757 – Mar. 18, 1762.
The Boston news-letter, and New-England chronicle. Mar. 25, 1762 – Mar. 31, 1763.
The Massachusetts gazette. And Boston news-letter. Apr. 7, 1763 – May 19, 1768.
Boston weekly news-letter. May 26, 1768 – Sept. 21, 1769.
The Massachusetts gazette; and the Boston weekly news-letter. Sept. 28, 1769 – Feb. 29, 1776.
Born on this day:
1879 – Susanna Bokoyni, Hungarian-American circus performer (d. 1984)
Susanna Bokoyni (April 24, 1879 – August 24, 1984), also known as “Princess Susanna,” was a Hungarian centenarian and circus performer who was listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-lived dwarf on record.
Early life and career
Bokoyni was born in Hungary on April 24, 1879. Doctors told her family that she would not live past age seven. At age 16, she became a dancer in the Orpheum Theater in Budapest. She later toured with Rose’s Parisian Midget Follies and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show where she performed a tight rope act.
During her 67-year career she performed in Germany, France, Italy, Cuba, England, and The United States and learned to speak at least three languages.
Later life and death
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In 1972, Bokoyni moved to Newton, New Jersey and settled at the Merriam House Retirement Home. On August 24, 1984, she died at Newton Memorial Hospital and is buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Vernon, New Jersey, aged 105.
Gideon Sundbäck (April 24, 1880 – June 21, 1954) was a Swedish-American electrical engineer, who is most commonly associated with his work in the development of the zipper.
Otto Fredrik Gideon Sundbäck was born on Sonarp farm in Ödestugu Parish, in Jönköping County, Småland, Sweden. He was the son of Jonas Otto Magnusson Sundbäck, a prosperous farmer, and his wife Kristina Karolina Klasdotter. After his studies in Sweden, Sundbäck moved to Germany, where he studied at the polytechnic school in Bingen am Rhein. In 1903, Sundbäck took his engineer exam. In 1905, he emigrated to the United States.
In 1905, Gideon Sundbäck started to work at Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1906, Sundbäck was hired to work for the Universal Fastener Company of Hoboken, New Jersey. Subsequently in 1909, Sundbäck was promoted to the position of head designer at Universal Fastener.
Sundbäck made several advances in the development of the zipper between 1906 and 1914, while working for companies that later evolved into Talon, Inc. He built upon the previous work of other engineers such as Elias Howe, Max Wolff, and Whitcomb L. Judson. 
He was responsible for improving the “Judson C-curity Fastener”. At that time the company’s product was still based on hooks and eyes. Sundbäck developed an improved version of the C-curity, called the “Plako”, but it too had a strong tendency to pull apart, and was not any more successful than the previous versions. Sundbäck finally solved the pulling-apart problem in 1913, with his invention of the first version not based on the hook-and-eye principle, the “Hookless Fastener No. 1”. He increased the number of fastening elements from four per inch to ten or eleven. His invention had two facing rows of teeth that pulled into a single piece by the slider, and increased the opening for the teeth guided by the slider.
The patent for the “Separable Fastener” was issued in 1917. Gideon Sundbäck also created the manufacturing machine for the new device. The “S-L” or “scrapless” machine took a special Y-shaped wire and cut scoops from it, then punched the scoop dimple and nib, and clamped each scoop on a cloth tape to produce a continuous zipper chain. Within the first year of operation, Sundbäck’s machinery was producing a few hundred feet (around 100 meters) of fastener per day.
In 1914, Sundbäck developed a version based on interlocking teeth, the “Hookless No. 2”, which was the modern metal zipper in all its essentials. In this fastener each tooth is punched to have a dimple on its bottom and a nib or conical projection on its top. The nib atop one tooth engages in the matching dimple in the bottom of the tooth that follows it on the other side as the two strips of teeth are brought together through the two Y channels of the slider. The teeth are crimped tightly to a strong fabric cord that is the selvage edge of the cloth tape that attaches the zipper to the garment, with the teeth on one side offset by half a tooth’s height from those on the other side’s tape. They are held so tightly to the cord and tape that once meshed there is not enough play to let them pull apart. A tooth cannot rise up off the nib below it enough to break free, and its nib on top cannot drop out of the dimple in the tooth above it. U.S. Patent 1,219,881 for the “Separable Fastener” was issued in 1917.
The name zipper was created in 1923 by B.F. Goodrich, who used the device on their new boots. Initially, boots and tobacco pouches were the primary use for zippers; it took another twenty years before they caught on in the fashion industry. About the time of World War II the zipper achieved wide acceptance for the flies of trousers and the plackets of skirts and dresses.
Sundbäck also created the manufacturing machine for the new zipper. Lightning Fastener Company, one early manufacturer of the zipper, was based in St. Catharines, Ontario. Although Sundbäck frequently visited the Canadian factory as president of the company, he resided in Meadville, Pennsylvania and remained an American citizen. Sundbäck was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in 1951. Sundbäck died of a heart condition in 1954 and was interred at Greendale Cemetery in Meadville, Pennsylvania.
On June 5, 1909, Sundbäck married Elvira Aronson, daughter of the Swedish born plant manager Peter Aronsson, in Hoboken, New Jersey.
In 2006, Sundbäck was honored by inclusion in the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his work on the development of the zipper. On April 24, 2012, the 132nd anniversary of Sundbäck’s birth, Google changed the Google logo on its homepage to a Google Doodle of the zipper, which when opened revealed the results of a search for Gideon Sundback.
Sundback’s U.S. Patent 1,219,881 (filed in 1914, issued in 1917):