On this day:
2000 – President Bill Clinton announces that accurate GPS access would no longer be restricted to the United States military.
The Global Positioning System (GPS), originally Navstar GPS,[a][b] is a space-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force. It is a global navigation satellite system that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.
The GPS system does not require the user to transmit any data, and it operates independently of any telephonic or internet reception, though these technologies can enhance the usefulness of the GPS positioning information. The GPS system provides critical positioning capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver. However, the US government can selectively deny access to the system, as happened to the Indian military in 1999 during the Kargil War.
The GPS project was launched in the United States in 1973 to overcome the limitations of previous navigation systems, integrating ideas from several predecessors, including a number of classified engineering design studies from the 1960s. The U.S. Department of Defense developed the system, which originally used 24 satellites. It became fully operational in 1995. Roger L. Easton of the Naval Research Laboratory, Ivan A. Getting of The Aerospace Corporation, and Bradford Parkinson of the Applied Physics Laboratory are credited with inventing it.
Advances in technology and new demands on the existing system have now led to efforts to modernize the GPS and implement the next generation of GPS Block IIIA satellites and Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX). Announcements from Vice President Al Gore and the White House in 1998 initiated these changes. In 2000, the U.S. Congress authorized the modernization effort, GPS III.
In addition to GPS, other systems are in use or under development, mainly because of a potential denial of access by the US government. The Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) was developed contemporaneously with GPS, but suffered from incomplete coverage of the globe until the mid-2000s. GLONASS can be added to GPS devices, making more satellites available and enabling positions to be fixed more quickly and accurately, to within two meters. There are also the European Union Galileo positioning system and China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System.
Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1:00 am local time (4:00 pm eastern time)[note 1] by a United States special forces military unit.
The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was ordered by United States President Barack Obama and carried out in a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operation by a team of United States Navy SEALs from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or informally by its former name, SEAL Team Six) of the Joint Special Operations Command, with support from CIA operatives on the ground. The raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad was launched from Afghanistan. After the raid, reports at the time stated that U.S. forces had taken bin Laden’s body to Afghanistan for positive identification, then buried it at sea, in accordance with Islamic law, within 24 hours of his death. Subsequent reporting has called this account into question—citing, for example, the absence of evidence that there was an imam on board the USS Carl Vinson, where the burial was said to have taken place.
Born on this day:
1843 – Elijah McCoy, Canadian-American engineer (d. 1929)
Elijah J. McCoy (May 2, 1844  – October 10, 1929) was a Canadian-American inventor and engineer who was notable for his 57 U.S. patents, most having to do with the lubrication of steam engines. Born free in Canada, he returned as a five-year-old with his family to the United States in 1847, where he lived for the rest of his life and became a U.S. citizen.
Elijah J. McCoy was born free in 1844 in Colchester, Ontario, Canada to George and Mildred (Goins) McCoy. They were fugitive slaves who had escaped from Kentucky to Canada via helpers through the Underground Railroad. George and Mildred arrived in Colchester Township, Essex, Ontario Canada in 1837 via Detroit. Elijah McCoy had eleven siblings. Ten of the children were born in Canada from Alferd (1839) to William (1859). Based on 1860 Tax Assessment Rolls, land deeds of sale, and the 1870 USA Census it can be determined the George McCoy family moved to Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, Michigan in 1859-60.
Elijah McCoy was educated in black schools of Colchester Township due to the 1850 Common Schools act which segregated the Upper Canada schools in 1850. At age 15, in 1859, Elijah McCoy was sent to Edinburgh, Scotland for an apprenticeship and study. After some years, he was certified in Scotland as a mechanical engineer. After his return, he rejoined his family. By this time, the George McCoy family had established themselves on the farm of John and Maryann Starkweather in Ypsilanti. George used his skills of a tobacconist to establish a tobacco and cigar business.
When Elijah McCoy arrived in Michigan, he could find work only as a fireman and oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad. In a home-based machine shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan McCoy also did more highly skilled work, such as developing improvements and inventions. He invented an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines of locomotives and ships, patenting it in 1872 as “Improvement in Lubricators for Steam-Engines” (U.S. Patent 129,843).
Similar automatic oilers had been patented previously; one is the displacement lubricator, which had already attained widespread use and whose technological descendants continued to be widely used into the 20th century. Lubricators were a boon for railroads, as they enabled trains to run faster and more profitably with less need to stop for lubrication and maintenance.
McCoy continued to refine his devices and design new ones; 50 of his patents dealt with lubricating systems. After the turn of the century, he attracted notice among his black contemporaries. Booker T. Washington in Story of the Negro (1909) recognized him as having produced more patents than any other black inventor up to that time. This creativity gave McCoy an honored status in the black community that has persisted to this day. He continued to invent until late in life, obtaining as many as 57 patents. Most of these were related to lubrication, but others also included a folding ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Lacking the capital with which to manufacture his lubricators in large numbers, he usually assigned his patent rights to his employers or sold them to investors. Lubricators with the McCoy name were not manufactured until 1920, near the end of his career. He formed the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company to produce his works.
Historians have not agreed on the importance of McCoy’s contribution to the field of lubrication. He is credited in some biographical sketches with revolutionizing the railroad or machine industries with his devices. Early twentieth-century lubrication literature barely mentions him; for example, his name is absent from E. L. Ahrons’ Lubrication of Locomotives (1922), which does identify several other early pioneers and companies of the field.
Regarding the phrase “The real McCoy”
Main article: The real McCoy
This popular expression, typically meaning the real thing, has been associated with Elijah McCoy’s oil-drip cup invention. One theory is that railroad engineers looking to avoid inferior copies would request it by name, and inquire if a locomotive was fitted with “the real McCoy system”. This theory is mentioned in Elijah McCoy’s biography at the National Inventors Hall of Fame. It can be traced to the December 1966 issue of Ebony in an advertisement for Old Taylor bourbon whiskey: “But the most famous legacy McCoy left his country was his name.” A 1985 pamphlet printed by the Empak Publishing Company also notes the phrase’s origin but does not elaborate. Other possibilities for its origin have been proposed.
The expression, “The real McCoy”, was first published in Canada in 1881, but the expression, “The Real McKay”, can be traced to Scottish advertising in 1856. In James S. Bond’s The Rise and Fall of the “Union Club”: or, Boy Life in Canada, a character says, “By jingo! yes; so it will be. It’s the ‘real McCoy,’ as Jim Hicks says. Nobody but a devil can find us there.”
Marriage and family
McCoy married Ann Elizabeth Stewart in 1868; she died four years later.
He married for the second time in 1873 to Mary Eleanor Delaney. The couple moved to Detroit when McCoy found work there. Mary McCoy (b. – d. 1922) helped found the Phillis Wheatley Home for Aged Colored Men in 1898.
Elijah McCoy died in the Eloise Infirmary in Nankin Township, now Westland, Michigan, on October 10, 1929, at the age of 85, after suffering injuries from a car accident seven years earlier in which his wife Mary died. He is buried at Detroit Memorial Park East in Warren, Michigan.
In popular culture
1966, an ad for Old Taylor bourbon cited Elijah McCoy with a photo and the expression “the real McCoy”, ending with the tag line, “But the most famous legacy McCoy left his country was his name.”
2006, Canadian playwright Andrew Moodie’s The Real McCoy portrayed McCoy’s life, the challenges he faced as an African American, and the development of his inventions. It was first produced in Toronto and has also been produced in the United States, for example in Saint Louis, Missouri, in 2011, where it was performed by the Black Rep Theatre.
In her novel Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman describes a racial dystopia in which the roles of black and white people are reversed; Elijah McCoy is among the black scientists, inventors, and pioneers mentioned in a history class that Blackman “never learned about in school”.
1974, the state of Michigan put an historical marker (P25170) at the McCoys’ former home at 5720 Lincoln Avenue and at his gravesite.
1975, Detroit celebrated Elijah McCoy Day by placing a historic marker at the site of his home. The city also named a nearby street for him.
1994, Michigan installed a historical marker (S0642) at his first workshop in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
2001, McCoy was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.
2011, Senator Debbie Stabenow offered an amendment to the Patent Reform Act of 2011 to name the first satellite office of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, which opened in Detroit, Michigan, on July 13, 2012, as the “Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office”. In fact the satellite office of the United States Patent and Trademark office is now so named.[A]
“And the people of Detroit have time and again been they very sort of pioneers who shape our country with innovative audacity. Near the end of the 19th century, an inventor named Elijah McCoy came to this city, drawn by its potential, and history was made-with more than 57 U.S. patents by the end of his remarkable life, Elijah’s vision transformed the railroad system, and with it our trade economy. That’s the story of American possibility, realized through the power of the American patent-and I can think of no more fitting name to adorn the walls of this new office than the “Real McCoy” himself.”
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Using the Internet, 2007 style
For the next 30 days, I will not be waking up to a torrent of images, opinions, jokes and fears from around the world. The first step was to get the most addictive apps—Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, for me—off my phone. I still have accounts, and will still use them, but I’ve set them up so that I can’t reach them from my bed, or from waiting rooms, coffee shops, and sidewalks. And they can’t reach me in those places.
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