25 April 2019

25 April

Giovanni Caselli - inventor


Priest and physicist who created world’s first ‘fax machine’

Giovanni Caselli, a physics professor who invented the pantelegraph, the forerunner of the modern fax machine, was born on this day in 1815 in Siena.  Caselli’s developed a prototype pantelegraph, which was capable of transmitting handwriting and images over long distances via wire telegraph lines, in 1856 - 20 years ahead of the patenting of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone in the United States - and it entered commercial service in France in 1865.  The technology was patented in Europe and the United States in the 1860s, when it was also trialled in Great Britain and Russia, but ultimately in proved too unreliable to achieve universal acceptance and virtually disappeared from popular use until midway through the 20th century.  Read more…

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La Festa della Liberazione


Date of radio broadcast chosen for annual celebration

Today is an official Bank Holiday in Italy as the whole country joins together to celebrate the anniversary of the end of the Fascist regime with la Festa della Liberazione.  Every year on this day, the end of the Nazi occupation of Italy is commemorated with parades and parties and many public buildings are closed.  The Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day) marks the day when Allied troops were finally able to liberate Italy.  The date for the national holiday was chosen in 1946. It was decided to hold the Festa on 25 April, the date the news of the liberation was officially announced to the country on the radio.  Marches and events provide an opportunity for Italians to remember their fallen soldiers, in particular the partisans of the Italian resistance. Read more…

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Ferruccio Ranza - World War One flying ace


Fighter pilot survived 57 aerial dogfights

Ferruccio Ranza, a World War One pilot who survived 465 combat sorties and scored 17 verified victories, died on this day in 1973 in Bologna, at the age of 80.  Ranza, who also saw service in the Second World War, when he rose to the rank of Brigadier General, was jointly the seventh most successful of Italy’s aviators in the 1914-18 conflict, and would be placed third if his eight unconfirmed victories had been proven.  In all, he engaged with enemy aeroplanes in 57 dogfights.  The most successful Italian flying ace from the First World War was Francesco Barraca, who chalked up 34 verified victories before he was killed in action in 1918.  Ranza served alongside Barraca in the 91st Fighter Squadron of the Italian air force, the so-called ‘squadron of aces’.  Read more…

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Leon Battista Alberti - Renaissance polymath


Architect with multiple artistic talents

The polymath Leon Battista Alberti, who was one of the 15th century’s most significant architects but possessed an intellect that was much more wide ranging, died on this day in 1472 in Rome.  In his 68 years, Alberti became well known for his work on palaces and churches in Florence, Rimini and Mantua in particular, but he also made major contributions to the study of mathematics, astronomy, language and cryptography, wrote poetry in Latin and works of philosophy and was ordained as a priest.  He was one of those multi-talented figures of his era, along with Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and, a little later, Galileo Galilei, for whom the description Renaissance Man was coined.  Read more…

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