Unit 4 Lesson 3
ELECTRIFYING THE MASSES
Science and Technology in the 1920s
I can evaluate the impact of innovations, new technology, and scientific developments during the 1920s.
READ ABOUT IT!
Directions: The first thing you need to do is read about the impacts of innovations, new technology, and scientific developments in the 1920s. Make sure that you are looking for the impacts of innovations, new technology, and scientific developments in the 1920s and thinking about how greatly each development had on American life during the reading.
Technology Changes Life In America
The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.
~ Edward Teller ~
~ Edward Teller ~
Changes in the 1920s
After World War I, the United States entered into the age of modern technology. Advances in transportation, communication, and manufacturing allowed middle-class people to buy cars, radios, and home appliances, which they saw advertised in magazines and newspapers. In their leisure time, people crowded into movie theaters to watch their favorite stars on the big screen.
Wartime innovations like electric starters and air-filled tires made modern automobiles possible. Before the war, only the rich could afford to buy cars. But when prices dropped after the war, people everywhere wanted an automobile. So manufacturers increased the amount of cars they produced. Because so many people were driving cars, new roads were built and new businesses opened. People began to move to the suburbs and commute to work.
During World War I, America began using the radio. The radio was the first wireless communication. The world's first commercial radio station, KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, began broadcasting in 1920. Within a few years, almost every major city in the United States was broadcasting news, plays, music, and sporting events.
Outside the home, popular entertainment in the 1920s meant going to the movies. In the 1920s, an average Indiana town of 35,000 boasted nine movie theaters. These movies stayed open from 1 P.M. to 11 P.M. every day of the year. Movies were made all in countries all over the world but 90 percent of all movies came out of the Los Angeles suburb of Hollywood.
In the mid-1920s, a typical radio cost about $150. The radio of the 1920s was a large piece of furniture with many dials and a loudspeaker. Before 1927, radios needed two types of batteries that had to be replaced every few weeks. By 1927, most homes and businesses had electrical outlets and a plug in radio came out. In the United States in 1923, radio sales were about $60 million by 19129, radio sales had skyrocketed to more than $842 million.
Radio changed the daily habits of people more than any other invention before it. Radio provided people a source of entertainment they could share. Radio programs offered listeners a wide variety of entertainment including live theater, sporting events, symphony concerts, jazz performances, religious sermons and news broadcasts. Now people all over the country laughed at the same jokes, hummed the same music, and listened to the same commercials. The United States became more united.
Radio created public personalities, like announcer Graham McNamee. In 1921, McNamee first broadcast a baseball game by radio. He knew little about sports, but his voice soon became familiar to millions of Americans. McNamee became the top sports announcer for the new National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
Another NBC radio star was Rudy Vallee, a singer who created a variety show format. The Rudy Vallee Show began in 1929 and was one of the most popular shows of the 1930s. Many famous vaudeville names paid a visit to the show.
Next in popularity after sports on radio were musical programs. Light classical music programs were common. The Chicago station KYW was created to broadcast opera performances in Chicago. The regular performances of the great Irish singer John McCormack were broadcast on the RCA Victor Hour. McCormack was often featured with the New York Metropolitan Opera Company's Lucrezia Bori.
During the 1920s, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and washing machines seemed to promise consumers more time for leisure activities. Advertising came of age during this era to sell the goods that bustling factories were producing.
The traditional "wash day" in many homes was Monday, and the arrival of the washing machine did, indeed, free up part of that day for other activities.
By 1924, two thirds of all American homes had electricity. It became practical to create and advertise home electrical appliances. General Electric, founded in 1878 as the Edison Electric Company, introduced the first electric refrigerator— the popular Monitor Top, which sold for around $350. Earlier refrigerators had a compartment that held a block of ice. Iceboxes were used until the 1950s in some homes. But as early as 1929, ice boxes were well on their way to extinction; half of the refrigerators sold were electric.
When General Electric advertised the Monitor Top refrigerator in 1927, it emphasized the appliance's quiet operation. Earlier attempts at home refrigerators powered by steam were large and noisy. The new self-contained units used a refrigerant called Freon. A compressor at the top of the cabinet kept the unit running. The freezer could hold a few trays of ice while the rest of the cabinet kept foods cold and fresh.
While General Electric tried to appeal to the quality-conscious consumer, early Sunbeam advertisements targeted the husband seeking to ease the burden of a wife's housework. The Sunbeam electric iron sold for $7.50. It promised "52 hours less work a year."
The benefit of new kitchen appliances was the key to attracting consumers in the 1920s. Electric toasters became commonplace. The Hotpoint company, which sold many electric appliances, ran advertisements that claimed its $15 waffle iron would bring "joy and health to the home."
In 1903 a mechanic and amateur racecar driver named Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company and began to mass-produce automobiles at his factory in Michigan. In 1908, when Ford introduced his twentieth model, the Model T, there were still only 200,000 automobiles on U.S. roadways.
As the factory produced cars in an endless assembly line, consumers lined up for their chance to own the new machine. In the United States during the 1920s, the average worker earned $1,236 annually. Not surprisingly, many people bought their cars on installment plans. One woman who was asked why she owned a car but had no indoor bathroom reportedly answered, "Well, you can't get to town in a bathtub."
By 1927, after producing 15 million Model Ts, Ford bowed to the public's desire for a newer, flashier model. The sleek new Model A featured shock absorbers, four-wheel brakes, standard transmission, and a speedometer. Thanks largely to the inexpensive but reliable Ford automobiles, millions of cars soon packed American roads.
The United States had 725 miles of paved rural roads in 1909. By 1930, American cars traveled a network of more than 100,000 miles of roads, tunnels, bridges, and multi-lane highways. Vacationers could take their own transportation almost anywhere.
Before gas stations were widespread, car owners bought fuel from local stores and stored it in tanks in their backyards. By 1929, more than 100,000 gas stations dotted the country. Many offered a new mixture, called ethyl gas, at 25 cents a gallon, that was said to offer a smoother, more powerful ride.
During the 1920s, the thriving automobile industry helped produce a business boom in the United States. Whole industries sprang up to service and equip cars. Rubber manufacturing, spurred by the need for rubber car tires, expanded into a billion-dollar business. Steel production doubled. Oil refinery output increased more than nine times.
Businesses, such as diners, campgrounds, and tourist cabins, sprang up to appeal to long-distance motorists. Drive-in restaurants also had their beginning in the 1920s. In Dallas, Texas businessman J.G. Kirby opened what he called the "Pig Stand." Kirby sold barbecued pork sandwiches to customers who ate in their cars. He commented, "People with cars are so lazy, they don't want to get out of them to eat."
After the 1920s, walking for recreation went out of style. Among wealthier Americans, a high school boy who could not drive a girl to a dance would likely find himself without a date. The popularity of the car introduced new expressions, such as "joyride" and being "taken for a ride."
leisure: free time
suburbs: small towns outside of a big city
commute: to travel back and forth regularly
innovation: a new idea or way of doing something, or an improvement on something already invented
patented: when the owner of an invention gets special rights preventing others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without his permission
As a class, we will discuss the questions. You will answer these questions in your portfolio in PQA format. An example portfolio entry is embedded below.
THE POST WAR ECONOMY QUIZ
e gjriepg ljpwOT 23tp4
You have accomplished your mission after you have done the following. If you are absent, you need to do the following to complete your missed work.
- Read the class reading.
- Create a portfolio entry.
- List the portfolio entry in your table of contents.
- Answer the discussion questions in your portfolio.
- Take the Lesson 7.2. Post - War Economy Quiz.
- Record the quiz questions and answers in your portfolio.
- Complete the lesson reflection in your portfolio.
- If you finish early, go ahead and start studying for the test by playing the Lesson 7.2. Post - War Economy Arcade Games.
Click on any of the blue game titles to play that game.