Y Combinator is an American seed accelerator launched in March 2005 and has been used to launch over 2,000 companies including Stripe, Airbnb, Cruise Automation, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, and Dropbox. The combined valuation of the top YC companies was over $155 billion as of October, 2019.
- "Y Combinator Article Nominated for Deletion by Wikipedia Administrators" | 2008-08-27 | 45 Upvotes 79 Comments
The Centennial Light is the world's longest-lasting light bulb, burning since 1901, and almost never switched off. It is at 4550 East Avenue, Livermore, California, and maintained by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. Due to its longevity, the bulb has been noted by The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, and General Electric.
- "Centennial Light" | 2019-07-13 | 40 Upvotes 20 Comments
Joshua Abraham Norton (February 4, 1818 – January 8, 1880), known as Emperor Norton, was a citizen of San Francisco, California, who proclaimed himself "Norton I, Emperor of the United States" in 1859. In 1863 he took the secondary title of "Protector of Mexico" after Napoleon III invaded that country. Norton was born in England but spent most of his early life in South Africa. He sailed west after the death of his mother in 1846 and his father in 1848, arriving in San Francisco possibly in November 1849.
Norton initially made a living as a businessman, but he lost his fortune investing in Peruvian rice to sell in China due to a Chinese rice shortage. He bought rice at 12 cents per pound from Peruvian ships, but more Peruvian ships arrived in port which caused the price to drop sharply to 4 cents. He then lost a lawsuit in which he tried to void his rice contract, and his public prominence faded. He re-emerged in September 1859, laying claim to the position of Emperor of the United States. Though Norton received many favors from the city, merchants also capitalized on his notoriety by selling souvenirs bearing his name. "San Francisco lived off the Emperor Norton," Norton's biographer William Drury wrote, "not Norton off San Francisco."
Norton had no formal political power; nevertheless, he was treated deferentially in San Francisco, and currency issued in his name was honored in the establishments that he frequented. Some considered him insane or eccentric, but citizens of San Francisco celebrated his imperial presence and his proclamations, such as his order that the United States Congress be dissolved by force and his numerous decrees calling for the construction of a bridge and tunnel crossing San Francisco Bay to connect San Francisco with Oakland.
On January 8, 1880, Norton collapsed at the corner of California and Dupont (now Grant) streets and died before he could be given medical treatment. Upwards of 30,000 people lined the streets of San Francisco to pay him homage at his funeral. Norton has been immortalized as the basis of characters in the literature of Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christopher Moore, Morris and René Goscinny, Selma Lagerlöf, and Neil Gaiman.
The Exploratorium is a museum of science, technology, and arts in San Francisco. Its mission is to create inquiry-based experiences that transform learning worldwide. It has been described by the New York Times as the most important science museum to have opened since the mid-20th century, an achievement attributed to "the nature of its exhibits, its wide-ranging influence and its sophisticated teacher training program". Characterized as "a mad scientist's penny arcade, a scientific funhouse, and an experimental laboratory all rolled into one", the participatory nature of its exhibits and its self-identification as a center for informal learning has led to it being cited as the prototype for participatory museums around the world.
The Exploratorium was founded by physicist and educator Frank Oppenheimer and opened in 1969 at the Palace of Fine Arts, its home until January 2, 2013. On April 17, 2013, the Exploratorium reopened at Piers 15 and 17 on San Francisco's Embarcadero. The historic interior and exterior of Pier 15 was renovated extensively prior to the move, and is divided into several galleries mainly separated by content, including the physics of seeing and listening (Light and Sound), Human Behavior, Living Systems, Tinkering (including electricity and magnetism), the Outdoor Gallery, and the Bay Observatory Gallery, which focuses on local environment, weather, and landscape.
Since the museum's founding, over 1,000 participatory exhibits have been created, approximately 600 of which are on the floor at any given time. The exhibit-building workshop space is contained within the museum and is open to view. In addition to the public exhibition space, the Exploratorium has been engaged in the professional development of teachers, science education reform, and the promotion of museums as informal education centers since its founding. Since Oppenheimer's death in 1985, the Exploratorium has expanded into other domains, including its 50,000-page website and two iPad apps on sound and color. It has also inspired an international network of participatory museums working to engage the public with general science education. The new Exploratorium building is also working to showcase environmental sustainability efforts as part of its goal to become the largest net-zero museum in the country.
The Exploratorium offers visitors a variety of ways—including exhibits, webcasts, websites and events—for visitors to explore and understand the world around them. In 2011, the Exploratorium received the National Science Board 2011 Public Service Science Award for its contributions to public understanding of science and engineering.
- "Frank Oppenheimer's blacklisting led to the Exploratorium" | 2017-06-07 | 13 Upvotes 1 Comments
Early on the morning of May 16, 1946, a U.S. Army B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft crashed into White's Hill (also known locally as "White Hill") near Fairfax, California. Two men were killed and six seriously injured. There were reports that the B-17 was carrying nuclear weapons materials for the Operation Crossroads tests at Bikini atoll, but these reports were not confirmed. However, due to the behavior and activities of the military authorities at the crash site and the reports of several credible witnesses, including several of the crewmembers, questions about the plane's cargo remain.
- "Fairfax, California B-17 Crash in 1946" | 2017-04-27 | 28 Upvotes 15 Comments
Gary Arlen Kildall (; May 19, 1942 – July 11, 1994) was an American computer scientist and microcomputer entrepreneur who created the CP/M operating system and founded Digital Research, Inc. (DRI). Kildall was one of the first people to see microprocessors as fully capable computers, rather than equipment controllers, and to organize a company around this concept. He also co-hosted the PBS TV show The Computer Chronicles. Although his career in computing spanned more than two decades, he is mainly remembered in connection with IBM's unsuccessful attempt in 1980 to license CP/M for the IBM Personal Computer.
- "Gary Kildall" | 2015-06-05 | 87 Upvotes 61 Comments
The notion of a General Motors streetcar conspiracy emerged after General Motors (GM) and other companies were convicted of monopolizing the sale of buses and supplies to National City Lines (NCL) and its subsidiaries. In the same case, the defendants were accused of conspiring to own or control transit systems, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust act. The suit created lingering suspicions that the defendants had in fact plotted to dismantle streetcar systems in many cities in the United States as an attempt to monopolize surface transportation.
Between 1938 and 1950, National City Lines and its subsidiaries, American City Lines and Pacific City Lines—with investment from GM, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California (through a subsidiary), Federal Engineering, Phillips Petroleum, and Mack Trucks—gained control of additional transit systems in about 25 cities. Systems included St. Louis, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Oakland. NCL often converted streetcars to bus operations in that period, although electric traction was preserved or expanded in some locations. Other systems, such as San Diego's, were converted by outgrowths of the City Lines. Most of the companies involved were convicted in 1949 of conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce in the sale of buses, fuel, and supplies to NCL subsidiaries, but were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the transit industry.
The story as an urban legend has been written about by Martha Bianco, Scott Bottles, Sy Adler, Jonathan Richmond, and Robert Post. It has been explored several times in print, film, and other media, notably in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Taken for a Ride, Internal Combustion, and The End of Suburbia.
Only a handful of U.S. cities, including San Francisco, New Orleans, Newark, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Boston, have surviving legacy rail urban transport systems based on streetcars, although their systems are significantly smaller than they once were. Other cities are re-introducing streetcars. In some cases, the streetcars do not actually ride on the street. Boston had all of its downtown lines elevated or buried by the mid-1920s, and most of the surviving lines at grade operate on their own right of way. However, San Francisco's and Philadelphia's lines do have large portions of the route that ride on the street as well as using tunnels.
Group f/64 or f.64 was a group founded by seven 20th-century San Francisco Bay Area photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharply focused and carefully framed images seen through a particularly Western (U.S.) viewpoint. In part, they formed in opposition to the pictorialist photographic style that had dominated much of the early 20th century, but moreover, they wanted to promote a new modernist aesthetic that was based on precisely exposed images of natural forms and found objects.
- "Group f/64" | 2019-05-01 | 71 Upvotes 26 Comments
The Island of California refers to a long-held European misconception, dating from the 16th century, that the Baja California Peninsula was not part of mainland North America but rather a large island (spelled on early maps as Cali Fornia) separated from the continent by a strait now known as the Gulf of California.
One of the most famous cartographic errors in history, it was propagated on many maps during the 17th and 18th centuries, despite contradictory evidence from various explorers. The legend was initially infused with the idea that California was a terrestrial paradise, like the Garden of Eden or Atlantis.
- "Island of California" | 2014-06-11 | 99 Upvotes 40 Comments
John McCarthy (September 4, 1927 – October 24, 2011) was an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist. McCarthy was one of the founders of the discipline of artificial intelligence. He coined the term "artificial intelligence" (AI), developed the Lisp programming language family, significantly influenced the design of the ALGOL programming language, popularized time-sharing, invented garbage collection, and was very influential in the early development of AI.
McCarthy spent most of his career at Stanford University. He received many accolades and honors, such as the 1971 Turing Award for his contributions to the topic of AI, the United States National Medal of Science, and the Kyoto Prize.
- "John McCarthy Has Died" | 2011-10-24 | 1619 Upvotes 218 Comments