Today in History – November 16, 1965 – Walt Disney launches the EPCOT Center: Prototype Community of Tomorrow. As Walt Disney originally envisioned it, the EPCOT Center (which stood for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”) would be the key component of Walt Disney World – a working “city of the future” with residential, shopping and industrial districts that would showcase the latest technologies available. Walt’s vision included forward thinking ideas such as clean (read: electric) transportation systems, and a city dominated by the pedestrian (all automobile traffic was to be underground). In his own words, “It’s like the city of tomorrow ought to be. A city that caters to the people as a service function. It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities… [It] will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.”
Walt Disney died approximately a year after the launch of the EPCOT project, and without his vision and drive the EPCOT Center took a very different direction. Instead of a working city, Epcot (no longer an acronym) is now a theme park with two different themes in one: a showcase of the future (a legacy of EPCOT’s original design) and the World Showcase (where you can tour the world by foot in under two hours). The theme park officially opened on October 1st, 1982 and 2007 marks it’s 25th year of operation. See the Engineering Pathway’s resources on theme parks and roller coaster design.
Also today in 1904, the electron tube was invented by John Ambrose Fleming. Electron tubes (known more commonly as vacuum tubes) are used to control or create an electrical signal by restricting the movement of electrons in a low-pressure space. They were the key devices that enabled the early development of technologies such as radios, televisions, and radar, which led to the electronics of today.