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YouTube // Technmoan

The Smallest Discman Ever Made Was Smaller Than a CD

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YouTube // Technmoan

Starting in the 1980s, Sony produced the Discman, a CD version of its popular cassette Walkman player. I had a Sony Discman or two in the 1990s, and they were pretty boring—typically clamshell-shaped plastic players with a handful of buttons and a place to slap some AA batteries. But the Sony D-88 was different. It was a portable CD player that was too narrow to fit a CD inside.

Yeah, let's back up a little.

Your typical compact disc (CD) has a diameter of 120mm, or 4.72 inches. But there's also a much less common Mini CD format, usually sized at 80mm (3.15 inches). These Mini CDs were sometimes used for CD singles, or bundled with computer devices for their drivers, or as gimmicks at tradeshows. They're also the reason tray-based CD players have multiple circular cut-outs in the tray: The smaller discs can fit in the middle, and the spindle comes through the middle and grabs them. (The spindle cut-out is the same size regardless of total CD diameter.)

Sony's D-88 Discman, introduced in 1988, imagined a world in which the Mini CD might actually be popular, and that people would carry around a bunch of CD singles. Sadly, this was never a world I inhabited, but it is a little fascinating to imagine. What's far weirder is that the D-88 can play a full-size CD, with the spinning disc sticking out on two sides, whirring away, ready to crack into bits. What could possibly go wrong?! Here's an excellent Techmoan video explaining the whole mess:

As the video mentions near the end, Sony had done this kind of thing before with a Walkman too small for a tape (my family had one! You just popped it open to expand it to regular size), and even a record player too small for an LP (which was kind of awesome, since at least it wasn't designed to go in your pocket).

Okay, let's hear it, commenters. Did anybody own one of these gadgets? If so, what CD singles were you listening to?

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Courtesy of Nature
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science
Scientists Create Three Puppy Clones of 'Snuppy,' the World's First Cloned Dog
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Courtesy of Nature

Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog, died in 2015, but his genetic legacy lives on. As the National Post reports, South Korean scientists recently described in the journal Scientific Reports the birth of three clone puppies, all of which are identical replicas of the famous Afghan hound.

Those who lived through the 1990s might remember Dolly, the Scottish sheep that gained fame for being the very first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. Following Dolly's 1996 cloning, scientists managed to replicate other animals, including cats, mice, cows, and horses. But dog cloning initially stymied scientists, Time reports, as their breeding period is limited and their eggs are also hard to extract.

Ultimately, researchers ended up using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to clone a dog, the same method that was used to make Dolly. In the early 2000s, a team of South Korean scientists inserted DNA harvested from an Afghan hound's skin cells into a dog egg from which the DNA had been removed. The egg divided, which produced multiple cloned embryos.

The scientists implanted 1095 of these embryos in 123 dogs, an exhaustive initiative that yielded just three pregnancies, according to NPR. Of these, Snuppy—whose name is a combination of "puppy" and Seoul National University's initials—was the only survivor.

Snuppy died from cancer in April 2015, just shortly after his 10th birthday. To celebrate his successful life, the same South Korean researchers decided to re-clone him using mesenchymal stem cells from the dog's belly fat, which were taken when he was five. This time around, they transferred 94 reconstructed embryos to seven dogs. Four clones were later born, although one ended up dying shortly after birth.

The tiny Snuppy clones are now more than a year old, and researchers say that they don't think that the pups face the risk of accelerated aging, nor are they more disease-prone than other dogs. (Dolly died when she was just six years old, while cloned mice have also experienced shorter lifespans.) Snuppy's somatic cell donor, Tai, lived just two years longer than Snuppy, dying at age 12, the average lifespan of an Afghan hound.

Researchers say that this new generation of Snuppys will yield new insights into the health and longevity of cloned animals. Meanwhile, in other animal cloning news, a Texas-based company called ViaGen Pets is now offering to clone people's beloved pets, according to CBS Pittsburgh—a service that costs a cool $50,000 for dogs.

[h/t National Post]

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iStock
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History
Hole Punch History: 131 Years Ago Today, a German Inventor Patented the Essential Office Product
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iStock

The next time you walk into a Staples, give thanks to Friedrich Soennecken. During the late 1800s, the German inventor patented inventions for both a ring binder and the two-hole punch, thus paving the way for modern-day school and office supplies. Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 131st anniversary of Soennecken’s hole puncher—so in lieu of a shower of loose-leaf confetti, let’s look back at his legacy, and the industrial device that remains a mainstay in supply rooms to this day.

If Soennecken’s name sounds familiar, that’s because in 1875 he founded the international German office products manufacturer of the same name. (It went bankrupt in 1973, and was acquired by BRANION EG, which still releases products under the original Soennecken label.) Not only was Soennecken an entrepreneur, he was also a calligraphy enthusiast who pioneered the widely used “round writing” style of script. But he’s perhaps best remembered as an inventor, thanks to his now-ubiquitous office equipment.

As The Independent reports, Soennecken likely wasn’t the first to dream up a paper hole-punching device. In fact, the first known patent for such an invention belongs to an American man named Benjamin Smith. In 1885, Smith created a hole puncher, dubbed the “conductor’s punch,” that contained a spring-loaded receptacle to collect paper remnants. Later on an inventor named Charles Brooks improved on Smith’s device by finessing the receptacle, and he called it a “ticket punch.”

For unclear reasons, Soennecken was the one who ended up being remembered for the device: On November 14, 1886, he filed his patent for a Papierlocher fur Sammelmappen (paper hole maker for binding), and the rest was history.

“Today we celebrate 131 years of the hole puncher, an understated—but essential—artifact of German engineering,” Google said in its description of the Doodle. “As modern workplaces trek further into the digital frontier, this centuries-old tool remains largely, wonderfully, the same.”

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