This Week in Dayton History: Wright-Patterson space tool, NCR’s Microfiche, new Van Buren school and more stories to remember

Throughout this year, we’ll be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Dayton Daily News with stories, photos, videos and more.

Each week, we’ll bring you a selection of notable stories that happened this week in Dayton history, chronicled by the same newspaper that continues to serve the community today.

Here’s a look at some stories happening the week of Sept. 10-16.

Sept. 11, 1938: German pilot demonstrates “foolproof” airplane at Wright Field

German pilot Emil Kropf brought a Fieseler-Storch safety plane to Wright Field at the request of air corps officials.

The air corps had an aircraft called the autogiro, and the German plane could do similar stunts and maneuvers.

The safety plane was a fixed-wing plane with slots, flaps and other high lift devices that also enabled it to fly at slow speeds.

During a comparison of the two planes, the autogiro proved to be better at steeper ascents, but the German plane showed amazing maneuverability, making bankless turns, turns while climbing and slowing to 15 or 20 miles per hour.

It was rumored at the time that an American company was trying to buy the rights to the design of the German plane for domestic production, but those attempts failed.

Sept. 10, 1949: New Van Buren school ready

What is now Van Buren Middle School in Kettering opened as Van Buren Twp. Junior High School in 1949.

It was considered one of the most modernistic school buildings in the country when it opened, at a cost of $1 million.

The two-story 60-room building has space for 850 students and had many features that area high schools didn’t.

Modern features included telephones joining every major room, individual thermostats, loud speakers for broadcasting announcements, acoustifiber ceilings and Venetian blinds on oversized windows.

It was also the first school in the area to combine the auditorium and gymnasium.

The economics suite consisted of six complete kitchens and a laundry, with sewing lab equipment for 25 students.

The shop space had room for mechanical drawing, metal and wood working, motor mechanics and electricity.

The music studio had a small stage and four sound-resistant practice rooms and the cafeteria was large enough to serve the entire student body in two sittings.

Sept. 10, 1957: Dayton Art Institute opens after remodel

The Dayton Art Institute closed for two months to undergo $20,000 in renovations.

The entire central area of the building was renovated, with the most spectacular change being the fresh paint in the foyer, and the sculpture court.

The sculpture court was sandblasted and repainted, and a new lighting system was added. The once-dingy ceiling was painted a solid sky blue. Housed in the court were sculptures by Degas, Rodin and Picasso.

The second major gallery, at the opposite end from the sculpture gallery, was to remain closed another year for its renovations. The Oriental collection housed there was to be inspected by experts, but some would be on view in other parts of the museum during the renovation.

Sept. 11, 1966: Astronaut plans test of Wright-Patterson space tool

Astronaut Richard Gordon was set to experiment on his Gemini-11 mission with a space tool developed for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Aero Propulsion laboratory.

The tool was designed to keep spacemen from spinning as they repair space vehicles.

While in space and speeding around the world at 17,500 miles per hour, Gordon was going to perform a nine-minute maintenance task in a variety of powered and manual ways to see what worked best.

The tool could tighten and loosen bolts without spinning the astronaut in circles.

The tool was developed and tested at Wright-Patterson but was built by Martin Co. and the Black and Decker Tool Co.

Sept. 14, 1975: NCR’s Microfiche system cuts office paper jams

In 1975, NCR’s Microfiche systems were gaining in popularity.

The “system” consisted of “computer output microfiche (COM)” units. COM units transformed data on magnetic computer tape into 4-by-6-inch microfiche cards which could be read through magnification viewers. A microfiche is ultra-small microfilm.

Each 4-by-6-inch card could contain 269 pages of 11-by-14-inch computer paper. A one-inch stack of microfiche cards contained the same information as about 25,000 pages of paper printouts.

Another example given was for a 1,450 page report. If you had to mail that, it would have been a 38-pound bundle, compared to the microfiche version that could be mailed at the time for 10 cents.

Sales were up 40 percent from the same time the previous year.

Sept. 14, 1990: Dayton, Miami Twp. police test cruiser video system

Dayton and Miami Twp. police became the first departments in Ohio to try a videotaping system that could record every incident a police officer encountered.

The new equipment, called the “Video Incident Capture System,” featured a miniature camera mounted on the dashboard, a portable microphone, and a black-and-white monitor — all linked to a locked computer system in the trunk.

The cost per system was about $5,500.

Dayton Police Chief James Newby said the first officers to start using the equipment would be uniformed drug officers.

“It’s an area where we get a lot of complaints on alleged use of force,” he said. “If someone runs a stop sign and says he didn’t run it, you can take him back to the cruiser and say, “Look.”

Miami Twp. Police Chief Thomas Angel said the system could be a training tool for police officers.

“We’re all creatures of habit and we do some things we’re not aware of,” he said. “(With the equipment) they can see body language or verbal comments, or even technical safety errors, that they might improve on.”

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