October 18 – Moby Dick, Regency TR-1

1851

Novel Moby-Dick by American fiction author Hermann Melville is first published in London in 3 volumes as ‘The Whale’.

The immortal tale of the evil of vengeance and the power of nature is published in NY on Nov. 14. Its fictional ship Pequot is modelled on the real whaleship Essex, sunk by a whale in 1820. There was actually an albino sperm whale called Mocha Dick, named for the island off Chile.  ( Melville fansite

Based in a similar novel by Melville, the opera Billy Budd by English composer Benjamin Britten debuts in London’s Royal Opera House on Dec. 1, 1951; there are 17 curtain calls. Mutiny scene  ▷MusicWeb: Britten▹

The screenplay for the 1956 film adaptation of Moby Dick, directed by John Huston, is written by Ray Bradbury (‘his Fahrenheit 451‘ appeared in 1953). The association with Huston is not a pleasant experience for Bradbury. Likewise for Gregory Peck, who plays Ahab; later he says that Huston should have played Ahab. Huston commissions French-British violist, composer Philip Sainton (*) to write the filmscore. Film 

Finally, the instrumental, drum-solo track Moby Dick appears on British group Led Zeppelin‘s second album, released Oct. 22, 1969.  ( Led Zep site

1954

The first mass-market transistor radio (AM only!), the Regency TR-1, is announced.

Made in the USA (how weird is that!) by I.D.E.A. Inc., it fits in one hand, costs $50, has 4 transistors, and uses a 22-volt battery! Assembly 

First transistor, 1947

Regency TR-1 page

The personal gadget slowly becomes a fad, growing up with rock’n’roll. You can take it to the beach! By the early 60s owning a ‘transistor’ (sold for $10 or less), like the much later iPod, is a must for many.
MP3: How transistors revolutionized music
Roger McGuinn’s TR-1