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LE First IssueIn May/June 1964, Laboratory Equipment published its first issue, focused on lab/pilot equipment, apparatus, instruments, materials and more. In a memo that went out to lab equipment manufacturers announcing the new tabloid publication, the editors of Laboratory Equipment described the magazine’s mission to: “editorially present product information briefs with accompanying photos. This ‘what’s new’ style of editorial will make it easy for key players in laboratories to keep up with new products and the latest information on existing products.” Although much has changed since 1964, as you’ll see below, Laboratory Equipment's mission to bring new products and technologies to its readers has not. 
 
While Laboratory Equipment was enjoying its maiden voyage, so too were other companies, products and technologies. In the early part of the decade, laboratories in the U.S. were already building the first high-resolution NMR systems for use in analytical chemistry. Seeing the power of this technique, and the need for a commercial impulse spectrometer, Prof. Günther Laukien formed Bruker Corp. in 1960 in Germany. Bruker ultimately introduced the first fully transistorized NMR instrument, the HFX 90, the first of which was delivered to the Technical Univ. of Berlin.
 
Founded in 1922, Anton Paar enjoyed two major milestones in the 1960s—the development of the first digital density meter using the oscillating U-tube principle, as well as the development of a systematic approach for transferring technology from research to industry.
 
Other noteworthy laboratory equipment milestones of the 1960s include:
• Metrohm launched the first digital titrator in 1968.
• Eppendorf introduced the microliter centrifuge, proprietary consumables and the first automatic batchwise analysis equipment in 1962/63.
• KNF Neuberger began developing, manufacturing and selling diaphragm pumps in 1962.
• BINDER was founded in 1960.
• Sartorious debuted the first laboratory balances with analog output in 1963.
• PolyScience was launched as a start up company in 1963.
• Jim Waters started Waters Corp. in 1958 on money from a previous company, but opened the company up to external investors in 1962.
• Omega Engineering was founded in 1962.
 
The Space Race
The 1960s saw astronomical leaps in space exploration due to The Space Race between Russia and the U.S. and the John F. Kennedy-spurred Moon race. In 1962, NASA announced Project Gemini, which would be the precursor to the Apollo Moon missions. It would also support the mission by developing spaceflight technologies, establishing duration limits and training novice pilots for future missions. Gemini accomplishments include: ability to change spacecraft orbits; first space rendezvous; record of 14 days in space; first docking between two spacecraft; first direct-ascent rendezvous; and a productive 5-hour working session outside the spacecraft. 
 
With the success of Gemini, the Moon-based Apollo program was off to a great start. After tragedy struck Apollo 1, Apollo 8 was lauched in 1968 and became the first human-crewed spacecraft to leave low-Earth orbit and go to another celestial body. Apollo 8 entered into orbit around the Moon, orbited 10 times and then returned two days later, safely splashing down in the Pacific—another NASA first. Apollo 11 launched July 16, 1969, and took just three days to reach the Moon. After achieving orbit, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin transferred into the Lunar Module and began their descent to the Moon. Despite computer malfunctions and an Armstrong-guided manual landing, the two landed on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility, becoming the first two men to walk on the Moon shortly after landing.
 
While the U.S. still leads the race—and is still the only country to have a man walk on the Moon—many question whether U.S. space dominance will continue. President Barack Obama canceled the Constellation program, and instilled different goals, such as landing on Mars and an interest in asteroids. Additionally, competition has increased, with China slowly building a formidable space reputation with goals including sending a rover to the Moon and eventually a manned lunar mission. Private companies have also stepped into the picture with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
 
Aerospace development
The 60s were also a booming time for aerospace development. The era of commercial jet transportation, led by the enormous popularity of the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8, revolutionized long-distance travel. Pan American World Airways, the biggest commercial airline at the time, was calling for larger, faster planes. Boeing’s answer was the 747, which was two-and-a-half times bigger than the previous 707 version. The four-engine, double deck jetliner enjoyed its first flight on February 9, 1969, and would go on to become one of the world’s most popular aircraft. The 747 is still in use today, much to the surprise of its manufacturer. Boeing expected supersonic airliners (whose development was also announced in the early 1960s) to render the 747 obsolete. The company did not expect to sell more than 400 747s, but it exceeded expectations with more than 1,500 planes built since the 1960s.
 
Introduced in 1964, the Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft. It was the first operational aircraft specifically designed to reduce its radar signature. Special radar-absorbing materials were incorporated into sawtooth-shaped sections of the aircraft's skin, and engineers added chines in an effort to reflect radar energy. Cesium-based substances were also added to the fuel to reduce visibility of the exhaust plumes. However, its greatest weapon was its speed—just accelerating was enough for the aircraft to avoid a surface-to-air missile, and no SR-71 has ever been shot down. The SR-71 was first retired in 1990, setting multiple records on its voyage from its birthplace in California to its final resting spot at the Smithsonian Institute in Virginia. The aircraft was retired a final time in 1998.
 
Automotive industry
The 1960s saw the beginning of pony cars—or an American class of cars launched and inspired by the ’64 Ford Mustang. Generally, these cars were affordable, compact and sporty, made for high performance. The pony car generation had its beginnings with Chevrolet’s 1960 Corvair Monza. This sporty economy car boasted bucket seats and a floor-mounted shifter, and would go on to sell around 144,000 units in just a year. Ford responded to the Corvair Monza with sportier Futura and Futura Sprint versions of its Ford Falcon; but nothing would compare with the soon-to-launch Mustang.
 
Looking to capitalize on a younger generation, Ford redrew all we knew about sports cars at the time and developed the Mustang. Launched on April 17, 1964, Ford was forecasting sales for the first year to reach 100,000 units. But, Ford dealers took 22,000 orders the first day and the company had to shift production mid-year. The extended model year sales totaled 618,812 Mustangs.
 
The 1964 Mustang became the blueprint for all other pony cars. It was based on the platform of the Falcon, but had a distinctive body. It included bucket seating, floor shifter, sport steering wheel and full wheel covers in its base price of $2,368. The Mustang also offered a range of options, including a V8 engine, automatic transmission, radio, air conditioning and other accessories. 
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