1937 American aviator and industrialist Howard Hughes set a new transcontinental airspeed record by flying non-stop in his Hughes H-1 Racer from Los Angeles to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds (beating his own previous record of 9 hours, 27 minutes). His average speed over the flight was 322 mph.
1915 French engineer and inventor Georges Claude received a patent for the first neon lamp. His device applied an electrical discharge to a sealed tube of neon gas to create a lamp.
1851 Dutch astronomer Jacobus Kapteyn was born. He made extensive studies of the Milky Way and discovered the first evidence for galactic rotation.
1813 English engineer and inventor Henry Bessemer was born in Charlton, Hertfordshire, England. He invented the Bessemer Process for the manufacture of steel. It was the first inexpensive industrial process for the mass-production of steel from molten pig iron.
1736 Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer James Watt was born in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland. His improvements in the design of steam engines were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution. He later adapted his engine to rotary motion, making it suitable for a variety of industrial purposes, and invented the flywheel and the governor. The watt, a unit that measures the rate of energy conversion, is named after him.