Compare and Contrast

1920s: In the world of finance, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hits 381. A period of general prosperity for the country (except for the farmer), the government adopts a “laissez-faire” attitude towards big business. This policy ends with the collapse of the economy following October 29, 1929, the stock market crash, when $30 billion disappears, a sum equal to what the war cost America. Today: The Federal Reserve keeps a steady watch on the burgeoning economy and cautions investors of the ever-present possibility of high inflation and interest rates that could adversely affect the market. The Securities and Exchange Commission and Banking Acts established by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Administration set the precedent for improved vigilance in the stock market.

1920s: The German dirigible, Graf Zeppelin, covers 1,630 miles in 121 hours on its first commercial flight. The voyage from Friedrickshafen inaugurates transatlantic service by aircraft. The balloon-like airship, the zeppelin, is used in World War I to move silently over enemy territory and drop bombs. Today: The Concorde enables passengers to fly twice the speed of sound between Paris and New York in three and a half hours. Developed by Col. John Boyd, a legendary U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, the F16, used in the Persian Gulf War, has the capability to change course more quickly and climb faster than any war plane before, thus revolutionizing military strategy.

1920s: The Three Penny Opera opens at Berlin’s Theatre. Starring Lotte Lenya as Jenny, the show includes music by Lenya’s husband Kurt Weill. The libretto is by Bertolt Brecht, who transposed the “Beggar’s Opera” of 1728 into the idiom of Germany’s Weimar Republic. Today: Cabaret, the hit musical starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, records the story of an Englishman’s initiation into the decadent club scene of 1920s Berlin. The musical, which opened at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City on Nov. 20, 1966, ran for 1,165 performances, and inspired an award-winning Hollywood film.

1920s: The Leica introduced by E. Leitz G. m.b.H. of Wetzlar, Germany, is a revolutionary miniature 35 millimeter camera invented by Oskar Bernack. It takes a thirty-six-frame film roll and has a lens that can be closed down to take pictures with great depth of field or opened for dim lighting conditions, fast and slow shutter speeds, and interchangeable lenses that permit close-ups and telephotography. Today: Ken Perlin, a New York University professor, discovers a technique in computer science that makes computer-generated images look natural, as, for example, the roughing up of dinosaurs’ skin in the film “Jurassic Park.”

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