1 April 1924

The Royal Canadian Air Force is formed.

The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force (CAF). In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) when it was granted the royal title by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968.[1] Prior attempts at forming an air force for Canada were the Canadian Aviation Corps that was attached to the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and a two-squadron Canadian Air Force that was attached to the Royal Air Force.

The modern Royal Canadian Air Force, formerly known as Canadian Forces Air Command, traces its history to the unification of Canada’s armed services in 1968, and is one of three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces. The Royal Canadian Air Force has served in the Second World War, the Korean War, and several United Nations peacekeeping missions and NATO operations. The force maintained a presence in Europe through the second half of the 20th century.

Efforts toward the creation of a Canadian air element continued at the beginning of 1920s. The Canadian government established an Air Board of seven members to regulate and control commercial and civil aviation throughout the Dominion in 1919. The Board was also charged with defending the country from the sky. This included the organization and administration of the Canadian Air Force (CAF), authorized on 18 February 1920. The new organization was given a provisional establishment of 1,340 officers and 31,905 airmen, but it remained as a non-permanent air force. Its only function was to give a 28-day refresher courses every other year to officers and airmen who had served in the RAF during the war. A small headquarters was set up in Ottawa, under the Air Board, and Camp Borden was taken over to serve as the CAF training centre. Operations began there in October 1920, with all equipment, aircraft and hangars donated by the British government.

By the end of March 1922, when refresher training at Camp Borden was suspended, 550 officers and 1,271 airmen had completed the 28-day course.gallery-ww21By 1922, a transition plan for the future organization of the Air Force was needed. It was a period of reorganization for the Canadian forces that culminated with legislation passing on 1 January 1923; the Militia, the Naval Service, and the Air Board were thus incorporated under one Ministry of National Defence.

1 April 2004

Google releases Gmail.

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If you wanted to pick a single date to mark the beginning of the modern era of the web, you could do a lot worse than choosing Thursday, April 1, 2004, the day Gmail launched.

Scuttlebutt that Google was about to offer a free email service had leaked out the day before: Here’s John Markoff of the New York Times reporting on it at the time. But the idea of the search kingpin doing email was still startling, and the alleged storage capacity of 1GB—500 times what Microsoft’s Hotmail offered—seemed downright implausible. So when Google issued a press release date-stamped April 1, an awful lot of people briefly took it to be a really good hoax.

Gmail turned out to be real, and revolutionary. And a decade’s worth of perspective only makes it look more momentous.The first true landmark service to emerge from Google since its search engine debuted in 1998, Gmail didn’t just blow away Hotmail and Yahoo Mail, the dominant free webmail services of the day. With its vast storage, zippy interface, instant search and other advanced features, it may have been the first major cloud-based app that was capable of replacing conventional PC software, not just complementing it.

Even the things about Gmail that ticked off some people presaged the web to come: Its scanning of messages to find keywords that could be used for advertising purposes kicked off a conversation about online privacy that continues on to this day. Within Google, Gmail was also regarded as a huge, improbable deal. It was in the works for nearly three years before it reached consumers; during that time, skeptical Googlers ripped into the concept on multiple grounds, from the technical to the philosophical. It’s not hard to envision an alternate universe in which the effort fell apart along the way, or at least resulted in something a whole lot less interesting.