Uncommon Knowledge: Who invented the countdown?
“3… 2… 1… Blastoff!” It seems like the only way to prepare for a launch, right? But, no. At the time it was first used, the convention was simply to count up in the usual way: “1… 2… 3… Go!” When the countdown was first used in 1929, its purpose was not to precisely synchronize a team working together to create a complex event. Its purpose was the create suspense. And its originator was not a scientist, but the brilliant Austrian filmmaker Fritz Lang. Lang, best known for his movies Metropolis and M, was working on a science fiction film called Woman in the Moon that featured a dramatic rocket launch, preceded by a countdown of the final ten seconds before launch. Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun was a fan of the movie, and brought the countdown to zero with him when he came to America.