Little Bits of History

National Women’s Rights Convention

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2014
Mott, Stanton, Susan B Anthony

Lucretia Mott, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

October 23, 1850: The first National Women’s Rights Convention begins. In 1840, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton went to London with their husbands for the first World Anti-Slavery Convention. The women were not permitted to participate but they became friends and planned to organize their own convention in support of women’s rights. It took them several years, but in 1948 they along with three other women worked to create the Seneca Falls Convention, an event attended by about 300 people and lasting two days. There were about 40 men in attendance causing dissention until Frederick Douglass took the podium and gave an impassioned speech on women’s suffrage.

The success of the first convention spurred the women on hoping to have these meetings in each state. Lucretia Mott was a drawing card and would only be in the area for a short time and so a Regional Women’s Rights Convention was called within a few weeks. It wasn’t until April 1850 before Ohio women began to petition their constitutional convention for women’s equal legal an political rights. Lucy Stone was leader in that state. She partnered with Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis to work toward this goal and eventually this led them to plan a National Convention. They began contacting other women to attend and speak. Stanton was one of the women sought as a speaker but she was unable to attend, due to the timing of her pregnancy.

Stone went to visit her brother who died of cholera shortly after her arrival. She was left to settle his affairs and accompany his pregnant widow back east. Fearing this would not allow her to attend the convention, she sent messages ahead and asked Davis to lead the convention in her stead. The affair had been scheduled for October 16 and 17. While traveling east, Stone contracted typhoid fever and was near death in Indiana. Since she was the leading signatory, the convention was delayed and Stone made it back to Massachusetts just two weeks before the opening.

There were 900 people at the first session, the majority of them men. Several newspapers reported on the event and over 1,000 people were there by the afternoon with more turned away at the doors. Delegates came from eleven states including one from California, a state admitted only a few weeks before. The National Women’s Rights Convention was held yearly from 1850 through 1860 but was interrupted by the US Civil War. Two more events were held after the end of the war. It would take decades longer before women were considered to be able to handle the vote and given a voice in the rule of the land. Their equal treatment under the law is still somewhat spotty and the Equal Rights Amendment failed ratification before the March 22, 1979 deadline. Even with an extension to June 30, 1982, the ERA could not pass.

I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives. – Jane Austen

I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves. – Mary Wollstonecraft

Humankind is made up of two sexes, women and men. Is it possible for humankind to grow by the improvement of only one part while the other part is ignored? Is it possible that if half of a mass is tied to earth with chains that the other half can soar into skies? – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

There could be a powerful international women’s rights movement if only philanthropists would donate as much to real women as to paintings and sculptures of women. – Nicholas D. Kristof

Also on this day: Fore – In 1930, the first miniature golf tournament was held.
Bump! Boom! – In 1958, the Springhill mining disaster struck.
Poison Gas – In 2002, the Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis began.
Schtroumpfs - In 1958, the Belgian comic strip debuted.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2014
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell

October 22, 1707: Navigation errors led to the sinking of four ships. In 1707, the War of Spanish Succession was in play and the British, Austrian, and Dutch forces under the command of Prince Eugene of Savoy besieged the French port of Toulon, trying to take control. The campaign was fought from July 29 to August 21 and the British sent a fleet of ships to help. Although the ships were able to inflict damages on the enemy, the overall effect was negligible. The British fleet was ordered to return home. There were 15 ships under the command of Sir Cloudesley Shovell.

They left Gibraltar on September 29. There was horrible weather during the voyage home with squalls and storms a near constant. The fleet sailed out to the Atlantic and then passed the Bay of Biscay, heading for England. The weather only worsened and the ships were thrown off course. On this day, the ships finally were able to enter the English Channel. The navigators believed they were positioned west of Ushant. Because of the bad weather, the accuracy of the longitudinal calculation was off. Instead of a position of safety, the ships were sailing towards the Isles of Scilly, and archipelago off the coast off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula.

Before their course could be corrected, four ships were lost on the rocks of the islands. The flagship HMS Association was a 90-gun ship under the command of Captain Edmund Loades and with Admiral Shovell aboard. The ship struck the Western Rocks at 8 PM and sank, drowning the entire crew of about 800 men. Directly behind Association was HMS St George, which also struck the rocks but was able to escape. HMS Eagle, a 70-gun ship commanded by Captain Robert Hancock struck the Crim Rocks and sank in 130 feet of water with all hands. The HMS Romney, a 50-gun ship commanded by Captain William Coney, hit Bishop Rock and went down with only one crewman surviving. The last to sink was HMS Firebrand, a fire ship commanded by Captain Francis Percy. This struck the Outer Gilstone Rock but was able to float free for a while. She sunk close to Menglow Rock and lost 28 of her 40 man crew.

The exact number of men who died in the disaster is unknown. Various records give differing numbers between 1,400 and 2,000 officers, sailors, and marines killed. This is the greatest maritime disaster in British history. For days after the sinkings, bodies continued to wash ashore along with wreckage and personal items. Myths surround the sinking, including Admiral Shovell’s unwillingness to listen to a sailor’s report they were off course. Shovell did not survive the disaster and the legend of his murder after washing ashore barely alive is unsubstantiated.

A young sailor boy came to see me today. It pleases me to have these lads seek me on their return from their first voyage, and tell me how much they have learned about navigation. – Maria Mitchell

The rules of navigation never navigated a ship. The rules of architecture never built a house. – Thomas Reid

We were suddenly faced with the necessity of training a lot of young men in the art of navigation. – Clyde Tombaugh

We have always been taught that navigation is the result of civilization, but modern archeology has demonstrated very clearly that this is not so. – Thor Heyerdahl

Also on this day: When the World Was New – In 4004 BC, the world was created – according to the math.
Where Is He? – In 1844, Jesus Christ did not return to Earth.
Pretty Boy - In 1934, Charles Floyd was killed.
No, Thanks – In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize.

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Rudolph Valentino

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 21, 2014
 The Sheik, opening card

The Sheik, opening card

October 21, 1921: The iconic silent film, The Sheik,  premiers. The movie was directed by George Melford and starred Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres. It was based on the book of the same name written by Edith Maude Hull with a screen adaptation written by Monte M Katterjohn. William Marshall was the cinematographer. Famous Players-Lasky produced the movie with distribution by Paramount Pictures. The 80 minute film cost under $200,000 to make and earned over $1.5 million in the US and Canada on its first release.

Lady Diana Mayo (Ayres) was a headstrong woman bent on maintaining her independence. Through a series of events, Diana ends up in a caravan led by Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (Valentino). Ahmed is smitten by the lovely woman who continually rebuffs his advances. He is essentially holding her prisoner of his caravan. In the book, Ahmed rapes the young woman; in the movie he does not. Diana is not swayed by his behavior in either medium. She finally escapes, only to be captured again by an evil man. Ahmed saves her but is injured in the attempt. Diana attends the wounded sheik and falls in love but resists as she is repelled by the thought of loving an Arab. She learns that the Sheik is of British and Spanish heritage and was only adopted into the Arab community when he was orphaned. They marry and live happily ever after, or until the sequel.

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla was born in Italy in 1895. His mother was French and his father an Italian veterinarian. The father died of malaria when Rudolph was 11. In 1912, Valentino moved to Paris but came back to Italy the next year. He had trouble finding employment in both places and came to the US where he was processed through Ellis Island on December 23, 1913. He was 18 years old. He found work as a dancer at Maxim’s where he became involved with Blanca de Saulles. Her ex-husband eventually had Valentino arrested on some flimsy vice charge. He was released from jail before Blanca shot her ex-husband. Fearful of another scandal, Valentino left town.

Valentino’s acting career was sealed with his performances in both The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and this movie. He enjoyed fame for some time, but it waned after two box office duds. He had just finished filming The Son of the Sheik where he reprised his role in The Sheik, playing both the father and the son in the sequel. He was in New York City on a promotional tour when he became ill. He was diagnosed with a perforated ulcer and underwent surgery. It seemed successful until he developed complications. He died on August 23, 1926 at the age of 31. His last film was released just two weeks after his death.

To generalize on women is dangerous. To specialize on them is infinitely worse.

A man should control his life. Mine is controlling me.

Women are not in love with me but with the picture of me on the screen. I am merely the canvas on which women paint their dreams.

I am beginning to look more and more like my miserable imitators. – all from Rudolph Valentino

Also on this day: Suicide Pilots – In 1944, the first kamikaze attack took place.
Apple Day – In 1990, the first Apple Day was held in Covent Garden, London.
USS Constitution – In 1797, the ship was launched.
Disaster - In 1966 the Aberfan disaster took place.

Cleveland East Ohio Gas Explosion

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 20, 2014
Leveled area of Cleveland, Ohio

Leveled area of Cleveland, Ohio

October 20, 1944: The Cleveland East Ohio Gas explosion takes place. Liquefied natural gas is predominately methane which has been converted into liquid form for storage or transport purposes. It is much denser taking up only about 1/600th the volume of the gaseous state. It is odorless, colorless, non-toxic, and non-corrosive. It is also flammable. At this time, liquid natural gas was often stored above ground and the East Ohio Gas Company had a tank farm located near Lake Erie on East 61st Street in Cleveland, Ohio. These tank farms were similar in looks to the tanks still seen today which store gasoline.

October 20, 1944 was a Friday and at about 2.30 PM tank number four began to leak. A seam on the side of the tank allowed a vapor to leave the tank. Winds from Lake Erie pushed the vapor in towards the city. Since it was heavier than air, the vapor dropped into sewer lines via catch basins in the street gutters. The gas mixture and the sewer gas combined and the concoction ignited. The resulting explosion blew manhole covers high into the air as jets of fire escaped from the sewer lines. One manhole cover was located several miles east in the Glenville neighborhood.

The initial explosion was thought to be an isolated event and it was felt the disaster was contained. People returned to their homes thinking the fire department had the issue under control. At 3 PM, a second above-ground tank exploded and leveled the entire tank farm. More explosions and more fires followed. People who had returned to the safety of their homes were now trapped by the fires. Not only were the manhole covers a relief valve for the compressed gasses beneath the city, but drains were also an escape hatch and as the gasses were released, home were instantly set ablaze, along with everything and everyone inside them.

Cuyahoga County Coroner, Dr. Samuel Gerber, estimated the initial death toll at 200. He was quoted as saying the magnitude of the fire and the intensity of the heat would have had vaporized human flesh and bone, making an exact count impossible until much later. Fortunately, the death toll was less than Gerber had imagined. In all, 130 people died in the blasts. Another 600 were left homeless. Seventy homes, two factories, uncounted cars, and miles of underground infrastructure were destroyed. Many people not only lost their home, but all their possessions which often included money, stocks, and bonds. It was estimated that between $7 and 15 million in personal and industrial property was lost to the disaster. As a result of this catastrophe, above ground liquid natural gas became less common and underground storage came to be the norm.

Natural gas obviously brings with it a number of quality-of-life environmental benefits because it is a relatively clean-burning fuel. It has a CO2 footprint, but it has no particulates. It has none of the other emissions elements that are of concern to public health that other forms of power-generation fuels do have: coal, fuel oil, others. – Rex Tillerson

Compared to coal, which generates almost half the electricity in the United States, natural gas is indeed a cleaner, less polluting fuel. But compared to, say, solar, it’s filthy. And of course there is nothing renewable about natural gas. – Jeff Goodell

Natural gas is a better transportation fuel than gasoline, so if that’s the case, it’s cheaper, it’s cleaner and it’s a domestic resource. – T. Boone Pickens

Hydraulic fracking is very much a necessary part of the future of natural gas. – Ken Salazar

Also on this day: Subway Vigilante – In 1987, Bernard (Bernie) Goetz was sentenced.
What Big Feet You Have – In 1967, a film of Bigfoot was taken – maybe.
Football Fiasco – In 1851, Johnny Bright was injured on the field.
Kragujevac – In 1941 the Kragujevac massacre began.

New Beginnings

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2014
Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

October 19, 1781: The Siege of Yorktown ends. This was a defining battle of the American Revolutionary War which lasted from September 28 until this day, ending with a victory for the combined troops of the Continental Army, led by George Washington, and the French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau. The British were under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. This was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. The capture of Cornwallis and the surrender of his troops led the British government to negotiate an end to the war.

As the fighting continued, advancing Continental troops with their allies were outnumbering British troops and their allies about two to one. They were able to contain Cornwallis and his ability to retreat and regroup was halted at York River. On the morning of October 17, a British officer waved a white flag in surrender. The bombardment ceased and the officer was led behind enemy lines and negotiations began at the Moore House on the next day. The negotiators included Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas and Major Alexander Ross for the British, Lieutenant Colonel Laurens for the Americans, and the Marquis de Noailles for the French. In order to retain the favor of the French, Washington gave them equal say in the negotiations.

The capitulation was signed on this day; signatories included Washington, Rochambeau, the Comte de Barras (for the French Navy), Cornwallis, and Lieutenant Thomas Symonds (British Navy). Cornwallis’s troops were considered prisoners of war and were given a promise of good treatment. Officers were permitted to return home after taking parole. At 2 PM, all was in place and the British asked for the traditional Honors of War which included marching with flags waving and muskets shouldered while playing an enemy tune as a signal of tribute to the victors. This was denied just as the defeated men in Charleston had been denied this right earlier.

The Americans captured 8,000 troops, 214 artillery pieces, thousands of muskets, 24 transport ships, and other spoils of war. Cornwallis refused to meet formally with Washington, claiming illness and refused to come to the ceremonies. Brigadier general Charles O’Hara came in Cornwallis’s stead and offered the sword of surrender to Rochambeau. Rochambeau demurred to Washington. O’Hara then offered the sword to Washington who also refused to take the sword but signaled instead to his second in command. Benjamin Lincoln, the defeated Major General at Charleston, finally took the sword from the humiliated O’Hara. The British marched out, laid down their arms between the French and American armies and those on the other side of the river also surrendered at the same time.

I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my Country.

Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.

I beg you be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness. – all from  George Washington

Also on this day: Streptomycin – In 1943, Streptomycin was first isolated.
Not Soccer – Not Rugby – In 1873, the rules for American football were first codified.
Stella or A Deal You Can’t Refuse – In 1944, Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut.
Disco - In 1959, the Scotch-Club opened.

Movable Music

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 18, 2014
Regency TR-1

Regency TR-1

October 18, 1954: Texas Instruments (TI) and Industrial Development Engineering Associates (I.D.E.A.) announce the breakthrough Regency TR-1. The Dallas, Texas Company partnered with their friends in Indianapolis, Indiana to produce the first transistor radio. Texas Instruments’ business model had them supplying instrumentation to the oil industry and locating devices to the US Navy. I.D.E.A. built home TV antenna boosters. In May, TI designed and built a prototype of a transistor radio in the hopes of a new market for their transistors. None of the major radio makers (RCA, Philco, and Emerson) were interested. Ed Tudor, president of I.D.E.A., took the chance and predicted 20 million units would be sold in the first three years.

Announced on this day, the small radio went on sale in November. Billboard reported the new radio had only four transistors. While the size was remarkably handy, the sound quality left something to be desired. One year after its release, sales were approaching 100,000 units. In February 1955, Raytheon 8-TP-1 was introduced by Raytheon. It was larger and included a four-inch speaker with double the number of transistors used. The Raytheon 8-TR-1 still had just four transistors. Consumer Report gave a promising review in July, noting that while not the world’s smallest radio, the sound quality was much improved. Once the way was paved, Zenith, RCA, DeWald, and Crosley jumped on the bandwagon and added their own versions for sale.

Today, the cost of an iPod is about $150-190 for a 16 GB unit. The Regency TR-1 cost $49.95 when released. That is about $440 today. The reason for this was the difficulty in making transistors. At the time, only one if five transistors actually worked as expected. With only a 20% success rate, the costs were extremely high. The Raytheon 8-TR-1 cost about $80 or $700 in today’s dollars. By November of 1956, radios were small enough to be worn on the wrist and cost only $29.95. The first all transistor radio for a car was developed by Chrysler and Philco. It was called Mopar 914HR and was available as an option in the fall of 1955. The radio added $150 to the cost of the car or $1,300 in today’s currency.

In 1952, Masura Ibuka, founder of Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation was in the US and found AT&T was about to make licensing available for the transistor. Japan purchased a license for $25,000 ($220,000 today). In August 1955, the Japanese company now called Sony introduced their first five transistor radio model in the US. The first two models were not very successful. But the December 1957 version, TR-63 was smaller, came in four colors, and used a nine-volt battery. This battery size would become the standard. Not immediately successful, by 1959, six Japanese transistor radio manufactures had models for sale in the US which represented $62 million in revenue.

You don’t need to know this – but here goes: due to some acquired infantilism, I feel compelled to fall asleep listening to the radio. On a good night, I’ll push the frail barque of my psyche off into the waters of Lethe accompanied by the midnight newsreader – on a bad one, it’s the shipping forecast. – Will Self

If the education of our kids comes from radio, television, newspapers – if that’s where they get most of their knowledge from, and not from the schools, then the powers that be are definitely in charge, because they own all those outlets. – Maynard James Keenan

Mass communication, radio, and especially television, have attempted, not without success, to annihilate every possibility of solitude and reflection. – Eugenio Montale

If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners. – Johnny Carson

Also on this day: Le Bateau – In 1961, Henri Matisse’s painting was hung at the Museum of Modern Art – upside down.
Not the Essex – In 1851, Moby-Dick was published in England.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre – In 1009, the church was destroyed.
Terrorism - In 2007, a suicide bomber attacked Benazir Bhutto.

Man’s Achievement

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 17, 2014
1964 New York World’s Fair

1964 New York World’s Fair

October 17, 1965: The 1964 New York World’s Fair closes. Also called EXPO New York 1964/1965, the fair’s theme was “Peace Through Understanding”. It was dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe” and American companies dominated the exposition. There were two six-month seasons with the first running form April 22 to October 18, 1964 and the second from April 21 – October 17, 1965. The admission price in 1964 was $2 for adults and $1 for children (about $15 and $7 respectively in 2014 dollars). The next year, the adult admission price was raised to $2.50 but children’s price remained the same.

The centerpiece of the EXPO was a twelve-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth called the Unisphere. Surrounded by fountains, it remains intact and located in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park in the borough of Queens, New York City. It was originally designed by landscape architect Gilmore Clarke and then refined by Industrial Designers at Peter Muller-Munk Associates. The original aluminum and metallic mesh continents morphed into the Stainless Steel globe which was built on the foundation that supported the Perisphere of the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. Both of these events were preceded by the 1853-54 New York World’s Fair. All three of these were the only World’s Fairs which ran for two years rather than one.

The 1964/65 fair was conceptualized by New York City businessmen who fondly remembered the fair in the City during their younger years. A feasibility study was carried out and organizers turned to private funding and the sale of bonds to pay the huge cost of staging the event. The influx of tourists was considered to be worth the investment. Many of the pavilions were built in a modern style, heavily influenced by Googie architecture – a subdivision of futurist architecture of the Space Age and Atomic Age. The buildings were often able to have a more expressive façade due to the use of modern building materials.

The Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) did not give its official sanction to the event. The absence of Canada, Australia, most major European nations and the Soviet Union tarnished the image of the fair. Almost all corporations in America had a presence along with nations with smaller economies. Spain, Vatican City, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Thailand, Philippines, Greece, Pakistan, and Ireland had national presences at the fair. One of the most popular pavilions was the Vatican City’s with Michelangelo’s Pieta on display. The fair did not have a midway as organizers did not feel it was the proper tone for the fair and the amusements provided were somewhat dull. The fair’s ending was shrouded in controversy over mismanagement of funds. The 1939 fair had returned 40 cents on the dollar for investors. This fair only returned 19.2 cents.

I believe in New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I won’t ever dare ask that question. – Dylan Thomas

New York is the meeting place of the peoples, the only city where you can hardly find a typical American. – Djuna Barnes

Make your mark in New York and you are a made man. – Mark Twain

New York, you are an Egypt! But an Egypt turned inside out. For she erected pyramids of slavery to death, and you erect pyramids of democracy with the vertical organ-pipes of your skyscrapers all meeting at the point of infinity of liberty! – Salvador Dalí

Also on this day: National Geographic – In 1888, the National Geographic Society began publishing a new magazine.
Fore – In 1860, the Open Championship was first played.
War on Poverty - In 1993, the UN sponsored its first International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Tornado - In 1091, the London Tornado struck.

London Beer Flood

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 16, 2014
St.. Giles rookery

St.. Giles Rookery

October 16, 1814: The corroded hoops break. Horse Shoe Brewery was located in central London. It was established in 1623 and by 1787 it was the eleventh largest maker of porter of any London brewery. By 1787 they were producing slightly more than 40,000 barrels per year. Porter is a dark style beer which is first mentioned in the early 1700s. Although various tales are put forth over how the brew came to be, it seems to have descended from brown beer, a well-hopped beer made from brown malt. It’s name may have come from the popularity of the beverage among street and river porters. Porters and stouts came into use about the same time and stouts seem to be stronger porters. Guinness Extra Stout was originally called Extra Superior Porter. It became Extra Stout in 1840.

The tavern was under the ownership of Meux and Company Brewery. The vat with weak hoops contained 160,000 gallons of beer. As the hoops burst, the force of the exiting fluid caused other vats to also explode in a domino effect. Because of the added breakage, a total of 390,000 gallons of beer was set in motion. The beer cause severe damage to the building and several beams collapsed. It burst through the walls of the tavern and entered the streets. The part of London where the tavern was located was a poorer district. The place was known as St. Giles Rookery, meaning it was a slum area filled with tenements. The densely populated area had many families living the basements of the rickety multi-storied buildings.

The landscape of the region caused problems. The region is flat and there was nowhere for the beer to go. As the tide of brew swept down the street, it entered the buildings and filled basements in nearby tenements. The people trapped inside climbed on furniture to escape the rising tide. Two homes were destroyed and the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub crumbled, trapping a teenaged employee, Eleanor Cooper, under the rubble. She and seven others were killed. Thomas Mulvey was the youngest victim at age 3 who died with his mother, Ann, aged 30. Ann Saville was the oldest; she was 53.

The brewery was taken to court over the accident. The disaster was ruled an Act of God by the judge and jury. No one was responsible. The company had difficulties coping with the economic implications of the disaster. This was a significant loss of sales which was worse because they had already paid duty on the beer. The applied to Parliament to reclaim the duty and were successful which allowed them to stay in business. The cost to the brewery for the accident was about £23,000 or about £21,910,000 today or about $35.5 million. They received about £7,250 back from their returned excise taxes. They continued to be one of the largest producers of porter in London even after the disaster.

Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer. – Arnold Schwarzenegger

I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer. – Brendan Behan

Beer, it’s the best damn drink in the world. – Jack Nicholson

Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer’s day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented. – Gilbert K. Chesterton

Also on this day: Cardiff Giant- In 1869, a petrified giant is found near Cardiff.
Complex Numbers – In 1843, quaternions were first defined.
Planned Parenthood - In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened a clinic.
Disney - In 1923, Walt and Roy Disney signed a contract to produce the Alice Comedies.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 15, 2014
FORTRAN statement punch card

FORTRAN statement punch card

October 15, 1956: The FORTRAN Automatic Coding System for the IBM 704 programmer’s reference manual is released. The name comes from FORmula TRANSlating system and it is a general-purpose imperative programming language which is especially useful for numeric computation and scientific computing. It was developed by IBM for use with scientific and engineering applications and it dominated the area of programming from the early days. It has been in continuous use since its release and today finds use in applications using massive numerical data such as weather prediction, element analysis, and computations areas of fluid dynamics, physics, and chemistry.

It is the language used for programs which benchmark and rank the world’s fastest supercomputers. It was based on previous computer programming languages: ALGOL 58, BASIC, C, PL/I, PACT I, MUMPS, and Ratfor. As each new version evolved, it was given a higher number appended to the name. FORTRAN is written in all caps up until FORTRAN 77 but the name eventually became Fortran without being all caps, which happened officially with Fortran 90. Newer versions added extensions but usually provided for legacy use of older versions of the code.

In late 1953, John Backus submitted a proposal to IBM to develop and more practical alternative to assembly language for programming the IBM 704 mainframe, a room size behemoth of a computer. Backus put together a team of programmers: Richard Goldberg, Sheldon Best, Harlan Herrick, Peter Sheridan, Roy Nutt, Robert Nelson, Irving Ziller, Lois Haibt, and David Sayre. The team worked on a method which would include easier entry of equations into a computer, something that was still done using punch cards. The first draft specification for The IBM Mathematical Formal Translating System was completed in mid-1954. The first FORTRAN compiler was delivered in April 1957. Customers were reluctant to use the new language because they didn’t believe it would be better than hand-coded assembly language.

It was better. It reduced the number of programming statements necessary to operate a machine by a factor of 20. It quickly gained acceptance. Because the language was being used by many scientists, compiler writers were urged on to create compilers able to generate faster and more efficient coding. The initial release of FORTRAN contained 32 statements (computer orders). Programs were entered on a keypunch keyboard onto 80 column punched cards, one line per card. The cards were fed into a card reader to be compiled. These did not usually deal with special characters and so special cards were needed. After many new versions, the language began being called Fortran with the date of revision. The Fortran in use today is Fortran 2008 with the next revision due to come out in 2015.

Much of my work has come from being lazy. I didn’t like writing programs, and so, when I was working on the IBM 701, writing programs for computing missile trajectories, I started work on a programming system to make it easier to write programs.- John Backus in a 1979 interview

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the universe trying to build bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning. – Rick Cook

Don’t worry if it doesn’t work right. If everything did, you’d be out of a job. – Mosher’s Law of Software Engineering

FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed — it is hardy, occasionally blooms, and grows in every computer. – Alan J. Perlis

The evolution of languages: FORTRAN is a non-typed language. C is a weakly typed language. Ada is a strongly typed language. C++ is a strongly hyped language. – Ron Sercely

Also on this day: Rostov Ripper – In 1992, Andrei Chikatilo, of Russia, was found guilty of 52 murders.
Going Postal – In 1888, a letter was received, purportedly from Jack the Ripper.
You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do – In 1951, I Love Lucy premiered.
Chance Chants – In 1764, Edward Gibbon was inspired to write his work on the fall of Rome.

Cubs Win!

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 14, 2014
1908 World Series winning Cubs

1908 World Series winning Cubs

October 14, 1908: Cubs win! The 1908 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs ended with the Cubs winning their fourth game. The Cubs were playing with player/manager Frank Chance in charge while the Tigers had Hughie Jennings as manager. The games were played at Bennett Park and West Side Park, neither of them still in existence. The Tigers moved to Navin Field in 1912 which changed its name to Briggs Stadium in 1938 and then to Tiger Stadium in 1961. It was owned by the team from 1912 to 1977 when the City of Detroit took it over. It was demolished in 2008-2009. The home of the Tigers has been Comerica Park since 2000.

West Side Park was home to the Cubs from 1885-1891 and 1894 to 1915. The park was demolished in 1920. The Cubs move to Wrigley Field in 1916 and remain there to this day. Although they have played on the same field since 1916, there were major renovations in 1937 and 1988 as well as expansions in 1922, 1927, and 2006. The original construction cost was $250,000 which is nearly $6 million in today’s dollars. Wrigley Field was designated a Chicago Landmark on February 1, 2004. It is the oldest National League ballpark and the second oldest active major league ballpark with Fenway Park being older.

The first game of the Series was played on October 10 in Detroit and the Cubs won it 10-6 in front of 10,812 fans. They teams traveled to Chicago for the next two games and split them. On October 11 17,760 people watched the Cubs win with a score of 6-1 but the next day, the Tigers came back with an 8-3 win as 14,543 people watched from the stands. Then they traveled back to Detroit and the Cubs shut them out with 3-0 score on October 13 with 12,907 in attendance and the final game needed for the series was another shutout with a 2-0 score for the winning team. The Detroit fans must have been quite dispirited as only 6,210 people were at the final game, the most poorly attended game in World Series history.

The Cubs took the title for the second year in a row. It is also the last time the Cubs won the World Series. They have made it to the final series on several occasions – 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945. They lost each time. Each team sported Hall of Famers on their roster. The Cubs had Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, Joe Tinker of Evers to Tinker to Chance fame. The Tigers had Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb playing for them with Cobb having an even better season than he had the year before. It was not enough to get the Tigers the pennant – that year. The Tigers have gone on to four World Series titles: 1935, beating the Cubs, 1945, again beating the Cubs, 1968, and 1984.

You don’t just accidentally show up in the World Series. – Derek Jeter

A World Series trophy is a wonderful thing to behold. – Willie Stargell

The only reason I don’t like playing in the World Series is I can’t watch myself play. – Reggie Jackson

I really want to see the Cubs in the World Series. I really do. – Dennis Quaid

Also on this day: Pooh Corner – In 1926, A.A. Milne published his first Pooh story.
Bull Moose – In 1912, presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt was shot.
Ready! Camera! Action! – In 1888, the oldest surviving movie was filmed.
Buzz - In 1912, Claude Grahame-White flew.


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