Little Bits of History

April 11

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2017

1976: The Apple Computer 1 comes to market. Also known as Apple I or Apple-1, it was the first computer released by the Apple Computer Company. On March 5, 1975 Steve Wozniak attending the first meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club, an early computer hobbyist group from Silicon Valley which was in existence from that day until December 1986. Wozniak was inspired and began immediately to build his own computer. He and his friend, Steve Jobs, worked together to make a model and once they were successful, the gave out schematics to interested club members. They even helped some members build the computer in order to test out copies.

Jobs thought they should sell a single etched and silkscreened circuit board (no electronic parts included) and people could use these motherboards to build their own computers. Wozniak determined that creating the design layout would cost $1000 and each board would cost $20 in parts. They believed they could sell $40 boards to 50 people and recoup their costs. In order to finance this first venture, Jobs sold his car and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator (the first magnetic card/programmable handheld calculator with a list price of $795 (about $4,100 today). They were in business.

Jobs managed to sell 100 completely built computers to The Byte Shop in Mountain View, California at $500 each. They needed to raise capital to buy parts and managed to do so. The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 for $666.66 each. Wozniak said he did not know the significance of the number, but liked repeating numbers and it was ⅓ above the $500 wholesale price. About 200 units were produced and 175 them were sold in under a year. Computers were usually sold as kits but this new product came fully assembled and the board contained over 60 chips already in place. It was not a working computer, however, and the buyer still had to add a case, power supply transformers, power switch, keyboard, and video display.

The Apple I was unique with its built-in computer terminal circuitry and with a keyboard and inexpensive television set, the user was ready to begin computing. Other computers of the time needed extra hardware in order to be able to connect to terminal or teletypewriter machine. Apple I was innovative and with sales increasing, the price was dropped. In April 1977 the Apple II was introduced but the Apple I was still sold until August of that year. There are over 50 of the original Apples still around today but only six have been verified to still be in working condition. Today, working or not, they are collector items.

Your first projects aren’t the greatest things in the world, and they may have no money value, they may go nowhere, but that is how you learn – you put so much effort into making something right if it is for yourself. – Steve Wozniak

Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window. – Steve Wozniak

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. – Steve Jobs

Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people. – Steve Jobs

Beautiful Music

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2015


April 11, 1888: The Concertgebouw opens. Adolf Leonard van Gendt was the architect of the Dutch concert hall and was inspired by the Gewandhaus of Leipzig, built two years earlier. Building began in 1883 on a pasture outside the city limits of Amsterdam. Because of the quality of land on which the building was placed, the first order of business was to drive 2,186 piles measuring 40-43 feet in length into the soil. The neo-classical building is highly regarded because of its acoustics and is one of the finest concert halls in the world along with Boston’s Symphony Hall and Vienna’s Musikverein. Concertgebouw translates into English as “concert building”. On the 125th anniversary of its opening, Queen Beatrix bestowed the Royal Title “Koninklijk” on the building as she had also done for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Concertgebouw opened on this day with the inaugural concert presenting works of Wagner, Handel, Bach, and Beethoven. Performing was an orchestra of 120 members and a chorus of 500 singers. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra gave its first concert in the hall on November 3, 1888. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest have both regularly performed there for many decades. The Main Hall seats 1,974 people and reverberation time is 2.8 seconds in the empty room and 2.2 seconds before a full audience. This makes the hall perfect for late Romantic composers. This also makes it unsuited to amplified music although Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Pink Floyd all performed there in the 1960s.

Behind the Main Hall is a smaller oval shaped Recital Hall which seats 437. It is well suited for the presentation of chamber music. Even smaller is the Choir Hall which can seat 150. The different rooms provide different acoustics, something not completely understood at the time of construction. Architects and builders did what worked in the past without completely realizing the mechanics behind it. After the building was completed, there was much work still to be done to fine-tune the acoustical ambiance. During later restorations, care was taken not to alter materials used for interior design. In the 1980s, a huge restoration effort was undertaken as the building was found to be sinking into the ground regardless of the piles placed prior to construction.

In 1890, Michael Maarschalkerweerd of Utrecht built the Concertgebouw’s organ. It has 60 registers on three divisions and pedal. Between 1990 and 1993, the organ was renovated. Today, Concertgebouw presents about 900 concerts and other events each year with about 700,000 people in attendance. The managing director is Simon Reinink and the artistic director is Anneke Hogenstijn. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s principal conductor is Mariss Jansons. The Concertgebouw remains privately owned by Het Concertgebouw N.V.

It is a real pleasure to see music so bright and spontaneous expressed with corresponding ease and grace. – Johannes Brahms

A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians. – Frank Zappa

When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had and never will have. – E. W. Howe

Bach gave us God’s Word; Mozart gave us God’s laughter; Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us music that we might pray without words. – From a German Opera House

Also on this day: Coming to America – In 1890, Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Civil Rights Act – In 1968, President Johnson signed the bill into law.
Elks – In 1876, the Elks were organized.
Joe, Not John – In 1890, the Elephant Man died.
Funny Man (Woman, Child) – In 2013, Jonathan Winters died.

* “Concertgebouw” by Hans-Peter Harmsen – Licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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Funny Man (Woman, Child)

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2014
Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters

April 11, 2013: The world loses a great improvisational comedian. Jonathan Harshman Winters III was born in Bellbrook, Ohio on November 11, 1925. His family was relatively wealthy when he was born. Valentine Winters founded Winters National Bank and his grandfather ran it. The bank collapsed during the Great Depression and was sold and is now part of JPMorgan Chase. When Jonathan was seven, his parents divorced and he his mother sent him to Springfield, Ohio to live with her mother. He spent much of his time playing alone in his room where he entertained himself by making strange sound effects which would later become an integral part of his stage presence. He quit high school to join the US Marine Corps during World War II and served two and a half years in the Pacific Theater. He came home and enrolled in college. He married Eileen Schauder on September 11, 1948.

Jonathon lost his watch and couldn’t afford to buy another one. His wife saw a promotion for a talent contest and the first prize was a watch so she told her husband to “go down and win it.” She was confident he would win; he did. This win led to a disk jockey job where his sole task was to introduce songs and give weather reports. His ad libs, sound effects, and effervescent personality took over the show. He was becoming a comedian. He performed as Johnny Winters for two and a half years at WBNS-TV and quit in 1953 when they would not give him a requested $5 raise. He promised his wife he would return to Dayton, Ohio in a year if he didn’t make it in New York City and he got his first national TV performance in 1954 on Chance of a Lifetime.

In 1956, he made TV history when RCA broadcast the first public demonstration of color videotape on The Jonathan Winters Show. He was able to appear as two characters bantering back and forth and created the “video stunt”. During this time he invented some of his most memorable personalities. Maude Frickert was a seemingly sweet old lady but her barbed wit was often a counterpoint to her gray hair and apron. He also used his sound effects talent to impersonate famous people and went so far as to prank Jack Paar, pretending to be US President Kennedy.

He recorded several iconic comedy albums as well as some serious reading of literature. All this did not keep him from acting and he was in more than 50 movies as well as all his television appearances. He had two roles in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and would entertain the other actors for hours as they waited between scenes. He continued working for both the large and small screen and was awarded many times for his performances. In 2004 he was placed at #18 for Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand-ups of all time. He died of natural causes on this day at the age of 87.

I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.

Well, the most terrible fear that anybody should have is not war, is not a disease, not cancer or heart problems or food poisoning – it’s a man or a woman without a sense of humor.

Something I’ll always remember – when I was a kid, I shook hands with Orville Wright. Forty years later, I shook hands with Neil Armstrong. The guy that invented the airplane and the guy that walked on the moon. In a lifetime, that’s kinda wild when you think about it.

I’ve done for the most part pretty much what I intended – I ended up doing comedy, writing and painting. I’ve had a ball. And as I get older, I just become an older kid. – all from Jonathan Winters

First he was my idol, then he was my mentor and amazing friend. I’ll miss him huge. He was my Comedy Buddha. Long live the Buddha. – Robin Williams

Also on this day: Coming to America – In 1890, Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Civil Rights Act – In 1968, President Johnson signed the bill into law.
Elks – In 1876, the Elks were organized.
Joe, Not John – In 1890, the Elephant Man died.

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Civil Rights Act

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2013
President Johnson signing the bill into law

President Johnson signing the bill into law

April 11, 1968: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law. This act provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin. Housing discrimination laws do not mean that landlords must accept all tenants. Objective business criteria are lawful reasons for discriminating among prospective tenants. Bad credit and low or no income are legitimate reasons to not lease, but must be applied universally.

The 1968 act provided for the equal opportunity to buy or lease housing. In 1988, it was amended to include people with disabilities and families with children. The 1968 bill passed the Senate 71-20 with 71.2% of Democrats and 90.6% of Republicans voting in favor. The House passed it 250-172 with 63% of Democrats and 54.3% of Republicans voting for it. There was a statute of limitations giving wronged parties one year to approach the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with complaints.

The 1968 act was a continuation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was an improvement on the 14th Amendment that was ratified on July 9, 1868, two years after it was first proposed. After the Civil War, America enacted laws to ensure Due Process and Equal Protection to the newly freed slaves. The 14th Amendment gives a definition to citizenship which overturned the Dred Scott case of 1857.

Civil rights have been an issue worldwide. John Locke, an Englishman who lived in the 17th century, argued that life, liberty, and property should be civil rights and protected by the state. One way to assure your rights are protected is by having a voice in your government. In the US, the 15th Amendment (1870) allowed voting to all, regardless of race and the 19th Amendment (1920) finally gave the vote to women, as well. In the UK the Reform Act 1832 allowed 1 in 7 males (property owners) the vote. Over time, more and more men were given the opportunity to have a say in their governing bodies. By 1928, even women were given the vote.

“Nations begin to dig their own graves when men talk more of human rights and less of human duties.” – William J. H. Boetcker

“We need not concern ourselves much about rights of property if we faithfully observe the rights of persons.” – Calvin Coolidge

“I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot.” – Horace Greeley

“Majorities must recognize that minorities have rights which ought not to be extinguished and they must remember that history can be written as the record of the follies of the majority.” – Lindsay Rogers

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Dred Scott was born in Virginia in 1795. He was born a slave however he, his wife, and their two daughters lived with his master Dr. John Emerson in states and territories where slavery was illegal. He sued for his freedom, along with his family’s. The court system heard the case and when it reached the Supreme Court, Dred Scott V. Sandford was decided against Scott in a 7-2 decision. It was decided by the Court that neither Scott nor any person of African ancestry could claim to be citizens of the US. Not being a citizen meant that he could not bring suit in a federal court. Just as an aside, the Court also said that living in a free territory did not mean that he was a free man and he remained the property of his master.

Also on this day: Coming to America – In 1890 Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Elks – In 1876, the Elks were organized.
Joe, Not John – In 1890, the Elephant Man died.

Joe, Not John

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2012

Joseph Carey Merrick

April 11, 1890: Joseph Carey Merrick dies at age 27. Joe was born August 5, 1862, the eldest of three children. At the age of two, he began to have discolored bumps growing on or under his skin. Disfiguring lumps grew on his neck, chest, and the back of his head. Other children in the area began to tease him. By the age of 12, when his mother died, his right arm and hand had grown so deformed they were useless.

Joe’s father remarried and his new stepmother didn’t wish to care for the boy. He tried selling goods on the street, but due to his repulsive physique he was unsuccessful. Tired of being teased and fighting with his stepmother, he left home. He ended up in a workhouse twice before August 29, 1884. At that time, he signed up with a freak show and became The Elephant Man. While on display, Dr. Frederick Treves passed through and offered the young man his card. Dr. Treves wished to examine Joe, but didn’t force the issue. The freak show owner was kind to Merrick and he did well. Freak shows were outlawed in the United Kingdom and so Merrick headed to the continent.

There, he was hired, but not treated at all kindly. He was robbed of his life savings and left to his own devices. He made his way back to England. He made it to the Liverpool Street train station where he was too ill to continue. He still had Dr. Treves’s business card and the doctor was called. Merrick was taken to London Hospital where he lived out the rest of his life. Due to interest in his case by royalty, he was better treated. He was found dead in bed, apparently trying to sleep lying down. The weight of his misshapen head was too great and crushed his windpipe, suffocating the young man.

Merrick was highly intelligent and remained a kind and caring person throughout his life. He didn’t embrace bitterness even though there was certainly cause to do so. He was misdiagnosed as suffering from elephantiasis. In 1976, examination of the skeletal remains led to a diagnosis of neurofibromatosis, a rare disease causing tumors to grow on the nerves. This was still felt to be an erroneous diagnosis. In 1996, after studying x-rays and CT scans of the skeleton, Dr. Amita Sharma delivered a diagnosis of Proteus syndrome, however DNA studies done in 2003 do not agree with this finding.

I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man! – Joseph Merrick, from the movie The Elephant Man

Of course there is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings. – Arthur Rubinstein

Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgment of the facts of a situation. Then deciding what you’re going to do about it. – Kathleen Casey Theisen

Happiness can exist only in acceptance. – George Orwell

Also on this day:

Coming to America – In 1890 Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Civil Rights Act – In 1968, President Johnson signed the bill into law.
Elks – In 1876, the Elks were organized.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2011

Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

April 11, 1876: The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is organized. The Elks began as a drinking club for actors in New York City in 1868. The Jolly Corks went from place to place establishing private drinking clubs to skirt the city’s laws regarding public taverns. Charles Vivian, a singer recently moved from England, was a convivial man who loved to play jokes. He developed a game with corks (hence the name) that was stacked in his favor and resulted in free drinks.

When Ted Quinn died, the men met after the funeral. Quinn, a locally famous singer, was missed by the group. In order to continue on in his name, the young men decided to organize a fraternal and benevolent society, complete with rituals, secrets, and their own name. The organization paused at 11 PM to honor those no longer with them and offer an 11 O’Clock Toast.

Prior to 1865 (the end of the Civil War in the United States), there were secret societies such as the Masons and Odd Fellows. Between 1865 and 1900 beneficial societies began to crop up, such as the Elks and Eagles. After the turn of the century, service clubs sprang into being, such as the Rotary and Lions clubs. The Elks is a charitable organization rather than a business based club.

Membership is open to men and women from the US who are at least 21 years of age and who believe in God. There are many types of programs offered by the Elks. They have drug education programs that not only deal with street drugs, but inhalants and steroid use. They offer 500 4-year college scholarships ranging from $1,000-$15,000 per year. They assist with veterans both through the organization and by encouraging others to help where possible. They offer youth activities from sports to scouting and academic contests and volunteer opportunities.

“So drink from the fountain of fellowship
To the Brother who clasped your hand
And wrote your worth in the rock of earth|And your faults upon the sand.
TO OUR ABSENT BROTHERS” – an Eleventh Hour Toast

“Tis’ the hour of eleven,
throughout Elkdom does it chime.
As we remember our absent brothers,
And their virtues at this time.” – an Eleventh Hour Toast

“You can only govern men by serving them. The rule is without exception.” – Victor Kiam

“From now on, any definition of a successful life must include serving others.” – George Bush

Also on this day:
Coming to America – In 1890 Ellis Island becomes the national immigration center.
Civil Rights Act – In 1968, President Johnson signed the bill into law.

Coming to America

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 11, 2010

Ellis Island in 1902

April 11, 1890: Ellis Island is named as the new national immigration center. Before this time, each state regulated immigration. For New York state, that site was Castle Garden in the Battery, a.k.a. Castle Clinton. Between 1855 and 1890, about 8 million immigrants were processed through Castle Garden, coming mostly from northern and western Europe.

Ellis Island is located in New York Harbor and served as a military fortification prior to becoming an immigration site. Originally only 3.3 acres in size, it has been increased to 27.5 acres by landfills obtained from ship ballast and earth from the construction of the NYC subway system.

By January 1, 1892, the Main Building was ready for processing those who wished to enter into the American Dream. Annie Moore, a 15-year-old Irish girl was the first to be processed. On June 14, 1897 the building burned completely to the ground, amazingly without loss of life. The Main Building was rebuilt and opened on December 17, 1900 with 2,251 people received on that date.

For the 62 years that Ellis Island was a working immigration center, more than 12 million people were allowed into the country through this port of entry. Although the place was also known as the “Island of Tears,” most people were treated with dignity and respect. The highest number of people entering the US via Ellis Island was in the year 1907 when 1.25 million people entered the US and were processed through. Ellis Island closed – as an immigration point – in 1954. Today it is a tourist stop located in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty with almost 2 million visitors annually. It is part of the National Park Service of the US Department of the Interior.

“Remember, remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“It was this society and culture that among other things – including economic opportunities here and repression in Europe – attracted subsequent generations of immigrants to this country.” – Samuel P. Huntington

“No, my family is Russian, Georgian, via Ellis Island.” – Mitch Kapor

“Ellis Island is for the people who came over on ships. My people came in chains.” – David N. Dinkins

Also on this day, in 1968 President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.