Little Bits of History

April 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2017

1944: The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is founded. Frederick D Patterson, president of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) worked with Mary McLeod Bethune and others to help raise money for disadvantaged students to reach their potential. Opportunities for Negros were curtailed and leaders in the community found a way to help finance college educations for those deserving poor. The UNCF united college presidents from traditionally Black Colleges to raise funds through an “appeal to the national conscience.” William Trent served as the first executive director and the long-time activist was able to raise $78 million dollars in the twenty years he was at the helm.

Mary McLeod Bethune was the child of former slaves and born in Mayesville, South Carolina. Even though she began her life working in the fields of her parents’ farm, she longed for a greater education and achieved her dream with the help of benefactors. She hoped to be a missionary in Africa. Instead, she brought her drive and commitment to bettering the educational hopes of black girls, first by opening a school in Daytona Beach, Florida and later by helping found this organization to bring the chance of higher education to all those willing to work to achieve their dreams.

UNCF is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and helps to finance higher education for all ethnicities, although the greatest number of recipients are African-Americans. There are 37 member Colleges and Universities but worthy students can receive money even if attending other institutions. Some of the most prominent recipients of UNCF’s help have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee, Samuel L Jackson, Alexis Herman (former Secretary of Labor), General Chappie James (the US Air Force’s first black four star general), and Dr. David Satcher (former US Surgeon General and director of the CDC).

Fundraising has always been part of the UNCF’s mission. John F Kennedy donated the prize money from his Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage to the Fund. The largest donation ever made came from Walter Annenberg (publisher and philanthropist) in 1990 when he donated $50 million. Lou Rawls began a telethon in 1980 first called “Lou Rawls Parade of Stars” and now known as “An Evening of Stars” with the goal of raising monies for the UNCF. Usually present are some of the successful African-Americans who have received aid from UNCF or graduated from one of the participating Colleges or Universities. The event has raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Over 10,000 scholarships totaling over $100 million are awarded each year. Dr. Michael Lomax is the current CEO.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. – UNCF slogan

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X




Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2015
Early New York license plate

Early New York license plate

April 25, 1901: New York becomes the first state to require license plates. The first plates were issued in the German state of Baden in 1896. As more cars took to the roads, it became essential to be able to track those who behaved recklessly or caused accidents. To that end, a way of identifying a car’s ownership was established. In 1900, New York City was America’s largest city and they did not issue any kind of license so the state decided to take over. They required car owners to file an application with the state. Once done, the owner received a receipt of certificate and was then required to make his or her own plate with the owner’s initials on it. This helped, but soon people were simply creating a plate with any initials and placing them on the back of their cars.

In 1903, Massachusetts became the first state to manufacture the required plates. These earliest plates were made of leather, wood, and porcelain. By the middle of 1903, New York state figured out the problem with car owners making their own plates and also began the manufacture of the mandated plates. Numbered plates were issued and as proof that the number was legal, registration seals were also issued. Beginning in 1905, NY was added to the black on white plates. As the process of making plates was perfected, the materials changed as well. Today, Delaware is the only state that still permits porcelain license plates.

Mexico was the first country to issue reflective plates and did so in 1936. The embossed coating contained glass-like beads which would reflect light. Connecticut introduced this technology to their plates in 1948. Reflective sheeting was invented by 3M and replaced the beads-on-paint process in the 1960s and by 1970 most US states incorporated this into the manufacturing process. Idaho was the first state to add a graphic to their design when they added a potato in 1928. Pennsylvania was the first to offer custom, vanity, or personalized plates in 1931. Other states soon picked up the money making venture and allowed for personalized plates which generated millions of dollars for community projects.

The metal or plastic tag must be attached to the rear of the vehicle. There are some states which also require the tag to be displayed on the front of the vehicle, but these are in the minority. Some countries have a unique plate for any vehicle registered within the country while others subdivide the plates issued by each state or province. Whether the identifier is associated with a vehicle or a person varies by issuing agency. The information on the tag, plate, or identifier (jargon depends on area) offers information as well. Letters and numbers can indicate where the vehicle comes from as do color combinations or style. Sizes and materials used have become standardized and are nationally mandated.

IH8 PPL – Maine plate

SLZBAG – Arizona plate

HI DEBT – California plate on a Jaguar

VAMPYR – Australian plate found along side a sticker for the Australian Red Cross blood service

IMBROKE  – Mississippi plate

SHELEFT – plate on a Corvette

IDSRVIT!! – plate on a Lexus

UR NEXT – plate on a hearse

IM A CAR – New York plate

Also on this day: “Off With Their Heads” – The Queen of Hearts – In 1792, the first person is executed by the more humane method of guillotine.
Semiconductor – In 1961, Robert Noyce patented the semiconductor and opened the computer age.
Ouch! –  In 1684, a patent was granted for a thimble.
Rebellion Losses Bill – In 1849, the bill was signed into law.
Suez Canal – In 1859, ground was broken for the construction of the canal.

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Suez Canal

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2014
Suez Canal.

Suez Canal.

April 25, 1859: A ceremony is held for the breaking of ground for the Suez Canal. The canal is by definition an artificial waterway. It is entirely at ground level meaning there are no locks along the distance covered. It connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. The building took ten years and it opened to traffic in November 1869. The canal allows for ship transport between Europe and eastern Asia without having to sail around Africa. The northern terminus is Port Said and the southern one is Port Tawfiq located in the city of Suez. It is a single lane with two passing places – one at Ballah By-Pass and the other at Great Bitter Lake.

When first built by the Suez Canal Company it was 102 miles long and had a depth of 26 feet. The canal has been enlarged several times and today it is 120.11 miles long and has a depth of 79 feet. As of 2010, it was 673 feet wide. It has a northern access channel of 14 miles, the canal itself which is 100.82 miles, and the southern access channel which is 5.6 miles. Sea water flows through the canal freely. The canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. The current south of the lake is dependent on the tide at Suez. Today, it is owned and maintained by the Suez Canal Authority. International treaty states usage is universal “in time of war as in time of peace, by every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag.”

During the second millennium BC, one of the Pharaohs (probably Senusret II or Senusret III) started working on a canal to join the River Nile with the Red Sea. There is some evidence, as well, the level of the Red Sea was higher and it reached up to the Bitter Lakes and Lake Timsah. Aristotle mentions the possibility of this great building project in his Meteorology. Both Strabo and Pliny the Elder allude to it as well. In the 19th century, French cartographers discovered the remnants of an ancient north-south canal running along the east side of Lake Timsah and ending north of the Great Bitter Lake. It was proved to have been built by the Persian king Darius I in an inscription.

The connection of the east and west via a canal, like the connection at Panama, has been of ongoing interest. The shipping needs made travel around an entire continent so expensive that the building of a waterway became feasible. At Suez, the level land to cross made it much easier to build. It took a decade to construct and used forced labor during part of the time. Over 30,000 people were working on the project at any given time and more than 1.5 million were employed over the course of the building. Thousands died during the construction. The final cost of building the canal was more than double the original estimate. Today, three convoys transit the canal in rotation – two southbound and one northbound. Passage takes between 11 and 16 hours. In 2008, 21,415 vessels passed through at the average cost of $251,000 per ship.

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists. – Charles Dickens

When we are sick, we want an uncommon doctor; when we have a construction job to do, we want an uncommon engineer, and when we are at war, we want an uncommon general. It is only when we get into politics that we are satisfied with the common man. – Herbert Hoover

Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older. – John Maynard Keynes

If a building looks better under construction than it does when finished, then it’s a failure. – Douglas Coupland

Also on this day: “Off With Their Heads” – The Queen of Hearts – In 1792, the first person is executed by the more humane method of guillotine.
Semiconductor – In 1961, Robert Noyce patented the semiconductor and opened the computer age.
Ouch! –  In 1684, a patent was granted for a thimble.
Rebellion Losses Bill – In 1849, the bill was signed into law.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2013
Robert Noyce

Robert Noyce

April 25, 1961: Robert Noyce receives patent #2,981,877 for a Semiconductor device-and-lead Structure. Noyce and Jack Kilby were independently working on solving the big problem facing electrical engineers of the 1950s called the “Tyranny of Numbers.” This problem described the ever mounting number of components needed to improve circuits and the physical limitation inherent in the number of components that could be hooked together. Kilby, working for Texas Instruments, filed a patent in February 1959 while Noyce and Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation filed one in July 1959.

Unlike some other inventions, particularly the telephone, the two men are given joint credit for bringing all of us into the computer age. They brought us from the vacuum tube to the miniature electronic circuits that form the core of our electronic gadgetry. Integrated circuits run everything from computers to cell phones to digital appliances. Manufacturing and transportation also depend on the tiny chips.

Noyce is nicknamed “the Mayor of Silicon Valley.” While Kilby’s chip was patented six months earlier, it was not widely shared. Noyce improved it and made his “unitary circuit” of Silicon. Noyce left Fairchild and co-founded a new company with Gordon E Moore, a chemist and physicist. They opened their new company in California in 1968. They wanted to name it “Moore Noyce” but that sounded too much like “more noise” and noise is a very bad thing in electronics. Instead, they called their new company INTegrated ELectronics or Intel.

Intel made the first microprocessor in 1971 and one of the first microcomputers in 1972. They went on to create dynamic random access memory chips (RAM). By the late 1980s, they shifted direction from RAM manufacture to microprocessors – the heart of computers. By the end of the millennium, Intel was one of the most profitable hardware suppliers in the PC industry. By 2006, after failed attempts to diversify, 10% of the workforce or 10,500 employees were laid off during a restructuring.

“What we didn’t realize then was that the integrated circuit would reduce the cost of electronic functions by a factor of a million to one, nothing had ever done that for anything before” – Jack Kilby

“Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons.” – Popular Mechanics, March 1949

“The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree, is by accident. That’s where we come in; we’re computer professionals. We cause accidents.” – Nathaniel Borenstein

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

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Intel Corporation was founded on July 18, 1968 and headquarters are located in Santa Clara, California. It is the world’s largest and highest valued semiconductor chip maker (based on revenue). Samsung is second and Texas Instruments is third with Toshiba following. (Figures are from 2011). Today, Andy Bryant is the Chairman of Intel and Paul Otellini is the President and CEO. Their revenue in 2012 was $53.34 billion dollars with a net income of $11 billion. They have nearly 105,000 employees. Robert Noyce died in 1990 at the age of 62 and his partner Gordon Moore (creator of Moore’s Law) is still alive at age 84 and living in San Francisco, California. He remains Chairman Emeritus of Intel and has a net worth of $4 billion.

Also on this day: “Off With Their Heads” – The Queen of Hearts – In 1792 the first person is executed by the more humane method of guillotine.
Ouch! –  In 1684, a patent was granted for a thimble.
Rebellion Losses Bill – In 1849, the bill was signed into law.

Rebellion Losses Bill

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2012

Lord James Bruce Elgin

April 25, 1849: The Rebellion Losses Bill is signed into law by Lord James Bruce Elgin. The British colony, the Province of Canada (sometimes called the United Province of Canada) was formed in 1841 after recommendations by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham. Lambton was James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin’s grandfather. By 1849, James Bruce was the Governor General of Canada, or viceregal representative and ruler of Canada under Queen Victoria.

The purpose of the bill was to recompense those citizens of Lower Canada who lost property during the Rebellions of 1837. This was a series of confrontations held in Quebec with the United Kingdom facing forces called Patriotes along with US Patriot sympathizers. French Canadians wished for more say in their governance and when that failed, they cried for autonomy and freedom from British rule. Inspired by the American Revolution, they took up arms against the British Empire. They failed. Lower and Upper Canada were united in 1841.

On February 28, 1845 the Legislative Assembly unanimously asked for Governor Metcalfe to begin measures to pay those who lost properties during the twelve month struggle. In a previous session, £40,000 had been set aside, but there were no funds available. Claims rose to £241,965 and change. The bill would pay French Canadians, much to the dismay of English Canadians. It was thought the bill would not pass, but it did. Then it was felt Lord Elgin would refuse to sign it, but he signed. The Liberal government in London approved of the measures.

The citizens of Montreal began to protest almost immediately. The Britons felt threatened by the French influence in control of the government of the colony. Montreal, the capital city, was half French and half British. The upset citizens erupted into a furious mob and began to riot. They grabbed the Golden Mace, a symbol of British Royalty and carried it into the street. The crowd pelted Lord Elgin’s carriage with stones and rotten eggs. They burned the Parliament Building and destroyed not only the structure, but rare paintings and the archival records from the beginning of the colony. They fire caused damages listed at £100,000. It took days to get the rioting under control.

Any people attempting to govern themselves by laws of their own making, and by officers of their own appointment, are in direct rebellion against the kingdom of God. – Orson Pratt

Break up the printing presses and you break up rebellion. – Dudley Nichols

Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. – Albert Camus

It doesn’t take a majority to make a rebellion; it takes only a few determined leaders and a sound cause. – H. L. Mencken

Also on this day:

“Off With Their Heads” – The Queen of Hearts – In 1792 the first person is executed by the more humane method of guillotine.
Semiconductor – In 1961, Robert Noyce patented the semiconductor and opened the computer age.
Ouch! –  In 1684, a patent was granted for a thimble.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2011

A Thimble

April 25, 1684: A patent is granted for a thimble. These handy gadgets have been around for eons. They were used to protect the fingers as a needle was pushed through fabric or leather while sewing. As long as 30,000 years ago early mastodon hunters were using the ivory tusks to create buttons by drilling holes through disks of the substance. They then used bone rings to protect hands while attaching the buttons to heavy leather garments.

The miniature cup-shaped item that we call thimbles today first made an appearance in the Etruscan area of what is modern day Italy. About 2,500 years ago, as the Etruscans moved north into the area that is now Germany, they took their technology with them and it eventually spread across Europe.

Thimbles can be made out of any strong element. Metals, leather, rubber, wood, glass, China, bone, horn, ivory, marble, bog oak, and mother of pearl have been used. They have been decorated with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, cinnabar, agate, moonstone, and amber. In pre Industrial Revolution times they were hand made and the dimples on them were less uniform.

In the 15th century, most thimbles were made of copper and the metal would stain the cloth as one sewed. In Germany it was discovered that adding a special soil to the copper made a metal that was a beautiful color and stain resistant. It also stank to high heaven. The metallurgists were moved out of the city. An industrious unnamed scientist figured out that the ingredient in the soil that made the difference was zinc. Copper and zinc make the alloy known as brass. The secret stayed in Nuremburg for 200 years where most of the European thimbles were made. Today with mills pressing out sheets of metal, and machines making thimbles in mass quantities, they are standardized and very inexpensive.

” A stitch in time, saves nine.” – American proverb

“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” – Bible

“I think sewing is a stress release. I’m not sure people are born quilters, but I do think it’s in their make up to get such joy from it. It’s a way to express yourself.” – Connie Baker

“Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing.” – unknown

“Veni, Vidi, Velcro. I came, I saw, I stuck around.” – unknown

Also on this day:
“Off With Their Heads” – The Queen of Hearts – In 1792 the first person is executed by the more humane method of guillotine.
Semiconductor – In 1961, Robert Noyce patented the semiconductor and opened the computer age.

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