Little Bits of History

February 26

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2017

1971: UN Secretary-General U Thant signs a proclamation. John McConnell was born in 1915 in Davis City, Iowa. His father was a traveling Pentecostal evangelist and John grew up with a strong commitment to making the world a better place. He spent his life on causes. He and Albert Nobell, a chemist who worked making plastics, noticed how damaging industry was to the ecological balance of Mother Nature. McConnell advocated for peace on Earth, even during the darkest days of World War II. When Sputnik was launched, he wrote an article for the peaceful exploration of space.

His environmental concerns grew throughout the late fifties and sixties. His Christian upbringing led him to believe humans had a duty to take care of Spaceship Earth for future generations. In October 1969, a National UNESCO Conference was held in San Francisco and John first proposed a global holiday to celebrate Earth, all her life and beauty, and to foster peace among all her inhabitants. Earth Day won strong support in San Francisco and the first celebration of the Day was held there on March 21, 1970. In June of that year, McConnell created the Earth Day Proclamation for worldwide use. It was signed by 36 world leaders. U Thant was one of the signatories.

U Thant was from Burma and was the Secretary-General of the UN from 1961 to 1971 after Dag Hammarskjold was killed in a plane crash. U Thant was the only candidate the US and the USSR could agree on and he took office amid the Cold War super powers animosity. He brokered many different agreements between categorically opposed factions during his terms in office. On this day, he was able to create a worldwide day for peace and understanding between humans of any place and their world. John McConnell’s idea had spread around the globe.

The spring equinox Earth Day is celebrated around the world and has been acknowledged at the United Nations with ringing of the UN Peace Bell. While some of the predictions from the early years have been averted, today we are still in a precarious position on the planet. There are issues of rising populations and destruction of the natural environment to support all the people. There are issues with extinctions of many species, but thankfully not nearly as bad as had been predicted. There was a prediction the world would suffer a new ice age. Instead, we have been dealing with issues of global warming and threat of rising waters drowning out much of the coastal regions of the world. Earth Day will be celebrated in 2017 on April 22.

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. – John Muir

He that plants trees loves others beside himself. – Thomas Fuller

For 200 years we’ve been conquering nature. Now we’re beating it to death. –  Tom McMillan

The earth is what we all have in common. – Wendell Berr

Not Again

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2015
HMHS Britannic

HMHS Britannic

February 26, 1914: HMHS Britannic is launched. She was the third and largest of the Olympic class ships of the White Star Line. The other two ships were the RMS Olympic and the RMS Titanic. Britannic was also supposed to be a transatlantic passenger ship, but like the others, fate was against her. She was laid down on November 30, 1911. She was launched on this day, just five months before World War I began. After the loss of the Titanic, changes were made in the design of the other two ships. Olympic’s changes were refitted, but with the Britannic, the changes were made prior to launching. This would make the ships less likely to suffer the same fate as the Titanic.

The ship was laid up at Harland and Wolff in Belfast – her builders – for many months after launch. When War was proclaimed, all shipyards with Admiralty contracts were given a priority which meant all civil contracts, including that for Britannic, were slowed. The government took over a large number of ships and armed them as merchant cruisers or for troop transport. The large luxury liners were not taken for military use since the smaller ships were easier to operate. White Star brought the Olympic in from service in November 1914 until the danger passed.

The need for increased tonnage became critical as operations extended farther afield. In May 1915, Britannic completed mooring trials and was prepared for emergency entrance into service. During that same month, the RMS Lusitania was lost at sea, the first major loss of a civilian ocean ship. In June, the British Admiralty began to use passenger liners as troop transports. As more soldiers were placed and the casualty numbers increased, a need for large hospital ships also grew. They were to be used for treatment centers and as evacuation transport. The Britannic was requisitioned as a hospital ship on November 13, 1915 and repainted white with a large red cross and a horizontal green stripe. She was renamed HMHS, His Majesty’s Hospital Ship and placed under command of Captain Charles Bartlett.

Britannic completed five successful trips to the Middle Eastern theater and back to the UK transporting sick and wounded. On November 12, 1916 she left Southampton for his sixth trip to the Mediterranean Sea. She made her first stop safely and waited for a storm to pass. She reentered the Med with 1,066 people aboard. At 8.12 AM on November 21, 1916, an explosion shook the ship. It is unknown whether it was an underwater mine or a torpedo. It was at first hoped the ship could be saved, but an evacuation was soon called for. People were being placed in lifeboats and at 8.35 AM, the captain gave the order to abandon ship. Bartlett gave the final whistle blow at 9.00 AM as a warning to the ship’s engineers. He was then swept overboard. The ship sunk at 9.07 AM, the largest ship lost in the War. Unlike the Titanic, only 30 people lost their lives.

You mustn’t be afraid of death. When this ship sailed, death sailed on her. – Charles Larkworthy

But all the love in the world won’t save a sinking ship. You have to either bail or jump overboard. – Sarah Dessen

I’d much rather be a woman than a man. Women can cry, they can wear cute clothes, and they’re the first to be rescued off sinking ships. – Gilda Radner

Often undecided whether to desert a sinking ship for one that might not float, he would make up his mind to sit on the wharf for a day. – Max Aitken

Also on this day: Waist Overalls – In 1829, Levi Strauss was born.
Grand Canyon – In 1919, Grand Canyon National Park was established.
WorldWideWeb Browser – In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee introduced his WorldWideWeb browser, the first stable web browser.
World Trade Center – In 1993, the WTC was bombed.
Colored Movies – In 1909, Kinemacolor was first shown to the public.

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Colored Movies

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2014
George Albert Smith

George Albert Smith

February 26, 1909: Kinemacolor is first shown to a general public audience. This process was the first to produce successful color motion pictures. It was a two-color additive process which photographed and projected black-and-white film behind alternation red and green filters. It was invented by George Albert Smith. It was launched by Charles Urban’s Urban Trading Co. of London in 1908. A Visit to the Seaside was shown in an exhibit in September 1908 and ran for eight minutes. Smith had filmed ordinary people doing ordinary beach things at Brighton. It was a silent film and there are no other credits. On this day, the general public was treated to a program of 21 short films shown at the Palace Theatre of London. The show came to the US on December 11, 1909 at an exhibit in Madison Square Garden of New York City.

The first dramatic film made with the process was called Checkmated and done in 1910. They produced some documentary films as well as dramas. The projectors were installed in about 300 cinemas in Britain and in total 54 dramatic films were produced there. Four more were made in the US in 1912 and 1913 and one more was done in Japan in 1914. The company never was totally successful for a few reasons. The most basic was the cost of the projectors needed in theaters. There was also “fringing” and “haloing” of images, something that was never able to be fixed. In the US, DW Griffith bought out Kinemacolor studios and the process was replaced with Technicolor, which was used from 1916 to 1952.

George Smith was born in 1864 in London. He was a stage hypnotist, psychic, and magic lantern lecturer. He rounded out his days as an astronomer, inventor, and cinematographer. He was associated Edmund Gurney at the Society for Psychical Research, which is still in existence today. He pioneered aspects of film editing and close-up shots. There is speculation that as a hypnotist, Smith was able to fake results used in research at the Society of Psychical Research. Others admitted to fraud, but Smith maintained that all results were truly obtained. In his later years, Smith became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He died in 1959 at the age of 95 in Brighton, England.

Charles Urban was born in 1867 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second of ten children born to immigrant parents. He lost the sight in his left eye at the age of twelve after a baseball accident. He first began working with films in 1895 when he exhibited a Kinetoscope in Detroit, Michigan. He moved to Britain in 1897 and became a managing director of the Warwick Trading Company where he specialized in actuality films. A law suit was brought against Urban and Kinemacolor and Urban won the initial case protecting the patent however the process was no longer exclusive. During World War I, Urban produced propaganda films for England. Once America entered the War, he returned home and also produced documentaries for the US. He remained in the US for a time but returned to England in the late 1920s. He died in Brighton in 1942 in relative obscurity. He was 75-years-old.

I’ve often stood silent at a party for hours listening to my movie idols turn into dull and little people. – Marilyn Monroe

For me, there is nothing more valuable than how people feel in a movie theater about a movie. – Will Smith

Movie directing is a perfect refuge for the mediocre. – Orson Welles

If my life was a movie, no one would believe it. – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Also on this day: Waist Overalls – In 1829, Levi Strauss was born.
Grand Canyon – In 1919, Grand Canyon National Park was established.
WorldWideWeb Browser – In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee introduced his WorldWideWeb browser, the first stable web browser.
World Trade Center – In 1993, the WTC was bombed.

Grand Canyon

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2013
Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

February 26, 1919: US President Woodrow Wilson signs an act establishing the Grand Canyon National Park. The gorge created by the Colorado River is considered to be one of the wonders of the world. The area around the Grand Canyon became a national monument on January 11, 1908 and became a National Park on this date, testimony to early environmental efforts. Park status kept the Colorado River from being dammed within the preserved area although could not stop the Glen Canyon Dam being built upstream. UNESCO has declared it to be a World Heritage Site.

The Park covers 1,217,403 acres or 1,902 square miles of rugged and beautiful country. The Colorado River and her vast system of tributaries have cut through the striated rocks dating from the Precambrian period. The Colorado River is thought to have shifted north due to activity along the San Andreas Fault, a major geologic transform fault along the western coast of the US. The fault line is the border between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates and an area of great volatility and earthquake activity. It is thought the Colorado River once emptied into the Pacific Ocean somewhere along the California coast.

The Colorado River drains an area of 41,070 square miles and the entire region has not yet been mapped. A survey in 1979 covered 1,881 square miles and found 57 perennial water sources – 21 streams and 36 seeps. There are several major ecosystems within the Park. The biodiversity available covers 5 of the 7 life zones and 3 of the 4 desert types in North America. There are over 1,500 plant species and 355 bird, 89 mammalian, 49 reptile, 17 fish, and 9 amphibian species in the Park.

The Park is also rich in scientific resources. The layered rock formations tell the Earth’s story from millions of years ago. There are nearly 40 identified rock layers exposed within the canyon walls. The geological studies remain incomplete and draw scientists to the natural wonders. The oldest human artifacts found in the Park are nearly 12,000 years old. There are over 4,800 archeological resources recorded with a mere 3% of the area surveyed. The Park is breathtaking geologically, archeologically, and of course, visually.

“The region is of course, altogether valueless. It can be approached only from the South, and after entering it there is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River, along with the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.” – Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives

“In fact, just about all the major natural attractions you find in the West – the Grand Canyon, the Badlands, the Goodlands, the Mediocrelands, the Rocky Mountains and Robert Redford – were caused by erosion.” – Dave Barry

“The Grand Canyon is carven deep by the master hand; it is the gulf of silence, widened in the desert; it is all time inscribing the naked rock; it is the book of earth.” – Donald Culross Peattie

“To stand upon the edge of this stupendous gorge, as it receives its earliest greeting from the god of day, is to enjoy in a moment compensation for long years of ordinary uneventful life.” – John L. Stoddard

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The Grand Canyon National Park is the 15th oldest park in the US. It is located within the state of Arizona. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the area in 1903 and proclaimed “The Grand Canyon fills me with awe.” He wanted the area preserved, but he was not the first to want to do so. The first bill to create a national park was placed by then-Secretary Benjamin Harrison in 1882. It would have made this the second national park if it had been acted upon. Bills were again introduced in 1883, 1886, and 1893 when it was made a forest reserve. It took quite some time before it was declared a national park and it came under the administration of the National Park Service, established just three years earlier.

Also on this day: Waist Overalls – In 1829, Levi Strauss was born.
WorldWideWeb Browser – In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee introduced his WorldWideWeb browser, the first stable web browser.
World Trade Center – In 1993, the WTC was bombed.

World Trade Center

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2012

WTC damage in 1993

February 26, 1993: A truck bomb explodes in New York City. Ramzi Yousef and his cohorts received financial backing from Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, Yousef’s uncle. They placed a 1,500 pound urea nitrate-hydrogen gas enhanced device in the back of a Ryder van and parked in the public garage under the World Trade Center (WTC). There was a 20 foot fuse giving Yousef and Eyad Ismoil twelve minutes to leave the area after Yousef lit the fuse with his cigarette lighter. The plan was to knock North Tower (Tower One) into the South Tower (Tower Two) and bring down the WTC. The bomb was brought in shortly after noon. It was expected to cause thousands of deaths.

The fuse burnt down and at 12:17:37 PM the bomb exploded. A 98 foot hole ripped through four sublevels of concrete. The explosion cut the main electrical power line and emergency lighting was lost. The roiling smoke reached as high as the 93rd floor in both towers. Even the stairwells filled with smoke making evacuation even more difficult. People were trapped in the elevators when power was lost. Broadcast radio and television signals were also loss when the electricity lines were severed.

Six people were killed in the explosion. Another 1,042 were injured, many due to smoke inhalation as they made their way down the emergency exits. The towers, however, remained standing. If the truck had been parked closer to the poured concrete foundations, the plan may have worked. The loaded truck had left Jersey City early in the morning. There is speculation that the original target was the UN building but security was too strict. The WTC was a second-best target and the noon hour bombing came after failure to park at the UN.

Within hours, Yousef had escaped to Pakistan. Yousef was the 436th person to be added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on April 21, 1993. On February 7, 1995 Pakistani intelligence and US Bureau of Diplomatic Security captured Yousef in Islamabad, Pakistan. Yousef was found guilty of two separate acts of terrorism. He is held at the high-security Supermax prison ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado. He is serving a life sentence without parole.

With just a little more money, they would have come down, it is not yet finished. – Ramzi Yousef, looking at the WTC

I am a terrorist, and I am proud of it as long as it is against the U.S. government. – Ramzi Yousef, at his trial

While we must remain determined to defeat terrorism, it isn’t only terrorism we are fighting. It’s the beliefs that motivate terrorists. A new ideology of hatred and intolerance has arisen to challenge America and liberal democracy. – John Kerry

There is no doubt that our nation’s security and defeating terrorism trump all other priorities. – Arlen Specter

Also on this day:

Waist Overalls – In 1829, Levi Strauss was born.
Grand Canyon – In 1919, Grand Canyon National Park was established.
WorldWideWeb Browser – In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee introduced his WorldWideWeb browser, the first stable web browser.

WorldWideWeb Browser

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2011

NeXT Computer used by Berners-Lee at CERN - the world's first web server. (photo by Coolcaesar)

February 26, 1991: Tim Berners-Lee introduces his WorldWideWeb browser, the first stable web browser in the world. It was a WYSIWYG [pronounced – whiz-e-wig] meaning What You See Is What You Get and HTML or Hypertext Markup Language editor as well. It used both FTP [File Transfer Protocol] as well as HTP [ Hypertext Transfer Protocol] and was the only way to access the World Wide Web, hence the name. To avoid confusion, the name was changed to Nexus.

A web browser is a software application for a computer. This application allows the user to interact with text, images, and other information via the World Wide Web. Information is displayed on web pages within the browser program after a connection to the Internet is established via an Internet Service Provider. Protocols are the methods or rules that allow your computer to communicate with a web server – another computer hosting or storing uploaded web pages. HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol allows your computer to “fetch” a webpage that someone else has created and stored on a server.

As browsers developed, so did the Internet and conversely, as the Internet developed, browsers did, too. New and improved browsers have continued to flourish produced by competing entities, sometimes to the detriment of the end users. Microsoft developed the proprietary Trident layout engine used in Internet Explorer and various other browsers who have paid a licensing fee. Mozilla Foundation developed the open-source Gecko layout engines that are also used in a variety of browsers. Trident is used more frequently but Gecko is a more compliant engine meaning it works and plays well with others.

Tim Berners-Lee was born in 1955 in London to two mathematicians. He is the inventor of the World Wide Web [sorry Mr. Gore], the director of the World Wide Web Consortium, and holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at MIT. He is also the recipient of The Millennium Technology Prize. While attending Oxford University, he and a friend were found hacking computers and were banned from all computers during the rest of their stay. That has not appeared to slow Tim down. He now lives in Lexington, Massachusetts and is a leading voice for Net Neutrality, a preservation of the system he envisioned so long ago.

“Anyone who has lost track of time when using a computer knows the propensity to dream, the urge to make dreams come true and the tendency to miss lunch.”

“You affect the world by what you browse.”

“Sites need to be able to interact in one single, universal space.”

“They may call it a home page, but it’s more like the gnome in somebody’s front yard than the home itself.” – all from Tim Berners-Lee

Also on this day:
Waist Overalls – In 1829, Levi Strauss was born.
Grand Canyon National Park – In 1919, a new national park is established.

Waist Overalls

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2010

Levi jeans

February 26, 1829: Loeb Strauss is born in Buttenheim, Franconia, Bavaria, now Germany. He moved to New York City with his mother and two sisters, joining his two brothers in running their dry goods business. By 1850 Loeb changed his name to Levi.

In 1853, he moved to San Francisco, California to capitalize on the Gold Rush boom. He expected miners to happily purchase his buttons, scissors, thread, and bolts of fabric. He brought yards of sailcloth or canvas with him noting that it was used to cover the Conestoga wagons littering the countryside.

What he found instead were miners wearing cotton trousers that were not made to withstand the rigors of the mining life. They would easily tear and the pockets were constantly ripping. He used his canvas to make durable overall trousers with strong pockets for holding gold nuggets. The pants were durable, but they were also very uncomfortable. After using all his canvas, he turned to a different fabric called serge de Nimes since it originally came from Nimes, France. The name for the cloth was eventually shortened to denim.

Jacob Davis was a tailor living in Reno, Nevada. He used copper rivets to reinforce pressure points on harnesses. He was approached with a request to make a pair of pants for a large man who kept bursting the seams on his trousers. He used the rivets to reinforce the pants and it worked. He was using material purchased from Levi Strauss & Co. at the time. He could not afford the money to file a patent for the rivets, but he asked Strauss to help and they shared the patent, granted on May 20, 1873.

Davis joined Strauss and together they made their rivet reinforced denim pants, originally called waist overalls. Strauss left the company to his nephews who continued to run it. Then the great San Francisco earthquake destroyed the headquarters and two factories. They eventually rebuilt and Levi Strauss & Co. is still in business today.

“You got them, and they were stiff as a board, and you broke them in.” – Levi Strauss

“In a cavern, in a canyon, Excavating for a mine Dwelt a miner, Forty-niner, And his daughter, Clementine.” – Percy Montrose

“I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.” – Yves Saint Lauren

“Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics.” – George Bernard Shaw

Also on this day, in 1919 President Woodrow Wilson signed an act establishing the Grand Canyon National Park.

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