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Archive for the 'thisdayinhistory' Category

05 February
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Welcome Stranger

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Welcome Stranger Nugget

Welcome Stranger Nugget Image Credit

The Welcome Stranger is the largest gold nugget ever found.  It weighed somewhere between 156 and 210 pounds.  It is 24 by 12 inches.  It was discovered on February 5, 1869 in Moliagul, Victoria, Australia by two prospectors, John Deason and Richard Oates.  It was found only an inch below the ground!  The two prospectors took the nugget to the bank and received £9,381 GBP for it.  It’s estimated 2013 value would be $3,766,950 US.  The nugget was melted down and left for the Bank of England on February 21, 1869.

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03 February
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The Day the Music Died

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Winter Dance Party

Winter Dance Party Flickr

This refers to the plane crash on February 3, 1959 that killed all on board including Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, J.P. Richarson.  It was dubbed “The Day the Music Died” by Don McLean in his 1971 song American Pie.  Frustrated with poor weather conditions and illness Billy Holly decided to charter a plane to avoid the horrible conditions on the bus.  They all bought their seats on the plane for $36.  Valens won his seat on a coin flip from Tommy Allsup.

An investigation showed that a combination of bad weather and pilot error caused the crash just six miles from the airport.  Poor Holly’s wife Maria Elena miscarried her pregnancy just a day after watching the news of her husbands death on television.  Its because of this that the now long standing policy is in place, that families are notified before the media.  The accident is in both The Buddy Holly Story and La Bamba.

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30 January
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Lone Ranger Radio

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Lone Ranger

Lone Ranger

On January 30, 1933 the first radio episode of the Lone Ranger premiered on WXYZ radio in Detroit, Michigan.  The creator of the show is disputed.  It was either George Trendle, owner of the station or Fran Striker the main writer.  The show was immediately a success.  The audience was split between children and adults, although originally it was marketed solely to children.  It was so popular in fact, that it was it was picked up by multiple broadcasters including what would become ABC.  The last show went on September 3, 1954.  The show played as repeats until May 25, 1956.

The character was originally believed to be inspired by Texas Ranger Captain John R. Hughes, to whom the book “The Lone Star Ranger” by Zane Grey was dedicated in 1915.  The radio show would go on to inspire books, comics, television shows and movies.

Listen to the 1930’s Lone Ranger radio show!

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The Lone Ranger (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

The Lone Ranger (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

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29 January
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Liliuokalani Proclaimed Queen of Hawaii

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Liliuokalani of Hawaii

Liliuokalani of Hawaii

On January 29, 1891 Liliuokalani was pronounced queen.  She was the last monarch and only queen regnant, woman monarch ruling in her own right (aka no king).  She was born to a high chief and chieftess in 1838. Loosely translated her name means “the smarting of the royal ones”.  She married a American born statesmen named John Owen Dominis in 1862.  Dominis’ father had moved the family to Honolulu in 1837.  Dominis cheated on the queen a lot but she still loved him and stayed with him.  When he had a son from another woman Liliuokalani even tried to claim the child as her own to save Dominis the embarrassment of his public infidelity.

In 1874 Liliuokalani’s brother was elected king.  He died on January 20, 1891.  Nine days later Liliuokalani was queen.  Her reign didn’t last.  On January 14, 1893 a group of American’s and Europeans formed the Committee of Safety.  It should have been called the group to Hawaii as a state.  On February 1, 1893 the US minister/ambassador to Hawaii proclaimed the territory to be a protectorate of the United States.  A protectorate is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity.  On July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed and Sanford B. Dole became President.  Yummy Pineapples!  Hawaii was not admitted to the union until August 21, 1951.

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28 January
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Challenger Explosion

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Challenger explosion

Challenger explosion

After just over a minute into its flight space shuttle challenger exploded in the sky over central Florida.  All seven crew members perished including Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first civilian in space.  McAuliffe was chosen out of 11,000 teachers that applied for the Teacher in space program (TISP).  TISP was the brain child of President Regan to promote science in schools and honor our educators.  A great idea, but a very sad outcome.  That program was canceled after McAuliffe death.  The shuttle’s demise was all due to a very small part.  A rubber circle called an O-ring that failed during liftoff.  It’s failure lead to other faults which eventually lead to the structural failure of the shuttle.

The crew may have been aware of the problem just before the explosion.  Pilot Michael Smith’s last transmission was “Uh Oh”.  The final height reached for the crew compartment was 65,000 feet.  It’s not known if the crew compartment maintained its pressurization after the explosion or not.  If it did they were all likely alive in the compartment until they hit the ocean, which they did at 207 mph, that’s well over 200 g.

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26 January
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First Television Demonstration

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On January 26, 1926 John Logie Baird, a Scottish inventor,  gave what is widely recognized as being the world’s first demonstration of a working television system, to members of the Royal Institution and a newspaper reporter from The Times, at his laboratory in 22 Frith Street, Soho, London.  Unlike later electronic systems with several hundred lines of resolution, Baird’s vertically scanned image had only 30 lines.

In 1927, Baird transmitted a signal over 438 miles via telephone line between London and Glasgow. In 1928, Baird Television Development Company/Cinema Television broadcast the first transatlantic television signal, between London and New York.  In 1929, he became involved in the first experimental electromechanical television service in Germany. In November of the same year, Baird and Bernard Natan of Pathé established France’s first television company, Télévision-Baird-Natan. In 1931, he made the first outdoor remote broadcast, of the Epsom Derby.   Baird’s electromechanical system reached a peak of 240-lines of resolution on BBC television broadcasts in 1936. On November 2, 1936 the BBC began transmitting the world’s first public television service from the Victorian Alexandra Palace in north.  The intermediate film system was discontinued within three months in favor of a 405-line all-electronic system developed by Marconi-EMI.

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24 January
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Shoichi Yokoi

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The third to last of the Japanese surrenders 28 years after WWII ends.

Shoichi Yokoi Hole

Shoichi Yokoi Hole Flickr

Shoichi Yokoi was a sergeant in the imperial Japanese army during WWII.  He was discovered in Guam on January 24, 1972 by some shrimp fishermen.  He was 57 years old and couldn’t put up much of a fight when he was captured.  When he returned to Japan he said

“It is with much embarrassment, but I have returned”.

He had hide in a cave for 28 years.  While he was hiding he did see leaflets that announced the war was over, but he believed them to be false propaganda and ignored them.

He was the third to last to surrender.  The last was Private Teruo Nakamura, who was arrested in December 1974.  He was featured many times on Japanese television.  And in a US television documentary called Yokoi and His Twenty-Eight Years of Secret Life on Guam.

From the Japanese government he received $300 in back pay.  He married and settled down.  In 1997 he died at the age of 82 from a heart attack.  He has his own museum in Nakagawa-ku, Nagoya.

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23 January
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Frisbee

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Frisbee

Frisbee Flickr

The WHAM-O Slingshot was the product that gave the company, founded in 1948, its distinctive name. When the missile hit its target, it made the sound “WHAM-O”.  The slingshot may have launched the company, but many of us also remember another iconic product from Wham-o.  The Frisbee.  It’s original inventor was a building inspector by the name of Fred Morrison.  He sold the flying disc to Wahm-o in 1955.  Wham-o introduced the new product to consumers in 1957 as the Pluto Platter.  It was renamed the next year to the name we all know, Frisbee.  Morrison was got the patent for the Pluto Platter in 1958 (U.S. Design Patent D183,626).

It wasn’t  until Edward Headrick modified the design of the Frisbee to be more stable during flight that sales really took off.  Unfortunately the privately held company  does not release sales numbers.

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22 January
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Roe v. Wade

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Roe v. Wade was a landmark Supreme Court decision about abortion.  The ruling was that women would have the right to have an abortion.  The case was decided on January 22, 1973.  The vote was 7 to 2 in favor of the right to abortion.  Public opinion on the subject has wavered slightly on both slides.

Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade

When looking into this the first question I had was who is Roe?  Jane Roe was an alias for Norma L. McCorvey.  She wanted to have an abortion.  First she tried to lie and say she was raped, but since she didn’t have a police report this failed.  Then, she attempted an illegal abortion, but the place she went to had already been shut down by the police.  Her last stop was the lawyers.

Who was Wade?  That was the Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade representing the State of Texas.

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21 January
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Thule Air Base B-52 crash

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Thule Air Base B-52 crash

Thule Air Base B-52 crash BBC

In 1968 the US government had been flying over Thule air force base for 8 years.  The base was believed to be the first place Russia would attack and with US planes flying over it continually the US would know immediately if something happened to it.  But it gets worse.  The planes were all equipped with nuclear weapons, so that if Thule was destroyed they could make a beeline to Russia and blow the place up.  This constant flying over Thule was part of a US operation called Chrome Dome.

In January 21, 1968 a B-52 was making its rounds near Thule and some foam cushions, which were brilliantly left on a heater, caught fire.  The fire grew quickly and the crew had to abandon the plane before they could make their emergency landing.  As with most of these broken arrow incidents, the nuclear part of the bomb did not go off, but instead the smaller explosions associated with the bombs did.  This caused a lot of radioactive material to be spread across the snow in Greenland, where Thule base is located.

The contaminated snow was brought back the US.  As were three of the four bombs.  They had trouble locating the fourth.  Seems it when right through the snow and down to the bottom of the ocean.  Even after sending a submarine in to try to locate the bomb, the US was unable to retrieve it.  So, it was abandoned there at the bottom of the ocean.  I hope it is still there.

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