Tag Archives: history

Facebook Launched

The login screen from Facebook's predecessor, thefacebook.com.

The login screen from Facebook’s predecessor, thefacebook.com.

On February 4, 2004, Mark Zuckerburg, a 23-year-old Harvard University student launched Facebook – now the most prevalent social networking site in the world.

As a psychology student and avid computer programmer, Zuckerburg’s forays into the world of social networking did not start with Facebook. Prior to Facebook was Coursematch, a networking site that allowed students to view other people who were pursuing the same degree as themselves, and Facemash, which allowed college students to rate other peers’ attractiveness based solely on photos of their faces.

In January 2004, Zuckerburg began writing code for a new social networking project called, “thefacebook.” The idea was sparred from his creation of Facemash as a way to connect college students. The name was derived from the Harvard face book papers given to freshmen at the university, profiling students and staff. Zuckerburg shared his creation with some close friends, who suggested he put his site on his dormitory’s mailing list which included 300 people. Within 24 hours, between 1200-1500 students had registered to use the site.

Zuckerburg quickly ran into trouble with his creation. Just six days after the site’s launch, three Harvard seniors, Cameron WinklevossTyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra claimed to have been misled by Zuckerburg, who had allegedly promised to help them build a website to connect Harvard students called “HavardConnection.com.” They accused Zuckerburg of using their idea to create a competitive site. They filed a lawsuit against Zuckerburg and eventually settled for $65 million in 2008.

The site was initially only open to students at Harvard, and over half of the student population became registered users by the end of the first month. Zuckerburg quickly formed a team to work with including  Eduardo Saverin (business aspects), Dustin Moskovitz (programmer), Andrew McCollum (graphic artist), and Chris Hughes. Just months later, Facebook expanded to include other Ivy League and Boston-area schools. It then moved on to most other Canadian and United States schools before the end of 2004. Sean Parker, an entrepreneur and co-founder of music service Napster, had been advising Zuckerburg and joined the now incorporated company as president. They moved their offices to Palo Alto, California in mid-2004. In 2005, the company dropped ‘the’ from its name, and purchased the domain for facebook.com for $200,000.

By late 2005, Facebook was open to all U.S. universities and high schools, as well as schools in a few other countries including the United Kingdom and Mexico. At the beginning of 2006, work networks with corporate e-mail addresses were allowed to join and by September anyone over the age of 13 could join, and Facebook’s popular news feed function was introduced, allowing users to view their friends’ wall posts in one place.

Microsoft bought a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook for $240 million in 2007 and forged an advertising partnership. Facebook began introducing new features such as Facebook chat and the ‘like’ button, allowing friends to promote each others posts. Soon Facebook passed up Myspace as the top social network in the U.S. With the launch of Facebook mobile, integration of other social media and sharing sites, hashtags, trending topics, Facebook’s growth has not stopped since its launch from a Harvard dorm room in 2004.

Facebook now has a staggering 1.2 billion users, and only wishes to fulfill their vision of connecting the world.

Sources: Wikipedia, IBN Live, The Guardian

Read full storyComments { 0 }

The Day the Music Died

The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens.

The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens.

February 3 is known as “The Day the Music Died.” The name was taken from the song “American Pie” by Don McLean, and is a reference to the deaths of musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. The three were tragically killed on February 3, 1959 in a plane crash around Clear Lake, Iowa.

Holly, whose professional music career only lasted a year and a half before his death at the age of 22, is seen as one of the most influential pioneers of early rock ‘n’ roll music. He popularized the now traditional rock band line-up of two guitars, a bass, and drums, and he recorded in such abundance that “new” music of his was released for 10 years after his death. He has been cited as a significant influence by a plethora of famous musicians who followed him including the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Weezer, and many more. Valens’ life lasted even shorter than Holly’s – he was only 17 at the time of the crash. Valens is also noted for his impact on the world of rock ‘n’ roll, and was the leading figure in the Chicano rock movement with hits like “La Bamba” soaring him into fame at an early age. J.P. Richardson, more famously known as “The Big Bopper,” was well-known for his animated voice and personality, bringing hits like “Chantilly Lace” to #1. Though he was the oldest of the three (aged 28 at the time of the accident), Richardson’s career had just begun to take off when he agreed to tour with Holly.

After splitting from his manager and backing band, The Crickets, Holly formed a new band consisting of Carl Bunch, Tommy Allsup, and Waylon Jennings. They soon embarked on a 24-city Midwestern United States tour in late January of 1959 called “The Winter Dance Party.” They were also joined by other hit musicians of the time – Dion DiMucci of Dion and the Belmonts fame, Valens, and Richardson – for select performances. The travel logistics of the tour were not well thought out, causing there to be a great distance to trek between consecutive performance dates. The tour bus chartered for their long journeys was also ill-equipped to handle the cold weather of the Midwest and many members of the band caught the flu and suffered from frostbite due to a broken heater. Holly quickly became fed up with these travel conditions and chartered a plane after their show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa to take him to their next tour stop.

Originally, Jennings was going to ride on the plane, but gave his spot to Richardson, who had become sick with the flu. Upon hearing that Jennings had given up his space, Holly told Jennings, “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up.” Jennings replied with, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” Though said in complete jest, the remark is something that Jennings has been haunted by since the tragic crash. Allsup was also going to ride on the plane, but lost his seat to Valens in a coin toss. Dion was also asked if he would like a seat on the plane, but turned it down because of the $36 per seat fee, which at the time was the same amount he paid for rent at his apartment.

Once their performance at the Surf Ballroom was over, Holly, Valens, and Richardson boarded the small Beechcraft Bonanza plane and took off from the runway around 1 a.m. on February 3. Weather reports showed there to be a light amount of snow and 37 mph winds. There were deteriorating weather conditions on their flight path, but 21-year-old pilot Roger Peterson was not relayed this information in his pre-flight weather briefing. The crash was investigated by the Civil Aeronautics Board who determined that the poor weather conditions combined with the pilot’s error caused spatial disorientation, and Peterson lost control of the plane leading to the crash. Peterson was not familiar with the way the attitude indicator in the plane functioned and was unable to find a visual point of reference because the sky was starless and the fields he was flying over had no lights. The tip of the right wing then hit the ground and the plane banked downward, hitting the ground at 170 mph.

The owner of the flight company had watched the plane take off and was unable to make a radio connection afterward. During the later hours of the morning, the airport in Fargo, North Dakota, where the plane was supposed to land, had not gotten word from the pilot. Troubled by his inability to make radio contact and the plane’s non-arrival, the flight company owner reported the aircraft missing to authorities. He then took off in his Cessna 180 plane and began to fly on Peterson’s route to search for the missing plane. He spotted the wreckage in a field six miles from the take-off spot mere minutes later, and dispatches from the Sheriff’s were sent to the site. The musician’s bodies were found outside of the plane and were identified by the Surf Ballroom manager who had driven them to the airport and witnessed the take off. Coroner reports stated that all three musicians and the pilot were killed instantly from “gross trauma” to the brain.

María Elena, Holly’s wife of only six months who was also pregnant with his child, heard the news of her husband’s death on the radio and miscarried the next day due to the psychological trauma she was effected by when hearing the news. Holly’s mother heard of her son’s death on the radio and immediately collapsed. A few months later, authorities implemented a strict rule of letting families know before releasing victims names due to the extremely adverse effects the news had on Holly’s family.

Several memorials have been constructed around the site of the crash, and all three musicians have received several posthumous awards and Hall of Fame inductions. Though their professional careers were all short-lived because of their untimely deaths, each of these three talented musicians have had an incredible impact and influence on the world of rock ‘n’ roll music.

Sources: Wikipedia, BreakingNews.ie, Legacy.com


Read full storyComments { 0 }

John Elway’s Last Game

john elway last gameOn January 31, 1999, famed Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway led his team to a victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Going out on a win, this would be Elway’s last game.

After a successful high school football career, Elway was the most sought after high school player in the country with 60 scholarship offers. His school of choice was Stanford, and though he never led his college team to a bowl game, he completed 774 passes for 9,349 yards and 77 touchdowns in his accomplished college career. As a result, he was entered into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. In the 1983 NFL Draft, Elway was picked first overall by the Baltimore Colts. At that time, the Colts were one of the worst teams in the league, and Elway did not wish to play for them. Elway, who was also an accomplished baseball player, threatened to give up football and play for the New York Yankees if the Colts did not trade him. Elway was eventually traded to the Denver Broncos for offensive lineman Chris Hinton, backup quarterback Mark Herrmann, and a first-round pick by the Colts  in the 1984 draft.

Because Elway was considered one of the most anticipated athletes in NFL history, local Colorado papers began to run a section called “The Elway Watch.” He had a rough start as most NFL newbies do, but ended up leading his team to five Super Bowls. His first three Super Bowls were in the 1986, 1987, and 1989 seasons, but his team suffered losses in all three (39-20 to the ’86 Giants, 42-10 to the ’87 Redskins, and 55-10 to the ’89 49ers – one of the worst losses in Super Bowl history). After these three losses, Elway became known as the quarterback who could not deliver when he reached the big game.

Those losses only fueled Elway’s drive to win. Eight years later, Elway finally led the Broncos to another Super Bowl in the 1998 season. The Broncos faced off against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, and though Elway threw no touchdown passes, the Broncos finally picked up a win, with a final score of 31-24.

In the 1999 season, the Broncos once again made it to the Super Bowl, with more wins in a three-year span than any other team had in NFL history. The Broncos met the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII at the Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Falcons started out well, scoring a field goal and putting them up 3-0. The response was quick from the Broncos, with Elway setting up a series of completions, allowing fullback Howard Griffith to score a 1-yard touchdown run, putting the Broncos in the lead 7-3. In the second quarter, the Broncos kicked another field goal for another 3 points, while the Falcons missed one, causing the Broncos to take back possession of the ball and score another touchdown. The Falcons’ Tim Dwight’s big return gave the Falcons a short field, and Morten Anderson kicked right before halftime, bringing the score to 17-6, with Denver in the lead.

In the third quarter, both teams failed to score, but both put more points on the scoreboard early in the fourth. Darrien Gordon then intercepted his first of two passes of the game for Denver, and returned the ball to Atlanta’s 24-yard line. A 15-yard completion by Elway gave the Broncos 1st and goal from the 5-yard line. Griffith then made his way to the endzone after two running plays and the Broncos led 24-6.

After Gordon intercepted his second pass of the game, he returned the ball to Atlanta’s 48-yard line. From there, Elway completed a short pass to Terrell Davis who drove the ball 39 yards. Two plays later, Elway made a three-yard touchdown run, bringing the score up to 31-6. This touchdown made Elway the second player in history to score touchdowns in four different Super Bowls. The Falcons’ Dwight returned the kick-off 94 yards to score another touchdown. The Broncos recovered the onside kick and a 25-yard completion by Elway led to another Broncos’ field goal score. With a little over 2 minutes on the clock, the Falcons scored another touchdown, but time was not on the Falcons’ side.

With 37 seconds left on the clock, a victorious Elway made his way to the sidelines and was engulfed by his excited teammates. “That walk I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Elway recounted later, “That’s the kind of walk you dream of as a kid.” The Broncos were Super Bowl champions with a final score of 34-19, making them the seventh team to win back-to-back Super Bowls. The last team to accomplish this feat was the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and 1993. Elway completed a total of 18 passes for a total of 336 yards and was named the Super Bowl XXXIII MVP, making him the oldest MVP in Super Bowl history.

Rumors abounded as to whether or not Elway would stick around and try and win the Broncos a third straight Super Bowl championship, something no team had ever done. Though the prospect was tempting, Elway decided to go out with a bang and announced his retirement on May 2 of that year.

Sources: Wikipedia, Lootmeister Sports, NY Daily News

Read full storyComments Off

Casablanca Released in Theaters

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman filming the final scene of Casablanca.

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman filming the final scene of Casablanca.

On January 23, 1943, romantic war drama Casablanca was released in United States theaters. The iconic film tops many “greatest films of all time” lists, and has grown in popularity over the years as a generational touchstone, referenced countless times in other areas of popular culture.

The film was made and is set during World War II in French-occupied Morocco. The story line follows Humphrey Bogart‘s character, Rick, an American and owner of “Rick’s Café Américain,” which is known as a place for expatriates and refugees. Trouble arises when Rick’s ex-lover, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), and her seemingly new husband and fugitive Czech resistance leader (Paul Henreid) arrive in Casablanca, searching for exit visas to escape to the United States. The three then become wrapped up in a volatile web of political and romantic espionage. Rick is forced to choose between love and the greater good. The film was Bogart’s first time to play the part of romantic leading man, and it has since become one of his most celebrated roles. His character’s tough exterior and sentimental and wounded heart combine to make him a quintessential part of Hollywood’s golden age of renowned players.

No one involved in the production of Casablanca expected the movie to be anything extraordinary. It was one of hundreds of films that came out every year in Hollywood, and was not thought to have a huge impact. This belief was held despite the fact that producer Hal B. Wallis paid $20,000, the most anyone had ever paid, for the rights to the play Casablanca was based on, Everybody Comes to Rick’s. After it’s release, Casablanca was met with mostly good reviews, though many were still unenthusiastic about the film. The New Yorker called it just “pretty tolerable.”

In spite of unfavorable reviews from some audiences, Casablanca grossed a substantial, though not incredible, $3.7 million during its initial release. The release also coincided with the Casablanca Conference, which was an important meeting between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The film studio utilized this as a type of free publicity. Casablanca was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three – Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Director, and Outstanding Motion Picture.

Over the years, where other movies of the era faded into the past, Casablanca‘s popularity has continued to grow, turning it into a timeless classic which has a legendary status that propels it above other cinema. It’s combination of romance, comedy, and patriotism in a time of war resonate with audiences of the past and present.  The film had grossed $6.8 million by 1955, making it the third most successful wartime movie of Warner Bros. Studios. It also became the most broadcasted film on American television by 1977.

The movie has become such a large part of popular culture over the years, that even those who have not seen the movie are still able to quote some of it’s most famous lines like, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” which was improvised by Bogart during filming, and “Play it, Sam,” which is probably the most misquoted line in film history, largely due to the Woody Allen movie titled Play it Again, Sam. Six memorable quotes from the movie made it onto the American Film Institues 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes.

Though many have tried to recreate this masterpiece of American cinema in their own way, few have succeeded in receiving favorable reviews. A few examples include the ill-fated 1980 rip-off, Caboblanco, featuring Charles Bronson as a Peruvian barkeeper and 1996′s Barb Wire with Baywatch‘s Pamela Anderson giving a failed attempt at a futuristic version of Bogie’s role. Some remakes and spoofs have received applause though, including Carrotblanca, a short Looney Tune’s version of the famous film with Bugs Bunny filling Bogart’s shoes.

In the over 70 years since the release of this American classic, the film continues to win over the hearts of viewers young and old, remaining a piece of cinematic history that, as playwright Murray Burnett said is “true yesterday, true today, true tomorrow.”

Sources: Wikipedia, Turner Classic Movies, IMDB

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Marilyn Monroe Marries Joe DiMaggio

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio leaving San Francisco City Hall after their marriage ceremony.

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio leaving San Francisco City Hall after their marriage ceremony.

On January 14, 1954, buxom blonde Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe married New York Yankees hero Joe DiMaggio. The two American sweethearts seemed like the perfect match at first, but their married life proved to be rocky and fleeting.

Monroe and DiMaggio’s relationship started in 1952 after DiMaggio saw a picture of Monroe with two Chicago White Sox players, and arranged a dinner date with her. Monroe, who’s Hollywood popularity was rising after her roles in Monkey Business and Don’t Bother to Knock, was uneasy about meeting the baseball legend at first, thinking he would be a stereotypical jock. She showed up for their date two hours late, but was surprisingly wooed by the ex-Yankee.

It wasn’t long before the press caught wind of the blossoming romance and media outlets began following their relationship extensively. The couple managed to keep a low profile despite their tremendous fame, often spending time together at home or in the dark corners of DiMaggio’s restaurant. The love struck pair eloped on January 14, 1954, and were married at San Francisco City Hall. Monroe had let the news of her planned marriage slip to someone at her film studio, so the two were mobbed by press and fans upon exiting the hall.

While taking their honeymoon in Tokyo, Japan, Monroe was asked to perform for U.S. troops stationed in Korea. Happy to comply, Monroe left her unhappy new husband alone in Japan for four days while she performed 10 shows for over 100,000 soldiers. DiMaggio was already uneasy about Monroe’s sex symbol status and appeal, and this initial incident in their marriage was the first blow of many.

marilyncalendarThe most memorable and public example of the continuous discontent in their relationship happened on September 14, 1954. Monroe was filming probably the most famous scene in her movie career – the skirt blowing scene in The Seven Year Itch. Director Billy Wilder reportedly informed news outlets to turn the shoot into a media circus. When the crowd went wild every time Monroe’s skirt was blown up from wind coming from the subway grates, a sensitive DiMaggio became enraged. The two then had a “yelling match” in the lobby of the Trans-Lux theater where the scene was being filmed.

Just nine months, a mere 274 days, after their wedding, Monroe filed for divorce on the grounds of “mental cruelty,” claiming DiMaggio was “cold and indifferent.” She married playwright Arthur Miller four years later in 1958, but was divorced from him as well in 1961.

Monroe was now emotionally exhausted and was admitted into the  Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in February 1961. Coming to her rescue despite their volatile relationshiop was DiMaggio, who helped secure her release from the clinic. To get some rest and relaxation after her release, Monroe traveled with DiMaggio to Florida where the Yankees spring training camp was taking place. Rumors began to fly that the two were rekindling their romance, however they maintained that they were simply “good friends.”

On August 1, 1962, DiMaggio quit his then job and planned to ask Monroe to remarry him. A few days later, on August 5, Monroe was found dead from a drug overdose. DiMaggio was the first person called after Monroe’s body was found. Devastated, DiMaggio claimed the late actress’s body and single-handedly orchestrated her entire funeral. DiMaggio never remarried, and for the next 20 years until his death, he had a dozen red roses delivered to her crypt several times a week.

Though their marriage didn’t work out, DiMaggio’s love for Monroe was eternal.

Sources: History.com, Wikipedia, Parade, The Week


Read full storyComments { 0 }

Super Bowl III Upset


Joe Namath on the field during Super Bowl III.

On January 12, 1969, American Football League underdogs the New York Jets beat National Football League champions the Baltimore Colts at Super Bowl III in what is regarded as one of the hugest upsets in the history of American sports.

Even though it was the third AFL-NFL Championship game played, this game was the first to be given the name “Super Bowl.” There was a strongly held belief among most fans and sports writers that NFL teams included more talented players than those in the AFL. Because of this widely popular opinion, the Jets were pegged to lose to the Colts, who held a 13-1 record in the 1968 season.

Jets quarterback Joe Namath appeared in front of Miami Touchdown Club three days before the game was to take place at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. After hearing news for two weeks prior about how the Colts would be the likely victors, and after being heckled by a Colts fan at the Miami Touchdown club as well, Namath couldn’t take it anymore – he snapped. “We’re gonna win the game. I guarantee it,” he told the crowd and went on to bad-mouth many Colts players saying that the Colts had never had to play against the caliber of players that were in the AFL. Namath’s words would live on in infamy in the world of American sports.

nyjetsIn the first quarter, the Jets surprised the Colts, who had previously been unphased by Namath’s comments, by driving the ball 80 yards, taking a 7-0 lead. The Jets went on to intercept Colts quarterback, Earl Morrall, three times, and the Colts began to realize this win may not be as easy as they had been led to believe it would be by the public. In the third quarter, the Jets scored two more field goals, taking the score up to 13-0. After his three interceptions, Morrall was replaced by Johnny Unitas, who had been injured and out of commission during the regular season. The Jets made another field goal during the fourth quarter, and Unitas led the Colts to their only touchdown during the last few minutes of the game. The final score was 16-7, with Namath leading the Jets to victory.

Namath was named the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player, even though he didn’t complete any touchdown passes, or any passes in the fourth quarter. In all, he completed 17 out of 28 passes for a total of 206 yards.

The game is still considered today as one of the most memorable games in Super Bowl and American football history.

Sources: Wikipedia, About.com, NY Daily News

Read full storyComments Off

First iPhone Announced

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announces the first iPhone at the Macworld Expo in 2007.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announces the first iPhone at the Macworld Expo in 2007.

On January 9, 2007, Apple revolutionized the phone with the introduction of the iPhone. Apple’s first forays into the world of mobile handset technology changed the entire industry.

At the annual Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs prepared to announce to a packed crowd something Apple had been working on for the past two years. He started out his keynote speech with, “Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything… today, we’re introducing THREE revolutionary new products.” Jobs went on to explain that Apple had developed an iPod with a wide screen, a phone, and a “breakthrough internet communications device.” Surprising the crowd, Jobs then announced that these three revolutionary products were actually combined into one unit – the iPhone.

The new iPhone featured “Multi Touch,” a new input technology which allowed users to control the phone by touching the 3.5-inch display screen with their fingertip. This seamlessly crafted device also only featured a single button below the screen to take users back to their homescreens, and a wake/sleep button on top to lock the screen and prevent unwanted actions on the phone. Jobs also wowed the crowd when he announced that the device would run Mac’s OS X, which would allow the phone to sync data with any Mac, PC, or internet device, allowing users to have all of their iTunes music and videos, contacts, calendars, photos, notes, bookmarks and e-mail accounts in the palm of their hand. The revolutionary phone also included a 2-megapixel camera and three different smart sensors. The first of these sensors was a proximity sensor, which would turn off the display and prevent touchscreen capability when the phone is held next to the ear. The second was an ambient light sensor, allowing the screen to adjust brightness and save power based on surrounding ambient light. The last sensor, an accelerometer, knows when you turn your phone and adjusts what you’re looking at to portrait or landscape mode.

On top of all this, the original iPhone was then announced to have EDGE and WiFi capabilities (3G coming in the future), allowing it to automatically connect to the Internet. The Safari web browser included on the iPhone allowed users to view standard Web pages and HTML-capable e-mail. Jobs also informed the audience that Yahoo would be offering free push e-mail to all iPhone customers. Other features announced were a Google Maps feature which could be used to look up locations and directions and satellite map imagery. Along with this were other dashboard widgets like the weather widget and a stock widget. Now standard on smartphones, the original iPhone also introduced photo management software that allowed users to zoom in and out using a “pinching” motion.

Though these other features were mind-blowing to the Macworld crowd, Jobs boasted that the most impressive thing about the new iPhone was how it redefined the way phone calls would be made. A conference call function made it easy to have a phone conversation with more than just one person. A visual voicemail display allowed users to skip to voicemails they wanted to listen to rather than having to wait through others. Text messaging matched that of iChat on Mac computers as far as sounds and looks, with a touch keyboard appearing at the bottom of the screen.

When this “magical” phone, as Jobs put it, came out, two versions were available - a 4GB, $499 model and an 8GB, $599 model. On June 29, 2007, hundreds of U.S. customers lined up outside of each store offering the revolutionary product across the country. Media outlets were dubbing the new product the “Jesus phone.” The iPhone has since revolutionized the way phones are made, with most smartphones borrowing features introduced by Apple and Jobs in 2007. The iPhone is now in its seventh generation, with the 5S and 5C which were introduced in September 2013.

Sources: Macrumors, BBC, Macworld

Read full storyComments { 0 }

U.S. Space Shuttle Program Launched

space-shuttle-launch3aOn January 5, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed legislation and announced the development of the United States Space Shuttle Program.

Though this was the first time this program had been announced, curiosity about building space ships started in the 1930s. The 1950s saw the building of rocket planes which flew test flights and eventually made it into outer space. In the late 1950s, the United States was challenged by the Soviet Union who had put the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into orbit and sent the first man to outer space in the early ’60s. President John F. Kennedy then put together a plan to put the first man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. The Apollo program was then started and Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. Further space explorations and goals were then set into motion.

President Nixon spearheaded the development of the Space Task Group, whose main objective was to evaluate previous shuttle studies, and suggest a space exploration strategy that would include building a reusable space shuttle. NASA expressed its goal to Congress, presenting them with a less expensive way for them to travel to space.

In 1972, when Nixon signed the $5.5 million legislation for the development on the space shuttle, he focused on the practical benefits of building reusable spaceships, and how it would mean more trips to space for a lower overall cost. This could allow for further developments in space research for the U.S.

“…in moving out from our present beach-head in the sky to achieve a real working presence in space – because the Space Shuttle will give us routine access to space by sharply reducing costs in dollars and preparation time. The new system will differ radically from all existing booster systems, in that most of this new system will be recovered and used again and again – up to 100 times. The resulting economies may bring operating costs down as low as one-tenth of those present launch vehicles.”

Although these thoughts were lofty and seemed attainable, President Nixon was not completely right. Expressed in a 2011 Time commentary on the last shuttle launch, Jeffrey Kluger stated that the cost of the last launch totaled up to $500 million dollars, and several months of maintenance were required between flights to keep ships running. Discovery was the shuttle out of the five built to make the most flights with 38 flights in 28 years, while two of the shuttles, the Challenger and the Columbia both perished along with their crews. Although shuttles were not as reusable as Nixon had originally envisioned, there were several leaps and bounds were made in space exploration and discovery. Kluger referenced these in his article,

“These shuttles built the International Space Station, carried the Magellan, Ulysses and Galileo probes aloft and sent them on their ways to Venus, the sun and Jupiter respectively. They lofted the Hubble Space telescope too — easily the most productive scientific instrument ever built — and made occasional servicing runs to it, with astronauts conducting surgically precise repair work on the $1.5 billion instrument in the impossibly challenging environment of space.”

The Space Shuttle Program was extended many times beyond its preconceived lifespan, mostly due to the intention to finish the International Space Station. The ISS is funded until 2020, and may operate until 2028. The final Space Shuttle launch was of the Atlantis on July 8, 2011.

Sources: Wikipedia, Aaron Tallant’s Day in History, Space.com

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Pepper Pot Day

It’s Pepper Pot Day, a celebration of a thick, spicy soup called pepper pot!

According to legend, pepper pot was first concocted during the Revolutionary War – December 29, 1777, to be exact. It was a cold, harsh winter for the Continental Army in Valley Forge. Food was scarce – farmers in the area sold their food to the British Army for pounds over the Continental Army’s weak currency. Thus, the troops created a soup that included all they could find.

And apparently all they could find were scraps of tripe (aka animal stomach), beef stock,  peppercorn and a few vegetables, as these are the main ingredients of pepper pot.

Though pepper pot may not sound like much to celebrate, the soup got the soldiers through the harsh winter, earning it the title “the soup that won the war.”

Celebrate Pepper Pot Day by making yourself a pot of pepper pot soup (recipe), but don’t eat it yet. Fill your bowl and head out into the cold outdoors to get the full effect of the soup’s warming powers.

By the way, we’ll totally understand if you substitute the tripe with chicken or beef. And if not, we’ll understand that, too.


Sources: holidayinsights.com, punchbowl.com, wikipedia.org
Read full storyComments { 0 }

Pledge of Allegiance Day

Girl Pledging Allegiance to the FlagOn December 28, 1945, the Pledge of Allegiance was officially recognized as the American flag salute by the U.S. Congress.

Baptist minister Frances Bellemy wrote the verse in 1892 and it was published in a children’s magazine called The Youth’s Companion. The first version of the pledge was simpler than the one we know today and read, ”I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The pledge has since gone through a few revisions, the first being in 1923 when it was updated to say, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1954, it was again revised to include the words “under God,” due to the urging of Dwight Eisenhower, who feared communism at the time. This addition has proven to be controversial in the years since its addition.

Prior to World War II, the pledge was recited with the right arm raised up, pointing toward the flag. Because this was a gesture used by Nazis during WWII, the gesture made while reciting the pledge has since been changed to putting the right hand over the heart while reciting the pledge.

To celebrate this day, you can reflect on what the words of the Pledge of Allegiance mean to you, learn more about the history of the pledge, and recite it when you are in the presence of those red, white, and blue stars and stripes!

Sources: Life123.com, Every Day is Special

Read full storyComments { 0 }