Category Archives: History

American Standard

In (1913) ‘Ford’ began using standardized interchangeable parts and assembly-line techniques in his plant. Although ‘Ford’ neither originated nor was the first to employ such practices, he was chiefly responsible for their general adoption and for the consequent great expansion of ‘American’ industry and the raising of the ‘American’ standard of living.

By early (1914) this innovation, although greatly increasing productivity, had resulted in a monthly labor turnover of 40 to 60 percent in his factory, largely because of the unpleasant monotony of assembly-line work and repeated increases in the production quotas assigned to workers. ‘Ford’ met this difficulty by doubling the daily wage then standard in the industry, raising it from about $2.50 to $5. The net result was increased stability in his labor force and a substantial reduction in operating costs. These factors, coupled with the enormous increase in output made possible by new technological methods, led to an increase in company profits from $30 million in (1914) to $60 million in (1916).

In (1908) the ‘Ford’ company initiated production of the celebrated ‘Model T’. Until (1927), when the ‘Model T’ was discontinued in favor of a more up-to-date model, the company produced and sold about 15 million cars. Within the ensuing few years, however, ‘Ford’ preeminence as the largest producer and seller of automobiles in the nation was gradually lost to his competitors, largely because he was slow to adopt the practice of introducing a new model of automobile each year, which had become standard in the industry.

During the (1930) ‘Ford’ adopted the policy of the yearly changeover, but his company was unable to regain the position it had formerly held.

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Comedians

‘Marx Brothers’, five 20th-century ‘American’ comedians, born in ‘New York City’. The brothers were known by their professional names: ‘Chico Marx’ (born Leonard, 1891-1961), ‘Gummo Marx’ (Milton, 1892-1977), ‘Harpo Marx’ (Adolph, also known as Arthur, 1893-1964), ‘Groucho Marx’ (Julius, 1895-1977), and ‘Zeppo Marx’ (Herbert, 1901-1979).

The ‘Marx’ brothers began their careers in vaudeville as the ‘Nightingales’. Later the four oldest brothers appeared with their mother and aunt as the ‘Six Mascots’, then billed themselves as the ‘Marx Brothers’. (Zeppo, the youngest, replaced ‘Gummo’ in the act before the group became stars on ‘Broadway’ and in motion pictures). The brothers appeared in a number of film comedies noted chiefly for their zany sight gags. Such films include ‘Animal Crackers’ (1930), ‘Horse Feathers’ (1932), and ‘Duck Soup’ (1933). After ‘Zeppo’ retired in (1933), ‘Harpo’, ‘Chico’, and ‘Groucho’ appeared with great success in ‘A Night at the Opera’ (1935), ‘A Day at the Races’ (1937), and ‘Room Service’ (1938). Their last film as a team was ‘Love Happy’ (1950).

Each brother had readily identifiable characteristics. For example, ‘Groucho’ had a caustic wit and usually appeared with a cigar and mustache; ‘Chico’ spoke in an ‘Italian’ accent and played the piano; ‘Harpo’ communicated in pantomime and played the harp.

After the brothers ceased making films, ‘Groucho’ continued his entertainment career as master of ceremonies of the television series ‘You Bet Your Life’. He wrote the autobiographical ‘Groucho and Me’ (1959) and ‘Memoirs of a Mangy Lover’ (1964). ‘Harpo’ published his autobiography, ‘Harpo Speaks’, in (1961). The brothers inspired the musical ‘Minnie Boys’ (1970), which was coauthored by ‘Groucho’ son ‘Arthur’.


Eagle ’69

‘Apollo 11’ was the first lunar-landing mission. Launched on July 16 (1969), the crew of ‘Neil A. Armstrong’, ‘Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.’, and ‘Michael Allen Collins’ flew the spacecraft ‘Columbia’ (CSM) and ‘Eagle’ (LM). On July 20 (1969), ‘Armstrong’ and ‘Aldrin’ landed the ‘Eagle’ at the relatively flat and unobstructed Tranquillity site on the ‘Moon’, while ‘Collins’ remained in the ‘CSM’.

The ‘LM’ spent 21 hours 36 minutes on the lunar surface, and the crew spent 2 hours 31 minutes outside the ‘LM’ in a local area excursion on foot to a distance of approximately 50 m (160 ft) from Tranquillity Base. ‘Armstrong’ and ‘Aldrin’ evaluated the capability of working on the lunar surface, established a small scientific station, and collected 22 kg (49 lb) of lunar rocks and soil.

Using the descent stage of the ‘LM’ as a launching platform, the ascent stage of the ‘LM’ took off from the ‘Moon’ surface to rendezvous and dock with the ‘CSM’. The spacecraft departed lunar orbit over two days after arrival. This eight-day mission landed and was recovered safely in the ‘Pacific Ocean’. As a precautionary measure, the astronauts were quarantined for 14 days.


Mac 1984

In (1977) ‘Apple’ introduced the ‘Apple II’, a personal computer able to generate color graphics, with its own keyboard, power supply, and eight slots for peripheral devices, which gave users wide possibilities for add-on devices and software programs.

‘Apple’ established its corporate headquarters in ‘Cupertino’ in (1978). The ‘Apple III’ computer, introduced in (1980), sold poorly because of hardware problems and a high price. With ‘Apple II’ sales soaring, in (1982) ‘Apple’ became the first personal-computer company to record annual sales of $1 billion.

In (1983) ‘Apple’ introduced the ‘Lisa’, a personal computer designed for business use that incorporated a handheld mouse to select commands and control an on-screen cursor. The ‘Lisa’ was followed in (1984) by the ‘Macintosh’ personal computer, based on the 68000 microprocessor manufactured by ‘Motorola’. Like the ‘Lisa’, the ‘Macintosh’, also known as the ‘Mac’, incorporated a graphical user interface, which made the computer easy to operate for the novice user.

‘Apple’ entered the office market with the introduction of its ‘LaserWriter’ printer in (1985) and ‘Macintosh Plus’ computer in (1986), a combination that launched the desktop publishing revolution.

Although the company prospered in the early (1980), ‘Wozniak’ left ‘Apple’ in (1985) to start a company of his own. That same year disappointing sales and internal wrangling led to restructuring, the company’s first layoffs, and ‘Jobs’ departure from the company. ‘John Sculley’, whom ‘Jobs’ had hired in (1983) as ‘Apple’ president and chief executive officer, replaced ‘Jobs’ as chairman of the company’s board of directors.


High-Flyer

‘Kobe Bryant’ played his entire 20-year career with the ‘Los Angeles Lakers’ of the ‘National Basketball Association’ (NBA). He entered the ‘NBA’ directly from high school and won five ‘NBA’ championships with the ‘Lakers’.

‘Bryant’ is an 18-time ‘All-Star’, 15-time member of the ‘All-NBA Team’, and 12-time member of the ‘All-Defensive’ team. He led the ‘NBA’ in scoring during two seasons, and ranks third on both the league’s all-time regular season scoring and all-time postseason scoring lists. He holds the ‘NBA’ record for the most seasons playing with one franchise for an entire career.

The son of former ‘NBA’ player ‘Joe Bryant’, ‘Kobe Bryant’ enjoyed a successful high school basketball career at ‘Lower Merion High School’ in ‘Pennsylvania’, where he was recognized as the top high school basketball player in the country. He declared for the ‘NBA’ draft upon graduation, and was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 ‘NBA’ draft by the ‘Charlotte Hornets’, who traded him to the ‘Los Angeles Lakers’.

As a rookie, ‘Bryant’ earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite by winning the (1997) ‘Slam Dunk Contest’, and he was named an ‘All-Star’ by his second season. Despite a feud between them, ‘Bryant’ and ‘Shaquille ONeal’ led the ‘Lakers’ to three consecutive championships from (2000-2002).


Hallowe’en 1745

Today ‘Halloween’ customs are thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the ‘Celtic’ speaking countries, some of which have pagan roots, and others which may be rooted in ‘Celtic Christianity’. Indeed, ‘Jack Santino’, a folklorist, writes that “the sacred and the religious are a fundamental context for understanding Halloween in Northern Ireland, but there was throughout Ireland an uneasy truce existing between customs and beliefs associated with Christianity and those associated with religions that were Irish before Christianity arrived”.

Historian ‘Nicholas Rogers’, exploring the origins of ‘Halloween’, notes that while “some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain”, which comes from the ‘Old Irish’ for “summer’s end”. ‘Samhain’ was the first and most important of the four quarter days in the medieval ‘Gaelic’ calendar and was celebrated in ‘Ireland’, ‘Scotland’ and the ‘Isle of Man’.

It was held on or about 31 October – 1 November and kindred festivals were held at the same time of year by the ‘Brittonic Celts’; for example ‘Calan Gaeaf’ (in Wales), ‘Kalan Gwav’ (in Cornwall) and ‘Kalan Goañv’ (in Brittany). ‘Samhain’ and ‘Calan Gaeaf’ are mentioned in some of the earliest Irish and ‘Welsh’ literature. The names have been used by historians to refer to ‘Celtic Halloween’ customs up until the 19th century, and are still the ‘Gaelic’ and ‘Welsh’ names for ‘Halloween’.


Presidents Day

The federal holiday honoring ‘George Washington’ was originally implemented by an ‘Act of Congress’ in (1879) for government offices in ‘Washington’ and expanded in (1885) to include all federal offices. As the first federal holiday to honor an ‘American President’, the holiday was celebrated on ‘Washington’ actual birthday, February 22. On January 1, (1971), the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the ‘Uniform Monday Holiday Act’. This date places it between February 15 and 21, which makes the name “Washington’s Birthday” in some sense a misnomer, since it never occurs on ‘Washington’ actual birthday, either February 11 or February 22.

Today, the February holiday has become well known for being a day in which many stores, especially car dealers, hold sales. Until the late (1980), corporate businesses generally closed on this day, similar to present corporate practices on ‘Memorial Day’ or ‘Christmas Day’. With the late (1980) advertising push to rename the holiday, more and more businesses are staying open on the holiday each year, and, as on ‘Veterans Day’ and ‘Columbus Day’, most delivery services outside of the ‘United States Postal Service’ now offer regular service on the day as well. Some public transit systems have also gone to regular schedules on the day. Many colleges and universities hold regular classes and operations on ‘Presidents Day’.

Various theories exist for this, one accepted reason being to make up for the growing trend of corporations to close in observance of the ‘Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.’ Conversely, many schools and business formerly open on this day began closing after the observance of ‘Dr. King’ birthday holiday became prevalent. This was done in order not to diminish ‘Washington’ birthday in comparison to ‘King’. However, when reviewing the ‘Uniform Monday Holiday Bill’ debate of (1968) in the ‘Congressional Record’, one notes that supporters of the ‘Bill’ were intent on moving federal holidays to Mondays to promote business.

Both ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Washington’ birthdays are in February. In historical rankings of ‘Presidents of the United States’ both ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Washington’ are frequently, but not always, the top two presidents.

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