Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The zipper is just the beginning

kw: observations, history

Today's Google Doodle marks the 132d birthday of the inventor of the zipper, Gideon Sundback. Prior to about a century ago, which is also prior to the use of elastic in waistbands, you had to undo a couple of buttons to get trousers off, which could be a problem if you were in too big a hurry!

But there is more to the day than sartorial developments. The Internet is a wonderful library, and when I get a wild hair about something, its resources astound me. In particular, there are dozens of "this day in history" sites. The best that I've so far found is historyorb.com. Some tidbits from its archive:
  • 2005 – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger becomes Pope Benedict XVI.
  • 1996 – Highest scoring baseball game in 17 years: Twins 24, Tigers 11.
  • 1990 – West and East Germany agree to merge their currency and economies (to take place on July 1).
  • 1981 – Introduction of the IBM PC. Prior to this you had to build one from a kit.
  • 1969 – Paul McCartney says there is no truth to rumors that he is dead (Mark Twain said it better 72 years earlier: "Rumors of my death are an exaggeration").
  • 1953 – Queen Elizabeth II knights Winston Churchill (and about time, too).
  • 1928 – A patent issued to Reginald Fessenden for the fathometer, a sonar device that measures depths underwater. This beats lowering a weight on a marked rope, which may or may not hang vertically.
  • 1907 – Milton Hershey opens Hersheypark in Hershey, PA. Initially, it was exclusively for employees.
That takes us back a century. These are just a few of a couple hundred items from which I could choose.

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