This Week in History

November 17

  1871: The National Rifle Association was granted it first charter, by the state of New York.
1942: Born this day: singer-songwriter Bob Gaudio (The Four Seasons); and director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas).
1944: Born this day: singer-songwriter Gene Clark (The Byrds, The New Christy Minstrels, died 1991); actor Danny DeVito (Throw Momma from the Train, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Terms of Endearment, Romancing the Stone, Batman Returns, Get Shorty, Matilda, Twins); Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels; and New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver.
1947: U.S. scientists John Bardeen (1908-1991) and Walter Houser Brattain (1902-1987) first observed the characteristics of the transistor, a key component for the electronics revolution of the 20th century. The Screen Actors Guild implemented an anti-communist loyalty oath.
1970: The Soviet Union landed Lunokhod 1 on Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) on the Moon. This became the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another world.
1980: Vincent Pilkington, age unknown, of Cootehill, County Cavan, Republic of Ireland, set a world record when he  plucked a turkey in 1 minute 30 seconds.

November 18

1307: William Tell (circa 1280-1354) shot an apple off his son’s head with a crossbow and bolt in Altdorf, Austria.

1493: Christopher Columbus (1450-1506) first sighted the island now known as Puerto Rico.

1883: American and Canadian railroads established five standard continental time zones, ending the confusion of thousands of local times.

1928: The animated short “Steamboat Willie” was released. It was the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney (1901-1966) and Ub Iwerks (1901-1971), featuring the third appearances of cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. This is considered by the Disney corporation to be Mickey’s birthday.

1963: The first push-button telephone service, Touch-Tone®, was put into use by the Bell System in the United States.

November 19

1863: President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the military cemetery ceremony at Gettysburg, Pa.

1916: Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz, 1879-1974) and Edgar Selwyn (1875-1944) established Goldwyn Pictures in Hollywood, Calif.

1933: Born this day: CNN talk show host Larry King, and Judge Jerry Sheindlin (The People’s Court).
1959: Ford Motor Co. discontinued the unpopular Edsel.
1990: Pop duo Milli Vanilli were stripped of their Grammy Award because they did not sing at all on the Girl You Know It’s True album. Session musicians had provided all the vocals.

November 20

1789: New Jersey became the first U.S. state to ratify the Bill of Rights.

1969: The occupation of Alcatraz Island began when Native American activists seized control of the former prison site. (They were ousted by the U.S. government on June 11, 1971.)
1975: Born this day: country singer Dierks Bentley (“Drunk on a Plane,” “Up on the Ridge,” “Sideways”); and actor Joshua Gomez (Chuck, Without a Trace).
1985: Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released.

November 21

1789: North Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution and was admitted as the 12th state.

1877: Thomas Edison (1847-1931) unveiled his newest invention, the phonograph, a machine that could record and play sound.

1905: The scientific paper, Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?, by Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was published in the journal Annalen der Physik. This paper revealed the relationship between energy and mass, and led to the mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc².

1942: Warner Bros. cartoon character “Tweety Bird” appeared for the first time in U.S. movie theaters.
1953: The British Natural History Museum announced that the “Piltdown Man” skull, initially believed to be one of the most important fossilized hominid skulls ever found, was a hoax.

November 22

1858: Denver, Colo., was founded.

1869: The clipper Cutty Sark was launched from Dumbarton, Scotland. (It was one of the last clippers ever built, and the only one still surviving today.)

1958: Born this day: actors Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween II, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, A Fish Called Wanda); and Bruce Payne (Highlander: Endgame, Dungeons & Dragons); and voice actor Eddie Frierson (Wreck-It Ralph, Hotel Transylvania, The Princess and the Frog, ParaNorman, Curious George).
1977: British Airways inaugurated its regular London-to-New York City supersonic Concorde service.
1987: Chicago TV stations WGN and WTTW had their signals hijacked for 30 seconds and 90 seconds respectively during a three-hour period by an unknown pirate disguised as the fictional artificial intelligence character Max Headroom, and one other visible accomplice. (The perpetrators have never been caught.)
1995: Toy Story by Pixar Animation Studios was released by Walt Disney Pictures as the first feature-length film created with only computer-generated imagery.
2005: Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany.

November 23

1889: The first jukebox that played phonograph records went into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.

1924: Astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) wrote in a newspaper article that the Milky Way is only one of many such galaxies in the universe.
1963: BBC broadcast the first episode of Doctor Who, which is now the world’s longest running science fiction drama.
1976: Diving off Elba, Italy, French free diver Jacques Mayol (1927-2001) became the first known human to dive to the depth of 100 meters (328 feet) without diving gear.
1992: The first Smartphone, IBM Simon, was introduced at a computer expo in Las Vegas, Nevada.