History Schmistory: February 20. Hofer heaven’s sake!

1810: Andreas Hofer, a humble Tirolean innkeeper turned patriot, who became the leader of a rebellion against Napoleon’s forces, is executed by firing squad under Napoleon’s order to “give him a fair trial, then shoot him.” Hofer refused a blindfold, passing money to the corporal with orders to “shoot straight”. In his final letter Hofer proclaimed; “Goodbye disappearing world! Dying is so easy that my eyes have no tears.” Today he is regarded as a national hero in Tirol and much of Austria and Germany. Even has a four star hotel named after him. As a former innkeeper, he probably would appreciate that.

History Schmistory: February 19. It’s people!!

1847: The first group of rescuers reaches the Donner Party. Sadly, they arrived just after the main course.

History Schmistory: February 18. Moooovin’ on up.

1930: Elm Farm Ollie, aka “Nellie Jay” becomes the first cow to fly in a fixed-wing aircraft, promoting the International Air Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri.
Ollie was also the first cow to be milked in an aircraft, producing 24 quarts of milk which were parachuted in cartons down to eager spectators.
Unfortunately, the air-milk industry failed to thrive.

 

History Schmistory: February 17. Orange you glad we’re a free state?

1854: The United Kingdom recognizes the independence of the Orange Free State, which would later become a part of the Union of South Africa. Today the province remains free from the tyranny of Oranges.

History Schmistory: February 16. “Are you a gameshow panelist?”

1950: The longest-running prime time game show in network television history, What’s My Line?, premieres on CBS, and runs until 1967. The show consisted of a semi-witty celebrity panel that attempted to guess the typically unusual occupations of various guests by way of yes or no questions. (As in ‘what’s my line of work?’ not to be confused with Whose Line is it Anyway?) Shows also included “mystery guests” which the panelists were challenged to identify while napping…

History Schmistory: February 16. Emergency!

February 16, 1968. 9-1-1 service begins.

History Schmistory: February 15. Compute this!

1946: ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, is formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The ENIAC (electronic numerical integrator and computer) filled an entire room, weighed thirty tons, and consumed over two hundred kilowatts of power, (1 kW=1000 regular watts) so clearly the room must have felt like a sauna. Parts included over 19,000 vacuum tubes -the principal elements of the circuitry- and hundreds of thousands of resistors, capacitors, and inductors, all jumbled up inside forty-two panels nine feet tall, two feet wide, and one foot thick. And not a mouse to be found!

It would be decades before the true potential of the computer would be realized…

History Schmistory: February 15. Words From Columbus!

February 15, 1493. Columbus writes a letter describing (and exaggerating) his voyage.

Video Schmistory: February 14.

History Schmistory: February 13. “I give up.”

1633: After a grueling twenty-three day trip, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, seventy years old and suffering from excruciating sciatica, arrives in Rome for his trial before the Inquisition. Having failed to convince the cardinals with his evidence, Galileo was to be tried for heresy for professing and detailing his belief that Earth revolves around the Sun. In order to avoid a particularly torturous jail sentence, the mark of any bona fide Inquisition, Galileo had no choice but to submit, renouncing his beliefs and denying a lifetime of work so he could go back home and live out his remaining days in peace.

Some folks were just too far ahead of their time…

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