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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Today in history—January 13

Alchemist 1404: The English Parliament makes it a felony to transmute base metals into gold. The statute is rarely enforced, however.

1832: Horatio Alger, Jr., is born in Revere, Massachusetts.  He will write 130 dime novels for boys, with titles like Ragged Dick, Luck and Pluck, Bound to Rise, and Only an Irish Boy, which will help instill the "American Dream" in the post-Civil War U.S.

1885: Alfred C. Fuller, a self-styled "country bumpkin" whose Fuller Brush Co. would become synonymous with modern door-to-door sales, is born in Nova Scotia.

1928: RCA and General Electric put the first television sets into homes in Schenectady, New York. The picture is wobbly and the screens are 1.5 inches square.  Plus, there are no TV broadcasters yet.  It does not catch on.

1941: Bandleader Glenn Miller signs the Modernaires quartet to a full-time contract to appear with his big band.  Among other things, the Modernaires were previously known as the "Wizards of Ozzie" when they performed with Ozzie Nelson’s own band.

1955: Two of America’s premier banks merge. Chase National Bank (founded 1877) and Bank of Manhattan (1799), form Chase Manhattan, then the second-largest U.S. bank.

1957: Judge Jerome New Frank of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, one of the leading Freudians on the federal bench, dies in New Haven, Connecticut.

1957: The Wham-O Company introduces a new flying toy, which it calls the "Pluto Platter." The name is subsequently changed to "Frisbee."  Inventor Fred Morrison had sold the rights to Wham-O for $1 million.

1957: At the top of the charts is the Tarriers’ Banana Boat Song:

Work all night on a drink o’ rum
    Daylight come and we wan’ go home
Stack banana till the mornin’ come
    Daylight come and we wan’ go home

Chubby_checker 1962: Chubby Checker’s The Twist becomes the first single to reach Number One on the Billboard charts a second time. It had previously been on top in 1960.

2000: Bill Gates announces that he is stepping down as CEO of Microsoft Corp., and will turn the job over to longtime friend and associate Steve Ballmer.

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