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Friday, January 14, 2005

Today in history—January 14

1741: Benedict Arnold is born at Norwich, Connecticut.  After running his own apothecary shop in New Haven, he will become famous in the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign as a corporate CEO who moves jobs overseas.

1861: David Wesson is born in Brooklyn, New York. He will leave a teaching post at MIT to work for the Southern Cotton Oil Co. where, in 1899, he will develop a new method for deodorizing cottonseed oil, thus making is useful for cooking. The company will later change its name to "Wesson Oil."

1885: Yale professor Benjamin Silliman, Jr., dies at New Haven.  Working part-time for a New York lawyer named George Bissell, he will write the 1855 report showing that petroleum can be distilled into a useful fuel.  This leads to the world’s first oil drilling project at Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1859.

Laurel_and_hardy 1892: Film entrepreneur Hal Roach is born in Elmira, New York.  His studio’s biggest stars will be the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy (left)—and he will keep them on separate contracts with different expiration dates to gain leverage over the duo.

1911: James Skelly Wright is born in New Orleans. As a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, he’ll become known in Contracts circles for the seminal unconscionability opinion in Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co.

1914: Henry Ford announces a new continuous-motion system for his assembly lines that reduce the time spent to make a car to 93 minutes.

1915: Mark Goodson, the co-founder of the quiz show empire that includes What’s My Line, I’ve Got a Secret, The Price is Right, Password, Concentration, Match Game) is born in Sacramento, California.

Today_show 1952: One of the National Broadcasting Company’s most successful long-term franchises, Today, debuts with host Dave Garroway.  The show's first big star will be chimpanzee J. Fred Muggs (at left, second from left), who joins the show a year later.

1973: Elvis Presley draws the biggest audience for a television broadcast to that date, when his Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii is seen by a billion people in 40 countries.

1978: Mathematician Kurt Gödel is born in Brno, in what is now the Czech Republic. Hardly anyone understands his Incompleteness Theorems, but that doesn’t stop people from talking about them inaccurately.

1984: Ray Arthur Kroc, the milkshake-machine salesman who spotted the potential in a San Bernardino (Calif.) hamburger joint called "McDonald’s," dies at San Diego, California.

1986: Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo sets the record for first-day video sales, racking up 435,000 on its opening day in stores.

1997: The Greek Ministry of Culture confirms that it has unearthed the school where Aristotle taught from 335-324 B.C.

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