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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Today in history--January 16

1730: Lawyer Jean-Baptiste-Gaspard Bochart de Saron is born.  He is best remembered for his hobby, which was astronomy; he financed Laplace's work and accumulated one of the finest collections of telescopes and scientific equipment of his day.

1868: William Davis, a Detroit fish dealer, receives a patent for the first refrigerated rail car.

1883: At-will employment ends in the federal government, as the United States Civil Service Commission is formed.

1909: Explore Ernest Shackleford finds the magnetic South Pole.  It had been lost for several years.

1936: The father of modern photography, Oskar Barnack, dies at age 56.  Working for the Ernst Leitz optical firm in Wetzlar, Germany, he develops the "Leica I," the first small, hand-held 35mm camera.

1936: Speaking of cameras, the first race track camera designed to decide close horse races (the "photo finish") is installed at Hialeah, Florida. 

1961: Yankee center fielder Mickey Mantle signs a contract that makes him the highest-paid player in the American League, at $75,000 a season.

1976: Herb Alpert's A&M Records releases Frampton Comes Alive, which will go on to become the biggest-selling album until that time.

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