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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Today in history—January 18

1778: Captain James Cook becomes the first European to identify and record the existence of a chain of islands, which he calls the "Sandwich Islands" in honor of his patron.

1813: Joseph Farwell Glidden is born in New Hampshire.  A farmer troubled by wandering livestock, he will come up with a solution that will forever change the face of the American landscape: barbed wire.  His Barb Fence Co. will make him one of the nation’s richest men.

Thomas_watson 1854: Thomas Augustus Watson is born in Salem, Massachusetts. Best known as Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant in the invention of the telephone—"Watson, come here, I need you"—he will later give up his one-third interest in Bell Telephone for shipbuilding, founding the great Quincy shipbuilding yard that is still in use today.

1871: King Wilhelm I of Prussia is named Emperor of Germany in a ceremony at Versailles, occupied by the Prussians following the successful Franco-Prussian War.

1888: British aviation pioneer Sir Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith is born.

1896: The x-ray machine is demonstrated to the public in New York City. For 25¢, you can see inside yourself.

1918: Veronica Holovich is born in Donora, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Carpathian Rus immigrants from Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Happy Birthday, Mom.

1929: The first American broadcast news celebrity, the New York Mirror’s Walter Winchell, takes to the airwaves on CBS’s Saks on Broadway. His recipe for success is still good today: "To get famous, throw a brick at someone who is famous."

1933: Ray Dolby, the engineer who invented the noise reduction system that bears his name, is born.

Curt_flood 1938: Curt Flood (left), the man whose ground-breaking suit challenging baseball's reserve system inaugurated the modern free agency era, is born in Houston, Texas.  Flood will never benefit from his action, though.

1943: It may be one of the best ideas around, but U.S. bakers nevertheless stop selling sliced bread, because the government says they need the bread-slicer blades for aircraft propellers. The ban is lifted three months later.

1950: The federal tax on oleomargarine, enacted to protect the dairy industry, is repealed.

1991: After 62 years of storied history, Eastern Airlines closes up shop.

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