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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Today in history—January 27

98: The first of the "five good emperors" of Rome, Marcus Cocceius Nerva, dies of natural causes.  His is succeeded by his adopted son, Trajan.

1606: The trial of Guy Fawkes and the disenfranchised Catholics who were charged with plotting to blow up Parliament and King James I in the Gunpowder Plot begins. They are executed four days later.

1756: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is born at Salzburg. Contrary to popular belief, he did not die a penniless unknown, but will enjoy a well-paid court position and receive many lucrative commissions.  He'll just spend too much.

1785: The Georgia General Assembly incorporates the University of Georgia as the first state-chartered institution of higher learning in the U.S.  It is endowed with 40,000 acres of land.

1801: The United States Senate confirms John Marshall as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

1861: "America’s greatest bridge builder," Ralph Modjeski, is born at Bochnia, near Krakow, Poland. The Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia is considered his masterpiece, although he also built bridges across the Mississippi, San Francisco Bay, and between the U.S. and Canada.

1870: The first college sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, is formed at DePauw University. It is called a "fraternity for women" at first because the word "sorority" has not yet been developed.

1872: Billings Learned Hand is born in Albany, New York.  Today's question:  Would he have become as famous if he’d used his first name?

1880: Thomas Edison receives the patent for his newfangled incandescent lamp.

1888: One of the nation’s premier direct-marketing entities, the National Geographic Society, is founded in Washington, D.C.

1948: Home voice recording becomes practical for the first time, as Wire Recording Corp. of America introduces the first wire recorder.  Price: $149.50, or about $1,100 in 2003 dollars.

1950: Charles Pfizer & Co. comes up with the first product developed by its own researchers: the antibiotic terramyacin.  Pfizer's oddball belief is that useful organisms can be found in soil; his folks find this one in some Indiana dirt.

1964: E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. introduces one of the all-time great business flops: Corfam. The porous plastic leather substitute for shoes will be made and marketed for seven years before DuPont gives up, having lost $100 million.

1998: On the NBC Today show, First Lady Hillary Clinton says that her husband’s problems are part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

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