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Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Friday, January 7, 2005

Today in history—January 7

1782: The first commercial bank in the U.S., the Bank of North America, opens in Philadelphia.

1827: Sir Sandford Fleming is born.  While surveying the route of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway, he will come up with the idea of standard time zones as a way to simplify scheduling and control.

1871: Félix-Édouard-Justin-Émile Borel is born in St. Affrique, France.  He is best known as the inventor of the “infinite monkey theorem,” under which a monkey given an infinite amount of time will inevitably type out every manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.  Every year students attempt to prove this on their law school exams.

1922: Actor Vincent Gardenia, who plays Murray Melman on L.A. Law is born.

1927: Transatlantic telephone service is inaugurated between New York and London.  Thirty-one calls are made the first day, at $75 for five minutes.

1943: Nikola Tesla dies.  Tesla invented the basic technology for alternating current, and sold the patent rights to George Westinghouse.

1946: Rock publishing entrepreneur Jann Wenner in born in New York City.  He’ll go on to found Rolling Stone magazine in a San Francisco warehouse at age 21, using his wife’s family money.

1954: DuMont Laboratories introduces the Duoscopic television receiver, allowing viewers to watch two programs simultaneously.  The company is too far ahead of its time; the product flops.

1970: Max Yasgur’s neighbors sue him for $40,000 for damage to their caused by the 450,000 people who descended on his farm for the Woodstock festival in August, 1969.

1998: Inventor Jerome L. Murray dies.  In 1951, while watching passengers at Miami International Airport walking through the rain to get to their planes, he will invent the aircraft boarding ramp.

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