1849 – John Ambrose Fleming, English physicist and engineer, is born.
Sir John Ambrose Fleming FRS was a British electrical engineer and physicist. He is known for inventing the first thermionic valve or vacuum tube. He is also famous for the left hand rule (for electric motors).
1876 – Nellie Tayloe Ross, American educator and politician, 14th Governor of Wyoming, is born.
Nellie Davis Tayloe Ross was an American politician, the 14th Governor of Wyoming from 1925 to 1927 and director of the United States Mint from 1933 to 1953. She was the first woman to be sworn in as governor of a U.S. state, and remains the only woman to have served as governor of Wyoming…
…In 1933, Ross became the first female Director of the United States Mint. Despite initial mistrust, she forged a strong bond with Mary Margaret O’Reilly, the Assistant Director of the Mint and one of the United States’ highest-ranking female civil servants of her time. Ross served five terms as Director, retiring in 1953. During her later years, she wrote various women’s magazines and traveled. Ross died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 101. At the time of her death, she was the oldest ex-governor in the United States.
1877 – Thomas Edison demonstrates his phonograph for the first time.
Thomas Alva Edison conceived the principle of recording and reproducing sound between May and July 1877 as a byproduct of his efforts to “play back” recorded telegraph messages and to automate speech sounds for transmission by telephone. He announced his invention of the first phonograph, a device for recording and replaying sound, on November 21, 1877 (early reports appear in Scientific American and several newspapers in the beginning of November, and an even earlier announcement of Edison working on a ‘talking-machine’ can be found in the Chicago Daily Tribune on May 9), and he demonstrated the device for the first time on November 29 (it was patented on February 19, 1878 as US Patent 200,521). “In December, 1877, a young man came into the office of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, and placed before the editors a small, simple machine about which very few preliminary remarks were offered. The visitor without any ceremony whatever turned the crank, and to the astonishment of all present the machine said: “Good morning. How do you do? How do you like the phonograph?” The machine thus spoke for itself, and made known the fact that it was the phonograph…”
1942 – Ann Dunham, American anthropologist and academic, is born.
Stanley Ann Dunham was the mother of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, and an American anthropologist who specialized in economic anthropology and rural development. Dunham was known as Stanley Ann Dunham through high school, then as Ann Dunham, Ann Obama, Ann Soetoro, Ann Sutoro (after her second divorce), and finally as Ann Dunham. Born in Wichita, Kansas, Dunham spent her childhood in California, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, her teenage years in Mercer Island, Washington, and most of her adult life in Hawaii and Indonesia.
Dunham studied at the East–West Center and at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, where she attained a bachelor’s of anthropology and master’s and PhD in anthropology. She also attended University of Washington at Seattle in 1961–1962. Interested in craftsmanship, weaving and the role of women in cottage industries, Dunham’s research focused on women’s work on the island of Java and blacksmithing in Indonesia. To address the problem of poverty in rural villages, she created microcredit programs while working as a consultant for the United States Agency for International Development. Dunham was also employed by the Ford Foundation in Jakarta and she consulted with the Asian Development Bank in Gujranwala, Pakistan. Towards the latter part of her life, she worked with Bank Rakyat Indonesia, where she helped apply her research to the largest microfinance program in the world.
After her son was elected President, interest renewed in Dunham’s work: The University of Hawaii held a symposium about her research; an exhibition of Dunham’s Indonesian batik textile collection toured the United States; and in December 2009, Duke University Press published Surviving against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, a book based on Dunham’s original 1992 dissertation. Janny Scott, an author and former New York Times reporter, published a biography about Ann Dunham’s life titled A Singular Woman in 2011. Posthumous interest has also led to the creation of The Ann Dunham Soetoro Endowment in the Anthropology Department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, as well as the Ann Dunham Soetoro Graduate Fellowships, intended to fund students associated with the East–West Center (EWC) in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In an interview, Barack Obama referred to his mother as “the dominant figure in my formative years … The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics.”
1972 – Atari announces the release of Pong, the first commercially successful video game.
Pong is one of the earliest arcade video games and the very first sports arcade video game. It is a table tennis sports game featuring simple two-dimensional graphics. While other arcade video games such as Computer Space came before it, Pong was one of the first video games to reach mainstream popularity. The aim is to defeat an opponent in a simulated table-tennis game by earning a higher score. The game was originally manufactured by Atari, which released it in 1972. Allan Alcorn created Pong as a training exercise assigned to him by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell. Bushnell based the idea on an electronic ping-pong game included in the Magnavox Odyssey, which later resulted in a lawsuit against Atari. Surprised by the quality of Alcorn’s work, Bushnell and Atari co-founder Ted Dabney decided to manufacture the game.
Pong quickly became a success and is the first commercially successful arcade video game machine, which helped to establish the video game industry along with the first home console, the Magnavox Odyssey. Soon after its release, several companies began producing games that copied Pong’s gameplay, and eventually released new types of games. As a result, Atari encouraged its staff to produce more innovative games. The company released several sequels that built upon the original’s gameplay by adding new features. During the 1975 Christmas season, Atari released a home version of Pong exclusively through Sears retail stores. It was also a commercial success and led to numerous copies. The game has been remade on numerous home and portable platforms following its release. Pong has been referenced and parodied in multiple television shows and video games, and has been a part of several video game and cultural exhibitions.