On April 27, 1981, I was a senior in high school. In six weeks I would graduate and leave home for good. At the time I was typing my papers on an electric typewriter. In graduate school I bought my first desktop computer and learned the misery of early MS-DOS computing. In the mid-1990s I bought my growing family a Windows desktop computer that featured something new: a mouse.
Suddenly computing was fun…just move and click! But was that a left or right click?
The history of “mousing” actually goes back to the 1940s through primitive trackball devices. However, it was Xerox that introduced the modern mouse on this date four decades ago. In a strange twist, however, it wasn’t Xerox that popularized its use on computers but rather Apple. That’s right, in 1984 the Apple MacIntosh was released with a mouse. Other computer companies followed suit and by the mid-1990s the mouse was a common feature in computing.
How did the “mouse” get its name? Actually because it resembled a mouse with its tail (to early designers). Computer mice also spawned the mousepad…a rubber backed surface on which to roll the mouse effectively. Anybody remember banging your mouse when the track ball gummed up? Guilty! Some people even named their computer mouse. Mine was “Mickey.”
Since the advent of touch technology (tracking pads and screen), the mouse isn’t as popular nor necessary. Laptops and tablets proved poison for this non-furry computer additive. Nevertheless, the mouse remains a hot commodity, especially among gamers. In fact, some mice can cost a pretty piece of cheese today…like this one for over $900!
So today we celebrate the computer mouse…turning the big 4-0 today
Polio was a feared disease in the early and mid-1900s. The crippling disease had disabled Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. But, even more so, polio was epidemic among children (who saw the lion share of the cases). In 1952 there were 58,000 new cases of poliomyelitis (with 3000 deaths). The worst part was polio was a virus. Consequently, quarantines were common, as well as a device known as the “iron lung” (to help respiration).
Enter Jonas Salk.
In March of 1953, Dr. Salk announced he had cracked the code to an “anti-polio” vaccine. A year later, on this date in 1954, the first shot of polio vaccine was administered in a series of clinical trials. In 1955, the vaccine was considered safe and children were openly inoculated. Studies showed Salk’s vaccine was four times as effective in preventing polio. Consequently, within just two years the cases were down to 6000 annually.
In 1962 a Polish-American named Al Sabin developed an oral vaccine that was routinely administered in a sugar cube. For the Television, Space and Gamer generations (born between 1940 and 1980), Salk’s vaccine eradicated the dreadful disease of polio. Today, only a handful of children are stricken with its crippling and deadly grip.
It’s one of the most, if not most successful, wholesale vaccinations against a virus in the history of mankind.
It was either the worst move in soda history or a brilliant marketing ploy.
But on this day 35 years ago, Coca-Cola announced they were changing the formula for its historic drink. The move made sense as a new “Pepsi Generation” was slowly eating into profits (helped by clever, targeted advertisements to younger generations). Pepsi is a sweeter cola and “New Coke” was an intentional evolution to meet market demand.
The only problem? Tradition. Coca-Cola was a historic brand and loyal Coke drinkers didn’t want the company messing with the formula or monkeying with the brand. There was a reason Coke enthusiasts didn’t drink Pepsi. Things go better with Coca-Cola. Coke was it. It’s the real thing. I’d like to buy the world a Coke.
The outcry was so furious, loud and clear that Coke executives reversed course…sort of. New Coke was here to stay, they said, but to appease traditionalists they reintroduced Coke Classic (original formula). It seemed like a great idea, but time soon proved Coke Classic the “real thing.” A few years later, New Coke was quietly pulled from shelves (since few were buying it) and Coke Classic was renamed as “Coca-Cola” or “Coke.”
The irony? It wasn’t really the “original Coca-Cola formula.”
When the Coca-Cola company re-introduced Coke Classic they switched out sugar for “high fructose corn syrup.” It was a subtle change but noticeable to die-hard Coke aficionados. To this day, in USAmerica, Coca-Cola is served with corn syrup not sugar. If you truly want a taste of the “real (original formula) thing,” you must travel to Mexico or Africa or other parts of the world (where it’s also still sold ice cold in bottles using sugar as its sweetener).
It’s a CLASSIC tale for those who still prefer to buy the world a Coke.
In the mid-1970s, television news was largely a man’s sport. And then Barbara Walters joined the ABC News anchor desk with Harry Reasoner to shatter the glass ceiling. The women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s–including the Equal Rights Amendment for women in America–was reimagining the workplace.
Barbara Walters was a nightly visual for how far women had come. In time there would be women sports reporters (in men’s locker rooms), women astronauts (Sally Ride), women CEOs, women police officers and fire personnel, women referees and professional sports (WNBA), among many other workplace roles.
But in many ways it was Barbara Walters who pioneered this social change simply by her presence and excellence in news broadcasting. She paved the way for the Jane Pauleys, Katie Courics, Diane Sawyers and Savannah Guthries.
And she was very good at it.
America tuned in, by the millions, for this true “reality television” moment. It was unscripted made-for-ratings television. Geraldo Rivera had made a name for himself as a no-nonsense commentator on American culture and politics for ABC News. He had his own talk show that drew modestly good ratings.
On this date, Rivera’s image was tarnished.
The build up to the moment was pure television drama. Somehow Rivera had found Al Capone’s secret vault. Inside, he proposed, could be all sorts of treasures. However, when the moment arrived and the vault was opened…NOTHING.
But it was something.
Television was moving toward LIVE REALITY. Reality television (taped) was already around, but live reality was not…at best that was the fodder of fledgling cable television news outlets like CNN. But Geraldo introduced a new type of reality: live and unscripted.
In time, Geraldo Rivera would recover his reputation (somewhat) but LIVE REALITY TELEVISION was here to stay…and thrive…from CourtTV (live trials) to LivePD (live police action) to 24/7 news coverage.
Today is a day that will live in infamy for the Personal Computer/Cellphone (b. 1980 – 2000) and Net (b. 1990 – 2010) generations. Also commonly known as “Millennials,” the tragic school shooting in Columbine was the beginning of several that would tattoo these generations. From a kindergarten in Sandy Hook to a high school in Parkland, FL, these two generations would grow up in an age of terror (including their marker event on September 11, 2001). Nowhere would be safe. Mass shootings occurred at theaters, concerts, restaurants, workplaces, even church.
Today is a solemn day to reflect and remember how we felt 22 years ago. I remember coming home from a long day of work, flipping on the television to be confronted with the Columbine shootings. As I watched the streams of teens exit the school, tears rolling down their faces, in shock and fear, my heart was broken.
The innocence was now gone.
Today was the day that America had enough. A single shot set off a revolution that changed thirteen colonies into thirteen “united states of America.”
It also changed the world. In a year dozens of founding fathers would gather to formally declare independence from Great Britain (July 4, 1776).
The American story was just beginning…and today was a giant step forward.
Although connected to British games like “rounders” and cricket, American baseball was a novelty. A boys game that men played on a “field” in the cities.
It’s a game without a clock. A game of “threes” and “three squared” (bases, outs, innings, players). It’s the only game where the defense controls the ball.
It’s America’s game. Our original national past time. And it all started officially on this date.
“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (original version)
If you grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, television anchor news was summed up in a few names…Brinkley, Smith, Rather, Reasoner…and “Uncle Walter” Cronkite.
Cronkite proved the most trusted and durable. He was there for Kennedy’s assassination and man’s moon walk. He was there for the civil rights and women’s rights movement. He was there for Woodstock and Watergate. He was also instrumental in turning the tide of the Vietnam War.
In 1968, Cronkite went to Vietnam to see the war for himself. He returned with a fresh perspective: it was time for America to get out of the conflict. His new view angered President Johnson, discouraged patriotic Americans who trusted their government and energized the anti-war movement.
It was the first time that a single man–in the national media–changed the direction of history. Indeed, after 1968, the Vietnam War became an American albatross and Cronkite’s admonition proved right…even righteous.
And today was the day the Cronkite era was launched.
And that’s the way it was.
A terrorist attack by two Muslim young men upon one of America’s greatest sports traditions instilled new fears into a culture still recovering from September 11, 2001.
The reality is the Net (1990 – 2010) and iTech (2000 – 2020) generations have grown up in an age of domestic terror. From Oklahoma City to Columbine to Twin Towers to Sandy Hook and Las Vegas, these younger American generations have seen a lot of bloodshed.