History: Africa hosts the World Cup in 2010

History: Africa hosts the World Cup in 2010

The 19th FIFA World Cup – the first ever on the African continent – opened in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the final, Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in overtime.

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Today in History: The Pen is born in 1943

Today in History: The Pen is born in 1943

76 years ago today, in 1943, Hungarian-born László Biró received the first patent for the pen. Biró was a journalist who was frustrated with the use of the fountain pen: it took too much time to refill the ink and there seemed to be no way to avoid ink smudges. Biró noticed newspaper inks seemed to dry more quickly, thus rendering the paper stain free, and so he set out to design a pen using the same type of ink. He filed a British patent in 1938 and continued to develop and improve the pen’s design together with his brother György and their friend Juan Jorge Meynin. A new patent for the improved pen was filed in 1943: it was the first real ballpoint pen as we know it today. The pen became an immediate bestseller in the United States after World War II where it was first introduced in the fall of 1945 at a New York department store. Despite its high price of $9, some 10,000 pens were sold within the first week

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Today in History: First Porsche in 1948

Today in History: First Porsche in 1948

71 year ago today, a hand-built aluminum prototype labeled “No. 1″ becomes the first vehicle to bear the name of one of the world’s leading luxury car manufacturers: Porsche. The Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche debuted his first design at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900. The electric vehicle set several Austrian land-speed records, reaching more than 35 mph and earning international acclaim for the young engineer. He became general director of the Austro-Daimler Company (an outpost of the German automaker) in 1916 and later moved to Daimler headquarters in Stuttgart. Daimler merged with the Benz firm in the 1920s, and Porsche was chiefly responsible for designing some of the great Mercedes racing cars of that decade.

Porsche left Daimler in 1931 and formed his own company. A few years later, Adolf Hitler called on the engineer to aid in the production of a small “people’s car” for the German masses. With his son, also named Ferdinand (known as Ferry), Porsche designed the prototype for the original Volkswagen (known as the KdF: “Kraft durch Freude,” or “strength through joy”) in 1936. During World War II, the Porsches also designed military vehicles, most notably the powerful Tiger tank.

At war’s end, the French accused the elder Porsche of war crimes and imprisoned him for more than a year. Ferry struggled to keep the family firm afloat. He built a Grand Prix race car, the Type 360 Cisitalia, for a wealthy Italian industrialist, and used the money to pay his father’s bail. When Porsche was released from prison, he approved of another project Ferry had undertaken: a new sports car that would be the first to actually bear the name Porsche. Dubbed the Type 356, the new car was in the tradition of earlier Porsche-designed race cars such as the Cisitalia. The engine was placed mid-chassis, ahead of the transaxle, with modified Volkswagen drive train components.

The 356 went into production during the winter of 1947-48, and the aluminum prototype, built entirely by hand, was completed on June 8, 1948. The Germans subsequently hired Porsche to consult on further development of the Volkswagen. With the proceeds, Porsche opened new offices in Stuttgart, with plans to build up to 500 of his company’s own cars per year. Over the next two decades, the company would build more than 78,000 vehicles. Source: history.com.

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Today in History: Frank Lloyd Wright was born in 1867

Today in History: Frank Lloyd Wright was born in 1867

Frank Lloyd Wright is considered to be one of the most influential architects of his time. He designed more than 1,000 structures, over 500 of which were built. He also created many of the interior elements of his buildings, incl. furniture. Wright developed a philosophy he titled “organic architecture” believing that structures needed to blend into the landscape, creating a harmony between humanity and its environment. Frank Lloyd Wright died on April 9, 1959, in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1991, he was recognized by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time.”

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Today is National Running Day

Today is National Running Day

Each year on the first Wednesday in June, people across the United States participate in National Running Day. This day was designated as a day for runners to reaffirm their passion for running.

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Today is National Cognac Day

Today is National Cognac Day

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Today in History: Joséphine Baker born

Today in History: Josephine Baker born

The American-born French dancer, singer and actress was born on this day in 1906. Baker was fascinated by drama and dancing. At age 16 she joined a touring company. In 1923 she danced for the first time in the successful Broadway revue “Shuffle Along” at the Music Hall in New York. She gained world fame for her performance in “La Revue Nègre” in Paris in 1925. With her erotic dancing and daring costumes, especially the legendary banana skirt, Josephine Baker became a symbol of the “Roaring Twenties”. Baker was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture (Zouzou, 1934). She refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is known for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Baker died in Paris in 1975.

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