1. 1783: First manned balloon flight
It was on this date in 1783 that the first untethered hot air balloon flight containing human beings took place. Prior to that, there had been only animals on flights that didn’t have a safety road attached to the ground. Francois Laurent and Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier were in the air for roughly 25 minutes and traveled 5.5 miles over the city of Paris during their flight. I can’t image how terrifying this must’ve been to have almost no control over where the balloon went, but then again that’s still the case with modern balloons. French papermakers, the Montgolfier brothers, made the balloon out of cloth and are credited with being the inventors of the hot-air balloon.
2. 1877: Edison’s first major invention
Thomas Edison is one of the most famous inventors in history with what seems to be an endless list of devices that made a significant impact on the modern way of living. One of his first inventions was a way to both record and play back audio. It was on this date in 1877 that Edison announced to the world that he had come up with the Phonograph which would play music that had been previously recorded. Like with most other inventions, Edison apparently stumbled into the technology for the Phonograph while working on something else altogether. He was at his lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, working on a way to record telephone communications when he decided to try and record a short song using a tinfoil cylinder and a stylus. To his surprise, it not only worked but also played back “Mary Had a Little Lamb” which he’d recorded previously. Edison demonstrated his new invention to the public for the first time November 29, 1977, and was patented the following February.
3. 1976: The New York premiere of Rocky
It’s hard to believe that forty years ago today the iconic boxing movie Rocky premiered in New York. Sylvester Stallone played the character Rocky Balboa, who was an uneducated blue-collar guy from Philadelphia that wanted to make a better life for himself and did so using his fists. Rocky was a smash hit right from the start and even though it had a fairly small budget of $1.1 million it still managed to clear more than $225 million in the box office. Critics adored the film to the point that it received a total of 10 Academy Award nominations, winning three of those including the coveted “Best Picture” category. With all that success, it was inevitable that a sequel would follow, and while sometimes sequels don’t hold a candle to the original film that wasn’t the case with the Rocky franchise. A total of seven rocky films were made including the new reboot Creed released in 2015 which follows the son of Rocky’s dear friend, and one-time nemesis, Apollo Creed.