On this day:
1874 – Silver Dollar becomes legal US tender.
The dollar coin is a United States coin worth one United States dollar. It is the second largest American coin currently minted in terms of physical size, with a diameter of 1.043 inches (26.5 mm) and a thickness of .079 inches (2 mm), coming second to the half dollar. Dollar coins have been minted in the United States in gold, silver, and base metal versions. The term silver dollar is often used for any large white metal coin issued by the United States with a face value of one dollar, whether or not it contains some of that metal. The Sacagawea and Presidential dollars are sometimes referred to as golden dollars. Silver dollars, the first dollar coin issue, were minted beginning in 1794. Gold dollars and gold-colored dollars have also been produced by the United States.
Dollar coins have never been very popular in the United States since the removal of specie coins from circulation. Despite efforts by the government to promote their use, such as the Presidential $1 Coin Program, most Americans currently use the one-dollar bill rather than dollar coins. For this reason, since December 11, 2011 the Mint ceased production of dollar coins for general circulation, and all coins produced after that date have been specifically for collectors and can be ordered directly from the Mint, and pre-2012 circulation dollar coins are able to be obtained from most U.S. banks.
1933 – The Blaine Act ends Prohibition in the United States.
The Blaine Act was sponsored by Wisconsin Senator John J. Blaine and passed by the United States Senate on February 17, 1933. It initiated the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which established Prohibition in the United States. The repeal was formally adopted as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on December 5, 1933.
1937 – Wallace H. Carothers receives a United States patent for nylon.
Wallace Hume Carothers (April 27, 1896 – April 29, 1937) was an American chemist, inventor and the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont, credited with the invention of nylon.
Carothers was a group leader at the DuPont Experimental Station laboratory, near Wilmington, Delaware, where most polymer research was done. Carothers was an organic chemist who, in addition to first developing nylon, also helped lay the groundwork for neoprene. After receiving his Ph.D., he taught at several universities before he was hired by DuPont to work on fundamental research.
He married Helen Sweetman on February 21, 1936. Carothers had been troubled by periods of depression since his youth. Despite his success with nylon, he felt that he had not accomplished much and had run out of ideas. His unhappiness was compounded by the death of his sister, Isobel, and on the evening of April 28, 1937 he checked into a Philadelphia hotel room and committed suicide by drinking a cocktail of lemon juice laced with potassium cyanide, knowing the citric acid would catalyze the effects of the poison. His daughter, Jane, was born on November 27, 1937.
1968 – In Haleyville, Alabama, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service.
9-1-1 is an emergency telephone number for the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), one of eight N11 codes. Like other emergency numbers around the world, this number is intended for use in emergency circumstances only, and using it for any other purpose (such as making false or prank calls) is a crime in certain jurisdictions.
In over 98% of locations in the United States and Canada, dialing “9-1-1” from any telephone will link the caller to an emergency dispatch office—called a Public-Safety Answering Point (PSAP) by the telecom industry—which can send emergency responders to the caller’s location in an emergency. In approximately 96 percent of the U.S., the Enhanced 9-1-1 system automatically pairs caller numbers with a physical address.
In the Philippines, the 9-1-1 emergency hotline has been available to the public since August 1, 2016, although it was first available in Davao City. It is the first of its kind in Asia-Pacific region. It replaces the previous emergency number 117 used outside Davao City.
999 is used in the United Kingdom and many British territories. 112 is the equivalent emergency number used in the European Union and various other countries. In the US, some carriers, including AT&T, map the number 112 to the emergency number 9-1-1.
Born on this day:
1856 – Ossian Everett Mills, American academic, founded Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (d. 1920)
Ossian Everett Mills (February 16, 1856 – December 26, 1920) was the founder of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 6, 1898.
“Let our friendship be marked by kind words, kind deeds, and lasting cooperation in our common work; and, remembering that our inspiration is from on High, from the God of all creatures, we should ever be constant in our humble attitude to this great source. Let our sincerity be manifest to all. Hypocrisy should be unknown to us, and a solicitude for our fellows should dominate our every word and action. Then our nobility will shine forth in our characters…” (The President’s Message, 1902)
The National Philanthropy of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia continues to be known as the Mills Music Mission, named for Ossian Everett Mills. In 1886, Mills originated the practice of taking a group of New England Conservatory students to perform for patients in Boston hospitals on Christmas and Easter. The students would sing, play music and give recitations. The students would also bring flowers to distribute to the patients. Mills’ “flower missions,” as they came to be known, brought joy to the lonely and hope to the destitute. The Mills Music Mission was accepted as Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’s National Philanthropy in 2003. It is unique among fraternity philanthropies in that Sinfonians make a personal sacrifice to help individuals and lift spirits through music. During the week of February 11–18, 2006, almost 200 chapters and alumni associations participated in Mills Music Missions in observance of Ossian Everett Mills’ 150th birthday.
The Fraternity presents the Ossian E. Mills Award to a Sinfonian who, through his leadership and dedication, has immeasurably furthered the cause of Phi Mu Alpha on a national scale and who embodies the ideals of the Fraternity. The first recipient was former national executive director Edward A. Klint, who received the award at the 1988 national convention. Subsequent recipients have included James H. Patrenos, Henry Charles, T. Jervis Underwood, and Richard A. Crosby.
Mills’ memory and contributions are commemorated annually by the members of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia on October 6, which is designated as the Fraternity’s Founders Day. During the Fraternity’s Centennial celebration in October 1998, a memorial service was held at Mills’ grave site, utilizing a format based on a ceremony used to dedicate Mills’ monument which was placed in 1928. The Fraternity’s Founders Day Ceremony is based on this ceremony.
Mills’ writings are often used during the probationary membership process to provide instruction and insight into the philosophies and values that guided Mills and other members in the establishment of the Fraternity and to provide a framework for fulfilling the obligations of membership.
1920 – Anna Mae Hays, American general
Brigadier General Anna V. Mae McCabe Hays (born February 16, 1920) was the first woman in the U.S. Armed Forces to be promoted to a general officer rank.
Hays was born in 1920 in Buffalo, New York. Following graduation from high school, she enrolled at General Hospital School of Nursing, from which she graduated in 1941, having obtained a diploma in nursing. She then joined the Army Nurse Corps in early 1942, and was sent to the China Burma India Theater.
Stationed in India for the duration of World War II, she was on leave in the United States when the war ended. Remaining with the Corps, she saw service during the Korean War. A succession of academic posts followed including a stint at Walter Reed Hospital, and she also earned a Master in Science in Nursing degree. She was promoted on June 11, 1970, after being appointed by President Richard Nixon on May 15, of that year. She was chief of the Army Nurse Corps from September 1, 1967 until her retirement on August 31, 1971.
On the same day, directly after the promotion of Colonel Hays, Elizabeth P. Hoisington was also promoted to Brigadier General.
1953 – Roberta Williams, American video game designer, co-founded Sierra Entertainment
Roberta Williams (born February 16, 1953) is an American video game designer, writer, and a co-founder of Sierra On-Line (later known as Sierra Entertainment), who developed her first game while living in Simi Valley, California. She is most famous for her pioneering work in the field of graphic adventure games with titles such as Mystery House, the King’s Quest series, and Phantasmagoria. She is married to Ken Williams and retired from her career in 1999. Roberta Williams is one of the most influential PC game designers of the 1980s and 1990s, and has been credited with creating the graphic adventure genre.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Roberta and her husband, Ken Williams, were leading figures in the development of graphical adventure games. In 1980, they founded the company On-Line Systems, which later became Sierra On-Line. The first Williams’ title was Mystery House (1980), the first graphical adventure game. The second title, Wizard and the Princess (1980), added color graphics. But the first serious success was the King’s Quest series, which featured a “large expansive world” that could be explored by players. After that, Roberta Williams designed such titles as Mixed-Up Mother Goose (1987), The Colonel’s Bequest (1989), and Phantasmagoria (1995), which was the first in her career to be developed in the full-motion video technology. Phantasmagoria featured extreme violence and rape scenes. The game has received mixed reviews. Though Sierra was sold in 1996, Williams’ production credits date to 1999, when she retired from Sierra On-Line. Roberta posed for the cover of the game Softporn Adventure by Chuck Benton, published by On-line Systems. She also posed much later with her children as Mother Goose for the cover photograph of Mixed-Up Mother Goose. The end sequence of Leisure Suit Larry 3 features her as an in-game character.
Ars Technica stated that Roberta Williams was “one of the more iconic figures in adventure gaming”. GameSpot named her as the number ten in their list of “the most influential people in computer gaming of all time” for “pushing the envelope of graphic adventures” and being “especially proactive in creating games from a woman’s point of view, and titles that appealed to the mainstream market, all the while integrating the latest technologies in graphics and sound wherever possible.” In 1997, Computer Gaming World ranked her as number 10 on the list of the most influential people of all time in computer gaming for adventure game design. In 2009, IGN placed the Williams at 23rd position on the list of top game creators of all time, expressing hope that “maybe one day, we’ll see the Williams again as well.”
Since her retirement in 1999 (stated at the time to be a “sabbatical”), she has stayed away from the public eye and rarely gives interviews to talk about her past with Sierra On-Line. However, in a 2006 interview, she admitted that her favorite game she created was Phantasmagoria and not King’s Quest: “If I could only pick one game, I would pick Phantasmagoria, as I enjoyed working on it immensely and it was so very challenging (and I love to be challenged!). However, in my heart, I will always love the King’s Quest series and, especially, King’s Quest I, since it was the game that really ‘made’ Sierra On-Line.”
In a 2006 interview, Williams said that designing computer games was in the past for her then and that she intended to write a historical novel. However, in 2011, the video game website Gamezebo reported that Roberta Williams was working on a social network game Odd Manor.
As a young timid child Roberta was known to have a wild imagination unlike most kids, she would make up these elaborate stories, which she called her “movies”, and use them to entertain her family. Later on in high school, she met her future husband, Ken Williams, at the age of 17. In Petter Holmberg’s biography he shares the couple’s story about how Roberta and Ken met. Petter says, “She was dating a friend of his and two months after a double date where they had both met, Ken unexpectedly called her and asked her out. Roberta wasn’t very impressed with him in the beginning. He was shy and insecure, like her, but also overly pushy at times. He asked her to go steady the first week. It took some time, but at one point Roberta suddenly realized that he was very intelligent and quite different from the other boys she had dated. Ken wanted them to have a permanent commitment and they got married when Roberta was only 19 years old,” on November 4, 1972. They have two children, D.J. (born 1973) and Chris (born 1979). The Williams family now has homes in Seattle, France and Mexico and they spend most of there time traveling to new and exciting places on their family owned yacht.
“My definition of an adventure game is really an interactive story set with puzzles and obstacles to solve and worlds to explore. I believe that the ‘true’ adventure game genre will never die any more than any type of storytelling would ever die.” — Roberta Williams said on the future of adventure games in an interview with Adventure Classic Gaming.” 
“But best of all, I could see that you truly are the ones to take King’s Quest into the 21st century and reintroduce it to a whole new generation.” 
“The experience of creating my adventure games was, other than marrying my husband and bringing into the world my two sons, the most fulfilling, wonderful experience I could ever have had,”