On this day:
1889 – Herman Hollerith is issued US patent #395,791 for the ‘Art of Applying Statistics’ — his punched card calculator.
Herman Hollerith (February 29, 1860 – November 17, 1929) was an American inventor who developed an electromechanical punched card tabulator to assist in summarizing information and, later, accounting. He was the founder of the Tabulating Machine Company that was consolidated in 1911 with three other companies to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, later renamed IBM. Hollerith is regarded as one of the seminal figures in the development of data processing. His invention of the punched card tabulating machine marks the beginning of the era of semiautomatic data processing systems, and his concept dominated that landscape for nearly a century.
1973 – Watergate scandal: The trial of seven men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins.
Watergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. in 1972 and President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the U.S. Congress, the Nixon administration’s resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis.
The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included such “dirty tricks” as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides also ordered investigations of activist groups and political figures, using the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The scandal led to the discovery of multiple abuses of power by the Nixon administration, an impeachment process against the president that led to articles of impeachment, and the resignation of Nixon. The scandal also resulted in the indictment of 69 people, with trials or pleas resulting in 48 being found guilty, many of whom were Nixon’s top administration officials.
The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the DNC headquarters at the Watergate complex on Saturday, June 17, 1972. The FBI investigated and discovered a connection between cash found on the burglars and a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP), the official organization of Nixon’s campaign. In July 1973, evidence mounted against the President’s staff, including testimony provided by former staff members in an investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee. The investigation revealed that President Nixon had a tape-recording system in his offices and that he had recorded many conversations.
After a protracted series of bitter court battles, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the president was obligated to release the tapes to government investigators, and he eventually complied. These audio recordings implicated the president, revealing he had attempted to cover up activities that took place after the break-in and to use federal officials to deflect the investigation. Facing virtually certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974. On September 8, 1974, his successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him.
The name “Watergate” and the suffix “-gate” have since become synonymous with political scandals in the United States.
1975 – Ella T. Grasso becomes Governor of Connecticut, the first woman to serve as a Governor in the United States other than by succeeding her husband.
Ella T. Grasso (May 10, 1919 – February 5, 1981) was an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as the 83rd Governor of Connecticut from 1975 to 1980. She was the first woman elected to this office and the first woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state without having been married to a former governor.
1982 – Breakup of the Bell System: AT&T agrees to divest itself of twenty-two subdivisions.
The breakup of the Bell System was mandated on January 8, 1982, by an agreed consent decree providing that AT&T Corporation would, as had been initially proposed by AT&T, relinquish control of the Bell Operating Companies that had provided local telephone service in the United States and Canada up until that point. This effectively took the monopoly that was the Bell System and split it into entirely separate companies that would continue to provide telephone service. AT&T would continue to be a provider of long distance service, while the now independent Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) would provide local service, and would no longer be directly supplied with equipment from AT&T subsidiary Western Electric.
This divestiture was initiated by the filing in 1974 by the United States Department of Justice of an antitrust lawsuit against AT&T. AT&T was, at the time, the sole provider of telephone service throughout most of the United States. Furthermore, most telephonic equipment in the United States was produced by its subsidiary, Western Electric. This vertical integration led AT&T to have almost total control over communication technology in the country, which led to the antitrust case, United States v. AT&T. The plaintiff in the court complaint asked the court to order AT&T to divest ownership of Western Electric.
Feeling that it was about to lose the suit, AT&T proposed an alternative — the breakup of the biggest corporation in American history. It proposed that it retain control of Western Electric, Yellow Pages, the Bell trademark, Bell Labs, and AT&T Long Distance. It also proposed that it be freed from a 1956 anti-trust consent decree that barred it from participating in the general sale of computers. In return, it proposed to give up ownership of the local operating companies. This last concession, it argued, would achieve the Government’s goal of creating competition in supplying telephone equipment and supplies to the operative companies. The settlement was finalized on January 8, 1982, with some changes ordered by the decree court: the regional holding companies got the Bell trademark, Yellow Pages, and about half of Bell Labs.
Effective January 1, 1984, the Bell System’s many member-companies were variously merged into seven independent “Regional Holding Companies”, also known as Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), or “Baby Bells”. This divestiture reduced the book value of AT&T by approximately 70%.
Born on this day:
1854 – Fanny Bullock Workman, American mountaineer, geographer, and cartographer (d. 1925)
Fanny Bullock Workman (/ˈwɒrkˌmæn/; January 8, 1859 – January 22, 1925) was an American geographer, cartographer, explorer, travel writer, and mountaineer, notably in the Himalayas. She was one of the first female professional mountaineers; she not only explored but also wrote about her adventures. She set several women’s altitude records, published eight travel books with her husband, and championed women’s rights and women’s suffrage.
Born to a wealthy family, Workman was educated in the finest schools available to women and traveled in Europe. Her marriage to William Hunter Workman cemented these advantages, and, after being introduced to climbing in New Hampshire, Fanny Workman traveled the world with him. They were able to capitalize on their wealth and connections to voyage around Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The couple had two children, but Fanny Workman was not a motherly type; they left their children in schools and with nurses, and Workman saw herself as a New Woman who could equal any man. The Workmans began their travels with bicycle tours of Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Algeria and India. They cycled thousands of miles, sleeping wherever they could find shelter. They wrote books about each trip and Fanny frequently commented on the state of the lives of women that she saw. Their early bicycle tour narratives were better received than their mountaineering books.
At the end of their cycling trip through India, the couple escaped to the Western Himalaya and the Karakoram for the summer months, where they were introduced to high-altitude climbing. They returned to this then-unexplored region eight times over the next 14 years. Despite not having modern climbing equipment, the Workmans explored several glaciers and reached the summit of several mountains, eventually reaching 23,000 feet (7,000 m) on Pinnacle Peak, a women’s altitude record at the time. They organized multiyear expeditions but struggled to remain on good terms with the local labor force. Coming from a position of American privilege and wealth, they failed to understand the position of the native workers and had difficulty finding and negotiating for reliable porters.
After their trips to the Himalaya, the Workmans gave lectures about their travels. They were invited to learned societies; Fanny Workman became the first American woman to lecture at the Sorbonne and the second to speak at the Royal Geographical Society. She received many medals of honor from European climbing and geographical societies and was recognized as one of the foremost climbers of her day. She demonstrated that a woman could climb in high altitudes just as well as a man and helped break down the gender barrier in mountaineering.
1862 – Frank Nelson Doubleday, American publisher, founded the Doubleday Publishing Company (d. 1934)
Frank Nelson Doubleday (January 8, 1862 – January 30, 1934), known to friends and family as “Effendi”, founded the eponymous Doubleday & McClure Company in 1897, which later operated under other names. Starting work at the age of 14 after his father’s business failed, Doubleday began with Charles Scribner’s Sons in New York.
His son Nelson Doubleday, son-in-law John Turner Sargent, Sr. and grandson Nelson Doubleday, Jr. all worked in the company and led it through different periods. In 1986, after years of changes in the publishing business, his grandson Nelson Doubleday, Jr. as president sold the Doubleday Company to the German group Bertelsmann.
1867 – Emily Greene Balch, American economist and author, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1961)
Emily Greene Balch (January 8, 1867 – January 9, 1961) was an American economist, sociologist and pacifist. Balch combined an academic career at Wellesley College with a long-standing interest in social issues such as poverty, child labor and immigration, as well as settlement work to uplift poor immigrants and reduce juvenile delinquency. She moved into the peace movement at the start of the World War I in 1914, and began collaborating with Jane Addams of Chicago. She became a central leader of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) based in Switzerland, for which she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.