Christopher Robin Milne (21 August 1920 – 20 April 1996) was the son of author A. A. Milne. As a child, he was the basis of the character Christopher Robin in his father’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories and in two books of poems.
On this day:
1788 – The first elements of the First Fleet carrying 736 convicts from Great Britain to Australia arrive at Botany Bay.
The First Fleet is the name given to the 11 ships that left England on 13 May 1787 to found the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports, carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 convicts, marines, seamen, civil officers and free people (accounts differ on the numbers), and a vast quantity of stores. From England, the Fleet sailed southwest to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay, arriving over the period 18 to 20 January 1788, taking 250 to 252 days from departure to final arrival.
Convicts were originally transported to the Thirteen Colonies in North America, but after the American War of Independence ended in 1783, the newly formed United States refused to accept further convicts. On 6 December 1785, Orders in Council were issued in London for the establishment of a penal colony in New South Wales, on land claimed for Britain by explorer James Cook in his first voyage to the Pacific in 1770.
The First Fleet was commanded by Commodore Arthur Phillip, who was given instructions authorising him to make regulations and land grants in the colony. The ships arrived at Botany Bay between 18 January and 20 January 1788: HMS Supply arrived on 18 January, Alexander, Scarborough and Friendship arrived on 19 January, and the remaining ships on 20 January.
The cost to Britain of outfitting and despatching the Fleet was £84,000 (about £9.6 million as of 2015).
1911 – Eugene B. Ely lands on the deck of the USS Pennsylvania stationed in San Francisco Bay, the first time an aircraft landed on a ship.
Eugene Burton Ely (October 21, 1886 – October 19, 1911) was an aviation pioneer, credited with the first shipboard aircraft take off and landing.
In October, Ely and Curtiss met Captain Washington Chambers, USN, who had been appointed by George von Lengerke Meyer, the Secretary of the Navy, to investigate military uses for aviation within the Navy. This led to two experiments. On November 14, 1910, Ely took off in a Curtiss pusher from a temporary platform erected over the bow of the light cruiser USS Birmingham.[nb 1] The airplane plunged downward as soon as it cleared the 83-foot platform runway; and the aircraft wheels dipped into the water before rising. Ely’s goggles were covered with spray, and the aviator promptly landed on a beach rather than circling the harbor and landing at the Norfolk Navy Yard as planned. John Barry Ryan offered $500 to build the platform, and a $500 prize, for a ship to shore flight.
1983 – The International Olympic Committee restores Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals to his family.
James Francis Thorpe (Sac and Fox (Sauk): Wa-Tho-Huk, translated as “Bright Path”; May 22 or 28, 1887 – March 28, 1953) was an American athlete and Olympic gold medalist. A member of the Sac and Fox Nation, Thorpe became the first Native American to win a gold medal for his home country. Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, and played American football (collegiate and professional), professional baseball, and basketball. He lost his Olympic titles after it was found he had been paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics, thus violating the amateurism rules that were then in place. In 1983, 30 years after his death, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) restored his Olympic medals.
In 1912, strict rules regarding amateurism were in effect for athletes participating in the Olympics. Athletes who received money prizes for competitions, were sports teachers or had competed previously against professionals were not considered amateurs and were barred from competition.
In late January 1913, the Worcester Telegram published a story announcing that Thorpe had played professional baseball, and other U.S. newspapers followed up the story. Thorpe had indeed played professional baseball in the Eastern Carolina League for Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in 1909 and 1910, receiving meager pay; reportedly as little as US$2 ($51 today) per game and as much as US$35 ($900 today) per week. College players, in fact, regularly spent summers playing professionally but most used aliases, unlike Thorpe.
Although the public didn’t seem to care much about Thorpe’s past, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), and especially its secretary James Edward Sullivan, took the case very seriously. Thorpe wrote a letter to Sullivan, in which he admitted playing professional baseball:
I hope I will be partly excused by the fact that I was simply an Indian schoolboy and did not know all about such things. In fact, I did not know that I was doing wrong, because I was doing what I knew several other college men had done, except that they did not use their own names …
His letter didn’t help. The AAU decided to withdraw Thorpe’s amateur status retroactively and asked the International Olympic Commission (IOC) to do the same. Later that year, the IOC unanimously decided to strip Thorpe of his Olympic titles, medals and awards and declare him a professional.
Although Thorpe had played for money, the AAU and IOC did not follow the rules for disqualification. The rulebook for the 1912 Olympics stated that protests had to be made “within” 30 days from the closing ceremonies of the games. The first newspaper reports did not appear until January 1913, about six months after the Stockholm Games had concluded. There is also some evidence that Thorpe’s amateur status had been questioned long before the Olympics, but the AAU had ignored the issue until being confronted with it in 1913.
The only positive element of this affair for Thorpe was that, as soon as the news was reported that he had been declared a professional, he received offers from professional sports clubs.
Born on this day:
1853 – Marthinus Nikolaas Ras, South African farmer, soldier, and gun-maker (d. 1900)
Marthinus Nikolaas Ras (18 January 1853 – 21 February 1900) was a South African farmer, soldier, and gun-maker who is considered the father of South African Artillery.
He served in the First Boer War in the Potchefstroom commando under General Piet Cronjé. After witnessing the siege on the British fort at Potchefstroom by the Boers, he realized the need for artillery by the Boer forces to be able to successfully mount an assault the British blockhouses and forts. In the early stages of the conflict, the Boers seriously lacked cannons to enable them to assault the six British army forts in the Transvaal. In December 1880, he requested and obtained permission to return home to his farm Bokfontein, near Brits, to build a cannon for the Boer forces.
He built two cannons (named the Ras cannons), the first being a 3 inch caliber, 4½ feet barrel cannon, named “Martienie” and the second a 2 inch caliber, 5½ barrel cannon, named “Ras”. The “Martienie” cannon was used to great effect on a British fort near Rustenburg, firing 93 shots and resulting in the subsequent surrender of the fort.
On 21 February 1900 during the Second Boer War, whilst on the way back to his farm at Bokfontein, he was ambushed and killed at Kaya’s Put by an impi (African war party) of the Kgatla tribal chief Linchwe, an African tribe fighting on the side of the British.
1877 – Sam Zemurray, Russian-American businessman, founded the Cuyamel Fruit Company (d. 1961)
Samuel Zemurray (nicknamed “Sam the Banana Man”; born Schmuel Zmurri on January 18, 1877 in Kishinev, Bessarabia, Russian Empire, present-day Chişinău, Moldova; died November 30, 1961 in New Orleans, Louisiana) was an American businessman who made his fortune in the banana trade. He founded the Cuyamel Fruit Company, and later became head of the United Fruit Company, the world’s most influential fruit company at the time. Both companies played highly controversial roles in the history of several Latin American countries and had a significant influence on their economic and political development.
1901 – Ivan Petrovsky, Russian mathematician and academic (d. 1973)
Ivan Georgievich Petrovsky, (Russian: Ива́н Гео́ргиевич Петро́вский) (18 January 1901 – 15 January 1973) (the family name is also transliterated as Petrovskii or Petrowsky), was a Soviet mathematician working mainly in the field of partial differential equations. He greatly contributed to the solution of Hilbert’s 19th and 16th problems, and discovered what are now called Petrovsky lacunas. He also worked on the theories of boundary value problems, probability, and on the topology of algebraic curves and surfaces.
1933 – Ray Dolby, American engineer and businessman, founded Dolby Laboratories (d. 2013)
Ray Milton Dolby, OBE (January 18, 1933 – September 12, 2013) was an American engineer and inventor of the noise reduction system known as Dolby NR. He helped develop the video tape recorder while at Ampex and was the founder of Dolby Laboratories.
In 1957, Dolby received his B.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford. He subsequently won a Marshall Scholarship for a Ph.D. (1961) in physics from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Research Fellow at Pembroke College.
After Cambridge, Dolby acted as a technical advisor to the United Nations in India, until 1965 when he returned to England, where he founded Dolby Laboratories in London with a staff of four. In that same year, 1965, he officially invented the Dolby Sound System, a form of electronic filter, although his first U.S. patent was not filed until 1969, four years later. The filter was first used by Decca Records in the UK.
Dolby was a Fellow and past president of the Audio Engineering Society.
Dolby died of leukemia on September 12, 2013, at his home in San Francisco at the age of 80. Dolby was survived by his wife Dagmar, two sons, Tom and David, and four grandchildren. Kevin Yeaman, president and chief executive of Dolby Laboratories, said “Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary.” Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, said Dolby had “changed the way we listen to music and movies for nearly 50 years” and that Dolby’s “technologies have become an essential part of the creative process for recording artists and filmmakers, ensuring his remarkable legacy for generations to come.”
In his will, Dolby bequeathed more than $52 million to Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge, the largest single donation received by the University’s current fundraising campaign.
Something to remember in daily living: “You never win the championship criticizing the other team.”