Today in History: March 26

This message to all ARPANET users announces the availability on ARPANET of the Coral 66 compiler provided by the GEC 4080 computer at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, Malvern, England. Coral 66 is the standard real-time high level language adopted by the Ministry of Defence.—the first email sent by a head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, on March 26, 1976

Queen Elizabeth II was visiting the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, a telecommunications research center in Malvern, England, to officially christen, like a new ship, the ARPANET connection that was about to be switched on. ARPANET stood for Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, and it is what eventually became our Internet. A technician named Peter Kirstein, later inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame but not for this moment in history, composed the first royal email and stationed the Queen at the workstation seen in the photo above. All she had to do was hit a few keys and there it was: the first email sent by a head of state, 40 years ago today.

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“Wings at the Speed of Sound” was released by the band Wings on this date 40 years ago. (The Queen’s email could have been about this, and then she would have become the world’s first blogger. It was not to be, though.) Wings’ line-up for the album was Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch, and Joe English, and McCartney decided that the album would serve as a rebuttal to the criticism that Wings was a band masquerading as a Paul McCartney solo project by having each member sing lead on at least one track. This became the most-criticized point in reviews of the album, proving that sometimes Paul McCartney could have been criticized for being criticized too often.

“Silly Love Songs” leads off Side Two:

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The Book of Mormon was published by printer E.B. Grandin of Palmyra, New York, on this date in 1830.

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Hal Croves died on this date in 1969. What is known about this individual is that when he died he was in his 80s. The rest …? During his life, he sometimes claimed to be the writer B. Traven, author of the legendary adventure “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Traven’s true identity was unknown for reasons that are, well, unknown. At other times Croves merely claimed to be B. Traven’s representative. Upon Croves’ death, his widow did her level best to muddy the waters even further by releasing details of his will, in which he claimed to be the famous author and adventurer, and, later, she released other documents that disavowed any such claims. Whoever B. Traven was, he had serious reasons for keeping his identity secret, and he may have succeeded better than any secret-keeper in history. The Wikipedia entry about Traven lists seven seriously considered figures in history who might have written Traven’s books, including Jack London. With the death of B. Traven 47 years ago today, the mystery only deepened.

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Robert Frost was born on this date in 1874. Tennessee Williams was born 105 years ago today. Sterling Hayden was born 100 years ago today. Sterling Hayden at his comicly malevolent best:

The late Bob Elliott was born on this date 93 years ago. Elizabeth Jane Howard was born on this date in 1923. The late Pierre Boulez was born on this date in 1925. Gregory Corso was born on this date in 1930. The late Leonard Nimoy was born 85 years ago today. Teddy Pendergrass was born on this date in 1950.

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Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is 86 today. Alan Arkin is 82 today. Mahmoud Abbas is 81. James Caan is 76 today. Rep. Nancy Pelosi is 76 today. Richard Dawkins is 75 today. Erica Jong is 74. Bob Woodward is 73. Diana Ross is 72 today.

Richard Tandy is 68 today. Steven Tyler is 68 today. Martin Short is 66 today. Curtis Sliwa is 62. John Stockton is 54. Michael Imperioli is 50 today. Kenny Chesney is 48. Martin McDonagh is 46 today. Amy Smart is 40. Keira Knightley is 31 today.

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One comment

  1. Patricia · March 26, 2016

    This is a very interesting and enjoyable blog Mark!!


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