Today in History: September 10

U.S. Patent No. 4750 was awarded 170 years ago today to Elias Howe for his “Improvement in sewing-machines.” It is the first U.S. patent for a sewing machine that employs the lockstitch method, and it is the first patent for a machine that is recognizable to anyone who has used a modern sewing machine all these years later: it placed the eye of the needle at the point, which was an ingenious innovation over the equipment that people had been using by hand for centuries, with the eye at the back of the needle; and it offered an guide and an automatic feed.

Howe was not the inventor of the sewing machine concept itself, but he was the inventor of the modern sewing machine, a device that revolutionized several industries. An early model is in the photo at top.

Howe spent many years defending his invention and his patent in the courts: He had almost no success selling his version of the sewing machine, but Isaac Singer manufactured a copy of Howe’s invention in the 1850s and sold many of them under the Singer name. (The only real difference was the name on the machine: Singer placed the word “Singer” where Howe had located his own name.) Howe eventually won royalties from Singer and recognition as the modern sewing machine’s inventor.

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George Smith was arrested in London, England, on this date in 1897 after he drove his car (he was a taxi driver) into the side of a building. He had been drinking. He holds the title of first person arrested for drunk driving, and in an era before breathalyzers of any sort had been invented. A police officer helped him from his vehicle and he admitted that he was drunk. Smith paid a fine of twenty-five shillings.

* * * *
Hamida Djandoubi was executed in Marseilles, France, on this date in 1977. He was the final prisoner in any Western nation to be executed by guillotine.

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“Cherry, Cherry,” a song written and performed by Neil Diamond, debuted at number 39 on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” list published 50 years ago today. It was Diamond’s first appearance on the Top 40 list. Many more followed. The song reached its peak at number 6 the next month.

* * * *
Dalton Trumbo died 40 years ago today. Cliff Robertson died five years ago today.

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H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) was born on this date in 1886. Charles Kuralt was born on this date in 1934. Roger Maris was born in 1934 on this date, as well. Cynthia Lennon was born on this date in 1939. Stephen Jay Gould was born in 1941 on this date.

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Arnold Palmer is 87 today. Philip Baker Hall is 85.

Karl Lagerfeld is 83. Mary Oliver is 81. Jared Diamond is 79. José Feliciano is 71 today. My fellow Marist College alum Bill O’Reilly is 67. Joe Perry is 66. Amy Irving is 63. Kate Burton is 59. Colin Firth is 56. Misty Copeland is 34.

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  1. loisajay · September 10, 2016

    Such great quotes in that clip: ‘parties over, joy boy” and ‘all over you like a pit bull on a poodle.’ Gosh, I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aldrich · September 11, 2016

      The brief instant coffee monologue is so amazing. And he plays that character type so well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • loisajay · September 11, 2016

        Down here in the south, the saying goes, “all over you like white on rice” but I used the pit bull/poodle saying on my husband today. He looked at me like, “what??”

        Liked by 1 person

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