History Articles

History of Hedy Lamarr: Technology Inventor

November 9, 2023 /
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Hedy Lamarr, the Austrian-American actress and Hollywood legend known as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” is remembered today, November 9, on the anniversary of her birthday for her pioneering work on the technology that would become the basis for today’s WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth communications systems.

What? you say. Indeed, say I.

More than a pretty face, she had a genius-level IQ of around 140. The Vienna-born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler began studying engineering at an early age but put her studies aside to dedicate herself to the theatre.


History of Election Day: Why we Vote on a Tuesday in November

November 6, 2023 /
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Why does the U.S. vote on a Tuesday in November?

Historically, the United States was an agrarian society where much of the calendar revolved around farming. In 1840, Congress set voting day on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

This time provided a convenient month for farmers, who needed to travel perhaps overnight to the county seat’s polling places following the Autumn harvest season. The weather would not yet have turned bad enough to make rural roads impassable.


History of Guy Fawkes Night: How Gunpowder Mixed with Parliament

November 4, 2023 /
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For my friends across the Pond

November 5th is known as “Bonfire Night” or “Guy Fawkes Night.” All over Britain, people shoot off fireworks, light bonfires, and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes. Guido Fawkes was an Englishman who, in popular legend, tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament with barrels of gunpowder. He was caught, imprisoned, tortured on the rack, and finally executed.


History of Daylight Saving Time – Fall Back

November 3, 2023 /
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Daylight Saving Time, or DST, is a brilliant campaign to convince us that we’re getting more daylight each day when, in reality, we’ve changed our clocks and then forgotten about it within two weeks.

DST begins each year at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March in most of the United States and its territories; however, some places have not bought into this campaign: it is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the city of South Bend, Indiana nor the state of Arizona… except for the Navajo Indian Reservation, which does observe DST.


History of All Souls Day: Day of the Dead

November 2, 2023 /
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All Souls Day

All Soul’s Day by William-Adolphe Bouguereau


November 2  is All Soul’s Day or Day of the Dead. As I mentioned previously in my article on the History of HalloweenAllhallowstide includes these three holidays:

  • October 31: All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween)
  • November 1: All Hallows’ Day (All Saints’ Day, Feast of All Hallows, Hallowmas)
  • November 2: All Soul’s Day


What’s the Difference Between these Holidays?

  • Halloween: we have already discussed this at length.
  • All Saints’ Day: commemorated those perished saints and martyrs (from the Greek word “witness” who died in persecution) who are now in Heaven.
  • All Soul’s Day: is a day of prayer — especially in the Roman Catholic church — for the souls of believers in Purgatory, who await having their souls purged of sin.


History of All Saints Day

November 1, 2023 /
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November 1 is All Saints’ Day, more commonly known as All Hallows’ Day. The night before is known as “All Hallows’ Eve,” or Halloween.

This day is also known as the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Hallows, the Solemnity of all Saints, and in the strictly religious sense, Hallowmas.


History of November: That In-between Month

November 1, 2023 /
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November is the penultimate month of the year, meaning “next to the last.” It was the ninth month (Latin: novem) until the ancient Romans shoehorned in January and February.

November enjoys the distinction of being situated between the two biggest holidays in the American calendar. October has Halloween, the candy revenue holiday in America, and a sucrose-collecting bonanza for children nationwide. December features Christmas, in everything and a favorite for those who are children-at-heart.


History of October 31: What’s Martin Luther got to do with it?

October 31, 2023 /
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October 31

Wittenberg Door


See my mini-series here on the life of Martin Luther.

On October 31, 1517, the story goes, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, 95 propositions or theses and marked the beginning of the Reformation. Of course, the Reformation began long before that, but this date is a convenient coat-hanger for historians to mark the beginning of the Protestant* Reformation.

However, the 95 Theses were not intended as a call to reformation, and it is the story behind this event that proves so fascinating and shows the real purpose of the 95 Theses.


Fund Raising

Prince Albert of Brandenburg wanted the archbishopric of Mainz. You may know the city of Mainz as the home of a goldsmith named Johann Gutenberg, who had developed the uniform-sized movable type printing press some 60-70 years earlier. Because Albert was younger than 25 years old and holding multiple archbishoprics was forbidden, the archbishop’s office required a dispensation that would cost him 23,000 ducats (about $500,000.)

Jacob Fugger

Jacob Fugger

Pope Leo X, who was then financing the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (for $46 million), suggested that Albert borrow the money from the wealthy Fugger banking family in Augsburg. Albert was able to secure half the funds from Jacob Fugger, banker to the Pope and the Hapsburg Dynasty – Fugger was worth about $400 billion in today’s money – and for the rest, Albert sold indulgences.


Information Reformation: How the Web Was Like the Reformation

October 31, 2023 /
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I wrote the following article almost three decades ago when I was a technology evangelist at Sun Microsystems.

Back in the mid-’90s, we experienced the early part of the first wave of “The Web.” Today newer Web technologies have expanded what was largely a “reader-oriented” phenomenon into a dynamic read-write participatory social platform.

While the mantle of managing information has passed to a new generation of companies, the basic principles of information production and exponential growth remain the same.


Every October 31, we observe the anniversary of the German Reformation. Presently, there is a lot of talk about the Internet Explosion. There are several significant similarities between the two.

Indeed, one could call it the “Information Reformation.”



1) Common Language:

  • Martin Luther made previously exclusive information accessible to the common man by publishing in the common language (German), not the language of scholars (Latin).
  • With the aid of graphical tools like Mosaic, Netscape, or the HotJava browsers (a Java-based browser from Sun), anyone can easily read the Internet and discover new information without knowing classical Geek.


History of the Internet: Over 50 Years Ago

October 29, 2023 /
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On October 29, 1969, at 10:30 PM, a computer grad student at U.C.L.A. named Charley Kline sent a message to S.R.I. (Stanford Research Institute.) It was the first connection between computer networks. The Internet began!


Charley Kline

Charley Kline

We set up a telephone connection between us and the guys at SRI…
We typed the L and we asked on the phone,

“Do you see the L?”
Yes, we see the L,” came the response.

We typed the O, and we asked,
“Do you see the O?”
Yes, we see the O.”

Then we typed the G, and the system crashed…
Yet a revolution had begun…



Talked to SRI

October 29, 1969, log book


History of the Kirking of the Tartans: Is it really Scottish?

October 28, 2023 /
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This Sunday, all over the world, many churches will observe the Kirkin’ o’ th’ Tartans, a celebration of Scottish heritage and culture.

What is The Kirking of the Tartans?

Kirking Etymologically

  • Kirking, from the Scots word kirk, which means church, in this usage, means “blessing.”
  • Tartans are the traditional plaid emblems of Scottish clans represented in unevenly spaced colored lines and rectangles on woven wool cloth.

Historically, the story is a bit more varied. The popular legend goes as follows:


History of Halloween: The Sacred and the Secular

October 27, 2023 /
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I did an hour-long interview on this topic on this podcast

Halloween (Allhallows Eve’n) is the evening of October 31. This occasion is known as the Vigil of Hallowmas in its strictly religious aspect. There are several names used during this time of year. To eliminate confusion, Allhallowstide includes these three holidays:


  • October 31: All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween)
  • November 1: All Hallows’ Day (All Saints’ Day, Feast of All Hallows, Hallowmas)
  • November 2: All Soul’s Day


These are observed by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches and, to varying degrees, some other Protestant churches. Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate it the first Sunday after Pentecost.