1922 – Alexander Graham Bell dies

Alexander Graham Bell, best known as the inventor of the telephone, was 75 when he died, and still refused to have a telephone in his laboratory. He regarded his most famous – and most transformative – invention as a nuisance and a distraction from his serious work. The telephone itself had arisen out of Bell’s true interests in acoustics, which grew out of his work as a teacher for the deaf: he had wanted to invent a device that would make it possible for the deaf to hear, the fact that he may well have stolen the idea from Elisha Gray notwithstanding.

The telephone is merely his best known invention – Bell held the patent for that, but also for 17 other inventions (some of them held in common with other, but most in his own right). Bell’s death was the result of complications arising from his diabetes. He left behind a legacy that has, over the course of less than 150 years and with many followers building on his work, transformed the world beyond recognition. One wonders what he’d think of the iPhone.

Referenced in:

Done Too Soon — Neil Diamond

1971 – Paul McCartney releases “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey”

The first single off his second solo album, “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” was intended to be a nostalgic piece by McCartney. The uncle Albert of the title was his actual uncle, while Admiral Halsey was American Navy Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, who served with great distinction in the Pacific during World War Two.

The song – only the second single to be released by McCartney since the dissolution of the Beatles – quickly reached number one on both the US and UK charts, and acheived gold status shortly thereafter. It is notably one of only three singles to be credited to Paul and Linda McCartney – the following year’s album would be the first from Wings.

Referenced in:

Edit — Regina Spektor

1943 – The Japanese destroyer Amagiri rams and sinks US Navy PT-109

Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109, under the command of Lieutenant junior grade John F. Kennnedy, was one of 15 PT boats sent out on a mission to intercept the Tokyo Express on the night of August 1, 1943. Along with three other boats of the flotilla, it stayed behind to guard the retreat of the others and continue patrolling.

At about 2am in the morning, on a moonless night, the crew realised that they were about to collide with a Japanese ship. The destroyer Amagiri rammed them amidships, cutting the boat in half.

Under the command of Kennedy, all but two of the crew made it to safety on Plum Pudding Island, from which they were rescued by PT-157 six days later.

Referenced in:

PT-109 – Jimmy Dean