1879 — Thomas Edison invents the light bulb

Technically, he’d been in the process of inventing it for a while. October 22, 1879 is simply the day on which he first successfully tested a practical incandescent electric light bulb.

Reliable electric light is one of those inventions that changes the world. Sure, we aleady had candles and gaslight, but electric light was both brighter and more reliable than its predecessors. Edison changed the world with it. He changed the hours of our work and leisure, and the way we think about both.

And being Thomas Edison, he went on to invent still more stuff, many of which also changed the world, but none so much as the humble light bulb.

Referenced in:

Black Man — Stevie Wonder
Mother Necessity — Schoolhouse Rock
It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World — James Brown

1903 — Curly Howard of the Three Stooges is born

Curly Howard was the youngest of the three Howard brothers. His real name was Jerome Lester Horwitz, but it was as Curly that he captured the hearts of America, becoming the best loved of the Three Stooges. His performance was notable for its physicality, even in the days of vaudeville, when comedy was more physical in general – one of his recurring set pieces was breaking things over his head.

Curly, more than the other Stooges, was also famous for his catchphrases, suck as his trademark ‘nyuk nyuk nyuk’ laugh or his exaggerated Brooklyn accent on words like certainly (‘soitenly’) and circumstance (‘soicumstance’). Unfortunately, his health was never good, and he died aged only 48 in January of 1952.

Referenced in:
The Chanukah Song (Part I) — Adam Sandler

2001 – The SEC begins to investigate Enron

It was only the beginning of the end, but by the time it was done, one of the greatest success stories of American business would be revelaed to be one of the greatest lies in American business. Enron was an energy provider originally based in Houston, Texas, but which grew to become an international titan with interests in gas, electricity and even non-energy fields such as communications. It was lauded for its innovations in business.

However, it turned out that the most innovative thing about them was their interesting new accounting practices: Enron’s single greatest contribution to the history of American business was their creative – and illegal – account keeping. By the time the SEC concluded their investigation, Enron would have declared bankruptcy and their director, Ken Lay, would be convicted on ten counts of assorted frauds. He died of a heart attck before he commenced his prison sentence.

Referenced in:

Millenium Theater — Ani Di Franco