Almanac – December 26

1791 – Charles Babbage born.  English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer.Considered a “father of the computer”, Babbage is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer that eventually led to more complex designs.

Parts of his uncompleted mechanisms are on display in the London Science Museum. In 1991, a perfectly functioning difference engine was constructed from Babbage’s original plans. Built to tolerances achievable in the 19th century, the success of the finished engine indicated that Babbage’s machine would have worked. Nine years later, the Science Museum completed the printer Babbage had designed for the difference engine.

.

.

1862 – The largest mass-hanging in U.S. history, resulting from the Dakota Sioux Uprising of 1862,  took place in Mankato, Minnesota, 38 Native Americans died.

The mass execution was performed publicly on a single scaffold platform. After regimental surgeons pronounced the prisoners dead, they were buried en masse in a trench in the sand of the riverbank. Before they were buried, an unknown person  possibly removed some of the prisoners’ skin – small boxes purportedly containing the skin later were sold in Mankato.

Because of high demand for cadavers for anatomical study, several doctors wanted to obtain the bodies after the execution. The grave was reopened in the night and the bodies were distributed among the doctors, a practice common in the era.

.

.

1890 – Heinrich Schliemann died. German businessman and amateur archaeologist, and an advocate of the historical reality of places mentioned in the works of Homer. Schliemann was an archaeological excavator of Hissarlik, now presumed to be the site of Troy, along with the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns. His work lent weight to the idea that Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid reflect actual historical events.

.

.

1900 – A relief crew arrived at the lighthouse on the Flannan Isles of Scotland, only to find the previous crew has disappeared without a trace.  the flagstaff was bare of its flag, none of the usual provision boxes had been left on the landing stage for re-stocking and, more ominously, none of the lighthouse keepers were there to welcome them ashore.

 The only sign of anything amiss in the lighthouse was an overturned chair by the kitchen table. Of the keepers there was no sign, either inside the lighthouse or anywhere on the island. No bodies were ever found.

.

1999 – Curtis Mayfield died.  American soul, R&B, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer, best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly, and also a highly regarded pioneer of funk and  politically conscious African-American music. He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums.

On August 13, 1990, Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him at an outdoor concert at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York. He  died from diabetes on December 26, 1999, aged 57,  at the North Fulton Regional Hospital in Roswell, Georgia; his health having steadily declined following his paralysis.

.

.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s