Good News in History, January 15

20 years ago today, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger launched Wikipedia. The collaborative online encyclopedia created and maintained by a community of volunteer editors, Wikipedia is the 13th-most-visited website on the internet. The nonprofit funded primarily through donations has 6.2 million articles in English—and also features articles in 250 languages, altogether attracting 1.7 billion unique visitors monthly.

In 2006, Time magazine said the open-door policy of allowing anyone to edit had made Wikipedia the biggest and possibly the best encyclopedia in the world, and was a testament to the vision of Jimmy Wales. Looking at the accuracy of the popular wiki, a 2005 peer-reviewed study in the journal Nature found Wikipedia to be nearly as accurate on the subject of science as the Encyclopedia Britannica. (2001)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The British Museum opened (1759)
  • Robert Morris argued before the U.S. Congress for decimal coins (1782)
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first sorority for black women was established (1908)
  • The Supremes signed a contract with Berry Gordy  to join Motown Records (1961)
  • US President Nixon ceases offensive actions in Vietnam (1973)

And, 92 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr., American civil rights leader and Nobel laureate, was born in Atlanta.

He led the Montgomery bus boycott at age 26, established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and worked for 13 years to peacefully end segregation. His “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC was one of the most powerful and inspiring events in America’s History. (1929)

Also, on this day in 1967, the firstSuper Bowl’ was played between the rival American Football Conference and the National Football Conference to determine the best NFL team.

The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs by a wide margin — 35 to 10—in the championship game, which wouldn’t be called the Super Bowl until later. The following year, the Green Bay Packers (the only non-profit team in the NFL) won again, beating the Oakland Raiders by the score of 33–14.

And, on this day in 2009, a cool-headed pilot, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, made an emergency landing in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Wanting to avoid endangering any pedestrians below, Sully steered the US Airways jet into the river—and soon the crew had evacuated all 155 passengers without casualty. The Airbus A320 malfunctioned after four geese flew into the engines at an elevation of 2000-foot/640 meters.

Photo by Greg L, CC license

Afterward, he was surprised by all the accolades and attention the event received and said, “I realize how this event had touched people’s lives, how ready they were for good news, how much they wanted to feel hopeful again. We’ve had a worldwide economic downturn, and people are confused, fearful and just so ready for good news.”

Years later, Clint Eastwood made a film starring Tom Hanks, which was based on Sullenberger’s memoir, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters.

And, 47 years ago today, the TV sitcom Happy Days premiered on ABC, starring Ron Howard—as a clean-cut teenager in the late 50s who frequents a drive-in burger restaurant after school. His friend, ‘The Fonz’—played by Henry Winkler—is a cool biker and beloved by his ex-classmates and their families, even though he is a street-tough high school drop-out.

With 255 episodes produced over 11 seasons, the series created by Garry Marshall was one of the biggest successes in television history—and it heavily influenced the sitcom genre’s style of the day.

The concept for Happy Days was first presented as a segment on the TV show, Love, American Style. As a pilot episode, it didn‘t stir any interest, but film director George Lucas saw it and cast Howard as the lead in his 1973 film American Graffiti, causing ABC to take a renewed interest and sign up for a season.

Fonzie became one of the most merchandised characters of the 1970s, and Henry Winkler became a major star. The series also spawned a number of spin-offs series, including Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy, which starred Robin Williams. WATCH the best moments of The Fonz… (1974)


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