75 YEARS AGO: A PATENT THAT LED TO WI-FI
Sometimes an invention is forgotten or seems insignificant but decades later you can see the true benefits. That happened to Austrian-born American actress Hedy Lamarr and American composer George Antheil, who on August 11, 1942 were granted a U.S. patent for their frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system. They developed the system as part of the U.S. war effort — it prevented radio-controlled torpedoes from being jammed by the enemy. Although the U.S. Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of their work are now incorporated into modern Wi-Fi computer networking and Bluetooth technology, which led to the pair being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
80 YEARS AGO: INTRODUCING THE HOBBITS
There was a time when there was no Middle Earth. This fictional world became known to the public exactly 80 years ago, when English author J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit was published on September 21, 1937. It received wide critical acclaim, having been nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. Indeed, the book, widely regarded as a children’s fantasy novel, remains popular and is recognized as a classic not only for children; adults love the allegory of war, peace and the fight between good and evil just as much. With Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy (2012–2014), which followed the Lord of the Rings movies, it once again received worldwide acclaim.
20 YEARS AGO: MOTHER TERESA PASSES
When Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (her original name before entering religious life) passed away on September 5, 1997, she was 87 years old. At the point, for most people, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity was already a saint. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and her devotion to the sick and dying on Indian streets was widely recognized. The Albanian-Indian nun and humanitarian was beatified in October 2003 and canonized on September 4, 2016. Her congregation has now close to 5,100 sisters serving the poorest of the poor. The Missionaries of Charity care for refugees, former prostitutes, the mentally ill, sick children, abandoned children, lepers, people with AIDS, the aged, and the convalescent in 39 countries of the world.
— Susanne Janssen