1884 – The first purpose-built roller coaster, LaMarcus Adna Thompson’s “Switchback Railway“, opens in New York’s Coney Island amusement park.
The original Switchback Railway at Coney Island was the first roller coaster designed as an amusement ride in America. It was designed by LaMarcus Adna Thompson in 1881 and constructed in 1884. It appears Thompson based his design, at least in part, on the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway which was a coal-mining train that had started carrying passengers as a thrill ride in 1827.
For five cents, riders would climb a tower to board the large bench-like car and were pushed off to coast 600 ft (183 m) down the track to another tower. The car went just over 6 mph (9.7 km/h). At the top of the other tower the vehicle was switched to a return track or “switched back” (hence the name).
1902 – Barbara McClintock, American geneticist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate is born.
Barbara McClintock, was an American scientist and cytogeneticist who was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. McClintock received her PhD in botany from Cornell University in 1927. There she started her career as the leader in the development of maize cytogenetics, the focus of her research for the rest of her life. From the late 1920s, McClintock studied chromosomes and how they change during reproduction in maize. She developed the technique for visualizing maize chromosomes and used microscopic analysis to demonstrate many fundamental genetic ideas. One of those ideas was the notion of genetic recombination by crossing-over during meiosis—a mechanism by which chromosomes exchange information. She produced the first genetic map for maize, linking regions of the chromosome to physical traits. She demonstrated the role of the telomere and centromere, regions of the chromosome that are important in the conservation of genetic information. She was recognized among the best in the field, awarded prestigious fellowships, and elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1944.
During the 1940s and 1950s, McClintock discovered transposition and used it to demonstrate that genes are responsible for turning physical characteristics on and off. She developed theories to explain the suppression and expression of genetic information from one generation of maize plants to the next. Due to skepticism of her research and its implications, she stopped publishing her data in 1953.
Later, she made an extensive study of the cytogenetics and ethnobotany of maize races from South America. McClintock’s research became well understood in the 1960s and 1970s, as other scientists confirmed the mechanisms of genetic change and genetic regulation that she had demonstrated in her maize research in the 1940s and 1950s. Awards and recognition for her contributions to the field followed, including the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded to her in 1983 for the discovery of genetic transposition; she is the only woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in that category.
1904 – Irish author James Joyce begins a relationship with Nora Barnacle and subsequently uses the date to set the actions for his novel Ulysses; this date is now traditionally called “Bloomsday“.
Bloomsday is a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce during which the events of his novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived. It is observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere. Joyce chose the date as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle; they walked to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend. The name is derived from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses.
1911 – IBM founded as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in Endicott, New York.
The International Business Machines Corporation (commonly referred to as IBM) is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation, with headquarters in Armonk, New York. IBM manufactures and markets computer hardware and software, and offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology.
The company originated in 1911 as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) through a merger of the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Company. CTR was changed to “International Business Machines” in 1924, using a name which had originated with CTR’s Canadian subsidiary. The initialism IBM followed. Securities analysts nicknamed the company Big Blue for its size and common use of the color in products, packaging, and logo.
1963 – Soviet Space Program: Vostok 6 Mission – Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. In order to join the Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was only honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force and thus she also became the first civilian to fly in space.
Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile-factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver. After the dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still regarded as a hero in post-Soviet Russia.
In 2013 she offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity arose. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, she was a carrier of the Olympic flag.
1977 – Oracle Corporation is incorporated in Redwood Shores, California, as Software Development Laboratories (SDL) by Larry Ellison, Bob Miner and Ed Oates.
The Oracle Corporation is a multinational computer technology corporation headquartered in Redwood City, California, United States. The company specializes in developing and marketing computer hardware systems and enterprise software products – particularly its own brands of database management systems. In 2011 Oracle was the second-largest software maker by revenue, after Microsoft.
The company also builds tools for database development and systems of middle-tier software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, customer relationship management (CRM) software and supply chain management (SCM) software.