THE NATION'S CAPITAL TURNS 100
Australia's capital city, Canberra, this month celebrated 100 years since its official founding. But what are its origins?
Canberra was born out of the need for the new Federation of Australia - created in 1901 when six separate British colonies on the continent of Australia united in the formation of a new nation - to have an official capital city.
While eyes initially turned to the existing state capitals of Sydney and Melbourne, it was soon realised that neither would be acceptable to the inhabitants of the other. And so a compromise was reached - Melbourne would serve as the temporary capital until a new city was built, located between Melbourne and its northern neighbour Sydney.
DAVID ADAMS gives a brief overview of the founding of Australia's capital city, Canberra... |
THE CD ENTERS ITS FOURTH DECADE
Having celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, the humble compact disc has revolutionised the way we think about music storage - and marked the start of the popular move to digital music storage.
While the origins of the CD really go back to the invention of the photograph in the late 1800s, it was only in the mid 1970s when both Sony and Philips independently developed prototypes for what would become the ubiquitous CD.
The two companies - the Dutch-based Philips and Japan-based Sony - joined in a collaborative effort to set standards, and on 1st October, 1982, the first commercially available CD (and CD player) was released in Japan followed by Europe and the US early the following year.
DAVID ADAMS looks back at where it all started for the CD... |
CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF THE LEGO BRICK IN AUSTRALIA
Twice named 'toy of the century', LEGO is this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of its arrival in Australia.
But while the ubiquitous brick didn't make its way Downunder until 1962 when Englishman John Peddie landed in Sydney with a suitcase full and the task of trying to convince toy stockists to sell it, the brick had been in Europe for some 30 years prior.
The LEGO Group (the name comes from an abbreviation of the two Danish words 'leg godt', meaning 'play well') was officially founded by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in 1932 (it's currently owned by his grandson, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen). Originally producing a range of wooden toys, it wasn't until 1958 that the company patented the plastic brick with the stud-and-tube coupling system.
As LEGO celebrates 50 years in Australia, DAVID ADAMS looks back at where it all started for the humble brick... |
50 YEARS ON, MEALS ON WHEELS STILL DELIVERING
Meals on Wheels celebrates 50 years of operation in Australia this year, so we thought it was a good idea to take a look at how it all began.
The concept of of Meals on Wheels originated in the UK during World War II. People who lost homes in the Blitz found themselves unable to prepare meals and so were the recipients of meals delivered by the Women's Volunteer Service for Civil Defence (although the name 'Meals on Wheels' was apparently first used for the WVS' related work in taking meals to servicemen).
Following the war, the idea was picked up by groups of volunteers who began delivering meals to the housebound elderly and soon spread across the world to countries including Australia, the US and Canada.
It started in Australia in 1952 when an un-named woman started delivering meals by tricycle in South Melbourne (the Red Cross became involved when the job became too much for her). The idea subsequently spread across the country.
DAVID ADAMS looks at the origins of Meals on Wheels... |
A DAY FOR CELEBRATING MOTHERS
In Australia and many other countries around the world, Mother’s Day is about to come around again; the day in which we celebrate our mothers and their mothers and (if you’re kids aren’t intending doing anything for her) our wives. But where did Mother’s Day all start?
Setting aside a day or time for the celebration of mothers and all things maternal goes back to ancient times – both the Romans and Greeks set aside periods for the celebration of motherhood – while the English have celebrated a Mothering Sunday for centuries.
The idea of this day, celebrated since at least the 17th century, was to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, and it’s always celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This day was also apparently a time when servants who had gone off to work were allowed to return to their home – or ‘mother’ – church and when doing so would bring back gifts for their mothers. A special cake, called a Simnel Cake, is often associated with the day.
DAVID ADAMS at where the idea for Mother's Day came from... |
BACK TO WHERE IT ALL BEGAN FOR THE MUPPETS
The Muppets were back on the big screen late last year, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look back at where it all began for Kermit, Miss Piggy and friends.
The Muppets' origins go back as far as the 1950s when creator Jim Henson was still attending high school and created puppets for a Saturday morning TV show.
He went on to university with the intention of being a commercial artist and it was while still a freshman that he was asked to create a five minute puppet show, called Sam and Friends, for a TV station in Washington DC near where he lived.
Henson did so and some of the characters which first appeared there became the forerunners for the Muppets, including Kermit the Frog.
DAVID ADAMS looks at the birth of The Muppets... |
THE WORLD HERITAGE LIST CELEBRATES ITS BIRTH
It’s 40 years this month that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) member states adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, aimed at protecting sites around the globe deemed of international importance.
The convention was adopted at the 17th session of UNESCO’s general conference held in Paris on 16th November, 1972, and came into force in 1975.
States who sign the convention – and 188 have, including Australia which was one of the first to sign – agree to identify, protect, conserve and present World Heritage sites.
DAVID ADAMS looks at the origins of a scheme to protect sites of international significance... |
40 YEARS SINCE MR. TICKLE WAS FIRST A SQUIGGLE
It’s 40 years this year since Brit Roger Hargreaves started creating his Mr. Men books, with the first of the shapely characters – Mr Tickle – drawn after his son Adam asked what a tickle looked like.
Other characters featured in the initial six books – first published on 10th August, 1971, and initially known as the Mister series - included Mr Happy, Mr Nosey and Mr Bump. The array of characters grew as the years passed with Hargreaves eventually publishing more than 40 Mr. Men books..
In 1981 he launched the Little Miss series with Little Miss Bossy. This has since gone on to include more than 30 books.
The books, which were made into a BBC series in the 1980s, have since gone on to sell more than 120 million copies and have been translated into 15 languages.
DAVID ADAMS digs up the origins of Mr Tickle and co... |
COCA-COLA KEEPS ITS SECRETS 125 YEARS AFTER FIRST GLASS SERVED
Coca-Cola, the ubiquitous global softdrink, is this year celebrating what The Coca-Cola Company calls “125 years of sharing happiness”. We know it as the 125th anniversary of the first glass of the drink ever sold.
The story of Coca-Cola goes back to 8th May, 1886, when a US pharmacist, Dr John Pemberton, developed the softdrink, according to Coca-Cola, inspired by “simple curiosity” (others have suggested it was developed in response to the passing of prohibition legislation in Georgia where Dr Pemberton lived).
The new drink combined coca-cola syrup, the caramel coloured liquid developed by Dr Pemberton (and the recipe, Coca-Cola claim, remains a secret to this day), with carbonated water. Contrary to the belief of some, it did not start out life as a medicine.
DAVID ADAMS looks back at where it all began for Coke... |
KING JAMES BIBLE CELEBRATES 400 YEARS
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the creation of the King James Bible, so it's only fitting to take a look at how it came about.
While there had been English-language Bibles for a couple of hundred years prior to the King James Bible, much of the Bible had only first been translated from the original Hebrew and Greek into English in England in early the 1530s by William Tyndale (Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament was also the first printed Bible in English).
In 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died and King James VI of Scotland ascended to the throne of England as King James I.
Amid an ongoing push for reform within the church from Puritans (these included concerns over the translation of the so-called ‘Bishop’s Bible’, introduced by the Church of England in 1568, and the Great Bible, the name given to Miles Coverdale’s 1539 version of Tyndale’s work), one of the first things the new king did was called together bishops, clergymen and professors for a conference.
DAVID ADAMS examines a Bible translation with a long legacy... |
WIKIPEDIA TURNS 10 (LOOK AT JESUS TO SEE ITS HISTORY)
Launched 10 years ago as an online free encyclopaedia to which anyone can contribute, Wikipedia has grown into an internet behemoth, attracting more than 400 million visitors a month to become the world’s fifth most visited website.
Following an earlier attempt to launch a more typical free online encyclopedia, the site’s domain name went live on 15th January 2001. Jimmy Wales, the site's co-founder recently recalled the first moment: "I remember that first day. I clicked on 'Edit' and I wrote 'Hello World', and that was the beginning of Wikipedia..."
While initial entries were simplistic - the entry for physics, for example, initially read "Physics is a very broad subject", the site now boasts from than 17 million articles generated by its 100,000 who have made more than a billion edits.
DAVID ADAMS looks at the rise and rise of Wikipedia... |
A LOOK BACK AT THE CHRISTMAS TREE
There are many explanations for the origins of the Christmas tree with many suggesting it was the adaption of an ancient pagan custom in places such as Egypt of decorating homes with evergreen greenery during winter.
The modern concept of decorating a tree to celebrate Christmas, however, is generally believed to date from Europe in the 1600s when the tradition was recorded in places including Germany and in north-eastern European countries such Estonia or Latvia.
One of the most common stories attributes the tradition of decorating a tree to celebrate Christmas to the 16th century Protestant reformer Martin Luther. Luther, apparently struck by the beauty of snow-covered fir trees and the twinkling stars overhead while walking home one night composing a sermon, decorated a tree with candles which he then lit in honor of Christ’s birth.
DAVID ADAMS takes a look at where the idea of the Christmas tree comes from... |
YOUR SAY: Do you put up a Christmas tree? What does the concept symbolise to you? Or is it simply something fun at Christmas? Have your say here... |
YABBA DABBA DOO! THE FLINTSTONES MARK A MILESTONE
Icons of the cartoon world, the Flintstones have recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
The family, which was originally called the Flagstones – a name later dropped because it was already taken, was the creation of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera who first looked at making the stars – Fred and Barney – hillbillies, pilgrims, Indians and even Romans before settling on a Stone-Age mileau.
The first show first aired (in black and white) on 30th September, 1960, and the series ran until 1966, following the lives of Fred Flintstone and his best friend Barney Rubble, their wives, Wilma and Betty, and their families who lived in the town of Bedrock.
DAVID ADAMS takes at look back at The Flintstones... |
PENGUIN'S BOOKS FOR EVERYMAN MAKE 75
It’s 75 years since Penguin Books was founded in the UK with the idea of democratising great literature – making it readily available to everyone at an affordable price.
Founder Allen Lane reportedly coming up with the idea for the Penguin paperbacks when travelling home after a weekend in which he’d visited Agatha Christie in Devon and finding a lack of cheap, good quality fiction at the train stations.
The first 10 books, costing as little as six pence (the price of a pack of cigarettes at the time) were published on 30 July, 1935, and the initial authors included Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie.
DAVID ADAMS looks back at Penguin's beginnings... |
POST-IT NOTES CELEBRATE 30 YEARS OF STICK-UPS
Ever since Romy and Michele, in the 1997 movie Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion, told their former highschool classmates that they were the inventors of Post-it Notes in a lie designed to impress, the question of who really invented them has no doubt niggled away at millions.
Well, Post-its are this year celebrating their 30th birthday and in honor of that landmark, we’re taking a look back at how it all began (and here’s a hint, it has nothing to do with Romy and Michele!).
The idea of a sticky note goes back to several employees at US stationary giant 3M. According to an account on 3M’s website, it was Dr Spencer Silver who, in 1968, discovered the formula for the sticky material which coats the back
DAVID ADAMS takes a look back at where it all began for Post-it Notes... |
FROM A HUMBLE TIN LID TO 200 MILLION FLYING DISCS
Once known as the ‘Pluto Platter’, the Frisbee owes its origins to the lid of a popcorn tin and an idle moment on a picnic.
The story goes that Fred Morrison and his girlfriend, Lu Nay, were on a Thanksgiving picnic in the mid-1930s when they started throwing a tin popcorn lid back and forth in an impromptu game. Finding that a tin cake pan was more aerodynamic, they were tossing it around on Santa Monica beach in California a year later when somebody offered them 25 cents for it – which led to them setting up a small business.
They continued to sell the tins until Morrison served as a pilot in World War II (he was shot down and served time as a prisoner of war). Back in the US after the war, he took up the idea of the flying disc once more and in 1946 came up with a design for what he now called the Whirlo-Way.
Following news this month of the death of Fred Morrison, the inventor of the Frisbee, DAVID ADAMS takes a look at how the ubiquitous flying disc came to be created... |
POLAROID'S ACCLAIMED PAST PICTURES A NEW FUTURE
When the passing of the last ‘use-by’ date of unused Polaroid film was observed on 9th October, it seemed like the end of the instant camera system we’d come to love was nigh, another victim of the digital age.
The Polaroid company had fallen into bankruptcy in 2008 - the second time it had done so in a decade - and had announced in February that year that it was ceasing production of film for its cameras.
Despite the outcry - including a website campaign, www.savepolaroid.com - things looked grim. All was not lost - in the aftermath of Polaroid’s decision, Austrian businessman Florian Kaps launched The Impossible Project, an effort to “reinvent” Polaroid film at a former Polaroid manufacturing plant in The Netherlands - but for the cameras themselves, there didn’t look to be much of a future.
Sixty years after it was first launched, DAVID ADAMS reports that the future for Polaroid is looking good...
THE LAMINGTON'S SOMEWHAT MYSTERIOUS BEGINNINGS
News recently that there’s been a new bid to put the lamington in the Guinness World Records Book with the creation of a 1320 kilogram whopper ‘lammo’, has got us wondering about where it came from?
Sure, we know sandwich was named after Lord Sandwich and the pavlova after Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. But what about that Australian-made icon, the lamington?
Turns out the lamington, according to the Australian National Dictionary Centre, may well owe its name to Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Baillie, the 2nd Baron Lamington (aka Lord Lamington), who served as the Governor of Queensland between 1896 and 1901.
DAVID ADAMS takes a look at the origins of an Australian icon... |
DONALD DUCK QUACKS UP 75 YEARS
It was 75 years ago last week - 9th June, 1934 - that Walt Disney’s creation Donald Duck first made his cartoon debut in The Wise Little Hen with the line “Who, me? Oh, no. I’ve got a belly ache.”
From those early beginnings, Donald - who didn’t even get a credit for that first film - went on to have his own daily newspaper comic strip in 1938. He eventually featured in more than 150 cartoons - a total which exceeded even that of Mickey Mouse and included 128 of his own - and as many as seven full-length feature films.
The duck was conceived as a counterpoint to the goody two-shoes Mickey and quickly became known for his almost indecipherable accent (it was Clarence ‘Ducky’ Nash who gave Donald his voice until 1985 when the job was taken over by Disney artist Tony Anselmo) as well as for running afoul of other characters within the Disney milieu, and, of course, for his short fuse.
Donald Duck celebrated his 75th birthday last week. DAVID ADAMS reports on the rise of an unlikely star... |
BARBIE CELEBRATES 50 YEARS
It seems like she’s been everywhere lately - the subject of photo spreads in the magazines, TV news and current affairs show segments and countless newspaper column inches. Hard to believe that all this fuss is about a...erm...doll.
Yes, Barbie has turned 50 this year and given all the hoopla, we thought we’d take a look at where she came from.
But first, the figures. More than a billion fashions have been produced for Barbie and her friends since she first appeared back in 1959 and Barbie has had more than 108 career changes, everything from astronaut to zoologist to Formula One driver to presidential candidate. It’s estimated that in the US, 90 per cent of girls aged three to 10 own at least one Barbie.
Fifty years on, DAVID ADAMS takes a look at where Barbie came from... |
CREATED 40 YEARS AGO, THE MOUSE MAY SOON BE EXTINCT
It was never envisaged it would be around this long. Forty years ago Douglas Engelbart and Bill English at Stanford Research Institute in California were looking for a simple way to control a computer.
They came up with a square shaped wooden block mounted on two wheels with a cable running out the back which one researcher dubbed a ‘mouse’ based on the similarity of the cable to a mouse’s tail - a name which has been used ever since.
The prototype was demonstrated at a December 1968 presentation to illustrate a working computer network (prior to this people apparently used light pens, similar to those used World War II radar operators, to navigate around computers).
DAVID ADAMS explores where the idea for the mouse came from... |
WHAT'S THAT ON YOUR WRIST?
They appear on the wrists of everyone supporting causes from bringing about an end to poverty to tackling diseases such as cancer to, in the US at least, drawing attention to a soldier killed or missing in action.
The history of wearing something on your wrist to draw attention to the issue goes back a long way - they were used in the US during the Vietnam War to draw attention to missing soldiers and prisoners-of-war.
But the recent trend for the rubbery wristbands - known as “awareness bracelets” - got a big boost in 2004 when star cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong used a yellow silicone wristband - known as the Livestrong wristband - to help raise funds for his Lance Armstrong Foundation.
DAVID ADAMS takes a look at where the trend for wearing a wristband for a cause comes from... |
CREATED BY ACCIDENT, THE TEABAG CLOCKS UP A CENTURY
It’s such a ubiquitous part of our lives these days that it’s hard to imagine life without it. Yet only 100 years ago, the humble teabag didn’t exist.
The teabag apparently traces its beginnings back to New York in the early years of the 20th century (accounts vary with some putting the year at 1908 and others at 1904) when a merchant, Thomas Sullivan, sent out samples to customers in small silk bags.
The customers, so the story goes, misread his intent and instead of opening the bags and tipping the loose tea into a pot, they simply dunked them.
DAVID ADAMS looks at the origins of the teabag... |
THE PEACE SYMBOL TURNS 50
It’s become instantly recognisable almost anywhere on the globe as a sign of peace. And while there have been many claims about its origins, the most commonly accepted version is that it was created 50 years ago this year as the logo for the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (which later became part of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament).
The story goes that it was designed by British professional designer and artist Gerald Holtom - a conscientious objector during World War II - and first appeared in public over the 1958 Easter weekend in a 52 mile anti-nuclear march from London’s Trafalgar Square to Aldermaston, where Britain's nuclear weapons are manufactured.
DAVID ADAMS takes a look at the beginnings of a controversial symbol... |
THE FAMOUS BRICK CELEBRATES 50 YEARS
It was 50 years ago last January that the humble Lego brick made its first appearance on the world stage.
Lego’s history goes back as far as 1932 when Dane Ole Kirk Christiansen founded a small wooden toy factory in Billund, drawing the company’s name from a fusion of the Danish words leg and godt (meaning “play well”).
But it wasn’t until 1958 that the brick had emerged in the plastic form as we know it today and 1.58pm on 28th January of that year when the then Lego chief, Gotfred Kirk Christiansen filed a patent for the toy.
DAVID ADAMS joins in the celebration as Lego blows out the birthday candles... |
THIRSTY GATORS LED TO A SPORTS DRINK REVOLUTION
Had it not been for a team of physicians at the University of Florida, the name of the university’s football team - the Gators - would probably mean nothing to you or I. Thanks to their work in creating one of the world’s most famous sports drinks, however, the team’s name has been immortalised in the drink we now know as Gatorade.
According to an article on the University of Florida's website, the drink’s origins go back to 1965 when an assistant coach - named as Dwayne Douglas - at the University of Florida asked university kidney disease specialist, Dr Robert Cade, why so many of his team’s players were being affected by heat and heat-related incidents.
DAVID ADAMS looks at the origins of a sports drink revolution... |
HOW A STICKY START LED TO HAPPY LITTLE VEGEMITES
Vegemite. It’s an Australian icon and an essential part of diets across the country - used in stews and casseroles, in soups and gravies, in sandwiches with cheese or just by itself on toast. But who first came up with the idea of making this black, sticky spread?
According to Kraft - the manufacturer of Vegemite, the spread was first invented in 1922. That was the year the Fred Walker Company (which became the Kraft Walker Company in 1926 and finally dropped the Walker in 1950), hired a young chemist by the name of Dr Cyril P Callister to develop a spread from leftover brewer’s yeast, a rich source of vitamin B used in beer production.
He came up with vegemite - which was initially sold in a two ounce or 57 gram jar with the label “pure vegetable extract” (later changed to “concentrated yeast extract”.) The company boss, Fred Walker, then held a national competition to find a name for the new product with a prize pool of 50 pounds. According to Kraft, the winner’s name has since been ‘lost to history’ but it is known that it was Walker’s daughter who drew out the winning entry.
DAVID ADAMS takes a look at where it all began for Aussie icon, Vegemite... |
A FASHION STATEMENT, TO A TEE
T-shirt is these days a ubiquitous piece of clothing, spanning
gender, national, and cultural boundaries across the globe.
But up until 100 years ago, the T-shirt as we know it didn’t
The origins of the T-shirt (aka tee shirt)
are somewhat obscured in the mists of history but it’s
believed that the modern T-shirt (the T refers to the shape)
was created around 1913 - the start of World War I - as a
light undershirt worn by US sailors (there are, however, alternative
stories such as the tale that the T-shirt shape was born when,
inspecting hairy armed sailors wearing sleeveless undergarments,
Queen Victoria demanded sleeves to be sewn onto their shirts).
Emerging as a fashion item in the Fifties - thanks
to being worn by the likes of “Rebel without a Cause”
James Dean - and, in doing so, making the transition from
underwear to outerwear, the T-shirt hasn’t looked back
DAVID ADAMS explores how the T-shirt came
to be... |
- FROM ROMAN TRAINING COURSE TO CHILD'S PLAY
is a childrens' game based on people hopping and jumping their
way through a “court” which consists of lines
drawn or scratched on the ground, often with chalk and often
in a pattern of adjoining squares (although the pattern can
Participants throw a stone or marker of
some sort onto the court's first square and then hop their
way through it without touching lines and avoiding the marker
square. They then must travel in reverse, stopping to pick
up the stone before finishing.
The marker is then thrown onto the next
square and the person continues. Losing their balance, stepping
on a line or completing the sequence out of order forfeits
DAVID ADAMS relives a childhood pleasure...
CONTROVERSIAL START FOR THE ICE CREAM SUNDAE
The ice cream sundae. Scoops of ice cream topped with thick
oozing syrup, a sprinkling of nuts, whipped cream and a cherry.
While it remains a popular dessert in many
countries - particularly the US where it was believed to have
originated - the origins of the ice cream sundae remained
clouded by controversy.
The name is believed to relate to the day
on which it was sold. Towns in the US in the mid to late 1800s
had introduced so called “blue laws” which prohibited
certain items, such as soda water, being sold on Sunday to
uphold moral standards. To get around the ban, soda fountain
owners apparently starting making ice cream sodas without
the soda and thus the "Ice Cream Sunday" - later
known as the ice cream sundae - was born.
In the first of a new column looking
at the origins of words we use in our everyday lives, DAVID
ADAMS looks back to a time before ice cream sundaes...