What Happened on December 12?

  • The first transatlantic radio signal was sent and received. (1901) Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal — the Morse code for the letter "s." The message was sent by Marconi's associates in Cornwall, England to Marconi who was at his station in Newfoundland, nearly 2,000 miles (over 3,000 km) away. He was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his achievements.

  • The Mona Lisa was recovered. (1913) The painting had been stolen two years before by former Louvre worker, Vincenzo Peruggia. The painting was recovered from Peruggia's hotel room in Florence, where he was working as a waiter.

  • The Apple corporation went public. (1980) Shares sold out in minutes, and more than 40 Apple employees became instant millionaires through their stock options. It was the largest IPO since Ford went public in 1956.

  • Leona Helmsley was sentenced to four years in jail. (1989) Known as the "Queen of Mean," Helmsley and her husband owned more than $10 billion US Dollars (USD) in property assets, but refused to pay taxes, since, as Helmsley famously said, "Only the little people pay taxes." She and her husband were sued for over $7 million USD.

  • US copyright law was amended to include software. (1980) The Computer Software Copyright Act of 1980 amended American copyright law to explicitly include software. It also allowed for limited copying of computer programs by the "rightful possessor."

  • China and the USSR resumed diplomatic relations. (1932) The two countries had ended their diplomatic ties three years earlier after the Sino-Soviet conflict over the Manchurian Eastern Railway.

  • One of Da Vinci's notebooks sold for over $5 million USD. (1980) Oil tycoon Armand Hammer bought the notebook at a Christie's auction, and was said to be pleased about getting it so cheaply. The notebook contained over 300 notes and drawings, dating back to 1508.

  • Beethoven is said to have had his first music lesson. (1792) Beethoven was in his early twenties at the time, and received lessons from the "father of symphony" and fellow famous musician Franz Joseph Hayden.

  • The first motel was established in the US. (1925) Architect Arthur Heinman created the portmanteau "motel" from the term "motor hotel." He built the first motel — the Motel Inn — in San Luis Obispo, California. Though no longer used as a motel, some of the buildings of the original motel still stand as a landmark near California's Route 101.

  • The golf tee was patented. (1899) Dentist George Grant designed and patented the modern golf tee, which lifts a golf ball slightly off the ground. This additional height gives the golfer better control in his hit. Before the invention of the golf tee, golfers would often make a small mound of dirt or sand to serve as a tee.

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