This Day in History

Pac-Man Arcade Game Released (1980)
First released in Japan in 1980, Pac-Man went on to become one of the most famous arcade games of all time. Developed by Namco video game designer Toru Iwatani, the game became an icon of 80s pop culture and is often credited with being a landmark in video game history. For the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man in 2010, Google turned its homepage logo into a fully playable version of the game. How much productivity did businesses reportedly lose from employees playing the game? Discuss

Island of Saint Helena Discovered (1502)
The uninhabited island of St. Helena was discovered by Portuguese navigator João da Nova in the eastern South Atlantic, 1,200 mi (1,931 km) west of Africa. It became a port of call for ships sailing between Europe and the East Indies and was annexed by the British East India Company in 1659. Because of the island's remoteness, when the British exiled Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815, he was sent there. It became a British crown colony in 1834, but its importance declined after what was opened in 1869?

Shake-Speares Sonnets First Published (1609)
Shakespeare penned 154 sonnets in his lifetime. Likely written sometime in the 1590s, the majority of the poems were first published in a 1609 work titled Shake-Speares Sonnets. The first 126 of the 154 sonnets are addressed to a young man whose identity has long intrigued scholars. The publisher, Thomas Thorpe, wrote a dedication to the first edition in which he claimed that a person with the initials WH had inspired the sonnets. What are some theories about who the man might have been?

Today

Richard Wagner (1813)
Wagner was a German composer whose astonishing works made him one of the most influential figures in the history of Western music. He revolutionized the 19th-century idea of opera, seeing it as a wholly new art form in which musical, poetic, and scenic elements should come together through such devices as the leitmotif—a recurring melodic phrase used to illustrate a character or idea. His operas include Tristan and Isolde, as well as his masterpiece, a four-opera cycle known as what? Discuss

Elizabeth Fry (1780)
Fry was an English prison reformer as well as an advocate of higher nursing standards and the education of working women. From 1813, she worked untiringly to improve the conditions for women in Newgate prison, advocating separation of the sexes, employment, and religious training. Her successful methods at Newgate impressed the government and were tried in other prisons. She also helped the homeless, founding soup kitchens and shelters in London. On what unit of currency is Fry pictured?

Dolley Madison (1768)
Dolley Madison was the wife of US President James Madison, whom she married in 1794, after the death of her first husband. Noted for her magnificence as a hostess as well as for her charm, Dolley was an extremely popular first lady and was a great asset to Madison's political career. During the War of 1812, she saved many state papers and a portrait of George Washington from the advancing British soldiers. Why did she perform the duties of the first lady during Thomas Jefferson's administration?