On April 12…

1633 – Physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei was convicted of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church.


1799 – Phineas Pratt patented the comb cutting machine, a “machine for making combs.”

1833 – Charles Gaylor of New York City patented the fireproof safe.

1861 – The Civil War began when Confederate soldiers opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay.


1892 – Voters in Lockport, NY became the first in the U.S. to use voting machines.


1945 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia.  First-term Vice-President Harry S. Truman became President.


1955 – The polio vaccine of Dr. Jonas Salk was termed “safe, effective and potent” by the University of Michigan Polio Vaccine Evaluation Center.

1975 – The U.S. Navy evacuated the U.S. embassy staff in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as Khmer Rouge forces approached.

1981 – The space shuttle Columbia was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, becoming the first reusable manned craft to travel into space.


1984 – Challenger astronauts made the first satellite repair in orbit by returning a healthy Solar Max satellite to space.  The satellite had been circling the Earth for three years with all circuits dead before repairs were made.

1985 – Federal inspectors declared that four animals of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus were not unicorns, as the circus said, but goats with horns which had been surgically implanted.  The circus was ordered to quit advertising the fake unicorns as anything else but goats.


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