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February 26

1966 NASA launched the AS-201 for the first time. It was the first unmanned test flight of an entire production Block I Apollo Command/Service Module and the Saturn IB launch vehicle. The suborbital flight was a partially successful demonstration of the service propulsion system and the reaction control systems of both modules, and successfully demonstrated the capability of the Command Module’s heat shield to survive re-entry from low Earth orbit.

1914 The HMHS Britannic was launched at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. She was the third and largest Olympic-class ocean liner of the White Star Line, and was intended to enter service as a transatlantic passenger liner. However, because of the First World War, she was laid up at her builders in Belfast for many months before being put to use as a hospital ship in 1915.

1909 A Kinemacolor motion picture was shown to the public for the first time, at the Palace Theater in London. Kinemacolor was the first successful color motion picture process, used commercially from 1908 to 1914. It was invented by George Albert Smith of Brighton, England in 1906.

1808 French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor Honoré Daumier was born in Marseilles. During his career, he produced over 500 paintings, 4000 lithographs, 1000 wood engravings, 1000 drawings, and 100 sculptures. He was perhaps best known for his caricatures of political figures and satires on the behavior of his countrymen.


1799 French engineer and physicist Benoît Paul Émile Clapeyron was born in Paris. He is considered to be one of the founders of the science of thermodynamics, the study of heat and its relation to other forms of energy and work. He also conducted extensive studies on the characterisation of perfect gases, the equilibrium of homogeneous solids, and calculations of the statics of continuous beams. His name is one of the 72 etched on the side of the Eiffel Tower, honoring French scientists, engineers and other notables.

1564 English dramatist and poet Christopher Marlowe was baptised in Canterbury. His exact date of birth is unknown, but it was likely a few days earlier. He was one of the foremost Elizabethan tragedians, along with his contemporary, William Shakespeare, and his plays were enormously successful, both commercially and artistically.

364 Valentinian I, also known as Valentinian The Great, became Emperor of Rome. During his reign, he fought successfully against several “barbarian” tribes, and was the last emperor to conduct campaigns across both the Rhine and Danube rivers. Due to the successful nature of his reign and almost immediate decline of the empire after his death, he is often considered the “last great western emperor”.

February 25

1933 The USS Ranger (CV-4) was officially launched. It was the first US Navy ship to be built solely as an aircraft carrier.

1841 French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges. He was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style, notable for his vibrant light and saturated color, most often focusing on people in intimate and candid compositions.

1837 American inventor Thomas Davenport patented the first practical electric motor (U. S. Patent No. 132) as “an application of magnetism and electro-magnetism to propelling machinery.”

1682 Italian anatomist Giovanni Battista Morgagni was born in Forlì. He is celebrated as the father of the modern anatomical pathology, and was the first to understand and to demonstrate the absolute necessity of basing diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment on an exact and comprehensive knowledge of anatomical conditions.

February 24

1924 American aircraft and helicopter pioneer Henry Berliner flew his prototype helicopter to a height of 15 feet, the best achievement at the time for a helicopter.

1871 Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, a book on evolutionary theory, was first published. In it, he wrote, “The sole object of this work is to consider, firstly, whether man, like every other species, is descended from some pre-existing form; secondly, the manner of his development; and thirdly, the value of the differences between the so-called races of man.”

1866 Russian physicist Pyotr Lebedev was born in Moscow. He is known for his experimental studies of electromagnetic waves, and was the first to measure the pressure of light on a solid body. The Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow and the lunar crater Lebedev are named after him.

1839 American inventor William Otis received a patent for the steam shovel, the earliest type of power shovel for moving rocks and dirt.

1709 French inventor Jacques de Vaucanson was born in Grenoble. He is credited with creating the world’s first true robots, as well as for creating the first completely automated loom.

February 23

1945 A group of United States Marines and a U.S. Navy Corpsman reached the top of Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima and were photographed raising the American flag.

1941 Plutonium was first chemically identified by Swedish-American scientist Glenn T. Seaborg at the University of California, Berkeley.

1909 The AEA Silver Dart was flown for the first time, marking the first controlled powered flight in Canada. The aircraft was built by a Canadian/U.S. team, and on its first flight it flew only half a mile, at an elevation from three to nine meters, and a speed of roughly 65 kilometres per hour (40 mph).

1455 Today is considered the traditional date for the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed from movable type. The book has iconic status as the book that marks the start of the “Gutenberg Revolution” and the age of the printed book.

February 22

1847 The Battle of Buena Vista, Mexican-American War: 4500 American troops, led by Major General Zachary Taylor and General John E. Wool, defeated an attack by 16,000 Mexicans.

1824 French astronomer Pierre Janssen was born in Paris. He, along with the English scientist Joseph Norman Lockyer, is credited with discovering helium.

1821 Adams–Onís Treaty: Spain sold Florida to the U.S. for 5 million U.S. dollars.

1788 German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Danzig. His life’s work was concerned with the concepts of human reason, will, motivation, and desire.

1632 Italian scientist Galileo Galilei published the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo). The book compared the Copernican system (the Earth and other planets orbit the Sun) with the traditional Ptolemaic system (everything in the Universe circles around the Earth).

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