On This Day in History: August 1

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

On this day in 1981, MTV, Music Television, goes on the air for the first time ever, with the words (spoken by one of MTV’s creators, John Lack): “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first music video to air on the new cable television channel, which initially was available only to households in parts of New Jersey. MTV went on to revolutionize the music industry and become an influential source of pop culture and entertainment in the United States and other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and Latin America, which all have MTV-branded channels.

In MTV’s early days, its programming consisted of basic music videos that were introduced by VJs (video jockeys) and provided for free by record companies. As the record industry recognized MTV’s value as a promotional vehicle, money was invested in making creative, cutting-edge videos. Some directors, including Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Three Kings) and Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), worked on music videos before segueing into feature films. In the 1980s, MTV was instrumental in promoting the careers of performers such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince and Duran Duran, whose videos played in heavy rotation.

 30 BC – Octavian (later known as Augustus) enters Alexandria, Egypt, bringing it under the control of the Roman Republic.

69 – Batavian rebellion: The Batavians in Germania Inferior (Netherlands) revolt under the leadership of Gaius Julius Civilis.

527 – Justinian I becomes the sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire.

607 – Ono no Imoko is dispatched as envoy to the Sui court in China (Traditional Japanese date: July 3, 607).

1203 – Isaac II Angelus, restored Eastern Roman Emperor, declares his son Alexius IV Angelus co-emperor after pressure from the forces of the Fourth Crusade.

1291 – The Swiss Confederation is formed with the signature of the Federal Charter.

1492 – Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile drive the Jews out of Spain.

1498 – Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to visit what is now Venezuela.

1619 – First African slaves arrive in Jamestown, Virginia.

1664 – The Ottoman Empire is defeated in the Battle of Saint Gotthard by an Austrian army led by Raimondo Montecuccoli, resulting in the Peace of Vasvar.

1798 – French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of the Nile (Battle of Aboukir Bay) – Battle begins when a British fleet engages the French Revolutionary Navy fleet in an unusual night action.

1800 – The Act of Union 1800 is passed in which merges the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

1820 – London’s Regent’s Canal opens.

1828 – Bolton and Leigh Railway opens to freight traffic.

1831 – A new London Bridge opens.

1832 – The Black Hawk War ends.

1834 – Slavery is abolished in the British Empire as the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force.

1838 – Non-labourer slaves in most of the British Empire are emancipated.

1840 – Labourer slaves in most of the British Empire are emancipated.

1876 – Colorado is admitted as the 38th U.S. state.

1894 – The First Sino-Japanese War erupts between Japan and China over Korea.

1902 – The United States buys the rights to the Panama Canal from France.

1907 – Start of First Scout camp on Brownsea Island.

1914 – Germany declares war on Russia at the opening of World War I. The Swiss Army mobilises because of World War I

1927 – The Nanchang Uprising marks the first significant battle in the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang and Communist Party of China. This day is commemorated as the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.

1937 – Tito reads the resolution “Manifesto of constitutional congress of KPH” to the constitutive congress of KPH (Croatian Communist Party) in woods near Samobor.

1941 – The first Jeep is produced.

1944 – Anne Frank makes the last entry in her diary.

1944 – Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupation breaks out in Warsaw, Poland.

1948 – The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations is founded.

1957 – The United States and Canada form the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).

1960 – Islamabad declared as the federal capital of the Government of Pakistan.

1964 – The Belgian Congo is renamed the Republic of the Congo.

1966 – Purges of intellectuals and imperialists becomes official People’s Republic of China policy at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

1967 – Israel annexes East Jerusalem.

1977 – Former Lockheed U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers crashes the news helicopter he is flying in Los Angeles

1981 – MTV begins broadcasting in the United States and airs its first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles.

1995 – The first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

1996 – Michael Johnson breaks the 200m world record by 0.30 seconds with a time of 19.32 seconds at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

2001 – An agreement is reached on the position of the minority Albanian language in the Republic of Macedonia.

2001 – Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Malta, Slovenia and Slovakia join the European Environment Agency.

2001 – Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has a Ten Commandments monument installed in the judiciary building, leading to a lawsuit to have it removed and his own removal from office.

2007 – The I-35W Mississippi River Bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapses during the evening rush hour.


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  1. Dalai Lama

    Human beings are social creatures, and a concern for each other is the very basis of our life together.

  2. There are so many things to comment on related to those items.  First, I couldn’t shake the ominous feeling I had when reading the first few items related to the Roman Empire, and yet again, an article I read by Digby this week popped into my mind.  It’s been on my mind for days:

    How Afghanistan Will Mar Obama’s Legacy

    It’s a really strong statement — one that, no doubt, some will call hysterical or hyperbolic.  But my intuition tells me that there is nothing extreme about that article.  It is our reality.  And we’ve still got a chance to change that reality, I believe.  But there are no signs from our leadership that they will make the needed corrections.

    On a lighter note, isn’t it really, really bizarre that MTV no longer has a music video format?  I don’t even put MTV on my TV screen anymore because I think reality shows are an insult to our intelligence, so I’m not sure of this but from what I’ve heard, the Music TV station doesn’t really have music as part of its programming at all, other than awards shows.  I just think that’s really weird.

    It’s weird but it’s not all that unusual, apparently.  I used to like the History channel too.  I was selective, knowing that their ownership was right-wing, but even so, they used to have some really good programming and the channel was, you know, about history.  Now there are all kinds of crazy ass programs on that channel that really don’t have anything to do with history.  And the same goes for the Discovery channel.

    Last night I discovered that another of the themed cable channels has broken out of its stated genre.  AMC, the movie classics channel, is making original series shows.  I’d heard about “Mad Men” before but I guess I missed the boat on that show, and I definitely didn’t know it was on the movie classics channel.  Now they are starting a new series, “Rubicon”, tomorrow, that I am considering watching.

    Weird though.

    Hope everyone is having a pleasant weekend.

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