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25 Things Turning 25 in 2017

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If you were born in 1992, you're in good company! Here's our annual list celebrating 25 things (people, companies, movies, books, etc.) turning 25 this year.

1. WAYNE'S WORLD

On February 14, Wayne's World graduated from Saturday Night Live sketch to feature film. No way?! Way!! Featuring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey and directed by Penelope Spheeris, it was a landmark comedy that both reflected and affected '90s pop culture. It single-handedly revived Queen's song "Bohemian Rhapsody," introduced the world to the intellectualism of Alice Cooper, and convinced teens that public-access TV was worthwhile after all. As a pair of wise men once said: "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!"

2. THE FIRST TEXT MESSAGE

On December 3, 1992, 22-year-old engineer Neil Papworth sent the first text message over a cellular network. He used a computer connected to the Vodafone GSM network to send the message to Vodafone director Richard Jarvis's Orbitel 901 mobile phone (which was gigantic, but technically "mobile" by 1992 standards). The message read: "Merry Christmas." Why the early Christmas greeting? Jarvis was at a Christmas party at the time.

3. BARNEY & FRIENDS

To the immense frustration of adults and delight of toddlers, the purple dinosaur Barney appeared on PBS on April 6. Barney & Friends was initially envisioned four years earlier as a direct-to-video series called Barney & The Backyard Gang created by Sheryl Leach, a Dallas elementary school teacher who wanted to create toddler-appropriate programming for her kids. (She noted that most programming for kids assumed too long an attention span, which led to the simplistic bits featured on Barney.)

If you missed this moment in television history, let's catch you up. Barney is a giant purple Tyrannosaurus rex made of cloth, who likes to sing and dance. He is utterly non-threatening, essentially a scaled-up version of a plush dinosaur toy. When a People Magazine article called the lyrics to Barney's songs "stupid," an era of Barney-bashing began. Toddlers didn't care one bit, and clamored for Barney merchandise, as an actor in a six-foot tall Barney costume embarked on a mall tour in December.

4. MALL OF AMERICA

On August 11, the Mall of America—the largest mall in the United States—opened in Bloomington, Minnesota. This was just one of many projects enacted by Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich, who created a World Trade Center in St. Paul, received a visit from Mikhail Gorbachev, and brought the Super Bowl to the Twin Cities in 1992.

The Mall of America was indeed the largest in the U.S., covering approximately 2.7 million square feet, though it was actually smaller than the Edmonton Mall in Canada. U.S. visitors didn't mind, as Minnesota's Mall contained, as the Los Angeles Times reported:

... the nation's largest indoor amusement park, the world's largest parking ramp, the world's largest indoor planting of live shrubs, the world's largest indoor miniature golf course, and arguably the world's largest concentration of Tivoli lights.

Asked about the Mall, humorist Garrison Keillor joked:

"Minnesota is where the shopping mall was invented, so it's natural that the biggest one should be there ... but some people disappear in them and never come out, thousands in Minnesota alone, and the Mall of America is going to triple the toll.

... Fifteen thousand shoppers will vanish in the next year, never to bring their purchases home, and the terrible tragedy is that they will not be particularly missed. Their families will simply order duplicate credit cards and go on without them."

The Mall eventually included 400 stores, 14 movie theaters, seven restaurants, five nightclubs, and 31,000 live trees and shrubs.

5. CARTOON NETWORK

On October 1, the first 24-hour channel devoted to cartoons debuted, courtesy of the Turner Broadcasting System. The channel was based in part on TBS's purchase of Hanna-Barbera and its back catalog, which contained roughly 1500 hours of animated content spread across 350 TV series and movies.

Jeffry Scott of the Cox News Service reported:

In a private ceremony Thursday, [Ted] Turner himself will launch the channel with a push of an Acme dynamite plunger on the front lawn of Turner Broadcasting System Inc.’s facility on Techwood Drive [in Atlanta].

The plunger will spark a fuse, which will explode a barrel of colored chicken feathers and confetti. Then, on a huge TV screen will pop the picture: a cartoon character named Droopy Dog introducing the world to Turner’s new "cartoon universe."

6. WOLFENSTEIN 3D

On May 5, the landmark game Wolfenstein 3D brought stunning first-person shooter graphics to DOS PCs. Developed by id Software, the game had a WWII theme, and you played as Allied spy B.J. Blazkowicz on a series of anti-Nazi missions. It was violent, it was technologically advanced, and it was a massive hit.

Considered the "grandfather of 3D shooters," Wolfenstein 3D was followed up quickly by Doom, which led to an explosion of first-person shooter games. Wolfenstein 3D was also hugely influential in proving the viability of shareware publishing, as the best-selling shareware of 1992.

You can play Wolfenstein 3D online for free using most modern desktop browsers.

7. THE DREAM TEAM

From July 25 to August 9, the 1992 Summer Olympic Games were held in Barcelona. They're best known—to American audiences, anyway—for the performance of the U.S. men's basketball team, which was the first to include current NBA players. We called it the "Dream Team."

The Dream Team featured an all-star lineup of 11 NBA players: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin. There was also a twelfth member, college player Christian Laettner (who would go on to the NBA). Their goal was to bring home a Gold Medal, and they crushed it.

They won all eight of their Barcelona games, with an average lead of 44 points. Interestingly, although the Dream Team did a great job, the 1956 U.S. team exceeded their performance, with an average of +56 points per game. Still, the Dream Team is often considered the best team ever assembled in any sport.

8. DR. DRE'S THE CHRONIC

Dr. Dre released his first solo album on December 15. It was a masterpiece of hip-hop production, and it was Dre's first appearance outside of N.W.A. The Chronic included tons of appearances by Snoop Dogg, kickstarting his career.

1992 was a huge year for ex-N.W.A. members releasing solo albums. In that same year, Ice Cube released The Predator, Eazy-E released 5150: Home 4 tha Sick, and MC Ren released Kizz My Black Azz. (D.O.C. was also involved with The Chronic.)

9. THE USDA FOOD PYRAMID

The USDA released its first Food Guide Pyramid in 1992. This guide was just the latest in a long series of food guidance offered by the USDA [PDF], but it was the first to take a pyramid shape. (The USDA based its design initially on Sweden's food pyramid, though the contents differed.)

Based on a broad platform of "Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta," the guide's visual design was informed by consumer research [PDF], which compared (among other things) a "bowl" shape divided into segments versus the pyramid design. The research read, in part:

... the differences between the pyramid and the bowl in communicating the proportionality and moderation concepts were large and highly significant (p<.001). Higher scores for the pyramid were consistent across all the subpopulations examined, including those for whom concern was greatest—children and individuals on food assistance programs.

In 2005, the USDA switched to what it called "MyPyramid," and in 2011 ditched the whole pyramid thing in favor of "MyPlate." The Food Pyramid's guidance remains controversial.

10. EURO DISNEY

On April 12, Euro Disney opened in Paris. French citizens weren't too enthused, seeing it as an invasion of American commercialism. (Disney CEO Michael Eisner was hit with eggs and presented with "Mickey, Go Home!" protest signs when he appeared at the Paris stock exchange.) Americans weren't particularly keen either, already having world-class Disney parks at home. Visitors couldn't even drink wine in the park when it first opened. French commentators called it a "cultural Chernobyl."

The park was eventually renamed Disneyland Paris, and became the most-visited tourist attraction in Europe. In 2015 it attracted more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower combined. Unfortunately, this visitor traffic has not led to profit, and the park has faced financial troubles over the decades.

11. SUPER MARIO KART

Super Mario Kart started the Mario Kart racing game franchise on August 27, when it debuted in Japan. (It was released on September 1 in the U.S.) It boasted a multiplayer split-screen mode as well as excellent graphics (at least for a Super Nintendo game). Super Mario Kart went on to sell more than eight million cartridges and spawned many sequels.

12. IBM THINKPAD

IBM debuted its first ThinkPad laptop on October 5, 1992. Its name was inspired by an old line of IBM paper notepads that bore the slogan "Think." Although IBM introduced three sleek black ThinkPad models, the ThinkPad 700c was the star. It featured a 10.4-inch color screen, integrated TrackPoint pointing device (that little red nubbin in the middle of the keyboard), and a beefy 486 CPU. It was truly a powerful computer for its era, and at just 7.6 pounds, it was considered very portable. Of course, its $4350 price tag was a problem, but there were cheaper options (with monochrome displays) in the lineup.

Today the ThinkPad is manufactured by Lenovo, but its design and build quality are still reminiscent of that original 700C—minus most of the weight.

13. THE JPEG FILE FORMAT

In 1982, researchers began working on a computer file format that would store photographic data. The goal was to compress images so that photographs would be small, making them easy to download over low-bandwidth connections, and easy to store on small storage devices. The Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) formed in 1986 to develop the compression standard.

On September 18, the first JPEG standard was published, and the rest is computer history. The JPEG's ability to handle photographs (and other kinds of detailed imagery) while tossing out extraneous data makes it similar to the MP3 format for sound. Throughout the 1990s, JPEG joined file formats like GIF as the basis for web pages, and you're still looking at JPEGs on this website today!

14. THE NICOTINE PATCH

In 1992, the first prescription nicotine patch reached the market—four years later, it became available over-the-counter. The patch was developed by Dr. Murray E. Jarvik, a UCLA pharmacologist (and nonsmoker) who figured that delivering nicotine to smokers via a skin patch could curb their cravings, helping them to quit smoking.

Jarvik had a long history working with nicotine; in the 1960s he taught monkeys to smoke cigarettes and established that nicotine was the addictive ingredient. That discovery led to nicotine gum and eventually the transdermal patch.

15. THE ELVIS STAMP VOTE

Starting on April 13, pre-addressed ballots appeared at post offices around the U.S. They allowed the public to vote on two proposed designs for a stamp bearing the image of Elvis Presley. The key question: Should we show young Elvis or old Elvis? (Ahem, "mature" Elvis, with sequined white jumpsuit.) People Magazine ran a full-page ad asking the public to "Decide which Elvis is King." The vote ended on April 24, so there was a frenzy to acquire these ballots and make votes in the minimal time they were available.

The vote was a matter of public debate, with designs created by artists Mark Stutzman and John Berkey. (These were the finalists after eight artists submitted 60 sketches to the U.S. Postal Service.) More than 1.2 million ballots were cast, with roughly 75 percent of them selecting Stutzman's "young Elvis" painting.

The Elvis stamp itself was released on January 8, 1993—on what would have been Elvis's 58th birthday.

16. THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

The Muppet Christmas Carol sleighed into theaters on December 11, 1992. An adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic, the film starred Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, along with the classic Muppet characters. (Kermit played Bob Cratchit and Gonzo played Charles Dickens himself, as the narrator.) It was the first Muppet movie made without Jim Henson.

The film was directed by Brian Henson, Jim's son. Jim had died on May 16, 1990, so Kermit was played by Steve Whitmire. Longtime Muppet puppeteer Richard Hunt died on January 7, 1992 before production began, and his characters (including Statler, Beaker, and Janice) were handled by other performers. The film was dedicated to the memory of the two men.

17. THE FREDDIE MERCURY TRIBUTE CONCERT FOR AIDS AWARENESS

Freddie Mercury died on November 24, 1991, aged 45. He was the first rock star to die from AIDS complications, and the remaining members of the band Queen organized a concert to promote AIDS awareness.

The tribute concert was held at London's Wembley Stadium on April 20, 1992. It featured a star-studded lineup including David Bowie, George Michael, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Elton John, Metallica, Annie Lennox, Guns N' Roses, Seal, and U2. It was broadcast live to an international TV audience.

If you haven't seen the concert, head over to YouTube. It's fantastic. (The entire three-hour concert is also available for rent on various online services.)

18. GUNS N' ROSES'S EPIC "NOVEMBER RAIN" MUSIC VIDEO

"November Rain" is one of Guns N' Roses's longest songs, clocking in just shy of nine minutes. A lot of that is extended guitar solos and orchestral segments. To go with the song, the band put together an epic music video which, somehow, has more than 700 million views on YouTube.

Directed by Andy Morahan (who also directed such masterpieces as George Michael's "Faith"), the video featured model Stephanie Seymour—then Axl Rose's girlfriend—as his wife. The video cost more than $1.5 million to make (at the time, the highest-budget music video ever). A big chunk of that budget was devoted to building a chapel in the desert so Slash could wail in front of it while a helicopter zoomed by.

The video is famously complex, so much so that in 2014 Slash admitted that he had "no idea" what it meant. He commented, in part, "I knew there was a wedding in there somewhere and I was not into the concept of the wedding."

19. THE BODYGUARD AND ITS RECORD-BREAKING SOUNDTRACK

On November 25, The Bodyguard—starring Kevin Costner as the titular bodyguard and Whitney Houston as the pop star he's protecting—graced theaters. It was Houston's first film role, and it was a massive box office hit.

But more important than the movie was its soundtrack: Houston's iconic cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" was the standout hit, and the soundtrack was a blockbuster, currently ranked the 16th bestselling record of all time, and it is the number one bestselling soundtrack.

At one point in 1993, the soundtrack held five simultaneous number one positions on the Billboard charts. Now that's a hit record.

20. JAY LENO'S HOSTING GIG ON THE TONIGHT SHOW

On May 22, 1992, Johnny Carson finished his run as host of The Tonight Show on NBC. On May 25, Jay Leno became the new host, and Billy Crystal was his first guest. Branford Marsalis led The Tonight Show band, and Ed Hall was the new announcer. After Billy Crystal on that first episode, the guests were performer Shanice Wilson and Robert Krulwich (later co-host of Radiolab).

Leno was the fourth host of the show. Steve Allen was first, followed by Jack Paar, then Johnny Carson's incredible three-decade run. Leno hosted from 1992-2014 (with a brief interruption where Conan O'Brien had the gig from 2009-2010). After Leno's retirement in 2014, Jimmy Fallon took the hosting job and remains there today.

21. JOHN BOYEGA, DAISY RIDLEY, MILEY CYRUS, NICK JONAS ...

In a surprising turn, Star Wars: The Force Awakens costars John Boyega and Daisy Ridley were both born in 1992. The Force is strong with this year. Here's a rundown of some famous birth dates:

Taylor Lautner - February 11

John Boyega - March 17

Daisy Ridley - April 10

Kate Upton - June 10

Selena Gomez - July 22

Demi Lovato - August 20

Nick Jonas - September 16

Miley Cyrus - November 23

22. THE INNOCENCE PROJECT

In 1992, lawyers Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck founded The Innocence Project. The organization's mission is to exonerate wrongfully convicted (innocent) people and reform the criminal justice system that convicted them in the first place. One of their key tools is DNA analysis, which sometimes was not available at the time of conviction.

To date, The Innocence Project has been involved with hundreds of exonerations, including cases in which they have helped find the actual perpetrator.

23. WEEZER, WU-TANG CLAN, BLINK-182...

1992 was an incredible year for alternative and hip-hop bands. Here's a partial list of bands formed that year:

Blink-182 (initially as "Blink")

Built to Spill

Bush

Collective Soul

Digable Planets

Elastica

Tha Dogg Pound

Hanson (initially as "The Hanson Brothers")

Harvey Danger

Jamiroquai

Less Than Jake

Nada Surf

Porno for Pyros

Seven Mary Three

Silverchair

Soul Coughing

Sunny Day Real Estate

Weezer

Wu-Tang Clan

24. DUTCH BROS. COFFEE

In 1992, brothers Dane and Travis Boersma opened the first Dutch Bros. Coffee location in Grants Pass, Oregon. The brothers were of Dutch descent, hence the company's name. They were former dairy farmers, trying their hand at a new business. They proceeded immediately on their mission of "Roastin' and Rockin'," then proceeded to spread across the country to more than 260 locations that continue "spreading the Dutch Luv" [sic].

25. JOINT DECLARATION ENDING COLD WAR

On February 1, U.S. President George H.W. Bush met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin at Camp David. The two issued a join declaration formally ending the Cold War, and declaring a new era of "friendship and partnership" between the two nations.

At the announcement, Yeltsin said, in part:

"Today one might say that there has been written and drawn a new line, and crossed out all of the things that have been associated with the Cold War.

From now on we do not consider ourselves to be potential enemies, as it had been previously in our military doctrine. This is the historic value of this meeting. And another very important factor in our relationship, right away today, it's already been pointed out that in the future there'll be full frankness, full openness, full honesty in our relationship."

The Joint Declaration promised all sorts of great stuff, including reducing strategic arsenals, promoting free trade, and promoting "respect for human rights." You can read the whole declaration for a taste of what the future looked like in 1992.

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entertainment
15 Things You May Not Know About Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

We are not alone. Here are a few facts about Steven Spielberg’s 1977 UFO classic, on its 40th anniversary.

1. IT WAS INITIALLY A VERY DIFFERENT FILM.

Spielberg’s initial story outline involved UFOs and shady government dealings following the Watergate scandal, which became a script entitled “Watch the Skies.” The idea involved a police or military officer working on Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s official study into UFOs in the 1950s and 1960s, who would become the whistleblower on the government cover-up of aliens. There were numerous rewrites—Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader even took a crack at it, penning a political UFO thriller titled “Kingdom Come” that Spielberg and the movie studio rejected—before the story we know today emerged.

2. IT’S NAMED AFTER LEGITIMATE UFO RESEARCH.


Columbia Pictures

Spielberg partly based his idea on the research of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a civilian scientific advisor to Project Blue Book who eventually admitted that 11 percent of the study’s findings about unidentified flying objects could not be explained using science.

The title (which is never specifically explained in the movie) is actually derived from Hynek’s own alien close encounter classification system: A close encounter of the first kind is sighting of a UFO; the second kind is physical evidence to prove the existence of an alien; and the third kind is actual contact with alien life forms.

3. THERE’S A CAMEO FROM THE GODFATHER OF UFO RESEARCH.

Hynek, who also served as a technical advisor on the movie, makes an uncredited cameo in the final scene of the movie. You can spot him pretty easily—he’s the goateed man smoking a pipe and wearing a powder blue suit who pushes through the crowd of scientists to get a better look at the aliens.

4. NOBODY WANTED THE STARRING ROLE.

Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Columbia Pictures

The director first offered the part of Roy Neary to actor Steve McQueen, who turned it down because he said he couldn’t cry on cue, something he saw as essential to the character. Spielberg then went to Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, and James Caan who all turned him down as well before asking his friend Richard Dreyfuss, who previously worked with Spielberg on Jaws, to take the part.

5. BUT IT WASN'T THE MOST DIFFICULT ROLE TO CAST.

Spielberg approached French actors like Lino Ventura, Yves Montand, and Jean-Louis Trintignant to play Claude Lacombe—who was based on famous UFO researcher Jacques Vallée—before settling on director and sometimes-actor François Truffaut. The initially skeptical Truffaut, who was nervous about appearing in a big budget Hollywood movie, accepted the role because he wanted to compile research for a book about acting (he never did write the book).

6. MERYL STREEP COULD HAVE PLAYED ROY'S WIFE.

Many actresses—including a then-unknown Yale Drama School grad named Meryl Streep—auditioned for the part of Roy’s wife Ronnie, but he ultimately cast actress Teri Garr because he saw her in a coffee commercial and loved the way she was able to convey a wide range of emotions in a 30-second clip.

7. THEY SHOT IN A DISUSED AIR FORCE HANGAR.


Columbia Pictures

Spielberg wanted to shoot in real suburban locations rather than studio backlots, but the production had trouble finding locations. The biggest question: Where could Spielberg shoot the climactic canyon sequence with the mothership?

The production looked for huge indoor enclosures that would allow for the massive scale of the scene, though they only found ones with center support dividers that spoiled the openness Spielberg wanted for the UFO runway. The only location producers found without center dividers was a 300 foot by 300 foot disused hangar that had been used for dirigibles during World War II at Brookley Air Force base in Mobile, Alabama.

8. THE TEAM BOUGHT A HOUSE FOR THE PRODUCTION—AND SOLD IT FOR A PROFIT.

The Nearys' house, which is located at 1613 Carlisle Drive East in Mobile, was actually purchased by the production for $35,000 so they could do whatever they wanted with the interiors. It was later sold for $50,000 after production wrapped, netting a $15,000 surplus that went back into the film’s budget.

9. THE MEMORABLE 5-NOTE TONES TOOK A LONG TIME TO FIGURE OUT

Composer John Williams worked with Spielberg to come up with the movie’s distinct five-note musical method of communication between humans and aliens—which Spielberg partly based on the Solfège system of musical education—a year before shooting began.

Williams initially wanted a seven-note sequence, but it was too long for the simple musical “greeting” Spielberg wanted. The composer enlisted a mathematician to calculate the number of five-note combinations they could potentially make from a 12-note scale. When that number proved to be somewhere upwards of 134,000 combinations, Williams created 100 distinct versions, and they simply whittled the combinations down one by one until they had a winner.

10. SPIELBERG USED TRICKS TO GET THE PERFORMANCE OUT OF HIS CHILD ACTOR.


Columbia Pictures

Cary Guffey, who plays little Barry Guiler, had never acted before, so Spielberg set up ways to coax a performance out of the 3-year-old. To get a shot of Guffey reacting to the aliens first approaching the Guiler house, Spielberg slowly unwrapped a present for the young actor just off camera, making him smile. Guffey even exclaims “Toys! Toys!” in the final take.

To get the boy to react to the aliens offscreen, Spielberg had Guffey walk up to his mark where—unbeknownst to the little actor—two crewmembers were dressed as a gorilla and a clown standing behind cardboard blinds. When Guffey entered the kitchen, Spielberg dropped the first blind revealing the clown to scare him, and then dropped the other blind to reveal the gorilla, which scared him even more. The gorilla then took off his mask, revealing the film’s makeup man, Bob Westmoreland, who Guffey recognized, causing him to laugh and smile in the final take.

11. THE MOVIE NEARLY FEATURED VERY EARLY CGI.

Spielberg originally toyed with the idea of using computer generated images to create the aliens and their ships, even going so far as to have animator Colin Cantwell create a CGI test of three UFOs floating over a stadium. The single-shot test, which took three weeks to complete and was one of the first computer generated images ever created for a film, proved to be unfeasible for the whole movie—so the idea was dropped.

12. THERE WERE SOME UNORTHODOX IDEAS FOR CREATING THE ALIENS.

Spielberg wanted the aliens to be non-human beings that glided instead of walked, and he had a weird idea to pull it off: An orangutan dressed in a specially-made suit. For a screen test, the production team outfitted an orangutan in grey spandex and strapped it into roller skates. The orangutan immediately took off the skates and crawled to its owner, so a full test couldn’t be completed, and the team scrapped the idea. The majority of the small aliens in the final movie were played by local elementary school girls from Mobile in specially made grey suits and masks who were heavily backlit to create the final alien silhouette effect.

13. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS FEATURES A PRECURSOR TO E.T.


Columbia Pictures

To create the alien who bids farewell using the musical hand signals at the end of the film, Spielberg enlisted the help of Italian special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, who designed a fully articulated steel, aluminum, and fiberglass animatronic puppet that Spielberg nicknamed “Puck.” Puck’s expressions were based on photos of Guffey. The puppet was operated by a crew of seven puppeteers, with Spielberg himself controlling the final articulation before the alien leaves to go to the mothership.

Puck would help inspire E.T. after Spielberg asked himself, “What if this little guy didn’t get back on the mothership?” Rambaldi would also go on to design the character of E.T.

14. SPIELBERG BET AGAINST HIS OWN MOVIE—AND REALLY CASHED IN.

Spielberg and his buddy George Lucas both had new movies coming out in 1977; Lucas’s was a little movie called Star Wars. Lucas thought his ramshackle space movie wouldn’t make back its budget, and he knew his friend’s new movie would break box office records just like Jaws had done, so he offered Spielberg a friendly wager. Both agreed to give the other 2.5 percent of the profits of their respective films. Lucas grossly underestimated his movie, which went on to become the second highest grossing movie of all time if adjusted for inflation (in comparison, Close Encounters is #71). The difference ended up being $40 million.

15. SPIELBERG DIDN'T LIKE THE VERSION THAT WAS INITIALLY RELEASED.

Spielberg wanted to release Close Encounters in the summer of 1978, which would have given him ample time to edit the film and finish its special effects—but Columbia Pictures, which was going through major financial troubles, insisted he have it ready for a November 1977 release, leaving the director with a final cut on a movie he didn’t feel was completely ready. 

Three years later, the company allowed Spielberg to “finish” the movie under one condition: That he show the inside of the mothership, which would give the studio’s marketing department an angle to sell this new version. The director capitulated, adding new scenes and cutting others to create a “Special Edition.” The director was unhappy with the scene, though, and later cut it for the Collector's Edition home video release.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:Blu-ray special features; Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic FilmClose Encounters of the Third Kind Diary.

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Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library
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History
10 Treasures From the New York Academy of Medicine Library
A urine wheel from Fasciculus Medicinae
A urine wheel from Fasciculus Medicinae
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Tucked away on a side street near Central Park, the New York Academy of Medicine Library is one of the most significant historical medical libraries in the world. Open to the public by appointment since the 19th century, its collection includes 550,000 volumes on subjects ranging from ancient brain surgery to women's medical colleges to George Washington's dentures. A few weeks ago, Mental Floss visited to check out some of their most fascinating items connected to the study of anatomy. Whether it was urine wheels or early anatomy pop-up books, we weren't disappointed.

1. FASCICULUS MEDICINAE (1509)

The Fasciculus Medicinae is a compilation of Greek and Arabic texts first printed in Venice in 1491. While it covers a variety of topics including anatomy and gynecology, the book begins with the discipline considered most important for diagnosing all medical issues at the time: uroscopy (the study of urine). The NYAM Library's curator, Anne Garner, showed us the book's urine wheel, which once had the various flasks of urine colored in to help aid physicians in their diagnosis. Each position of the wheel corresponded to one of the four humors, whether it was phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine, or melancholic. The image on the left, Garner explains, "shows the exciting moment where a servant boy brings his flasks to be analyzed by a professor." Other notable images in the book include one historians like to call "Zodiac Man," showing how the parts of the body were governed by the planets, and "Wound Man," who has been struck by every conceivable weapon, and is accompanied by a text showing how to treat each type of injury. Last but not least, the book includes what's believed to be the first printed image of a dissection.

2. ANDREAS VESALIUS, DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA (1543)

Andreas Vesalius's Fabrica
Frontispiece of Andreas Vesalius's Fabrica
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Andreas Vesalius, born 1514, was one of the most important anatomists who ever lived. Thanks to him, we moved past an understanding of the human body based primarily on the dissection of animals and toward training that involved the direct dissection of human corpses. The Fabrica was written by Vesalius and published when he was a 28-year-old professor at the University of Padua. Its detailed woodcuts, the most accurate anatomical illustrations up to that point, influenced the depiction of anatomy for centuries to come. "After this book, anatomy divided up into pre-Vesalian and post-Vesalian," Garner says. You can see Vesalius himself in the book's frontispiece (he's the one pointing to the corpse and looking at the viewer). "Vesalius is trying to make a point that he himself is doing the dissection, he believes that to understand the body you have to open it up and look at it," Garner explains.

3. THOMAS GEMINUS, COMPENDIOSA (1559)

Flap anatomy from Thomas Geminus's Compendiosa
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

There was no copyright in the 16th century, and Vesalius's works were re-used by a variety of people for centuries. The first was in Flemish printer and engraver Thomas Geminus’s Compendiosa, which borrowed from several of Vesalius's works. The first edition was published in London just two years after the Fabrica. Alongside a beautiful dedication page made for Elizabeth I and inlaid with real gemstones, the book also includes an example of a "flap anatomy" or a fugitive leaf, which was printed separately with parts that could be cut out and attached to show the various layers of the human body, all the way down to the intestines. As usual for the time, the female is depicted as pregnant, and she holds a mirror that says "know thyself" in Latin.

4. WILLIAM COWPER, THE ANATOMY OF HUMANE BODIES (1698)

Illustration from William Cowper's The Anatomy of Humane Bodies
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

After Vesalius, there was little new in anatomy texts until the Dutch anatomist Govard Bidloo published his Anatomia humani corporis in 1685. The work was expensive and not much of a financial success, so Bidloo sold excess plates to the English anatomist William Cowper, who published the plates with an English text without crediting Bidloo (a number of angry exchanges between the two men followed). The copperplate engravings were drawn by Gérard de Lairesse, who Garner notes was "incredibly talented." But while the engravings are beautiful, they're not always anatomically correct, perhaps because the relationship between de Lairesse and Bidloo was fraught (Bidloo was generally a bit difficult). The skeleton shown above is depicted holding an hourglass, by then a classic of death iconography.

5. 17TH-CENTURY IVORY MANIKINS

17th Century Ivory Manikin
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

These exquisite figures are a bit of a mystery: It was originally thought that they were used in doctors’ offices to educate pregnant women about what was happening to their bodies, but because of their lack of detail, scholars now think they were more likely expensive collector's items displayed in cabinets of curiosity by wealthy male physicians. The arms of the manikins (the term for anatomical figures like this) lift up, allowing the viewer to take apart their removable hearts, intestines, and stomachs; the female figure also has a little baby inside her uterus. There are only about 100 of these left in the world, mostly made in Germany, and NYAM has seven.

6. BERNHARD SIEGFRIED ALBINUS, TABULAE SCELETI (1747)

Illustration from Bernhard Siegfried Albinus's Tabulae Sceleti
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

One of the best-known anatomists of the 18th century, the Dutch anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus went to medical school at age 12 and had a tenured position at the University of Leiden by the time he was 24. The Tabulae Sceleti was his signature work. The artist who worked on the text, Jan Wandelaar, had studied with Gérard de Lairesse, the artist who worked with Bidloo. Wandelaar and Albinus developed what Garner says was a bizarre method of suspending cadavers from the ceiling in the winter and comparing them to a (very cold and naked) living person lying on the floor in the same pose. Albinus also continued the dreamy, baroque funerary landscape of his predecessors, and his anatomy is "very, very accurate," according to Garner.

The atlas also features an appearance by Clara, a celebrity rhinoceros, who was posed with one of the skeletons. "When Albinus is asked why [he included a rhinoceros], he says, 'Oh, Clara is just another natural wonder of the world, she's this amazing creation,' but really we think Clara is there to sell more atlases because she was so popular," Garner says.

7. FERDINAND HEBRA, ATLAS DER HAUTKRANKHEITEN (1856–1876)

Circus performer Georg Constantin as depicted in Ferdinand Hebra's dermatological atlas
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

By the mid-19th century, dermatology had started to emerge as its own discipline, and the Vienna-based Ferdinand Hebra was a leading light in the field. He began publishing this dermatological atlas in 1856 (it appeared in 10 installments), featuring chromolithographs that showed different stages of skin diseases and other dermatological irregularities.

"While some of the images are very disturbing, they also tend to adhere to Victorian portrait conventions, with very ornate hair, and [subjects] looking off in the distance," Garner says. But one of the most famous images from the book has nothing to do with disease—it's a depiction of Georg Constantin, a well-known Albanian circus performer in his day, who was covered in 388 tattoos of animals, flowers, and other symbols. He travelled throughout Europe and North America, and was known as "Prince Constantine" during a spell with Barnum's Circus. (The image is also available from NYAM as a coloring sheet.)

8. KOICHI SHIBATA, OBSTETRICAL POCKET PHANTOM (1895)

19th century Obstetrical Pocket Phantom
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Obstetrical phantoms, often made of cloth, wood, or leather, were used to teach medical students about childbirth. This "pocket phantom" was originally published in Germany, and Garner explains that because it was made out of paper, it was much cheaper for medical students. The accompanying text, translated in Philadelphia, tells how to arrange the phantom and describes the potential difficulties of various positions.

9. ROBERT L. DICKINSON AND ABRAM BELSKIE, BIRTH ATLAS (1940)

Image from Robert Dickinson's Birth Atlas
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Robert Dickinson was a Brooklyn gynecologist, early birth control advocate, and active member of NYAM. His Birth Atlas is illustrated with incredibly lifelike terracotta models created by New Jersey sculptor Abram Belskie. The models were exhibited at the 1939 New York World's Fair, where they became incredibly popular, drawing around 700,000 people according to Garner. His depictions "are very beautiful and serene, and a totally different way of showing fetal development than anything that had come before," Garner notes.

10. RALPH H. SEGAL, THE BODYSCOPE (1948)

The Bodyscope
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

This midcentury cardboard anatomy guide contains male and female figures as well as rotating wheels, called volvelles, that can be turned to display details on different parts of the body as well as accompanying explanatory text. The Bodyscope is also decorated with images of notable medical men—and "wise" sayings about God's influence on the body.

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