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35 Things Turning 35 in 2017

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If you were born in 1982, you're in good company! Here's our annual list celebrating 35 things (people, companies, movies, books, etc.) turning 35 this year.

1. TIME NAMES "MACHINE OF THE YEAR": THE PERSONAL COMPUTER

Each year, TIME Magazine names one person who has been most influential in the news. For 1982, TIME picked the personal computer. It was the first time the magazine chose a non-human subject for the award, and it was a prescient pick. At the time, "personal computers" included a broad array of machines from the Commodore 64 (released in 1982) through the IBM PC to the Apple II. TIME wrote (emphasis added):

"It is easy enough to look at the world around us and conclude that the computer has not changed things all that drastically. But one can conclude from similar observations that the earth is flat, and that the sun circles it every 24 hours. Although everything seems much the same from one day to the next, changes under the surface of life's routines are actually occurring at almost unimaginable speed."

Thirty-five years later, it's clear that TIME's pick was spot on.

2. MICHAEL JACKSON'S THRILLER

Thriller defined pop music in the 1980s, and is the best-selling studio album in U.S. history. It came at a crucial time for pop music, spawning seven Hot 100 top 10 hits—and the album only contained nine tracks in total. The one to rule them all was the eponymous "Thriller," and its video (above) debuted late in 1983.

In 1982, it was not at all clear that a black artist could become the King of Pop. As Billboard reported:

"A seemingly impenetrable wall had been erected between the black listening audience and its white counterpart; for the most part, neither black kids nor white kids had any idea what the other was listening to. And just as it seemed things couldn't get more difficult for a black artist hoping for across the board appeal, something new and scary appeared on the scene: MTV."

Michael Jackson's Thriller is the record that bridged the divide. Released on November 30, it debuted at number 11 on the Billboard chart released on December 25, and over the following year slowly rose until it dominated the world. MTV initially refused to air videos from Thriller, but as the single "Billie Jean" gained radio popularity, MTV gave in and showed the video (and then "Beat It" and then "Thriller"). The rest is music history.

For more, check out 21 Thrilling Facts About Michael Jackson's Thriller.

3. LAWNCHAIR LARRY'S FLIGHT

On July 2, truck driver Larry Walters tied 42 helium-filled weather balloons to a Sears lawn chair, plopped his butt down in it, and took to the skies of California. He was armed with a pellet gun, an altimeter, and some snacks. He also brought a CB radio, but his glasses slipped off his face as he ascended in the chair dubbed Inspiration I.

Walters had wanted to be a pilot, but poor eyesight prevented him from achieving that pursuit. That didn't stop him from taking flight on his own. When his chair ascended, it went farther than he expected, soaring to 16,000 feet and freaking out two passing airplane pilots, one of whom thought he was holding a real gun.

Walters was packing heat in order to descend. He popped the balloons using the pellet gun, and the falling debris tangled with power lines, disrupting power to a neighborhood in Long Beach. He was arrested by the LAPD upon landing, fined $1500 by the FAA, and appeared on both The Tonight Show and Late Night With David Letterman, which also premiered in 1982.

"Lawnchair Larry" Walters flew from San Pedro, California, all the way to Long Beach. He told the Los Angeles Times: "I had this dream for 20 years, and if I hadn't done it, I would have ended up in the funny farm."

4. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

On May 6, 1983, a little musical debuted off-off-Broadway at the WPA Theater. It was called Little Shop of Horrors. By July the show moved to Orpheum Theater (off-Broadway), where it played 2209 times.

The show was quickly adapted in a 1986 feature film, which was a hit in its own right. The duo behind the songs—Alan Menken and Howard Ashman—went on to write songs for Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.

Lest we forget how far back this goes, the stage production was itself loosely based on Roger Corman's 1960 film The Little Shop of Horrors, which is delightfully available for free viewing on Wikipedia.

5. NEWMAN'S OWN

Actor Paul Newman had a recipe for salad dressing that spawned a philanthropic food empire. Newman and his writer friend A.E. Hotchner started by filling empty wine bottles with the salad dressing in 1980. The homemade dressing was so popular among friends that it was launched as a retail product in 1982.

Presented with a $300,000 profit in his first year, Newman decided to give all proceeds to charity, and the Newman's Own brand has continued to do that ever since. In 1983, they launched their first pasta sauce, and eventually moved on to make popcorn, salsa, and lemonade in the early years. Within its first decade of sales, Newman's Own had given more than $50 million to charity.

For more on the history of Newman's Own, check out Eddie Deezen's write-up at Neatorama.

6. E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (BOTH THE MOVIE AND THE GAME)

Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was released on June 11, and promptly smashed the box office record set by Star Wars, making it the highest-grossing film of all time (until Jurassic Park came along, anyway). It is the ultimate film about childhood alienation, and was inspired in part by Spielberg's feelings after his parents' divorce.

Another important E.T. development in 1982 was the Atari game, released just before Christmas. Its development was rushed in order to meet the holiday deadline, and the resulting game was a disappointment to many fans. Surplus E.T. cartridges (along with other Atari games) were infamously dumped in a New Mexico landfill and later partially excavated. If digging a copy out of the trash isn't your idea of fun, you can play the game online.

For more on the movie, check out 20 Things You Might Not Know About E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. For the game, we've got both The Legend of the Lost Atari E.T. Games and The Story Behind Atari's Infamous E.T. Video Game.

7. DAVID LETTERMAN ON LATE NIGHT

David Letterman made his late-night debut on Monday, February 1. NBC's Late Night With David Letterman was his first evening show, and his first guest was Bill Murray. While Letterman famously moved around among the big networks, his 33-year career included a reported 6028 total late-night broadcasts.

The first face to appear onscreen in Letterman's Late Night debut (and later Late Show) was Calvert DeForest, who played Larry "Bud" Melman. Letterman debuted his first Top Ten List on September of 1985. An early review by AP TV writer Fred Rothenberg included this very perceptive bit:

"The comic genius of Letterman is finding humor in the mundane and incongruous. On Tuesday night, he brought out Dr. Norman Hoffman for 'Limited Perspective,' a dentist’s view of the movie 'Reds.'

Dr. Hoffman said the actors’ teeth were not convincing as pre-Russian Revolution dentures. 'Pretty much ruined the film for you, huh?' wondered Letterman."

For more on Letterman's late night career, check out Top 10 Facts About The Early Days of Late Night With David Letterman, 11 of Bill Murray's Greatest Letterman Appearances, The David Letterman Show No One Watched, and 23 Things That David Letterman Invented.

8. DIET COKE

The Coca-Cola Company avoided mixing its Coke brand with non-sugar-sweetened drinks for decades. Although Tab and Diet Pepsi were released in the early 1960s, it wasn't until July 9, 1982 that Diet Coke was introduced to test markets. It rolled out nationwide in 1983.

Diet Coke was a complex drink, relying on an entirely new formula sweetened with aspartame. It bore little relationship (chemically, at least) with regular Coke, which was a risk. But it paid off, as Diet Coke became the best-selling low-calorie soft drink in the U.S. by the end of 1983. By 1984, Diet Coke was the third overall soft drink, behind only Coca-Cola and Pepsi. It stayed that way until 2010, when it displaced Pepsi in the #2 spot.

Diet Coke's launch slogan? "Just for the taste of it."

9. CHEERS

On September 30, NBC welcomed TV viewers into a Boston bar "Where everybody knows your name." That line, of course, came from the show's iconic theme song by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo.

The first season of Cheers was a ratings disaster, with the show ranking 77th out of 100 shows, according to Nielsen. But NBC liked the show and renewed it—which was a smart move, because it became a smash hit in later years. By the end of its 11-season run, it garnered 26 million viewers each week.

Cheers was a major influence for TV writers, helping inspire writers who created everything from Scrubs to Parks and Recreation. It also spawned the successful spin-off Frasier, which meant Kelsey Grammer played Frasier Crane for two decades.

For more Cheers joy, check out 30 Things You Might Not Know About Cheers.

(Another notable TV series that debuted in 1982 was Knight Rider. Unfortunately it doesn't get its own entry on this list!)

10. THE JARVIK-7 ARTIFICIAL HEART

On December 2, retired dentist Dr. Barney Clark became the first human to receive a permanent artificial heart. It was called the Jarvik-7 (after lead inventor Dr. Robert Jarvik), and was implanted by Dr. William DeVries. The heart required a 400-pound pneumatic compressor to support it, which meant Clark was hospital-bound for the remaining 112 days of his life.

Clark knew that his lifespan was limited, but the artificial heart was his only option—he wasn't healthy enough to be on the transplant list for a human heart. Prior to the Jarvik-7 surgery, doctors estimated that Clark only had a few weeks to live if no intervention was made. In his life with the artificial heart, he lived to celebrate his 39th anniversary with his wife, Una Loy. He died on March 23, 1983.

11. THE FIRST EMOTICON :)

On September 29, Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Scott Fahlman officially proposed the first emoticon. At 11:44 a.m., he posted this message to a bulletin board:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)

From: Scott E Fahlman

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:

:)

Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use:

:-(

The term "emoticon" came later, based on the words "emotion" and "icon." Fahlman wrote a detailed account of the emoticon, noting:

"Given the nature of the community, a good many of the posts were humorous (or attempted humor). The problem was that if someone made a sarcastic remark, a few readers would fail to get the joke, and each of them would post a lengthy diatribe in response. That would stir up more people with more responses, and soon the original thread of the discussion was buried. In at least one case, a humorous remark was interpreted by someone as a serious safety warning."

Good thing we solved that problem forever. :)

12. JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT ON BROADWAY

On January 27, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat debuted on Broadway, then ran at the Royale Theatre through September 4, 1983. Featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Tim Rice, the production was the culmination of work started by the duo way back in 1967. (Well, to be technical, their work was based on the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis.)

In 1967, Lloyd Webber and Rice (then aged 23 and 19) wrote a 15-minute version of Dreamcoat for an Easter concert at Lloyd Webber's younger brother's school. Over the years, they just kept adding to it, recording a concept album in 1969, and taking the show on the road for college performances in the early 1970s. By 1982 the show finally reached Broadway.

13. ADOBE SYSTEMS

In December, Chuck Geschke and John Warnock founded Adobe Systems, Incorporated. Their focus was on getting text and images to translate from computer screens to print reliably. By 1983, they debuted their "PostScript" technology, which enabled desktop publishing by codifying a common language for both printers and computer layouts. (Apple bought a 15-percent stake in the company in 1983 and promptly licensed PostScript, solidifying its place in the desktop publishing revolution with its as-yet-unreleased Macintosh.)

In later years, Adobe went on to create Adobe Photoshop, the PDF, Adobe Illustrator, and a pile of other important software applications for creative professionals.

14. USA TODAY

On September 15, USA Today first appeared on newsstands, to howls of protest from the old guard of the newspaper world. From the beginning, USA Today was a national paper, not pegged to a single local market like other newspaper mainstays—and that ended up being its strength.

The other core strength of USA Today was its "new journalism of hope," a phrase coined by founder Allen Neuharth. On its very first cover, it used the headline "Miracle: 327 survive, 55 die" to describe a horrific airplane crash. Truly a newspaper for the modern (TV-centric) era, it was filled with color, and quickly became a serious contender. As of September 2015, USA Today had the fifth-highest paid print circulation among U.S. newspapers.

15. THE CD PLAYER

On October 1, Sony released the first home CD player in Japan, dubbed the CDP-101. Sony also collaborated with CBS to issue 50 albums on CD, featuring everything from Michael Jackson's Off the Wall to Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra. The first CD released was Billy Joel's 52nd Street.

That first player cost more than $2200 in today's dollars, but it included the signature loading tray that virtually all CD players used afterwards. The whole endeavor was based largely on earlier laserdisc technology (which was still in use at the time to provide LP-sized movies to home cinema enthusiasts), but of course with a radically smaller size and an audio-only experience. Those early CDs cost around $35 in today's dollars.

It took years for CDs to overtake cassette tapes and vinyl LPs. Dire Straits's album Brothers in Arms, released in 1985, was the first album to sell one million copies in CD form.

16. THE FIRST PERSONAL COMPUTER VIRUS TO SPREAD FAR

The history of computing is full of self-replicating programs, making it hard to point to the very first computer virus. It comes down to how you define a virus, really. But for personal computer users, Rich Skrenta's "Elk Cloner" is the first computer virus in the wild. Skrenta was only 15 years old when he created it.

Elk Cloner installed itself on Apple II floppy disks and was originally designed as a prank. While distributing floppies containing games or other programs, Skrenta had previously inserted text messages of his own. When his friends didn't like that (and stopped trading with him), he wrote a clever self-replicating program to quietly spread his messages to floppies he never touched. By infecting the "boot sector" of a disk, Elk Cloner could insert itself into other floppies. It didn't do much, nor was it particularly malicious. As The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

"The prank, though annoying to victims, is relatively harmless compared with the viruses of today. Every 50th time someone booted an infected disk, a poem he wrote would appear, saying in part, 'It will get on all your disks; it will infiltrate your chips.'

Skrenta started circulating the virus in early 1982 among friends at his school and at a local computer club. Years later, he would continue to hear stories of other victims, including a sailor during the first Gulf War nearly a decade later. (Why that sailor was still using an Apple II, Skrenta does not know.)"

17. CIABATTA BREAD

Ciabatta bread was invented in July, 1982 by a baker in Adria, Italy (near Venice). Here's the situation: French baguettes had invaded the Italian sandwich industry, and something had to be done. Italian bakers toiled to create a new bread based on regional recipes.

Arnaldo Cavallari finally invented what he called Ciabatta Polesano, and the sandwich world was never the same. Cavallari told The Guardian:

"'I invented the new ciabatta,’ says Cavallari, loud and proud. ‘I used a very soft, wet dough, with a lot of water—very watery. It's the best bread, of course. All my breads are made with natural things, so it tastes good. I am touching the sky I am so happy that it is so good, that it has done so well everywhere. But when I had invented it, I looked at it and I thought, 'What can I call it?' Then I thought that it is similar to a slipper, so I thought 'ciabatta.' For copyright, I registered the name ciabatta along with Polesano, the name of the area where I work. In 1989, I registered the name 'Ciabatta Italian.' It's the best bread.’"

18. THE DARK CRYSTAL

When Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal graced theaters on December 17, it was a minor miracle. Full of creatures—the large ones requiring six people to operate them—the film was dark, weird, and beloved by fans.

Henson recruited longtime collaborator Frank Oz to direct the movie, and worked with illustrator Brian Froud to create the film's unique world. An early test screening revealed audience's complaints about the first cut: In the original edit, the Skeksis language was completely indecipherable, and it was that way on purpose. Henson and company figured that the audience could figure out what was going on by context clues. Forced into a corner by test audiences, the team proceeded to shoehorn new (intelligible) Skeksis dialogue, as well as some explanatory voiceovers to help audiences sort out what was happening. (A similar test screening/voiceover addition occurred with Blade Runner the same year.)

After the studio decided not to spend much promoting the film (in part because of lukewarm test screenings), Henson bet everything on The Dark Crystal. He spent $15 million of his own money to buy the film back from its studio, at the risk of going broke. Fortunately, the film brought in $40 million. Not a bad investment after all.

Also, good news! The Abandoned Dark Crystal Sequel Is Being Turned Into a Comic Book.

19. BLADE RUNNER

On June 25, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner hit theaters and began reverberating through pop culture—despite being a flop at the box office. Based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film features Harrison Ford in a dystopian future version of Los Angeles, hunting for rogue "replicants." It combined film noir with science fiction, and set the tone for later classics like The Matrix. It also had a corny tacked-on voiceover track to help audiences understand it ... which was later removed in the Director's Cut.

Fun fact: the terms "Blade Runner" and "replicant" never appeared in the original novel.

20. STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN

On June 4, audiences learned the signature cry of Captain James T. Kirk: "Khaaaaaaaan!" Bearing the tagline "At the end of the universe lies the beginning of vengeance," Star Trek II was a tale of revenge that actually began on the original Star Trek series in the 1967 episode "Space Seed."

Featuring a standout performance by Ricardo Montalbán and special effects by Industrial Light & Magic, Star Trek II made it clear that Trek could continue as a movie franchise. Just five years later, Star Trek: The Next Generation brought the franchise back to TV.

21. THE TOYOTA CAMRY (IN JAPAN)

Toyota introduced its Camry line on March 24. It was designed to be a classy medium-sized car featuring a fuel-efficient FF design (Front-engine Front-drive). The Camry existed to fill out Toyota's lineup of economical cars, including the Tercel and Celica. The name "Camry" was based on the Japanese kanmuri, meaning "crown."

The first Camrys to reach the U.S. came in 1983, and by 1985 it was one of Toyota's main products by volume. Through a series of redesigns, buyers eventually made the Camry the bestselling car in the U.S. for four years in a row. The popularity of certain model years led to them appearing on the "most stolen vehicles" lists over the years; the 1991 Toyota Camry often pops up on such lists, though various Honda models typically beat it.

22. THE COMMODORE 64

The Commodore 64 is the best-selling personal computer in history, selling more than 30 million units. It was a serious player in the PC market, bearing a sticker price of just $595—for a computer with 64 kilobytes of RAM! (Their early tagline: "What nobody else can give you at twice the price.")

Part of the reason for the C64's success was Commodore's strategy to sell it without extras at big-box stores like K-mart. The machine was packaged without a floppy drive, cassette drive, display, printer, or anything else a typical user might need. By selling all those items as add-ons, Commodore allowed vendors to sell the main computer on the cheap and mark up the extras. It worked. The C64 and its variants continued to be produced and sold for a decade, making it one of the longest-lived PCs in history.

23. KOYAANISQATSI

The enigmatic film Koyaanisqatsi was first screened at the Santa Fe Film Festival on April 28, 1982, though it wasn't widely released until the following year. It's hard to describe the film with any single category; some feel it's a documentary, others prefer just to call it a "nonfiction film," as it contains no narration, no dialogue, no actors, and only the briefest writing at the beginning (defining the term "Koyaanisqatsi," from the Hopi language). This is a film that does a lot of showing and very little telling, and its effect on an audience is often profound.

Koyaanisqatsi was the product of seven years of filming, with extensive work by cinematographer Ron Fricke and director Godfrey Reggio to capture both the natural and manmade environments, often in timelapse or slow-motion. One of its most memorable sequences was the demolition of the Pruitt–Igoe housing projects in St. Louis, filmed all the way back in 1975. It was a long slog to gather the footage, assemble it, and finally get it into the world—this odd art film even required the backing of Francis Ford Coppola to get a wide release.

In the decades since its release, Koyaanisqatsi has become incredibly influential among filmmakers both for its visual style and its signature score by Philip Glass (part of which was later reused in the Watchmen film adaptation).

24. THE COLOR PURPLE

Alice Walker's book The Color Purple was written as an epistolary novel (a series of letters). It went on to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award in 1983, and was quickly adapted into both a musical and a movie.

The plot centers on Celie, a 14-year-old girl who starts writing letters to God. When she writes, she is pregnant with her second child by her father. It's a grim and important tale, spanning decades, dealing with racism, rape, homosexuality, and the legacy of abuse in the American South.

25. DEBUT ALBUMS BY R.E.M., JANET JACKSON, LIONEL RICHIE, SONIC YOUTH, AND BILLY IDOL

1982 was a big year for musical debuts. Here's a partial list:

Sonic Youth - Sonic Youth - March

Billy Idol - Billy Idol - July 16

R.E.M. - Chronic Town EP - August 24

Janet Jackson - Janet Jackson - September 21

Lionel Richie - Lionel Richie - October 6

Other notable albums released that year included Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, Duran Duran's Rio, and Prince's 1999.

26. THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL

On November 10, 1982 (Veterans Day), the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. opened to the public. Created by then-20-year-old student Maya Lin, it was immediately nicknamed "The Wall," as it's a long, V-shaped granite wall inscribed with the names of Americans who died in the Vietnam War.

The memorial is viscerally powerful, as visitors consult the 57,661 names listed, looking for friends and loved ones. It's common for mourners to bring a bit of paper and trace a name from the wall.

27. THE CONCH REPUBLIC

The Florida Keys connect to the mainland by a single road (U.S. Route 1). On April 18, the U.S. Border Patrol set up a checkpoint on that road and began searching cars that left the Keys, reportedly in a bid to prevent illegal immigration. Key West residents didn't like this one bit, in part because it created incredible traffic jams (reportedly 17 miles long) and discouraged tourism.

In return, Key West mayor Dennis Wardlow presided over a tongue-in-cheek protest of the checkpoint. Wardlow announced that Key West seceded from the Union on April 23. He retitled himself Prime Minister and declared that Key West was now a sovereign nation called the Conch Republic. Finally, he commenced "war" on the United States, a symbolic act that involved whacking a guy dressed in a U.S. Navy uniform with loaves of stale Cuban bread. One minute into the war, Wardlow surrendered, demanding $1 billion in foreign aid "to rebuild our nation after the long Federal siege." The roadblock was soon removed, but the $1 billion never arrived.

28. PRINCE WILLIAM

On June 21, Princess Diana gave birth to her first son with Prince Charles. William was born in St. Mary's Hospital in London, making him the first heir to the British throne to be born in a hospital. (Previously, royal babies were delivered at the Palace.)

Prince Charles and Princess Diana brought their baby boy out of the hospital, allowing onlookers a glimpse. On June 28, his name was announced as William Arthur Philip Louis. People Magazine reported:

"... Prince Charles was at his young wife’s side throughout the delivery—the only British royal male in modern times to attend the birth of an offspring. (By contrast, Prince Philip played squash during Charles’ birth in 1948.)"

29. THE WEATHER CHANNEL

On May 2, The Weather Channel debuted on cable, offering exactly what you'd expect: weather—24 hours of weather, seven days a week. This was a huge innovation in 1982, when viewers were used to waiting for weather reports to arrive at scheduled times throughout other broadcasts. Advertised as "Weather on your schedule," The Weather Channel became a mainstay of cable systems. As The New York Times reported in 1993, "To be sure, the network's best performances come with the worst weather."

30. THE BFG

Roald Dahl's book The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) arrived in 1982. It's the story of the orphan Sophie, who lives in an orphanage and encounters the BFG, who takes her to Giant Country.

The book celebrates wordplay, including the quote, "Don't gobblefunk around with words." It coins piles of whimsical words, including snozzcumber, frobscottle, whizpopping, and phizz-whizzing. Eventually Dahl's imaginative language (appearing in many of his books) was collected in a dictionary.

31. "THE CATCH" (BY DWIGHT CLARK)

On January 10, 1982, Dwight Clark made football history with Joe Montana. With 58 seconds remaining in the NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, Clark jumped to catch a pass from Montana, earning the 49ers the win. That win launched the team to Super Bowl XVI against the Cincinnati Bengals, which the 49ers proceeded to win. Clark's fingertip grab became known as "The Catch."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

"The six most important yards in 49er history were gained in a way that was awfully close to poetic. Even a cynic would have to admit that much.

To the untrained eye, it appeared Montana was wandering right, hoping more than devising, maybe even looking for a way out. But by that time, with Montana and the 49ers proceeding deep into their first—and most improbable—Super Bowl run, everybody had learned to admire and not question."

Watch this NFL video to relive "The Catch."

32. V FOR VENDETTA

Alan Moore's comic V for Vendetta was first published starting in March 1982, as part of the British anthology book Warrior. It starts on Guy Fawkes Night in an imagined totalitarian 1997 London, when a masked anarchist known as V blows up the Houses of Parliament.

V for Vendetta was one of many comics in the book and was printed in black and white. But when Warrior ceased publication in 1985, Moore and illustrator David Lloyd still had several issues worth of unpublished material. In 1988, DC Comics published a 10-issue run with the original comic (now in color), plus the unpublished material, wrapping up the story.

The whole bundle was eventually printed as a trade paperback, featuring some additional material and the essay Behind the Painted Smile by Moore. The 2005 film adaptation was hugely influential, leading to an uptick in Guy Fawkes mask purchases. "Remember, remember the fifth of November ..."

33. THE THX SOUND SYSTEM (AND "DEEP NOTE")

In 1980, after Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back debuted in theaters, George Lucas hired audio engineers to design a new theater at Lucas's Skywalker Ranch. The theater would be designed to mix sound, and it was to be the best of its kind. To make the system work, the room itself had to be designed properly, and the loudspeakers in the room had to be properly installed and tuned.

Over the following years, visitors to Skywalker Ranch commented on the great sound in its theaters, and asked whether this approach could be replicated in commercial movie theaters. That's where THX comes in. Lucas and his team developed the THX Cinema Certification specifications, which are effectively a series of technical requirements for theaters. In late 1982, Dr. James A. Moorer developed "Deep Note," also known as "the THX sound" (see video above), which would play in THX-certified theaters before approved presentations.

The first film to use the THX system was Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, released in 1983. But Deep Note and the technology behind THX came out in 1982, giving theaters a bit of time to retrofit before the next Star Wars film.

Incidentally, the name THX is a reference to Lucas's film THX 1138.

34. EDDIE REDMAYNE, KIRSTEN DUNST, LIL WAYNE, ANNE HATHAWAY...

1982 is the birth year of all sorts of actors, entertainers, and sports stars. Here's a partial list:

Eddie Redmayne - January 6

Kate Middleton - January 9

Dwyane Wade - January 17

Adam Lambert - January 29

Jessica Biel - March 3

Landon Donovan - March 4

Seth Rogen - April 15

Kelly Clarkson - April 24

Kirsten Dunst - April 30

Lizzy Caplan - June 30

Priyanka Chopra - July 18

Elisabeth Moss - July 24

Anna Paquin - July 24

Misty Copeland - September 10

LeAnn Rimes - August 28

Lil Wayne (Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.) - September 27

Dan Stevens - October 10

Anne Hathaway - November 12

Nicki Minaj - December 8

35. EPCOT CENTER

On October 1, 1982, Epcot Center opened in Walt Disney World. EPCOT originally stood for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, and it was envisioned as a planned city, rather than a theme park; as a theme park, its acronym name was simply replaced with the word "Epcot." Regardless, when it opened, Epcot was the most expensive private construction project in the world. Opening festivities included a dedication ceremony for Spaceship Earth (the big bumpy sphere).

The original EPCOT concept was utopian, but Disney didn't live to see it realized. Instead, we got a pretty sweet theme park where "you can drink in 11 countries without ever leaving Florida," as our own Stacy Conradt wrote.

See also: Watch Walt Disney's Original EPCOT Vision (1966) and 32 Things You Should Know About EPCOT.

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The Body
10 Facts About the Appendix
Illustration by Mental Floss / Images: iStock
Illustration by Mental Floss / Images: iStock

Despite some 500 years of study, the appendix might be one of the least understood structures in the human body. Here's what we know about this mysterious organ.

1. THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS CALLED IT THE "WORM" OF THE BOWEL.

The human appendix is small, tube-shaped, and squishy, giving ancient Egyptians, who encountered it when preparing bodies for funerary rites, the impression of a worm. Even today, some medical texts refer to the organ as vermiform—Latin for "worm-like."

2. THE APPENDIX SHOWS UP IN LEONARDO DA VINCI’S DRAWINGS.

The earliest description of a human appendix was written by the Renaissance physician-anatomist Jacopo Berengario da Carpi in 1521. But before that, Leonardo da Vinci is believed to drawn the first depiction of the organ in his anatomical drawings in 1492. Leonardo claimed to have dissected 30 human corpses in his effort to understand the way the body worked from mechanical and physiological perspectives.

3. IT'S ABOUT THE SIZE OF A PINKY FINGER.

The appendix is a small pouch connected to the cecum—the beginning of the large intestine in the lower right-hand corner of your abdomen. The cecum’s job is to receive undigested food from the small intestine, absorb fluids and salts that remain after food is digested, and mix them with mucus for easier elimination; according to Mohamad Abouzeid, M.D., assistant professor and attending surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center, the cecum and appendix have similar tissue structures.

4. CHARLES DARWIN THOUGHT IT WAS A VESTIGIAL ORGAN …

The appendix has an ill-deserved reputation as a vestigial organ—meaning that it allegedly evolved without a detectable function—and we can blame Charles Darwin for that. In the mid-19th century, the appendix had been identified only in humans and great apes. Darwin thought that our earlier ancestors ate mostly plants, and thus needed a large cecum in which to break down the tough fibers. He hypothesized that over time, apes and humans evolved to eat a more varied and easier-to-digest diet, and the cecum shrank accordingly. The appendix itself, Darwin believed, emerged from the folds of the wizened cecum without its own special purpose.

5. … BUT THE APPENDIX PROBABLY EVOLVED TO HELP IMMUNE FUNCTION.

The proximity and tissue similarities between the cecum and appendix suggest that the latter plays a part in the digestive process. But there’s one noticeable difference in the appendix that you can see only under a microscope. “[The appendix] has a high concentration of the immune cells within its walls,” Abouzeid tells Mental Floss.

Recent research into the appendix's connection to the immune system has suggested a few theories. In a 2015 study in Nature Immunology, Australian researchers discovered that a type of immune cells called innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) proliferate in the appendix and seem to encourage the repopulation of symbiotic bacteria in the gut. This action may help the gut recover from infections, which tend to wipe out fluids, nutrients, and good bacteria.

For a 2013 study examining the evolutionary rationale for the appendix in mammal species, researchers at Midwestern University and Duke University Medical Center concluded that the organ evolved at least 32 times among different lineages, but not in response to dietary or environmental factors.

The same researchers analyzed 533 mammal species for a 2017 study and found that those with appendices had more lymphatic (immune) tissue in the cecum. That suggests that the nearby appendix could serve as "a secondary immune organ," the researchers said in a statement. "Lymphatic tissue can also stimulate growth of some types of beneficial gut bacteria, providing further evidence that the appendix may serve as a 'safe house' for helpful gut bacteria." This good bacteria may help to replenish healthy flora in the gut after infection or illness.

6. ABOUT 7 PERCENT OF AMERICANS WILL GET APPENDICITIS DURING THEIR LIFETIMES.

For such a tiny organ, the appendix gets infected easily. According to Abouzeid, appendicitis occurs when the appendix gets plugged by hardened feces (called a fecalith or appendicolith), too much mucus, or the buildup of immune cells after a viral or bacterial infection. In the United States, the lifetime risk of getting appendicitis is one in 15, and incidence in newly developed countries is rising. It's most common in young adults, and most dangerous in the elderly.

When infected, the appendix swells up as pus fills its interior cavity. It can grow several times larger than its average 3-inch size: One inflamed appendix removed from a British man in 2004 measured just over 8 inches, while another specimen, reported in 2007 in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, measured 8.6 inches. People with appendicitis might feel generalized pain around the bellybutton that localizes on the right side of the abdomen, and experience nausea or vomiting, fever, or body aches. Some people also get diarrhea.

7. APPENDECTOMIES ARE ALMOST 100 PERCENT EFFECTIVE FOR TREATING APPENDICITIS.

Treatment for appendicitis can go two ways: appendectomy, a.k.a. surgical removal of the appendix, or a first line of antibiotics to treat the underlying infection. Appendectomies are more than 99 percent effective against recurring infection, since the organ itself is removed. (There have been cases of "stump appendicitis," where an incompletely removed appendix becomes infected, which often require further surgery.)

Studies show that antibiotics produce about a 72 percent initial success rate. “However, if you follow these patients out for about a year, they often get recurrent appendicitis,” Abouzeid says. One 2017 study in the World Journal of Surgery followed 710 appendicitis patients for a year after antibiotic treatment and found a 26.5 percent recurrence rate for subsequent infections.

8. AN INFECTED APPENDIX DOESN’T ACTUALLY BURST.

You might imagine a ruptured appendix, known formally as a perforation, being akin to the "chestbuster" scene in Alien. Abouzeid says it's not quite that dramatic, though it can be dangerous. When the appendix gets clogged, pressure builds inside the cavity of the appendix, called the lumen. That chokes off blood supply to certain tissues. “The tissue dies off and falls apart, and you get perforation,” Abouzeid says. But rather than exploding, the organ leaks fluids that can infect other tissues.

A burst appendix is a medical emergency. Sometimes the body can contain the infection in an abscess, Abouzeid says, which may be identified through CT scans or X-rays and treated with IV antibiotics. But if the infection is left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the abdomen, a serious condition called peritonitis. At that point, the infection can become life-threatening.

9. SURGEONS CAN REMOVE AN APPENDIX THROUGH A TINY INCISION.

In 1894, Charles McBurney, a surgeon at New York's Roosevelt Hospital, popularized an open-cavity, muscle-splitting technique [PDF] to remove an infected appendix, which is now called an open appendectomy. Surgeons continued to use McBurney's method until the advent of laparoscopic surgery, a less invasive method in which the doctor makes small cuts in the patient's abdomen and threads a thin tube with a camera and surgical tools into the incisions. The appendix is removed through one of those incisions, which are usually less than an inch in length.

The first laparoscopic appendectomies were performed by German physician Kurt Semm in the early 1980s. Since then, laparoscopic appendectomies have become the standard treatment for uncomplicated appendicitis. For more serious infections, open appendectomies are still performed.

10. AN APPENDIX ONCE POSTPONED A ROYAL CORONATION.

When the future King Edward VII of Great Britain came down with appendicitis (or "perityphlitis," as it was called back then) in June 1902, mortality rates for the disease were as high as 26 percent. It was about two weeks before his scheduled coronation on June 26, 1902, and Edward resisted having an appendectomy, which was then a relatively new procedure. But surgeon and appendicitis expert Frederick Treves made clear that Edward would probably die without it. Treves drained Edward's infected abscess, without removing the organ, at Buckingham Palace; Edward recovered and was crowned on August 9, 1902.

11. THE WORLD'S LONGEST APPENDIX MEASURED MORE THAN 10 INCHES.

On August 26, 2006, during an autopsy at a Zagreb, Croatia hospital, surgeons obtained a 10.24-inch appendix from 72-year-old Safranco August. The deceased currently holds the Guinness World Record for "largest appendix removed."

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Photo Illustration: Mental Floss. Douglass: Glasshouse Images, Alamy. Backgrounds: iStock
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13 Incredible Facts About Frederick Douglass
Photo Illustration: Mental Floss. Douglass: Glasshouse Images, Alamy. Backgrounds: iStock
Photo Illustration: Mental Floss. Douglass: Glasshouse Images, Alamy. Backgrounds: iStock

The list of Frederick Douglass's accomplishments is astonishing—respected orator, famous writer, abolitionist, civil rights leader, presidential consultant—even without considering that he was a former slave with no formal education. In honor of his birth 200 years ago, here are 13 incredible facts about the life of Frederick Douglass.

1. HE BARTERED BREAD FOR KNOWLEDGE.

Because Douglass was a slave, he wasn't allowed to learn to read or write. A wife of a Baltimore slave owner did teach him the alphabet when he was around 12, but she stopped after her husband interfered. Young Douglass took matters into his own hands, cleverly fitting in a reading lesson whenever he was on the street running errands for his owner. As he detailed in his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he'd carry a book with him while out and about and trade small pieces of bread to the white kids in his neighborhood, asking them to help him learn to read the book in exchange.

2. HE CREDITED A SCHOOLBOOK FOR SHAPING HIS VIEWS ON HUMAN RIGHTS.

Engraving of Frederick Douglass, circa the 1850s.
Engraving of Frederick Douglass, circa the 1850s.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

During his youth, Douglass obtained a copy of The Columbian Orator, a collection of essays, dialogues, and speeches on a range of subjects, including slavery. Published in 1797, the Orator was required reading for most schoolchildren in the 1800s and featured 84 selections from authors like Cicero and Milton. Abraham Lincoln was also influenced by the collection when he was first starting in politics.

3. HE TAUGHT OTHER SLAVES TO READ.

While he was hired out to a farmer named William Freeland, a teenaged Douglass taught fellow slaves to read the New Testament—but a mob of locals soon broke up the classes. Undeterred, Douglas began the classes again, sometimes teaching as many as 40 people.

4. HIS FIRST WIFE HELPED HIM ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY.

Portrait of Anna Murray Douglass, Frederick Douglass's first wife.
First published in Rosetta Douglass Sprague's book My Mother As I Recall Her, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Anna Murray was an independent laundress in Baltimore and met Douglass at some point in the mid-1830s. Together they hatched a plan, and one night in 1838, Douglass took a northbound train clothed in a sailor's uniform procured by Anna, with money from her savings in his pocket alongside papers from a sailor friend. About 24 hours later, he arrived in Manhattan a free man. Anna soon joined him, and they married on September 15, 1838.

5. HE CALLED OUT HIS FORMER OWNER.

In an 1848 open letter in the newspaper he owned and published, The North Star, Douglass wrote passionately about the evils of slavery to his former owner, Thomas Auld, saying "I am your fellow man, but not your slave." He also inquired after his family members who were still enslaved a decade after his escape.

6. HE TOOK HIS NAME FROM A POEM.

He was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, but after escaping slavery, Douglass used assumed names to avoid detection. Arriving in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Douglass, then using the surname "Johnson," felt there were too many other Johnsons in the area to distinguish himself. He asked his host (ironically named Nathan Johnson) to suggest a new name, and Mr. Johnson came up with Douglas, a character in Sir Walter Scott's poem The Lady of the Lake.

7. HE'S CALLED THE 19TH CENTURY'S MOST PHOTOGRAPHED AMERICAN.

Portrait of Frederick Douglass
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

There are 160 separate portraits of Douglass, more than Abraham Lincoln or Walt Whitman, two other heroes of the 19th century. Douglass wrote extensively on the subject during the Civil War, calling photography a "democratic art" that could finally represent black people as humans rather than "things." He gave his portraits away at talks and lectures, hoping his image could change the common perceptions of black men.

8. HE REFUSED TO CELEBRATE THE 4TH OF JULY.

Douglass was well-known as a powerful orator, and his July 5, 1852 speech to a group of hundreds of abolitionists in Rochester, New York, is considered a masterwork. Entitled "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July," the speech ridiculed the audience for inviting a former slave to speak at a celebration of the country who enslaved him. "This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine," he famously said to those in attendance. "Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?" Douglass refused to celebrate the holiday until all slaves were emancipated and laws like the Compromise of 1850, which required citizens (including northerners) to return runaway slaves to their owners, were negated.

9. HE RECRUITED BLACK SOLDIERS FOR THE CIVIL WAR.

The Union attack on Fort Wagner, Charleston, during the American Civil War. The fort was under attack from July 18 to September 7, 1863, by soldiers including the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first African-American regiment in the U.S. Army.
The Union attack on Fort Wagner, Charleston, during the American Civil War. The fort was under attack from July 18 to September 7, 1863, by soldiers including the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first African-American regiment in the U.S. Army.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Douglass was a famous abolitionist by the time the war began in 1861. He actively petitioned President Lincoln to allow black troops in the Union army, writing in his newspaper: "Let the slaves and free colored people be called into service, and formed into a liberating army, to march into the South and raise the banner of Emancipation among the slaves." After Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Douglass worked tirelessly to enlist black soldiers, and two of his sons would join the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, famous for its contributions in the brutal battle of Fort Wagner.

10. HE SERVED UNDER FIVE PRESIDENTS.

Later in life, Douglass became more of a statesman, serving in highly appointed federal positions, including U.S. Marshal for D.C., Recorder of Deeds for D.C., and Minister Resident and Consul General to Haiti. Rutherford B. Hayes was the first to appoint Douglass to a position in 1877, and Presidents Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison each sought his counsel in various positions as well.

11. HE WAS NOMINATED FOR VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

As part of the Equal Rights Party ticket in 1872, Douglass was nominated as a VP candidate, with Victoria Woodhull as the Presidential candidate. (Woodhull was the first-ever female presidential candidate, which is why Hillary Clinton was called "the first female presidential candidate from a major party" during the 2016 election.) However, the nomination was made without his consent, and Douglass never acknowledged it (and Woodhull's candidacy itself is controversial because she wouldn't have been old enough to be president on Inauguration Day). Also, though he was never a presidential candidate, he did receive one vote at each of two nomination conventions.

12. HIS SECOND MARRIAGE STIRRED UP CONTROVERSY.

Frederick Douglass with Helen Pitts Douglass (seated, right) and her sister Eva Pitts (standing, center), circa the 1880s.
Frederick Douglass with Helen Pitts Douglass (seated, right) and her sister Eva Pitts (standing, center), circa the 1880s.

Two years after his first wife, Anna, died of a stroke in 1882, Douglass married Helen Pitts, a white abolitionist and feminist who was 20 years younger than him. Even though she was the daughter of an abolitionist, Pitts's family (which had ancestral ties directly to the Mayflower) disapproved and disowned her—showing just how taboo interracial marriage was at the time. The black community also questioned why their most prominent spokesperson chose to marry a white woman, regardless of her politics. But despite the public's and their families' reaction, the Douglasses had a happy marriage and were together until his death in 1895 of a heart attack.

13. AFTER EARLY SUCCESS, HIS NARRATIVE WENT OUT OF PRINT.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself, his seminal autobiography, was heralded a success when it came out in 1845, with some estimating that 5000 copies sold in the first few months; the book was also popular in Ireland and Britain. But post-Civil War, as the country moved toward reconciliation and slave narratives fell out favor, the book went out of print. The first modern publication appeared in 1960—during another important era for the fight for civil rights. It is now available for free online.

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