January 1, 1700
Russia begins using the Anno Domini designation for counting years, instead of Anno Mundi. Anno Mundi counts years from the biblical creation of the world. Before adopting the Anno Domini designations, the predominant calendar was the Byzantine calendar. The problem with using a count from the biblical creation of the world is that there are multiple calculations.
January 1, 1772
The first traveler’s cheques are issued by the London Credit Exchange and were honored in 90 European cities. In 1874, Thomas Cook, owner of a travel company, issued circular notes that worked in much the same way.
American Express, a company started in 1850, started as a company specializing in express mail and shipments. In 1882 they introduced money orders to compete with the United States Post office. In 1891 they launched their Traveler’s Cheque business when the president of the company traveled o Europe and had a hard time getting cash. Today they handle the largest volume of traveler’s checks.
January 1, 1801
The Italian astronomer, Guiseppe Piazzi of Palermo, discovered the first asteroid. He namCredit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ceres_optimized.jpged it Ceres Ferdinandea after a Roman Goddess and the king. Naming it after his king was not acceptable to other nations, so it was left at Ceres. It is the also the largest asteroid discovered. It has a diameter of about 600 miles and goes around the Sun in 4.6 years.
With the recent discussion of what constitutes a planet, and the downgrading of Pluto to a dwarf planet, the classification of Ceres is uncertain, but since the orbit it lies in contains other asteroids, it is probably classified as a asteroid itself.
January 1, 1808
The Federal Government of the United States passed laws stating that it was illegal to import slaves, and they went into effect on January 1, 1808. Owning slaves was still legal, and trade in slaves in the United States was still allowed.
January 1, 1850
The first iron pile lighthouse was put into commission in Massachusetts outside of Boston Harbor. The iron pile lighthouse was an open structure type and it was felt that that it would be better to build in the spot since the ledge was partially underwater. The lighthouse keepers thought it was unsafe, and were proved right when it was swept away in 1851 by a storm.
January 1, 1853
The first workable United States steam fire engine began service. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, it took four horses to pull the fire engine. It had six water streams and would shoot them up to 240 feet.
January 1, 1890
The first Tournament of Roses Parade is held in Pasadena, California. This was a local event at first, with various athletic competitions and horse races afterwards. The event started to spread nationwide after the turn of the century. The first Rose Bowl was in 1902, the second in 1916, and it has been held each year since.
January 1, 1892
In 1890 the Federal Government took control of immigration, and built an immigration station on Ellis Island. It opened on January 1, 1892, and that day three ships docked and 700 immigrants were processed. That first year almost 450,000 newcomers were passed through the station.
January 1, 1903
On this day, the laying of the first transpacific cable from the continental United States to Honolulu, Hawaii. A message is telegraphed to President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington. The public was allowed to start using it on January 5, 1903.
January 1, 1908
In 1904, a celebration was held at what would later be called Times Square, sponsored by the New York Times. In order for there to be a bigger draw, in 1908, the dropping of the lit ball was introduced. He first ball was made of iron and wood and measured 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. There have been many versions of the New Year ball, with Waterford Crystal being introduced in 2000.
January 1, 1909
Drilling for oil is started at Lakeview Number One by the Lakeview Oil Company in Kern County, California. At first there was only natural gas, but on March 14, 1910, the well had a blowout, and started gushing oil. It was 18 months before the well was brought under control in September 1911. The well was the largest single well oil spill in history, roughly twice the size of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It is eclipsed only by the multiple well spills in Kuwait in 1991.
January 1, 1946
ENIAC, the first United States Computer was completed. It is considered the first general digital computer. It weighed over 60,000 pounds. It was used for many military jobs at the beginning. There was no storage with the computer, so it had to be reprogrammed any time it was asked to perform a new task.
January 1, 1966
The law goes into effect requiring all United States cigarette packages to be labeled with health warnings. The warning was to read:
“Caution: Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.”
The law was later amended to state that one of four different warnings must be on all packaging.
The first law in United States requiring fluoride in water goes into effect in Connecticut. The law required all public water systems supplying more than 20,000 people to add fluoride. The idea of adding fluoride started when a Colorado dentist named Frederick S. McKay, noticed some of his patients having both brown stains and low dental caries. The brown stains turned out to be from naturally high levels of fluoride. Within a few years, H. Trendley Dean worked out the amount of fluoride needed to prevent decay of the teeth without staining.
January 1, 1990
David Dinkins, New York City’s first black mayor, is sworn in. Dinkins served only one term. Although crime statistics showed a lowering of crime during his term, it was perceived that crime was out of control. There were also several incidents during his term in which race played a part, and David Dinkins was thought to be indifferent to others not of his race.