180 years ago today, the world’s first photography process, invented by Frenchman Louis Daguerre, was presented as a gift to the world—patent-free, with detailed instructions on how to do it. The images on copper sheets produced extremely fine detail, and were enthusiastically praised as nearly miraculous—and over the next 21 years, until photographers switched to paper, millions of the metal photographs had been produced.

The ‘daguerreotype’ process required exposures lasting ten minutes, but the inventor soon made the crucial discovery that an invisibly faint ‘latent’ image created by a much shorter exposure could be chemically ‘developed’ into a visible image. Upon seeing the final image unconcealed, Daguerre said: “I have seized the light – I have arrested its flight!” SEE the first photograph of a human… (1839)

This 1838 Daguerre photo of a Paris Boulevard was the first ever taken of a person; the man in the bottom right of the scene getting his shoes shined had been still during 10-minute exposure.

For the daguerreotype process, a thin silver-plated copper sheet was exposed to the vapor given off by iodine crystals, producing a coating of light-sensitive silver iodide on the surface. The plate was then exposed in the camera. Daguerreotypes were usually portraits; the rarer landscape views and other unusual subjects are now much sought-after by collectors and sell for much higher prices.

Though he is most famous for his contributions to photography, Daguerre, who apprenticed in architecture and theatre design and art, was also an accomplished painter and a developer of the diorama theatre.

 MORE Good News on this Day:

  • Afghanistan gained full independence from the United Kingdom (1919)
  • The Liberation of Paris commenced, with French resistance fighters uprising against German occupiers as rumors of the Allies’ advance energized the capital (1944)
  • The Beatles launched their first North American tour, performing first in San Francisco—after having played concerts earlier that year in Washington D.C. and New York—all with the stipulation that the band would refuse all venues that excluded African Americans (1964)
  • Polish President Jaruzelski nominated a Solidarity union activist to be the first non-communist Prime Minister in 42 years (1989)
  • The first-ever joint military exercise between Russia and China began, dubbed Peace Mission 2005 (2005)
  • The last of the United States brigade combat teams leave Iraq, crossing the border to Kuwait (2010)

On this day 56 years ago, American pro golfer Homero Blancas shot a record-setting round of 55 in a college tournament that still stands as the lowest round in the history of competitive golf. golfer Homero Blancas -Historical photo

The Mexican-American born in Texas, played for the University of Houston when, at age 24, his 13 birdies and one eagle on the par-70 course in Longview, Texas made history. Blancas, now 78, stayed with the sport and won tournaments on the PGA Tour and Champions circuit. (1962)

And, on this day in 1990, Leonard Bernstein conducted his final concert, performing Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony at Tanglewood. He suffered a coughing fit during the concert and two months later announced his retirement.

Leonard_Bernstein_CC_Jack_Mitchell
Photo by Jack Mitchell, CC license

He died of a heart attack five days after, at 72 years old. During his funeral procession through Manhattan, construction workers removed their hats to honor the prodigious musician and composer of West Side Story, yelling, “Goodbye, Lenny.” Bernstein is buried in Brooklyn, NY with a copy of Mahler’s Fifth lying across his heart. His Final Concert was recorded and later released on CD.

1920 image by Kristine, CC license

And on this day in 1883, the rebel Coco Chanel, a fashion designer who rose from poverty in France to liberate women from corsets with her casual clothing and iconic “little black dress”, was born. Her sporty chic became the feminine standard of style and, as a businesswoman, Chanel extended her influence beyond clothing, to become the first designer to put their name on a fragrance, Chanel No. 5. WATCH a mini-bio of one of the most influential people of the 20th century…

Other Notable Birthdays: Ginger Baker, drummer for Cream (80);Former President Bill Clinton (73); Actor Matthew Perry (50)

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