140 years ago today, after frustrating months testing the usual choice, platinum wire, to light an electric bulb, Thomas Edison, decided to try carbonized cotton thread—and the first commercially practical incandescent light bulb lasted 13½ hours before burning out.

Edison’s version of the light bulb was able to outstrip the others because of a combination of three factors: an effective incandescent material, a higher vacuum than others were able to achieve (by use of the Sprengel pump) and a high resistance that made power distribution from a centralized source economically viable. (1879)

More Good News on this Date:

  • The Metropolitan Opera House opened in New York City featuring Faust (1883)
  • Toastmasters was founded to teach people how to speak in public (1924)
  • Laos gained independence from France (1953)
  • A Canadian Parliamentary Committee selected the design which became the new official Flag of Canada (1964)
  • The Supremes became the first female music group to attain a No. 1 selling album, “The Supremes A’ Go-Go”, a Motown LP that included “You Can’t Hurry Love” (1966)
  • Red Dye No. 4 was banned by the US Food and Drug Administration after it is discovered that it causes tumors in the bladders of dogs (1976)
  • The high speed TGV railway service from Paris to Lyon was inaugurated (1981)
  • India launched its first unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 (2008)

And on this day in 1797, Andre-Jacques Garnerin made the first parachute jump from 3,200 feet (1000m) above Paris.

Garnerin’s early design was based on an umbrella-shaped device that would be lifted by a balloon and then descend with a gondola attached to a silk parachute.

Happy 81st Birthday to beloved actor Christopher Lloyd, who played zany characters like Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown in the Back to the Future film series, and the ‘Reverend’ on the sitcom Taxi. His acting and distinctive voice has earned him multiple Emmy Awards and Lloyd took to the stage again this last year in a new play at The Lion Theatre in New York—portraying one of the mainstays of modernism, the troubling literary figure Ezra Pound.

WATCH as Actors Michael J. Fox and Doc Brown reunite on the TODAY show 30 years into the future. (1938)

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