This Day in History – August 12th

1898 – Hawaii is officially annexed as a territory of the United States of America – In January 1893, a successful coup took place on the Hawaiian island of Oahu that ended the rule of hereditary monarchs on the island chain. The coup was carried out by 1,000 armed men, many of them American citizens and their Hawaiian-born offspring, who stormed the royal Iolani Palace in Honolulu as 162 uniformed U.S. Marines looked on. The soldiers were sworn to neutrality, but there is little doubt their presence served to intimidate loyalists to Queen Lili’uokalani, aiding the coup. The revolutionaries created a provisional government, based out of the palace, with the nation officially becoming the Republic of Hawaii on July 4, 1894. However, the ultimate goal of the revolutionaries was for Hawaii to be annexed by the United States. That goal came to fruition on this date in 1898 when, at a ceremony outside Iolani Palace, the Hawaiian flag was lowered, and the flag of the United States was raised. The Territory of Hawaii was formally established as a part of the U.S. on June 14, 1900. Hawaii received statehood on Aug. 21, 1959, making it the most recently added state in the United States. Today, the red, white and blue striped Flag of Hawaii is the only state flag to feature the United Kingdom’s “Union Jack,” a remnant of the British Empire’s influence on Hawaiian history. Meanwhile, Iolani Palace, which served as a military headquarters during the Second World War, was opened to the public as a museum in 1978. It is the only (former) royal residence on U.S. soil.

1981 – The IBM Personal Computer is released – Founded in New York State in 1911, IBM was originally called the “Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company.” Longtime president Thomas J. Watson renamed the company “International Business Machines” in 1924. Their early punch card computing systems helped large organizations process unprecedented amounts of data, and their clients included the US government and, for a time, Hitler’s government in Germany. Over the years, their developments, such as the Selectric typewriter (1957) and the Universal Product Code or UPC (1974), made them hugely successful. So, by the early 1980s, IBM was seen as sort of a stodgy, risk-averse company in comparison to hot new computer companies like Apple. While they had a near monopoly on commercial mainframe computers, IBM was doing almost no business in the exciting new world of home computing. Deciding to get into the market, they started rapidly developing a home computer that would be affordable to the hobbyist, similar to the Apple II, which was released in 1977. Breaking from form, IBM engineers decided to build a computer that, also like Apple, would feature “open architecture,” so third-party software developers could modify the machine and make their own compatible software. On this date in 1981, the IBM Personal Computer, or IBM PC, was released, priced at about $1,500 (or just over $4,000 today). It came with a monitor, a keyboard, a disk drive that could hold two floppy disks, and other features including ports for a printer and joystick. It was an instant hit, particularly with software developers, with 40,000 orders being placed on its first day. By the end of 1982, IBM was selling one PC every minute of the business day. Prior to the product’s release, IBM thought they would be successful if they sold 250,000 PCs in five years. They were selling that many computers per month. By 1984 IBM had an annual revenue of $4 billion, more than the combined sales of Apple, HP and Commodore. The IBM PC quickly became the industry standard.

1990 – In South Dakota, Sue Hendrickson discovers the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton found to date, naming it “Sue” — American paleontologist Sue Hendrickson was born in Chicago in 1949, but grew up in nearby Munster, Indiana. Finding Indiana to be sort of dull, she convinced her parents to let her attend high school in Florida, where her aunt lived, but that too soon proved too dull for the adventurous teen. She dropped out and got a job as a diver collecting tropical fish for aquariums and pet stores, sometimes conducting salvage dives on shipwrecks. It was this work that first put her in touch with paleontologists, and led her to travel to the Dominican Republic in the 1980s where she discovered several preserved 23-million-year-old butterflies. After unearthing fossilized sharks, dolphins and sharks in Peru, she accompanied paleontologist Peter Larson to the Black Hills of South Dakota, where, on this date in 1990, she discovered some mysterious bones while others on the dig were fixing a flat tire. Larson immediately identified them as T. Rex bones. Cleaning the area, they found that the creature had apparently fallen into a muddy stream when it died, meaning 90 percent of the skeleton was still in tact, right down to its nearly five foot long skull and most of its teeth. Later examination showed that the T. Rex lived to the age of 28, making it the oldest such creature ever discovered. At 12.3 metres in length (40 feet) and 3.66 metres in height (12 feet), it’s the largest and most complete T. Rex skeleton ever found. It was named “Sue” in honour of Hendrickson, and today is a permanent feature at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Hendrickson, 66, currently resides in Honduras.

1994 – Major League Baseball players go on strike, which eventually leads to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series – In 1904, due to a dispute between New York Giants manager John McGraw and American League president Ban Johnson, the National League champion Giants refused to face the champions of the American League, the Boston Americans. Consequently, there was no 1904 World Series. A Fall Classic has been held every year since then, except 1994, when the World Series was called off due to a player strike. It came during a period of great tension between owners and players; at the time, there had already been three other in-season work stoppages in the previous 22 years. Due to a worsening financial situation faced by the MLB, owners in 1994 proposed introducing a salary cap. The owners presented their offer June 14, 1994. Executive director of the MLB Players Association Donald Fehr rejected the offer July 18, saying he believed the salary cap would only serve the owners, while providing no benefit to the players. He warned that if serious negotiations did not start soon, the players may go on strike by September, threatening the postseason. On July 28, the MLBPA executive board set August 12, 1994 as its strike date. The last games of that baseball season were played Aug. 11, and included the Montreal Expos losing 4-0 in Pittsburgh, their only loss of a seven-game road trip, and only their second loss of the month. In their final 23 games that season, Montreal won 20. The strike ended what had been the best season in Expos franchise history, leaving them frozen at 74-40, the best in the big leagues, with a six-game lead over second place Atlanta in the NL East, despite having the MLB’s second-lowest payroll. Their dynamite pitching staff that year included 1994 Wins leader and All-Star Ken Hill, who finished the season 16-5, a young Pedro Martinez, who was 11-7 at the stoppage, and closer John Wetteland, who got his 25th save of the season on Aug. 10, and who went on to be MVP of the 1996 World Series for the New York Yankees. 1994 AL MVP Frank Thomas lamented “I’ve had a career year, but I’m not going to finish it,” while Ken Griffey, Jr., who had 40 home runs before the strike, said “we picked a bad season to have a good year.”

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