This Week in History: August 11-17

Featured Article, History, This Week in History, Traditions
on August 11, 2013
Courtesy of the Children’s Defense Fund President Bill Clinton used his words carefully.

Computing became practical for consumers, the hippies of the 1960s found their voice in a field in rural New York, and a president played semantic games with a grand jury this week in history. And Hulk Hogan was born. An eventful week, to say the least.

August 11:
Hulk Hogan Birthday

Born Terry Gene Bollea on this date in 1953, Hulk Hogan is one of the most recognizable pro-wrestling figures. His successful run in both World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling circuits spawned the Hulkmania craze. He is a 12-time world champion who continues to appear in television shows and movies, including his VH1 reality series, “Hogan Knows Best.”

August 12:
IBM Personal Computer Introduced

The computer became personal for the first time on this day in 1981 when IBM released its first desktop computer, the model 5150. Before this time, IBM specialized in larger computers and more process-heavy computing. The 5150 was priced at around $3,000 in today’s money and came with 16 to 256 kilobytes of memory. The IBM PC was well adopted and spawned many imitators and modifiers, solidifying the brand as the industry standard.

August 13:
Berlin Wall Erected

The Cold War chilled on this day in 1961 with the erection of the Berlin Wall, cutting off West Berlin from East. Early on the morning of August 13, temporary barbed wire barriers were put up and a concrete wall followed soon after, stopping the flow of people from East Germany into the West. The wall cut neighborhoods and streets in half. The wall, a literal Iron Curtain, began to fall in November 1989.

August 14:
Atlantic Charter

A sign of unofficial allegiance to Britain, this document, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, argued for self-determination of nations, better labor standards, lessened imperial posturing, open trade, and an end to “Nazi Tyranny.” The two leaders met off the coast of Newfoundland for a four-day conference before signing the document on this day in 1941. This helped forge tighter bonds between the U.S. and U.K. that remain to this day.

August 15:
Panama Canal Opens

A technological marvel, the Panama Canal opened on this day in 1914 after 10 years of construction. Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the canal provided for faster trade and increased mobility. It cost America nearly $400 million. At least 14,000 ships pass through the canal each year.

One of the most important cultural moments of the 20th century, the Woodstock festival began today in 1969 at White Lake, N.Y. The music festival featured rock musicians like Santana, the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Who. Jimi Hendrix closed the festival with his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The festival celebrated hippie culture. An estimated 400,000 people attended, far exceeding the organizers’ expectations.

August 16:
Klondike Gold Rush

On this day in 1896, Skookum Jim Mason, Dawson Charlie and George Carmak found gold in a tributary of the Klondike River. The news of the discovery spread fast; prospectors began traveling to the Yukon Territory in droves. More than 10,000 hopeful explorers flooded the town of Skagway between 1897 and 1898. All told, between 20,000 and 30,000 people searched for gold in the Klondike.

August 17:
Meaning of Is Is

Though not aired to the public until mid-September, President Bill Clinton testified to a grand jury on this day in 1998 and schooled them in linguistics. Answering questions about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinski, Clinton said, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.” Clinton also quibbled the definition of “sexual relations.”