The first scientist to demonstrate that cancer may be caused by the environment was born today in 1714. Now WE know em


Sir Percivall Pott was born January 6, 1714 in London, England.

He lost his father at the age of 4, and by the age of 7 had proven himself worthy of study at a private school in Kent.

At the age of 17, Percivall served his apprenticeship as assistant surgeon at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London preparing cadavers for public demonstrations of dissections.

In 1736, Pott was admitted to the Barbers’ Company as a licensed practise surgeon.

Then in 1744, Percivall again became an assistant surgeon at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. In 1749 he became full surgeon at St. Bartholomew’s where Percivall introduced various important innovations in procedure, doing much to abolish the extensive use of escharotics and the cautery that was prevalent when he began his career. He also thought that soot was a carcinogen.

In January of 1756, Percivall sustained a broken leg after a fall from his horse while making a sick visit. The fall resulted in an open compound fracture.

As Percivall lay in the mud and muck, he sent a servant to buy a door from a nearby construction site, then had himself placed on the door with 2 poles nailed to it as a sort of improvised stretcher. He reclined on the improvised stretcher and was carried to his home

His fellow Surgeons cleaned his wound and discussed amputation, an operation which at the time had a very high rate of failure (as it often led to sepsis and death), but Pott prevailed on them to splint the leg and he ultimately recovered completely.

In 1765, Percivall was elected Master of the Company of Surgeons, the forerunner of the Royal College of Surgeons.

In 1768, Percivall published Some Few Remarks upon Fractures and Dislocations. This book was translated into French and Italian and had a far-reaching influence in Britain and France.

Percivall Pott’s name became firmly written in the annals of medicine, first by describing arthritic tuberculosis of the spine (Pott’s disease). Pott also gave an excellent clinical description in his Remarks on that Kind of Palsy of the Lower Limbs.

In 1775, Percivall Pott found an association between exposure to soot and a high incidence of scrotal cancer (later found to be squamous cell carcinoma) in chimney sweeps.

This was the first occupational link to cancer, and Pott was the first person to demonstrate that a malignancy could be caused by an environmental carcinogen.

Pott’s early investigations contributed to the science of epidemiology and the Chimney Sweeper’s Act of 1788.

Returning in foul weather from another Sick Call December 11, 1788, Percivall Pott complained of having caught cold.  His condition deteriorated, and on December 21st he made his last diagnosis:

“My lamp is almost extinguished: I hope it has burned for the benefit of others.”

The next day Percivall Pott died of pneumonia.

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The creator of the modern disposable razor and blades business was born today in 1855. Now WE know em


Born January 5, 1855 in Wisconsin, his family soon moved to Chicago where he grew up.

His family was hard hit by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Blessed with the gift of salesmanship, he ended up as a salesman for the Crown Cork and Seal Company in the 1890’s.

There, he realized the bottle caps he sold were thrown away after the bottle was opened.

This made him recognize the value in building a business on a product that was used a few times, then discarded.

At the time, razor blades were relatively expensive, and dulled quickly. Razor blades required continuous sharpening, so he came up with the idea for a razor whose blade could be thrown away when it dulled. He realized this could meet a real need and likely be profitable.

Razors and blades

The most difficult part of developing his concept was engineering the blade. He needed a thin, cheap material and steel was difficult to work with and sharpen. This accounts for the delay between his initial idea and the product’s introduction.

He worked to improve on earlier safety-razor designs. In order to develop and market his product, King Camp Gillette founded the American Safety Razor Company on September 28, 1901.


Gillette changed the company name to Gillette Safety Razor Company in July of 1902.

He then obtained a trademark registration (0056921) for his portrait and signature on his packaging.

Production began on his high-profit margin stamped steel razor blade with the Gillette company selling a total of 51 razors and 168 blades in 1903.

The following year, Gillette sold 90,884 razors and 123,648 blades, thanks in part to lower prices, automated manufacturing techniques and good advertising.

By 1908, his corporation had established manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada, England, France and Germany.

Razor sales reached 450,000 units and blade sales exceeded 70 million units in 1915.

Gillette’s razor retailed for a substantial $5 (about $134 in 2006 dollars) — half the average working man’s weekly pay — yet they sold by the millions.


In 1918, when the U.S. entered World War I, the Gillette company provided all American soldiers with a field razor set, paid for by the government.

Gillette spent large amounts of money on property. He also traveled extensively and was universally recognized from his picture on the packets of his razor blades. People were surprised that he was a real person rather than just a marketing image.

Then the “crash” began came on October 24, 1929 (Black Thursday). Gillette lost most of the value of his corporate shares as a result of the Great Depression.

King Camp Gillette was almost bankrupt when he died in Los Angeles, California, July 9, 1932.

The Gillette Company has continued to sell products under a variety of brand names including Gillette, Braun, Oral-B, and Duracell until 2005, when the company was sold to Procter & Gamble for $57 billion USD. It is now known as Global Blades & Razors, with the Gillette (brand), a business unit of Procter & Gamble.

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The man who developed braille was born today in 1809. Now WE know em


Louis Braille was born January 4, 1809 in a small town east of Paris, France.

As a small child he was blinded in an accident, however he developed a mastery over that blindness.

Then, at the young age of 15, Braille created a revolutionary form of communication that has transcended blindness ever since by transforming millions of lives.

Braille was determined to fashion a system of reading and writing that could bridge the critical gap in communication between the sighted and the blind.

In 1821, at the young age of 12, Braille learned of a communication system devised by Captain Charles Barbier of the French Army. Barbier’s invention called “night writing” was a code of dots and dashes impressed into thick paper, . These impressions could be interpreted entirely by the fingers, letting soldiers share information on the battlefield without having light or needing to speak.

Barbier’s code turned out to be too complex to use in its original military form, but it inspired Braille to develop a system of his own.

Braille created his own raised-dot system by using an awl, the same kind of implement which had blinded him as a child.

Braille worked tirelessly on his ideas, and his system was largely completed by 1824.

He published his Braille system in 1829, and by his second edition of 1837 had discarded the dashes because they were too difficult to read.

In Braille’s own words;

“Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us if we (the blind) are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals – and communication is the way this can be brought about.”

Although Braille was admired and respected by those he taught his system to, his writing system was not taught by others during his lifetime.

Braille died Januray 6, 1852, two years before his system was finally adapted.

Two centuries after Braille, his system remains an invaluable tool of learning and communicating for the blind.

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Braille’s tomb in the Panthéon, Paris.


Today in 1878, he filed the patent for the first gasoline-powered automobile. Now We know em


He was born November 25, 1844 in Germany with the last name of Vaillant.

His father was a locomotive driver and married his mother a few months after his birth.

His father was killed in a railway accident when he was two years old, and his mother changed his last name in remembrance of the father he would never know.

Despite living in near poverty, his mother strove to give him a good education.

He attended the local Grammar School in Karlsruhe and developed into a prodigious student.

In 1853, at the age of nine he started attending the scientifically oriented Lyceum. Next he studied at the Poly-Technical University under the instruction of Ferdinand Redtenbacher.

He had originally focused his studies on becoming a  locksmith, but eventually followed in his father’s footsteps toward locomotive engineering.

On September 30, 1860, at age fifteen, he passed the entrance exam for mechanical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe, from which he subsequently graduated July 9, 1864 at the age of nineteen.

During these years, while riding his bicycle, he started to envision concepts for a vehicle that would eventually become the horseless carriage.

Following his formal education, he had seven years of professional training with several companies, but did not fit well in any of them.

In 1871, at the age of twenty-seven, he joined August Ritter in launching the Iron Foundry and Mechanical Workshop in Mannheim, later renamed the Factory of Machines for Sheet-metal Working.

The enterprise’s first year went very badly. Ritter turned out to be unreliable, and the business’s tools were impounded. The difficulty was overcome when his fiancée, Bertha Ringer, bought out Ritter’s share in the company using her dowry. They were married on July 20, 1872.

Despite many business misfortunes, he led the development of new engines in the factory he and his wife owned.

To get more revenues, in 1878 he began to work on new patents.

First, he concentrated all his efforts on creating a reliable petrol two-stroke engine.


He applied for the patent for his two-stroke gasoline engine on December 31, 1878, New Year’s Eve, and was granted a patent for it early in 1879.


Karl Friedrich Benz showed his real genius, however, through his successive inventions registered while designing what would become the production standard for his two-stroke engine.

Benz soon patented his speed regulation system, the ignition using white power sparks with a battery, a spark plug, a carburetor, a clutch, a gear shift, and a water radiator.

Problems arose again when his bank demanded that Bertha and Karl Benz’s enterprise be incorporated due to the high production costs it maintained.

The Benzes were forced to improvise an association with photographer Emil Bühler and his brother (a cheese merchant), in order to get additional bank support.

The company became a joint-stock company Gasmotoren Fabrik Mannheim in 1882.

After all the necessary incorporation agreements, Benz was unhappy because he was left with merely five percent of the shares and a modest position as director.

Worst of all, his ideas weren’t considered when designing new products, so he withdrew from that corporation just one year later.


First Automobile

Benz’s lifelong hobby had brought him to a bicycle repair shop in Mannheim owned by Max Rose and Friedrich Wilhelm Eßlinger.

In 1883, the three founded a new company producing industrial machines: Benz & Company Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik, usually referred to as, Benz & Cie.

This new company quickly grew to twenty-five employees, and began to produce static gas engines.

The success of the company gave Benz the opportunity to indulge in his old passion of designing a horseless carriage.

Based on his experience with, and fondness for, bicycles, he used similar technology when he created his first automobile.

His new vehicle featured wire wheels (unlike carriages’ wooden ones) with a four-stroke engine of his own design between the rear wheels, and a very advanced coil ignition with an evaporative cooling system rather than a radiator.

He designed the power to be transmitted by means of two roller chains to the rear axle.

Karl Benz finished his creation in 1885 and named it the Benz Patent Motorwagen.


1885 Benz Patent Motorwagen

It was the first automobile entirely designed as such to generate its own power, not simply a motorized-stage coach or horse carriage, which is why Karl Benz was granted his patent and is regarded as its inventor.

The Motorwagen was patented on January 29, 1886 as DRP-37435: “automobile fueled by gas”.

The 1885 version was difficult to control, leading to a collision with a wall during a public demonstration. The first successful tests on public roads were carried out in the early summer of 1886. The next year Benz created the Motorwagen Model 2, which had several modifications, and in 1887, the definitive Model 3 with wooden wheels was introduced at the Paris Expo.

Benz began to sell his vehicle (advertising it as the Benz Patent Motorwagen) in the late summer of 1888, making it the first commercially available automobile in history. The second customer of the Motorwagen was a Parisian bicycle manufacturer Emile Roger who had already been building Benz engines under license from Karl Benz for several years. Roger added the Benz automobiles (many built in France) to the line he carried in Paris and initially most Benz vehicles were sold by Roger.


No Gas – No Gears


An important part in the Benz story is his wife’s first long distance automobile trip, where Bertha Benz supposedly left without the knowledge of her husband, on the morning of August 5, 1888. She took the vehicle (see photo above)on a 106 km (66 mile) trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim to visit her mother, taking their sons Eugen and Richard with her.

Early customers could only buy gasoline from pharmacies that sold small quantities as a cleaning product. In addition to having to locate pharmacies on the way to fuel up, she repaired various technical and mechanical problems herself.

Bertha soon realized this early 1888 version of the Benz Motorwagen had no gears and could not climb hills unaided.

After some longer downhill slopes she ordered a shoemaker to nail leather on the brake blocks, thus inventing the brake lining.

Bertha Benz and her sons finally arrived at nightfall, announcing the achievement to Karl by telegram.

It had been her intention to demonstrate the feasibility of using the Benz Motorwagen for travel and to generate publicity in the manner now referred to as live marketing. Today the event is celebrated every two years in Germany with an antique automobile rally.

In 2008 Bertha Benz Memorial Route was officially approved as a route of the industrial heritage of mankind, because it follows Bertha Benz’s tracks of the world’s first long-distance journey by automobile in 1888.

Bertha suggested the addition of another gear and explained her new brake lining. Karl incorporated these improvements in his new Benz Model 3.

The Benz Model 3 made its wide-scale debut at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.

Karl built about twenty-five Benz Motorwagens between 1886 and 1893.


First Auto Race


1894 Benz Velo

His Benz Velo model participated in the world’s first automobile race in 1894, racing from Paris to Rouen, where Émile Roger finished 14th, after covering the 127 km (79 mi) in 10 hours 01 minute at an average speed of 12.7 km/h (7.9 mph).


First Truck


In 1895, Benz designed the first truck in history, with some of the units later modified by the first motor bus company: the Netphener, becoming the first motor buses in history.

During the last years of the nineteenth century, Benz was the largest automobile company in the world with 572 units produced in 1899.

In 1912, Karl Benz liquidated all of his shares and left the family-held company in Ladenburg to his sons Eugen and Richard.

Dr. Benz

During a birthday celebration for him in his home town of Karlsruhe on November 25, 1914, the seventy-year-old Karl Benz was awarded an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, the Karlsruhe University, thereby becoming — Dr. Karl Benz.

1923, was the last production year of the Benz Sons company, with three hundred and fifty units built.

During the following year, Karl Benz built two additional 8/25 hp units of the automobile manufactured by this company, tailored for his personal use, which he never sold; they are still preserved.


Mercedes Benz


On June 28, 1926, a merger created the Daimler-Benz company, baptizing all of its automobiles, Mercedes Benz, honoring the most important model of the DMG automobiles, the 1902 Mercedes 35 hp, along with the Benz name.

Karl Benz became a member of the new Daimler Benz board of management for the remainder of his life.

They created a new logo, consisting of a three pointed star (representing Daimler’s motto: “engines for land, air, and water”) surrounded by traditional laurels from the Benz logo, and the brand of all of its automobiles became labeled Mercedes Benz.

On April 4, 1929, Karl Benz died at his home in Ladenburg at the age of eighty-four from a bronchial inflammation.

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The man who bought Coca-Cola for $500 was born today in 1851. Now We know em


He was born December 30, 1851 on a farm in Georgia as the eighth child of eleven children.

Too young to fight in the American Civil War, he became interested in medicine and moved to Atlanta at the age of 19 where George Jefferson Howard (his future father-in-law) hired him to work at his drugstore.

He learned to be very business savvy, eventually forming a partnership with Marcellus Hallman and set up his own drugstore.

Blood Balm

Botanic-Blood-Balm-May-9-1891 (2)He began manufacturing his own “blood balm” and perfume at his drugstore. This became such a success that he was able to buy out his partner’s and by 1887 had one of the largest drug businesses in the Atlanta area.


There was another Atlanta druggist, Dr. John Pembleton, who had created a fragrant, caramel-colored syrup and started selling his new fizzy concoction mixed with soda water at a competing pharmacy in Atlanta.

The drink, which Dr. Pembleton’s bookkeeper called Coca-Cola, was enjoyed by regular customers for five cents a glass.

That first year, Pemberton sold just 9 glasses of Coca-Cola a day.


Asa Griggs Candler bought the formula for Coca-Cola from its inventor John Pemberton for an initial investment of $500 (the equivalent of $12,500 today).

Candler started small, manufacturing Coca-Cola in a shed and mixing the syrup himself.

That first year, Candler sold 500 gallons of Coca-Cola syrup.

Over the course of the next three years, 1888-1891, Candler secured the remaining rights to the product from other investors for a total of about $2,300.


1890 – Coca-Cola Company

Candler then formed The Coca-Cola Company in 1890. He grew the company with his famous aggressive marketing strategy.

Inevitably, Coca-Cola’s popularity led to a demand for it to be enjoyed in new ways. In 1894, a Mississippi businessman named Joseph Biedenharn became the first to put Coca-Cola in bottles. He sent 12 of them to Candler, who responded without enthusiasm.

Despite being a brilliant and innovative businessman, Candler didn’t realize that the future of Coca-Cola would be with portable, bottled beverages customers could take anywhere.

By 1895, Candler had built Coca-Cola syrup plants in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Then in 1899, still believing that the future of his product was with the syrup, Candler sold exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola to two Chattanooga lawyers, Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead for the sum of only one dollar.


Even with this short sighted blunder, Candler made millions of dollars from his investment.


Candler became bored with is company and served as the Mayor of Atlanta from 1916 to 1919. As mayor, he ended his day-to-day management of Coca-Cola and gave most of his stock to his five children.


In 1919, Candler and his family sold Coca-Cola to a group of investors led by Robert Woodruff for $25 million.

In retirement, Candler would invest in real estate, donate $1 million to Emory University, as well as millions to what would later become Emory Hospital.

In 1922, Candler donated over 50 acres of his land holdings to the City of Atlanta for what became Candler Park.

Asa Griggs Candler suffered a stroke in 1926 and died on March 12, 1929.

He is buried at Westview Cemetery in southwest Atlanta.

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