What Happened on July 1?

  • The first Sony Walkman was sold. (1979) The Walkman revolutionized the music industry — it was the first portable personal music player, allowing people to take music with them anywhere. The first sale was made in Japan. In the U.S., it was first marketed in the U.S. as the Soundabout.

  • The Ford Motor Company made its final Thunderbird. (2005) The Thunderbird was first produced in 1955 and was marketed as the first personal luxury car. Ford sold more than 14,000 T-Birds in the first year — many more than the 700 Corvettes they sold in that car's first year of production.

  • The world's first international telephone call took place. (1881) The phone call was made between the city of St. Stephen in New Brunswick, Canada, and Calais, Maine, in the United States. The two cities, just across the U.S.-Canadian border from each other, share one of the busiest border crossings between the U.S. and Canada today.

  • The United States Department of Justice opened for business. (1870) President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill that created the department on June 22nd. It was headed by the Attorney General — a position that started as a part-time job in 1789 and slowly expanded.

  • Taxes started coming out of American's pay checks. (1943) The "pay-as-you-go" program was set up to replace the previous requirement of paying income taxes in bulk once per year. Similar systems are used in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Australia.

  • 5-digit ZIP codes were established for the first time in the United States. (1963) The Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP) codes were initially marketed as a speedier way to get letters delivered. The codes became more detailed in the 1980s with the creation of ZIP+4 codes.

  • SOS became the signal for distress. (1908) The German government first used the radio signal in 1905. The International Radiotelegraphic Convention made it a worldwide standard in 1906, putting it into effect in 1908. SOS was the standard maritime distress signal as well until 1999 — it was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System, which standardized not only the distress signal, but also the means of rescue communication and equipment requirements, among other things.

  • England and Australia ban smoking. (2007) The two countries joined Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland in a country-wide smoking ban in public places.

  • Movies get the first PG-13 rating. (1984) The Motion Picture Association of America set the new rating in response to controversy over "bloody and violent" movies as Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which audiences felt weren't suitable for children. Red Dawn was the first movie to be assigned the new rating.

  • Television broadcasts were connected across Canada with microwaves. (1958) The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the oldest network in Canada, established the coast-to-coast broadcasting. The company also was the first to offer FM radio in Canada in 1946, and it broadcast Canada's first color TV show on this same day in 1966.

  • Princess Diana was born. (1961) Born Diana Spencer, she married the Prince of Wales, Charles, in 1981 while more than 750 million people watched. She was killed in a car crash in 1997 when she was just 36 years old. Her televised funeral gathered 2.5 billion viewers.

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