Today's Birthday

  • Emile Berliner (1851)
    Emile Berliner (1851)

    After apprenticing as a printer in Germany, Berliner immigrated to the US and became interested in the new audio technologies of his day. He patented a series of improvements to Alexander Graham Bell's recently invented telephone before turning his attention to the phonograph. In 1888, he introduced the first flat disc recording, a marked improvement over Thomas Edison's recording cylinders for the phonograph and a precursor of the modern record. What were some of Berliner's other inventions?

  • Lorraine Hansberry (1930)
    Lorraine Hansberry (1930)

    At just 29 years of age, African-American playwright Lorraine Hansberry secured her place in theatrical history when she became the first black woman to have a play produced on Broadway. Her acclaimed A Raisin in the Sun, a penetrating psychological study of a working-class African-American family in Chicago, was inspired in part by the discrimination and legal battle Hansberry's own family faced upon buying a home in a white Chicago neighborhood. Why was her literary career cut short?

  • Frank Russell Capra (1897)
    Frank Russell Capra (1897)

    One of the preeminent Hollywood directors of the 1930s and 40s, Capra produced idealistic populist movies that celebrate the virtues of the common American. At age six, the Sicilian-born future director immigrated with his family to the US. After holding various jobs in the film industry, he emerged as a major director in 1928. Within years, he had won his first Oscar. Which of his films is now considered one of the best American films ever made—despite having initially been a box office flop?