Monday, July 31, 1961: Selectric typewriter

IBM Corp. begins selling its Selectric, introducing a new era in typewriter design and technology. Gone were individual typebars with a letter, number or symbol on each one; in their place was a golf-ball-shaped element that rotated and pivoted. The typeball was also interchangeable, allowing for different fonts. The machine meant faster typing and was an instant success.

* IBM press release marking anniversary: @
* "The Selectric Typewriter" (from www.ibm.com): @
* Operating manual: @
* "IBM Typewriter Milestones": @
* Ads for IBM typewriters: (from www.etypewriters.com): @
* 1961 newsreel (from criticalpast.com): @
* Selectric Typewriter Museum: @
* IBM Selectric Typewriter Resource Page: @


July 1961: Renault 4L

The French automaker Renault introduces the Renault 4L. The front-wheel-drive hatchback became popular the world over, its versatility and relative spaciousness among the main selling points.

* Summary (from www.renault.com): @
* "A golden anniversary for one of the world's most popular cars" (from blog.hemmings.com): @
* "French put the small car's engine in front" (New Scientist, August 31): @
* Summary (translated from www.franceculture.com): @
* "History of 4L" (translated from French): @
* www.r4-4l.com (translated from French): @
* 4L International club (translated from French): @
* Commercials: @
* More footage: @ and @


Tuesday, July 25, 1961: Report on the Berlin Crisis

President John F. Kennedy gives a nationwide speech in which he lays out the steps the United States will take in response to the escalating tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over the fate of Berlin. Kennedy proposes an expansion in military preparedness -- boosting the number of the armed forces as well as increasing spending on both weaponry and civil defense. "So long as the Communists insist that they are preparing to end by themselves unilaterally our rights in West Berlin and our commitments to its people, we must be prepared to defend those rights and those commitments. We will at all times be ready to talk, if talk will help. But we must also be ready to resist with force, if force is used upon us. ... We seek peace, but we shall not surrender," Kennedy says, in a speech that sounds like it is preparing Americans for the possibility of war.

* Video (from jfklibrary.org): @
* Transcript (from American Presidency Project): @
* "A Kennedy speech that was weaker than it sounds" (excerpt from the book "Berlin 1961"): @
* Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara (July 18): @


Undated: ''The Manipulation of Human Behavior'

Funded in part by the U.S. government, this 1961 book summarizes various approaches to, as the editors put it, "the interrogation of an unwilling subject." From the introduction: "For this work, scientists who had done research in each of these areas were asked to review the state of relevant knowledge in their fields, to consider whether and how it might be applied by interrogators, and to evaluate the recourse available to highly motivated persons for resisting the attempted influence."

* Full text of book: @
* "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War" (study by Albert D. Biderman, published in 1957): @
* "China Inspired Interrogations at Guantanamo" (2008 New York Times article, citing the 1957 study): @
* "The Torture Report: An Investigation into Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Under the Bush Administration" (project by American Civil Liberties Union): @
* www.torturingdemocracy.com (website and documentary): @
* www.americantorture.com (website and book): @


Wednesday, July 19, 1961: In-flight movies

Using a specially designed projector and screen, TWA is the first airline to show regular in-flight movies. On July 19, first-class passengers aboard a Boeing 707 jet flying from New York to Los Angeles watch "By Love Possessed," starring Lana Turner, Efrem Zembalist Jr., Jason Robards and Barbara Bel Geddes.

* "Strato-Cinema for Jet Passengers" (Science and Mechanics article, November 1961): @
* Newsreel on "Come September," another early selection for in-flight showings: @
* Newsreel on "Bachelor in Paradise," with star Bob Hope aboard flight: @
* Trailer for "By Love Possessed": @


Monday, July 17, 1961: Easy Listening music

Billboard magazine begins ranking "Easy Listening" songs -- essentially, songs from the magazine's Top 100 without a real rock 'n' roll sound; Billboard would later describe them as "not too far out in either direction." (Up until then, such songs had been listed in an "Easy Listening" category under "Programming Guide.") The chart would undergo several name changes -- Middle-Road Singles, Pop-Standard Singles -- before being called Adult Contemporary in 1979.

* "The Top 100 Adult Contemporary Songs Ever" (from billboard.com): @
* "The Top 50 Adult Contemporary Artists Ever" (from billboard.com): @
* Listen to "The Boll Weevil Song" (by Brook Benton; the first song to be ranked #1): @


Friday, July 14, 1961: 'Way Out'

The CBS television series "Way Out" is canceled after 14 episodes. Hosted by writer Roald Dahl, the episodes (a different one each week) usually featured elements of the bizarre and the macabre.

The photo at left, of actor Barry Morse, is from "Soft Focus," the July 7 episode. Here is an excerpt from Morse's autobiography: "The episode ... featured me as successful portrait photographer Peter Pell, who has discovered an extraordinary chemical. By retouching photos with this strange mixture, he is able to alter the pictures and change the actual faces of the living people. Long suspecting his young attractive wife, Louise (played by Joan Hotchkis), of committing adultery, he sets to work on her photo. Upon realizing that she has been rapidly aging, Louise surprises her husband, who has now been at work on his own photo. His new, youthful face reveals the truth to her. In a rage, she pours the fluid on his portrait -- a pool of it covering half the picture. Pell quickly tries to salvage the picture, but fails. When he looks up half his face has been erased! ... my make-up was accomplished by Dick Smith, who later became well known in the business for his work on 'Dark Shadows' and 'The Exorcist.' "

* Watch five episodes (unfortunately, "Soft Focus" is not among them): @
* Episode guide and synopses (from roalddahlfans.com): @
* More about the show (from roalddahlfans.com): @
* Roald Dahl official website: @


Monday, July 10, 1961: 'Axis Sally'

After 12 years in prison, Mildred Gillars (aka "Axis Sally") is released from the women's reformatory in Alderson, West Virginia. During World War II, she was a radio announcer broadcasting propaganda from Berlin on behalf of Nazi Germany, "messages designed to heighten loneliness, fatigue and the futility of fighting Germany," in the words of her 1988 New York Times obituary. (Note: Rita Zucca, broadcasting from Rome, was also known as "Axis Sally.")

* Excerpts from broadcasts: @
* Stories from Charleston, W.V., newspapers (July 10-11): @ and @
* Articles from www.historynet.com: @ and @
* "Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany" (book by Richard Lucas): @
* Segments from "Talking History" radio program (scroll down to "World War II Radio Propaganda: Real and Imaginary"): @


July 1961: 'The Challenge of Ideas'

Produced by the Defense Department's Army Pictorial Center for showing to the U.S. military, "The Challenge of Ideas" dramatizes the Communist threat to American ideals and global aims. Actors John Wayne and Helen Hayes are among those giving short testimonials; the film itself is introduced by Edward R. Murrow, the former CBS journalist who in January 1961 became head of the U.S. Information Agency. "The Challenge of Ideas" replaces two more controversial efforts at propaganda: "Operation Abolition" and "Communism on the Map," both of which were removed from the Pentagon's list of approved educational materials.

* Watch "The Challenge of Ideas": @
* Army Pictorial Center site: @
* Watch "Operation Abolition": @
* Time magazine article about "Operation Abolition" (March 1961): @
* More about San Francisco protests (blog post from May 1960 and subject of "Operation Abolition"): @
* Short biography of George Stuart Benson and his role in creating "Communism on the Map": @
* Life magazine article that mentions "Communism on the Map" (February 1962): @
* More about Murrow's "Harvest of Shame" (blog post from November 1960): @


Undated: Soy sauce dispenser

Kikkoman Corp.'s new soy sauce bottle, designed by Kenji Ekuan, is so instantly recognizable -- and practical -- that it becomes a design classic. Also in 1961, Kikkoman introduces its teriyaki sauce, developed specificially for American customers. Teriyaki derives from the Japanese "teri" (gloss, luster) and "yaki" (roast).

* More about the bottle (from www.kikkoman.eu): @
* More about the bottle and Kikkoman (from www.strappingline.com): @
* Kikkoman USA website: @
* More about Kenji Ekuan: @
* Soy Sauce Museum: @


Tuesday, July 4, 1961: K-19 nuclear accident

A leak develops in the cooling system of the K-19, a Soviet nuclear submarine, while it was on exercises in the North Atlantic near southern Greenland. A meltdown is averted, but the eight crew members who carried out repairs all died within three weeks of radiation poisoning; the rest of the crew also received substantial doses of radiation.

* Summary from National Geographic: @
* Excerpt from "Rising Tide: The Untold Story of the Russian Submarines that Fought the Cold War" (book): @
* Pravda article: @
* "The Russian Northern Fleet: Nuclear submarine accidents": @


Sunday, July 2, 1961: Ernest Hemingway dies

Author Ernest Hemingway, 61, kills himself with a shotgun blast to the head. His direct writing style, as well as his adventurous persona, made him one of the most famous authors of the 20th century.

* Short biography (from nobelprize.org): @
* The Hemingway Society: @
* The Ernest Hemingway Collection (at JFK presidential library): @
* timelesshemingway.com: @
* Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum (Key West, Fla): @
* Holdings at University of Delaware Library: @
* "Hemingway on War and Its Aftermath" (from the National Archives' Prologue magazine): @
* "The Old Man and the Sea" (September 1, 1952, Life magazine): @
* Selected audio: @

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