Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 31 May 2020

Marvin Gaye, Apple Computer and John Lennon: 5 things that happened on April 1

From the serious to the entertaining, here is our daily list of things that happened around the world on this day

A conceptual "country" was declared, a town rediscovered and a brave new company born – here are some interesting things that happened on this day in history.

1. Pompeii’s ruins were rediscovered

Year: 1748

The summer of AD 79 was cataclysmic for the people of Pompeii.

Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the Roman town and its people under tonnes of ash and rock. This is how it stayed until a surveying engineer rediscovered it on April 1, 1748.

Astoundingly, the town – its buildings, artefacts and skeletons – was pretty much intact. Since then, treasure hunters and archaeologists have dug continuously through the debris to unearth and excavate what remains. This has taught us much about life in the ancient world.

Greek settlers had originally claimed the town, but Pompeii was under the influence of Rome by 2nd century BC. It eventually became a place where wealthy holidaymakers and distinguished folk flocked.

Scholars estimate that about 12,000 people were living there when the volcano erupted, with almost as many inhabiting the surrounding areas. While death toll estimates range from 16,000 to 30,000, the exact figure is not known.

2. 'Nutopia' was founded

Year: 1973

John Lennon and Yoko Ono weren’t afraid of being controversial.

On April 1, 1973 the former Beatle and his second wife, the Japanese multimedia artist, announced the birth of their conceptual country, Nutopia.

Anyone could be a citizen, if only they declared their awareness of it.

The declaration read: “Nutopia has no land, no boundries [sic], no passports, only people. Nutopia has no laws other than cosmic. All people of Nutopia are ambassadors of the country.”

The “nation’s” name is a portmanteau of “new” and “utopia”. Its national anthem was three seconds of silence, which was included on Lennon’s solo album Mind Games, released in November that year.

The week before Nutopia was announced, Lennon had been issued an order by US immigration authorities to leave America, and was given 60 days to do so.

Perhaps that’s why the declaration also included this: “As two ambassadors of Nutopia, we ask for diplomatic immunity and recognition in the United Nations of our country and its people.”

At the press conference, the pair also waved a white handkerchief, declaring “surrender and submission”. The deportation order was overturned within two years and, in 1976, Lennon received his green card.

3. Apple Computer was born

Year: 1976

Stephen Wozniak had a lifelong dream to build his own computer. By 1976, he’d designed the plans for his own microcomputer, but Hewlett-Packard Company, where Wozniak, then 26, was an intern, wasn’t interested.

So he and a friend, 21-year-old Steven Jobs, set up their own production operations in Jobs’s family garage. And that’s where Apple Inc. (then Apple Computer) was born on April 1 that year. Just over 10 months later, they’d incorporated the company in Cupertino, California.

Apple will pay a reward of Dh3.7m to any hacker who can remotely gain full control of an iPhone without the knowledge of its owner. AFP
The Apple logo is unmistakable. AFP

While today Apple is known as a leader in consumer electronics, for three decades it predominantly manufactured personal computers, including the Apple II, Macintosh and Power Mac.

By the early 2000s, however, they’d introduced the iPod and iTunes Music Store, followed not that long after by smartphones, media players and tablets.

In 1985, a frustrated Wozniak, who believed the company had been going in the wrong direction, left active employment at Apple, while Jobs was ousted by chief executive John Sculley that same year.

Famously, however, Jobs returned in 1996, eventually becoming chief executive, instilling a new corporate philosophy of recognisable products and simple design that ultimately changed tech history.

Sadly, Jobs died in 2011. Tim Cook is Apple's current chief executive.

4. Bob Dylan becomes a poet laureate

Year: 2017

Many of us know more Bob Dylan tunes that we realise. Mr Tambourine Man, All Along the Watchtower and Like a Rolling Stone are among his most famous contributions.

But did you know that he won the Nobel Prize for Literature?

Aged 75, Dylan became the first musician to ever win the award on April 1, 2017. It was a moment that redefined the boundaries of literature, at least within the context of the prestigious Swedish prize.

While some famous novelists commended the academy for its choice, others were not impressed. “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel in Literature is like Mrs Fields being awarded three Michelin stars,” wrote Lebanese-American painter and writer Rabih Alameddine on Twitter.

“This is almost as silly as Winston Churchill.” The former British prime minister had previously won the prize in recognition of the literary qualities in his political speeches.

American writer Jodi Picoult asked: “I’m happy for Bob Dylan, #ButDoesThisMeanICanWinAGrammy?”

The Swedish Academy defended its choice, saying Dylan, who has also published prose, poetry and a memoir, had “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Indeed, literary scholars have long debated whether the maestro’s lyrics are in fact poetry.

5. The Prince of Soul was killed

Year: 1984

While Marvin Gaye’s songs – from Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to I Heard it Through the Grapevine – have captured the world’s hearts, perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the Motown singer's life was his death.

The day before his 45th birthday, Gaye was shot and killed by his own father.

He’d reportedly had a long-standing conflict with his father, Marvin Gay, Sr (the “e” was added by the singer for his stage name), who was a preacher in the Hebrew Pentecostal Church. He enforced strict morality among his four children, although reports state he adopted a complicated model of this morality himself.

Marvin Jr’s relationship with his dad came to a head a year after he’d moved back in with his parents.

He may have only just won his first Grammy the year before, but he was struggling with depression, debt and drug abuse. During a heated argument on April 1, 1984, Marvin Sr took out a gun and shot his son three times.

The so-called Prince of Soul’s brother, Frankie, held him as he died and later wrote in his memoir that Marvin Jr’s final words were: “I got what I wanted … I couldn’t do it myself, so I made him do it.”

Updated: April 1, 2020 11:46 AM

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