This Week In Awesome History Vol. 7

The ultimate war weapon and the ultimate grunge band round out this week's list.

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

September 6, 1915: First Tank produced

On this day in 1915 the world’s first tank rolled out of England. Nicknamed “Little Willie”, the prototype weighed a hefty 14 tons and could only traverse rough terrain at a speed of 2mph. Designed for trench warfare, Little Willie underwhelmed initially due to its cumbersome movement, and because it would frequently become stuck in the trenches it was designed to navigate.

In 1916 a follow-up to the prototype was introduced. Named “Big Willie” the tank made its debut appearance in the First Battle of the Somme, in a batch entitled “Mark I”. Although the tanks were noisy and prone to malfunctions, their potential was realised by the military and by 1917 a new batch, Mark IV, captured 8,000 enemy troops and guns.

Since its use in World War 2 the tank has been a prominent weapon used on the battlefield.


September 7, 1996: 2Pac is shot and killed

Following the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon Heavyweight fight, rapper Tupac Shukar is shot and killed in a drive-by.

After being involved in a violent altercation with LA gang member Orlando Anderson in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, Tupac and Death Row Records founder Suge Knight exited the building in a black BMW. Later, a white Cadillac sedan pulled up beside them and opened fire, killing Tupac and causing minor wounds to Knight.

Tupac’s mother later filed suit against Anderson, however the case was not resolved as Anderson was killed in a shoot-out outside an LA car wash. Although the murder mystery has never been solved, conspiracy theorists have suspected that Suge Knight was behind the shooting, as well as the police force. Whether there is any truth behind the rumors that Tupac is alive and living in Ireland with Elvis remains to be seen.


September 9, 1995: PlayStation goes on sale

On this day in 1995 the PlayStation was released in North America, hurtling us further towards a new, more mature era in videogame history and demolishing cartridge-based gaming along with it.

Launching with titles such as Ridge Racer and Doom, the PlayStation was edgier than all of its competitors and instantly put it at the top of Christmas wish-lists of teenagers the world over. Even though consoles in 2011 can do everything bar give you a sponge bath, in 1995 the PlayStation’s ability to play music CD’s was enough to put it miles ahead of Nintendo and Sega’s coin collecting cartoon mascots. I mean, just watch this trailer: PlayStation Trailer.  What the hell is going on?! I have no idea, but boy do I wanna play some Tekken right now…


September 10, 1897: First arrest made for drunk-driving

London cabdriver George Smith was the first person to ever be arrested for drunk-driving following his collision with a building in 1897. He was fined 25 shillings (approximately 8 cents).

Police made the arrest because of the suspects’ admittance to being drunk and his obvious intoxication, but they still lacked a scientific way to prove that a suspect was under the influence. First they introduced blood tests, then urine tests, and then finally settled upon the “Drunkometer”.

A device invented by toxicologist Rolla Harger, the Drunkometer was essentially a balloon that the suspect would blow into. The balloon was then attached to a tube filled with purple fluid, and if the fluid changed from purple to yellow the suspect was proven to be drunk and was then arrested. This method was used all the way up until the Breathalyzer’s introduction in 1954.


September 10, 1991: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is released

Following 300,000 sales of their debut album “Bleach”, despite it taking only $600 to produce, a reasonable amount of underground success was predicted for Nirvana. However, following the release of the debut track from their sophomore album “Nevermind”, everybody and his/her mother fell in love with the small-time Seattle band and they swiftly became the three most important faces of rock music.

Although the track was originally not going to be included on Nevermind (frontman Kurt Cobain thought it was too reminiscent of influence The Pixies), it served to be their breakout single and catapulted Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl into super-stardom.

Nirvana’s success made grunge the genre of choice in the early 90s which, depending upon whether or not you like your musicians to not give a flying f*ck about the music they’re writing, was a good/bad thing.