This Week in Awesome History – Vol. 9

Rock and Roll and a surprising birthday announcement for an iconic gaming company!

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

September 19, 1997: Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is released

On this day in ’97 the first iteration in the Oddworld series was released, and promptly saw gamers taken by its unique 2.5D visuals and dark sense of humour. Despite most (including myself) not being able to progress past the first couple of levels, Abe’s Oddysee still garnered a cult following that saw the franchise continue with reasonable success, culminating with the hugely underrated Stranger’s Wrath for the original Xbox, which is scheduled for a HD remake on the Playstation Network sometime in the future.

 

September 21, 1937: The Hobbit is published

On this day in ’37, J. R. R. Tolkien’s literary classic The Hobbit was published. The book introduced us to the characters of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and Gollum, who would later become infamous due to Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

A Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, Tolkien was marking School Certificate papers when he spontaneously wrote “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit” on a blank page. Two years later and the novel was completed.

Tolkien sent the manuscript to a few friends, and before long it had made its way in the hands of publisher Stanley Unwin, who gave the book to his 10-year-old son to read. His son loved it and settled Unwin’s decision to publish it.

 

September 21, 1992: Radiohead release “Creep”

Although the members of Radiohead don’t look upon their debut single too fondly these days, back in ’92 it garnered them some major airplay and introduced the world to a band that would go on to become of the most experimental and inspirational in music history.

Even though radio DJ’s were initially dismissive of the record, believing it to be “too depressing”, excessive airplay on San Francisco stations made the word spread about Thom Yorke’s tale of unrequited love. It seemed as though the band were destined for one-hit-wonder status until they released their sophomore album The Bends, which surprised everyone by being utterly brilliant and a departure from the tedious grunge of their first album Pablo Honey.

The Bends even included a little nod to their breakout single in the form of track “My Iron Lung”, which included the lyrics “This is our new song/ just like the last one/ a total waste of time”. Yikes.

 

September 23rd, 1889: Nintendo is founded

Yes, you read that right. Contrary to popular belief Nintendo did not set up for shop in the 80s. Well, technically they did, but not the 21st century 80s. On this day in 1889 a new company named Nintendo started manufacturing and selling playing cards named hanafuda cards, and you’ll be interested to know that they still make them over at Club Nintendo, including a special edition Mario-themed deck.

 

September 24th, 1875: Billy the Kid arrested for the first time

Billy the Kid would eventually become a notorious old west outlaw and murderer, but his first imprisonment at the age of 15 was a far more innocent affair. After being convinced by a friend to hide some stolen laundry as a “joke”, young Billy was subsequently thrown in jail in order to be taught a lesson. After 2 days of imprisonment Billy climbed his way up the chimney and escaped, which was his first stepping stone on a long path of wrongdoing that would see him killing a reported 21 people.

After his mother died at the age of 14 an orphaned Billy was forced to fend for himself, but was generally considered to be a good-natured and friendly young man. However, following his escape from his first imprisonment he found himself a fugitive and began a life of lawlessness.

In 1877 he found himself in a confrontation with Frank “Windy” Cahill, who would often bully Billy, and as the two were fighting Billy produced a gun and shot Cahill dead. The coroner concluded that the killing was “criminal and unjustifiable”. This was Billy’s first murder.

Billy would go on to become feared yet also admired in certain communities, in particular with Hispanics as he spoke fluent Spanish and was very friendly with the Latina girls.

Sentenced to execution in 1881 after being detained by Sheriff Pat Garrett, Billy escaped Lincoln prison and was yet again on the run. In the July of that year Garrett was speaking a friend of Billy’s named Pete Maxwell in his home, when the outlaw unexpectedly entered. A surprised Billy was shot dead by Garrett.