* June 7, 1965: Lights, Camera, Action

Sony Corp. marketed a new gadget on this date--the PortaPak. Using a videotape recorder connected to a separate camera, you could shoot black-and-white images on reel-to-reel tape. The two units cost almost $2,000 and faced stiff competition from traditional film-based Super 8 systems. While movie film had to be sent out for developing, then projected on a screen, videotaped images could be played back immediately on the television. PortaPaks were the first relatively low-cost video devices available to the general public.

* June 8, 1924: Mallory Disappears

English mountaineer George Mallory and climbing partner Andrew Irvine disappeared as they approached the summit of Mt. Everest. Just last month, Mallory’s body was discovered several hundred feet below the peak. An expedition team is searching for a pocket camera that might contain photos that prove he and his partner made it to the top. In the meantime, Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, are credited with being first to scale the world’s highest mountain, in 1953.


* June 9, 1910: Message in a Bottle

On this day, a passenger aboard the steamship Arawatta placed a message in a bottle and threw it overboard off the coast of Australia. It was found 72 years and 362 days later, on an island just west of Queensland, Australia. This set a world record for the longest time between sending and finding a message in a bottle. The record was broken in 1996, when a fisherman found a bottle that had been in the North Sea for more than 82 years. It contained a message offering a small reward if returned. He collected one pound sterling from the British government.

* June 10, 1958: Purple People Eater

Sheb Wooley had the No. 1 song, “Purple People Eater,” topping the music chart for six weeks. The tune described a “one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater,” who could play rock ‘n’ roll through the horn in his head. Who says today’s music is out there?

* June 11, 1982: E.T. Phones Home

“E.T.--The Extra Terrestrial” opened on this date and quickly won the hearts of millions with its tale of a cute alien stranded on Earth. It also made millions of dollars and became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

* June 12, 1923: Houdini Performs

The magician Harry Houdini stunned a New York audience on this date as he broke loose from a straitjacket while hanging some 40 feet in the air, upside down. The legendary escape artist made a name for himself by breaking free of handcuffs, prison cells and bank vaults. His most famous feat consisted of escaping from an airtight tank that was filled with water.


* June 13, 1948: The Babe Says Goodbye

Uniform No. 3 was retired in ceremonies at Yankee Stadium on this date. It belonged to Babe Ruth, the first great home-run hitter in baseball history. The sports legend said goodbye in a touching ceremony attended by 49,641 fans. He died two months later.


Sources: Los Angeles Times Archives (; Library of Congress (; the History Channel Online (; This Date in Baseball History (; 1999 World Book Family Reference Suite.