This Day in Innovation, Technology & Science

image of Penny Black stamp


The world’s first sticky stamp, the Penny Black, entered official use in the UK on May 6, 1840. It also introduced the idea of pre-paid postage, regardless of the distance traveled. Until the new system was introduced, the recipient paid when the letter arrived.


Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, is born in Moravia, then part of the Austrian Empire and now in the Czech Republic. According to Wikipedia, he was born Sigismund Schlomo Freud, and grew up poor but his parents did what they could to provide for his education.

Freud developed theories about the unconscious mind and repression, and went on to create the field of psychotherapy.

According to the encyclopedia, “Freud’s theories have been criticized as pseudo-scientific and sexist, and they have been marginalized within psychology departments, although they remain influential within the humanities.”

His name and theory has, er, slipped in to everyday language with the expression, Freudian Slip. This is where you say one thing and mean your mother. Some more examples are in the compilation below (NSFW).


François Auguste Victor Grignard, Nobel winner for Chemistry, is born in France. During World War I, he studied chemical warfare agents for both the manufacture and detection of poison gas.


The Eiffel Tower opened to the public during the 1889 Exposition in Paris. According to Wikipedia, it is “320 metres (1,050 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building.” When complete, the wrought-iron structure was the tallest man-made structure in the world. It held that title until the Chrysler Building was built in New York in 1930.

Although it met opposition from artists at the time, the tower is now the most-visited, paid monument in the world.


The Hindenburg Disaster took place on this day in 1937. The giant airship exploded in to flames while attempting to dock in Lakehurst, New Jersey, after its flight from Germany.

Captured in spectacular newsreel footage and reported in radio commentary, the disaster claimed 35 lives and brought the airship era to a close.

Image of Penny Black stamp courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.