Richard Robinson Children’s publisher

Born in Pittsburgh, Penn., Robinson’s father, Maurice, had started a small publishing company for schoolkids before he was born. The company published a magazine covering high school sports; on its debut in 1920, the magazine was four pages. Within two years it had expanded to a bi-weekly 24 pages. In 1948, when Richard was 11, … Read more

From This is True for 13 June 2021

Clarence Williams III Actor

Born in New York City, Williams decided to go into acting when he accidentally walked onto a New York stage, and made his debut on Broadway (in The Long Dream, 1960). He had numerous roles there, and was nominated for a Tony award for his role in Slow Dance on the Killing Ground. He was spotted in that show … Read more

From This is True for 6 June 2021

Harvey Schlossberg Police psychologist

Born in Manhattan, Schlossberg received his college degree in chemistry and did something unusual to help fund his graduate studies: he joined the New York Police Dept. as an officer, which paid $4,000 a year. By going to classes after his shifts he earned his master’s in psychology from Long Island University, and in 1971 … Read more

From This is True for 30 May 2021

Jay Barbree Space journalist

A journalist, Barbree was working at a Georgia radio station when, in 1957, he reported on an event that gripped the world: the launch, by Russia, of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik. He was so fascinated that he paid his way to Cape Canaveral later that year to witness the launch of the U.S. response, Vanguard TV-3. … Read more

From This is True for 16 May 2021

Graeme Ferguson Filmmaker

A film director, producer, writer and cinematographer, Ferguson was obsessed with image quality. The usual 35mm film in movie cameras just wasn’t good enough no matter what brand the film was. At Expo 67 in Montreal, Que., Canada, his film Man and the Polar Regions used a multi-projector, multi-screen technique (similar to the 1952 multi-projector Cinerama … Read more

From This is True for 9 May 2021

Helen Murray Free Chemist

Born in Philadelphia, Murray’s mother died from influenza six years later. During World War II, women were encouraged to go into more “male-dominated” professions to take up the slack left by the men going to war. Murray chose chemistry, wanting to do research. She received a job offer from Miles Laboratories, best known as the … Read more

From This is True for 2 May 2021

Daniel Kaminsky Internet security researcher

Born in San Francisco, Calif., Kaminsky’s father bought him a computer …at age 4. By the time he was 5, Kaminsky had taught himself how to program it. At 11, his mother received a call from a government security administrator who told her that Daniel had used “penetration testing” to intrude into military computers, and … Read more

From This is True for 25 April 2021

Chuck Geschke Software visionary

With a master’s degree in mathematics, Geschke taught math at John Carroll University starting in 1963. But then he got interested in computers, and once completing a Ph.D in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in 1972, he quickly landed a position at Xerox’s famed Palo Alto Research Center. He built a mainframe computer, worked … Read more

From This is True for 18 April 2021

Isamu Akasaki Blue physicist

Born in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture, after his schooling Akasaki took a series of research positions with industry and universities. His goal: to produce cheap, stable, and (especially) bright blue lasers and LEDs. Why? White light can be created by mixing red, green, and blue (“RGB”). Red and green lasers/LEDs had been perfected, but adding blue … Read more

From This is True for 11 April 2021

Gianluigi Colalucci Art restorer

Born in Rome, Colalucci graduated from Italy’s Istituto Centrale del Restauro (Central Institute for Restoration), where he studied under art historian Cesare Brandi. Colalucci restored artworks by Raphael, Giotto, Titian, and Buonamico Buffalmacco, among others. The “among others” is key: he is best known for just one job — “the restoration of the century”: Michelangelo’s … Read more

From This is True for 4 April 2021