Sunday, March 2, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the son of Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. King's father was born "Michael King", and Martin Luther King, Jr. was initially named "Michael King, Jr.", until 1935, when "his father changed both of their names to Martin to honor the German Protestant (Martin Luther)." He had an older sister, Willie Christine (September 11, 1927) and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel (July 30, 1930 – July 1, 1969). King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind. He entered Morehouse College at age fifteen, skipping his ninth and twelfth high school grades without formally graduating. In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, and graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) degree in 1951. In September 1951, King began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) on June 5, 1955 (but see the Plagiarism section for controversy regarding this degree). In 1953, at age 24, King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Jackie Robinson

Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) became the first African-American major league baseball player of the modern era in 1947. While not the first African American professional baseball player in United States history, his Major League debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers ended approximately eighty years of baseball segregation, also known as the baseball color line. In the United States at this time, many white people believed that blacks and whites should be segregated or kept apart in many phases of life, including sports and daily life. The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Robinson in 1962 and he was a member of six World Series teams. He earned six consecutive All-Star Game nominations and won several awards during his career. In 1947, Robinson won The Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award and the first Rookie of the Year Award. Two years later, he was awarded the National League MVP Award. In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Jackie Robinson was also a forerunner of the Civil Rights Movement. He was a key figure in the establishment and growth of the Freedom Bank, an African-American owned and controlled entity, in the 1960s. He also wrote a syndicated newspaper column for a number of years, in which he was an outspoken supporter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Robinson engaged in political campaigning for a number of politicians, including the Democrat Hubert Humphrey and the Republican Richard Nixon.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Robinson was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On April 15, 1997, the 50 year anniversary of his debut, Major League Baseball retired the number 42, the number Robinson wore, in recognition of his accomplishments both on and off the field in a ceremony at Shea Stadium. In 1950, he was the subject of a film biography, The Jackie Robinson Story, in which he played himself. He became a political activist in his post-playing days.

In 1946, Robinson married Rachel Annetta Isum. In 1973, after Jackie died, Rachel founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bill Gates

William (Bill) H. Gates is chairman of Microsoft Corporation, the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft had revenues of US$51.12 billion for the fiscal year ending June 2007, and employs more than 78,000 people in 105 countries and regions.

On June 15, 2006, Microsoft announced that effective July 2008 Gates will transition out of a day-to-day role in the company to spend more time on his global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. After July 2008 Gates will continue to serve as Microsoft’s chairman and an advisor on key development projects.

In his junior year, Gates left Harvard University to devote his energies to Microsoft, a company he had begun in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen. Guided by a belief that the computer would be a valuable tool on every office desktop and in every home, they began developing software for personal computers. Gates' foresight and his vision for personal computing have been central to the success of Microsoft and the software industry.

Under Gates' leadership, Microsoft's mission has been to continually advance and improve software technology, and to make it easier, more cost-effective and more enjoyable for people to use computers. The company is committed to a long-term view, reflected in its investment of approximately $7.1 billion on research and development in the 2007 fiscal year.

Linus Torvalds

Linus Benedict Torvalds was born in December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland, is a Finnish software engineer best known for initiating the development of the Linux kernel. He now acts as the project's coordinator.

Early Life

Linus Torvalds was born on December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland. He is the son of Nils and Anna Torvalds. Both parents pursued careers in journalism. Linus took an early interest in computers mainly through the influence of his maternal grandfather. He excelled in math in secondary school. Linus and his family are part of a minority in Finland whose first language is not Finnish but Swedish, a fact which is not widely known. For this reason, early references to his pronunciation of Linux in Swedish were not understood or often cited as an error.

University Student

Linus Torvalds enrolled at the University of Helsinki in 1988 where he studied computer science. After buying a PC with an Intel 386 CPU, he began using Minix, an Unix-inspired operating system created by Andrew Tannenbaum for use as a teaching tool. Linus was not impressed with the system in general and in particular he lamented its inability to do terminal emulation, which he needed so he could connect to the university's computers. Linus decided to do the terminal emulation program himself, independently of Minix. These were the first steps toward creating Linux.

Linux Development

Linus quickly developed the terminal emulation program and it was sufficient for his needs for a while. However, Linus began thinking that it would be nice to be able to do other things with it like tranferring and saving files. This is where Linux was really born. Originally, Linus wanted to name his creation 'Freax' (pronounced like the English word freaks). He changed it to Linux at the prompting of a friend. In August, 1991, Linus announced on Usenet that he was working on this operating system:

From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system
Message-ID: <>
Date: 25 Aug 91 20:57:08 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki

Hello everybody out there using minix -

I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and
professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing
since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on
things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat
(same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons)
among other things).

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work.
This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and
I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions
are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Linus (

PS. Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs.
It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never
will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.

Linus uploaded the first version of Linux, version 0.01 in September of 1991. Then Linux belonged to the world.

Marriage and a Family

In 1993, Linus was teaching an introductory computer course at the University of Helsinki. A young woman in the class named Tove Monni emailed him and asked him out on a date. She would later become his wife. Tove and Linus went on to have three daughters, Patricia, Miranda and Daniela.

To the USA and Transmeta

In late 1996 Linus accepted an invitation to visit the California headquarters of Transmeta, a start-up company in the first stages of designing an energy saving CPU. Linus was intrigued by their work and in early 1997 he accepted a position at Transmeta and moved to California with his family. Along with his work for Transmeta, Linus continued to oversee kernel development.

Open Source Development Laboratory

In June of 2003, Linus left Transmeta in order to focus exclusively on the Linux kernel and began to work under the auspices of the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) a consortium formed by high-tech companies which include IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, AMD, RedHat, Novell and many others. The purpose of the consortium is to promote Linux development. OSDL merged with The Free Standards Group in January 2007 to become The Linux Foundation.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sarah Ferguson

Sarah was born in London in 1959 to parents Major Ronald Ferguson and his wife Susan. As a child she loved horse riding and won many cups and shows. In 1972, her parents separated and her mother married for the second time to an Argentinian, Hector Barrantes, then moved to South America.

After graduating from Queen's Secretarial College at the age of 18, Sarah went to work in a public relations firm in London. In 1985 she was invited to a house party at Windsor Castle to celebrate Royal Ascot, and although she already knew Prince Andrew from childhood, it was here that a romance developed out of their friendship. After she accepted Prince Andrew's proposal in a Scottish stately home, the couple were married on July 23, 1986, at Westminster Abbey, with a billion people tuning in to watch the televised nuptials. Sarah and Andrew have two children, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, born in 1988 and 1990 respectively.

At first, the exuberant Sarah was popular in the press and was frequently seen out with her sister-in-law Princess Diana. However, she soon started to receive criticism and, with a husband in the Navy whom she saw infrequently, life became increasingly miserable.

She turned to writing, and published a series of children's books about Budgie The Helicopter. Despite their success, the Duchess found herself heavily in debt as a result of her jet-set lifestyle. In 1992, she separated from the Duke, just five months after photographs were published showing her caught in a 'compromising position' with financial advisor John Bryan. Although Sarah and Andrew divorced in 1996, they continue to share a house together near Ascot and Sarah, who has been linked to Italian aristocrat Count Gaddo della Gherardesca, describes her ex-husband as her "bestest friend".

A decade ago, the Duchess' stock could not have fallen any lower. Pilloried by the press, she was forced to cope with a very public banishment from the royal family, on top of debts of £4 million. But she has survived it all – and come back stronger. She is the US spokesman for WeightWatchers, has stood in for CNN's Larry King when he goes on holiday, and fronts a publicity campaign for a financial advisory company – no mean feat by any standards.

It's possible that Fergie is well aware of the extent to which her image has been rehabilitated, since she recently brought out a book called Reinventing Yourself With The Duchess Of York. Now that's what you'd call a fairytale with a happy ending.

Lady Di

Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 at Park House, the home her parents rented on the royal family's estate at Sandringham. As a child she occasionally played with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, who were near her in age. Diana had two older sisters, Sarah and Jane, and a younger brother, Charles.

When Diana was six, her mother left her father. The Spencers divorced in 1969, and Diana's father received custody of the children. In 1975 Diana's father became the eighth Earl Spencer, making Diana a Lady. Diana and her siblings moved to Althorp, the Spencer family estate in Northampton.

Diana attended private boarding schools. Although she wasn't an especially good student, she was excelled at sports, and won trophies for her swimming. She dreamed of being a ballerina, but grew too tall (as an adult she was 5'10"). After leaving school in 1978 she worked as a nanny, waitress, and cleaning woman before becoming a teacher at the Young England kindergarten in Pimlico, London.

Her romance with the Prince of Wales began in 1980. The oldest child of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, he was 12 years older than Diana, and had previously dated her sister Sarah. Almost from the start, the press took a special interest in "Lady Di." They staked out her apartment and followed her everwhere. Diana later said that she found the constant attention unbearable.

Diana and Charles were married July 29, 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral. The wedding was broadcast in 74 countries and watched by 750 million people worldwide. Diana was the first English woman to marry an heir to the throne in over 300 years.

At the ceremony the Archbishop of Canterbury said, "Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made." But the fairy tale was an illusion, as Diana had already discovered. Prince Charles was still in love with an old girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles. "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," Princess Diana remarked years later. Distraught, Diana developed bulimia and attempted suicide. Despite her problems, she was a devoted mother to her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. She worked tirelessly for charity, and was beloved by the public for her warmth and humanity.

In 1992 Princess Diana decided to expose the truth about her relationship with Prince Charles to the public. She secretly collaborated with author Andrew Morton on his book Diana, Her True Story. The princess's direct involvement in the writing of the book was not revealed to the public until after her death. The separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales was announced on December 9, 1992. The divorce became official August 28, 1996. Princess Diana kept the title Princess of Wales and continued to work for her favorite charities. She and Prince Charles had joint custody of their sons.

In 1997 Princess Diana began a love affair with Emad "Dodi" Fayed, the son of billionaire businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed. Their romance ended abruptly on August 31, 1997 when both were killed in a car accident in Paris while fleeing from paparazzi. Princess Diana's sudden death led to an unprecedented worldwide outpouring of grief and love. As her brother said at her funeral, she was "the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplacable Diana, whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds."

Diego Maradona

Diego Armando Maradona is arguably the greatest footballer that has ever put on a pair of boots. He is born in the slums of Villa Fiorito near Buenos Aires as the fifth of eight children. Maradona enters professional football at the astonishing age of 15. By the time he turns 16, Diego is called in the senior national squad of Argentina. Regardless of his talent, Diego is considered too young by coach Cesar Menotti, who rejects him from his selection for the 1978 World Cup. Bitterly disappointed, Maradona watches the tournament from home as his country wins gold. In the following four years, Diego dominates his country's domestic league and is eventually added to the Argentine squad for Spain 1982.

Argentina advances from the first stage of the tournament by losing to Belgium, but beating Hungary and Salvador. Maradona manages to leave his mark with two beautiful, yet not critical goals. In the the second stage of the tournament, Maradona is manhandled by his Italian marker Claudio Gentile. Diego's frustration gets him sent off. Argentina fails to advance and Diego is again suppressed from unleashing his full potential. Although unsuccessful, the brilliance of the Argentine footballer does not go unnoticed and after the World Cup, he is picked up by European powerhouse Barcelona. By 1984, Maradona had established himself in Barca and is picked up by the Italian club Napoli.

At the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, Maradona makes his return on the World stage in a spectacular fashion. After leading his team to a quarter final against England, Diego steals the attention of millions with both his controversial character and technical brilliance. The fuss around the Argentina-England encounter is further elevated by the Falkland Islands conflict, which at that time had turned both countries against each other. Diego opens the game 1-0 by striking the ball with his hand over the English goalkeeper Shilton. Unnoticed by the referees, the mishap is ruled a goal. Five minutes later, Maradona single handedly takes the ball through the entire English defense with a slalom from midfield right down to the goal line. After the match, when confronted with the video footage of the illegal goal, Maradona replies simply "Even if there was a hand, it must have been the hand of God." Maradona silenced his critics by deciding the following semi and final matches. By scoring two goals in the first and with an assist in the second, Maradona practically earns the World Cup for his nation.

Maradona's influence on his teammates was carried over to his club side Napoli, as they reached unprecedented heights, winning their very first and second Scudetto (1997 and 1990) and the UEFA Cup in 1988/99.

At Italy 1990, all eyes are on Argentina and its brightest star Diego Maradona. Diego comes close to replicating his success from four years ago. With Maradona's ability, Argentina defeats Brazil, Yugoslavia and Italy on its way to the final. Most memorable is the semi-final match between Argentina and Italy played at Diego's club home Naples. To the torment of Maradona, the fans at his own club stadium boo him during the match. Nevertheless, Argentina eliminates Italy after a penalty shootout. The final of the 1990 World Cup, leaves Diego helpless as Argentina are defeated 0-1 by West Germany with a goal from a questionable penalty. After the loss against West Germany, Maradona's career plummets. In March of 1991, he tested positive for doping and is banned from football for 15 months. Maradona refuses to return back to Napoli after the World Cup incident and transferrs to Sevilla for a year. He eventually goes back to Argentina with Newell's Old Boys.

The 1994 World Cup confirms that Diego's career in international football is over. He is suspended again after failing yet another doping test. Hurt by his absence, Argentina is eventually eliminated by Romania in the second stage.

Shortly after, Diego takes on a new career path as a coach. He fails miserably again, unable to remain at a single club for more than four months. By 1995, Maradona is forced to return to the game as a player. He goes back to his former club Boca Juniors, and remains there until his last match on 25th of October 1997. Five days later, during his 37th birthday, Maradona announces his retirement from football. Up until 2001, Diego remains away from the playing pitch, periodically entering rehab for cocaine abuse. Diego plays his farewell match on the 10th of November 2001 against a select team comprised by some of the greatest footballers in the game including Ferrara, Suker, Stoichkov, Cantona, Higuita, and Romario. One year earlier, Maradona is voted Best Football Player of the Century by a global Internet poll. Controversy is stirred yet again, by his nearly unanimous victory. FIFA, who find Maradona's personal image as the 'King of Football' unacceptable, decide to give the same award to Pelé as the Best Footballer for the first half of the century.