Monday, March 5, 2012

This Day in History: Mar 5, 1963: Hula-Hoop patented

On this day in 1963, the Hula-Hoop, a hip-swiveling toy that became a huge fad across America when it was first marketed by Wham-O in 1958, is patented by the company's co-founder, Arthur "Spud" Melin. An estimated 25 million Hula-Hoops were sold in its first four months of production alone.

In 1948, friends Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr founded a company in California to sell a slingshot they created to shoot meat up to falcons they used for hunting. The company’s name, Wham-O, came from the sound the slingshots supposedly made. Wham-O eventually branched out from slingshots, selling boomerangs and other sporting goods. Its first hit toy, a flying plastic disc known as the Frisbee, debuted in 1957. The Frisbee was originally marketed under a different name, the Pluto Platter, in an effort to capitalize on America's fascination with UFOs.

Melina and Knerr were inspired to develop the Hula-Hoop after they saw a wooden hoop that Australian children twirled around their waists during gym class. Wham-O began producing a plastic version of the hoop, dubbed "Hula" after the hip-gyrating Hawaiian dance of the same name, and demonstrating it on Southern California playgrounds. Hula-Hoop mania took off from there.

The enormous popularity of the Hula-Hoop was short-lived and within a matter of months, the masses were on to the next big thing. However, the Hula-Hoop never faded away completely and still has its fans today. According to Ripley's Believe It or Not, in April 2004, a performer at the Big Apple Circus in Boston simultaneously spun 100 hoops around her body. Earlier that same year, in January, according to the Guinness World Records, two people in Tokyo, Japan, managed to spin the world's largest hoop--at 13 feet, 4 inches--around their waists at least three times each.

Following the Hula-Hoop, Wham-O continued to produce a steady stream of wacky and beloved novelty items, including the Superball, Water Wiggle, Silly String, Slip 'n' Slide and the Hacky Sack.

In South Africa: SA troops invade East Africa in their confrontation with German forces in World War I

Date: 5 March, 1916

Britain had fought the Boer settlers in South Africa in the Anglo-Boer wars (1880-1, 1899-1902), so in 1914 many Afrikaaners sympathised with Germany. While Prime Minister, Botha was raising an expedition to invade German South West Africa, pro-German Boers raised a rebellion against British authority. This was not fully suppressed until early 1915 and only then could the invasion of South West Africa be fully launched. On 5 March 1916 South African Troops, led by General Jan Smuts, invaded East Africa in their confrontation with German forces.

More than 146 000 Whites, 83 000 Blacks and 2 500 people of mixed race and Asians served in South African military units during the war, including 43,000 in German South-West Africa and 30 000 on the Western Front. An estimated 3,000 South Africans also joined the Royal Flying Corps. The total number of South African casualties during the war was approximately 7000 dead and 12 000 wounded by 1918.

South Africa greatly assisted the Allies, and Great Britain in particular, in capturing the two German colonies of German West Africa and German East Africa (although many South African troops were tied down by the failure to capture all the German East Africa forces) as well as in battles in Western Europe and the Middle East. South Africa's ports and harbors, such as at Cape Town, Durban, and Simon's Town, were also important rest-stops, refueling-stations, and served as strategic assets to the British Royal Navy during the war, helping to keep the vital sea lanes to the British Raj open.

This website,, is dedicated to the history of the First World War and it includes a page on the leaders of the South African troops during the war
  • (2003) Focus: Milestones, The Star, 5 March.
  • The First World War, combatant states, South Africa [online]. Available at:  [accessed 27 February 2009]
  • History of South Africa (1910-1948) [online]. Available at: [accessed 26 February 2009]

No comments:

Post a Comment