This Week in Awesome History: February 20th – February 26th

Steve Jobs lands on planet Earth and a 19-year-old mysteriously escapes death by hanging.

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro

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February 20th, 1987: Contra first kicks our arses

On this day in ’87 Contra first made its way to arcades, introducing us to the fast-paced run and gun action game that we all knew and (begrudgingly) loved.

Saying Contra was hard is an understatement. Contra was hard even with the help of a friend in two-player mode. Contra was hard even with the use of the Konami code on its eventual port to the NES – when a game can give you infinite lives and still make you want to throw your console out of the window in a venomous rage you know that you’re in for a rough ride, even if the bad guys had some, erm, intriguing tactics, as shown by the above video.


February 22nd, 1990: Milli Vanilli have their Grammy Award taken away from them

On this day in 1990 Milli Vanilli took the Best New Artist Grammy award home with them. Four days later (February 26) the Grammy’s withdrew the award, with the duo’s lip-synching the reasoning behind their decision.

Following a humiliating debacle at a live performance for MTV in which their backing tape skipped revealing that they weren’t actually singing their own song, the pair were then subsequently outed as fakes hired by their record label to be the faces of music recorded by two less physically appealing artists.

The pair tried to later mount a comeback under their own names ‘Rob & Fab’, but their debut album sold an embarrassing 2,000 copies. Rob Pilatus descended into drug abuse and died in 2008 from an accidental overdose.


February 23rd, 1885: 19-year-old mysteriously escapes death by hanging

On this day in 1885 19-year-old John Lee, known as “The Man They Couldn’t Hang”, was sent to the gallows in Exeter, England for the murder of Ellen Keyse. Although Lee’s involvement in Keyse’s could not be proved, as she was found in the pantry next to Lee’s room he was sentenced to death by hanging as a result of circumstantial evidence. As Lee worked for Keyse, it was said that by authorities that a plausible motive for the murder was her ill-treatment of him.

On his day of execution Lee had the noose tied round his neck and was prepared to face his demise when, unexplainably, a malfunction occurred and Lee was not dropped. After numerous checks of the equipment and 2 more attempts to kill Lee, guards could still not find a cause for the mysterious incident and so ruled it as an intervention by God.

Lee would no longer face the death penalty and would instead spend 22-years in prison before he emigrated to America.


February 24th, 1955: Steve Jobs crash lands onto planet Earth

On this day in 1955 former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was born, the mind behind some of this generations’ most iconic technology.

In the time Jobs spent with Apple he elevated the company from being runners-up to the Microsoft behemoth to the extravagant, forward-thinking manufacturers of a whole brand of pint-sized technological fashion statements from the iPhone to the iPad.

Although Jobs died at an unfortunately young age of 56 in October of last year, he left behind him a legacy that will continue to be talked about for years to come, which even earned him a mention in documents filed by the FBI, who stated that his “moral character was questionable”.

Despite Jobs’ estimated net worth of $8.4billion, he only earned $1 a year (yes, you read that right) as Apple CEO – his earnings came from his shares in the company and in Disney Pixar, a company he had acquired years ago.

His last words spoken before his death were “oh, wow”.

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