The Soviets bugged US Embassy and Consulate typewriters with one of the world’s first keyloggers. It was a long bit of circuitry inside a supporting bar in the typewriter, capturing text by measuring magnetic disturbance as the print head moved. This was sent by radio bursts to the Soviets.
After making up the state name Idaho, the politician George Willing created a fake etymology, claiming it came from a Shosoni word meaning “Behold! the sun coming down the mountain.” Despite lacking evidence, this fake etymology was repeated in many textbooks through the 20th century.
Stalin had his photographs edited to remove people he didn’t like from them. The people who disappeared from those pictures disappeared from the world as well. Stalin didn’t just erase images. Stalin would jokingly say “you haven’t been arrested yet?” to people.
In Thailand, each day of the week has a color and a god who protects it. In the past, people would wear the color assigned to each day. Now most people just use their personal lucky color which is based on the day they were born.
On a visit to Constantinople, Samuel Colt gave a custom gold inlaid revolver to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and informed him that the Russians were buying his pistols. The Turkish ordered 5,000 pistols. Colt neglected to tell the Sultan that he had used the same tactic with the Russians.
Ken Allen, a Borneo orangutan in the San Diego Zoo, escaped his enclosure three times. He never acted aggressively towards anyone during his escapes, and generally wandered around the zoo looking at other animals.
Earl Schaffer, the first person to walk the entire Appalachian Trail in one continuous hike, avoided blisters by putting sand in his boots and wearing no socks until his feet toughened.
Hazel Ying Lee was the first Chinese-American pilot supporting the US Army during WW2. One time, her aircraft made an emergency landing on a farm. The farmer saw her, grabbed a pitchfork, and chased her around the plane, shouting to neighbors that the Japanese had invaded Kansas.
When the Union abandoned a fort in Florida, they left behind a single soldier as caretaker. When the Confederacy marched on the fort, the lone soldier refused to surrender without a receipt for the fort. He received one, and the fort was taken without a shot fired.
Bowling was such a popular sport during the 1960s-1970s, top earning pros made twice as much money as NFL stars and other athletes. Today, even the very best bowlers usually have second jobs.