Berry Gordy launched Motown Records, named after its home city Detroit. 'Please Mr. Postman' by the Marvelettes was the company's first song to snag the number 1 spot on the pop charts.
January 3, 1959
Alaska became the largest state in the Union when it was admitted on January 3, 1959, despite the fact that the land had been sold to the U.S. from Russia in 1867.
February 3, 1959
Rock-and-roll singers Buddy Holly ('Peggy Sue'), Ritchie Valens ('Donna' and 'La Bamba'), and J.P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson ('Chantilly Lace') perished in a plane crash outside of Clear Lake, Iowa, due to unsafe weather conditions. Don McLean would honor the singers in his song 'American Pie,' released in 1972.
March 9, 1959
New York, NY
Barbie Doll first premiered at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Ruth Handler used the German doll 'Lilli' to design Barbie and named the doll after her daughter Barbara. Mattel, a company Handler and her husband had founded together, manufacture the Barbie Doll.
August 13, 1959
Volvo was the first company to use the modern-day car seatbelt (and provided the design for free to other automobile makers). Designed by Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin, the three-point belt straps in both the upper and lower body as to protect from internal injuries. Over a million lives have been saved because of Bohlin's design.
August 21, 1959
Hawaii became the 50th state in the U.S. on August 21, 1959. President Eisenhower wanted to ensure national security against the Soviet Union with a base of operations as close as possible to the communist country.