Historama, March 23

Tonight’s Historama sheds new light on some stars and lamps in Russian history.

Russian lamps take Paris by storm

One of the first electric-powered candles was invented on this day in 1876 by Russian electrical engineer Pavel Yablochkov.

The lamp, which now goes by the name of Yablochkov’s candle, could shine for one hour.

Yablochkov later improved his invention and eventually could make lamps with different colours.

He soon got the unique chance to show his invention at the third Paris World’s Fair in 1878.

Yablochkov’s demonstration of his brilliant arc lights along the Avenue de l’Opera triggered a steep sell-off of gas utility stocks.

“Star Wars” trigger arms race

US President Ronald Reagan launched his Strategic Defense Initiative today in 1983.

The aim was to develop a space-based missile defense system to protect the United States.

Critics called the programme unrealistic and nicknamed it “Star Wars” after George Lucas’ tale of galactic warfare.

The space-based defense system was never built, but Soviet fears that it might be triggered an arms race.

Russia had few funds to spare at the time and many now say that Reagan’s initiative contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Read more about this day in Russian history in our “Russia Now” section

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