News Article

Great moments in self-improvement history

Great moments in self-improvement history -- A timeline of events, including the invention of the ice-cream sundae and Dale Carnegie's book

ca 360 B.C.
Greek orator-in-training Demosthenes overcomes a stammer by learning to speak with pebbles in his mouth.

ca 50 B.C.
Cleopatra and her subjects enhance their beauty by painting their eyelids with kohl.

ca 100 A.D.
Indian sage Vatsyayana writes the Kama Sutra, conceivably the first how-to manual for lovemaking.

1513
Ponce de Leon discovers Florida while searching for the fountain of youth — which he never finds.

1787
Levi Hutchins of Concord, N.H., invents the alarm clock, making it possible to get up even earlier in the morning and go out running.

1802
The U.S.' first exercise book is published: Gymnastics for Youth.

1879
Saccharin is discovered.

1881
The world's first home-study courses are licensed — for theology — in Chautauqua, N.Y.

1897
The ice-cream sundae is invented, necessitating the diet industry.

1910
Jas Ravenol, a German company, markets the first bathroom scale, turning powdering your nose into a guilt trip.

1929
Charles Atlas, ''America's Most Perfectly Developed Man,'' launches his mail-order bodybuilding course.

1935
The first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous is called in Akron, Ohio. Total attendance: two.
Also in 1935, Sylvia Porter writes her first column for the New York Post, thus blazing the trail for personal-finance journalism.

1936
Dale Carnegie publishes How to Win Friends and Influence People.

1951
The first Jack LaLanne Show is broadcast on TV.

1963
Queens, N.Y., housewife Jean Nidetch starts Weight Watchers.

1972
British medical biologist Alex Comfort publishes The Joy of Sex.

1976
The first Great American Smokeout lets Americans breathe easier.

1978
Future murder victim Dr. Herman Tarnower publishes his best-seller, The Scarsdale Diet.

1980
Dr. Ruth's radio show, Sexually Speaking, debuts.

1982
Jane Fonda's Workout hits the stores and Martha Stewart publishes Entertaining, making party-giving a competitive sport.

1990
Ivana Trump makes herself over by abandoning an unhappy marriage, getting a new hairdo, and planning both a line of cosmetics and novels bearing her name.

Originally posted Jan 11, 1991 Published in issue #48 Jan 11, 1991 Order article reprints