Friday / Weekend Open Lines

Friday, August 19th. Even in this Internet world, many of us still receive printed catalogs through the mail. The first such catalog — more of a flyer — was sent out by Montgomery Ward this week in 1872. That first catalog consisted of only one page, featuring 163 items for mail order purchase. By 1904, the Ward’s catalog weighed in at four pounds. Montgomery Ward ceased producing its catalog in 1985, and the company itself eventually failed in the largest retail bankruptcy liquidation in American history to that time. But the home shopping business is still thriving. There are over 32,000 electronic shopping and mail order houses, and each year they sell over $323 billion worth of goods. Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Saturday, August 20th. The nation’s first radio station licensed by the federal government began broadcasting in Detroit on this date in 1920 — station 8MK, now operating as WWJ. The station was owned by the Detroit News, and operated with an amateur license, which in 1922 was changed to commercial. The first station to receive a commercial license was KDKA in Pittsburgh, which began broadcasting in October of 1920. From these rudimentary early broadcasts, the new medium grew rapidly. In 1922, there were 30 radio stations, but by the following year, there were 556. Now, there are nearly 15,500 AM and FM radio stations across the U.S., along with just over 1,500 low-power FM facilities.  Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sunday, August 21st. The American Bar Association was founded on this date in 1878 in Saratoga Springs, New York. One-hundred attorneys from 21 states were present at its first meeting. The legal profession then was far different from what we know today. There was no National Code of Ethics, lawyers generally worked alone and trained under a system of apprenticeship. Today, there are some 1.28 million lawyers in the U.S.  The ever-swelling number of civil and criminal cases, and federal and local regulatory requirements, quite occupies the profession. Washington, D.C. has the greatest number of lawyers per capita, with about 52,000 in a city with a population of 672,000. Across the U.S, there are about 187,000 legal services establishments. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.