Today in History – November 13, 1913 – Mary Phelps Jacobs invents modern bra. After tiring of barbaric corsets with whaleback bones and steel rods, Mary Phelps Jacobs, a New York socialite, took two silk handkerchiefs and some pink ribbon and fashioned herself the very first backless bra. She used the natural bias of the silk to provide the elasticity. On November 3, 1914, she was awarded a patent for the “Backless Brassiere”. Later she sold the brassiere patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut for $1,500, who is reported to have made $15 million dollars from the bra over the next 30 years. Anne L. Macdonald, author of Feminine Ingenuity: How Women Inventors Changed America, notes that Jacobs was a descendant of inventor Robert Fulton and quotes Jacobs’ autobiography on this: “I believe my ardour for invention springs from his [Fulton's] loins. I can’t say that the brassiere will ever take as grat a place in history as the steamboat, but I did invent it.”
Also on this date in 1971, Mariner 9 becomes the first spaceprobe to orbit another planet.