Top 10 Intresting Forgotten People Who Nearly Changed The Course Of History

10 Forgotten People Who Nearly Changed The Course Of History
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History turns on a billion tiny moments. Thanks to luck or errors of judgment, a man like John Wilkes Booth can stroll into Lincoln’s theater box and change the world. But what happens when one of those moments turns the other way? For every Alexander Fleming or Lee Harvey Oswald, there are a dozen others people who stood on the threshold of history, only to see the door slammed shut in their faces. So, here is a list of Top 10 Intresting Forgotten People Who Nearly Changed The Course Of History..

10. An Anonymous Servant Nearly Averted World War I

An Anonymous Servant Nearly Averted World War I

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the streets city of Sarajevo in June 1914 led directly to World War I, which in turn led to the rise of Hitler and World War II and the creation of the Present modern world. Yet all this was nearly averted by a single clumsy servant.

In November 1913, Archduke Ferdinand visited the Duke of Portland in Britain as part of a diplomatic push. Desperate to show his eminent guest every hospitality, the Duke arranged for Ferdinand to go pheasant chasing on his estate. As the two made their way across the vast fields, one of the servants carrying the weapons happened to trip. The gun dropped from his grip, hit the ground, and released both barrels right at the visiting Archduke.

The trip could have changed the world. Had Ferdinand died or been seriously injured at the duke’s estate, his nephew Charles would have become Austria’s new heir presumptive, and any attempt to kill him would have gone differently or even failed altogether. Instead, the bullet missed Ferdinand by inches. The Archduke returned home healthy, and nine months later, the world was at war. The unknown servant, meanwhile, was completely forgotten.

9. Peter Godwin Almost Assassinated Ian Smith

Peter Godwin Almost Assassinated Ian Smith

In 1965, white supremacist Ian Smith illegally proclaimed Rhodesia independent from the UK. His actions prompted to a protracted civil war, the formation of Zimbabwe, and the rise of Robert Mugabe. Yet things could have turned out unexpected way. A disgruntled guard nearly brought the war crashing to an early close when he decided to kill Smith.

It was 1976, and Peter Godwin was doing his military service as part of Rhodesia’s British South Africa Police and was killed to protect Smith. Furious at the war being dragged out (along with his conscription), Godwin got himself alone with Smith as the prime minister went over his papers. At that point, Godwin realized he could easily kill him.

He had bullets in his gun and military training. Smith was just a few feet away. Writing about that moment later, Godwin guaranteed he put his hand to his holster and saw Smith look into his eyes. He seemed to be begging Godwin to give him an honorable way out of this devastating war.

Smith’s personal bodyguard chose that exact moment to go into the room. The spell was broken, and Godwin left rapidly. The war dragged on for four more years and resulted in a guerrilla known as Robert Mugabe solidifying his power base at the expense of more moderate Zimbabweans. Had Godwin pulled the trigger, it’s possible we’d have never heard of Africa’s cruelest dictator.

8. Thomas Wedgewood Nearly Invented Photography (In 1802)

Thomas Wedgewood Nearly Invented Photography (In 1802)

In 1826, Joseph Nicephore Niepce placed a bitumen-coated plate in a camera obscura and presented it to the light. The result was the world’s first photo. It proved so inspiring that commercial photography soon followed. The age of the picture was born.

Niepce was nearly beaten to his world-changing development. Had fate not conspired against him, Thomas Wedgewood might have given us photography 20 years sooner.

The son of an industrialist and famous abolitionist, Thomas spent his days developing and hanging out with men like Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth. By the start of the 19th century, he’d already realized the chemical action of light could be used for creating images. Although his early attempts to create a functioning camera failed, his work still progressed to the point where the Royal Institution started to take notice. It might have gone further still, were it not for Thomas’s weak health. Chronically ill for most of his life, he finally died in 1805, aged 34.

Had he lived a few years longer, the photographic revolution may have begun started a generation early. Beside from changing our cultural landscape, we might now have photographs of subjects as diverse as Samuel Coleridge and the Napoleonic Wars.

7. Stephan Goldner Nearly Destroyed The Tinned Food Industry

Stephan Goldner Nearly Destroyed The Tinned Food Industry

Impossible as it seems, canned food changed the world. It allowed explorers to strike out for inaccessible lands like Antarctica, kept the world’s armies free of malnutrition on campaigns, and enhanced health among the desperately poor. A world without canned food would have been smaller, meaner, and a lot more prone to scurvy.

It’s a world we came very close to living in. Thanks to a cheap crook called Stephan Goldner, canned food was banned as a serious health risk.

In 1845, canned food was mostly used by the British Navy as a way of keeping their sailors fit as a fiddle. The contract for supplying all these millions of cans had fallen to Stephan Goldner. Stephan wasn’t the kind of man to let anything stand in the way of benefit. He utilized cheap meat, based his factory in modern Romania, and cut all sorts of corners. Unfortunately, that included cooking time.

By 1852, Stephan’s quality control was so worst that the vast majority of his cans contained uncooked, rotting dog meat. The Navy was compelled to throw out more than 300,000 kilograms (600,000 lb) of the stuff, severely denting public confidence. For the next 10 years, people avoided canned food, with the BBC claiming the general public was nearly put off for good.

6. Mark Rossini Could Have Stopped 9/11

Mark Rossini Could Have Stopped 9/11

Mark Rossini should be known as a hero. A former FBI agent, he spent the late ’90s and early 2000s tracking terrorists. We’re not talking small-time jihadists, either. At one point, Rossini came close to averting 9/11.

In July 2001, Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi entered the United States. Both men were known to the FBI for their links to radical Islam and support of terrorism. At the time, Rossini was assigned to the CIA’s “Alec station”—the code name for the group of agents watching bin Laden and his partners. When Rossini found out about Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi, he and another associate working with the CIA, Doug Miller, decided to inform the FBI. They wrote a draft report for their bosses, only for the CIA to block them from sending it. A couple of months later, Al-Mihdhar vanished. Soon after that, he flew a plane into the World Trade Center.

Had Rossini and Miller been able to get their report to the FBI, all 3,000 lives could have been spared. Rather than simply monitor the two suspects, the organization would have likely swooped in. Unfortunately, the CIA was at open war with their opponents. Intelligence wasn’t shared, and communication was blocked. Scared of upsetting his superiors, Rossini sat on his information. In doing so, he missed his chance to become a hero.

5. Alexander Bain Almost Gave Us The Fax Machine (In 1843)

Alexander Bain Almost Gave Us The Fax Machine (In 1843)

A crucial part of technology until email rendered it pointless, the fax machine’s business history goes all the way back to 1863, when Giovanni Caselli introduced a line between Lyon and Paris. It should have gone back further still. Scottish mechanic Alexander Bain had a model fax machine up and running as early as 1843.

To put it in perspective, that predates the sending of the first telegraph message. To place that in even more perspective, it predates the bicycle, internal combustion engine, the Irish potato starvation, and the Donner Party expedition. Had Bain managed to popularize his new creation, communications could have moved at a much quicker rate. Try to imagine Edgar Allan Poe (who died in 1849) casually receiving a fax.

However, Bain never got beyond the prototype stage. Despite the fact that his fax machine worked, he refused to show it to anyone. It wasn’t until 1851 that Frederick Bakewell showed the first working fax machine, and another 12 years passed before Giovanni Caselli convinced people to actually use one.

4. Violet Gibson Came Close To Killing Mussolini 

Violet Gibson Came Close To Killing Mussolini 

Mussolini’s fascist government was responsible for around 3 million deaths, and his support for Germany helped legitimize Hitler’s genocidal racism. However all this death and suffering was nearly averted in 1926, when the mentally disturbed Violet Gibson shot and nearly killed him.

An old, upper-class Irish woman with paranoid religious fancies, Violet had come to Rome after World War I to live in a community. She spent most of her time doing jigsaws and reading about Abraham relinquishing Isaac, sometimes wandering around with a knife clutched in her hand. She had twice been admitted to a mental asylum but wasn’t thought hazardous. Then one day, she took a gun and went into the streets of Rome. Mussolini was passing nearby after opening a hospital. Violet pointed the gun at his head and fired.

Mussolini turned at that exact second, and instead of killing him, the bullet blew a hole through his nose. At the point When Violet tried to fire a second time, the gun jammed. Before she could try a third shot, the crowd attacked and almost lynched her.

Ironically, she was saved by Mussolini’s fascist police. They arrested her and expelled her to England, where she was declared insane and locked away. Mussolini survived with barely a scratch.

3. Jack Paar Almost Convinced Ed Sullivan To Cancel The Beatles

Jack Paar Almost Convinced Ed Sullivan To Cancel The Beatles

After the Moon landing, it was the most significant television event of the twentieth century. When The Beatles went on Ed Sullivan’s Concert, they didn’t just change music—they set the course of American pop culture for decades to come. Today, the recordings are iconic. They nearly didn’t happen. Thanks to Jack Paar, America nearly missed out on the greatest musical moment in history.

By the end of 1963, Beatles records were already beginning to sell in some states. Ed Sullivan was spreading the word that he had the British band reserved for February, and there was a sense of excitement in the industry. A rival host to Sullivan over on NBC, Paar chose he couldn’t let this slip by him. Contacting the BBC, he secured the rights to some old Beatles show footage. He then played the whole lot during his show on January 3, 1964.

Enraged at being scooped, Sullivan called his European talent organizer and got him to cancel The Beatles. It wasn’t until two days after that he realized his mistake and rebooked them, setting the stage for their most famous show. Had things gone slightly differently, one of pop culture’s greatest moments would have never even occurred.

2. Norman Morrison Almost Gave Us The Web (In 1983)

Norman Morrison Almost Gave Us The Web (In 1983)

Imagine sitting at home before a screen. You’re looking up the New York Times front page while buying a new appliance for your kitchen and reacting to messages from friends. Afterward you’ll check your online banking before booking some flight tickets. Could be any time in the last 20 years, right? Wrong. In our hypothetical situation, it’s 1983.

On October 30 that year, Norman Morrison of the organization Knight Ridder teamed up with AT&T to launch a consumer videotext service in Miami known as Viewtron. Costing $12 a month, plus $1 for every hour spent online, Viewtron was intended to revolutionize the home consumer market. Users could read the news online before it hit the papers, send messages to friends, and even make buys. It was the World Wide Web before Geocities took off but limited exclusively to the Florida area.

Sadly, Florida wasn’t ready for the Internet, or anything remotely like it. Although companies were predicting home IT would become a multibillion-dollar industry by 1995, Viewtron picked up a mere 2,700 subscribers. To make matters worse, it was costing them close to $50 million. Knight Ridder finally pulled the plug in 1986, and Norman Morrison vanished back into obscurity.

1. Valentin Savitsky Nearly Killed Us All 

Valentin Savitsky Nearly Killed Us All 

On October 27, 1962, Valentin Savitsky nearly did what no other human in history can profess to have done. He very nearly destroyed the world.

If you’ve ever taken a history class, you’ll perceive the date. It was the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A lost American plane had just breached Soviet airspace, while Cuba had shot down another one only moments before. In the middle of the ocean, the USS Beale had started dropping depth charges on a Russian nuclear sub in a misguided attempt to make it surface. In the modest control room, Captain Valentin Savitsky had been cut off from contact with the Outer world. Seeing the depth charges explode and the warships carriers swarming, he assumed World War III had broken out. So he did what any commander would do in the circumstances. He ordered the launch of a nuclear torpedo.

The impact would have killed everyone aboard the USS Beale. More importantly, it would have triggered an instant retaliation attack. Nuclear bombs may have rained down on Britain, Europe, China, and Russia. Planes would have been scrambled to bomb America, and a couple would have gotten through. Billions of people would have died as whole urban went up in smoke. A nuclear winter would have paralyzed the globe. When the dust finally settled, life would have no longer been worth living.

Luckily, Savitsky had a trusted co-commander onboard who talked him out of launching. Rather, they surfaced, realized World War III hadn’t started, and turned back to Russia. If things had gone even marginally differently, none of us would be around to read this now.


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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.