October 30th in nerd history: The Martians ain't coming, they're here

October 30th in nerd history: The Martians ain't coming, they're here

Happy National National Candy Corn Day! You don't need to pretend anymore. Today is the day you can scoop up and scarf down these questionably-qualifies-as-food treats by the handfuls without shame.

Candy Corn Fun GIF by Great Big Story

This is The Reset Button from Classic Nerd, resetting your day.

October 30 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on October 30th for those of us who just let black cats stroll right in front of us.


Birthdays of honor: Henry Winkler (1945), Fran Drescher (1957), Grace Slick (1939), Ezra Pound (1885), Gavin Rossdale (1965), Charles Atlas (1892).


Today in 1938, Orson Welles took his radio play adaptation of H.G. Wells' (no relation) War of the Worlds to the airwaves.

Despite the fact that the play had been advertised for some time and was part of the regularly scheduled program, The Mercury Theater on the Air, some listeners apparently took the style of the first portion — which imitated breaking news reports — as real news. Since the program didn't have regular commercial breaks, it was over 30 minutes before there was a break in the play, and it returned with a narrative format that (presumably) was clearly fictional.

Welles was questioned by reporters the night of the play. // Public Domain

As the show was nearing that initial break, the studio began to fill up with police officers, reporters, and angry listeners, and the phone lines started lighting up. At least one mayor called in saying there was an angry mob in the streets of his small town.

By that night news about the panic Welles had caused was flashing in Times Square, and it littered newspapers from coast to coast the next day. But while there's plenty of evidence that many listeners were at the very least confused, there's little to show that there was any kind of real widespread panic. In fact, a survey found that just 2% of listeners were even tuned into the program. And when actors were finally released from the studio — after having been asked about all the suicides and stampedes and deaths — they found the public carrying on normal life, as opposed to the wild scenes they had been told were unfolding.

The sensationalized nature of the reporting after the fact had much more to do with how this event is remembered than the event itself. But it certainly shot Orson Welles into the spotlight, helping him become one of the most iconic personalities in the history of entertainment.



Today in 1974, one of the biggest sporting events of all time took place in Zaire, Africa.

Muhammad Ali took on George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle, in front of about 60,000 fans and by some estimates nearly a billion people watching on TV.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This thing was so big the run-up to it — just the run-up — featured a three-day music festival with acts such as James Brown, B.B. King, and Bill Withers.

Orchestrated by none other than Don King, Ali came in as a 4-1 underdog to the heavyweight champion Foreman, who was coming off a dominant win over former champ Joe Frazier. Ali had been stripped of his title in 1967 for refusing to fight in Vietnam, and had been seeking a title shot ever since losing to Frazier in his initial comeback bid.

Ali would shock analysts by coming out with what would be coined as the rope-a-dope strategy, leaning against the rope, covering up, and dodging Foreman's powerful punches. Foreman wasn't earning points as he couldn't land any clean punches and expended his energy.

As the rounds went on, Foreman became visibly tired, until by the eighth Ali delivered possibly the most famous knockout in boxing history. There would be no rematch.


Back in 2012 that dude in your office who has a Han frozen in carbonite USB charger on his desk was freaking out when it was announced Disney would be acquiring Lucasfilm for over $4 billion.


Over a decade later, I'm sure you're brimming with all kinds of opinions about this deal, which will inevitably spill out at some point today (my apologies in advance to your friends and family for sparking that), but at the time it was all smiles. A new film was announced alongside a release of the original Star Wars trilogy on Blu-ray. We were all giddy.

Regardless of how you feel about it now, it proved to be one of the most lucrative deals in entertainment history.


Today in 1987, George Michael stepped out from the Wham! shadow and released his debut solo album, Faith. It sold over 25 million copies and spawned four number one singles.