October 13, 1792 — The first edition of the “Old Farmer’s Almanac” is published today by editor Robert B. Thomas.
It was George Washington’s first term as president, and although many other almanacs were being published at the time, Thomas’s upstart almanac became an immediate success. In fact, by the second year, circulation had tripled from 3,000 to 9,000. Back then, the Almanac cost only six pence (about nine cents).
Records and predicting astronomical events (the rising and setting of the Sun, for instance), tides, weather, and other phenomena with respect to time — what made The Old Farmer’s Almanac different from the others was that Thomas’s astronomical and weather predictions were more accurate, the advice more useful, and the features more entertaining.
Based on his observations, Thomas used a complex series of natural cycles to devise a secret weather forecasting formula, which brought uncannily accurate results, traditionally said to be 80 percent accurate. (Even today, his formula is kept safely tucked away in a black tin box at the Almanac offices in Dublin, New Hampshire.)
Thomas’s last edition, in 1846, was not much different from his first, over 50 years earlier. However, in that time he established The Old Farmer’s Almanac as America’s leading periodical by outselling and outlasting the competition. He died in 1846 at the age of 80, supposedly reading page proofs for the 1847 edition.
Words of Wisdom
Begin the new year square with every man. (i.e., pay your debts!)