Since it's inception 60 years ago, Guinness World Records has become a mirror to the changing world around us.
From architectural achievements to football finances, here below we present seven world records that serve to show just how much change has taken place since our first annual was published in 1955.
1. Highest earning TV stars
In 1954, US comedian Jackie Gleason signed the most lucrative TV contract up to that date: $65,000 per episode for CBS’s The Honeymooners, a half-hour, once-weekly TV show. Even though this is worth a cool $555,000 in today’s money, it still doesn’t beat Ashton Kutcher (USA), currently the highest-paid TV actor per episode, who picks up $750,000 for each instalment of Two and a Half Men.
Jerry Seinfeld, however, earned an estimated $267million (£159.5 million) in 1998 – the highest annual earnings ever by a television actor.
2. Tallest building
The tallest building back in 1955 was listed in The Guinness Book of Records as the Empire State Building in New York at 448.6 m (1,472 ft) – now more accurately measured to be 443 m (1,453 ft) to the tip.
The current tallest building is the Burj Khalifa, which stands 828 m (2,716 ft) tall. It was developed by Emaar Properties and officially opened in Dubai on 4th January 2010. The tower incorporates the most floors in a building (160), and is also the tallest manmade structure on land.
3. Most expensive bottle of wine
Our first edition lists the most expensive bottle of wine commercially available as a Feinste Trockenbeeren Auslese of 1949 – a white wine from the Rhine Valley – that retailed for all of £8. And there was much excitement in the 1961 book for a Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1806 that that sold for a whopping £36 and 6 shillings.
Today, the current world record for the most expensive bottle of wine is a single bottle of Chateau d'Yquem (1811) that was sold for £75,000 ($117,000) by The Antique Wine Company in London, UK, on 18 January 2011. And an Imperial (six-litre) bottle of 1947 French Cheval-Blanc sold for £192,000 ($304,375) at Christie’s in Geneva, Switzerland on 16 November 2010.
4. Highest football transfer fee
In May 1952, the 27-year-old Swedish international Hans Jeppson transferred from Napol to Genoese Atlanta for a record fee of 105,000,000 lira or £60,375 – the equivalent today of £1.51 million (using the retail price index). (The UK record in the 1955 book was the inside forward Jackie Sewell’s transfer in March 1951 from Notts County to Sheffield Wednesday for £34,000, worth £931,800 in today’s money.)
In 2013, Gareth Bale (UK) transferred from Tottenham Hotspur (UK) to Real Madrid (Spain) for £85.30 million ($99.95 million) on 1st September 2013. (Prior to this, the highest transfer fee quoted for a British player was £15million for Alan Shearer, who moved from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United on 29th July 1996).
5. Remotest known body (and first record printed)
The first record listed in the first ever edition of The Guinness Book of Records was for the remotest known bodies: “The remotest known heavenly bodies are extra-galactic nebulae at a distance of some 1,000 million light years... There is reason to believe that even remoter nebulae exist but, since it is possible that they are receding beyond the speed of light, they would be beyond man’s ‘observable horizon’.”
Sixty years on and the current record – since retitled as the most distant object in the universe – is a “protogalaxy” (meaning one in the early stages of formation) that is effectively 13.42 billion light years away. Designated UDFj-39546284 and found in the constellation of Fornax, its age and distance were calculated using data from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. The light we see from it today was produced when the universe was only around 380 million years old.
6. Fastest 100 m
In 1955, six men shared the record for the fastest 100 m, each running it in 10.2 seconds: James Cleveland “Jessie” Owens (USA, 1936), Harold Davis (USA, 1941), Lloyd Berrington LaBeach (Panama, 1948), Henry Norwood Ewell (USA, 1948), Emmanuel McDonald Bailey (Trinidad and GB, 1951) and Heinz Fütterer (Germany, 1954). In the women’s event, Marjorie Jackson (Australia) held the record with a time of 11.4 seconds from 1952.
The record for the fastest 100 m is currently held by Usain Bolt (Jamaica) at 9.58 seconds. The record was achieved on 16th August 2009.
The fastest 100m (female) title is held by Florence Griffith-Joyner (USA, 1959–98), who ran it in 10.49 seconds on 16 July 1988.
7. Oldest person
The oldest person ever was Jeanne Louise Calment (France), who was born on 21 February 1875 and died on 4 August 1997 at the age of 122 years 164 days.
The oldest man ever was Jiroemon Kimura (Japan), who was born on 19 April 1897 and died on 12 June 2013, aged 116 years 54 days.
The oldest living person is currently is Susannah Mushatt Jones (USA, b. 6 July 1899), who is 115 years 363 days old as of 3 July 2015.