Today in History

1894
Celebrated New Yorker cartoonist and writer James Thurber born in Columbus, Ohio
1894
Cartoonist and creator of Popeye, E.C. Segar born in Chester, Illinois
1943
Poet, singer and songwriter, Jim Morrison born in Melbourne, Florida
1947
Songwriter, musician and singer, Gregg Allman born in Nashville, Tennesee
1956
Fictional mascot Alfred E. Neuman appears on the cover of Mad Magazine for the first time
1965
University of Pennsylvania confers first computer science doctorate
1969
96 killed when Olympic Airways flight crashes in Greece during a storm
1972
45 killed when United Airlines Flight 553 crashes near Chicago Midway Airport
1980
John Lennon shot to death in New York City
65
Horace, Roman poet born
877
Coronation of Louis II, "the Stammerer," as King of France
1545
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots born
1626
Christina, Queen of Sweden born
1643
John Pym, English Parliamentary statesman, dies
1644
Christina becomes first Queen Regnant of Sweden
1765
Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin born
1776
George Washington's retreating army in the American Revolution crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.
1813
Beethoven's Seventh Symphony premiered with something of an all-star orchestra. Playing in it were Salieri, Spohr, Romberg, Moscheles, Hummel, and just about any other Viennese musician whose name is still remembered today.
1854
Pope Pius the Ninth proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
1861
The American Bible Society announces that it will be distribute 7,000 Bibles a day to Union soldiers.
1861
General Motors founder William Durant born
1863
President Lincoln announced his plan for the Reconstruction of the South.
1865
Jean Sibelius, major Scandinavian composer. born
1886
Delegates from 25 unions founded the American Federation of Labor, forerunner of the modern AFL-CIO, in Columbus, Ohio.
1894
James Thurber born
1903
Fashion designer Adele Simpson (Smithline) born
1915
Singer-songwriter Floyd Tillman born
1915
Sibelius's Fifth Symphony premiered, his 50th birthday. He would revise it before publishing, however. The Fifth has turned out to be Sibelius's most popular symphony, with its cold brass chords, its fanfare finale, and those bizarre fortes at the end.
1916
Movie director Richard Fleischer ("Tora! Tora! Tora!") born
1920
President Wilson declines to send a representative to the League of Nations in Geneva.
1924
James B. Duke offers $40 million toward the founding of Duke University in Charlotte, North Carolina.
1925
Jazz organist Jimmy Smith (Walk on the Wild Side) born
1925
Entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. (The Candy Man, What Kind of Fool Am I, Faraway Places; member: The Rat Pack) born
1930
Actor-director Maximilian Schell born
1933
Comedian Flip (Clerow) Wilson born
1936
Actor David Carradine born
1937
Actor James MacArthur born
1939
Flute player James Galway was born in Belfast. Galway was a principal flute player with the Berlin Philharmonic before launching his solo career. born
1939
Singer Jerry Butler born
1941
The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Congress granted President Roosevelt a declaration of war against Japan. The United States had finally entered World War II.
1941
Ray Eberle and the Modernaires teamed with the Glenn Miller Orchestra to record "Moonlight Cocktail" on Bluebird Records. By April, 1942, the song was a solid hit.
1942
Pop musician Bobby Elliott (The Hollies) born
1943
Rock musician Jim Morrison born
1944
The U.S. conducts the longest most effective air raid of the Pacific battle at Iwo Jima.
1946
Actor John Rubenstein born
1947
Rock singer-musician Gregg Allman born
1949
Rock singer-musician Ray Shulman (Gentle Giant) born
1949
The Chinese Nationalist government, defeated by the Communists, retreated from the mainland to the island of Taiwan.
1949
One of America's classic Broadway plays, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," debuted. It began its long run at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City. Carol Channing starred in the musical and charmed audiences with the show's songs such as her trademark signature, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."
1953
Actress Kim Basinger born
1953
Los Angeles became the third largest city in the U.S.
1956
Rock musician Warren Cuccurullo (Duran Duran) born
1956
Alfred E. Neuman (What, me worry?") first appeared on the cover of Mad Magazine. He even got some votes in the Presidential election, which was won by Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1957
Rock musician Phil Collen (Def Leppard) born
1959
Country singer Marty Raybon (Shenandoah) born
1961
"Surfin'" by the Beach Boys - their first record - was released on Candix Records. It became a local hit in Los Angeles but only made it to #75 nationally. The surfin' music craze didn't take hold across America for another year.
1962
Rock musician Marty Friedman (Megadeth) born
1962
Striking workers of the International Typographical Union closed nine New York City newspapers. The strike lasted 114 days and didn't end until April 1, 1963. A total of 5,700,000 readers were affected by the shutdown.
1963
Actor Malcolm Gets ("Caroline in the City") born
1963
Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He was set free four days later. It was discovered that Sinatra, Jr. cooperated with his abductors in their plot.
1964
Actress Teri Hatcher born
1967
Rapper Bushwick Bill (The Geto Boys) born
1967
Singer Sinead O'Connor born
1967
Actor Matthew Laborteaux born
1972
Rock musician Ryan Newell (Sister Hazel) born
1978
Golda Meir, prime minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974, died in Jerusalem at age 80.
1980
Rock star John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by an apparently deranged fan.
1985
Amtrak's last transcontinental sleeping car, which carried passengers coast-to-coast without requiring them to board a connecting train, pulled into New York's Pennsylvania Station four days after leaving Los Angeles.
1986
House Democrats selected majority leader Jim Wright to be the chamber's 48th speaker: succeeding Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill.
1987
The "intefadeh" (Arabic for uprising) by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories began.
1987
President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a treaty under which the superpowers agreed to destroy their arsenals of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
1988
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev cut short his US visit in order to return home following a killer earthquake in Armenia.
1989
Communist leaders in Czechoslovakia offered to surrender their control over the government and accept a minority role in a coalition Cabinet.
1990
As former American hostages began leaving Iraq and occupying Kuwait, President Bush - wrapping up his South American tour in Caracas, Venezuela - said the evacuation made for "one less worry I've got" in deciding whether to fight Baghdad
1991
Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine declared the Soviet national government dead, forging a new alliance to be known as the Commonwealth of Independent States.
1991
AIDS patient Kimberly Bergalis, who had contracted the disease from her dentist, died in Fort Pierce, Florida, at age 23.
1992
Americans got to see live television coverage of US troops landing on the beaches of Somalia as Operation Restore Hope began (because of the time difference, it was early December ninth in Somalia).
1993
President Clinton signed into U-S law the North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect at the start of 1994.
1994
In Los Angeles, 12 alternate jurors were chosen for the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
1994
Bosnian Serbs released dozens of hostage peacekeepers, but continued to detain about 300 others.
1995
Four months after the death of founder Jerry Garcia, "The Grateful Dead" announced it was breaking up after 30 years of making music.
1995
In New York, an arsonist killed seven workers and himself at a Harlem clothing store that had been the target of a racially charged lease dispute.
1996
The Serbian Supreme Court ruled against opposition parties who said Slobodan Milosevic had robbed them of an election victory in Belgrade. director.
1997
Federal hearings opened in Baltimore into the TWA Flight 800 disaster which had claimed 230 lives. In a $25 billion deal, Swiss Bank and Union Bank of Switzerland announced they would merge, forming Europe's largest and world's second largest bank.
1998
The Supreme Court ruled that police cannot search people and their cars after merely ticketing them for routine traffic violations.
1998
San Francisco and several suburbs suffered a power blackout; it was more than seven hours before electricity was fully restored.
1998
Struggling to stave off impeachment, President Clinton's defenders forcefully pleaded his case before the House Judiciary Committee.
1999
A Memphis, Tennessee, jury hearing a lawsuit filed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s family found that the civil rights leader had been the victim of a vast murder conspiracy, not a lone assassin.
1999
A Russian diplomat was ordered to leave the United States after he was allegedly caught gathering information from the State Department with an eavesdropping device.
2005
Opposition motions in Australian House of Representatives attempts to bring Government to account on last sitting day of year
2005
Voluntary student unionism bill passes Australian House of Representatives, enters Senate
2005
Business Brief for December 8, 2005
2005
Australian government paves way for nuclear waste dump in Northern Territory
2005
USA under pressure at climate talks
2005
Schwarzenegger heads back to work after feeling ill, being hospitalized
2005
Baseball: Nationals get Soriano from Rangers for Wilkerson, Sledge, prospect
2005
Council of Europe planning to use satellite images in prisons probe
2005
The 2006 Winter Olympics torch reaches Rome
2005
Southwest Airlines flight skids off runway at Chicago's Midway
2005
Haitian Supreme Court rules Simeus eligible
2006
STS-116 launch scrubbed
2006
New Zealand National party: "TVNZ must explain coup threat coverage"
2006
Boil water advisory lifted in Vancouver
2006
Fiji suspended from Commonwealth
2006
Bush reacts to the Iraq Study Report
2006
Two Buffalo, New York police officers shot while on duty
2007
Massive oil spill reported off coast of South Korea
2007
Forest preservation plan debated at climate talks
2007
Sean Penn endorses Kucinich for US President
2007
Africa-Europe summit opens with pledges of equal partnership
2007
UK firemen cut metal ring from man's penis
2007
5 reporters hurt in conflict over ex-President's monument in Taiwan
2007
US lawmakers and rights advocates question CIA tape destruction
2008
Australian PM announces public affairs channel
2008
New Zealand Parliament reconvenes after election
2008
US F-18 fighter jet crashes in San Diego residential area
2008
Wikimedia, IWF respond to block of Wikipedia over child pornography allegations
2008
Details emerge of Honda's withdrawal from Formula One
2009
School stampede in China kills eight, injures dozens more
2009
Copenhagen climate conference opens
2009
Uganda introduces anti-homosexual legislation
2009
Bomb blasts in Pakistan kill fifty
2009
WHO: 36 million cured of tuberculosis in last fifteen years
2009
Bombings kill over 100 in Baghdad
2009
Walt Disney World twinned with Swindon, England
2010
Huge fire in Chilean jail kills 81; 21 injured
2010
US federal judge dismisses targeted killing lawsuit
2011
Montana judge frees Barry Beach pending homicide retrial
2011
What's eating you? US study highlights bedbug incest
2011
'There's been another murder': UK's Wright Stuff presenter apologises for teen murder comments
2012
Solicitor of presenter Stuart Hall denies indecent assault
2012
Hillary Clinton condemns violence in Northern Ireland

In the early days of Unix, a date-tagged list of historical events was used by system administrators to add some interest to the system's Message of the Day. Whenever users logged in they would be presented with the latest system notices, perhaps some mildly amusing quotes and one or two lines of historical events, based on the current date.

Today in History (UNIX calendar) uses some of the entries from the original library but is updated with current events as well. Instead of plain text, each entry is now formatted in HTML and each day may include one or more icons of historical figures or celebrities.

Other things unique to the UNIX calendar are references to dates found in fictional literature such as Lord of the Rings, perhaps undue emphasis on people and events that were part of popular culture in the 70's and technical minutiae about computers and operating systems that might not be found in other places.

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