Today in History

1874
Aviator, stunt performer, magician, and escape artist, Harry Houdini born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary
1900
Subway construction begins in New York
1930
Legendary film actor Steve McQueen born in Beech Grove, Indiana
1958
Elvis reports to draft board in Memphis
1965
NASA's Ranger 9 beams back televised images of Moon before crash-landing
1970
Emmy nominated film and television actress, Lara Flynn Boyle born in Davenport, Iowa
1974
Movie and television actress Alyson Hannigan born in Washington, DC
1976
Super Bowl MVP quarterback Peyton Manning born in New Orleans, Louisiana
1989
Exxon Valdez runs aground in Alaska
809
Death of Harun al-Rashid
1084
Holy Roman Emperor-to-be Henry IV enters Rome, chases out the Pope, and consecrates "Clement III" as Pope
1208
The Pope places England under Interdict
1241
Mongols under Kaidu take Cracow, Poland
1267
Louis IX, King of France, takes the Cross for the 7th Crusade
1381
Death of St. Catherine of Sweden
1401
Timur sacks Damascus
1455
Death of Pope Nicholas V
1490
George Agricola "Father of Minerology" born
1495
Columbus leaves Isabella, Espanola to capture Indians for slaves
1558
Coronation of Ferdinand I as Holy Roman Emperor
1580
First bombs (grenades) thrown, in Holland
1582
A summary of the witch-trials of St. Osyth's, England, is published, listing 13 witches
1603
Death of Elizabeth I, Queen of England
1603
Scottish king James VI became King James I of England.
1638
Rhode Island purchased from the Indians for 40 fathoms of beads
1644
Roger Williams gains a charter for the Rhode Island colony
1765
Britain enacted the Quartering Act, requiring American colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers.
1792
Benjamin West became the first American artist to be selected president of the Royal Academy in London.
1808
The Spanish mezzo Maria Malibran was born. born
1834
Artist and poet William Morris born
1855
Financier Andrew Mellon born
1874
Escape artist, the great Houdini & magician Harry Houdini in Budapest, Hungary. born
1880
The first "hail insurance company" was incorporated in Connecticut. It was known as Tobacco Growers' Mutual Insurance Company. It was for the protection of tobacco crops.
1882
German scientist Robert Koch announced in Berlin that he had discovered the bacillus responsible for tuberculosis.
1883
Long-distance telephone service was inaugurated between Chicago and New York.
1887
Actor Fatty (Roscoe) Arbuckle Mabel and Fatty Keystone Comedies with Charlie Chaplin born
1898
The first U.S. automobile was sold. Mining engineer Robert Allison paid $1,000 for a Winton.
1901
Pioneer film animator Ub Iwerks, whose artistry helped Walt Disney to realize his vision born
1902
Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey born
1905
Jules Verne dies in Amiens at 76 years old
1909
Bank robber Clyde Barrow. He died on May 23, 1934. The 1967 movie, "Bonnie & Clyde," recounted the life story of the two minor desperados of the 1930s. born
1925
Actor Norman Fell (3's Company) born
1930
Actor Steve McQueen in Beech Grove, Indiana. McQueen was nominated for best actor in 1966 for "The Sand Pebbles." born
1932
Actor William Smith born
1932
A New York radio station (WABC) broadcast a variety program from a moving train in Maryland.
1934
The United States granted the Philippine Islands independence, effective July 4th, 1946.
1940
Fashion and costume designer Bob Mackie born
1941
Glenn Miller began work on his first motion picture for 20th Century Fox. The film was "Sun Valley Serenade."
1944
Actor R. Lee Ermey born
1944
In occupied Rome, the Nazis executed more than 300 civilians in reprisal for an attack by Italian partisans the day before that killed 32 German soldiers.
1944
The greatest mass escape of World War II occurred at Stalag Luft III when 76 allied airmen tunneled out. Only three made it home.
1945
Movie director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") born
1948
Rock musician Lee Oskar born
1949
Walter Huston and son John became the first father-and-son team to win Oscars as actor and director of "Treasure of Sierra Madre."
1949
Singer-songwriter Nick Lowe born
1951
Rock musician Dougie Thomson (Supertramp) born
1953
Comedian-actor Louie Anderson born
1954
Actor Robert Carradine born
1954
Actress Donna Pescow born
1955
The Tennessee Williams play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" opened on Broadway. It starred Barbara Bel Geddes as "Maggie," Ben Gazarra as "Brick" and Burl Ives as "Big Daddy."
1955
First oil drill seagoing rig placed in service.
1958
Rock-and-roll singer Elvis Presley was inducted into the Army in Memphis, Tennessee. Thousands of fans wept the following day when his hair was cut by James Peterson at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.
1960
A U.S. appeals court ruled that the novel, Lady Chatterly's Lover, was not obscene and could be sent through the mail.
1960
Indy "500" driver Scott Pruett born
1960
Actress Kelly LeBrock born
1961
Rhythm-and-blues DJ Rodney "Kool Kollie" Terry (Ghostdown DJs) born
1964
Actress Annabella Sciorra born
1970
Actress Lara Flynn Boyle born
1970
Rapper P.A. Pasemaster Mase (De La Soul) born
1974
Actress Alyson Hannigan ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") born
1976
Argentine President Isabel Peron, widow of strongman ruler Juan Peron, was arrested in a military coup. General Jorge Videla was named president.
1980
One of El Salvador's most respected Roman Catholic Church leaders, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, was shot to death by gunmen as he celebrated Mass in San Salvador.
1981
"Nightline" with Ted Koppel premiers.
1985
As hundreds of South African police kept watch from a distance, thousands of black mourners attended the funeral of six blacks killed in rioting.
1986
U.S. and Libyan forces clashed in the Gulf of Sidra in the Mediterranean. Libya fired missiles that missed U.S. aircraft; the U.S. retaliated, hitting two Libyan patrol boats and a missile battery.
1986
"Out of Africa" won seven Oscars, including best picture, at the 58th annual Academy Awards.
1987
French Premier Jacques Chirac signed a contract with Walt Disney Productions for the creation of a Disneyland amusement park, the first in Europe.
1988
Former national security aides Oliver L. North and John M. Poindexter and businessmen Richard V. Secord and Albert Hakim pleaded innocent to Iran-Contra charges. (North and Poindexter were convicted, but had their convictions thrown out; Secord and Hakim received probation after each pleaded guilty to a single count under a plea bargain.)
1989
The Exxon Valdez hit a reef in the Gulf of Alaska (Prince William Sound), spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil in the largest oil tanker spill in U.S.
1990
Soviet military vehicles rumbled through the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius as lawmakers in the breakaway Baltic republic voted to transfer their power to foreign soil if they were attacked or arrested.
1991
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the American commander of Operation Desert Storm, told reporters in Saudi Arabia the United States was closer to establishing a permanent headquarters on Arab soil.
1991
In Kuwait, banks reopened for the first time since Iraqi troops had shut them down the previous December.
1992
Democrat Jerry Brown upset front-runner Bill Clinton in the Connecticut presidential primary.
1992
The space shuttle "Atlantis" blasted off with seven astronauts on the first shuttle mission devoted to the environment.
1993
Ezer Weizman was elected Israel's seventh president.
1993
A cab driver believed to have organized the World Trade Center bombing was flown back to the United States from Egypt.
1993
The Chicago Symphony offered something unusual followed by a couple of old favorites. Myung Whun Chung conducted the CSO in "Metaboles" by Dutilleux. The rest of the show was Mendelssohn's "Scottish" and Saint-Saens "Organ" Symphonies.
1993
Actress Kim Bassinger was ordered to pay the producers of "Boxing Helena" $8.92 million after backing out of a verbal agreement to appear in the film. (The award was later overturned.)
1994
President Clinton held a news conference in which he acknowledged he had overstated the loss in his Whitewater land investment and promised to release late 1970s tax returns to answer questions on the land deal.
1995
The House of Representatives passed, 234-199, a welfare reform package calling for the most profound changes in social programs since the New Deal; President Clinton criticized the bill, saying it was "weak on work and tough on children."
1995
For the first time in 20 years, no British soldiers were patrolling the streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
1996
Stargazers across the country scanned the skies in hopes of seeing Hyakutake, the brightest comet to pass by the Earth in two decades.
1996
NASA astronaut Shannon Lucid transferred from the space shuttle "Atlantis" to the Russian space station "Mir," beginning a five-month stay.
1997
Vice President Gore arrived in China for the highest-level US visit in eight years.
1997
At the 69th Annual Academy Awards, "The English Patient" won best picture and director (Anthony Minghella); Geoffrey Rush won best actor for "Shine," and Frances McDormand best actress for "Fargo."
1998
Azteca, a California dairy company, voluntarily recalled several types of cheese sold in the Los Angeles area after inspectors found a potentially lethal germ ( Listeria monocytogenes bacteria) in a random sample.
1998
Rep. John Conyers, a Democratic critic of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, accused House Republicans Tuesday of putting together an impeachment strategy against President Clinton behind closed doors. "The Republican leadership is now planning to surreptitiously commence to staff for an impeachment investigation without any notice to Congress, to the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, or to the American people," Conyers said in a speech on the House floor.
1998
Two students, ages 13 and eleven, dressed in camouflage opened fire on dozens of schoolmates at an Arkansas middle school Tuesday, killing four girls and one teacher in what police said was a carefully planned ambush. Nine other girls and one other teacher were also wounded in the attack shortly after midday at the Westside Middle School, in a quiet rural area just west of Jonesboro, Arkansas. (Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden were pronounced delinquent in juvenile court the following August.)
1999
The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that Boeing 737 rudder problems caused two fatal airline crashes and nearly triggered a third.
1999
Thirty-nine people were killed when fire erupted in the Mont Blanc tunnel in France and burned for two days.
2000
A federal judge awarded former hostage Terry Anderson $ 341million from Iran, holding Iranian agents responsible for Anderson's nearly seven years of captivity in Lebanon.
2000
Sig Mickelson, the first president of CBS News, died in San Diego at age 86.
2005
Explosion at Texas refinery kills 14, injures more than 100
2005
Bush, Martin, Fox hold summit, sign SPP accord
2005
Iraqi, American forces raid insurgent training camp, killing 85
2005
Woman finds human finger in bowl of chili at Wendy's restaurant
2005
John Couey confessed to police in 1991 to molesting his stepdaughter; Never prosecuted
2005
Arab summit comes to an end
2005
New company to research artificial brain
2005
New figures released on Irish income distribution
2005
PBS cancels 'Wall $treet Week' after 35 years
2005
Entrepreneur's RFID chip implant to open doors, start car
2005
Akayev flees Kyrgyzstan as protesters seize control of Bishkek
2005
Sony's PlayStation Portable is launched in North America
2005
Canada set to rule on U.S. Army refugee
2005
Ground broken on Northpoint development in Cambridge, Massachusetts
2006
Correspondence of late Greek Orthodox leader of Americas to be published
2006
Virologists discover why H5N1 doesn't spread easily between humans
2006
Explosion in French college
2006
BNP lose council seat in Keighley
2006
Lawsuit accuses Chicago priest of molesting 13-year-old boy
2006
Journal Nature study 'fatally flawed', says Britannica
2006
Over five hundred hispanic students protest immigration laws in Los Angeles
2006
University suspends lecturer accused of racism
2006
Benedict XVI Elevates 15 to Cardinal
2006
Violence, arrests end Minsk, Belarus protests
2006
Mishap destroys SpaceX Falcon 1 after maiden launch
2006
U.S. court adds limit to police searches
2006
Bush declares immunity from Patriot Act oversight
2006
42 West Papuan asylum seekers get temporary Australian visas
2007
Labor retains power in NSW, earning fourth consecutive term
2007
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation CEO resigns
2007
NHL: Penguins defeat Thrashers, catch Devils
2007
Cricket World Cup: Australia vs South Africa
2007
Muslims told not to wear veils when they vote in Quebec
2007
NCAA Basketball: UCLA defeats Kansas, Ohio State holds off Memphis
2007
Cricket World Cup: England vs Kenya
2008
United States military death toll in Iraq reaches 4,000
2008
Mugabe: A vote for MDC is a wasted vote
2008
Al-Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, calls for 'strikes against Jewish and American interests'
2008
National Hockey League news: March 24, 2008
2008
George and Laura Bush introduce White House egg roll
2008
China: 'the Dalai Lama is scheming to take the Beijing Olympics hostage'
2009
"Twilight" DVD sells 3 million copies in first day
2009
World's cheapest car launched in India, will go on sale in April
2009
TV late night show host David Letterman marries girlfriend of 23 years
2009
Youth charged with murdering Northern-Irish police officer
2009
Obama considers 'comprehensive' exit strategy from Afghanistan
2009
EPA proposes using Clean Air Act to fight global warming
2009
Kangaroos escape in France
2009
IDF soldiers' account of Gaza incursion sparks new war crimes investigations
2009
Japanese ship escapes after pirates open fire in Somalia
2009
Fargo, North Dakota, prepares for record flooding
2010
US and Russia to sign new arms control treaty
2010
Security threats directed at US Democrats
2010
Alistair Darling unveils UK's Budget
2010
American actor Robert Culp dies at 79
2010
Body of child killed in tsunami identified by Chilean police
2011
English actress Elizabeth Taylor dies at age 79
2011
Detroit’s population drops by one-fourth in the last decade
2011
UK police find body of missing woman and search for another; suspect in custody
2011
Tamil Nadu Elections: DMK, AIADMK promise freebies
2011
Magnitude 6.8 earthquake strikes northeastern Myanmar
2011
More than a dozen reported dead after Syrian protests
2011
Libyan city of Misrata reported to be secure after Gaddafi forces retreat
2012
Paralympic swim world records tumble at Australian championships
2012
News briefs: March 24, 2012
2012
Japan beats Aussie Spirit in first two games of series
2013
Car crashes into house in Suffolk, UK, seriously injuring man

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.

In association with Amazon, this symbol is a link to related products at amazon.com. Any proceeds resulting from the sales of these products are used to defray the cost of maintaining the Today in History site and editorial efforts.

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