Today in History

1570
Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I
1836
Samuel Colt patents the Colt revolver
1841
Artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir born in Limoges, France
1901
Machinist, inventor, singer and comedic actor, Herbert "Zeppo" Marx born in New York City
1913
Voice, screen and film actor, author Jim Backus born in Cleveland, Ohio
1913
16th Amendment legalizes income tax
1933
First US aircraft carrier, the USS Ranger launched from Newport News, Virginia
1942
Actress Karen Grassle born in Berkeley, California
1943
Film producer and Grammy award winning muscian, Beatle guitarist George Harrison born in Liverpool, England
1964
Cassius Clay beats Sonny Liston
493
Negotiations open between the Roman Army, besieged at Ravenna, and the Ostrogoths
616
Death of St. Ethelbert, King of Kent
779
Death of St. Walburga
1450
Surrender of Florence to Francesco Sforza
1451
Pope Nicholas V bans all social intercourse between Christians & Jews
1525
French King Francis I is defeated and captured by Imperial forces at Pavia.
1547
Death of Vittoria Colonna, poet
1570
Pope Pius V issues the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis , excommunicating Queen Elizabeth I of England.
1591
Freidrich von Spee, reformist theologian born
1601
Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex, beheaded
1634
Assassination of Albrecht von Wallenstein
1642
Dutch settlers slaughter lower Hudson Valley Indians
1643
An Indian War begins on the West Bank of the Hudson River
1751
Edward Willet of New York City displayed the first trained monkey act in the United States. For the price of one shilling, the audience saw the monkey walk a tightrope, dance and "exercise" a gun.
1779
The British surrender the Illinois country to George Rogers Clark at Vincennes.
1781
American General Nathanael Greene crosses the Dan River on his way to his March 15th confrontation with Lord Charles Cornwallis at Guilford Court House, N.C.
1793
The department heads of the U.S. government met with President Washington at his home for the first cabinet meeting on record.
1804
Thomas Jefferson is nominated for president at the Democratic-Republican caucus.
1815
Napoleon leaves his exile on the Island of Elba, intending to return to France.
1836
Samuel Colt patents the first revolving barrel multi-shot firearm. "Revolving gun," (revolver).
1841
Pierre Auguste Renoir, French painter born
1856
Charles Lang Freer, U.S. art collector born
1865
General Joseph E. Johnston replaces John Bell Hood as Commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee.
1870
Hiram R. Revels, R-MS, became the first black member of the U.S. Senate as he was sworn in to serve out the unexpired term of Jefferson Davis.
1873
Enrico Caruso, Italian operatic tenor born
1873
Opera singer Enrico Caruso in Naples, Italy. born
1888
John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State to President Eisenhower born
1901
United States Steel Corp. was incorporated by J.P. Morgan.
1904
"The faun must have had a terrible afternoon." That's what Louis Elson said in the Boston Daily Advertizer. Elson cited Debussy's "Prelude of the Afternoon of a Faun" for what he called its "erratic and erotic spasms."
1905
Nutritionist Adele Davis (Let's Cook it Right, Let's Eat Right and Keep Fit) born
1906
The Russian composer Anton Arensky died of tuberculosis in St. Petersburg. Arensky's chamber music is still played today. He was a student of Rimsky-Korsakov, who considered him to be a major talent, but Arensky drank too much and gambled his money away.
1909
Comedian Zeppo (Herbert) Marx (Animal Crackers, Duck Soup, Monkey Business, The Cocoanuts, Horse Feathers) born
1910
The Dalai Lama flees from the Chinese and takes refuge in India.
1913
Actor Jim Backus voice of "Mr. Magoo". born
1913
The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving Congress the power to levy and collect income taxes, was declared in effect.
1917
Author Anthony Burgess born
1918
Tennis player Bobby (Larimore) Riggs born
1919
Oregon became the first state to tax gasoline. The one cent per gallon tax was to be used for road construction.
1920
U.S. diplomat Philip Habib born
1924
Ty Cobb, one of the legends of baseball, issued an edict to his team, the Detroit Tigers, that forbid players to play the game of golf during training camp.
1926
Poland demands a permanent seat on the League Council.
1927
Country singer Ralph Stanley born
1928
Writer-producer Larry Gelbart born
1928
Bell Labs introduces a new device to end the fluttering of the television image.
1928
The Federal Radio Commission issued the first U.S. television license to Charles Jenkins Laboratories in Washington, D.C. The first commercial TV license was issued in 1941.
1929
Musician Tommy Newsom born
1932
Country singer Faron Young born
1934
Golfer Tony Lema born
1937
Actor Tom Courtenay (The Dresser, The Loneliness of the Distance Runner, King Rat, Doctor Zhivago, The Last Butterfly) born
1937
CBS newsman Bob Schieffer born
1938
Actress Diane Baker born
1943
Rock singer-musician George Harrison (My Sweet Lord, Isn't It A Pity, What is Life?, All Those Years Ago, Concert for Bangla-Desh) born
1943
Talk show host Sally Jesse Raphael born
1943
U.S. troops reoccupied the Kasserine Pass.
1944
Actress ("Little House on the Prairie") Karen Grassle born
1944
U.S. forces destroy 135 planes in Marianas and Guam.
1947
National Track and Field and Olympic Hall of Famer Lee Evans born
1948
Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia.
1950
Movie director Neil Jordan born
1950
"Your Show of Shows," starring Sid Caesar, Inogene Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris made its debut on NBC.
1953
General de Gaulle condemns the European Defense Community.
1956
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev harshly criticized the late Joseph Stalin in a speech before a Communist Party congress in Moscow.
1957
Rock musician (Bay City Rollers) Stuart Wood born
1957
Buddy Holly and The Crickets traveled to Clovis, New Mexico, to record "That'll Be The Day" (one of the classics of rock 'n' roll) and "I'm Looking For Someone To Love". Both songs were released on Brunswick Records in May of that year.
1959
Rock singer-musician (The Alarm) Mike Peters born
1961
John F. Kennedy names Henry Kissinger national security adviser.
1964
22-year-old Cassius Clay (later Muhammed Ali) became world heavyweight boxing champion by defeating Sonny Liston in the seventh round in Miami Beach, Florida. Clay had been an 8-1 underdog. Attendance: 8,297.
1965
Actress Veronica Webb born
1966
Actress Tea Leoni born
1966
Nancy Sinatra received a gold record award for the hit, "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'".
1971
Actor Sean Astin. born
1972
Germany gave in to ransom demands from the Arab terrorist hijackers of a jumbo jet and paid $5 million for the release of its passengers.
1973
The Stephen Sondheim musical, "A Little Night Music," opened at Broadway's Shubert Theater.
1973
Rhythm-and-blues singer Justin Jeffre (98 Degrees) born
1976
The U.S. Supreme Court rules that states may ban the hiring of illegal aliens.
1981
Christopher Cross won five Grammy Awards at ceremonies in Radio City Music Hall in New York City. He was awarded the Album of the Year award for "Christopher Cross" and his hit, "Sailing", won for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Christopher was also voted Best New Artist of 1980.
1983
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams was found dead in his New York hotel suite; he was 71.
1984
Michael Spinks defeated Eddie Davis in a unanimous decision to retain the light heavyweight championship; in 12 rounds in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
1985
Edwin Meese III was sworn in as attorney general, succeeding William French Smith, in a private White House ceremony.
1986
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author Robert Penn Warren was named the first poet laureate of the United States by Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin.
1986
"We Are The World" captured four Grammy Awards this night. The song, featuring more than 40 superstar artists gathered at one time, was awarded the Top Song, Record of the Year, Best Pop Performance and Best Short Video Awards.
1986
Actor Justin Berfield ("Malcolm in the Middle") born
1986
President Ferdinand E. Marcos fled the Philippines after 20 years of rule in the wake of a tainted election; Corazon Aquino assumed the presidency.
1987
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld an affirmative action program in Alabama that provided for promoting equal numbers of black and white state troopers.
1988
Panama's civilian president, Eric Arturo Delvalle, announced the dismissal of Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega as commander of the country's Defense Forces. (The next day, the National Assembly ousted Delvalle.)
1989
President Bush left Japan, where he had attended the funeral of Emperor Hirohito, and arrived in China for a three-day visit.
1990
U.S.-backed opposition presidential candidate Violeta Chamorro won a stunning upset victory over President Daniel Ortega, leader of the leftist Sandinista Liberation Front.
1990
Nicaraguans went to the polls in an election that resulted in an upset victory for the alliance opposed to the ruling Sandinistas.
1991
During the Persian Gulf War, 28 Americans were killed when an Iraqi Scud missile hit a U.S. barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
1992
President Bush won the South Dakota Republican primary, Bob Kerrey the Democratic primary.
1992
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled prison guards who use unnecessary force against inmates may be violating the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment even if they inflict no serious injuries.
1992
Natalie Cole won seven awards at the 34th annual Grammys, including best album for "Unforgettable."
1993
A bomb exploded in the parking garage of New York's World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000 others.
1994
At the Winter Olympics in Norway, Oksana Baiul of Ukraine won the gold medal in ladies' figure skating while Nancy Kerrigan won the silver and Chen Lu of China the bronze; Tonya Harding came in eighth.
1994
American-born Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire with an automatic rifle inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank, killing 29 Muslims before he was beaten to death by worshippers.
1995
Former President Jimmy Carter wound up a 54-hour visit to Haiti, denying he'd been given a chilly reception by Haitians whom he'd helped save from a potentially bloody U.S.-led intervention.
1996
A 12-mile tether connecting a half-tin satellite to the space shuttle Columbia broke loose as it almost completely unreeled.
1996
Cambodian activist Dr. Haing S. Ngor, who won an Academy Award
1996
Blasts apparently set off by suicide bombers rip city bus in Jerusalem and soldiers' hitchhiking post in the coastal city of Ashkelon, killing 27 people and wounding more than 80 others.
1997
A jury in Media, Pennsylvania, convicted multimillionaire John E. du Pont of third-degree murder, deciding he was mentally ill when he killed world-class wrestler David Schultz.
1997
China's elite bid a final farewell to Deng Xiaoping, the country's last great revolutionary leader.
1998
President Clinton visited a portion of central Florida ravaged by a string of deadly tornadoes, comforting survivors whose homes were torn to pieces by the storms. The president followed the storms' paths by helicopter and on foot, spending an hour walking though Kissimmee's Ponderosa Pines Campground, where federal officials said 10 people died.
1998
Kim Dae-jung, once South Korea's leading dissident, was inaugurated as its president.
1998
At the Grammy Awards, Bob Dylan won best album and best contemporary folk album for "Time Out of Mind" while Whawn Colvin won song and record of the year for "Sunny Came Home."
1998
Pope John Paul ushered the world's 980 million Roman Catholics into the pre-Easter Lent season, urging them to repent for their sins and reopen dialogue with God. "Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with tears and cries," the pope said, reading from the scriptures during his homily at a traditional Ash Wednesday service in the church of Santa Sabina on Rome's Aventine Hill.
1998
Switzerland's first legal brothel opened in Zurich. Thirty prostitutes set up shop at the Petite Fleur bordel. The brothel was the brainchild of Landmann and carpenter Hans Berchtold. The women are self-employed and pay $138 a day to rent a room. They can charge what they want for services, depending on what is on offer and what the market will bear.
1998
Umberto Mastroianni, one of the most illustrious Italian sculptors of the 20th century, died at 87. Mastroianni, combined futurist and cubist elements in his works.
1998
The Supreme Court threw out a 16-year-old government rule that allowed company credit unions to accept members from other companies.
1999
In a move that threatened to revive a strain on U.S.-Israeli relations, Israel's Supreme Court blocked the extradition of American teenager Samuel Sheinbein to the United States to face charges stemming from a slaying in Maryland.
1999
A jury in Jasper, Texas, sentenced white supremacist John William King to death for chaining James Byrd Jr., a black man, to a pickup truck and dragging him to pieces.
2000
A jury in Albany, New York, acquitted four white New York City police officers of all charges in the shooting death of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo.
2005
Yukos loses Chapter 11 bid
2005
Montserrat refugees to be deported from U.S.
2005
Mutant gene predicts common Parkinson's
2005
Several UN troops killed in Congo ambush
2006
Dublin unionist march turns violent
2006
Earthquake hits Ottawa, Canada
2006
London Mayor Ken Livingstone faces month-long suspension over Nazi jibe
2006
Oxford march supports animal testing
2006
FBI confirms that ricin was not found at the University of Texas
2006
Riots cease in Dublin against Unionist march
2007
VOA journalists resist plans to restrict mission in support of media freedom
2007
Iranian TV station announces first space rocket launch
2007
National Socialist Movement endorses U.S. presidential candiate
2008
Several large earthquakes shake Indonesia
2008
Taipei International Book Exhibition: Different creations at Comic Hall
2008
Song by indie artists, used in small movie, wins Oscar
2008
Robert Boyle wins Honorary Oscar for his art direction career
2008
Remains of a child discovered in Jersey care home
2008
National Hockey League news: February 25, 2008
2008
Oscar's after parties include Children Uniting Nations
2009
Airplane crashes at Schiphol Airport; 9 killed
2009
Japan's January exports fall by 46% from last year
2009
U.S. team unveils plans for F1 entry in 2010
2009
Fed chairman Bernanke says US recession 'may last into 2010'
2010
Turkey charges seven military officers over coup plot
2010
Whale kills trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida
2010
At least fifteen dead after landslide in Indonesia
2010
10 billionth song downloaded from Apple's iTunes Store
2010
Three people arrested in connection with murder of shop owner in West Yorkshire, England
2010
Up to 270,000 civil servants to go on strike in UK in March
2011
Space Shuttle Discovery launches on final mission
2012
Syrian citizen journalists risk death, targeted; city of Homs facing starvation
2013
Women deliver for Team GB at IPC Alpine World Championships
2013
Romanian skier debuts at IPC Alpine World Championships
2013
Britain loses AAA credit rating due to poor economic growth and continued austerity
2013
Scottish police arrest two over Glasgow apartment death
2013
Three die in Cornwall, UK caravan park of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning
2013
France leads medal count after third competition day of IPC Alpine World Championships

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.

Select a section