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Today in History

1861
Confederate troops fire first shots of Civil War at Ft Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina
1932
Musical archivist, singer and ukulele player, Tiny Tim born Herbert Butros Khaury in New York City
1940
Academy and Grammy Award winning composer and pianist, Herbie Hancock born in Chicago, Illinois
1944
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and Steppenwolf front man, John Kay born Joachim Fritz Krauledat in Tilsit, East Prussia
1947
Weatherman, race car owner, television producer and late night talk show host, David Letterman born in Indianapolis, Indiana
1951
Yom Hoshoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day
1961
Yuri Gagarin becomes first human in space
1965
US Champion figure skater, Elaine Zayak born in Belleville, New Jersey
1971
Director and actress, Shannen Doherty born in Memphis, Tennessee
1979
Golden Globe Award winning actress, Claire Danes born in Manhattan, New York
1981
Space shuttle Columbia's maiden flight
1996
Yahoo! stock goes on sale for $13/share
1204
The Fourth Crusade sacks Constantinople.
1606
England adopts the Union Jack as its flag.
1770
Parliament repeals the Townsend Acts.
1777
Henry Clay, the "Great Compromiser", American politician and statesman who ran unsuccessfully for president three times. born
1782
The British navy wins its only naval engagement against the colonists in the American Revolution at the Battle of Saints, off Dominica.
1791
Francis Preston Blair, Washington Globe newspaper editor born
1799
Phineas Pratt patented the comb cutting machine.
1811
The first colonists arrive at Cape Disappointment, Washington.
1833
Charles Gaylor patented the fireproof safe in New York City.
1838
John Shaw Billings, American librarian, army born
1847
Yung Wing, one of several Chinese students to arrive in America this day, went on to become the first student from China to graduate from Yale University .
1861
The American Civil War began as Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter South Carolina.
1877
James Alexander Tyng, while playing a baseball game in Lynn, MA, became the first ballplayer to wear a catcher's mask.
1892
Voters in Lockport, New York, became the first in the nation to use voting machines.
1895
Actress and singer Lily (Alice) Pons (I Dream Too Much, That Girl from Paris) born
1903
Dancer (Helen Beck) Sally Rand born
1905
The Hippodrome opened in New York City with the gala musical revue, "A Yankee Circus On Mars".
1908
Bandleader Lionel Hampton (On the Sunny Side of the Street, Hey! Hot Mallets, Ba-Ba-Re-Bop, Rag Mop) A few sources list 1913 born
1911
Pierre Prier completes the first non-stop London-Paris flight in three hours and 56 minutes.
1916
American cavalrymen and Mexican bandit troops clash at Parrel, Mexico.
1923
Actress-dancer (Lucy Ann Collier) Ann Miller (Easter Parade, Sugar Babies, You Can't Take It with You, Hit the Deck, Kiss Me Kate, On the Town, Room Service, Lovely to Look At) born
1925
Country singer Ned Miller born
1926
Actress Jane Withers born
1927
British Cabinet comes out in favor of women voting rights.
1931
Musician Billy (Richard) Vaughn (Melody of Love, The Shifting, Whispering Sands, Sail along Silver Moon) born
1931
Ukulele playing, falsetto singer (Herbert Khaury) Tiny Tim (Tiptoe Through The Tulips) born
1933
Opera singer Montserrat Caballe born
1934
"Tender Is the Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald was first published.
1936
Actor Charles Napier born
1939
One of the classic theme songs of the Big Band era was recorded for Decca Records: Woody Herman's Orchestra recorded "Woodchopper's Ball."
1940
Jazz musician Herbie Hancock born
1942
Actor Frank Bank ("Leave It to Beaver") born
1944
Rock singer John Kay (Steppenwolf) born
1944
The U.S. Twentieth Air Force is activated to begin the strategic bombing of Japan.
1945
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage Warm Springs, Georgia, at age 63; he was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman.
1946
Actor Ed O'Neill born
1947
Actor Dan Lauria born
1947
Talk show host David Letterman born
1949
Author Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof) born
1950
Singer David Cassidy born
1950
Chip (James Earl) Carter (son of 39th U.S. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady, Roslyn Carter) born
1954
Bill Haley records "Rock Around the Clock."
1955
The Salk vaccine against polio was declared safe and effective.
1956
Actor Andy Garcia born
1957
Actress Suzzanne Douglas born
1957
Country singer Vince Gill born
1958
Rock musician Will Sergeant (Echo & the Bunnymen) born
1962
Rock singer Art Alexakis (Everclear) born
1963
Police use dogs and cattle prods on peaceful civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama.
1964
Folk-pop singer Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) born
1964
Country singer Deryl Dodd born
1964
Arnold Palmer won his fourth Masters title and became the first golfer to earn career golf earnings of $506,496.00.
1964
Philadelphia singer, Chubby Checker married former Miss World, Catherina Lodders.
1965
Figure skater Elaine Zayak born
1966
Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American major league umpire.
1970
Rock singer Nicholas Hexum (311) born
1971
Actress Shannen Doherty born
1979
Actress Claire Danes born
1981
The space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight.
1983
Chicagoans went to the polls to elect Harold Washington the city's first black mayor.
1984
Challenger astronauts made the first satellite repair in orbit by returning a healthy Solar Max satellite to space as an orbiting sun watcher. The satellite had been circling the Earth for three years with all circuits dead before repairs were made.
1985
Federal inspectors declared that four animals of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus were not unicorns as the circus said, but goats with horns which had been surgically implanted.
1985
Senator Jake Garn of Utah became the first senator to fly space as the shuttle Discovery lifted off.
1989
Radical activist Abbie Hoffman was found dead at his home New Hope, Pennsylvania, at age 52
1989
Former middleweight boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson died Culver City, California, at age 67.
1989
In its first meeting, East Germany's first democratically elected parliament acknowledged responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust, and asked the forgiveness of Jews and others who had suffered.
1991
Kurdish rebels reported the Iraqi army was attacking guerrillas in northern Iraq.
1991
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney announced plans to close 31 major US military bases, including Ford Ord in California and Fort Dix in New Jersey.
1992
Euro Disneyland opened France.
1994
Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell declined to be
1995
In a move that stunned the business world, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca made an unsolicited $22.8 billion bid to buy the nation's third largest automaker; Chrysler responded that it wasn't for sale.
1996
President Clinton named US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor to succeed the late Ron Brown as commerce secretary.
1998
Golfer Mark O'Meara won the Masters title Augusta, Georgia.
1998
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams appealed to IRA supporters to accept Northern Ireland's compromise peace accord.
1999
US District Judge Susan Webber Wright cited President Clinton for contempt of court, concluding that the president had lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in a deposition in the Paula Jones case.
1999
A jury in Little Rock, Arkansas, acquitted Susan McDougal of obstructing Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's Whitewater inquiry and deadlocked on two other charges, causing a mistrial.
2000
Attorney General Janet Reno met in Miami with the US relatives of Elian Gonzalez, after which she ordered them to bring the six-year-old boy to an airport the next day so he could be taken to a reunion with his father in Washington. (Elian was seized by federal agents ten days after Reno's order to turn him over.)
2001
After urging from U.S. President George W. Bush, China agrees to release 24 crew members of a U.S. spy plane held by Beijing for 11 days.
2005
Australian man arrested at U.S. Capitol building
2005
KLM flight to Mexico sent back by U.S. Homeland Security, inquiry follows
2005
New top level domain names created
2005
Tom DeLay raises Republican hackles as ethics charges dominate news
2005
Child killed by family dog
2005
Irish Enterprise Exchange Launched in Dublin
2005
Eritrea plans to vaccinate 500,000 children
2005
Australian Immigration denies issuing banned drug
2005
US trade deficit soars to new high of US$61.04 billion
2005
Labour attack Tory economic policy
2005
Liberal Democrat Party pauses to welcome Donald James Kennedy
2005
Cloned cattle's milk and meat seem safe, according to new study
2006
Australian foreign minister tells inquiry it was the UN's job to investigate Iraq kickback claims
2006
Australian PM to face Cole inquiry
2006
Bomb threat that diverted Ryanair jetliner reportedly a hoax
2007
NSW to Queensland water pipeline would be "cost-effective": Report
2007
Plants on other planets may not be green
2007
Author Kurt Vonnegut dead at 84
2007
UN genocide exhibit removed and put on hold after Turkey objects
2007
Two Iraqi MPs killed in bombing at parliament
2007
Violence in Uganda over forest clearing proposal
2007
CBS fires radio personality Don Imus
2007
Cricket World Cup: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka
2007
NHL: Detroit burns Calgary in first playoff matchup
2007
UEFA Cup: Tottenham out after 2-2 draw with Sevilla
2007
NHL: Rangers slip past Thrashers in Playoff opener
2007
NHL: Buffalo overwhelms Islanders in Playoff opener
2007
NHL: Jersey opens Playoffs with win over Tampa Bay
2008
EBay Australia to only permit payment via PayPal
2008
Large earthquake strikes south of New Zealand
2008
Spain's new cabinet has more women than men
2008
Kata Air An-32 crashes - all presumed dead
2008
Authorities in Belgium raid Church of Scientology
2008
Over 60 dead in Kenya cholera outbreak, state issues alert
2009
American captain freed from Somali pirates
2009
State of emergency in Thailand; protestors attack PM's car
2009
Sunday school teacher arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murder
2010
NATO troops kill four people on bus in Afghanistan
2010
Calm returns to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
2010
Car bomb explodes near MI5 army base in Northern Ireland
2011
Eleven dead after Belarus subway bombing
2011
French police arrest two women wearing veils after burqa ban goes into effect
2011
Fatal train fire may have been suicide attempt, British police say
2011
Mubarak refused permission to leave Egypt for treatment after heart attack
2011
Crisis at stricken Japan nuclear plant escalates to level of Chernobyl; six killed in aftershock
2011
France first to enforce burqa ban
2012
Facebook acquires Instagram for US$1 billion
2013
Two unconscious drug-overdosed men discovered outside University of Canberra residence hall
2013
Goat head delivered to Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts
2013
Anonymous muscle in on Canadian teen rape case

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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