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Today in History

1599
Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell born in Huntingdon, England
1874
Nobel Prize winning physicist and inventor of the radio telegraph, Guglielmo Marconi born in Rome, Italy
1898
US declares war on Spain
1908
Grammy Award winning broadcast journalist Edward R Murrow born in Guilford County, North Carolina
1916
Anzac Day in Australia & New Zealand
1917
Thirteen time Grammy Award winning jazz singer, Ella Jane Fitzgerald born in Newport News, Virginia
1940
Emmy, Golden Globe and Academy Award winning actor, Al Pacino born in South Bronx, New York
1945
Liberation Day in Italy
1969
Cheerleader, gymnast, Golden Globe and Academy award winning actress, Renee Zellweger born in Katy, Texas
1983
10 year old Samantha Smith invited to visit Soviet Union by Yuri Andropov
799
Kidnapping of Pope Leo III
912
City of Venice founded
1058
Coronation of Malcolm III as King of Scotland
1142
Death of St. William of Monte Vergine
1214
St. Louis XI, King of France born
1284
Edward II, King of England and first of that ilk to be named Prince of Wales born
1324
An entry in the Jornal de la Chambre of King Edward II shows pence a day paid to one "Robyn Hod" for service to the King
1342
Death of Pope Benedict XII
1357
Edward III, King of England, pardons Cecilia of Nottingham for murder
1382
Nicholas Flamel is said to have made gold by Alchemical means
1449
The Rump of the Council of Basel recognizes Nicholas V as Pope; Felix V, the anti-Pope, abdicates
1482
Death of Margaret of Anjou, wife of King Henry VI of England
1507
Martin Waldeseemueller names America in honor of Amergo Vespucci
1523
Henry VIII, King of England, forbids private ownership of firearms by any person with an income of less than 100 pounds per year. The ban is cheerfully ignored
1533
William the Silent, Prince of the Spanish Netherlands born
1566
Death of Louise Labe, the "Belle Cordiere," and poet, who served in the Royal Army of France as a cavalryman under the name "Loys"
1591
Moroccans take Timbuktu
1595
Death of Torquato Tasso, poet
1599
Oliver Cromwell, lord protector of England born
1607
Dutch defeat Spanish fleet at Gibraltar Bay
1644
Suicide of the Ming Chongzhen Emperor
1684
Patent granted for the thimble
1792
Highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier became the first person under French law to be executed by the guillotine.
1792
"La Marseillaise," composed the night before by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, was sung for the first time, in Strasbourg, France.
1831
The New York and Harlem Railway was incorporated in New York City.
1850
Paul Julius Reuter, founder of the news agency that bears his name, used 40 pigeons to carry stock market prices between Brussels and Athens.
1859
Ground was broken for the Suez Canal. This canal links the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Egyptian workers started construction under harsh working conditions described as 'slave labor.' The project was not completed until 1867.
1865
Franz Liszt took the four minor orders of the Roman Catholic Church, a preliminary step toward becoming a priest. Liszt never took it any farther. But sensing the dramatic impact of his tenuous church connection, he wore a cassock for the remaining 21 years of his life.
1874
Radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi was born in Bologna, Italy. He invented the wireless telegraph in 1895.
1898
Congress formally declared war on Spain in the battle over Cuba. As a result of the Spanish-American War, America took its first step in becoming a world power. America was given Puerto Rico and Guam as a result of the war.
1898
William S. Porter entered the Ohio Penitentiary after being convicted of embezzlement. While in prison, he began writing short stories under the pseudonym "O. Henry."
1901
New York became the first state to require automobile license plates. The fee was $1.
1906
The American composer John Knowles Paine died.
1906
Former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. born
1908
Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow in Pole Creek, North Carolina. In the 1950's, he was the first newsman to challenge the "witch hunting" tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
1915
During World War One, Allied soldiers invaded the Gallipoli Peninsula in an unsuccessful attempt to take the Ottoman Turkish Empire out of the war.
1918
Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia. She won 12 Grammy Awards.
1928
"Buddy," the first seeing eye dog, was presented to Morris S. Frank.
1928
Jazz musician Rick Henderson born
1928
Country musician Vassar Clements born
1930
Movie director-writer Paul Mazursky born
1931
The great Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaye once composed an opera in Belgium's Walloon language. It was called "Peter the Miner," and it premiered in Brussels. Ysaye was supposed to conduct, but he collapsed at the first rehearsal and was still sick on opening night.
1932
Former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon born
1933
Songwriter Jerry Leiber born
1933
Author Anthony Lukas born
1940
Actor Al Pacino born
1945
During World War Two, US and Soviet forces linked up on the Elbe River, a meeting that dramatized the collapse of Nazi Germany's defenses.
1945
Rock musician Stu Cook (Creedence Clearwater Revival) born
1945
Singer Bjorn Ulvaeus (ABBA) born
1945
Delegates of 46 countries gathered in San Francisco to organize a permanent United Nations.
1946
Actress Talia Shire born
1947
Actor Jeffrey DeMunn born
1949
Rock musician Michael Brown (Lookofsky) of "The Left Bank" born
1954
Country singer-songwriter Rob Crosby born
1954
The prototype manufacture of a new solar battery was announced by the Bell Laboratories in New York City.
1956
Former basketball player Dave Corzine born
1959
The St. Lawrence Seaway opened to traffic, saving shippers millions of dollars. By going from the sea to the Great Lakes across upstate New York, folks no longer had to ship the long, costly way around.
1964
Actor Hank Azaria ("The Simpsons;" "Mad About You") born
1964
Rock singer Andy Bell (Erasure) born
1965
Rock musician Eric Avery (Jane's Addiction) born
1967
Colorado Governor John Love signed the first law legalizing abortions in the United States. The law was limited to therapeutic abortion when agreed to, unanimously, by a panel of three physicians.
1969
Actress Renee Zellweger born
1971
200,000 anti-Vietnam War protesters marched on Washington, D.C.
1975
Actress Emily Bergl born
1980
A U.S. commando mission to rescue 53 American embassy hostages in Iran was abandoned in the desert with the loss of eight American lives when a helicopter collided with a tanker aircraft.
1982
Israel turned over the final third of the occupied Sinai peninsula to Egypt under the Camp David peace agreement.
1983
Soviet leader Yuri V. Andropov invited Samantha Smith to visit his country after receiving a letter in which the Manchester, Maine, schoolgirl expressed fears about nuclear war.
1983
The Pioneer Ten spacecraft crossed Pluto's orbit, speeding on its endless voyage through the Milky Way.
1984
David Anthony Kennedy, the 28-year-old son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was found dead in a hotel room in Palm Beach, Florida.
1985
257 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to President Reagan, urging him to cancel his planned visit to the German military cemetery at Bitburg.
1986
President Reagan left Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington on the first leg of a 13-day journey to the Far east that included an international economic summit in Tokyo.
1987
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington for three days of protests against US foreign policy, particularly toward Central America and South Africa.
1988
To the cheers of spectators, a judge in Jerusalem sentenced John Demjanjuk to death after the retired Ohio autoworker was convicted of being "Ivan the Terrible," a Nazi death camp guard who'd killed tens of thousands of people (however, Demjanjuk's conviction was later overturned).
1989
Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita announced his resignation in order to take responsibility for his involvement in Japan's "Recruit" stock scandal.
1990
The Hubble Space Telescope was deployed from the space shuttle Discovery.
1990
Violetta Chamorro assumed the Nicaraguan presidency, ending more than a decade of leftist Sandinista rule.
1991
The White House threatened to "take whatever steps are necessary" should Iraq fail to meet a deadline for withdrawing its security forces from the refugee zone in northern Iraq.
1991
Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, facing harsh criticism during a closed-door meeting of the Communist Party's Central Committee, offered to resign as party leader, an offer that was rejected.
1991
The United States announced its first financial aid to Hanoi since the 1960s: $1 million to make artificial limbs for Vietnamese disabled during the war.
1992
Islamic forces in Afghanistan took control of most of the capital of Kabul following the collapse of the Communist government.
1992
An earthquake measuring seven-point-one on the Richter scale shook northern California.
1993
Voters in Russia participated in a referendum, giving President Boris N. Yeltsin a sturdy vote of confidence.
1993
Hundreds of thousands of gay rights activists and their supporters marched in Washington DC, demanding equal rights and freedom from discrimination.
1994
Terrorist bombers struck twice on the eve of South Africa's first all-race election, killing about a dozen people.
1994
Conservative Tsutomu Hata became prime minister of Japan, succeeding Morihiro Hosokawa.
1995
Regular season play by major-league baseball teams got underway and was the first official action since the longest strike in sports history began in August 1994.
1995
Show business legend Ginger Rogers died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 83.
1996
A day after the PLO annulled clauses calling for Israel's destruction, the governing Labor Party abandoned its long-standing opposition to a Palestinian state.
1996
A court in Gdansk, Poland, dropped proceedings against Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski over the 1970 fatal shootings of 44 protesters by security forces when he was defense minister.
1996
Ford Motor Company announced a recall of about 8 million cars, minivans and pickups because of an ignition switch fire hazard.
1997
The prosecution began calling witnesses in Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City bombing trial.
1997
A federal judge ruled for the first time that the Food and Drug Administration can regulate tobacco as a drug - but said it couldn't restrict cigarette advertising.
1998
Christian Mortensen, who emigrated to the United States from his native Denmark in 1903, died. He was thought to have be the oldest man in the world at the age of 115.
1998
Whitewater prosecutors questioned first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on videotape about her work as a private lawyer for the failed savings and loan at the center of the investigation.
1999
More than 70,000 mourners gathered in Littleton, Colo., to remember the victims of the Columbine High School massacre.
1999
Lord Killanin, former president of the International Olympic Committee, died in Dublin, Ireland, at age 84.
1999
On the third and final day of their Washington summit, NATO leaders promised military protection and economic aid to Yugoslavia's neighbors for standing with the West against Slobodan Milosevic.
2000
Assailants shot and killed Zika Petrovic, an ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
2000
Broadway producer David Merrick died in London at age 88.
2005
Iraqi insurgency continues unabated, new hopes for a cabinet
2005
Skydiver dies after legs severed in jump
2005
Molson beer buys into the craft market
2005
LDS Church announces new library plans
2005
ANZAC's remembered ninety years after assault on Gallipoli
2005
ISS Expedition 10 returns to Earth
2005
Serb General Pavkovic to Surrender to Hague
2005
150,000 street vendors in India shown how to avoid causing 'Delhi belly'
2005
Romanian PM says his country won't give in to terrorist demands
2005
Japanese commuter train derails, apartment building smashed
2005
BBC admits sending hecklers into Conservative campaign meeting
2005
Bulgarian and Romanian EU accession treaty is signed in Luxembourg
2005
Study: Children who socialise more, get cancer less
2005
German Minister for Foreign Affairs gives evidence about visa practice
2005
Violence, allegations of fraud disrupt election in Togo
2006
Cyclone Monica misses Darwin
2006
Russian commander: Tu-160s penetrate US airspace undetected
2006
Clashes in Athens during Condoleezza Rice's visit to Greece
2006
Lawsuit sends Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal to New York Supreme Court
2006
ANZAC Day marked throughout NZ, AU
2006
Emergency declared in Peru as Mt. Ubinas threatens to erupt
2006
Cyclone Monica degraded
2007
Accused killer of Canadian police officer released on bail
2007
Rare rhino caught on videotape
2007
Iran's morality police crack down on un-Islamic dress
2007
Bathurst War Memorial vandalised before ANZAC service
2007
ANZAC Day marked around the world
2007
Man cuts off his own penis in UK restaurant
2007
Cricket World Cup - 2nd Semi-Final: Australia vs South Africa
2008
Long March 3C rocket launches Tianlian-1 satellite
2008
Helen Thomas probes White House on torture; online community sends flowers
2008
Series of earthquakes strikes Reno, Nevada area
2008
US Marine charged with rape of Japanese girl
2008
Arsonist behind Namdaemun gate fire in Seoul imprisoned for 10 years
2008
UK City Councillor suspended from party after expressing controversial views
2008
At least 25 dead in Sri Lanka bus bombing
2009
American actress Bea Arthur dies at age 86
2009
ANC leads in South Africa vote
2009
Pirate Bay case: Internet group attacks websites in "Operation Baylout"
2009
Professor sought after three die in Georgia shooting
2009
Almost 6,500 civilians killed in Sri Lanka, UN reports
2009
At least 24 dead in clashes in central Kenya
2009
Russia ends "counterterrorism operation" in Chechnya
2010
Stephen Hawking: aliens "almost certain to exist," could invade Earth
2010
WHO starts simultaneous immunization campaigns in over 100 countries
2010
Condemned US killer to face execution by firing squad
2010
NATO tankers in Pakistan attacked, four killed
2010
Five dead after continuing violence in Nigeria
2010
Thai prime minister dismisses offer by anti-government protesters
2010
Mississippi tornado kills at least ten
2010
Officials: Eight insurgents killed in Orakzai, Pakistan
2010
Fire sweeps Manila, Philippines slum
2010
Paul Schäfer, founder of Colonia Dignidad, dies at 88
2010
British government apologises for suggesting the Pope could create a brand of "Benedict" condoms
2011
Australian PM Gillard pressured to address human rights crackdown in China
2011
Renowned Indian guru Śrī Satya Sai Baba dies aged 84
2012
Disposal of fracking wastewater poses potential environmental problems
2012
Trinidad TV host bailed on teen rape broadcast charges
2012
Former Ukranian PM Yulia Tymoshenko goes on hunger strike
2012
USDA says mad cow disease found in cow in California
2012
Egypt cancels 15 year gas supply contract to Israel
2012
Sandra Fluke receives Stand Up for Choice Award
2012
Trinidad TV host charged over teen rape footage

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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