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Today in History

1785
Naturalist, ornithologist and painter John James Audubon born in Haiti
1791
Painter and inventor of Morse code, Samuel FB Morse born in Charlestown, Massachusetts
1933
Singer, actress and comedienne, Carol Burnett born in San Antonio, Texas
1938
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Grammy Award winning guitarist, Duane Eddy born in Corning, New York
1942
Miss France, actress and Bond girl, Claudine Auger born in Paris
1942
Honkeiko Colliery mine explosion kills 1,549
1986
Chernobyl nuclear reactor fire kills 31 and releases radiation into atmosphere
1991
58 tornadoes, including an F5 in Andover, Kansas, cause 24 deaths
121
Marcus Aurelius, 16th Roman Emperor born
757
Death of Pope Stephen III
1228
Conrad IV, King of Germany born
1396
Death of St. Stephen of Perm
1478
An attempt is made on the life of Lorenzo de Medici; Giuliano de Medici murdered
1564
Baptism of William Shakespeare
1569
Elizabeth I, Queen of England, issues a Licence for Sunday Sports
1573
Marie de'Medici, Queen of France born
1607
An expedition of English colonists, including Captain John Smith, went ashore at Cape Henry, Virginia, to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere.
1655
Dutch West India Co. refused to exclude Jews from New Amsterdam
1785
American naturalist and artist John James Audubon was born in Haiti. In order to devote time to his bird studies, he supported himself by giving lessons in music, dancing and fencing.
1812
Friedrich von Flotow was born in Teutendorf in Germany. Flotow's reputation rests entirely on one work, a ballet which he later turned into an opera called "Martha." It is the only opera ever composed to employ an English setting, an Irish folk melody, and a German libretto!
1819
The first Odd Fellows lodge in the United States was established in Baltimore, Maryland. The main focus of the fraternal order is "to relieve the brethren, bury the dead and care for the widow and orphan."
1828
Russia declared war on Turkey to support Greece's battle for independence.
1865
John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln, was surrounded by federal troops near Bowling Green, Virginia, and killed though they were ordered to take him alive.
1893
Author Anita Loos born
1894
Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's deputy born
1900
Seismologist Charles Richter, who devised the earthquake-measuring scale that bears his name, was born in Hamilton, Ohio.
1914
Novelist Bernard Malamud born
1917
Architect I.M. Pei. He designed the new wing of the National Art Gallery, the new parts of the Louvre, and the Kennedy Presidential Library. born
1921
Weather forecasts were heard for the first time on radio when WEW in St. Louis, Missouri, aired weather news.
1923
The Duke of York -- Britain's future King George VI -- married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Westminster Abbey.
1924
Jazz musician Teddy Edwards born
1926
Dancer-actress Bambi Lynn born
1933
Actress-comedian Carol Burnett (some sources 1938) born
1937
During the Spanish Civil War, German-made planes destroyed the Basquetown of Guernica, Spain.
1938
Songwriter-musician pop guitarist Duane Eddy born
1938
Rhythm-and-blues singer Maurice Williams born
1942
Pop singer Bobby Rydell born
1942
Actress Claudine Auger ("Thunderball") born
1942
1,540 or more people died in the world's worst mining disaster at a colliery in Benxi, in Japanese-occupied China.
1943
Rock musician Gary Wright born
1945
Marshal Henri Philippe Petain, the head of France's Vichy government during World War Two, was arrested.
1946
Rock singer-musician Ronny Daytona (Ronny & The Daytonas) born
1947
Olympic Hall-of-Famer Donna De Varona born
1947
Television journalist Boyd Matson born
1952
Patty Berg set a new record for major women's golf competition. She shot a 64-over 18 holes in a tournament in Richmond, California.
1958
Actor Giancarlo Esposito born
1960
Rock musician Roger Taylor (Duran Duran) born
1961
Rock musician Chris Mars born
1961
Roger Maris of the New York Yankees hit the first of a record 61 home runs in a single season; the homer was off Detroit's Paul Foytack at Tiger Stadium.
1962
Britain's first satellite, Ariel I, was launched from Cape Canaveral by a Thor-Delta booster.
1962
Actor-singer Michael Damian ("The Young and the Restless") born
1964
The African nations of Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania.
1964
The Boston Celtics wrapped up an unprecedented sixth consecutive NBA championship. The Celtic still had two more crowns to win, however, before the string would come to an end.
1965
Actor-comedian Kevin James ("King of Queens") born
1968
The United States exploded beneath the Nevada desert a one-megaton nuclear device called "Boxcar."
1970
Rapper T-Boz (TLC) born
1970
The Broadway musical "Company," by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, opened at the Alvin Theatre in New York.
1977
The "Studio 54" discotheque opened in New York City.
1980
Actress Marne Patterson ("Something So Right") born
1980
Actress Jordana Brewster born
1980
Following an unsuccessful attempt by the United States to rescue the US Embassy hostages in Iran, the Tehran government announced the captives were being scattered to thwart any future rescue effort.
1983
A national commission released a scathing report on the state of American education, calling for sweeping measures to combat what it called a "rising tide of mediocrity" in schools.
1983
The Dow Jones Industrial average closed above 1,200 points for the first time.
1984
President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, arrived in Beijing to begin a 5-day visit to China.
1984
Jazz pianist Count Basie died in Hollywood, Florida, at age 79.
1985
The U.S. Senate passed, by voice vote, a resolution urging President Reagan to alter his plans to visit the German military cemetery at Bitburg.
1986
President Reagan, during a stopover in Hawaii as part of a 12-day trip to Asia, telephoned ousted Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.
1986
Actor Broderick Crawford died at age 74.
1986
The world's worst nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl plant in the Soviet Union. An explosion and fire in the number-four reactor sent radioactivity into the atmosphere; at least 31 Soviets died immediately.
1987
From Japan to Sweden, anti-nuclear protesters demonstrated on the first anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, with some of the biggest turnouts reported in Europe.
1988
Vice President George Bush locked up the Republican presidential nomination with an easy win in the Pennsylvania primary. Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis won the Democratic contest.
1989
Actress-comedian Lucille Ball died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 77.
1990
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, leader of the right-wing Likud bloc, was chosen to form a new government after Labor Party leader Shimon Peres failed in his attempt to form a coalition.
1990
Carlos Pizarro Leongomez, leader of the leftist Colombian guerrilla movement M-19 who gave up violence to run for president, was assassinated on a plane.
1990
New York's highest court awarded the America's Cup to the United States...ruling the San Diego Yacht Club did not cheat by racing a catamaran against an inherently slower New Zealand monohull boat. Catamarans have two parallel hulls and no one had ever tried to enter one in the America's Cup race before.
1991
23 people were killed as four-dozen tornadoes raked Kansas and Oklahoma.
1991
The government reported the nation had sunk deeper into recession in the first quarter of 1991 as the gross national product shrank at an annual rate of 2.8 percent.
1992
Powerful aftershocks rattled Northern California following a six-point-nine earthquake that injured at least 65 people.
1992
Finance officials from the Group of Seven nations, meeting in Washington, endorsed the broad outlines of an economic assistance package for the former Soviet Union.
1992
Worshippers celebrated the first Russian Orthodox Easter in Moscow in 74 years.
1993
President Clinton signed an executive order imposing new economic sanctions against Yugoslavia after the Serbian leadership in Bosnia voted against accepting a UN-sponsored plan to end the war.
1993
Conan O'Brien was named to succeed David Letterman as host of NBC's "Late Night" program.
1993
After the United States Holocaust Museum opened to the public, over two million toured the permanent exhibition during its first year of operation.
1993
The New England Composers Orchestra, under the direction of James Yannatos and Charles Fussell, presented a Contemporary Music Series concert at Harvard University in Sanders Theatre.
1994
Rachelle "Shelley" Shannon, who admitted shooting and wounding an abortion doctor outside his clinic, was sentenced in Wichita, Kansas, to nearly 11 years in prison.
1994
A Taiwanese jetliner crashed in Hagoya, Japan, killing 264 people.
1994
Voting began in South Africa's first all-race elections. South African blacks voted for the first time and gave the power of government to the African National Congress and President Nelson Mandela.
1995
One week after the Oklahoma City bombing, Americans observed a minute of silence in honor of the victims.
1996
After 16 days of bloodshed, Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas pledged to end the worst fighting in the Mideast in three years, agreeing to a U-S-brokered truce.
1997
In his Saturday radio address, President Clinton prepared for the opening of a community service summit by asking Congress to pay for a drive to ensure that every third-grader can read.
1998
Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera, a leading human rights activist in Guatemala, was bludgeoned to death two days after a report he'd compiled on atrocities during Guatemala's 36-year civil war was made public.
1999
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Cornelio Sommaruga, met with three U.S. soldiers held captive by Yugoslavia.
1999
BBC anchorwoman Jill Dando, the host of a crime-fighting program, was fatally shot on the steps of her London home.
2000
Vermont Governor Howard Dean signed the nation's first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions.
2005
TV show Firefly's "Serenity" movie trailer released, could spoil enjoyment for fans
2005
Wikipedia founder speaks at US law school
2005
Historic summit, commemoration by Asian-African leaders in Bandung
2005
Thousands of Romanians rally for release of kidnapped journalists
2005
President Bush and Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdullah meet in Crawford ranch
2005
India appoints new envoy to Bhutan
2005
Argentinian workers preparing to defend control of factory
2005
Rescuers search for survivors of Japan rail disaster
2005
US military investigation clears soldiers in shooting of Nicola Calipari
2005
Greenpeace protestors put solar panels on British Deputy Prime Minister's house
2005
British mother paralyzed in stabbing communicates with police
2005
UAL jet diverts in bomb scare
2005
Potential Goldsmith leak worries Labour, excites opposition
2005
Indiana Pacers beat Boston Celtics by 3 in game 2 of US basketball playoffs
2005
New Government introduced to the Italian Parliament
2005
Putin's state-of-the-nation speech addresses the economy
2006
Alabama postal workers and customers become ill, suspicious substance found
2006
Study claims recreational ecstasy use and depression unrelated
2006
Others named in lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y. hotel proposal
2006
Two suicide bombers attack peacekeeping base in Egypt
2006
Sri Lankan Army Chief critically injured in LTTE suicide bombing
2006
Tony Snow named new White House press secretary
2006
Security alert shuts down West London
2006
Germans and Arabs establish a search engine that competes with Google
2007
Pagan pentacle accepted by U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
2007
Vanstone quits Australian politics, to receive posting in Rome
2007
Putin delivers eighth annual address to parliament
2007
Democrat submits resolution to impeach Cheney
2007
Linda Jackson confirmed mayor of Vaughan, Canada
2007
Pilots spot 'UFOs' near the Channel Islands
2007
Demonstrators demand Buddhism be made Thai national religion
2008
Tunisia, South Korea partner to monitor air quality
2008
Stage collapse at Christian rock concert
2008
Game modified to match New Zealand, police investigate
2008
Iraqis begin second round of negotiations in Finland
2008
Strike shuts down Toronto's transit system
2008
55 people die in Casablanca mattress factory fire
2008
Shuttle Discovery moved to VAB ahead of May launch
2008
PeoPo Citizen Journalism Forum to prospect the vision of citizen journalism in Taiwan
2009
At least 71 deaths in Mexico 'likely linked' to swine flu outbreak
2009
Australian Football League: Essendon defeat Collingwood in ANZAC Day match
2009
English magistrate resigns over Twitter posts
2009
Polar bears deliver environmental petition to Premier of British Columbia
2009
US declares public health emergency over spread of swine flu
2009
Italian cruise ship thwarts attack by Somali pirates
2009
English Football: Roundup for April 25, 2009
2009
Icelandic centre-left coalition secures majority in parliamentary elections
2010
Spokesman: At least 55 dead after violence in Darfur, Sudan
2010
Nearly 100,000 protest for closure of US military base in Japan
2010
6.5 magnitude earthquake hits off coast of Taiwan
2010
Australian rules football: Gippsland Football League round 3 - Morwell v Traralgon
2010
Poison lead singer Bret Michaels in critical condition
2010
Sudanese president declared winner of elections
2010
Hungarian conservative party wins majority in parliament
2010
New Zealander William Trubridge breaks freediving world record
2012
Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor convicted in war crimes trial
2012
Connecticut repeals death penalty

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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