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Today in History

1799
Metric system established in France
1830
Poet Emily Dickinson born in Amherst, Massachusetts
1901
1914
Actress and singer, Dorothy Lamour born in New Orleans, Louisiana
1952
Golden Globe award winning actress, Susan Dey born in Pekin, Illinois
1978
NeoPets co-founder Donna Williams born in England
1980
U.S. Defense Department approves manual for the Ada computer language
1993
First release of videogame Doom
304
Death of St. Eulalia
1348
Third Vicar appointed to Shaftsbury, England, to replace those who died of plague
1475
Paolo Uccello, Florentine painter, dies
1513
Machiavelli completes "The Prince"
1520
Martin Luther publicly burned the papal edict demanding that he recant, or face excommunication.
1538
Battista Guarini, Italian court poet, playwright born
1541
Sir Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham, alleged paramours of Katherine Howard, executed
1561
German theologian Caspar Schwenkfeld, a reformer who fell out of favor with the "mainstream" Reformation movement, dies.
1607
Captain John Smith captured by Indians
1787
Francis Gallaudet, founder of the first free school for the deaf born
1805
William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist and journalist who eventually rejected Christianity because of the indifference of clergy to slavery. born
1817
Mississippi is admitted as the 20th state.
1822
Cesar Franck, Liege, Belgium. He would become an acclaimed organist and a popular professor at the Paris Conservatoire, though his compositions were sometimes controversial. Today we remember Franck mostly for his Symphony in D. born
1824
Scottish writer and poet George MacDonald, whose fairy tales and mythopoetic novels inspired C.S. Lewis and others. born
1830
Poet Emily Dickinson born
1851
Librarian Melvil Dewey born
1861
Kentucky is admitted to the Confederate States of America.
1862
U.S. House of Representatives passes a bill creating the state of West Virginia.
1869
Governor John Campbell signs the bill that grants women in the Wyoming Territory the right to vote as well as hold public office.
1896
Intercollegiate basketball was played for the first time as Wesleyan University defeated Yale 4-3 in New Haven, Connecticut.
1898
Spain signed a treaty officially ending the Spanish-American War. It gave Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the United States.
1901
1st distribution of Nobel Peace Prizes
1905
The Gift of the Magi is published - author O Henry.
1906
President Theodore Roosevelt became the first American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for helping mediate an end to the Russo-Japanese War.
1908
French composer Olivier Messiaen, born in Avignon (died 1992). born
1910
Puccini's opera "Girl of the Golden West," which is about the Gold Rush, premiered in New York. Caruso sang the male lead.
1911
TV newscaster Chet Huntley born
1913
American composer and conductor, Morton Gould, born in Richmond Hill, New York. born
1914
Actress Dorothy Lamour born
1917
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to the International Red Cross.
1918
U.S. troops are called to guard Berlin as a coup is feared.
1923
Actor Harold Gould born
1927
Famed radio announcer, George Hay introduced the "WSM Barn Dance" this night as, "The Grand Ole Opry."
1930
Duke Ellington and his Orchestra recorded the haunting, "Mood Indigo" on Victor Records this day. It became one of the Duke's most famous standards.
1930
Former Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter born
1931
Jane Addams became a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the first American woman so honored.
1933
Actor Mako born
1936
Britain's King Edward VIII abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson. His brother succeeded to the throne as King George VI.
1938
Russian conductor, Yuri Temirkanov. He was appointed director of Leningrad Philharmonic in 1988. born
1941
Actor Tim Considine born
1941
Actress Fionnula Flannagan born
1941
Japanese troops landed on northern Luzon in the Philippines.
1941
Actor Tommy Kirk born
1943
Pop singer Chad Stuart (Chad and Jeremy) born
1946
Actress-singer Gloria Loring born
1947
Pop-funk musician Walter "Clyde" Orange (The Commodores) born
1948
Rhythm-and-blues singer Ralph Tavares born
1948
Rhythm-and-blues singer Jessica Cleaves (Friends of Distinction) born
1948
The UN General Assembly adopted its Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
1949
150,000 French troops mass at the border in Vietnam to prevent a Chinese invasion.
1950
Ralph J. Bunche was presented the Nobel Peace Prize, the first black American to receive the award.
1951
Country singer Johnny Rodriguez born
1952
Actress Susan Dey born
1953
With an investment of $7,600, Hugh Hefner published the first "Playboy" magazine
1953
Harry Belafonte debuted on Broadway in "Almanac", at the Imperial Theatre. Critics hailed Belafonte's performance as "electrifyingly sincere". Also starring in the show: Hermione Gingold, Billy DeWolfe, Polly Bergen and Orson Bean.
1958
The first domestic passenger jet flight took place in the US as a National Airlines Boeing 707 flew 111 passengers from New York to Miami in about two and a-half hours.
1960
Actor-director Kenneth Branagh born
1961
Actress Nia Peeples born
1964
Dr. Martin Luther King Junior received the Nobel Peace Prize during ceremonies in Oslo, Norway.
1965
Rock singer-musician J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.) born
1967
Singer Otis Redding died in the crash of his private plane in Wisconsin.
1970
Country singer Kevin Sharp born
1971
Rock musician Scot (cq) Alexander (Dishwalla) born
1972
Singer Puff Johnson born
1977
On UN Human Rights Day, the Soviet Union places 20 prominent dissidents under house arrest, cutting off telephones and threatening to break up a planned silent demonstration in Moscows Pushkin Square. Soviet newspapers decry human rights violations elsewhere in the world.
1980
Violinist Sarah Chang born
1985
Actress Raven-Symone born
1986
Exxon announced the sale of its Manhattan landmark - the 53-story Exxon Building - to a Japanese real estate developer. The price tag was $610 million.
1987
President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev concluded three days of summit talks in Washington.
1987
Violinist Jascha Heifetz died in Los Angeles at age 86.
1988
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev visited the republic of Armenia, the scene of a devastating earthquake that had killed an estimated 25,000 people.
1989
Czechoslovakia's president, Gustav Husak, resigned after swearing in a coalition cabinet in which Communists were relegated to a minority role.
1990
A stand-in for Mikhail Gorbachev accepted the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize. Industrialist
1990
Armand Hammer died at age 92. The space shuttle Columbia returned from its 10th mission.
1990
The Food and Drug Administration approved Norplant, a long-acting contraceptive implant.
1992
President-elect Clinton announced his first Cabinet selections, including Lloyd Bentsen to be treasury secretary and Leon Panetta to be budget director.
1992
Oregon Senator Bob Packwood apologized for what he called "unwelcome and offensive" actions toward women, but refused to resign.
1993
South African President F.W. de Klerk and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela accepted their Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.
1993
The crew of the space shuttle "Endeavour" deployed the repaired Hubble Space Telescope into Earth orbit.
1993
The Juilliard Symphony performed under Miguel Harth-Bedoya at New York's Lincoln Center. John Sherer soloed in the Poulenc "Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani," and the closer was Tchaikovsky's "Little Russian" Symphony.
1994
Advertising executive Thomas Mosser of North Caldwell, New Jersey, was killed by a mail bomb blamed on the Unabomber.
1994
Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize, pledging to pursue their mission of healing the anguished Middle East.
1995
The first group of U.S. Marines arrived in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo to join NATO soldiers sent to enforce peace in the former Yugoslavia.
1996
Roman Catholic Bishop Filipe Ximenes Belo and exiled activist Jose Ramos Horta, opponents of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.
1996
On International Human Rights Day, President Clinton urged the Senate to embrace a 17-year-old treaty barring abuses against women.
1997
The Supreme Court narrowed double-jeopardy protections for people who face both civil fines and criminal prosecution for the same conduct, ruling that three Oklahoma men could be prosecuted in a bank failure case even though they'd already paid civil fines for their actions.
1998
Six astronauts jubilantly swung open the doors to the new international space station, becoming the first guests aboard the 250-mile-high outpost.
1998
The Palestinian leadership scrapped constitutional clauses rejecting Israel's existence.
1998
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee lined up one by one in favor of impeaching President Clinton; Democrats vowed opposition after lawyers clashed in closing arguments over alleged "high crimes and misdemeanors."
1999
After three years under suspicion as a spy for China, computer scientist Wen Ho Lee was arrested and charged with removing secrets from secure computers at the Los Alamos weapons lab. (Lee was later freed after pleading guilty to one count of downloading restricted data to tape; 58 other counts were dropped.)
1999
More than 2 million people marched in Cuba to demand the return of Elian Gonzalez.
1999
Death claimed Croatian President Franjo Tudjman at age 77
1999
Rock singer-musician Rick Danko at age 56, and actress Shirley Hemphill at age 52 , both died on this day.
2005
Business Brief for December 10, 2005
2005
Australian activists break into Pine Gap spy facility
2005
Bush threatens U.N. over Clinton climate speech
2005
Muslim youth to guard Christian churches in Indonesia
2005
Confidence building reported between Iranian and Israeli citizens
2005
Airplane crashes in Nigeria
2005
Former U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy dies
2005
Mozilla to fix Firefox security hole in patch
2005
Pakistan bans kite flying
2005
Turkish islamic militant claims interrogation and torture by CIA agents
2005
Comedian Richard Pryor dies at 65
2005
Football: World Cup Draw for 2006
2006
Russia considering libel suits over reporting on Litvinenko
2006
Discovery launches after scrubbed attempt
2006
New Ishaqi controversy set off by US air raid
2006
Canadian jazz star Diana Krall gives birth to twin boys
2006
Home Secretary says about 30 major conspiracies threaten UK this Christmas
2006
Japan opposes resumption of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program
2006
Planets Jupiter, Mercury and Mars line up, visible to naked eye
2006
New Zealand minister calls for ban on using mobile phones while driving
2007
Second H5N1 infection reported in China; human to human transmission possible
2007
Anthrax scare a hoax for two New Zealand media agencies
2007
Overclocking experts gather in the Intel Overclocking Live Test in Taiwan
2007
Putin backs Medvedev as United Russia party's candidate
2007
Anarchists threaten "mayhem" at 2010 Olympics
2007
Hugo Chávez sets new time zone for Venezuela
2007
Seven prisoners die in mortar attack on Iraqi prison
2007
Former 'American Idol' finalist Jessica Sierra not allowed to perform for US troops
2007
Africa-Europe summit concludes with mixed results
2007
Nobel prize winner Al Gore urges US and China to do more about global warming
2007
Entertainers and sportspeople make their stops at Taipei IT Month
2008
Formula One set to see standardised engines
2008
Riots in Greece enter fourth night
2008
Somali pirates release Greek ship, 19 sailors
2008
Football: Ronaldo to play for Corinthians
2008
Small British island gets first democratic election
2008
Alleged 9-11 conspirators withdraw offer of guilty pleas
2008
Ghanaian presidential elections go to run-off
2009
Danish unofficial draft version of UNCCC treaty leaks, G77 reacts sharply
2009
'World' stops turning for longest-running US soap opera
2009
Official: Iraqi elections now set for March 7
2009
Oxford to use online voting for Professor of Poetry election
2009
2009–10 UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 field set
2009
Monster waves make way for rare surfing competition
2009
Australian rules football: West Gippsland Latrobe Football League becomes Gippsland Football League as Wonthaggi concedes move
2009
Thousands of Indonesians protest against corruption
2009
Hubble telescope spots oldest galaxies ever seen
2010
Leaked cables cause Australian concern
2010
SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launches for the first time

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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