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Today in History

1803
Composer Hector Berlioz born in La Côte-Saint-André, France
1918
Historian, dramatist and Nobel Laureate novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn born in Kislovodsk, Russia
1941
Germany and Italy declare war on the US
1944
Academy Award nominated actress, Terry Ann "Teri" Garr born in Lakewood, Ohio
1944
Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominated actress Lynda Day George born in San Marcos, Texas
1946
United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) established
1958
Independence Day in Upper Volta
1972
Apollo 17, the final mission of the series, lands on the moon with Eugene Cernan and Jack Schmitt
2001
China joins the World Trade Organization
384
Death of St. Damascuc I, Pope
493
Death of St. Daniel the Stylite
1192
Richard the Lion-Hearted captured near Vienna by Leopold of Austria
1241
Death of Ogudai; Mongols withdraw from Hungary
1282
Beheading of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, considered last legitimate Prince of Wales
1475
Pope Leo X born
1521
Death of Wladislaus II, King of Hungary and Bohemia
1533
Death of Vasily III, Czar of Russia
1618
An Armistice is signed between Russia and Poland
1620
103 "Mayflower" pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock
1781
Scottish physicist and kaleidoscope inventor David Brewster born
1792
France's King Louis the 16th went before the Convention to face charges of treason. (Louis was convicted, and executed the following month.)
1803
French composer Hector Berlioz born
1816
Indiana became the 19th state.
1830
Hawaiian King Kamehameha. The Kamehameha dynasty ended with his death on Dec. 11, 1872. born
1843
German pioneer bacteriologist Robert Koch born
1844
Dr. Horace Wells, of Hartford, CT, had a tooth extracted. He became the first to receive an anesthetic for this dental procedure.
1861
A raging fire sweeps the business district of Charleston, South Carolina, adding to an already depressed economic state.
1872
America's first black governor took office as Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback became acting governor of Louisiana.
1882
New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia born
1882
The Bijou Theatre in Boston, MA, became the first theatre to be lighted by electricity.
1894
The world's first motor show opened in Paris with nine exhibitors.
1908
WJ Henderson blasted Scriabin's "Poem of Ecstasy" in the New York Sun. "It seemed," he wrote, "like several other things than ecstasy."
1908
The American composer Elliott Carter was born. Only a few hours separated the birth of Olivier Messiaen in France and the arrival of Carter in New York. The two would grow up to have remarkably similar careers each one hailed as an important 20th century composer. born
1918
Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn born
1919
The kind citizens of Enterprise, Alabama dedicated the first known monument to honor the boll weevil. The weevil had destroyed cotton plants. However, by forcing folks to diversify their crops, the farmers wound up tripling their income.
1927
Nearly 400 world leaders sign a letter to President Coolidge asking the U.S. to join the World Court.
1928
U.S. Senate votes to compromise on the Boulder Dam, leaving California and Arizona short on water demands.
1928
Police in Buenos Aires thwarted an attempt on the life of President-elect Herbert Hoover.
1930
Actor Jean-Louis Trintignant born
1930
As the economic crises grows, the Bank of the U.S. closes its doors.
1931
Actress Rita Moreno born
1935
Actor Ron Carey born
1936
Britain's King Edward the Eighth abdicated the throne in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson.
1937
Italy withdrew from the League of Nations.
1939
Singer Betty Grable and her famous legs were featured on the cover of "LIFE" magazine.
1939
California state senator Tom Hayden born
1939
Marlene Dietrich recorded "Falling In Love Again", on the Decca label.
1941
Four days after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.
1943
Actress Donna Mills born
1943
Senator John Kerry (Democrat, Massachusetts) born
1944
Singer Brenda Lee born
1946
Actress Lynda Day George born
1946
Country producer Tony Brown born
1946
The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) was established.
1948
Actress Teri Garr born
1950
Pop singer David Gates (Bread) born
1951
Joe DiMaggio announces his retirement from baseball.
1952
Movie director Susan Seidelman ("Desperately Seeking Susan") born
1953
Actress Bess Armstrong born
1954
Singer Jermaine Jackson born
1958
Rock musician Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) born
1961
A US aircraft carrier carrying Army helicopters arrived in Saigon -- the first direct American military support for South Vietnam's battle against Communist guerrillas.
1964
Rock musician David Schools (Widespread Panic) born
1967
The Concorde, a joint British-French venture and the world's first supersonic airliner, is unveiled in Toulouse, France.
1973
West German Chancellor Willy Brandt and Czech Prime Minister Lubomir Strougal formally signed a treaty nullifying the 1938 Munich pact sanctioning Hitler's seizure of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland.
1979
Actor Rider Strong ("Boy Meets World") born
1980
President Jimmy Carter signed into law legislation creating $1.6 billion environmental "superfund" to pay for cleaning up chemical spills and toxic waste dumps.
1981
The U.N. Security Council chose Javier Perez de Cuellar of Peru to be the fifth secretary-general of the world body.
1982
In his weekly radio address, President Ronald Reagan urged the Senate to vote for production funds for the M-X missile, and worry later about the "basing-mode" for the weapon.
1983
Pope John Paul II paid a historic visit to a Lutheran church in Rome, the first visit by a Roman Catholic pontiff to a Protestant church in his own diocese.
1984
Two days after the end of the hijacking of a Kuwaiti jetliner, the United States accused Iran of encouraging "extreme behavior" by the hijackers, who killed two Americans during the five-day siege.
1985
The U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in giving final congressional approval to the Gramm-Rudman deficit-reduction law.
1985
The most expensive non-oil acquisition in U.S. history took place as General Electric Company agreed to buy RCA Corporation for $6.3 billion. The deal also included NBC Radio and Television.
1986
The government of South Africa drastically expanded its 6-month-old media restrictions by imposing prior censorship and banning coverage of a wide range of peaceful anti-apartheid protests.
1987
NATO allies urged the U.S. Senate to ratify the intermediate -range missile treaty quickly, and underscored their support by pledging to let the Soviet Union inspect missile bases in 5 European nations.
1988
A Soviet military transport plane crashed, killing nearly 80 people involved in Armenian earthquake relief efforts.
1988
Sixty-two people were killed when tons of illegal fireworks exploded in a Mexico City marketplace.
1989
President Bush, facing criticism at home for sending two U.S. officials to China, defended the diplomatic overture despite the Beijing government's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators the previous June.
1990
Hundreds of foreigners flew out of Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, ending four months of captivity following Iraq's invasion of its oil-rich neighbor.
1990
Ivana Trump was divorced from real estate mogul Donald Trump after 12 years of marriage.
1991
European Community leaders meeting in the Dutch city of Maastricht hammered out a compromise for a loose federation of their countries.
1992
President-elect Clinton tapped Robert Reich to be labor secretary and Donna Shalala to be secretary of Health and Human Services.
1993
President Clinton, in his weekly radio address, said the nation must fight "violence with values," and praised radio stations that refused to play songs advocating violent crime or showing contempt for women.
1994
declaration in Miami which would be known as "The Miami Process." It was a hemispheric agreement to create the world's largest free trade zone.
1994
Thousands of Russian troops backed by armored columns and jets rolled into breakaway republic of Chechnya in a bid to restore Moscow's control over the region.
1995
Utah Congresswoman Enid Greene Waldholtz held an emotional news conference in which she publicly addressed the scandal surrounding her personal and campaign finances and blamed her estranged husband, Joe.
1997
More than 150 countries agreed at a global warming conference in Kyoto, Japan, to control the Earth's greenhouse gases.
1997
Henry Cisneros, President Clinton's first housing secretary, was indicted on charges of conspiracy, obstructing justice and making false statements about payments to his former mistress.
1997
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams became the first political ally of the IRA to meet a British leader in 76 years as he conferred with Prime Minister Tony Blair in London.
1998
The Mars Climate Orbiter blasted off on a nine-month journey to the red planet (however, the probe disappeared last September, apparently destroyed because scientists had failed to convert English measures to metric values).
1998
Majority Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee pushed through three articles of impeachment against President Clinton, over Democratic objections.
1999
President Clinton told CBS Radio his 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military wasn't working, and he pledged to work with the Pentagon to find a way to fix it.
1999
Ron Dayne, Wisconsin's record-setting tailback, was a landslide winner in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
2005
Hundreds attend "International Peace Conference"
2005
US, UK persuade Russia and China of laptop authenticity
2005
NYC's transit workers approve strike authorization
2005
Car entrapped by ice in Halifax
2005
Xbox 360 not a hit in Japan
2005
Author of Wikipedia character assassination takes responsibility
2005
Major explosions at UK oil depot
2005
Bus explosion in Pakistan kills at least 40
2005
René Préval leading Haitian election according to opinion poll
2006
Discovery docks with International Space Station
2006
Former Chilean dictator Pinochet dies at 91
2006
Samuels Jewelers to be acquired by a DTC sightholder
2006
Kofi Annan appeals for cooperation and leadership from USA
2006
Kucinich to run for U.S. president
2006
Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk receives Nobel Prize
2006
Fizzy drinks out of New Zealand schools from 2009
2006
British computer scientist's new "nullity" idea provokes reaction from mathematicians
2006
US Congress may re-establish the Luxury Tax
2006
4 year-old suspended from kindergarten in Texas, US
2006
Sun Unveils Java 6.0
2006
Canadian Liberals show strong lead, says poll
2007
Deadly ice storm moves across US
2007
Nine who admitted raping 10-year-old released by Australian judge
2007
First rail service in 50 years begins across Korean borders
2007
Two car bombs kill scores in Algiers, Algeria
2007
Alex Trebek, host of US TV game show 'Jeopardy!' suffers heart attack
2007
Fabio Capello new favourite to succeed as coach of England's football team
2008
Israel allows cash for Gazans
2008
Iraqi restaurant hit by suicide bomber
2008
Obama selects Steven Chu as US Energy Secretary
2008
Body of small child found in Orlando, Florida
2009
Gunmen seize at least 75 hostages in Philippines
2009
UN: 4.8 million Ethiopians in need of food aid
2009
Somali pirates release Greek-owned ship
2009
Guinea arrests 100 soldiers in connection with attempted assassination of leader
2009
Arabsat puts Arabic news channel back on the air
2009
Thousands continue to flee fighting in Yemen
2009
New York City Mass Transit facing service cuts
2009
Corpse of former President of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos stolen
2011
Thousands protest over alleged Russian election fraud
2011
Republican hopeful Gingrich fuels controversy over Palestinian 'invented people' remarks
2012
FBI agent arrested, charged with exposing himself in public

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.

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