[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Today in History

1896
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, USAF General James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle born in Alameda, California
1900
Max Planck presents quantum theory
1908
Vaudevillian, musician and actor, Morey Amsterdam born in Chicago, Illinois
1911
Bandleader, musician and comedian, Spike Jones born in Long Beach, California
1911
Amundsen team arrives at South Pole
1916
Author Shirley Jackson born in San Francisco, California
1917
Dancer and Emmy Award winning choreographer, June Taylor born in Chicago, Illinois
1946
Mental health care advocate, author, singer, Emmy, Golden Globe and Academy Award winning actress, Patty Duke born in Queens, New York
1947
First woman to be elected president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
1962
Mariner II spacecraft reaches Venus
1962
Actress Ginger Lynn Allen born in Rockford, Illinois
1977
Saturday Night Fever released
2004
Millau viaduct opens
867
Election of Adrian II as Pope
872
Election of Pope John III
872
Death of Pope Adrian II
1154
Election of Pope Hadrian IV
1247
Death of Robin Hood
1503
French astrologer and prophet Nostradamus born
1515
France makes peace with Pope Leo X
1542
Humanist, translator, historian, and poet Jan van Hout born
1542
Death of James V, King of Scotland; 6-day-old Mary, Queen of Scots succedes to the Scottish throne.
1546
Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. His work in developing astronomical instruments and in measuring and fixing the positions of stars paved the way for future discoveries. born
1553
Henry IV of France (of Navarre) born
1575
Stephen Bathory elected King of Poland
1591
Death of Juan de Yepes, called "St. John of the Cross"
1640
Aphra Behn, 1st professional Englishwoman writer born
1655
Jews readmitted into England by Cromwell
1656
Artificial pearls 1st manufactured, by M. Jacquin in Paris; made of gypsum pellets covered with fish scales.
1775
U. S. clergyman and educator Philander Chase. He was a bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church and founder of Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. born
1798
David Wilkinson of Rhode Island patented the nut and bolt machine.
1799
The first president of the United States, George Washington, died at his Mount Vernon home at age 67.
1819
Alabama joined the Union as the 22nd state.(making 11 slave states and 11 free states)
1829
Black leader and educator John Mercer Langston. He is believed to have been the first black ever elected to public office in the United States. born
1856
Jurist Louis Marshall. He was a lawyer and leader of the American Jewish community who worked to secure religious, political, and cultural freedom for all minority groups. born
1861
Prince Albert of England, one of the Union's strongest advocates, dies.
1863
Longstreet attacks Union troops at Bean's Station, Tennessee.
1863
The widow of Confederate General B.H. Helm is given amnesty by President Lincoln after she swears allegiance to the Union. Mrs. Helm is the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln.
1873
Joseph Jongen in Liege, Belgium. Jongen was a fine organist and a fine composer of organ music, but he was almost forgotten until the Telarc label recorded his "Symphonie Concertante" for organ and orchestra. born
1895
George VI born
1896
Aviator James Doolittle He was awarded Congressional Medal of Honor for leading 1st U.S. aerial raid against Japan in WWII. born
1897
Former Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine born
1900
Max Planck presents the quantum theory at the Physics Society in Berlin.
1902
The ship, "Silverton", set sail from the Bay Area. It was headed out to lay the first telephone cable between San Francisco and Honolulu. The project was completed by January 1, 1903.
1911
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole, beating out an expedition led by Robert F. Scott.
1911
Slapstick band leader Spike (Lindley) Jones (City Slickers Cocktails for Two, Der Fuhrer's Face) born
1920
Jazz musician Clark Terry born
1922
"60 Minutes" executive producer Don Hewitt born
1928
America's original Funny Girl, Fanny Brice, recorded "If You Want the Rainbow", a song from the play, "My Man" -- on Victor Records.
1932
Grammy Award-winning singer Charlie Rich `The Silver Fox'(Behind Closed Doors, Lonely Weekends, The Most Beautiful Girl) born
1932
Actor-playwright George Furth born
1932
Singer Abbe (Lassman) Lane born
1934
The first steam-driven locomotive, nicknamed the "Commodore Vanderbilt", was introduced by the New York Central Railroad. The locomotive was quite impressive: 228 tons and 4,075 horsepower.
1935
Actress Lee Remick (Bridge to Silence, The Omen, QB VII, No Way to Treat a Lady, The Tempest, Days of Wine and Roses, Anatomy of a Murder, The Long, Hot Summer) born
1936
The play, "You Can't Take It with You", opened at the Booth Theatre in New York City.
1938
Actor Hal Williams (Dynasty, The Andros Targets, The Bob Crane Show, On Wings of Eagles, A Question of Love) born
1939
The Soviet Union was dropped from the League of Nations.
1944
Actor James Sutorius born
1944
Major-league baseball representatives, who were meeting in New York City, decided to allow ball clubs to play night games any day except Sundays and holidays, providing the visiting team agreed. They also agreed to prohibit the scheduling of any football games before the home team's baseball season ended.
1946
Former Walt Disney Company president Michael Ovitz born
1946
The United Nations General Assembly voted to establish UN headquarters in New York.
1946
Singer Joyce Vincent Wilson born
1946
Actress Patty (Anna Marie) Duke (The Miracle Worker, Captains and the Kings) born
1946
Pop singer Joyce Vincent-Wilson (Tony Orlando and Dawn) born
1946
Actress Jane Birkin (French Intrigue, La Belle Noiseise, Le Petit Amour, Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile, Catherine & Co., Romance of a Horsethief, Blowup) born
1948
Actress Dee Wallace Stone (The Frighteners, Temptress, The Road Home, My Family Treasure, I'm Dangerous Tonight, Popcorn, Miracle Down Under, Critters, Wait Till Your Mother Gets Home, Skeezer, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, The Howling, 10, The Hills Have Eyes, Together We Stand, The New Lassie) born
1949
Rock musician Cliff Williams (AC/DC) 1 born
1953
Sandy Koufax, age 19, was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. The kid reportedly had played no more than 20 games of baseball in his entire life. In the next 12 seasons, Koufax posted 167 wins, 87 losses and 2,396 strikeouts.
1953
Fred Allen returned from semiretirement to narrate Prokofiev's classic, "Peter and the Wolf", on the "Bell Telephone Hour" on NBC radio.
1958
Rock singer-musician Mike Scott (The Waterboys) born
1959
Singer-musician Peter "Spider" Stacy (The Pogues) born
1962
The US space probe "Mariner Two" approached Venus, transmitting back information about the planet.
1963
Actress Cynthia Gibb (Gypsy, Death Warrant, Malone, Jack's Back, Youngblood, Modern Girls, Stardust Memories, Madman of the People, Fame) born
1963
Singer Dinah Washington died in Detroit. She popularized many, many great songs, including "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes", "Unforgettable", and several hits with Brook Benton, including "Baby (You've Got What it Takes)" and "A Rockin' Good Way.
1970
George Harrison received a gold record for his single, "MySweet Lord".
1973
Jerry Quarry defeated Ernie Shavers in 2 minutes, 21 seconds of the first round of their heavyweight boxing match in New York. Quarry broke his hand in the short fight and failed miserably at a later comeback attempt.
1975
Rhythm-and-blues singer Brian Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) born
1977
Model Bridget Hall born
1980
After four days of meetings, members of NATO warn the Soviets to stay out of the internal affairs of Poland, saying that intervention would effectively destroy the detente between East and West.
1981
Israel annexed the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967.
1984
Bank robbers killed four customers and wounded three others in Geronimo, Oklahoma, to grab $17,000. Two suspects were arrested in San Francisco three days later.
1985
Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to lead a major American Indian tribe as she took office as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
1986
Nicaragua announced the arrest of American Sam Hall as a spy. Hall, a former Ohio state lawmaker, was freed less than seven weeks later.
1986
The experimental aircraft "Voyager," piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world. (The trip took nine days.)
1987
Chrysler pleaded no contest to federal charges of selling several thousand vehicles as new even though they'd been driven by employees with the odometer disconnected.
1987
Supreme Court nominee Anthony M. Kennedy told his confirmation hearing he had no hidden agenda for abortion and privacy cases.
1988
In a dramatic policy shift, President Reagan authorized the US to enter into a "substantive dialogue" with the Palestine Liberation Organization, after chairman Yasser Arafat said he was renouncing "all forms of terrorism."
1989
Nobel Peace laureate Andrei D. Sakharov died in Moscow at age 68.
1990
President Bush prodded Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to agree to talks on the Persian Gulf crisis by January 3.
1990
President Bush said he would nominate Lynn Martin to succeed Elizabeth H. Dole as labor secretary.
1992
President-elect Clinton opened a two-day conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, on the nation's economic problems.
1992
Russian President Boris Yeltsin lost a battle with hard-liners as he was forced to abandon his reformist prime minister, Yegor Gaidar, in favor of Communist-era technocrat Viktor Chernomyrdin.
1993
The Juilliard String Quartet played four Haydn quartets at New York's Lincoln Center. The opus numbers show the gamut of the foursome 17, 50, 77 and 103. The last one is unfinished.
1993
A Colorado judge struck down the state's voter-approved Amendment Two prohibiting gay rights laws, calling it unconstitutional.
1993
United Mine Workers approved a five-year contract, ending a strike that had reached seven states and involved some of the nation's biggest coal operators.
1993
Actress Myrna Loy died in New York at age 88.
1994
Former Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus, whose refusal to let nine black students into Little Rock's Central High School in 1957 forced President Eisenhower to send in federal troops, died at age 84.
1994
A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking almost all of Proposition 187's bans affecting illegal immigrants in California.
1995
Presidents Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia signed the Bosnian peace treaty in Paris. AIDS patient Jeff Getty received the first-ever bone-marrow transplant from a baboon. The experimental procedure at a San Francisco hospital was criticized by animal rights activists.
1996
A freighter lost power on the Mississippi River and barreled into the Riverwalk complex in New Orleans (miraculously, no one was killed).
1996
Teamsters President Ron Carey won election to a second term (however, the results were later overturned and Carey barred from a rerun vote by a court-appointed monitor who ruled that Carey had used union money for his campaign).
1997
Iran's new president (Mohammad Khatami) called for a dialogue with the people of the United States - a nation reviled by his predecessors as "The Great Satan."
1997
Cuban President Fidel Castro declared Christmas 1997 an official holiday to ensure the success of Pope John Paul the Second's upcoming visit to the communist country.
1998
President Clinton stood witness as hundreds of Palestinian leaders renounced a call for the destruction of Israel.
1999
Charles M. Schulz announced he was retiring the "Peanuts" comic strip.
1999
Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian national, was arrested after authorities allegedly found nitroglycerin in the trunk of his car as he arrived from Canada by ferry at Port Angeles, Washington.
1999
U.S. and German negotiators agreed to establish a $5.2 billion fund for Nazi-era slave and forced laborers.
2005
Jury convicts Murdoch of outback murder
2005
Business Brief for December 14, 2005
2005
Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks gets British citizenship
2005
Technology Brief for December 14, 2005
2005
Police investigates PAF in Finland
2005
CPJ names and shames countries who jail journalists
2005
ALP appoints SLW Group for 2007 election campaign
2005
Uniting Church at Auburn destroyed by fire
2005
Israel preparing for attack on alleged Iranian nuclear sites
2005
Siméus responds to the dismissal of Haitian justices
2005
Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney not seeking second term
2005
Wikipedia and Britannica about as accurate in science entries, reports Nature
2005
US House honors Representative John Dingell
2005
Racially motivated text messages surface in other states
2006
Yahoo!7 creates joint venture with Xtra
2006
Fictional documentary about Flemish independence causes consternation in Belgium
2006
Actor Peter Boyle dies at age 71
2006
Stephen Hawking concludes visit to Israel and Palestine
2006
World War II veteran regains use of second eye after freak accident
2006
Canadians may elect Senate
2007
Brian Mulroney testifies before Canadian House of Commons
2007
Interview with Reggie Bibbs on his life with neurofibromatosis
2007
Nigerian anti-corruption officials arrest former governor James Ibori
2007
Former Chief Operating Officer of Wikimedia Foundation is convicted felon
2007
Two PhD students shot dead in Louisiana
2007
NHL: San Jose Sharks defeat Vancouver Canucks 5-2
2007
Moldova expels two Romanian diplomats
2007
Christian church leader kidnapped in Pakistan
2007
Taipei International Travel Fair: Bigger than ever before it even begins
2008
Russian Ksenia Sukhinova crowned Miss World 2008
2008
Iraqi journalist throws shoes at US president George Bush
2008
Climber dies on Mount Cook
2009
Dubai receives bailout from Abu Dhabi
2009
Turkey bans pro-Kurdish party
2009
Kaiane Aldorino wins Miss World competition
2009
Ryan Giggs named BBC Sports Personality of the Year
2009
Google mobile phone rumours ramp up
2009
Africa makes first draft version of UNCCC treaty, with harder goals
2009
Berlusconi to remain in hospital after assault
2009
Thirteen arrested in connection with Baghdad bombings
2010
Gunman shoots during board meeting in Florida, then kills self
2010
Virginia man arrested for plotting to bomb Washington DC metro
2010
Fire kills six in Baltimore, United States
2010
Body undiscovered for a decade found in Pichilemu, Chile
2011
Former Australian PM helps to launch 'anti-warmist manual'
2012
Dozens dead in Connecticut school shooting

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.

Select a section