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Today in History

1773
Protesting the Tea Act, colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians dump crates of tea into Boston harbor
1899
Singer, dancer, secret agent, and playwright, Sir Noël Coward born in Richmond upon Thames, England
1917
Science fiction author, inventor and futurist, Sir Arthur C Clarke born in Somerset, England
1938
Golden Globe Award winning actress, Liv Ullman born in Tokyo, Japan
1945
Actress and comedienne, Patti Deutsch born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1949
Rancher, painter, inventor, composer, lead vocalist and guitarist for ZZ Top, Billy F Gibbons born in Houston, Texas
1950
Gossip columnist, TV reporter and socialite Claudia Cohen born in Englewood, New Jersey
1971
Don McLean releases "American Pie"
1976
"Disco Duck" #1 on US music charts
370
Death of St. Eusebius of Vercelli
714
Death of Pepin II, ruler of France
882
Murder of Pope John VIII
882
Election of Pope Marinus I
1431
Coronation of Henry VI, King of England, as King of France
1485
Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of England's King Henry VIII born
1515
Death of Alfonso d'Albuquerque
1594
Anne Balfour burned in Scotland as a witch
1631
Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius
1653
Oliver Cromwell became lord protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
1770
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany.
1773
The Boston Tea Party took place as some 50 American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped 342 chests of tea overboard into Boston harbor to protest tea taxes.
1775
Novelist Jane Austen born
1776
Johann Wilhelm Ritter. German physicist who discovered the ultraviolet region of the spectrum and thus helped broaden man's view beyond the narrow region of visible light to encompass the entire electromagnetic spectrum from the shortest gamma rays to the longest radio waves. born
1809
Napoleon Bonaparte was divorced from the Empress Josephine by an act of the French Senate.
1811
One of history's strongest recorded earthquakes struck near New Madrid, Mo. The principal shock toppled chimneys 400 miles away in Cincinnati.
1828
Alexander Ross Clarke English geodesist whose calculations of the size and shape of the Earth were the first to approximate accepted modern values with respect to both polar flattening and equatorial radius. born
1835
A fire in New York City destroys property estimated to be worth $20,000,000. Beginning in a store at Pearl and Merchant (Hanover) Streets, it lasts two days, ravages 17 blocks (52 acres), and destroys 674 buildings including the Stock Exchange, Merchants' Exchange, Post Office, and the South Dutch Church.
1843
Josephine Shaw Lowell. American charity worker and social reformer, an advocate of the doctrine that charity should not merely relieve suffering but that it should also rehabilitate the recipient. born
1863
Confederate General Joseph Johnston takes command the Army of Tennessee, replacing Lt. General William Hardee.
1863
Philosopher and writer George Santayana. His original name JORGE AUGUSTN NICOLÁS RUIZ DE SANTAYANA. (Three Philosophical Poets, Character and Opinion of the United States, The Sense of Beauty, The Interpretations of Religion and Poetry, The Life of Reason, Scepticism and Animal Faith, Realms of Being, The Last Puritan) born
1893
The "New World" Symphony was premiered by Anton Seidl and the New York Philharmonic. "From the New World" is the actual subtitle of Dvorak's 9th and last symphony, signifying that Dvorak's ideas were inspired by music he heard in the western hemisphere.
1896
Colonel Griffith J. Griffith bequeathed 3,015 acres of his Rancho Los Feliz estate as a Christmas gift to the people of Los Angeles to be used as parkland. Griffith Park
1899
Playwright and composer Noel Coward born
1901
American anthropologist Margaret Mead. She was best-known for her studies of the nonliterate peoples of Oceania. born
1903
Women ushers were employed for the first time at the Majestic Theatre in New York City.
1905
Sime Silverman published the first issue of "Variety", the weekly show biz magazine. The first issue was 16 pages in length and sold for a nickel. "Variety" and "Daily Variety" are still going strong.
1906
Leonid Brezhnev (Russian leader of the Communist Party) born
1907
Eugene H. Farrar became the first singer to broadcast on radio. He sang "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" from the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York.
1912
The first postage stamp to depict an airplane was issued. It was a 20-cent parcel-post stamp.
1916
Gregory Rasputin, the monk who'd wielded powerful influence over the Russian court, was murdered by a group of noblemen.
1917
SciFi author Arthur C. Clarke. Some of his science-fiction concepts have had remarkable parallels, particularly in the development of satellite communications. (A Space Odyssey, Islands in the Sky) born
1922
New Polish President Gavriel Narutowicz is assassinated after only two days in office.
1928
Biochemist Bruce Ames born
1930
In Spain, a general strike is called in support of the revolution.
1935
Ray W. Fuller U.S. biochemist who, as a pharmacological researcher at Eli Lilly & Co. from 1963, helped to create fluoxetine--the popular antidepressant drug known by the trademark Prozac. This drug combates depression by slowing the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain. born
1936
Civil rights attorney Morris Dees born
1937
Actress Joyce Bulifant born
1939
National Womens Party urges immediate congressional action on equal rights.
1939
Actress Liv Ullmann born
1940
British carry out an air raid on Italian Somalia.
1941
CBS news correspondent Lesley Stahl born
1943
TV producer Steven Bochco born
1944
The World War Two Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise counter-attack against Allied forces in Belgium.
1946
Pop singer Benny Andersson (ABBA) born
1947
Actor Ben Cross born
1949
Rock singer-musician Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) born
1949
Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-tung is received at the Kremlin in Moscow.
1950
President Truman proclaimed a national state of emergency in order to fight "Communist imperialism."
1951
NBC-TV debuted "Dragnet" in a special preview, on "Chesterfield Sound Off Time". The Jack Webb (Sgt. Joe Friday) police drama opened its official TV run on January 3, 1952. Sgt. Fridays boss in this preview was played by Raymond Burr (later of Perry Mason and Ironside fame).
1959
Actress Alison LaPlaca born
1960
134 people were killed when a United Air Lines DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation collided over over foggy New York harbor.
1961
Actor Jon Tenney born
1963
Actor Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order) born
1968
Spain voids the 1492 law which expelled Jews.
1971
Rhythm-and-blues singer Michael McCary (Boyz II Men) born
1971
Don McLeans eight-minute-plus version of "American Pie" was released and became one of the longest songs with some of the most confusing lyrics to ever hit the pop charts. It was a disc jockey favorite since there were few songs long enough for potty breaks at the time. "American Pie" hit #1 on January 15, 1972.
1972
The Miami Dolphins became the first NFL team to go unbeaten and untied in a 14-game regular season.
1973
Jim Browns single-season rushing record in the NFL was smashed by O.J. Simpson. Brown rushed for 1,863 yards, while The Juice ran for 2,003 yards.
1976
President Jimmy Carter appoints Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations.
1978
Cleveland becomes the first U.S. city to default since the depression.
1985
Reputed organized-crime chief Paul Castellano was shot to death outside a New York City restaurant.
1987
South Korea held its first direct presidential election in 16 years, choosing the government's handpicked candidate, Roh Tae-woo.
1987
Former White House aide Michael K. Deaver was convicted of lying to a House subcommittee and a grand jury investigating whether he had violated federal ethics laws (he was fined and ordered to perform community service).
1988
President-elect Bush chose former Texas Senator John Tower to be his secretary of defense, a nomination that went down to defeat in the US Senate.
1989
Federal appeals court judge Robert S. Vance was killed by a mail bomb at his Alabama home. (Walter Leroy Moody Junior was later sentenced to death for killing Vance, and received seven life terms on federal charges in that killing and the death of civil rights attorney Robert E. Robinson.)
1990
Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president of Haiti in the country's first democratic elections. (He was overthrown in a military coup in 1991, but was later restored to power.)
1991
The UN General Assembly rescinded its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism by a vote of 111-to-25.
1992
Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger said Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic had to answer for atrocities committed in former Yugoslavia.
1993
President Clinton announced the nomination of Bobby Ray Inman to succeed Les Aspin as defense secretary (Inman, however, later withdrew).
1993
The 100th anniversary of the premiere of the "New World" Symphony was celebrated by the Boston Symphony in Prague. A gala Dvorak concert featured lots of stars and lots of music.
1994
The White House and Republicans traded barbs over whose tax plan was fairer to the middle class, a day after President Clinton presented a package of proposed tax cuts.
1994
White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers announced she was leaving her job at the end of the year.
1995
President Clinton and congressional Republicans traded accusations as their budget impasse led to a second shutdown of the federal government.
1996
Former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan, condemned to death for a 1979 coup and a deadly military crackdown the next year, had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
1997
UN weapons monitor Richard Butler left Iraq after failing to persuade President Saddam Hussein to open his palaces to inspections.
1997
In Japan, at least 700 mostly young TV viewers suffered nausea and epilepsy-like spasms after watching an animated cartoon that featured bright, flashing colors.
1997
A Pentagon-appointed panel concluded that the Army, Navy and Air Force should segregate male and female recruits in their earliest phases of basic training.
1998
The House delayed a debate set to begin the next day on four articles of impeachment against President Clinton.
1998
President Clinton ordered a sustained series of airstrikes against Iraq by American and British forces in response to Saddam Hussein's continued defiance of UN weapons inspectors.
1999
Israel and Syria ended two days of inconclusive peace talks in Washington and agreed to resume early in the new year.
1999
Torrential rains and mudslides in Venezuela left thousands of people dead and forced at least 120,000 to flee their homes.
2005
Sydney's newest motorway to open today
2005
Business Brief for December 16, 2005
2005
US offers to eliminate duties on Cotton, Africa says it's not enough
2005
California class commemorates Holocaust
2005
Imprisoned Haitian priest may need US doctors
2005
Flooding in Nakhon Sri Thammarat
2005
Police warn Sydneysiders to stay away from Eastern beaches
2005
Senate rejects short-term extension of the USA PATRIOT Act
2005
NYC transit deadline past, no strike or talks
2005
West Wing star John Spencer dies from heart attack
2005
President Bush of the United States authorized NSA surveillance of citizens, bypassing court warrants
2006
Allegations New Zealand prison guards accept bribes from prisoners
2006
HP France in trouble due to alleged monopolist behavior
2006
Camel sacrificed at major Turkish airport
2006
All executions suspended in Florida after error
2006
Rally organizer arrested in Caledonia, Ontario
2006
Toronto team-led research on Type 1 Diabetes 'groundbreaking'
2006
Gilchrist scores second fastest Test century
2007
Two light aircraft in mid-air collision near East Midlands Airport
2007
American singer Dan Fogelberg dies at age 56
2007
Google announces testing of online reference tool
2008
New Zealand journalist deported from Fiji
2008
Sharp increase in number of Zimbabwean cholera deaths
2009
Alleged tax-haven scheme linked to Canada's largest brokerage firm
2009
Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" makes maiden flight
2009
Volcano eruption in Philippines prompts evacuations
2009
Suicide bomber kills at least twenty in Pakistan town
2009
Payment pending; Canadian recording industry set for six billion penalties?
2010
Expedition 26 crew blast off to space station
2010
Border agent killed in Arizona, four in custody
2010
Jimmie Johnson named Driver of the Year
2010
Vietnam fishing vessel sinks in South China Sea, 27 missing
2010
Mark Zuckerberg named Time Person of the Year
2011
Author and contrarian Christopher Hitchens dies at age 62
2012
Zimbabwean footballer Adam Ndlovu dies in car accident aged 42

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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