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Today in History

1803
US buys almost 1 million square miles of territory from France for about $20 per square mile
1860
South Carolina secedes from the United States
1868
Founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Harvey Samuel Firestone born in Columbiana, Ohio
1922
Artist and sculptor, Beverly Pepper born in New York City
1931
Actress and USO entertainer, Mala Powers born in San Francisco, California
1942
Japanese bomb Calcutta
1944
Comedian, TV and theater actress, Jean Fergusson born in Wakefield, England
1989
President H.W. Bush orders US invasion of Panama to topple Manuel Noriega
1996
NeXT merges with Apple Computer
1192
Capture of Richard I, "the Lion Hearted," King of England, by Austria
1334
Election of Pope Benedict XII
1355
Death of Stephen Urosh IV, Emperor of the Serbs
1566
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, tries tenderness towards the Protestants
1579
John Fletcher, Elizabethan dramatist born
1590
Death of Ambrose Pare, surgeon
1606
The "Susan Constant", "Godspeed" and "Discovery" set sail from London to America. They landed at Jamestown, Virginia o start the first permanent English settlement in America.
1620
Samuel Fuller becomes the first doctor to arrive in New England
1648
Oliver Cromwell arrests most of Parliament; the "Rump Parliament"
1649
Certain persons were imprisoned in London for the crime of being actors in stage plays
1790
The first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating at Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
1803
The Louisiana Purchase was completed as ownership of the territory was formally transferred from France to the United States during ceremonies in New Orleans.
1805
Thomas Graham, the father of colloid chemistry born
1813
Dr. Samuel Mudd, doctor who helped Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth born
1819
John Geary, 1st Postmaster, 1st Mayor (May 1, 1850) born
1820
The State of Missouri enacted legislation to tax bachelors between the ages of 21-50, $1 a year for being unmarried.
1822
Beethoven accepted a commission from the Philharmonic Society of London to compose a ninth symphony. The terms included as is customary in commissions the rights to the world premiere. But Beethoven stiffed the Brits, permitting a performance of the completed work.
1860
South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.
1864
Confederate forces evacuated Savannah, Georgia, as Union General William T. Sherman continued his "March to the Sea."
1865
Author and decorator Elsie de Wolfe (Lady Mendl) born
1868
Industrialist Harvey Firestone Founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company born
1879
Thomas A. Edison privately demonstrated his incandescent light at Menlo Park, New Jersey.
1881
Baseball player Branch Rickey born
1892
Alexander T. Brown and George Stillman of Syracuse, New York, patented the pneumatic tire.
1895
Philosopher Susanne Langer (author of Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art) born
1898
Actress Irene Dunne (Cimarron, Show Boat, Anna and the King of Siam, Life with Father, I Remember Mama) some sources list 1901 born
1900
Baseball player Gabby (Charles) Harnett born
1901
Nuclear physicist Robert Van de Graaff born
1902
Max Lerner American educator, author, and syndicated columnist who was an influential spokesman for liberal political and economic views. born
1902
Philosopher Sidney Hook born
1918
Actress Ann Richards (Sorry Wrong Number) born
1918
Actress Audrey Totter (The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Carpetbaggers born
1920
An English-born comedian named Leslie Downes (Bob Hope) became an American citizen. He had lived in the United States since 1908.
1922
Movie director George Roy Hill (Funny Farm, The World According to Garp, A Little Romance, Slap Shot, The Sting, Slaughterhouse Five, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hawaii) born
1924
Adolf Hitler is released from prison.
1925
Prime minister of Malaysia Mahathir bin Mohamed (Malaysia's prime minister) born
1926
Caricaturist David Levine (The New York Times) born
1927
Sportscaster Jim Simpson born
1928
Football player John Christiansen born
1932
Actor John Hillerman (Magnum P.I., Hands of a Murderer, Chinatown, Blazing Saddles, Paper Moon, The Last Picture Show) born
1932
Al Jolson recorded "April Showers" on Brunswick Records.
1933
The German government announces 400,000 citizens are to be sterilized because of hereditary defects. Many of the Nazi leaders were prosecuted for the many atrocities that occurred during and before World War II.
1938
First electronic television system is patented by Vladimir Kosma Zworykin of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.
1938
Baseball player Mattie Alou born
1939
Actress & singer Kim Weston (It Takes Two [w/Marvin Gaye]) born
1943
Actress Angel Tompkins (Walking Tall, Part II, The Bees) born
1944
Musician (drummer and singer with Blood, Sweat & Tears) Bobby Colomby (And When I Die, You Made Me So Very Happy, Spinning Wheel) born
1945
Rock musician Peter Criss (Kiss) born
1945
Mussolinis daughter Edda, is given a sentence of two years in prison for aiding the Fascists.
1945
The Office of Price Administration announced the end of tire rationing, effective January first, 1946.
1946
Psychic and showman Uri Geller born
1946
The Frank Capra film "It's A Wonderful Life," starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, had a preview showing for charity at New York's Globe Theatre, a day before its "official" world premiere.
1948
Singer Little Stevie Wright (She's So Fine, Wedding Ring, Sad and Lonely and Blue, Woman, Come and See Her, Friday on My Mind, Hello How are You) born
1949
Baseball player Cecil Cooper born
1949
Baseball player Oscar Gamble born
1950
Hockey player Bill Clement born
1950
Tom R. Ferguson American cowboy who six times consecutively (1974-79) won the all-around cowboy title of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. born
1952
Actress Jenny Agutter (The Snow Goose, Logan's Run, An American Werewolf in London, Child's Play) born
1952
Jimmy Boyd reached the #1 spot on the record charts with the Christmas song of the year, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."
1956
Actress Blanche Baker born
1958
Rock singer Billy (Steven) Bragg (The Milkman of Human Kindness, A New England, Man in the Iron Mask, Island of No Return, Between the Wars, World Turned Upside Down, Which Side are You On?) born
1960
Actor Mark Keyloun (Separate Vacations, Gimme an F, Mike's Murder, Sudden Impact) born
1962
A world indoor pole-vault record was set by Don Meyers in Chicago, IL as he cleared 16 feet, 1-1/4 inches.
1962
In its first free election in 38 years, the Dominican Republic chooses leftist Juan Bosch Gavino as president.
1963
The Berlin Wall was opened for the first time. It remained open for the holiday season, but closed again on January 6, 1964. 4,000 people crossed over to visit relatives during this period.
1964
Country singer Kris Tyler born
1965
In the largest U.S. drug bust to date, 209 lb. of heroin is seized in Georgia.
1966
Rock singer Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes) born
1968
Author John Steinbeck died in New York at age 66.
1973
Singer Bobby Darin died following open-heart surgery at the age of 37.
1976
Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley died at age 74.
1980
The government of the Soviet Union confirmed that former Premier Alexei N. Kosygin had died two days earlier at the age of 76.
1980
Shirley Temple Black became a grandmother. Her oldest daughter gave birth to a baby girl.
1983
Joe Gibbs, of the Washington Redskins, was named NFL Coach of the Year by the Associated Press. He became the first head coach to receive this honor in consecutive years since 1961-62 (when Allie Sherman, of the New York Giants, was so honored).
1987
More than 3,000 people were killed when the "Dona Paz," a Philippine passenger ship, collided with the tanker "Vector" off Mindoro island, setting off a double explosion.
1988
The International Committee of the Red Cross suspended its operations in Lebanon after receiving death threats.
1989
The United States launched Operation "Just Cause," sending troops into Panama to topple the government of General Manuel Noriega.
1990
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze shocked Soviet lawmakers by announcing his resignation, warning that "dictatorship is coming."
1992
US Marines and Belgian paratroopers in Somalia took control of Kismayu'sport and airport; the first truck convoy in more than a month reached the starving inland town of Baidoa.
1993
Real estate developer Donald Trump married Marla Maples in a brief ceremony in the grand ballroom of Trump's Plaza Hotel in New York. (However, the couple separated in 1997.)
1993
Alina Fernandez Revuelta, a daughter of Cuban President Fidel Castro, flew to Spain, where she was granted political asylum by the US Embassy.
1994
Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk died in Athens, Georgia, at age 85.
1994
Intel announced it would replace all flawed Pentium computer chips.
1994
Marcelino Corniel, a homeless man, was shot and mortally wounded by White House security officers as he brandished a knife near the execution mansion.
1994
Former President Jimmy Carter succeeded in getting Bosnia's warring factions to agree to a temporary cease-fire.
1995
An American Airlines Boeing 757 en route to Cali, Colombia, slammed into a mountain, killing all but four of the 163 people aboard.
1995
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, NATO began its peacekeeping mission, taking over from the United Nations.
1996
President Clinton selected Federico Pena as energy secretary, Rodney Slater as transportation secretary, Andrew Cuomo as housing secretary and Alexis Herman as labor secretary.
1996
Astronomer Carl Sagan died in Seattle at age 62.
1996
A judge in Orange County, California, gave O.J. Simpson full custody of his young children.
1997
President Nelson Mandela stepped down as leader of South Africa's governing African National Congress.
1997
Pope John Paul the Second sent Christmas greetings to the Cuban people in advance of his visit to the island.
1998
Nkem Chukwu gave birth in Houston to five girls and two boys, 12 days after giving birth to another child, a girl. (However, the tiniest of the babies died a week later.)
1999
The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded couples of the opposite sex.
1999
Country music legend Hank Snow died in Nashville, Tenn., at age 85.
2005
Opposition claims Australian Treasurer misled parliament
2005
Business Brief for December 20, 2005
2005
Security increased at Delta plants due to extortion threat
2005
Poll predicts another Liberal Party minority government in Canada
2005
NYC Transit on strike
2005
Early returns in Iraqi elections
2005
Poll shows Préval with clear lead, but ineligible candidate Siméus could have presented a challenge
2005
Mayor under investigation in San Jose, CA, USA for spending without consent
2005
Two trains collide near Rome
2006
New Zealand's worst behaved politicians list released
2006
Canada's environment minister may be replaced
2006
New Jersey gives $270 million to Stem Cell Research Center
2006
Part of major road in Sweden collapses in landslide
2007
Israel Journal: Is Yossi Vardi a good father to his entrepreneurial children?
2007
US Department of Health proposes priorities for flu vaccine distribution
2007
Lee Myung-bak wins South Korean presidency
2007
American animator Jack Zander dies, aged 99
2007
France holds five suspects in Algiers bombing
2007
Jump5 plays their last concert, disbanding after nine years
2007
Former Greek Culture Ministry official attempts suicide
2007
Indonesia's transport minister tells airlines not to buy European aircraft due to EU ban
2007
Natural death confirmed for man who died on Disney World roller coaster
2007
Scottish man to be freed from death row in Ohio, US
2009
US university Penn State wins NCAA Division I volleyball championship
2009
American actress Brittany Murphy dies at age 32
2009
Democratic holdout agrees to support health care reform in US
2009
Rage Against The Machine top UK singles chart
2009
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri dies
2009
Eurostar suspended due to cold weather
2010
Stella English wins sixth series of UK's The Apprentice
2010
South Korea and US hold joint exercises; North does not retaliate
2010
Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev win UK Strictly Come Dancing
2010
Oil pipeline explosion kills 27 in central Mexico
2010
UN says it won't leave Ivory Coast
2010
'Unacceptable' and 'without foundation': Poland rejects Russian air crash report
2010
Alexander Lukashenko re-elected for the 4th time as President of Belarus
2010
BBC Foreign correspondent Brian Hanrahan dies aged 61
2010
Two founding members of Paramore leave band
2010
Scottish Premier League: Kilmarnock defeat Hibernian 2 - 1
2011
Indian Parliament irate as Russia poised to ban Bhagavad Gita
2012
Internet security firm to donate revenue to charity after Anonymous protest of Westboro Baptist Church

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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