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Today in History

Northern Hemisphere's Winter Solstice, Southern Hemisphere's Summer Solstice
1804
Author and two-time Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, First Earl of Beaconsfield, KG, PC, FRS, born in London, England
1913
First crossword puzzle published
1935
Emmy Award winning talk show host, Phil Donahue born in Cleveland, Ohio
1937
Academy Award winning actress, writer and infamous political activist, Jane Fonda born in New York City
1940
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame composer and guitarist, Frank Zappa born in Baltimore, Maryland
1959
Olympic Gold Medalist sprinter, Florence Griffith-Joyner born in Los Angeles, California
1966
Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning actor, Kiefer Sutherland born in London, England
1968
Apollo 8, first journey to the dark side of the moon, launches from Kennedy Space Center
1988
PanAm Flight 103 explodes over Scotland
1992
Dutch flight Martinair MP495 crashes in Portugal
1124
Pope Honorius I confirmed in office
1200
Death of Gilbert Erail, 12th Master of the Templars
1237
Mongols take the city of Riazan, Russia
1491
A Truce of 5 years began between England and Scotland
1494
A new sickness breaks out in Naples
1549
Death of Margaret of Navarre
1620
Pilgrims aboard the "Mayflower" went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. (following a 63-day voyage)
1639
Dramatist Jean Baptiste Racine (Alexandre, Andromaque, Les Plaideurs, Britannicus, Berenice, Bajazet, Mithridate) born
1804
British statesman Benjamin Disraeli born
1849
The first ice-skating club in America was formed. It was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1860
Humanitarian Henrietta Szold (founding president of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America) born
1862
U.S. Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor to be awarded to Navy personnel that have distinguished themselves by their gallantry in action.
1866
Indians led by Red Cloud and Crazy Horse kill Captain William J. Fetterman and 79 other men who had ventured out from Fort Phil Kearny to cut wood.
1879
Russian dictator Joseph (Dzhugashvili) Stalin born
1892
Golf champion Walter Hagen born
1898
Scientists Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium.
1903
Holland's Senate passes a workman's compensation act to protect accident victims.
1908
President of NBC-TV Pat Weaver (Credited with the idea for Today and Tonight shows) born
1909
McKinley and Washington schools of Berkeley, California, became the first authorized, junior-high schools in the U.S. (grades 7,8 and 9). The schools were actually identified as introductory high schools
1911
Professional baseball player Josh Gibson born
1913
The first crossword puzzle was published, in the New York "World." (with 32 clues)
1914
Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand and Mack Swain appeared in the first six-reel, feature-length comedy. The film was directed by Mack Sennett and was lovingly titled, "Tillie's Punctured Romance."
1917
Nobel Prize-winning author Heinrich Boll (Group Portrait with Lady, The Clown, Billiards at Half-Past Nine) born
1918
Former Austrian president and former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim born
1920
Franklin Delano Roosevelt hired by Zurich legacy Fidelity & Deposit Co. to head its New York City office
1922
Ventriloquist Paul Winchell (Jerry Mahoney Show) born
1926
Country singer Freddie Hart born
1928
Actor Ed Nelson (Anatomy of a Seduction, Deadly Weapon) born
1928
President Coolidge signs the Boulder Dam bill.
1933
Country singer Freddie Hart (Easy Loving) born
1935
Talk show host Phil Donahue born
1937
Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" opened in Los Angeles, the first full-length animated feature film.
1937
Actress Jane Fonda (Vietnam-era peace activist) born
1940
Frank Zappa was born in Baltimore. Zappa found fame as a satirical rock star, but ventured into jazz when he played with Jean-Luc Ponty, and composed a number of classical works as well. born
1942
Singer Carla Thomas born
1943
Musician Albert Lee born
1944
Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas born
1944
Horse racing was banned in the United States until after World War II.
1945
General George S. Patton died in Heidelberg, Germany, of injuries from a car accident.
1946
Actor Josh Mostel (City Slickers series, The Chase, Little Man Tate, Wall Street, Radio Days, The Money Pit, Sophie's Choice, Harry and Tonto, Jesus Christ, Superstar, The King of Marvin Gardens, Murphy's Law, Delta House, At Ease) born
1946
Pop singer-musician Carl Wilson (The Beach Boys) born
1946
Musician Carl Wilson (Guitar for the Beach Boys) born
1946
An earthquake and tidal wave kill hundreds in Japan.
1947
Baseball player Elliott Maddox born
1948
The state of Eire (formerly the Irish Free State) declared its independence.
1952
Rock musician Gabrielle Glaser (Luscious Jackson) born
1952
Country singer Christy Forester (The Forester Sisters) born
1953
Singer Betty Wright born
1954
Tennis star Chris Evert 1956 born
1955
Actor-comedian Andy Dick ("NewsRadio") born
1956
Country singer Lee Roy Parnell born
1957
Actor-comedian Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond") born
1959
Olympic track star Florence Griffith-Joyner (Olympic gold medalist: 100 and 200-meter run 1988) born
1960
Baseball center fielder Andy Van Slyke born
1963
The Turk minority riots in Cyprus to protest anti-Turkish revisions in the constitution.
1964
Britain's House of Commons votes to ban the death penalty.
1965
Four pacifists are indicted in New York for burning draft cards.
1966
Actor Kiefer Sutherland born
1966
The Beach Boys received a gold record for the single, "Good Vibrations."
1967
The Rolling Stones LP, "Their Satanic Majesties Request", was released. It cost $50,000 to produce and came complete with a 3-D photograph of the Stones on the cover.
1968
"Apollo Eight" was launched on a mission to orbit the moon.
1968
Country singer Brad Warren (The Warren Brothers) born
1968
Actress Khrystyne Haje ("Head of the Class") born
1968
Actress Khrystyne Haje born
1969
Actress Julie Delpy born
1969
U.S. draft evaders gather for a holiday dinner in Montreal, Canada.
1971
Singer-musician Brett Scallions (Fuel) born
1971
The UN Security Council chose Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as Secretary-General.
1976
The Liberian-registered tanker "Argo Merchant" ran aground near Nantucket Island, spilling millions of gallons of oil into the North Atlantic.
1983
The NCAA men's basketball rules-committee rescinded the controversial, last-two-minute, free-throw rule. It had been enforced at the beginning of the 1983 season to eliminate excessive fouling at the end of a game.
1985
Bruce Springsteen's album, "Born in the USA", passed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" to become the second longest-lasting LP in the top 10. It stayed there for 79 weeks. Only "The Sound of Music" with Julie Andrews lasted longer: 109 weeks.
1986
500,000 Chinese students gather in Shanghai's People's Square calling for democratic reforms, including freedom of the press.
1987
In New York, three white teen-agers from the Howard Beach section of Queens were convicted of manslaughter in the death of a black man who was chased onto a highway, where he was struck by a car. A fourth defendant was acquitted.
1988
270 people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
1989
Panama's U.S.-installed President Endara ordered a national curfew.
1989
Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu delivered what turned out to be his final public speech. The hard-line Communist ruler was visibly stunned as his listeners began booing. (Ceausescu fled from power and was executed four days later.)
1990
In Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis participated in an evacuation drill to test war readiness.
1990
British Prime Minister John Major met with President Bush at Camp David, Maryland; afterward, the two leaders expressed their unity on the Persian Gulf crisis.
1991
Eleven of the 12 former Soviet republics proclaimed the birth of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
1992
President-elect Clinton tapped Richard Riley to be education secretary and Hazel O'Leary to be energy secretary; Clinton expressed anger at "bean counters" for saying he was not appointing enough women to his Cabinet.
1992
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic won re-election.
1993
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, in an interview with The Associated Press, said her husband, President Clinton, had solicited her advice on major issues; but, she added, her powers were limited.
1994
A firebomb exploded on a crowded New York City subway train, injuring 48 people. (Unemployed computer programmer Edward Leary was later convicted of attempted murder.)
1995
The House approved sweeping welfare reform that President Clinton said he would veto. (He later signed a revamped version.)
1995
A train collision outside Cairo, Egypt, claimed 75 lives.
1995
The city of Bethlehem passed from Israeli to Palestinian control.
1996
After two years of denials, House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted violating House ethics rules.
1996
AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho was named "Time" magazine's "Man of the Year."
1997
President Clinton, accompanied by his wife and daughter, left for Bosnia to spread holiday cheer -- and to carry the news that he wanted US troops to remain there indefinitely as the region recovered from its devastating war.
1998
Israel's parliament voted overwhelmingly for early elections, signaling the demise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ailing hard-line government.
1998
A Chinese court sentenced two dissidents (Xu Wenli, Wang Youcai) to long prison terms for trying to organize an opposition party.
1999
Amid heightened concerns about the possibility of a holiday terrorist attack, security was ordered tightened at American airports and the Pentagon said it was taking "appropriate action" to protect U.S. forces overseas.
2005
Business Brief for December 21, 2005
2005
Posted deadlines for Christmas delivery
2005
Australia to continue burning Indonesian boats
2005
Travel warnings issued for Sydney
2005
Work Choices Fair Pay Chief heavily criticised
2005
Truth comes out about Suprnova closure
2005
Security is important for potential presidents in Haiti
2005
Australian on death row in Vietnam for smuggling heroin
2005
NRMA stands by "unsafe" smash repair system
2005
Cuban talk show accuses U.S. diplomat of helping anti-government groups
2005
San Jose, CA, USA, city manager resigns amid Norcal investigation
2005
U.S. Rep. Conyers raises Bush censure issue
2006
Turkish minister says 'camel wasn't enough'
2006
JK Rowling announces seventh Harry Potter title
2006
Search for climbers on US mountain ends; two presumed dead
2006
Turkmenistan President Niyazov dies of heart condition
2006
Denver airport shutdown as blizzard hits Colorado
2006
Greek minister's statement causes political tension
2007
Cathal Ryan, early board member and son of co-founder of Irish flag carrier Ryanair, dies at 48
2007
Japan backs down from hunting Humpback whales
2007
Lakota activists declare secession from US
2007
Death toll from Pakistan train crash officially lowered to 40
2007
Prime suspect in Northern's Ireland's Omagh bombing found not guilty
2008
BBC reporters arrested in Iran on suspicion of espionage
2008
Two-and-a-half tonnes of marijuana destroyed in Afghan school
2008
Deposed Mauritanian president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi is released
2008
Taiwan culls 18000 chickens due to H5N2 virus outbreak
2008
Philippines Supreme Court to probe leak of draft judgment in election case
2008
UK government sells stake in nuclear weapons firm
2008
International controversy over UN declaration to stop anti-homosexuality legislation
2009
Winter wonderland: the recent U.S. blizzard in photos
2009
Macy's flagship store in New York evacuated due to fire
2009
Man killed in harbour car crash in Cornwall, England
2009
Apartment fire in south London, England claims victim from smoke inhalation
2009
Madagascar leader names army officer as prime minister
2009
Yemen rebels accuse Saudi forces of killing 54 people
2009
Second day of snow in UK, disruption continues
2009
Mortar exchange kills thirteen in Somali capital
2010
British Business Secretary Cable stripped of powers after 'totally unacceptable and inappropriate' comments
2010
7.4 earthquake strikes Bonin Islands in Japan
2011
Leveson Inquiry told hacking was 'bog-standard' journalism tool at Daily Mirror
2011
Remaining US troops exit Iraq
2011
U.S. House rejects Senate version of payroll tax cut

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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