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Today in History

Tom Bawcock's Eve
1783
George Washington resigns as Continental Army's commander-in-chief
1805
Founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith Jr born in Sharon, Vermont
1871
The first Gilbert & Sullivan collaboration, Thespis, premieres in London at the Gaiety Theatre
1913
US Federal Reserve is created
1935
Soldier, author and Pro Football Hall of Fame all-purpose back, Paul Hornung born in Louisville, Kentucky
1938
Inventor of open-architecture networking and co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols, Bob Kahn born in Brooklyn, New York
1945
Writer, graphic artist and drummer for Iron Butterfly, Ron Bushy born in Washington, DC
1946
Emmy Award winning actress Susan Lucci born in Scarsdale, New York
1947
Bell Labs demonstrates first transistor
1958
Fashion model and actress, Joan Severance born in Houston, Texas
619
Election of Pope Boniface V
679
Murder of St. Dagobert II, King of the Franks
800
Pope Leo III purges himself of charges of moral turpitude, before Charlemagne
1096
Godfrey and Baldwin's armies of the 1st Crusade arrive in Constantinople
1193
Death of St. Thorlac
1569
Martyrdom of St. Philip of Moscow, Primate of the Russian Church killed by Czar Ivan "the Terrible"
1588
Murder of the Duc de Guise and Cardinal de Tournon
1617
The English set up a penal colony in Virginia
1631
Michael Drayton, English poet, dies
1777
Alexander I, Czar of Russia born
1783
George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.
1788
Maryland voted to cede a 100-square-mile area for the seat of the national government; about two-thirds of the area became the District of Columbia.
1790
Egyptologist Jean Francois Champollion, who deciphered the Rosetta Stone born
1805
Mormon church founder Joseph Smith born
1806
Beethoven's one violin concerto was premiered. The director of the Vienna orchestra that played was himself the soloist. This is another of those famous compositions finished just in time for performance, with the usual remarks about the ink still being wet.
1812
Writer Samuel Smiles born
1823
The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore ("`Twas the night before Christmas...") was published in the "Troy (New York) Sentinel."
1860
Poet Harriet Monroe, founder of Poetry magazine born
1885
Manhattan restaurateur Vincent Sardi Sr.(Sardi's Bar & Grill - New York) born
1888
British film executive J. Arthur Rank born
1893
The Engelbert Humperdinck opera "Haensel und Gretel" was first performed, in Weimar, Germany.
1903
Actress Fredi Washington (Imitation of Life) born
1907
Radio host Don McNeill (The Breakfast Club ABC Radio) born
1908
Photographer Yousuf Karsh born
1911
Actor James Gregory (The Manchurian Candidate, Barney Miller,PT 109, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Captain Newman, M.D.) born
1913
The "Federal Reserve Act" was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. It established 12 Federal Reserve Banks.
1918
Flamenco dancer Jose Greco born
1919
The first ship designed to be used as an ambulance for the transport of sick and wounded patients was launched. The hospital ship was named "USS Relief" and had 515 beds.
1919
Britain institutes a new constitution for India.
1921
President Harding frees Socialist Eugene Debs and 23 other political prisoners.
1921
Actor Gerald S. O'Loughlin (The Rookies, Our House, Ensign Pulver, A Matter of Life and Death) born
1923
Actress Ruth Roman (The Killing Kind, Love has Many Faces, Since You Went Away, The Window, Knots Landing) born
1924
Newscaster Floyd Kalber born
1924
Football coach Dan Devine born
1925
Actor Harry Guardino (Hell is for Heroes, Dirty Harry, The Enforcer, Fist of Honor) born
1926
Author Robert Bly (What Have I Ever Lost by Dying?, Iron John: A Book About Men) born
1928
The National Broadcasting Company established a permanent coast-to-coast radio hookup.
1930
An unknown actress arrived in Hollywood, under contract to Universal Studios. She was Ruth Elizabeth Davis. Universal changed her name for the movies to Bette Davis.
1933
Emperor Akihito of Japan (First son of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako) born
1935
Football player The Golden Boy Paul Hornung born
1935
Pianist and singer `Little' Esther Phillips (Release Me, What a Diff'rence a Day Makes) born
1936
Actor Frederic Forrest born
1936
Actor James Stacy born
1940
Rhythm-and-blues singer Eugene Record (The Chi-Lites) born
1940
Singer composer Tim Hardin (If I Were a Carpenter, Reason to Believe, Hang on to a Dream, Misty Roses, Tippy-Toein') born
1941
Actress Elizabeth Hartman (Secret of NIMH, Full Moon High, Walking Tall, Patch of Blue) born
1941
During World War Two, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
1942
Bob Hope agreed to entertain U.S. airmen in Alaska. It was the first of his many, famous Christmas shows for American armed forces around the world. He continued the tradition for more than three decades.
1943
Actor-comedian Harry Shearer (The Fisher King, Portrait of a White Marriage, The Right Stuff, One Trick Pony, voice of Smithers & Otto the Bus Driver: The Simpsons) born
1947
Scientists at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey achieved a major breakthrough with an invention called a point-contact transistor, which paved the way to a new era of miniaturized electronics. (transistor invented by Bardeen, Brattain & Shockley in Bell Labs )
1947
Truman grants a pardon to 1,523 who had evaded the World War II draft.
1949
Actress Susan Lucci (All My Children, Dallas, French Silk, Lady Mobster, Mafia Princess, Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, Invitation to Hell, Secret Passions) born
1954
The classic movie, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", was released. It was to become one of Walt Disney's most successful films.
1957
Actor Dan Blocker made his debut on television in the "Restless Gun" production of "The Child". Two years later, Blocker starred in "Bonanza" on NBC, as Hoss Cartwright.
1958
Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) born
1968
82 crew members of the US intelligence ship "Pueblo" were released by North Korea, eleven months after they had been captured.
1969
"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head."
1972
Actor Corey Haim (Life 101, Dream a Little Dream series, Oh, What a Night, Fast Getaway, Dream Machine, The Lost Boys, Lucas, A Time to Live, Silver Bullet, Murphy's Romance, First Born) born
1974
The B-1 bomber makes its first successful test flight.
1975
Rock musician Jamie Murphy (Space) born
1980
A state funeral was held in Moscow for former Premier Alexei N. Kosygin, who had died December 18th at age 76.
1986
The experimental airplane "Voyager," piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, round-the-world flight without refueling as it landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
1987
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, serving a life sentence for the attempted assassination of President Ford in 1975, escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison for Women in West Virginia. (She was recaptured two days later.)
1988
The pontiff told the PLO leader he believed Palestinians and Jews had "an identical fundamental right" to their own countries.
1988
Pope John Paul the Second met with Yasser Arafat at the Vatican.
1989
Ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were captured as they were attempting to flee their country.
1990
Slovenians voted overwhelmingly in favor of their republic's secession from Yugoslavia.
1992
An American mission to save lives in Somalia lost the first of its own when a US vehicle hit a land mine near Bardera, killing civilian Army employee Lawrence N. Freedman of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
1993
President Clinton, under intense political pressure, instructed his attorney to give the Justice department all records of his investment in an Arkansas real estate partnership linked to a failed savings-and-loan.
1994
Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-led government agreed to a weeklong truce beginning the next day as they worked on details of a four-month cease-fire.
1994
Baseball owners imposed a salary cap that was fiercely opposed by players.
1995
A fire in Dabwali, India, killed 540 people, including 170 children, during a year-end party being held near the children's school.
1995
The charred bodies of 16 members of a doomsday cult, the Order of the Solar Temple, were found outside Grenoble, France. The same cult lost 53 members in 1994 in ritual killings in Switzerland and Canada.
1996
President Clinton expressed gratitude to the nation's armed forces as he visited Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
1996
Russian President Boris Yeltsin returned to his office at the Kremlin after a six-month bout with a heart ailment.
1997
Woody Allen married Soon-Yi Previn in a small ceremony in Venice, Italy.
1997
A jury in Denver convicted Terry Nichols of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing, declining to find him guilty of murder.
1998
Lebanese guerrillas attacked Israel's northern border with rockets, in retaliation for an Israeli air raid a day earlier.
1998
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat freed Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin from house arrest, a move denounced by Israel.
1999
The Nasdaq composite index briefly crossed 4,000 and closed at a record high for the 58th time in 1999.
1999
President Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, a black sailor court-martialed for mutiny during World War II when he and other sailors refused to load live ammunition following a deadly explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine near San Francisco that had claimed more than 300 lives.
2005
Drug website surveys LSD users and culture
2005
Evo Morales hoaxed by a Spanish Church-owned radio station
2005
New South Wales road safety campaign begins
2005
Kaczyński takes the office of Polish president
2005
Two Australians charged after burning flag during riot
2005
Canadian Conservatives vow to defend Arctic sovereignty
2005
U.S. soldier may be charged in shooting of Italian agent
2005
Azeri passenger plane crashes
2005
EU threatens to fine Microsoft for failing to open Windows Server
2006
New Zealand secures hosting rights of World Netball Championships in 2007
2006
Microsoft extends warranty for all Xbox 360s
2006
Global Orgasm for Peace anti-war demonstration held yesterday
2006
Republican aide fired for trying to hire hackers to raise his GPA
2006
Authors question CIA redaction of NYT Op-Ed on Iran policy
2007
Exit polls indicate pro-Thaksin party lead in Thai election
2007
French writer Julien Gracq dies at 97
2007
Former Belgian Chairman of the Senate Frank Swaelen dies at 77
2007
Former 'American Idol' finalist Jessica Sierra pregnant
2008
Report blames 747 crash at Brussels on bird strike
2008
Hamas ends truce with Israel
2008
Cyprus charges five over 2005 air crash that killed 121
2008
Fiji, New Zealand expel diplomats
2008
Military dissolves Guinean government
2008
168-centimetre water main breaks near Washington D.C.
2009
American Airlines plane overshoots runway in Jamaica; injuries reported
2009
Chinese dissident goes on trial for subversion
2009
Controversy raised about Nobel Prize in Physics
2010
Australian rules football: Bairnsdale join Gippsland League, will play first game in Warragul
2010
UN probing allegations US is 'torturing' soldier over leaks
2010
French citizens told to leave Ivory Coast as UN warns of civil war
2010
Skype apologises after service goes down for hours
2010
North Korea prepared for 'sacred' nuclear war with South
2010
China prepared to support eurozone countries hit by financial crisis
2010
Alaska Supreme Court rules in Senate election challenge
2010
Two embassies in Rome, Italy hit by bomb attack
2010
Obama signs landmark law overturning 'don't ask, don't tell'
2010
Berlusconi proposes January elections if government fails to gain parliamentary majority
2011
Walmart recalls infant formula after baby death
2011
UK to ban hidden credit card fees
2011
U.S. Congress reaches deal on payroll tax cut extension
2011
Attorney general drops case against Israeli participants in Freedom Flotilla
2012
High winds in Texas cause property damage and utilities loss for many

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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