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Today in History

Boxing Day
1791
Mathematician, philosopher, and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer, Charles Babbage born in London
1933
FM radio patented
1937
Royal Society Fellow, Princeton professor, and Pólya Prize winning mathematician John Horton Conway born in Liverpool
1951
DPMA founded
1958
Award winning aerodynamicist and race car engineer, Adrian Newey born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England
1964
Hopwood Award winning novelist Elizabeth Johnson Kostova born in New London, Connecticut
1991
Formal dissolution of the USSR
2003
Earthquake kills at least 30,000 in Iran
2004
Tsunami kills at least 2400 in Sri Lanka
268
Death of Pope Dionysuis
795
Election of Leo III as Pope
1076
Coronation of Boleslav II as King of Poland
1194
Frederick II, German Emperor born
1476
Duchess Anne of Brittany born
1492
1st Spanish settlement in New World founded, by Columbus
1519
Tapestries, designed by Raphael, first hung in the Sistine Chapel
1530
Death of Babur the Mogul, of India
1559
Election of Pope Pius IV
1606
William Shakespeare's "King Lear" is performed at court
1672
The London Gazette published the earliest known notice for public subscription concerts. Tickets were a shilling apiece.
1693
Francois Couperin was appointed royal organist at Versailles; he was 25 years old.
1716
English poet Thomas Gray (Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard) born
1776
American forces under Gen. George Washington, having crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night, defeated Hessian mercenary troops fighting for the British at the Battle of Trenton.
1778
Artist Juan Lovera ('artist of independence' Venezuelan historical paintings) born
1785
Teacher Laurent Clerc (1st deaf teacher in U.S., He helped establish American School for the Deaf in Connecticut) born
1786
Daniel Shay leads a rebellion in Massachusetts to protest
1792
English inventor Charles Babbage, who developed the first speedometer and adding machine born
1831
Bellini's "Norma" premiered. "Norma," acclaimed to this day, flopped at its premiere.
1837
Adm. George Dewey, the American naval hero of Manila born
1862
38 Santee Sioux are hanged in Mankato, Minn for their part in the Sioux Uprising in Minnesota. Little Crow has fled the state.
1865
James H. Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, received a patent for a coffee percolator.
1866
Native American's hand the U.S. Army their worst defeat prior to Little Big Horn at the Fetterman Fight in Powder River County in the Dakota territory. The Fetterman Fight.
1891
Novelist Henry Miller American writer remembered for Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. born
1893
Mao Tse-tung, leader of the Chinese communist revolution born
1908
Claude Debussy, having finished the rough draft, set to work finalizing details of "Iberia".
1914
Actor Richard Widmark (Judgment at Nuremberg, Murder on the Orient Express, The Halls of Montezuma, How the West was Won, The Alamo, Against All Odds, True Colors) born
1917
The federal government took over operation of American railroads for the duration of World War I.
1921
Comedian, composer and author Steve Allen born
1927
Comedian Alan (Irwin Kniberg) King born
1930
Actor Donald Moffat (Trapped in Paradise, Clear and Present Danger, Tales of the City, The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Bourne Identity, The Best of Times, The Right Stuff, The Long Days of Summer, Winter Kills, Mary White, Showdown, Rachel, Rachel) born
1931
George Gershwin's musical, "Of Thee I Sing", opened at the Music Box Theatre in New York City. The show became the first American musical to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
1932
70,000 are killed in a massive earthquake in China.
1935
Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir (The Four Tops- songs:Baby I Need Your Loving, I Can't Help Myself, Reach Out I'll Be There, Standing in the Shadows of Love, Seven Rooms of Gloom, Bernadette, Keeper of the Castle, Ain't No Woman like the One I've Got, When She Was My Girl, Don't Walk Away) born
1936
Baseball player Wayne Causey born
1939
W.C. Handy, of Memphis, Tennessee, recorded the classic "St. Louis Blues". W.C. and his band recorded in New York for Varsity Records.
1940
Record producer, singer and songwriter Phil Spector born
1940
Baseball pitcher Ray Sadecki born
1941
Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the US Congress.
1944
Tennessee Williams' play "The Glass Menagerie" was first performed publicly, at the Civic Theatre in Chicago.
1945
"America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh born
1946
Actress Joyce Jillson (Slumber Party '57, Superchick) born
1947
Retired baseball player, catcher Carlton Fisk born
1947
Heavy snow blanketed the Northeast, burying New York City under 25.8 inches of snow in 16 hours; the severe weather was blamed for some 80 deaths.
1948
Baseball coach Chris Chambliss born
1954
One of radio's most popular programs, "The Shadow", hit the airwaves for the final time. Vigilante crime-fighter Lamont Cranston battled greed and corruption since 1930.
1954
Susan Butcher winner of Iditarod Trail race [1986,1987, 1988, 1990] born
1954
Baseball's `The Wizard of Oz' Ozzie Smith born
1962
Eight East Berliners escape to West Berlin, crashing through gates in an armor plated bus.
1962
Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) born
1963
Capitol Records rushed to release its first single by the Fab Four, otherwise known as The Beatles. "I Want to Hold Your Hand", backed with "I Saw Her Standing There." The record reached #1 on February 1, 1964.
1963
Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica born
1966
Dr. Maulana Karenga celebrates the first Kwanzza, a seven day African American celebration of family and heritage.
1967
Country singer Audrey Wiggins born
1967
Rock musician J (White Zombie) born
1969
Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) born
1970
Actor Jared Leto born
1972
The 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of 88.
1982
The Man of the Year in "TIME" magazine was a non-human for the first time. A computer received the honors as 1982's "greatest influence for good or evil."
1984
House Speaker Tip O'Neill was selected to receive the J. Fred Muggs Award, given by "TV Guide" for TV goofs and blunders. The Speaker of the House earned the uncoveted prize when he ordered cameras from CSPAN to pan the almost empty House of Representatives while Republicans were making speeches.
1986
TV's longest-running drama was seen for the last time as "Search for Tomorrow" ended a 35-year stay on television.
1987
A bomb exploded at a USO bar in Barcelona, Spain, killing one US sailor and injuring nine others; a little-known group called the Red Army of Catalonian Liberation claimed responsibility.
1988
Another body from the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was found, bringing the confirmed death toll to 240.
1989
Romanian television broadcast videotape showing ousted President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, at their secret trial as well as footage of the former leader's body following his execution. That same day, a provisional government took control of Romania.
1990
Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev nominated Gennady I. Yanayev to be the Soviet Union's first vice president (Yanayev helped lead an abortive coup against Gorbachev in August 1991).
1990
Nancy Cruzan, the young woman in an irreversible vegetative state whose case led to a US Supreme Court decision on the right to die, died at a Missouri hospital.
1990
The government reported that its 1990 US census had counted a total 249 million, 632,692 people.
1992
Milan Panic conceded defeat to Slobodan Milosevic almost a week after Yugoslavia's presidential election.
1992
"Time" magazine announced it had chosen President-elect Bill Clinton its 1992 "Man of the Year."
1993
In Russia, a four-day kidnap drama ended as four masked kidnappers who had abducted eleven teen-agers landed their explosives-packed helicopter, freed their last hostages and fled with $10 million in ransom. (The four men were captured the next morning.)
1994
French commandos stormed a hijacked Air France jetliner on the ground in Marseille, killing four Algerian hijackers and freeing 170 hostages.
1995
Israel turned dozens of West Bank villages over to the Palestinian Authority in a smooth transfer of power.
1996
Six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)
1997
Badly battered South Korean financial markets surged after the International Monetary Fund and the Group of Seven countries agreed on $10 billion emergency loans to Seoul.
1998
President Clinton, in his weekly radio address, urged Congress to lower the blood-alcohol limit for drunken driving nationwide to .08 percent.
1999
The crew of space shuttle "Discovery" packed up its tools and prepared to return home after an eight-day mission of repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope that NASA declared a success.
1999
Alfonso Portillo, a populist lawyer, scored a resounding victory in Guatemala's first peacetime presidential elections in nearly 40 years.
1999
Soul singer and songwriter Curtis Mayfield died in Roswell, Georgia, at age 57.
2000
Actor Jason Robards died in Bridgeport, Conn., at age 78.
2000
A gunman wielding a semiautomatic rifle and a shotgun opened fire at an Internet firm in Wakefield, Mass., killing seven workers.
2005
Queensland Premier aims for a move to Australian federal politics
2005
New Zealand Tsunami heroes to receive Special Service Medal
2005
Olympics organisers insist London win in 2012 ballot was fair
2005
Bombmaking materials found near farm of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe
2005
Four Russian stores hit with gas attacks
2005
Falwell called for boycott of stores using 'Happy Holidays' in place of 'Merry Christmas'
2005
Indian Ocean tsunami, one year after
2005
Iranian Baha'i dies in jail
2006
Oil spill reported in Gulf of Mexico
2006
Saddam Hussein to be hanged in 30 days
2006
Gasoline pipeline explosion in Nigeria kills hundreds
2006
Appeals court confirms death penalty for Saddam Hussein
2006
Colombian terrorists own 42 aircraft
2006
Strong earthquake strikes off the coast of Taiwan
2007
Record temperatures stoke bushfires in Western Australia, arson suspected
2007
Scores feared dead in Indonesian landslides after heavy rain
2007
Turkey carries out more air strikes in northern Iraq
2007
Chad court sentences six French aid workers to eight years of hard labour
2007
Tiger escapes from cage at San Francisco Zoo, kills worker
2008
World’s largest ice 'Father Christmas' built in China
2008
Egyptian teacher who killed child receives prison term
2008
Australia makes changes to Boxing Day cricket test team
2009
Guard rail kills ten in Malaysian bus crash
2009
Terror alert in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai
2009
China sentences dissident to eleven years in prison
2009
Failed bomb aboard Delta flight
2009
Ship fire kills nine Greek and Filipino sailors in Caribbean Sea
2009
American actor Charlie Sheen arrested
2009
Pope attacked during Christmas Eve Mass
2009
New regional jet takes off from St. Petersburg, Russia

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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