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Today in History

New Year's Eve
1869
Draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor, and painter, Henri Matisse born in Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France
1879
Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting
1904
First Times Square New Year's Eve celebration
1943
Grammy award winning American folk singer and songwriter, John Denver born in Roswell, New Mexico
1947
Musician, songwriter and lead singer for The Guess Who, Burton Cummings born in Winnipeg, Manitoba
1948
Five-time Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter, Donna Summer born in Boston, Massachusetts
1958
Emmy and Tony Award winning singer, dancer and actress, Bebe Neuwirth born in Princeton, New Jersey
1959
Stage and screen actor, Val Kilmer born in Los Angeles, California
1983
AT&T Bell divestiture goes into effect at midnight
1996
Paul McCartney knighted
1999
US hands Panama Canal over to Panama
192
Commodus, Roman emperor, strangled by a professional wrestler
335
Death of St. Sylvester I, Pope
406
Vandals, Alans and Sueves invade Roman Gaul
1097
Darak fails to break the Crusaders' Siege of Antioch
1384
Death of Wycliffe, at Lutterworth, England
1491
French explorer Jacques Cartier (some sources 1499) born
1492
Jews are expelled from Sicily.
1502
Caesare Borgia executes Oliverotto da Fermo and Vitellozzo Vitelli
1514
Vesalius born
1539
Henry VIII, King of England, meets Anne of Cleves, his 4th wife
1600
British East India Company chartered
1720
Charles Edward Stuart, son of James II, known as the Young Pretender and Bonnie Prince Charlie. born
1775
George Washington orders recruiting officers to accept free blacks into the army.
1775
The British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.
1841
The State of Alabama enacted the first dental legislation in the United States.
1852
Richest year of the gold rush ends, with $81.3 million in gold produced.
1857
Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.
1862
President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
1862
The USS Monitor sinks off Cape Hatteras, NC., losing sixteen.
1865
Verdi had occasion to comment on the talents of his contemporary Wagner. "I have heard the overture to Tannhauser," said Verdi. "He's mad!"
1869
Henri Matisse, French artist best known for his paintings Woman with a Hat and The Red Studio. born
1877
President Rutherford B. Hayes became the first U.S. President to celebrate his 25th silver wedding anniversary in the White House. The President and his wife reenacted their marriage ceremony.
1879
Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
1880
George Marshall (U.S. Secretary of State 1947. He was the designer of Marshall Plan born
1889
George Catlett Marshall, Chief of Staff who led the U.S. Army to victory in World War II and later became Secretary of State for President Harry Truman. Won Nobel Peace Prize for the Marshall Plan. born
1890
Ellis Island (NYC) opens as a US immigration depot
1897
Brooklyn, New York, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.
1908
Musician and trumpeter Jonah (Robert) Jones (he played with Cab Calloway) born
1908
Simon Wiesenthal, survivor of the Nazi Holocaust who dedicated his life to tracking down former Nazis. born
1914
Actor Pat Brady (Roy Rodgers Show) born
1915
The Germans torpedo the British liner Persia without any warning; 335 are dead.
1921
Boxer Rocky Graziano (Middlewgt champ). born
1923
The Sahara is crossed by an automobile for the first time.
1924
Entertainer Rex Allen ('The Arizona Cowboy) born
1930
Folk-blues singer (Holmes Felious Gordon) Odetta (Music, Give Me Your Hand, Got to be Me) born
1930
Brewery heir Adolphus Busch is kidnapped.
1932
T-V producer George Schlatter is 65. born
1937
Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins (Elephant Man, QB VII, Magic, Bounty, Shadowlands) born
1941
Actress Sarah Miles (Ryan's Daughter, Dynasty, Queenie) born
1942
Rock musician Andy Summers born
1943
Singer and songwriter John (Deutschendorf) Denver (Leavin' on a Jet Plane; singer: Take Me Home Country Roads, Sunshine on my Shoulders, Annie's Song, Rocky Mountain High, Fly Away, Calypso, Thank God I'm a Country Boy) born
1943
Actor Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, Betrayal, Maurice) born
1944
Producer-director Taylor Hackford born
1946
Fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg born
1946
President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War Two.
1947
Actor Tim Matheson (Animal House, Fletch, Up the Creek) born
1947
Pop singer Burton Cummings (The Guess Who) born
1947
Roy Rogers, 'the King of the Cowboys', and Dale Evans were married.
1948
Actor Joe Dallesandra born
1948
Singer Donna (LaDonna Gaines) Summer (Love to Love You Baby, On the Radio) born
1951
Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) born
1953
Actor James Remar ("Total Security") born
1955
General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year. The company's annual report to stockholders listed a net income of $1,189,477,082 in revenues.
1958
Actress Bebe Neuwirth born
1959
Singer Paul Westerberg born
1959
Actor Val Kilmer. born
1960
After playing California nightclubs as The Pendletones, Kenny and the Cadets and Carl and the Passions, a new group emerged this day: The Beach Boys.
1961
The Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
1962
Governor Edmund G. Brown, of California, announced that his state was now the most populous of the 50 United States. New York's governor, Nelson Rockefeller, disagreed and refused to concede.
1963
Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) born
1965
California becomes the largest state in population.
1966
Monkee's "I'm a Believer" hits #1 & stays there for 7 weeks.
1970
Paul McCartney files a lawsuit to disolve the Beatles.
1972
Pirates right-fielder Roberto Clemente dies in a plane crash
1972
Pop singer Joe McIntyre (New Kids on the Block) born
1974
Private US citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
1977
Ted Bundy escapes from jail in Colorado
1978
Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, marking the end of diplomatic relations with the US.
1983
The court-ordered breakup of the American Telephone and Telegraph company took effect at midnight.
1984
Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen loses left arm in auto accident
1984
The nation's first mandatory seat belt law went into effect in New York state at midnight.
1985
Singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year's Eve performance in Dallas.
1986
Ninety-seven people were killed, more than 140 injured, when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the blaze.)
1986
The State of Florida passed Illinois to become the fifth most populous state in the country. In the lead: California, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania.
1987
Robert Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe's first executive president.
1987
One second is added to the year to compensate for precession of earth's axis.
1988
President Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev exchanged New Year's messages in which both leaders expressed optimism about future superpower relations.
1989
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir fired Science Minister Ezer Weizman, accusing him of meeting with officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
1990
The Sci-Fi Channel on cable TV begins transmitting.
1990
Vice President Dan Quayle, visiting US troops in the Persian Gulf region, told them he shared their frustration with Saddam Hussein's refusal to withdraw from Kuwait.
1990
Football coach George Allen died in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, at age 72.
1992
President Bush visited Somalia, where he saw firsthand the famine racking the east African nation, and praised US troops who were providing relief to the starving population.
1992
UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was jeered by Bosnians during a visit to Sarajevo.
1993
Entertainer Barbra Streisand performed her first paid concert in 22 years, singing to a sellout crowd at the M-G-M Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
1993
Joshua Bell recorded the two Prokofiev violin concertos for Decca. He's backed up by Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony.
1993
Former IBM chairman Thomas J. Watson died in Greenwich, Connecticut, at age 79.
1994
Bosnian government officials and Bosnian Serb leaders signed a UN-brokered cease-fire agreement. Russian ground forces launched a ferocious assault on the Chechen capital of Grozny.
1995
US tank platoons crossed a just-completed pontoon bridge from Croatia to their peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.
1996
Leftist rebels in Peru released two diplomats, leaving 81 hostages in the besieged Japanese embassy residence in Lima.
1997
In Sorocaba, Brazil, riot troops stormed a prison where inmates were holding hundreds of hostages, quickly ending a three-day rebellion without any deaths.
1997
Michael Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, died from massive injuries to the head and neck in a New Year's Eve skiing accident. Kennedy, 39, died on Aspen Mountain in Colorado after he hit a tree while skiing on the last run of the day. Kennedy, the focus of controversy in 1997 over an alleged affair with his children's teen-age baby-sitter, was skiing with family members, including his three children, when the accident occurred.
1997
Bulldozers went to work in Florida's Everglades in a bid to save the Cape Sable seaside sparrow, one of the endangered species that calls the river of grass home. Heavy equipment crews began to carve a 1,000-foot gap in an embankment in the Everglades west of Miami, part of an effort to lower water levels and save an important nesting spot for the seaside sparrow. It is believed there are only a few thousand of the sparrows left in the world, almost all of them nesting in the Everglades.
1997
Pianist Floyd Cramer died in Nashville, Tennessee, at age 64.
1998
Europe's leaders proclaimed a new era as eleven nations merged currencies to create the euro, a shared money they said would boost business, underpin unity and strengthen their role in world affairs.
1999
People around the world celebrated the arrival of the year 2000, mistakenly thinking that it was the end of the millennium.
1999
Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation.
1999
The eight-day hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in Afghanistan ended peacefully.
1999
The United States prepared to hand over the Panama Canal to Panama at the stroke of midnight.
1999
Former Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson died in Boston at age 79.
2005
Abducted German family freed in Yemen
2005
Rapper Obie Trice shot on Detroit freeway
2006
Bombings reported in Bangkok
2006
French agency CNES to release UFO archives on the Internet
2006
Belgian peacekeepers wounded in Lebanon
2006
American military deaths in Iraq reach 3000
2006
Iowa falls to Texas in Alamo Bowl
2007
Netscape navigating the World Wide Web no more
2007
Pakistani general election likely to be postponed
2007
World's oldest orangutan dies
2007
Moldovan government proposes awareness-raising strategy on EU integration
2007
Egyptian woman becomes third to die of bird flu in a week
2007
Sara Jane Moore, who tried to assassinate Gerald Ford, out of jail
2007
Sperm whale stranded off coast of Florida in the US
2007
Grandfather held in Guantanamo dies of cancer
2009
“Dr Death” Steve Williams, American professional wrestler, dies aged 49
2009
Icelandic government passes Icesave deal; €12,000 debt per citizen
2009
Shooting in Finnish mall leaves four dead
2009
Afghanistan suicide bomb leaves seven Americans dead
2009
Afghan attack kills five Canadians
2009
5.8 magnitude earthquake rocks San Diego and northern Mexico
2010
New Year’s Eve tornado slams northwest Arkansas, killing three
2010
Memorial service held for model found dead in Missouri mansion
2012
Iranian Navy conducts drills in Strait of Hormuz
2012
Expected U.S. Senate special election taking shape in Massachusetts

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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