[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Today in History

1923
Soldier, radio announcer and comedic actor, Ted Knight born in Terryville, Connecticut
1928
MIT Professor Emeritus of Linguistics Avram Noam Chomsky born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1942
Humanitarian, songwriter, musician and singer, Harry Chapin born in New York City
1955
Actress Priscilla Barnes born in Fort Dix, New Jersey
1956
Basketball legend Larry Bird born in West Baden, Indiana
1971
Montreux Casino burns to the ground
1972
Apollo 17 moon mission launched
1995
Galileo spacecraft orbits Jupiter
43
BC
Assassination of Marcus Tullius Cicero
521
St. Columba (Colum Cille)
1254
Death of Pope Innocent IV
1515
Meeting and alliance between Pope Leo X and Francois I in Bologna
1550
Coronation of Barbara as Queen of Poland
1761
Waxworks museum founder Marie Tussaud born
1787
Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.
1796
electors chose John Adams to be the second president of the United States.
1836
Mikhail Glinka became the first internationally acclaimed composer after "A Life for the Czar" premiered in St. Petersburg.
1836
Martin Van Buren was elected the eighth president of the United States.
1842
The New York Philharmonic gave its first concert.
1863
Outlaw George Ives, an alleged member of an outlaw gang known as the "Innocents," robs and then kills Nick Thiebalt in the Ruby Valley of what would become Montana.
1873
American author Willa Cather born
1876
Novelist Willa Cather born
1879
Composer Rudolph Friml ("Indian Love Call") born
1882
Composer Joaquin Turina born
1909
Leo Baekeland patented the process for making Bakelite, giving birth to the modern plastics industry.
1915
Actor Eli Wallach born
1917
U.S. declares war on Austria-Hungary with only one dissenting vote in Congress.
1931
President Hoover refused to see a group of "hunger marchers" at the White House.
1931
Bluegrass singer Bobby Osborne born
1932
Actress Ellen Burstyn born
1937
Senator Thad Cochran (Republican, Mississippi) born
1940
ABC News anchorwoman Carole Simpson born
1941
Japanese warplanes attacked the home base of the US Pacific fleet located at Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, an act that resulted in America's entry into World War Two.
1942
The U.S. Navy launches the USS New Jersey, the largest battleship ever built.
1946
The president of the United Mine Workers, John L. Lewis, orders all striking miners back to work.
1946
America's worst hotel fire broke out at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta; the blaze killed 119 people, including hotel founder W. Frank Winecoff.
1947
Baseball Hall-of-Famer Johnny Bench born
1949
The A.F.L. and the C.I.O. organize a non-Communist international trade union.
1955
Actress Priscilla Barnes born
1956
Basketball player-turned-coach Larry Bird born
1958
Country singer Gary Morris born
1959
Singer-songwriter Tom Waits born
1959
The FCC opens hearings on TV crime and standards.
1966
Actor C. Thomas Howell born
1968
"Tonight Show" announcer Edd Hall born
1968
Rock musician Tim Butler (The Psychedelic Furs) born
1970
Poland and West Germany sign a pact renouncing use of force to settle disputes, recognizing the Oder-Neisse River as Poland's western frontier, and acknowledging transfer to Poland of 40,000 square miles of former German territory.
1972
America's last moon mission to date was launched as "Apollo 17" blasted off from Cape Canaveral.
1972
Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos, was stabbed and seriously wounded by an assailant who was then shot dead by her bodyguards.
1975
Pop singer Nicole Appleton (All Saints) born
1981
The Reagan Administration predicts a record deficit in 1982 of $109 billion.
1985
Retired Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart died in Hanover, New Hampshire, at age 70.
1987
Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev set foot on American soil for the first time, arriving for a Washington summit with President Reagan.
1987
Forty-three people were killed in the crash of a Pacific Southwest Airlines jetliner in California after a gunman apparently opened fire on a fellow passenger and the two pilots.
1988
A major earthquake in the Soviet Union devastated northern Armenia; an estimated 25,000 to 100,000 people died.
1988
Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev announced he would reduce the number of Soviet military troops by half a million.
1989
East Germany's Communist Party agreed to cooperate with the opposition in paving the way for free elections and a revised constitution.
1989
Czechoslovak President Gustav Husak accepted the resignation of Communist Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec.
1990
As President Bush arrived in Venezuela on the last stop of his South American tour, his chief spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater, warned Iraq that there was "no lessening in the threat of war," despite Iraq's promise to release its hostages.
1991
50 years after Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, a visibly moved President Bush led the nation in services commemorating the day that brought the United States into World War II.
1992
Nearly 180 people were killed and hundreds injured when riots erupted across India after Hindu militants demolished an ancient mosque.
1992
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a Mississippi abortion law which required women to get counseling and then wait 24 hours before terminating their pregnancies.
1993
A gunman opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train, killing six people and wounding 17.
1993
Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary revealed that the government had conducted more than 200 nuclear weapons tests in secret.
1993
Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders suggested that the government study the impact of drug legalization.
1993
The fiery young pianist Evgeny Kissin got to strut his stuff in the Prokofiev Third Piano Concert with the New York Philharmonic. Kurt Masur also threatened to conduct some sort of world premiere work, and will try to make up for it with Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique."
1994
PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Gaza City, pledged to protect Israelis from militant extremists.
1995
Under Republican pressure, President Clinton reluctantly presented a seven-year balanced-budget plan that was quickly criticized by GOP lawmakers
1995
A 746-pound probe from the "Galileo" spacecraft hurtled into Jupiter's atmosphere, sending back data to the mothership before it was presumably destroyed.
1996
The space shuttle "Columbia" landed at the Kennedy Space Center, ending a nearly 18-day mission marred by a jammed hatch that prevented two planned spacewalks.
1997
Republicans threatened Attorney General Janet Reno with contempt of Congress over her decision to forgo an independent counsel's investigation of White House campaign fund raising.
1997
Singer Bob Dylan, actor Charlton Heston, actress Lauren Bacall, opera singer Jessye Norman and ballet master Edward Villella shared the 20th annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington D-C.
1998
Attorney General Janet Reno declined to seek an independent counsel investigation of President Clinton over 1996 campaign financing.
1998
On the eve of historic hearings, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde said there was a "compelling case" for impeaching President Clinton.
1999
NASA scientists all but gave up hope of contacting the Mars Polar Lander, last heard from four days earlier as it began its descent toward the Red Planet.
2005
Asylum seeker hunger strike enters seventh week
2005
Legal Sony graffiti advertising backlash
2005
Australian researchers confirm stress makes you sick
2005
South Korean regulators fine Microsoft $32 million
2005
US Secretary Rice responds to European enquiries on alleged CIA prisons
2005
Microsoft sued due to case of Xbox 360s overheating
2005
British schoolgirl told to return home for wearing crucifix
2005
Business Brief for December 7, 2005
2005
Passenger claims to have bomb, killed by air marshals at Miami International Airport
2005
RepuTex announces Australia and New Zealand's most socially responsible corporations
2006
Two prisoners fall unconscious while being transported in New Zealand
2006
Factory explodes in Milwaukee, USA
2006
NASA: Signs of liquid water found on surface of Mars
2006
Same-sex marriage reaffirmed in Canada
2006
Woman burning her flatulence causes emergency landing on American Airlines flight
2006
Tornado strikes London, injuring six
2006
Opponents: New Zealand government sneaks bill into House to avoid public backlash
2007
Germany's top officials seek to ban Scientology
2007
Karlheinz Stockhausen, composer, dies aged 79
2007
"What Olympics?" say 34 percent of Canadians about 2010
2007
HMV Canada to finally sell iPods, to avoid fate of Sam's, Music World
2007
Climate change talks continue in Bali
2008
Eighth Filipino journalist killed this year
2008
British ISPs restrict access to Wikipedia amid child pornography allegations
2008
Sunshine Coast Council ratifies McDonald's development rejection
2008
Launch of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover delayed until 2011
2008
Boxing: Pacquiao stuns De La Hoya with eighth round TKO
2008
Irish government orders recall of all pork products
2008
Thousands protest PM Harper in Toronto
2008
Militants in Pakistan torch NATO, US military vehicles
2009
Guinean military leader in 'favourable' condition after attempted assassination
2009
Reports say Bolivian president reelected
2009
Iraqi parliament approves election law
2009
Find me all the red balloons; MIT wins DARPA challenge
2009
Gaza Strip reports first swine flu cases
2009
Two more UN peacekeepers killed after attack in Darfur
2010
Contestant seriously injured during live German game show
2010
Mayor of Pitcairn Islands charged with possessing child porn
2010
Blast kills seven in China
2010
One dead after car and truck crash in North Lincolnshire, England
2011
Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav goes to prison for rape
2012
WNBL's Sydney Uni Flames decisively beat Canberra Capitals

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.

Select a section