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Today in History

1909
Shackleton locates magnetic South Pole
1920
Prohibition of alcohol begins in US
1933
Author, filmmaker, philosopher, and social activist, Susan Sontag born in New York City
1935
Race car legend and four-time Indy 500 winner A. J. Foyt born in Houston, Texas
1947
Author, commentator and radio host, Dr Laura Schlessinger born in Brooklyn, New York
1979
Shah of Iran flees to Egypt
1979
Set uid bit patent issued to Dennis Ritchie
1992
Chapultepec Peace Accords signed
27
BC Roman Senate bestows the title "Augustus" on Octavian
309
Death of St. Marcellus, Pope
429
Death of St. Honaratus of Arles
648
Death of St. Fursey, whose writings inspired Dante's "Divine Comedy"
1153
Death of St. Bernard
1409
Rene I, King of Naples, Sicily and Jerusalem born
1439
The church council is transferred from Ferrara to Florence
1543
Parliament (England) passes an Act forbidding Women, apprentices, journeymen, servingmen of the degree of yeomen, underhusbandmen or laborers to read the New Testament in English
1547
Ivan IV, "the Terrible," crowned Czar of all the Russias.
1556
Abdication of Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor
1599
Death of Edmund Spenser, poet
1605
Charles I made Duke of York
1710
Handel, not yet 25 years old, became Kapellmeister to the Elector of Hanover. After just a few weeks, Handel took a leave of absence to visit London, and stayed for months.
1757
Samuel McIntire, architect of Salem, Massachusetts. born
1838
German philosopher Franz Brentano born
1853
Andre Michelin, the French industrialist who first mass-produced rubber automobile tires. born
1864
Frank Bacon actor/author (Lightnin) born
1865
General Sherman begins a march through the Carolinas.
1866
Mr. Everett Barney patented the metal screw, clamp skate.
1874
Robert Service, Canadian poet (Cremation of Sam McGee) born
1883
The US Civil Service Commission was established.
1888
Faure's Requiem was premiered in suburban Paris with the composer conducting. The Requiem was something of a lark for Faure, who did not have a commission for it.
1894
Guy Chamberlin early NFL end/coach born
1896
The first five-player college basketball game was played at Iowa City, Iowa. The University of Chicago defeated the University of Iowa by the low score of only 15-12.
1901
Fulgencio Batista president/dictator of Cuba (1933-44, 1952-59) born
1907
Alexander Knox, actor (Gorky Park, 2 of a Kind) born
1909
Ethel Merman (Ethel Zimmerman). She was famous for her stage personality and the signature tune "There's no business like show business." (some sources 1908) born
1911
Eduardo Frei (Christian Democrat), president of Chile (1964-70) born
1911
Jay Hanna "Dizzy" Dean HOF baseball pitcher (St Louis Cardinals) born
1917
Buddy Lester, actor (Nick-Phil Silvers Show) born
1918
President Wilson orders all industries not involved in food production to close on Mondays.
1919
Nebraska, Wyoming and Missouri became the 36th, 37th and 38th states to ratify Prohibition, which went into effect a year later.
1920
Actor Elliott (Edgeworth) Reid (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, A Woman's World, Follow Me Boys) born
1920
The United States went legally "dry" as prohibition of alcoholic beverages took effect under the 18th amendment to the Constitution. The amendment was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment.
1920
The League of Nations holds its first meeting in Paris.
1920
Allies lift the blockade on trade with Russia.
1925
Leon Trotsky was dismissed as chairman of the Russian Revolution Military Council.
1927
Actress Katy Jurado (High Noon, One-Eyed Jacks, Trapeze) born
1928
Author William Kennedy born
1929
Jazz drummer G.T. (Granville) Hogan born
1930
Author-editor Norman Podhoretz (Making It, Breaking Ranks) born
1932
American zoologist Dian Fossey. She was the world's leading authority on the mountain gorilla. born
1933
American writer Susan Sontag. She is best known best known for her essays on modern culture. born
1934
American mezzo-soprano opera singer Marilyn Horne. She is noted for the seamless quality and the exceptional range and flexibility of her voice. Her talent is exceptionally displayed in coloratura roles by Gioacchino Rossini and George Frideric Handel. born
1935
Auto racer A. J. (Anthony Joseph) Foyt. He was the first 4 time winner of the Indianapolis 500, winning in 1961, 1964, 1967, and 1977. born
1938
Forty-eight U.S. publishers reject an invitation to the International Congress in Germany.
1939
Franklin D. Roosevelt asks for an extension of the Social Security Act to more women and children.
1940
Hitler cancels an attack in the West due to bad weather and the capture of German attack plans in Belgium.
1942
Singer Barbara Lynn born
1942
Screen star Carole Lombard, her mother and 20 other people were killed in a commercial airliner crash near Las Vegas, Nev. Lombard was the wife of actor Clark Gable.
1944
Country singer Jim Stafford born
1944
Eisenhower assumes supreme command of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe. General Eisenhower was in charge of D-Day operations.
1948
Movie director John Carpenter (Escape from L.A., Village of the Damned, Body Bags, Prince of Darkness, Starman, The Thing, Escape from New York, Halloween) born
1950
Actress-dancer-choreographer Debbie Allen (Fame, Ragtime, The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh) born
1951
Football player Chuck Crist born
1956
The Egyptian government makes Islam the state religion.
1957
Three B-52s took off from Castle Air Force Base in California on the first non-stop, round-the-world flight by jet planes, which lasted 45 hours and 19 minutes.
1957
Toscanini died, he was 89. Arturo Toscanini was considered in his day to be the greatest conductor on the planet. He was the father of the movement toward strict interpretation of composers' wishes.
1959
Singer (Helen Folasade Adu) Sade born
1961
Mickey Mantle signed a contract which made him the highest paid baseball player in the American League. His contract was for $75,000 for the 1961 season. Willie Mays (the National League), was making more money than any baseball player with his contract for $85,000.
1962
Rock musician Paul Webb (Talk Talk) born
1964
The musical "Hello, Dolly!," starring Carol Channing, opened on Broadway, beginning a run of 2,844 performances.
1965
The Soviet Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 linked up to become the first manned spacecraft to dock in Earth's orbit.
1965
Willie Mays's new contract for the year was reported to be for $105,000 a year.
1965
Eighteen are arrested in Mississippi for the murder of three civil rights workers.
1966
Rhythm-and-blues singer Maxine Jones (En Vogue) born
1967
Alan S. Boyd was sworn in as the first secretary of transportation.
1968
Actor David Chokachi ("Baywatch") born
1972
David Seville (Ross Bagdasarian) died in Beverly Hills. He was the force, and artist, behind the Alvin and the Chipmunks novelty songs of the '50s, '60s and '70s.
1973
This is National Nothing Day, set aside each year for people to sit around for the entire day and just hang out. No celebrating, observing or honoring anything.
1974
Model Kate Moss born
1975
The Irish Republican Army calls an end to a 25-day cease fire in Belfast.
1978
NASA named 35 candidates to fly on the space shuttle, including Sally K. Ride, who became America's first woman in space, and Guion S. Bluford Junior, who became America's first black astronaut in space.
1979
Singer Aaliyah born
1979
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi departed Iran for Egypt; he never returned being forced into exile by Ayatollah Khomeini.
1981
In Northern Ireland, Protestant gunmen shot and wounded Irish nationalist leader Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and her husband.
1984
President Reagan called for "peaceful competition" with Moscow. He authorized research and development on space-age weapons capable of destroying incoming nuclear missiles, the program was known as "Star Wars."
1984
Michael Jackson received eight awards at the American Music Awards.
1986
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Libya would train, arm and protect Arab guerrillas for Palestinian suicide and terrorist missions, his first explicit endorsement of terrorism.
1986
President Reagan, responding to Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's proposal to eliminate all nuclear weapons by the year 2000, said, "We're grateful for the offer," and said it was being studied "with great care."
1987
China's number-two leader, Hu Yaobang, 71, was forced to resign as Communist Party chief for failing to curb student demonstrations for more democracy.
1988
Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was fired as a CBS Sports commentator, one day after telling a Washington DC TV station that, during the era of slavery, blacks had been bred to produce stronger offspring.
1988
NFL St Louis Cardinals announce move to Phoenix
1989
Actress Yvonne Zima ("ER") born
1989
Three days of rioting erupted in Miami when a police officer fatally shot a black motorcyclist, causing a crash that also claimed the life of a passenger.
1990
Moscow rushed 11,000 more troops to Azerbaijan and Armenia to reinforce soldiers trying to quell deadly ethnic violence.
1991
The White House announced the start of Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. President Bush said in a nationally broadcast address "the battle has been joined" as fighter bombers pounded Iraqi targets. (Because of the time difference, it was early January 17 in the Persian Gulf when the attack began.)
1992
Officials of the government of El Salvador and rebel leaders signed a pact in Mexico City ending 12 years of civil war that had left at least 75,000 people dead.
1993
Attorney General-designate Zoe Baird and her husband paid a $2,900 fine for employing illegal aliens in their home; however, controversy over the hirings still derailed Baird's nomination.
1994
At a joint news conference in Geneva with President Clinton, Syrian President Hafez Assad indicated a willingness to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel.
1994
In Moscow, Yegor Gaidar, first deputy prime minister and architect of Russia's market reforms, announced his resignation.
1995
In Union, S.C., a prosecutor announced he would seek the death penalty for Susan Smith, the woman accused of drowning her two young sons, 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex. (Smith was convicted of murder, but was sentenced to life in prison.)
1996
Gunmen in Trabzon, Turkey, hijacked a Black Sea ferry with more than 200 people on board, and demanded that Russian troops stop fighting Chechen rebels in Pervomayskaya. (The hostages were released three days later).
1997
Entertainer Bill Cosby's only son, Ennis, was shot to death in Los Angeles in an apparent roadside robbery attempt.
1997
Israeli soldiers dismantled their military headquarters in Hebron, marking the beginning of the end of Israel's 30-year-old rule in the West Bank city.
1997
In Atlanta, two bomb blasts an hour apart rocked a building containing an abortion clinic, injuring six people.
1998
The tobacco industry reached a $15.3 billion settlement with the state of Texas.
1998
Ten people were injured by an ammonia leak in southeastern Mexico near a petrochemical complex run by state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos. The leak was near the village of Zacatal Victoria.
1998
Heirs to William Randolph Hearst lost a bid to develop a $120 million resort on the California coast. The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to reject changes to San Luis Obispo County zoning regulations that would have allowed the Hearst Corporation to build a 650-room golf complex. The vote was hailed by environmentalists who said it saved 1 of the last stretches of undeveloped coastline between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
1999
Forty-five ethnic Albanians were found slain near the southern Kosovo village of Racak.
1999
Closing three days of opening arguments, House prosecutors demanded President Clinton's removal from office, telling a hushed Senate that otherwise the presidency itself may be "deeply and perhaps permanently damaged."
2000
Ricardo Lagos was elected Chile's first socialist president since Salvador Allende.
2005
Ariel Sharon gives 'free hand' to military for crack-down
2005
U.S. reported to mount covert operations in Iran
2005
Japan plans defense against Chinese invasion
2006
Free Software Foundation releases first draft of GPLv3
2006
Daily protests in Sarajevo, organized online
2006
West Australian Premier Geoff Gallop resigns
2006
U.S. senators defend Pakistan missile strike that killed 18
2006
New Zealand's secrets from 20 years ago released
2006
Brazilian general dies in Haiti
2006
Israeli PM Ariel Sharon briefly opens eyes
2006
CNN banned from Iran after misquoting president
2006
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf inaugurated as Liberian president
2006
Earthquake south of Medan, Indonesia
2006
Miami police officer injured after falling from horse
2006
Arizona may have driest winter in centuries
2007
New Zealand's threatened species list updated
2007
Google and Yahoo remain on the top of the U.S. web search market
2007
Orange County Sheriff's Office still investigating into Tigger hit
2007
Bravitude climbing fast on Google
2007
String of church fires in Greenville, NC cause concern
2007
Victoria power grid collapses due to spot fires
2007
Clashes in central Bolivian city kills two
2008
UFO sightings reported in Texas town
2008
Sun to acquire MySQL AB
2008
Naked News to create international language editions
2008
American actor Brad Renfro dies at age 25
2008
George Bush completes his Middle East tour
2008
Nearly two dozen people killed in bomb blast on bus in Sri Lanka
2008
Japanese detain two anti-whaling activists, deny abuse claims
2008
'Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography' released, $100 million lawsuit in planning stages
2009
Tighten 'noose' so Osama can't operate: Obama
2009
US actor Patrick McGoohan dead at age 80
2009
Burris sworn in as US Senator for Illinois
2012
Russian spacecraft Phobos-Grunt falls in Pacific Ocean
2012
Dozens killed, injured after blast hits Shias in Punjab, Pakistan
2013
Helicopter collides with crane in central London

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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