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Today in History

1457
The last King of England to win the throne by combat, Henry VII born in Pembroke Castle, Wales
1788
First penal colony founded at Botany Bay
1855
First locomotive runs from the Atlantic to the Pacific (Panama Railway)
1863
Painter Ernest William Christmas born in Yankalilla, South Australia
1864
Indentured servant, shepherd, and automobile entrepreneur, Charles Warren Nash born in Cortland, Illinois
1873
First cable car installed in San Francisco
1900
Portrait painter Alice Neel born in Merion Square, Pennsylvania
1912
Abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock born in Cody, Wyoming
1914
First ski tow, Woodstock, Vermont
1929
Sculptor Claes Oldenburg born in Stockholm, Sweden
1936
Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning actor, Alan Alda born in Bronx, New York
1969
Health activist and actress, Kathryn Morris born in Cincinnati, Ohio
1986
US Space Shuttle Challenger explodes 74 seconds after launch
893
Coronation of Charles III, "the Simple" as King of France
1077
King Henry IV submits to the Pope at Canossa
1232
Death of Pedro de Montaigu, 15th Master of the Templars
1256
William, King of the Romans, was killed
1256
Death of St. Peter Nolesco
1457
Henry VII (Tudor) of England born
1547
England's King Henry the Eighth died; he was succeeded by his nine-year-old son, Edward the Sixth.
1572
St. Jane Frances Chantal born
1573
Confederation of Warsaw
1596
English navigator Sir Francis Drake died off the coast of Panama; he was buried at sea.
1600
Pope Clement IX born
1608
Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, Italian physiologist born
1611
Johann Hevelius, astronomer born
1621
Death of Pope Paul V
1693
Anna "Ivanovna", Tsarina of Russia. born
1708
John Baskerville, inventor of typeface. born
1791
Louis Joseph Herold was born in Paris the son of a pianist who had studied with CPE Bach. Herold composed the opera "Zampa" and the ballet, "The Sleepwalker."
1807
London's Pall Mall is the 1st street lit by gaslight.
1822
Canadian prime minister and statesman Alexander MacKenzie born
1822
English philanthropist William D. Longstaff. He is best remembered today as author of the hymn, "Take Time to Be Holy." born
1834
Anglican clergyman and author Sabine Baring-Gould. He penned the enduring hymns, "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and "Now the Day is Over. born
1841
Sir Henry Morton Stanley (explorer to find the missing missionary, David Livingstone) born
1853
Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti was born in Havana.
1855
William Seward Burroughs, invented recording adding machine. born
1858
John Brown organized a raid on the Arsenal at Harper's Ferry.
1871
France surrendered in the Franco-Prussian War.
1878
The first commercial telephone switchboard began operation in New Haven, Conn., with 12 subscribers.
1878
George W. Coy hired as 1st full-time telephone operator.
1889
Concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein (Some sources 1887) born
1902
The Carnegie Institute was established in Washington DC.
1904
The first college sports letters were given out. Seniors who played on the University of Chicago's football team were awarded blankets with the letter "C" on them.
1907
Russian Czar Nicholas II informs Chinas emperor that troops will evacuate Manchuria by March 22.
1909
The United States ended direct control over Cuba.
1912
Abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock born
1914
Kaiser Wilhelm II sends the first German wireless to President Wilson.
1915
The U.S. Coast Guard is founded to fight contraband trade and aid distressed vessels at sea.
1915
The German navy attacks the U.S. freighter William P. Frye, loaded with wheat for Britain.
1916
Louis D. Brandeis was appointed by President Wilson to the Supreme Court, becoming its first Jewish member.
1921
Einstein startles Berlin by suggesting the possibility of measuring the universe.
1929
Musician-composer Acker Bilk born
1932
The Japanese attack Shanghai and declare martial law.
1933
Author Susan Sontag (Against Interpretation, The Volcano Lover A Romance) born
1935
Actor Nicholas Pryor (Hoffa, Pacific Heights, Risky Business, The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh, The Happy Hooker, Force Five, The Bronx Zoo, Beverly Hills 90210) born
1935
Iceland became the first country to legalize abortion on medical-social grounds.
1936
Actor Alan Alda ( M*A*S*H, Paper Lion, The Four Seasons, Same Time Next Year, California Suite) born
1936
Infamous kidnapper, Richard Loeb is slashed to death by a fellow inmatein prison.
1936
"Chaos Instead of Music." That was the headline the day Shostakovich was pilloried in Pravda at the direct order of Josef Stalin. The opera "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" had pleased other people but did not please Stalin.
1938
1st Ski Tow starts running (in Vermont).
1939
William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet and dramatist, died; he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.
1941
DeGaulles Free French forces sack south Libya oasis.
1943
Hockey player Paul Henderson born
1943
The Nazis mobilize women for military service.
1945
Actress Marthe Keller born
1945
During World War Two, Allied supplies began reaching China over the newly reopened Burma Road.
1948
Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov born
1950
Actress-singer Barbi Benton born
1955
President Eisenhower turns down a Soviet bid for a 20 year friendshippact, citing UN ties.
1958
The Air Force successfully tests the Thor missile.
1959
Rock musician Dave Sharp (The Alarm) born
1959
Vince Lombardi was named head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
1962
Rock singer Sam Phillips born
1964
The Soviets down a U.S. jet over East Germany killing three.
1965
Country musician Greg Cook (Ricochet) born
1968
Singer Sarah McLachlan born
1968
Rapper Rakim born
1968
DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill) born
1970
Singer Nick Carter (Backstreet Boys) born
1970
Israeli jets attack the suburbs of Cairo.
1973
The CBS drama "Barnaby Jones" premiered.
1978
The words "De plane, de plane!" were first broadcast on ABC with the premiere of "Fantasy Island."
1978
Fire swept through the historic downtown Coates House hotel in Kansas City, Mo., killing 20 people.
1980
Six US diplomats who had avoided being taken hostage at their embassy in Tehran flew out of Iran with the help of Canadian diplomats.
1981
Actor Elijah Wood. born
1982
Italian anti-terrorism forces rescued US Brigadier General James L. Dozier, 42 days after he had been kidnapped by the Red Brigades.
1985
In Lebanon, the kidnappers of William Buckley released a videotape in which the U.S. diplomat appealed to the U.S. government to "take action for our release quickly."
1986
The space shuttle Challenger exploded 72 seconds after blastoff from Cape Canaveral, killing all seven crew members, including civilian teacher Christa McAuliffe. It was the U.S. space program's worst disaster.
1987
The State Department prohibited travel to Lebanon on United States passports, giving Americans already in Lebanon 30 days to get out.
1988
Nicaragua's leftist government and Contra rebels began their first face-to-face peace talks, meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the nation's restrictive abortion law.
1988
A 13-day standoff in Marion, Utah, between police and a polygamist clan ended in gunfire that killed a state corrections officer and seriously wounded the group's leader, Addam Swapp.
1989
In Hungary, an official (Imre Pozsgay) described the 1956 Hungarian Revolution as a popular uprising a startling contradiction of the official Communist view that the revolt was a counter-revolution.
1990
The San Francisco 49ers routed the Denver Broncos 55-to-ten in Super Bowl 24.
1991
Secretary of State James A. Baker the Third and Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander A. Bessmertnykh announced in Washington DC that a planned February superpower summit in Moscow had been postponed.
1991
The US military reported that more than 60 Iraqi fighter-bombers had taken refuge in Iran, where they were impounded by the Iranian government.
1992
President Bush, in his State of the Union address, proposed tax breaks and business incentives to revive the economy, and announced dramatic cuts in the U-S nuclear arsenal. A multinational Middle East peace conference opened in Moscow.
1993
A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that the U.S. military's policy against homosexuals was unconstitutional because it's based on cultural myths and false stereotypes.
1993
The Israeli Supreme Court unanimously upheld the deportations of 400 Palestinians from the occupied territories to Lebanon. Funeral services were held in Washington for former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
1993
The Third Prokofiev Piano Concerto was featured when Tzimon Barto appeared with the Milwaukee Symphony. Zdenek Macal opened the evening with Strauss's "Don Juan" and closed it with Beethoven's Second Symphony.
1994
In Los Angeles, Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg declared a mistrial in the case of Lyle Menendez, just over two weeks after a mistrial was declared in the case of Lyle's brother Erik; both juries had deadlocked over whether the brothers were guilty of murder in the shooting deaths of their wealthy parents. (Lyle and Erik Menendez were later retried, convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.)
1995
President Clinton hosted a five-and-a-half-hour "work session" of governors, legislators and local officials, both Democrats and Republicans, to discuss welfare reform.
1995
The United States and Vietnam agreed to exchange low-level diplomats and open liaison offices in each other's capital cities.
1996
The Dallas Cowboys captured their third Super Bowl victory in four years, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-to-17.
1996
France set off a sixth underground nuclear blast in the South Pacific, the last in a series of atomic tests that generated protests worldwide.
1997
O.J. Simpson's fate was placed in the hands of a civil court jury that was charged with deciding whether Simpson should be held liable for the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. (The jury found that Simpon was liable, and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages.)
1998
The Central Intelligence Agency accused Iraq of hiding a capability to build weapons of mass destruction and said it had to be stopped. CIA Director George Tenet also told Congress that Iran was making rapid strides in acquiring medium-range missiles.
1998
President Bill Clinton's plane, Air Force One, accidentally rolled off the tarmac while taxiing at Champaign-Urbana airport in Illinois and became stuck. The Boeing 707 aircraft was moving slowly to its designated runway for takeoff when it left the tarmac. The pilot revved the plane's engines twice to try to generate enough power to move it, but without success.
1998
The day after his State of the Union address, President Clinton barnstormed in the nation's heartland, where he was warmly received; accompanying him was Vice President Al Gore, who urged Americans to "join me in supporting him and standing by his side."
1998
A black chalk study by Michelangelo, "Christ and the Woman of Samaria," sold at Sotheby's auction house for $7,482,500, a record for a drawing by the legendary Italian artist. The study of two figures is among the largest in scale of any of Michelangelo's drawings, except for his cartoons, and one of the few remaining in private hands.
1999
Ford Motor Company announced it was buying the Volvo car division in a $6.45 billion deal.
1999
Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan honored a personal request for mercy from Pope John Paul the Second, sparing triple murderer Darrell Mease from being executed.
2000
Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, the Florida nun selected by Attorney General Janet Reno as a neutral party in the custody battle over Elian Gonzalez, sought unsuccessfully to persuade Reno to change her mind about returning the six-year-old to Cuba.
2005
P&G to acquire Gillette for US$57 billion
2005
Telekom Austria could take-over Romanian mobile telephony giant
2005
Honduras' Head of Congress illegally standing for President
2005
Man convicted of murdering wife 28 years ago
2005
Hamas takes victory in Gaza elections
2005
CNN founder Ted Turner calls Fox News Bush's propaganda machine
2006
Dharam Singh steps down as Karnataka Chief Minister
2006
South Africa's Table Mountain ablaze
2006
Anti-whaling Sea Shepherd crew detained in South Africa
2006
Tunnel under U.S.-Mexico border trafficked in people, drugs
2006
Australia's million-dollar-a-month Nauru detention centre for two refugees
2006
FDA approves therapeutic use of insulin inhalant
2006
Documents allege U.S. Army kidnapped wives of enemy fighters
2006
Trade hall roof collapses in Poland
2006
US 'Psychological Operations' comes home
2007
Waitangi day or New Zealand day? United Future calls for a change
2007
David Cameron advocates a new "British" approach to a multicultural UK
2007
Ferry hijacked to protest slogans in assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist's funeral
2007
US and Iraqi forces kill 250 militants in Najaf fighting
2007
Informal MSNBC Poll: 87% of respondents believe Bush should be impeached
2007
Environmentalists: "Turn everything off!" on February 1st
2008
Militants in Pakistan release 250 schoolchildren after taking them hostage
2008
711chan.org administrator calls for an end to attacks on Scientology
2008
West Wing of White House evacuated
2008
UK allows corporations to award high school credits
2008
Pakistani president, British PM meet in London
2008
Greece's Orthodox Church leader Christodoulos dies at age 69
2008
Proton rocket launches Ekspress AM-33 comsat
2008
President of the LDS Church dies at age 97
2009
British broadcaster Sir David Attenborough receives hate mail from creationists
2009
New Zealander discovers US military data on MP3 player
2009
Encyclopædia Britannica fights back against Wikipedia, soon to let users edit contents
2009
GLAAD Media Awards nominees announced
2009
British government launches car industry aid package
2009
New BBC Radio 2 boss announced
2009
UK home shopping retailer Shop Direct group to cut 1,150 jobs
2009
Australia celebrates Australia Day 2009
2009
First openly gay prime minister to be appointed in Iceland
2009
Scottish politician to face perjury trial
2009
Scottish budget rejected
2009
93-year-old Michigan man freezes to death after electric company limits his power usage
2009
BBC announces pay freeze and no bonuses for managers
2009
US novelist John Updike dies age 76
2009
Russian Orthodox Church elects first new patriarch of post-Soviet era
2010
NBA: Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton suspended for the season
2010
2009 was worst year for airlines, says International Air Transport Association
2010
Victoria, Australia Police investigate suspicious fire near rural town
2010
International conference agrees on plan for Yemen's terror problem
2010
Novelist J.D. Salinger dies aged 91
2010
Ford Motors posts US$2.7 billion annual profit
2010
Floods in South Africa wreak havoc
2010
Canadian politician calls for terrorism inquiry into pie-throwing
2010
Historian Howard Zinn dies at age 87
2010
British, Irish premiers leave Northern Ireland; no justice deal yet reached
2010
Obama's first State of the Union speech focuses on economy, jobs
2011
US government to replace color-coded terror alert system
2011
Nelson Mandela suffers collapsed lung
2011
Taliban bombing in Kabul supermarket leaves eight dead
2011
Egypt anti-government protests continue, Internet shut down
2012
Five arrested over police payments at News International

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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