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Today in History

1349
Suspected of causing bubonic plague, the entire Jewish population of Basel, Switzerland is incinerated
1894
First battery-operated switchboard
1901
Reuben Award winning cartoonist and creator of Dagwood Bumstead, "Chic" Young born in Chicago, Illinois
1913
Attorney, Naval Reserve Officer and two-term US President, Richard Milhous Nixon born in Yorba Linda, California
1929
Seeing Eye founded in Morristown, New Jersey to train guide dogs for the blind
1941
Social activist, songwriter and folk singer, Joan Baez born in Staten Island, New York
1944
Songwriter, composer and guitarist for Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page born in Middlesex, England
1968
First recorded snowfall in Mexico City
309
Death of St. Marciana
639
Death of Dagobert, King of the Franks
650
Death of St. Finian
710
Death of St. Adrian of Canterbury
1324
Death of Marco Polo
1349
Basle's entire community of Jews is burned
1522
Adrian VI becomes Pope
1554
Gregory XV, Roman Catholic Pope. born
1569
St. Philip of Moscow, Primate of the Russian Church, is killed by Ivan the Terrible
1570
Massacre of Novgorod begun by Ivan the Terrible
1626
Peter Minuit sets sail from Amsterdam to Manhattan, which he later purchased from the Indians
1788
Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the US Constitution.
1793
Frenchman Jean Pierre Blanchard, using a hot-air balloon, flew between Philadelphia and Woodbury, New Jersey.
1799
1st income tax imposed, in England.
1839
The American composer John Knowles Paine, in Portland, Maine. born
1839
The daguerrotype process announced at French Academy of Science
1850
The Swedish Nightingale Jenny Lind became the first operatic superstar by signing a six-figure contract with P.T. Barnum, the equivalent of a multimillion-dollar contract today.
1859
Women's suffrage and peace movement leader Carrie Chapman Catt born
1861
Mississippi seceded from the Union.
1870
Joseph B. Strauss, civil engineer & builder of Golden Gate Bridge. born
1878
Pioneer psychologist John Watson born
1898
Actress Vilma (Lonchit) Banky (Son of the Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle) born
1898
Comedienne and singer Gracie (Stansfield) Fields (Walter, Walter, I Took My Harp to A Party, The Biggest Aspidistra in the World;songs Sally, Now is the Hour, Around the World) born
1901
Chic Young, creator of the "Blondie" comic strip. born
1904
Choreographer George (Georgi Balanchivadze) Balanchine. He founded School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet born
1908
Count Zeppelin announces plans for his airship to carry 100 passengers.
1908
Italians report that Somaliland is under siege by the Abyssinians.
1912
Colonel Theodore Roosevelt announces that he will run for president if he is forced.
1912
The $18 million Equitable Life Assurance building in New York is destroyed by fire.
1913
Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, was born in Yorba Linda, California. He was the first president to resign - born
1914
Actress and dancer Gypsy (Rose Hovick) Rose Lee (You Can't Have Everything, The Trouble with Angels, The Stripper, My Lucky Star; subject of Broadway show & film: Gypsy) born
1915
Actor Fernando Lamas (The Cheap Detective, Murder on Flight 502, Rose Marie, The Merry Widow, Rich, Young and Pretty) born
1915
Pancho Villa signs a treaty with U.S. General Scott, halting border conflicts.
1917
Actor Herbert Lom (Son of the Pink Panther and others in Pink Panther series, Ten Little Indians, King Solomon's Mines, Murders in the Rue Morgue, Dorian Gray, Spartacus, War and Peace, The Seventh Veil, Secret Mission) born
1924
Ford Motor Co. stock is now valued at nearly $1 billion.
1925
Actor Lee Van Cleef born
1928
Author Judith Krantz (Scruples) born
1928
Operetta composer Eugene Lemaire died at the age of 73 after either jumping or falling into the Seine.
1929
The Seeing Eye was incorporated in Nashville, Tennessee. Its purpose was to train dogs to guide the blind.
1934
Football Hall-of-Famer Bart Starr born
1935
Sportscaster Dick Enberg born
1935
Actor Bob Denver (The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Gilligan's Island, Back to the Beach, Wackiest Wagon Train in the West) born
1935
Sportscaster Dick Enberg (NBC Sports, former Angels play-by-play voice) born
1936
The United States Army adopted the semiautomatic rifle.
1937
The first issue of the periodical, "Look" went on sale this day. The initial issue sold 700,000 copies and within a month, "Look" became a biweekly magazine.
1940
Country singer Big Al Downing born
1940
Actor-singer Jimmy Boyd ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus") born
1941
Actress Susannah York (Devices and Desires, Superman 2, The Awakening, Superman: The Movie, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, A Man for All Seasons, Tom Jones, Tunes of Glory) born
1941
Sammy Kaye and his orchestra recorded "Until Tomorrow" on Victor Records. This song became the sign-off melody for Kaye and other big bands.
1941
Joe Louis knocked out Buddy Bear in the first round. Louis defended his world heavyweight boxing title, marking the 20th title defense for The Brown Bomber.
1941
Singer Joan Baez (The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down) born
1944
Rock musician Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) born
1945
During World War Two, American forces began landing at Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines.
1945
In World War II, American troops invaded the Philippine island of Luzon and went on to liberate Manila.
1948
Pop singer Bill Cowsill born
1950
Singer David Johanson (aka Buster Poindexter) born
1951
Singer (Brenda Webb) Crystal Gayle (Don't it Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Half the Way; singer, Loretta Lynn's sister) born
1951
The United Nations headquarters officially opened in New York City.
1952
Jackie Robinson becomes the highest paid player in Brooklyn Dodger history.
1957
Anthony Eden resigned as British prime minister.
1963
Rock musician Eric Erlandson (Hole) born
1964
Anti-US rioting broke out in the Panama Canal Zone, resulting in the deaths of 21 Panamanians and three US soldiers.
1965
Actress Joely Richardson born
1967
Rock singer-musician Dave Matthews born
1968
The "Surveyor Seven" space probe made a soft landing on the moon, marking the end of the American series of unmanned explorations of the lunar surface.
1969
The supersonic Concorde jetliner made its first test flight at Bristol, England.
1972
Reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, speaking by telephone from the Bahamas to reporters in Hollywood, said a purported biography of him by Clifford Irving was a fake.
1978
Singer A.J. McLean (Backstreet Boys) born
1980
Saudi Arabia beheaded 63 people for their involvement in the November 1979 raid on the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
1982
5.9 earthquake in New England/Canada; last one was in 1855.
1984
"WHERES THE BEEF?" Clara Peller was first seen by TV viewers in the now-famous and horribly annoying, yet wonderfully successful, "WHERES THE BEEF?", commercial campaign for Wendys fast-food chain. Dave Thomas spent $8 million on the ads that promoted hamburger sales plus T-shirts, baseball caps, records, greeting cards and countless other items bearing the picture of the elderly cult star.
1986
The Internal Revenue Service, for the first time, announced it would withhold income tax refunds coming to 750,000 government loan defaulters, most of them former students.
1986
and the release of American hostages in Lebanon.
1987
The White House released a memorandum prepared for President Ronald Reagan in January
1988
Vice President George Bush said he would be willing to make public his notes and documents on the Iran-Contra affair as he sought to dispel persistent questions about his knowledge of the scandal.
1988
President Reagan, in his weekly radio address, called for swift confirmation of a free trade pact with Canada.
1989
The Supreme Court agreed to consider the "Webster" abortion case the same day Surgeon General C. Everett Koop advised President Reagan he would not issue a report on the health risks of abortion.
1990
The space shuttle "Columbia" was launched on a ten-day mission that included the retrieval of a drifting scientific satellite.
1991
Secretary of State James A. Baker the Third and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz met for six hours in Geneva, but failed to resolve the Persian Gulf crisis. President Bush, in Washington, accused Iraq of "a total stiff-arm, a total rebuff."
1992
President George Bush declared his trade visit to Japan a success, saying Japanese officials had agreed to increase imports of American cars, auto parts, computers and other goods. (However, U.S. auto executives traveling with Bush sounded less enthusiastic about the accord.)
1993
Two Red Cross officials visited a camp of Palestinians who had been deported by Israel to a no man's land in southern Lebanon.
1993
Seven people were found shot to death at a restaurant in Palatine, Illinois; the crime remains unsolved.
1994
President Clinton began the first European trip of his administration in Belgium, where he warned of a rising mood of nationalism in Russia that he said threatened the march of democracy in Eastern Europe.
1995
Severe flooding forced people to flee resort communities in the hills north of San Francisco.
1995
In New York, the trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and eleven other defendants accused of conspiring to wage a holy war against the United States began. (All the defendants were convicted of seditious conspiracy, except for two who had reached plea agreements with the government.)
1995
British comedian Peter Cook died in London at age 57.
1996
Chechen rebels seized a hospital in the southern Russian city of Kizlyar and took up to 3,000 hostages. (The rebels released all but about 160 hostages the next day, using the remaining captives as a shield against Russian troops.)
1996
President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders broke off budget talks.
1996
President Clinton vetoed a Republican welfare overhaul bill.
1997
A Comair commuter plane crashed 18 miles short of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, killing all 29 people on board.
1998
The Barry Switzer era with the Dallas Cowboys ended with the announcement of the coach's resignation.
1998
Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam visited the Maze Prison to make a face-to-face appeal for peace to Protestant militants.
1999
At the White House, presidential advisers prepared a public and legal defense in President Clinton's impeachment trial on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice; Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, meanwhile, pledged "above all, fairness" to the president.
2000
The controversial "Sensation" art exhibit ended its three-month run at the Brooklyn Museum, which had gotten into a fight with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani over what the mayor called the exhibit's offensive anti-Catholic content.
2000
Park Tae-joon, the leader of the United Liberal Democrats, was appointed South Korea's prime minister.
2005
Severe storm hits United Kingdom in the early morning
2005
Torture and mass arrests of Christians in Vietnam
2005
One dies in submarine accident
2005
Voting underway for successor to Yasser Arafat
2005
Peace agreement signed in Sudan
2005
Palestinian election ends, exit polls give Abbas lead
2005
Extraordinary feature found on Saturn's moon Iapetus
2005
Key HIV gene discovered
2005
NASA schedules launch date for comet-chasing probe
2006
Honda wins car, truck of the year, unveils Fit
2006
First Tropical Cyclone of forms off West Australia
2006
US Dept of Justice evacuated over homeless person's coat on bus
2006
Richmond serial slayers arrested in Philadelphia
2006
Trustpower plans to build new windfarm in New Zealand
2006
Dick Cheney released after health scare
2006
Dow Jones Breaks 11,000
2006
Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Alito to start this week
2006
Israeli PM, Ariel Sharon, woken from coma. moves limbs
2006
Archbishop Levada questioned regarding sex abuse cases in Portland
2007
Number of breaches during New Zealand's end of year exams
2007
Prince Laurent of Belgium testifies in marine fraud case
2007
Hindu Holy Men in India threaten to boycott Ganges River Festival because of pollution
2007
Makeup Oscar nominee list narrowed to seven
2007
"Prada", "Illusionist" among screen adaptations up for USC Scripter
2007
Full video of Tigger incident reveals different story
2007
Sudan may allow joint UN/AU forces in Darfur
2007
U.S. Nuclear submarine collides with Japanese tanker
2007
U.S. air strikes on Somalia confirmed
2007
Canadian Genie Award nominations announced
2008
China has plan to obtain North Korea's nuclear weapons
2008
China bans free plastic bags
2008
Von D from "LA Ink" TV series sets world record for tattooing
2008
Couple with 99 grandchildren possibly record holders
2008
Yemeni man creates world's largest crossword puzzle
2008
Pentagon releases video of incident involving Iranian ships in Persian Gulf
2008
John McCain and Hillary Clinton win New Hampshire primaries
2008
Global premiere of Lordi horror movie Dark Floors next month in Oulu, Finland
2008
Apple to lower UK iTunes prices
2008
Shimon Peres discusses the future of Israel
2008
Singapore Airlines bid for China Eastern Airlines unsuccessful
2008
Canupa Gluha Mani speaks about Lakota Oyate, Lakota freedom
2008
Will Wikimedia "run on Sun"?
2008
Fourteen days left to send National Geographic your shoe for world record
2008
Dr. Phil's consultation meant to be private: Spears family
2008
George Bush arrives in Middle East
2009
Chemical firm LyondellBasell collapses
2009
Spider-Man to save Obama's Inauguration Day in upcoming Marvel comic
2009
Israeli rocket targets Press TV building in Gaza
2009
Florida wins BCS National Championship Game over Oklahoma
2009
United Nations suspends operations in Gaza after schools and trucks are hit by Israeli forces
2010
Study suggests 48% of US soda fountain machines have coliform bacteria
2010
Four killed in suspected US drone strike in Pakistan
2010
'Not guilty' plea from Abdulmutallab on Detroit jet bombing charges
2010
Arrest made in Newark Airport security breach
2010
Two arrested in New York subway bomb plot
2010
Bomb explodes in central Athens, Greece; no injuries reported
2010
World's largest package delivery service to cut 1,800 jobs
2010
Chevron pipeline in Nigeria attacked by gunmen
2010
Taliban commander blows himself up in Pakistan
2011
BBC receives 8,400 complaints over 'EastEnders' cot death story
2011
Seventeen dead in Afghan bathhouse bombing
2012
British PM says executive pay to be put to shareholder vote

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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