On This Day Alert

On this day in 1982, Argentina invades the Falklands Islands, a British colony since 1892 and British possession since 1833. Argentine amphibious forces rapidly overcame the small garrison of British marines at the town of Stanley on East Falkland and the next day seized the dependent territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich group. The 1,800 Falkland Islanders, mostly English-speaking sheep farmers, awaited a British response. Learn More

On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools' Day by playing practical jokes on each other. Although the day, also called All Fools' Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. Learn More

On this day in 1999, the writing and directing sibling team of Lana and Lilly Wachowski release their second film, the mind-blowing science-fiction blockbuster The Matrix. Filmed for $70 million, The Matrix was a stylish, innovative and visually spectacular take on a familiar premise-that humans are unknowing inhabitants of a world controlled by machines. Learn More

On this day in 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward signs a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska for $7 million. Despite the bargain price of roughly two cents an acre, the Alaskan purchase was ridiculed in Congress and in the press as "Seward's Folly," "Seward's icebox," and President Andrew Johnson's "polar bear garden." Learn More

On this day in 1998, the FDA approves use of the drug Viagra, an oral medication that treats impotence. Sildenafil, the chemical name for Viagra, is an artificial compound that was originally synthesized and studied to treat hypertension and angina. Chemists at Pfizer found, however, that while the drug had little effect on angina, it could induce penile erections. Seeing the economic opportunity in such a biochemical effect, Pfizer decided to market the drug for impotence. Learn More

On this day in 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announces on a national radio show that he has successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio. He was celebrated as the great doctor-benefactor of his time. Learn More

On this day in 1995, several packages of deadly sarin gas are set off in the Tokyo subway system killing twelve people and injuring over 5,000. The gas attack was instituted by the Aum Shinrikyo cult. The cult had thousands of followers all over Japan who believed in their doomsday prophecies. Learn More

On this day in 1931, in an attempt to lift the state out of the hard times of the Great Depression, the Nevada state legislature votes to legalize gambling. Today, state gambling taxes account for the lion's share of Nevada's overall tax revenues. Learn More

On this day in 461, Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, dies at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland. Much of what is known about Patrick's legendary life comes from the Confessio, a book he wrote during his last years. Learn More

On this day in 1926, Robert H. Goddard launched the world's first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts. The rocket traveled for 2.5 seconds at a speed of about 60 mph and reached an altitude of 184 feet. The rocket itself was 10 feet tall. Learn More

On this day in 1965, future guitat legend Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds having joined when he was just 18. He would be replaced by fellow future guitar legends Jeff Beck who would later be named the 5th greatest guitarits of all time and Jimmy Page who would form Led Zeppelin. Learn More

On this day in 1894, Coke was first sold in bottles. Until that time it was only available as a fountain drink. The first person to bottle Coke was Joseph A. Biedenharn, owner of a candy store in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Correctly determining that bottles could boost sales, Biedenharn put the drink into Hutchinson bottles, a common and reusable glass bottle that bore no resemblance to the modern Coke bottle. Learn More

On this day in 1997, Paul McCartney, a former member of the most successful rock band in history, The Beatles, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his "services to music." The 54-year-old lad from Liverpool became Sir Paul in a centuries-old ceremony of pomp and solemnity at Buckingham Palace in central London. Learn More

On this day in 1876, the first discernible speech is transmitted over a telephone system when inventor Alexander Graham Bell summons his assistant in another room by saying, "Mr. Watson, come here; I want you." Bell had received a comprehensive telephone patent just three days before. Learn More

On this day in 1959, the first Barbie doll goes on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Eleven inches tall, with a waterfall of blond hair, Barbie was the first mass-produced toy doll in the United States with adult features. Learn More

On this day in 1899, Bayer was awarded a patent for a more stable form of the drug acetylsalicylic acid that was easier and more pleasant to take. It is now the most common drug in household medicine cabinets. Learn More

On this day in 1960, Guevara, a general in the revolution and the intellectual heavyweight of Castro's regime, looked on as Castro delivered his fiery funeral oration. The resulting photo, Guerrillero Heroico, is considered by some to be the most famous photograph in the world. Learn More

On this day in 1966, John Lennon's quote "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink...We're more popular than Jesus now." was published in the London Evening Standard. Months later the quote would be published in the US as "We're more popular than Jesus." and  effectively end Beatlemania. Learn More

On this day in 1887, Anne Sullivan begins teaching six-year-old Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing after a severe illness at the age of 19 months. Under Sullivan's tutelage, including her pioneering "touch teaching" techniques, the previously uncontrollable Keller flourished, eventually graduating from college and becoming an international lecturer and activist. Learn More

On this day in 1904, Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such beloved children's books as "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham," is born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Learn More

On this day in 1953, Cambridge University scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announce that they have determined the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes. According to their findings, DNA replicated itself by separating into individual strands, each of which became the template for a new double helix. Learn More

On this day in 1929, after more than a decade of political maneuvering, Grand Teton National Park was created. As a concession to the ranchers and tourist operators in the area, the park only encompassed the mountains and a narrow strip at their base. Jackson Hole itself was excluded from the park and designated merely as a scenic preserve. Learn More

On this day in 1964, 22-year-old Cassius Clay shocks the odds-makers by dethroning world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston in a seventh-round technical knockout. The dreaded Liston, who had twice demolished former champ Floyd Patterson in one round, was an 8-to-1 favorite. However, Clay predicted victory, boasting that he would "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" and knock out Liston in the eighth round. Learn More

On this day in 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court votes 8-0 to overturn the $200,000 settlement awarded to the Reverend Jerry Falwell for his emotional distress at being parodied in Hustler, a pornographic magazine. The high court ruled that the parody fell within the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech and the press. Learn More

On this day in 1948, the National Association for Stock Car Racing or NASCAR, as it will come to be widely known-is officially incorporated. NASCAR racing will go on to become one of America's most popular spectator sports, as well as a multi-billion-dollar industry. The driving force behind the establishment of NASCAR was William "Bill" France Sr. (1909-1992), a mechanic and auto-repair shop owner from Washington, D.C. who moved to Daytona, Florida. Learn More

On this day in 1962, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, John Hershel Glenn Jr. is successfully launched into space aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first orbital flight by an American astronaut. Glenn, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was among the seven men chosen by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1959 to become America's first astronauts. Learn More

On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, initiating a controversial World War II policy with lasting consequences for Japanese Americans. The document ordered the removal of resident enemy aliens from parts of the West vaguely identified as military areas. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued a public apology on behalf of the government and authorized reparations for former Japanese internees or their descendants. Learn More

On this day in 1885, Mark Twain publishes his famous-and famously controversial-novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) first introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his tremendously successful novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). Though Twain saw Huck's story as a kind of sequel to his earlier book, the new novel was far more serious, focusing on the institution of slavery and other aspects of life in the antebellum South. Learn More

On this day in 1996, In the final game of a six-game match, world chess champion Garry Kasparov triumphs over Deep Blue, IBM's chess-playing computer, and wins the match, 4-2. However, Deep Blue goes on to defeat Kasparov in a heavily publicized rematch the following year. Learn More

On this day in 270 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed. The emperor believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families. To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. Learn More

On this day in 1633, Italian philosopher, astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei arrives in Rome to face charges of heresy for advocating Copernican theory, which holds that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo officially faced the Roman Inquisition in April of that same year and agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. Put under house arrest indefinitely by Pope Urban VIII, Galileo spent the rest of his days at his villa in Arcetri, near Florence, before dying on January 8, 1642. Learn More

On this day in 1912, Hsian-T'ung, the last emperor of China, is forced to abdicate following Sun Yat-sen's republican revolution. A provisional government was established in his place, ending 267 years of Manchu rule in China and 2,000 years of imperial rule. The former emperor, only six years old, was allowed to keep up his residence in Beijing's Forbidden City, and he took the name of Henry Pu Yi. Learn More

On this day in 1990, Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, was released from prison after 27 years. He would win the Nobel Peace prize in 1993 and become South Africa's president in 1994. Learn More

On this day in 1972, at a concert at London's Toby Jug pub, the relatively minor rocker named David Bowie became the spaceman Ziggy Stardust. While it might be said of many such historic moments-like John meeting Paul at a backyard birthday party, or Elvis ad-libbing "That's All Right (Mama)" between takes at Sun Studios-that their significance became clear only in hindsight, there was at least one man who knew exactly where Ziggy's earthly debut would lead: David Bowie himself. Learn More

On this day in 1984, while in orbit 170 miles above Earth, Navy Captain Bruce McCandless II became the first human being to perform an untethered space walk, when he exited the U.S. space shuttle Challenger and maneuvers freely, using a bulky white rocket pack of his own design. McCandless orbited Earth in tangent with the shuttle at speeds greater than 17,500 miles per hour-the speed at which satellites normally orbit Earth-and flew up to 320 feet away from the Challenger. After an hour and a half testing and flying the jet-powered backpack and admiring Earth, McCandless safely reentered the shuttle. Learn More

On this day in 1998, seventeen years after his first international breakthrough, Johann "Falco" Hölzel died when his rental car was struck by a bus while he vacationed in the Dominican Republic. To pop fans from Germany to Japan, he was Falco, the man behind "Rock Me Amadeus" and "Der Kommisar" and possibly the biggest star to emerge from Austria since Herr Mozart himself. During his history-making career Johann Hölzel sold an estimated 60 million records worldwide. He was only 40 years old when he died. Learn More

On this day in 1919, hollywood heavyweights Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith joined forces to create their own film studio, which they called the United Artists Corporation. United Artists quickly gained prestige in Hollywood, thanks to the success of the films of its stars, notably Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925), as well as the work of actors such as Buster Keaton, Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson. Chaplin directed UA films as well as acted in them, and Pickford concentrated on producing after she retired from acting in the 1930s. Learn More

On this day in 2004, a Harvard sophomore named Mark Zuckerberg launches The Facebook, a social media website he had built in order to connect Harvard students with one another. By the next day, over a thousand people had registered, and that was only the beginning. Now known simply as Facebook, the site quickly ballooned into one of the most significant social media companies in history. Today, Facebook is one of the most valuable companies in the world, with over 2 billion monthly active users. Learn More

On this day in 1876, Albert Spalding with $800 starts sporting goods co, manufacturing 1st official baseball, tennis ball, basketball, golf ball, & football. He had been a professional baseball player who set a trend by beginning to wear a glove. Learn More

On this day in 1990, the Soviet Union's first McDonald's fast food restaurant opens in Moscow. Throngs of people lined up to pay the equivalent of several days' wages for Big Macs, shakes, and french fries. The appearance of this notorious symbol of capitalism and the enthusiastic reception it received from the Russian people were signs that times were changing in the Soviet Union. Learn More

On this day in 1933, The Lone Ranger debuts on Detroit's WXYZ radio station. The creation of station-owner George Trendle and writer Fran Striker, the "masked rider of the plains" became one of the most popular and enduring western heroes of the 20th century. Joined by his trusty steed, Silver, and loyal Indian scout, Tonto, the Lone Ranger sallied forth to do battle with evil western outlaws and Indians, generally arriving on the scene just in time to save an innocent golden-haired child or sun-bonneted farm wife. Learn More

On this day in 1845, Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem "The Raven," beginning "Once upon a midnight dreary," was published in the New York Evening Mirror. Poe's dark and macabre work reflected his own tumultuous and difficult life. Born in Boston in 1809, Poe was orphaned at age three and went to live with the family of a Richmond, Virginia, businessman. Poe enrolled in a military academy but was expelled for gambling. He later studied briefly at the University of Virginia. Learn More

On this day in 1997, four apartheid-era police officers, appearing before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, admit to the 1977 killing of Stephen Biko, a leader of the South African "Black consciousness" movement. While in police custody in Port Elizabeth, Biko was brutally beaten and then driven 700 miles to Pretoria, where he was thrown into a cell where he died. News of the political killing, denied by the country's white minority government, led to international protests and a U.N.-imposed arms embargo. Learn More

On this day in 1970, John Lennon writes and records the song "Instant Karma", one of his most memorable songs as a solo artist and the third Lennon single to appear before the official breakup of the Beatles. He famously explained "I wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch and we're putting it out for dinner." The only exaggeration in John's description was the part about dinner: "Instant Karma" wasn't actually released to the public until 13 days after it was written and recorded. Learn More

On this day in 1972, after 28 years of hiding in the jungles of Guam, local farmers discover Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese sergeant who was unaware that World War II had ended. Left behind by the retreating Japanese forces, sergeant Yokoi went into hiding rather than surrender to the Americans. In the jungles of Guam, he carved survival tools and for the next three decades waited for the return of the Japanese and his next orders. After he was discovered, he was finally discharged and sent home to Japan, where he was hailed as a national hero. Learn More

On this day in 1957, machines at the Wham-O toy company rolled out the first batch of their aerodynamic plastic discs-now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees. Wham-O had acquired the rights to manufacture what was then known as the "Pluto Platter in 1955. Learn More

On this day in 1840, under the leadership of British statesman Edward G. Wakefield, the first British colonists to New Zealand arrive at Port Nicholson on Auckland Island. Originally part of the Australian colony of New South Wales, New Zealand became a separate colony in 1841 and was made self-governing in 1852. Learn More

On this day in 1976, the first Concordes with commercial passengers simultaneously take flight from London's Heathrow Airport and Orly Airport outside Paris. The London flight was headed to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, and the Paris to Rio de Janeiro via Senegal in West Africa. At their cruising speeds, the innovative Concordes flew well over the sound barrier at 1,350 miles an hour, cutting air travel time by more than half. Learn More

On this day in 1841, China ceded the island of Hong Kong to the British with the signing of the Chuenpi Convention, an agreement seeking an end to the first Anglo-Chinese conflict. Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its interference in the country's economic and political affairs. One of Britain's first acts of the war was to occupy Hong Kong, a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of southeast China. Learn More

On this day in 1953, a prototype Chevrolet Corvette sports car makes its debut at General Motors' (GM) Motorama auto show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Corvette, named for a fast type of naval warship, would eventually become an iconic American muscle car and remains in production today. Learn More

On this day in 1605, Miguel de Cervantes' El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, better known as Don Quixote, is published. The book is considered by many to be the first modern novel as well as one of the greatest novels of all time. The protagonist is a minor noble, Alonso Quixano, whose obsessive reading of chivalric romances drives him mad. He adopts the name Don Quixote and, along with his squire Sancho Panza, roams around La Mancha, a central region of Spain, taking on a number of challenges which exist entirely in his mind. Learn More

On this day in 2009, a potential disaster turned into a heroic display of skill and composure when Captain Chesley Burnett Sullenberger III safely landed the plane he was piloting on New York City's Hudson River after a bird strike caused its engines to fail. David Paterson, governor of New York at the time, dubbed the incident the "miracle on the Hudson." Sullenberger, a former fighter pilot with decades of flying experience, received a slew of honors for his actions, including an invitation to Barack Obama's presidential inauguration and resolutions of praise from the U.S. Congress. Learn More

On this day in 1970, Diana Ross and the Supremes performed their final concert. They were the most successful American pop group of the 1960s-a group whose 12 #1 hits in the first full decade of the rock and roll era places them behind only Elvis and the Beatles in terms of chart dominance. They helped define the very sound of the 60s, but like fellow icons the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, they came apart in the first year of the 70s. The curtain closed for good at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Learn More

On this day in 1128, Pope Honorius II grants a papal sanction to the military order known as the Knights Templar, declaring it to be an army of God. Led by the Frenchman Hughes de Payens, the Knights Templar organization was founded in 1118. Its self-imposed mission was to protect Christian pilgrims on their way to and from the Holy Land during the Crusades. Learn More

On this day in 1901, a drilling derrick at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas, produced an enormous gusher of crude oil, coating the landscape for hundreds of feet and signaling the advent of the American oil industry. The geyser was discovered at a depth of over 1,000 feet, flowed at an initial rate of approximately 100,000 barrels a day and took nine days to cap. Learn More

On this day in 2001, Apple launches iTunes, a media player that revolutionized the way people consumed digital media. Bill Kincaid and Jeff Robbin, two former Apple employees, developed an MP3 player called SoundJam MP in the late 1990s. In 2000, Apple re-hired them and their partner, Dave Heller, to work on a similar player that would come standard with Apple computers. The first version of iTunes debuted early the next year, on the cusp of a new era in digital entertainment. Learn More

On this day in 1946, what Elvis Presley really wanted for his 11th birthday was a rifle or a bicycle. Instead, Elvis's highly protective mother, Gladys, took him to the Tupelo Hardware Store and bought a gift that would change the course of history: a $6.95 guitar. Learn More

On this day in 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team traveled 48 miles west from Chicago to play their first game in Hinckley, Illinois. The Globetrotters were the creation of Abe Saperstein of Chicago, who took over coaching duties for a team of African-American players originally known as the Savoy Big Five (after the famous Chicago ballroom where they played their early games). At a time when only whites were allowed to play on professional basketball teams, Saperstein decided to promote his new team's racial makeup by naming them after Harlem, the famous African-American neighborhood of New York City. Learn More

On this day in 1838, Samuel Morse's telegraph system is demonstrated for the first time at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey. The telegraph, a device which used electric impulses to transmit encoded messages over a wire, would eventually revolutionize long-distance communication, reaching the height of its popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. Learn More

On this day in 1997, Director James Cameron's epic drama Titanic, the story of the real-life luxury ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 passengers and crew, opens in theaters. Titanic catapulted its young stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to international fame and won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Music (for the song "My Heart Will Go On," sung by Celine Dion). The film also immortalized the line "I'm the king of the world!"-which Cameron famously repeated during the Oscar ceremony, as he picked up his gold statuette for Best Director. Learn More

On this day in 1961, The Tokens' released "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" which went on to become not just a #1 song on this day in 1961, but one of the most-covered, most successful pop songs of all time. The origin of the song can be traced to Johannesburg, South Africa, where in 1938, a group of Zulu singers and dancers called Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds stepped into the first recording studio ever set up in sub-Saharan Africa and recorded a song called "Mbube"-Zulu for "the lion." Learn More

On this day in 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the final film in the trilogy based on the best-selling fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, opened in theaters. The film was a huge box-office success and won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, for Peter Jackson. The Lord of the Rings trilogy became one of the highest-grossing franchises in movie history, netting billions of dollars worldwide in box-office proceeds and related merchandise. Learn More

On this day in 1773, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor. The midnight raid, popularly known as the "Boston Tea Party," was in protest of the British Parliament's Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. Learn More

On this day in 1925, Dick Van Dyke, the quintessential "nice guy" actor who would become known for his performances in such movie classics as Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as the popular 1960s TV sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, is born in West Plains, Missouri. Learn More

On this day in 1980, American oil tycoon Armand Hammer paid $5,126,000 at auction for a notebook containing writings by the legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci. The manuscript, written around 1508, was one of some 30 similar books da Vinci produced during his lifetime on a variety of subjects. It contained 72 loose pages featuring some 300 notes and detailed drawings, all relating to the common theme of water and how it moved. Learn More

On this day in 1978, half a dozen masked robbers raided the Lufthansa Airlines cargo building at JFK Airport in New York, making off with more than $5 million in cash ($21 million in today's dollars) and almost $1 million in jewelry. To this day, the Lufthansa heist, as it is known, is considered one of the greatest in U.S. history. Learn More

On this day in 2009, a 3-D science-fiction epic helmed by "Titanic" director James Cameron, makes its world debut in London and goes on to become one of the highest-grossing movies in history. Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver, the box-office mega-hit was praised for its state-of-the-art technology and earned nine Academy Award nominations, including best picture and best director. Learn More

On this day in 1983, Scarface opens in theaters. It stars Al Pacino as a Cuban refugee who becomes a Miami crime boss. Directed by Brian De Palma from a screenplay by Oliver Stone, Scarface co-starred Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Robert Loggia. The film was loosely based on a 1932 gangster film of the same name, directed by Howard Hawks and reportedly inspired in part by the real-life mobster Al "Scarface" Capone. Though De Palma's Scarface received mixed reviews upon its initial release and was criticized for its violence, it proved to be a success at the box-office and went on to achieve pop-culture status. Learn More

On this day in 1877, Thomas Edison recorded himself reciting "Mary had a little lamb". It was the first instance of recorded English verse, following the recording of the French folk song "Au clair de la lune" by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1860. In 1927, Edison reenacted the recording, which still survives. Learn More

On this day in 1984, Eddie Murphy stars as the wisecracking Detective Axel Foley in the action-comedy Beverly Hills Cop. The movie marked the first major starring role for Murphy, who went on to become one of the top-grossing actors in Hollywood. In the film, Murphy played a police detective from Detroit who winds up in Beverly Hills, where he tracks a man believed responsible for the death of his friend. Learn More

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On this day in 1952, heavy smog began to hover over London, England. It persisted for five days, leading to the deaths of at least 4,000 people. The Great Smog of 1952 became so thick and dense that by December 7 there was virtually no sunlight and visibility was reduced to five yards in many places. Learn More

On this day in 1979, the last Pacer rolled off the assembly line at the American Motors Corporation (AMC) factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. When the car first came on the market in 1975, it was a sensation, hailed as the car of the future. "When you buy any other car," ads said, "all you end up with is today's car. When you get a Pacer, you get a piece of tomorrow." By 1979, however, sales had faded considerably. Learn More

On this day in 1997, Good Will Hunting, a movie that will earn childhood friends Ben Affleck and Matt Damon a Best Screenplay Oscar and propel them to Hollywood stardom, premieres in Los Angeles. Before the success of Good Will Hunting, Damon and Affleck had achieved some notice in Hollywood but were far from household names. Learn More

On this day in 1942, Casablanca, a World War II-era drama starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, premieres in New York City; it will go on to become one of the most beloved Hollywood movies in history. In the film, Bogart played Rick Blaine, a former freedom fighter and the owner of a swanky North African nightclub, who is reunited with the beautiful, enigmatic Ilsa Lund (Bergman), the woman who loved and left him. Learn More

On this day in 1952, "The Mousetrap," a murder-mystery written by the novelist and playwright Agatha Christie, opens at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. The crowd-pleasing whodunit would go on to become the longest continuously running play in history, with more than 10 million people to date attending its more than 20,000 performances in London's West End. Learn More

On this day in 1995, Toy Story, an American computer-animated buddy comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios was released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was the first entirely computer-animated feature film, as well as the first feature film from Pixar. The movie cost $30 million to make and earned $373 million. Learn More

On this day in 1980, 350 million people around the world tune in to television's popular primetime drama "Dallas" to find out who shot J.R. Ewing, the character fans loved to hate. J.R. had been shot on the season-ending episode the previous March 21, which now stands as one of television's most famous cliffhangers. The plot twist inspired widespread media coverage and left America wondering "Who shot J.R.?" for the next eight months. The November 21 episode solved the mystery, identifying Kristin Shepard, J.R.'s wife's sister and his former mistress, as the culprit. Learn More

On this day in 1902, Geo Lefevre and Henri Desgrange Create Tour de France Bicycle Race. The race first occurred in 1903 to increase sales for the newspaper L'Auto and is currently run by the Amaury Sport Organization. The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 except when it was stopped for the two World Wars. As the Tour gained prominence and popularity, the race was lengthened and its reach began to extend around the globe. Participation expanded from a primarily French field, as riders from all over the world began to participate in the race each year. Learn More

On this day in 1975, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a film about a group of patients at a mental institution, opens in theaters. Directed by Milos Forman and based on a 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, the film starred Jack Nicholson and was co-produced by the actor Michael Douglas. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest went on to become the first film in four decades to win in all five of the major Academy Award categories: Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher, who played Nurse Ratched), Best Director, Best Screenplay (Adapted) and Best Picture. Learn More

On this day in 1883, at exactly noon American and Canadian railroads began using four continental time zones to end the confusion of dealing with thousands of local times. The bold move was emblematic of the power shared by the railroad companies. Even as late as the 1880s, most towns in the U.S. had their own local time, generally based on "high noon," or the time when the sun was at its highest point in the sky. Learn More

On this day in 2001, Microsoft released the Xbox gaming console. Developing the Xbox had been enormously expensive, and the cost of building each unit outweighed the sales price. Microsoft is said to have lost $4 billion on the initial Xbox, but its successors have sold over a hundred million units and continue to set the standard for entertainment systems. Learn More

On this day in 1851, Herman Melville's sixth book, Moby-Dick, was first published in London, in three volumes titled The Whale. Melville had promised his publisher an adventure story similar to his popular earlier works, but instead, Moby-Dick was a tragic epic, influenced in part by Melville's friend and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, neighbor, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose novels include The Scarlet Letter. Moby-Dick is now considered a great classic of American literature and contains one of the most famous opening lines in fiction: "Call me Ishmael." Initially, though, the book about Captain Ahab and his quest to catch a giant white whale was a flop. Learn More

On this day in 1974, 28-year-old Karen Silkwood is killed in a car accident near Crescent, Oklahoma, north of Oklahoma City. Silkwood worked as a technician at a plutonium plant operated by the Kerr-McGee Corporation, and she had been critical of the plant's health and safety procedures. The night she died, she was on her way to a meeting with a union representative and a reporter for The New York Times, reportedly with a folder full of documents that proved that Kerr-McGee was acting negligently when it came to worker safety at the plant. However, no such folder was found in the wreckage of her car, lending credence to the theory that someone had forced her off the road to prevent her from telling what she knew. Learn More

On this day in 1954, Ellis Island, the gateway to America, shut its doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892. Today, an estimated 40 percent of all Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor off the New Jersey coast and named for merchant Samuel Ellis, who owned the land in the 1770s. Learn More

On this day in 1978, a stuntman on the Georgia set of "The Dukes of Hazzard" launched the show's iconic automobile, a 1969 Dodge Charger named the General Lee, off a makeshift dirt ramp and over a police car. That jump, 16 feet high and 82 feet long (its landing totaled the car), made TV history. Although more than 300 different General Lees appeared in the series, which ran on CBS from 1979 until 1985, this first one was the only one to play a part in every episode: That jump over the squad car ran every week at the end of the show's opening credits. Learn More

On this day in 1991, basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson stunned the world by announcing his sudden retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers, after testing positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. At the time, many Americans viewed AIDS as a gay white man's disease. Johnson (1959- ), who is African American and heterosexual, was one of the first sports stars to go public about his HIV-positive status. Learn More

On this day in 1962, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning South Africa's racist apartheid policies and calling on all its members to end economic and military relations with the country. In effect from 1948 to 1993, apartheid, which comes from the Afrikaans word for "apartness," was government-sanctioned racial segregation and political and economic discrimination against South Africa's non-white majority. Learn More

The 1992 match between former World Chess Champions Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky was billed as a World Chess Championship, but was unofficial. It was a rematch of the 1972 World Championship match. The match started in Sveti Stefan near Budva, an island off the coast of Montenegro. The match rules required a player to win ten games (draws not counting), with no adjournments. After a player had won five games, the match would take a 10-day recess and continue in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. In the match itself, Fischer won decisively with a score of 10-5. Learn More

On this day in 1990, Dances with Wolves, a film about an American Civil War-era soldier and a group of Sioux Indians that stars Kevin Costner and also marks his directorial debut, premieres in Los Angeles. The film, which opened across the United States on November 21, 1990, was a surprise box-office success and earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Costner. Dances with Wolves took home seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and solidified Costner's place on Hollywood's A-list. Learn More

On this day in 1962, "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" released in theaters. Produced and directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The plot concerns an aging former actress who holds her paraplegic ex-movie star sister captive in an old Hollywood mansion. The screenplay by Lukas Heller is based on the novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? by Henry Farrell. Upon the film's release, it was met with widespread critical and box office acclaim and was later nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for Best Costume Design, Black and White. Learn More

On this day in 1991, the so-called "perfect storm" hit the North Atlantic producing remarkably large waves along the New England and Canadian coasts. Over the next several days, the storm spread its fury over the ocean off the coast of Canada. The fishing boat Andrea Gail and its six-member crew were lost in the storm. The disaster spawned the best-selling book The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and a blockbuster Hollywood movie of the same name. Learn More

On this day in 1998, nearly four decades after he became the first American to orbit the Earth, Senator John Hershel Glenn, Jr., is launched into space again as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery. At 77 years of age, Glenn was the oldest human ever to travel in space. Learn More