1876: The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was organized in New York City
1961: The trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann began in Jerusalem.
1968: President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing.
1976: The Apple I computer was created in Palo Alto, Calif.
1993: Four hundred fifty prisoners rioted at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, and continued to do so for 10 days, citing grievances related to prison conditions, as well as the forced vaccination of Nation of Islam prisoners (for tuberculosis) against their religious beliefs.
2006: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces Iran’s claim to have successfully enriched uranium.
1606: The so-called Union Jack, a combination of the English and Scottish flags, was adopted as the flag of English and Scottish ships.
1861: The American Civil War began when Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.
1928: The Bremen, a German Junkers W 33 type aircraft, took off for the first successful transatlantic airplane flight from east to west.
1934: The strongest surface wind gust in the world, 231 mph, was measured on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire.
1945: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 33rd president (1933-1945), died at age 63 of a brain aneurysm at Warm Springs, Ga.
1955: The polio vaccine, developed by Dr. Jonas Salk, was declared safe and effective.
1961: Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space and perform the first manned orbital flight, in Vostok 3KA-2 (Vostok 1).
1999: U.S. President Bill Clinton was cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a sexual harassment civil lawsuit.
2009: Zimbabwe officially abandons the Zimbabwean dollar as its official currency.
1902: James Cash Penney (JCPenney) opened his first store, called “The Golden Rule,” in Kemmerer, Wyo.
1943: The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C., on the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth.
1953: CIA director Allen Dulles launched the top-secret brainwashing program MKULTRA.
1964: At the Academy Awards, Sidney Poitier became the first African-American man to win the Best Actor award for the 1963 film Lilies of the Field.
1970: Apollo 13, four-fifths of the way to the moon, was crippled when a liquid oxygen tank exploded. The astronauts were able to return safely.
1976: The U.S. Treasury Department reintroduced the $2 bill as a Federal Reserve Note on Thomas Jefferson’s 233rd birthday as part of the United States Bicentennial celebration.
2009: Andrew Hussie publishes the first page of the web comic Home stuck.
1860: The first Pony Express rider reached Sacramento, California.
1894: The first ever commercial motion picture house opened in New York City using 10 Kinetoscopes, a device for peep-show viewing of films.
1912: The ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. and sank at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, on its maiden voyage from England to New York. A total of 1,514 people died, while 710 survived.
1927: The first Volvo car premiered in Gothenburg, Sweden.
1935: The “Black Sunday Storm,” the worst dust storm of the U.S. Dust Bowl, struck Oklahoma and Texas. It inflicted immense economic and agricultural damage and caused hundreds of thousands of people to relocate, most to California.
1939: The Grapes of Wrath, by American author John Steinbeck was first published by the Viking Press on the fourth anniversary of the “Black Sunday Storm.”
1956: Videotape was first demonstrated in Chicago.
1969: At the U.S. Academy Awards, there was a tie for the Academy Award for Best Actress between Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand.
1999: A severe hailstorm struck Sydney, Australia, causing $2.3 billion in insured damages, the most costly natural disaster in Australian history.
2003: The Human Genome Project is completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99%
1755: Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language was published in London.
1892: The General Electric Company was formed in East Newark, New Jersey.
1923: Insulin became generally available for use by people with diabetes.
1924: Rand McNally published its first road atlas.
1927: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the most destructive river flood in U.S. history, began.
1955: McDonald’s first franchised restaurant was opened by Ray Kroc in Des Plaines, Ill.
1965: The first Ford Mustang rolled off the showroom floor, two days before it was set to go on sale nationwide.
2013: Two bombs exploded near the finish line at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Mass., killing three people and injuring 264 others.
1941: Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians threw the only opening day no-hitter in Major League Baseball history, beating the Chicago White Sox 1-0.
1947: The deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history and one of the largest non-nuclear explosions, the Texas City disaster, began with a mid-morning fire on board the French-registered vessel SS Grandcamp, which was docked in the Port of Texas City. The fire detonated approximately 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate and the resulting chain reaction of fires and explosions killed at least 581 people, including all but one member of the Texas City volunteer fire department. Texas City and surrounding areas were destroyed. Also this day, Bernard Baruch coined the term “Cold War” to describe the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
2009: The Commission of Fine Arts met and recommended a new U.S. penny design on the back that showed 13 wheat sheaves bound together with a ring symbolizing American unity as one nation. (The design was later withdrawn because it was similar to coins issued in Germany in the 1920s.)
1949: Twenty-six of 32 Irish counties officially left the British Commonwealth and became the Republic of Ireland.
1961: A group of CIA-financed and trained Cuban exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro. The operation was a resounding failure that marred President John F. Kennedy’s legacy.
1964: The Ford Mustang was introduced to the North American market, dealing a mortal blow to the Ford Falcon line, which was finally discontinued in 1970.
1969: Sirhan Bishara Sirhan (born 1994) was convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968).
1973: George Lucas (born 1944) began writing The Star Wars.
1986: The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly ended.
2014: NASA’s Kepler space observatory confirms the discovery of the first Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of another star.