1964: Nation of Islam’s Elijah Muhammad officially gave boxing champion Cassius Clay the name Muhammad Ali.
1975: The Zapruder film of the assassination of John F. Kennedy was shown in motion for the first time to a national TV audience by Robert J. Groden and Dick Gregory.
1990: Ed Yielding and Joseph T. Vida set the transcontinental speed record flying a SR-71 Blackbird from Los Angeles to Virginia in 64 minutes, averaging 2,124 mph.
1992: The Michelangelo computer virus, discovered in 1991, began to affect computers on the 517th anniversary of the birth of the artist after whom it is named.
1876: Alexander Graham Bell, 29, received a patent for his invention that he called the telephone.
1900: The German liner SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse became the first ship to send wireless signals to shore.
1912: Roald Amundsen announced that his expedition had reached the South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911.
1936: Nazi leader Adolf Hitler violated the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact by sending German military forces into the Rhineland, a demilitarized zone along the Rhine River in western Germany.
1985: The song “We Are the World” received its international release.
1994: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parodies of an original work are generally covered by the doctrine of fair use.
1817: The New York Stock Exchange was founded.
1910: French aviator Raymonde de Laroche became the first woman to receive a pilot’s license.
1924: The Castle Gate mine disaster killed 172 coal miners near Castle Gate, Utah.
1930: William Howard Taft (27th president and 10th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) died in Washington, D.C. at age 72.
1936: Daytona Beach Road Course held its first oval stock car race.
1978: The first radio episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams was transmitted on BBC Radio 4.
1979: Philips demonstrated the compact disc publicly for the first time.
1983: President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”
1842: The first documented discovery of gold in California occurred at Rancho San Francisco, six years before the California Gold Rush.
1916: During the Mexican Revolution, Pancho Villa led nearly 500 Mexican raiders in an attack against the border town of Columbus, New Mexico.
1959: The Barbie doll made its debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York City.
1996: Comedian George Burns died at age 100 in Los Angeles.
1804: The United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of the USA.
1862: the first U.S. paper money was issued; The denominations were $5, $10, and $20.
1876: Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call by saying “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”
1933: An earthquake in Long Beach, Calif., killed 115 people and caused an estimated $40 million in damage.
1940: Action movie actor Chuck Norris was born in Ryan, Okla.
1945: The U.S. Army Air Force firebombed Tokyo. The resulting firestorm killed more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians.
1969: In Memphis, Tenn., James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. (He later unsuccessfully attempted to retract his plea.)
1977: Astronomers discovered rings around Uranus.
2000: The NASDAQ Composite stock market index peaked at 5,132.52, signaling the beginning of the end of the dot-com boom.
1702: The Daily Courant, England’s first national daily newspaper, was published for the first time.
1888: The infamous “Blizzard of ’88” struck the northeastern United States, causing about 400 deaths.
1942: With Japanese forces advancing across the Pacific, Gen. Douglas MacArthur left the Philippines for Australia, vowing, “I shall return.” (He did so nearly three years later.)
2011: Japan was struck by a 9.0 undersea earthquake. The ensuing tsunami obliterated several cities in northeast Japan and killed over 10,000 people. The tsunami also inflicted $40 million damage on Crescent City, Calif., and swept away one man.
1894: Coca-Cola was bottled and sold for the first time, in Vicksburg, Miss., by local soda fountain operator Joseph Biedenharn.
1912: Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Guides (later the Girl Scouts of America) in Savannah, Ga.
1928: The St. Francis Dam, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Calif., failed catastrophically; the resulting floods killed over 600 people.
1971: Actor David Burns, 70, died of a heart attack onstage during a performance of 70 Girls 70 in Philadelphia.
1993: Janet Reno was sworn in as the nation’s first female attorney general, under President Bill Clinton.
2009: Financier Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty in New York to scamming $18 billion, the largest in Wall Street history.
2011: A reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan melted and exploded, releasing radioactivity into the atmosphere a day after an earthquake.