May 15


1905: Las Vegas, Nev., was founded when 110 acres in what later would become downtown were auctioned off.

1928: The Walt Disney character Mickey Mouse premiered in his first cartoon, Plane Crazy, in Burbank, Calif.

1940: The first McDonalds restaurant, owned by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald, opened at 1398 N. E St., San Bernardino, Calif. Born this day: Roger Ailes, U.S. businessman (Fox News) and Lainie Kazan, U.S. actress and singer.


May 16


1960: Theodore Maiman operated the first optical laser (a ruby laser), at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California.

1966: Bob Dylan released the first ever rock double album in popular music history.

1988: A report by U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop stated that the addictive properties of nicotine are similar to those of heroin and cocaine.


May 17


1792: The New York Stock Exchange was formed.

1875: Aristides won the first Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

1902: Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovered the Antikythera mechanism, the remains of what was a complex mechanical analog computer designed to calculate astronomical positions, built in by Archimedes in the first century B.C.


May 18


1980: Mount St. Helens in Washington erupted, destroying several square miles of forest and blanketing the Pacific Northwest with ash, causing $3 billion damage.


May 19


1961: Venera 1 became the first man-made object to fly-by another planet when it passed Venus. (The probe had lost contact with Earth a month earlier and did not send back any data.)

1962: A pre-birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy was held at Madison Square Garden, New York City. The highlight was Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Kennedy’s birthday was May 29.


May 20


1609: Shakespeare’s sonnets were first published in London by the publisher Thomas Thorpe.

1927: Charles Lindbergh took off at 7:52 a.m. from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, on the world’s first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. (He touched down at Le Bourget Field in Paris at 10:22 p.m. the next day.)

1983: The discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS was published by Luc Montagnier in the journal Science.


May 21


1927: Charles Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

1932: Bad weather forced Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean..

1972: Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City was damaged by a vandal, the mentally disturbed Hungarian geologist Laszlo Toth.

2011: Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping (1921-2013) predicted that the world would end on this day, a prophecy that proved slightly incorrect.


May 22


1915: Lassen Peak in Northern California erupted with a powerful force. It was the only mountain other than Mount St. Helens to erupt in the contiguous U.S. during the 20th century.

1980: Namco of Tokyo released the highly influential arcade game Pac-Man.

1981: Ukrainian film director Boris Sagal died while shooting the TV miniseries World War III when he walked into the tail rotor blade of a helicopter and was decapitated.

2002: A jury in Birmingham, Ala., convicted former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murders of four girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Cherry’s supporters displayed Confederate flags outside the courthouse as a symbol of their hatred for non-whites, Jews and Catholics.