July 31


1875: Andrew Johnson, 17th U.S. president (1865-1869), died in Carter Station, Tenn., at age 66. (He is the only president to take the oath of office while drunk.)

1931: New York, New York experimental television station W2XAB (now known as WCBS) began broadcasting.

1961: At Fenway Park in Boston, Mass., the first All-Star Game tie in Major League Baseball history occurred when the game was stopped in the ninth inning because of rain.

1964: Ranger 7 sent back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.

1970: The British Royal Navy ceased rationing rum to its sailors.

1971: Apollo 15 astronauts James Irwin and David Scott became the first humans to ride in a lunar rover.

2012: Michael Phelps broke the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the greatest number of medals won at the Olympics.


August 1


1932: The first George Washington quarter went into circulation to commemorate the bicentennial of the first president’s birth.

1979: The rock music video channel MTV debuted with the video entitled, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.

1980: Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was elected president of Iceland and became the world’s first democratically elected female head of state.

2007: The I-35W Mississippi River bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minn., collapsed during the evening rush hour.


August 2


1876: Frontiersman “Wild Bill” Hickock was shot to death while playing poker in a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. The hand of cards which he supposedly held at the time of his death has become known as the dead man’s hand: two pairs, aces and eights.

1909: The Lincoln penny was issued by the U.S. Mint to commemorate the 100th year since President Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The coin contained 95 percent copper with other minerals. As of 1982 the coin is copper-plated zinc (97½ percent zinc).

1937: The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 rendered marijuana and all its by-products illegal in the USA.

1939: Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to begin the Manhattan Project to develop a nuclear weapon.

1967: Violinist David Margetts of the UCLA String Quartet placed a violin case containing an $800,000 Stradivarius violin— which he had borrowed from UCLA—atop his car after a rehearsal in Hollywood, and drove off. The case fell off alongside the freeway and was found by a woman passing by, who kept it for 27 years not knowing its value. (The violin was discovered in her estate in 1994 and returned to UCLA.)

1990: Iraq invaded Kuwait, leading to the Persian Gulf War.


August 3


1900: The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company was founded.

1936: Jesse Owens won the 100-meter dash at the Berlin Olympics.

1946: Santa Claus Land, the world’s first theme amusement park, opened in Santa Claus, Indiana. 1958: The nuclear submarine USS Nautilus traveled beneath the Arctic ice cap.

1977: Tandy Corporation announced the TRS-80, one of the world’s first mass-produced personal computers.

2004: The pedestal of the Statue of Liberty reopened after being closed since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.



August 4


1821: The Saturday Evening Post was published for the first time as a weekly newspaper. (The magazine went out of business in 1969.) Born this day: French fashion designer Louis Vuitton, founded Louis Vuitton (died 1892), and James Springer White, co-founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church (died 1881).

1892: The father and stepmother of Lizzie Borden were found murdered in their home in Fall River, Mass.

1944: A tip from a Dutch informer led the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse, where they found and arrested Jewish diarist Anne Frank, her family, and four others.

1958: The Billboard Hot 100 was published for the first time.

1987: As part of President Ronald Reagan’s  deregulation of government, the Federal Communications Commission rescinded the Fairness Doctrine that required radio and television stations to present controversial issues “fairly,” paving the way for the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

1993: A federal judge sentenced Los Angeles Police Department officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell to 30 months in prison for violating motorist Rodney King’s civil rights.


August 5


1858: Cyrus West Field and others finished laying the first transatlantic telegraph cable after several unsuccessful attempts. (It operated for less than a month.)

1861: The U.S. Army abolished flogging.

1884: The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty was laid on Bedloe’s Island (now Liberty Island) in New York Harbor.

1914: The first electric traffic light was installed, in Cleveland, Ohio. Born this day: actors Parley Baer (The Andy Griffith Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Addams Family, The Young and the Restless, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., died 2002), and David Brian (Rawhide, I Dream of Jeannie, died 1993).

1925: Plaid Cymru was formed in Cardiff, Wales, with the aim of disseminating knowledge of the Welsh language that was at the time in danger of dying out.

1926: Harry Houdini performed his greatest feat, spending 91 minutes underwater in a sealed tank before escaping.

erican Bandstand, a show dedicated to the teenage “baby-boomers” by playing the songs and showing popular dances of the time, 1965: Born this day: musician Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones), and actor Scott William Winters (Good Will Hunting).

1981: Born this day: murder victim Rachel Scott (first student killed at 1999 Columbine High School massacre) 2010: The Copiapó mining accident occurred, trapping 33 Chilean miners approximately 2,300 feet underground. (They were successfully retrieved 69 days later, setting a record for longest underground survival after a cave-in.)


August 6


1890: At Auburn Prison in New York, murderer William Kemmler became the first person in the world executed by electric chair.

1926: Gertrude Ederle (1905-2003) became the first woman to swim across the English Channel movie Don Juan starring John Barrymore.

1930: Judge Joseph Force Crater stepped into a taxi in New York and disappeared, never to be seen again.

1945: The first atomic bomb to be used against an enemy was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima, Japan. Around 70,000 people were killed instantly, and tens of thousands more died in subsequent days, weeks and years from burns and radiation poisoning. (This bomb, and one dropped on Nagasaki three days later, ended World War II.)

1991: The World Wide Web made its public debut on the internet, introduced by its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee.

2012: NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars.