THIS WEEK IN HISTORY

February 12

 

1954: British food company J. Lyons & Co. used the LEO computer to produce a payroll report, becoming the first time in history that a computer was used in business.

1959: The newly redesigned U.S. penny with the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side was officially released on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.

1963: Construction began on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Mo.

1990: Carmen Lawrence became the first female premier in Australian history when she became premier of Western Australia.

1994: Four men broke into the National Gallery of Norway and stole Edvard Munch’s iconic painting, The Scream. (The painting was recovered undamaged on May 7, 1994.)

1999: President Bill Clinton was acquitted by the U.S. Senate in his impeachment trial.

 

February 13

1954: Frank Selvy became the only NCAA Division I basketball player ever to score 100 points in a single game.

1961: A 500,000-year-old rock was discovered by Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell near Olancha, Calif., that appeared to encase a spark plug. The anomalous rock became known as the Coso Geode. It has since been lost.

1979: An intense windstorm struck western Washington and sank a half-mile-long section of the Hood Canal Bridge.

1981: A series of sewer explosions destroyed more than two miles of streets in Louisville, Ky.

2000: The last original “Peanuts” comic strip ran in newspapers, one day after the strip’s creator, Charles M. Schulz, died.

2004: The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced the discovery of the universe’s largest known diamond, white dwarf star BPM 37093. Astronomers named this star “Lucy” after The Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

2011: For the first time in more than 100 years, the Umatilla tribe are able to hunt and kill a bison just outside Yellowstone National Park, restoring a centuries-old tradition guaranteed by the Hell Gate Treaty of 1855.

 

February 14

 

1962: First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy conducted a one-hour, televised tour of the White House.

1989: Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses.

2005: YouTube was launched by a group of college students, eventually becoming the largest video sharing website in the world and a main source for viral videos.

2009: At a kissing contest in Mexico City, 39,897 couples kissed for 10 seconds, setting a world record for the most simultaneous kisses.

 

February 15

 

1965: The red-and-white maple leaf design was adopted as the flag of Canada, replacing the Canadian Red Ensign banner.

2013: A meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring 1,500 people as a shock wave blew out windows and jolted buildings.

 

February 16

 

1923: English archaeologist Howard Carter unsealed the intact burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, “King Tut.”

1937: Wallace Hume Carothers, American chemist, inventor and leader of organic chemistry at DuPont, received U.S. patent No. 2,071, 250 for nylon. (He committed suicide with cyanide dissolved in lemon juice less than three months later, on April 28.)

1960: The U.S. Navy submarine USS Triton left New London, Conn., to begin the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe.

1968: The first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system went into service, in Haleyville, Alabama,

1987: A massive ice storm struck Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

2006: The last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) was decommissioned by the U.S. Army.

 

February 17

 

1959: Vanguard 2 launched the first weather satellite, which was used to measure cloud-cover distribution.

1964: In Wesberry v. Sanders, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that congressional districts have to be approximately equal in population.

1965: The Ranger 8 probe launched on its mission to photograph the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon in preparation for the manned Apollo missions. (Mare Tranquillitatis, or the “Sea of Tranquility,” would become the site eventually chosen for the Apollo 11 lunar landing.)

1968: The Basketball Hall of Fame opened in Springfield, Mass.

1972: Cumulative sales of the Volkswagen Beetle exceeded those of the Ford Model-T.

1974: A disgruntled U.S. Army private named Robert K. Preston stole a U.S. Army Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter at 2 a.m. from Fort Meade, Maryland, and buzzed the White House twice before being forced to land.

1980: The first-ever winter ascent of Mount Everest was accomplished by Polish mountaineers Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy.

1996: World chess champion Garry Kasparov beat the Deep Blue supercomputer at a match in Philadelphia.

2004: Bishop Thomas O’Brien, 68, became the first Roman Catholic bishop in

U.S. history to be convicted of a felony (for hitting a pedestrian with his car and driving home without reporting the accident).

 

February 18

 

1911: The first official flight with air mail took place from Allahabad, United Provinces, British India (now India), when Henri Pequet, a 23-year-old pilot, delivered 6,500 letters to Naini, about 6.2 miles away.

1913: Pedro Lascuráin (1856-1952) became president of Mexico for 45 minutes during a coup, the shortest term to date of any person as president of any country.

1930: Clyde Tombaugh (1906-1997) discovered Pluto, the ninth planet of our solar system (now considered a dwarf planet) while studying photos he had taken in January. “Elm Farm Ollie” became the first cow to fly in a fixed-wing aircraft and the first cow to be milked in an aircraft, at an exhibition in St. Louis, Mo.

1954:  The first Church of Scientology was established in Los Angeles by L. Ron Hubbard.

1978: The first Ironman Triathlon competition took place on the island of Oahu and was won by Gordon Haller in 11 hours, 46 minutes, 58 seconds.

1979: Snow fell in the Sahara Desert in southern Algeria for the only time in recorded history.

1983: The largest robbery-motivated mass-murder in U.S. history, the Wah Mee massacre, happened in Seattle; 13 people died and one was seriously injured.

1998: Eric Bergoust of Missoula won the gold medal in aerial freestyle skiing at the Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.

2001: Auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr., 49, died of injuries sustained in a crash at the Daytona 500. Han Qizhi, 31, a shoe salesman from Anhui Province, China, was “struck by a rash impulse” as he was walking past the 88-story, 1,213-foot-tall Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, and climbed the outside of the building barehanded to the top. (He had never climbed before.)

2010: Amy Rose Coxall, a 15-year-old British schoolgirl studying in Hong Kong, died in a freak accident after her scarf got caught in the wheel of a go-kart she was driving on a karting course and strangled her to death. (This is the same kind of freak accident that killed dancer Isadora Duncan on Sept. 14, 1927.)