1938: Influential blues singer and musician Robert Johnson died of suspected strychnine poisoning at age 27, becoming the first of 50 famous or prominent musicians who have died at age 27, now known as The 27 Club.
1954: The first issue of Sports Illustrated was published.
1977: Elvis Presley died at age 42 of a drug overdose at his home in Memphis, Tenn.
1989: A solar flare from the Sun created a geomagnetic storm that affected microchips, leading to a halt of all trading on Toronto’s stock market.
2010: China surpassed Japan as world’s second-biggest economy
1920: Ray “Chappie” Chapman, shortstop for the Cleveland Indians baseball team, was killed when a submarine ball thrown by Carl Mays hit him in the temple. Chapman collapsed at the plate, and died about 12 hours later. He remains the only baseball player killed by a pitched ball.
1959: An earthquake struck the Madison River Canyon in southwest Montana, causing a massive landslide that buried a highway and a campground, and formed Earthquake Lake; 19 people were buried.
1982: The first Compact Discs (CDs) were released to the public in Germany.
1998: President Bill Clinton admitted in taped testimony that he had an “improper physical relationship” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. On the same day he admitted before the nation that he “misled people” about the relationship.
2008: American swimmer Michael Phelps became the first person to win eight gold medals in one Olympic Games.
1587: Virginia Dare, granddaughter of Gov. John White of the Colony of Roanoke, became the first English child born in the Americas.
1868: French astronomer Pierre Janssen discovered helium.
1920: The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing women’s suffrage.
1938: The Thousand Islands Bridge, connecting New York, United States, with Ontario, Canada, over the Saint Lawrence River, was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1980: Saudia Flight 163, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, burned after making an emergency landing at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing all 287 passengers and 14 crew members on board. (The flight engineer, Bradley Curtis, is buried in the cemetery in Libby, Mont.)
1987: In Hungerford, United Kingdom, Michael Ryan killed 16 people with an assault rifle and then committed suicide, despite the country’s strict gun-control laws.
1989: Several hundred East Germans crossed the frontier between Hungary and Austria during the Pan-European Picnic, part of the events which began the process of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
1991: The dissolution of the Soviet Union began with a coup as Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was placed under house arrest while on holiday in the town of Foros, Ukraine.
1858: Charles Darwin first published his theory of evolution through natural selection in The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, alongside the same theory presented by Alfred Russel Wallace.
1866: President Andrew Johnson formally declared the American Civil War over.
1882: Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” debuted in Moscow.
1910: The “Big Blowup” forest fire burned approximately 3 million acres in northern Idaho, eastern Washington and western Montana for three days starting Aug. 20.
1920: The first commercial radio station, 8MK (now WWJ), began broadcasting in Detroit.
1986: In Edmond, Okla., U.S. Postal employee Patrick Sherrill gunned down 14 of his co-workers and then committed suicide, spawning the term “going postal.”
1998: The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec cannot legally secede from Canada without the federal government’s approval.
2007: In the first of eight such instances over the following year, a severed human foot washed ashore in coastal British Columbia.
1888: The first successful adding machine was patented by William Seward Burroughs.
1897: Oldsmobile was founded by Ransom E. Olds.
1911: The Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in Paris. (It was recovered two years later in Italy; the unknown thief was never caught.)
1912: Arthur Eldred became the first Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America.
1959: Hawaii was admitted to the union as the 50th state.
1961: The Motown music label released what would be its first No. 1 hit, “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes.
1968: The first Medal of Honor to be awarded to an African American U.S. Marine went posthumously to James Anderson Jr. (He had been killed in 1967 in Vietnam.)
1979: Soviet ballet dancer Alexander Godunov created an international incident when he defected to the United States while performing in New York.
1986: More than 1,700 people were killed after a limnic eruption from Lake Nyos in Cameroon, Africa, released approximately 100 million cubic meters of carbon dioxide that quickly descended on the lake and killed oxygen-dependent life within a 15-mile radius, including three villages. (The same phenomenon is also blamed for the deaths of 37 near Lake Monoun in 1984.)
1992: The so-called Ruby Ridge Standoff began in Naples, Idaho, when FBI agents attempting to arrest Randy Weaver shot and killed Weaver’s 13-year-old son Samuel and the boy’s dog, Striker. (The siege ended Aug. 31.)
1993: NASA lost contact with the Mars Observer spacecraft.
1654: Jacob Barsimson became the first Jewish immigrant to America when he arrived in New Amsterdam.
1786: Faced with foreclosures, debt-ridden farmers in Massachusetts denounced the federal government and launched what would be known as Shays’ Rebellion. (It lasted until Feb. 1787. The leader, Daniel Shays, was pardoned on June 13, 1788.)
1848: The United States annexed New Mexico.
1849: The first air raid in recorded history took place when Austria launched unmanned balloons against the city of Venice.
1864: The First Geneva Convention was signed by 12 nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
1902: Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to ride in an automobile. Cadillac Motor Co. was founded in Detroit.
1961: Ida Siekmann of East Germany became the first person to be shot to death while trying to cross the Berlin Wall into West Berlin.
1989: Nolan Ryan became the first Major League Baseball pitcher to record 5,000 strikeouts when he struck out Rickey Henderson.
1992: FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot and killed Vicki Weaver during the 11-day siege of the Weaver home near Naples, Idaho.
1996: President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform into law, producing a major shift in U.S. welfare policy