1902: James Cash Penney (JCPenney) opened his first store, called “The Golden Rule,” in Kemmerer, Wyo.
1943: The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C., on the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth.
1953: CIA director Allen Dulles launched the top-secret brainwashing program MKULTRA.
1970: Apollo 13, four-fifths of the way to the moon, was crippled when a liquid oxygen tank exploded. The astronauts were able to return safely.
1976: The U.S. Treasury Department reintroduced the $2 bill as a Federal Reserve Note on Thomas Jefferson’s 233rd birthday as part of the United States Bicentennial celebration.
2009: Andrew Hussie publishes the first page of the web comic Home stuck.
1860: The first Pony Express rider reached Sacramento, California.
1865: Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, was assassinated by famous actor John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. He died at 7 a.m. on April 15.
1894: The first ever commercial motion picture house opened in New York City using 10 Kinetoscopes, a device for peep-show viewing of films.
1912: The ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. and sank at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, on its maiden voyage from England to New York. A total of 1,514 people died, while 710 survived.
1935: The “Black Sunday Storm,” the worst dust storm of the U.S. Dust Bowl, struck Oklahoma and Texas. It inflicted immense economic and agricultural damage and caused hundreds of thousands of people to relocate, most to California.
1956: Videotape was first demonstrated in Chicago.
1969: At the U.S. Academy Awards, there was a tie for the Academy Award for Best Actress between Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand.
1999: A severe hailstorm struck Sydney, Australia, causing $2.3 billion in insured damages, the most costly natural disaster in Australian history.
2003: The Human Genome Project is completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99%
1755: Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language was published in London.
1892: The General Electric Company was formed in East Newark, New Jersey.
1927: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the most destructive river flood in U.S. history, began.
1955: McDonald’s first franchised restaurant was opened by Ray Kroc in Des Plaines, Ill.
1965: The first Ford Mustang rolled off the showroom floor, two days before it was set to go on sale nationwide.
1941: Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians threw the only opening day no-hitter in Major League Baseball history, beating the Chicago White Sox 1-0.
1947: Bernard Baruch coined the term “Cold War” to describe the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
1990: The “Doctor of Death” Jack Kevorkian (1928-2011) participated in his first assisted suicide.
2009: The Commission of Fine Arts met and recommended a new U.S. penny design on the back that showed 13 wheat sheaves bound together with a ring symbolizing American unity as one nation. (The design was later withdrawn because it was similar to coins issued in Germany in the 1920s.)
1949: Twenty-six of 32 Irish counties officially left the British Commonwealth and became the Republic of Ireland.
1961: A group of CIA-financed and trained Cuban exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro. The operation was a resounding failure that marred President John F. Kennedy’s legacy.
1964: The Ford Mustang was introduced to the North American market, dealing a mortal blow to the Ford Falcon line, which was finally discontinued in 1970.
1969: Sirhan Bishara Sirhan (born 1994) was convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968).
1973: George Lucas (born 1944) began writing The Star Wars.
1986: The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly ended.
2014: NASA’s Kepler space observatory confirms the discovery of the first Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of another star.
1912: The Cunard liner RMS Carpathia brought 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic to New York City.
1923: Yankee Stadium, “The House that Ruth Built,” opened.
1924: Simon & Schuster published the first crossword puzzle book.
1981: The Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League, played the longest game in professional baseball history. It lasted for 33 innings, over eight hours and 25 minutes of playing time. Thirty-two innings were played April 18-19, 1981 at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I., and the final 33rd inning was played June 23, 1981. Pawtucket won, 3-2.
1988: The United States launched Operation Praying Mantis against Iranian naval forces in the largest naval battle since World War II.
1997: The Red River overwhelmed the city of Grand Forks, N.D. Fire broke out and spread in downtown Grand Forks, but high water hampered efforts to reach the fire and 11 buildings were destroyed.
2005: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church following the death of Pope John Paul II. The new Pope took the regnal name Benedict XVI.