Today in 1778, the USS Ranger received the first recognition of the American flag by a foreign government as it sailed into Quiberon Bay, France.
Today in 1848, President Polk became the first chief executive to be photographed while in office as he posed for Matthew Brady in New York. At least, it’s the earliest surviving photograph.
Today in 1859, Oregon joined the Union.
Today in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell applied for a patent for the telephone, but he wasn’t alone. Elisha Gray did as well – and yes, on the same day. Sadly for Gray, Bell beat him to the punch.
Today in 1889, the first transport of oranges from California occurred.
Today in 1912, Arizona became the 48th state.
Today in 1929, the infamous "St. Valentine's Day Massacre occurred in Chicago. Al Capone's gang strolled into a warehouse owned by Bugs Moran, lined up seven members of a rival gang against a brick wall and gunned them to death. To catch a re-enactment, rent the video of "Some Like It Hot."
Today in 1932, the United States won the first bobsled competition at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
Today in 1946, the first general purpose computer, Electronic Numerical Integrator and Compute (ENIAC), was unveiled at the University of Pennsylvania. It was dedicated the following day. The press referred to it as “Giant Brain.”
Today in 1962, Jackie Kennedy conducted her famous televised tour of the White House. It aired on all three networks, and attracted an estimated 80-million viewers.
Today in 1966, Wilt Chamberlain scored 41 points in a 149-123 Philadelphia win over Detroit to pass Bob Pettit (20,880 points), becoming the NBA's all-time scoring leader, a distinction he held for more than 18 years until passed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1984.
Today in 1967, Aretha Franklin recorded her anthemic song, “Respect.”
Today in 1971, Richard Nixon installed a secret taping system in the White House.
Today in 1978, the first "micro on a chip" was patented by Texas Instruments.
Today in 1983, a six-year-old boy received the first simultaneous heart and liver transplant.
Today in 1989, the first GPS satellite was put into orbit.
Today in 1990, the space probe Voyager 1 took a photograph of the entire solar system.
Today in 1998, authorities officially declared Eric Rudolph a suspect in the bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic and offered a $100,000 reward. Also responsible for the 1996 Centennial Park bombing during the Olympics, he spent five years on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list until he was caught in 2003. Then, as part of a plea bargain in 2005, Rudolph pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state homicide charges and accepted four consecutive life sentences. The trade? He avoided a trial and a potential death sentence. He remains incarcerated at the ADX Florence supermax prison in Colorado.
Today in 2005, the YouTube domain was launched in the United States. YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim posted the very first video, "Me at the Zoo," on April 23rd.
Today in 2008, a gunman opened fire in a lecture hall of Northern Illinois University shooting. In the end, there were 24 casualties – 6 fatalities (including the gunman) and 18 injured.
Today in 2013, South African amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius fatally shot his girlfiend, Reeva Steenkamp. Initially convicted of culpable homicide (their version of involuntary manslaughter) and sentenced to house arrest, prosecutors appealed. Then, in July 2015, his sentence was extended to six years. On appeal by the state for a longer prison sentence, the Supreme Court of Appeal more than doubled Pistorius' prison term to 13 years and five months. He will not be eligible for parole until at least 2023.
Today in 2018, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida gunned down 17 people, before being captured.
Today in 2018, American snowboarder Shaun White won an unprecedented third halfpipe gold medal (previous wins were in 2006, 2010).