Today in 1785, Joseph Bramah patented the beer-pump handle. Bless him.
Today in 1899, the lawn mower was patented.
Today in 1922, the International Astronomical Union formally adopted Annie Jump Cannon's stellar classification system, which with only minor changes, is still used today.
Today in 1926, Commander Richard Byrd and his companion were the first to fly an airplane to the North Pole…or so they said.
Today in 1944, Jimmie Davis became the Governor of Louisiana. Known as “The Singing Governor,” he wrote the song "You Are My Sunshine,” and became famous for recording secular and religious songs. He served two nonconsecutive terms as the governor (from 1944–48 and from 1960–64) and lived to be 101-years old.
Today in 1960, the Food and Drug Administration approved a pill for birth control use. G.D. Searle and Company of Chicago made the pill, Enovid.
Today in 1962, a laser beam was successfully bounced off the Moon for the first time.
Today in 1970, over 100,000 protesters converged on Washington D.C. and held the largest Anti-War protest rally yet over Cambodia. For the most part it was a peaceful rally, but with the recent deaths at Kent State still sending shock waves all over the country, it wasn’t a warm and fuzzy meeting, for sure. It was during this rally that President Nixon snuck out of the White House at five in the morning for a much publicized mingle with the crowd.
Today in 1971, Elizabeth Bonner ran a female world record marathon at 3-hours, 1-minute, 42-seconds).
Today in 1974, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee began formal hearings on Nixon impeachment.
Today in 1980, 35 motorists were killed when a Liberian freighter rammed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay in Florida, causing a 14-hundred-foot section to collapse.
Today in 1980, the slasher/horror classic, "Friday the 13th,” was released in theaters nationwide.
Today in 1990, “New York Newsday” suspended journalist Jimmy Breslin. Days earlier, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist lashed out against a reporter of Korean descent who objected to a column he had written. He publicly exploded in the newsroom calling the woman "slant-eyed" and said she was "a yellow cur."
Today in 1991, Michael Landon made his final public appearance on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" for a candid interview to correct tabloid reports about his "final days" with pancreatic cancer. The show ranked as one the highest rated episodes for Carson – due not only to the interview, but some very sweet and funny moments. Sadly, Landon died of the disease the following July.
Today in 1992, the final episode of "The Golden Girls" aired on NBC-TV.
Today in 1994, South Africa's newly elected parliament chose Nelson Mandela to be the country's first black president. The move officially ended the era of apartheid.
Today in 1994, the first cases of the Ebola Virus were identified in Gabon, as the cause of death for nine of those infected with the virus. The Ebola Virus strain that broke out in Zaire is one of the highest case fatality rates of any human pathogenic virus, at about 90%.
Today in 1996, in dramatic video testimony in front of a hushed courtroom in Little Rock, Arkansas, President Clinton insisted he had nothing to do with a $300,000 loan at the heart of the criminal case against his former Whitewater partners.
Today in 1997, the movie, "The Fifth Element," starring Bruce Willis, opened in theaters nationwide. The same day? "Fathers' Day," starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, also opened.
Today in 1997, the San Diego Padres retired #35 – which had been worn by pitcher Randy Jones. He is an all-time favorite San Diego Padres pitcher and is a Charter member of the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame.
Today in 1997, Andrew Cunanan, who would soon kill famed designer Gianni Versace, killed 45-year-old William Reese, a cemetery caretaker, while attempting to steal his Chevrolet pick-up. Cunanan was already wanted for the murders of David Madson, Jeffrey Trail and Lee Miglin.
Today in 2000, former four-term Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards was convicted of extortion schemes to manipulate the licensing of riverboat casinos. Edwards was later sentenced to ten years in prison and fined a quarter of a million dollars.
Today in 2005, the “Huffington Post” website was launched.
Today in 2007, six Muslim men were arrested for planning an attack on the Fort Dix army base in New Jersey. The FBI infiltrated the group after they were alerted of suspicious video footage by a video store. The footage showed the group chanting and firing weapons. Five were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in their intentions to kill U.S. military personnel; four received life sentences, while one received 33 years in prison. The remaining member was thought to have had a minor role in the plot and was sentenced to five years in prison for weapons offenses.
Today in 2012, President Barack Obama officially stated his support for same sex marriage. The latest flip (he had openly opposed it, then supported it, then opposed it again), not surprisingly, was in the middle of an election cycle. His announcement of this position marked the first time a sitting United States president publicly was in favor of the controversial topic.
Today in 2017, President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, ousting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the midst of an FBI investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia’s meddling in the election that sent him to the White House.
Today in 2018, the oldest viral DNA – a form of hepatitis B – was revealed as discovered in a seven-thousand-year old skeleton found in Germany.
Today in 2019, Pope Francis introduced new rules on reporting sexual abuse in the Catholic Church – and was criticized for not going far enough.