Today in 1878, the first telephone switchboard was installed in New Haven, Connecticut. Residents of New Haven could now complain about New Haven by telephone, although, since there was only one switchboard, probably only to other people in New Haven.
Today in 1896, Emile Grubbe became the first doctor to use radiation treatment for breast cancer. Radiation therapy is still used today.
Today in 1915, the Coast Guard was created by an act of the U.S. Congress to fight contraband trade and aide distressed vessels at sea.
Today in 1916, Louis D. Brandeis became the first Jewish Justice to be appointed to the Supreme Court. The controversy surrounding his nomination was so great that the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing for the first time. It took the senate until May (four months) to finally approve Brandeis’ nomination, mostly because of blatant anti-Semitism. Former Attorney General George W. Wickersham referred to Brandeis’ supporters as “a bunch of Hebrew uplifters.” Brandies retired from the Supreme Court in 1939, and now has a University named after him in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Today in 1934, the world’s first ski tow began operating in Woodstock, Vermont.
Today in 1986, the space shuttle Challenger had a catastrophic failure 73-seconds after lift-off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. All seven crewmembers were killed. Following the disaster, President Ronald Reagan appointed the Rogers Commission to investigate the failure of the O-ring seal in the solid rocket booster at liftoff. The investigation led to a grounding of the Space Shuttle fleet for almost three years while new safety procedures were implemented. 17% of Americans watched the liftoff live because one of the crewmembers, Christa McAuliffe, would have been the first teacher in space.
Today in 1997, O.J. Simpson's fate was placed in the hands of a civil court jury, who had to decide if he should be held liable for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The jury found that Simpson was liable, and ordered him to pay $33.5-million in damages.
Today in 1998, President Bill Clinton's plane, Air Force One, accidentally rolled off the tarmac while taxiing at Champaign-Urbana airport in Illinois and became stuck. The Boeing 707 aircraft was moving slowly to its designated runway for takeoff when it left the tarmac. The pilot revved the plane's engines twice to try to generate enough power to move it, but without success.
Today in 1999, Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan honored a personal request for mercy from Pope John Paul II, sparing triple murderer Darrell Mease from being executed. He remains incarcerated and says he’s now a Born Again Christian.
Today in 2017, President Donald Trump and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull had their infamously contentious phone call over deal for US to take 1,250 refugees.
Today in 2021, the mittens worn by Vermont Senator Bernie Sander to President Biden’s inauguration were auctioned off and raised $1.8-million for charities in his state after images of him wearing them went viral.