World History AD Timeline

Timeline of World History, A.D.

Date (A.D.) Events & People
1 ADUnfortunately, since the scholars designing the new calendar didn't have the concept of zero, the new Gregorian calendar is calculated to start at year 1, so we go directly from December 31, 1 BC to January 1, 1 AD thereby making all the easy calculations of date intervals off by one.
1 ADThe population of Rome swells to one million people; a record it will keep for 1,800 years until London reaches that number.
9Battle of Teutoberg Forest - 20,000 Roman soldiers under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus in Germany are killed while in a long convoy line through the Teutoberg Forest. Many years later Emperor Augustus, desperately needing those legions, went around the palace late at night muttering, "Varus, give me back my legions!"
12 The supremacy of Latin is complete, the last known Etruscan inscription is carved.
30-33 Christianity is established as Jesus is crucified.
64, July 18 In a terrifying week, two-thirds of Rome burns to the ground and Emperor Nero takes the opportunity to rebuild Rome and claims a huge plot of land to build his new palace complex. Nero blames the fire on the Christians although some claimed the fire was started by Nero to clear the land. He orders the first Roman persecution of the new faith.
79Mount Vesuvius erupts and buries the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash preserving for modern scholars a window into ancient Roman life.
70After a six month siege the Romans under the direction of Titus destroy Jerusalem killing one and a half million Jews. The gold taken from the the Temple finances the Colosseum back in Rome.
85-165Claudius Ptolemy devises a framework of Astronomy which will last for 1400 years. He calculates pi as 3+8/60+30/602 which in decimals is "3.1416666...", an amazing feat for the time.
96-180 Rome has the five "Good Emperors": Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antonius Pius and Marcus Aurelius.
97Chinese General Pan Chao sends an embassy to the Roman empire.
117 Emperor Trajan extends Rome's territories to the largest they will ever be.
122 Roman Emperor Hadrian begins the impressive 73 mile defensive wall in the north of England to keep out the Picts and tax the trade.
135 The Bar Kokhba revolt in Jerusalem against the Romans is finally crushed after two and a half years during which the Jewish state had home rule and a resumption of animal sacrifices. 580,000 Jews are killed in the restoration of Roman rule and the city of Jerusalem is reduced to rubble. Emperor Hadrian did not allow Jews to return to Jerusalem and renamed the city Aelia Capitolina. The Jews will not have political control of Israel again for 1,813 years.
235The 'Crisis of the Third Century' starts. The Eternal City will struggle with civil wars, plagues, barbarian invasion, and climate change.
250 Beginning of the Classic period for the Maya who will rise to amazing feats of scientific knowledge and architecture.
269Not content to be the ruler of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria, the beautiful Warrior Queen Zenobia breaks with Rome and invades Egypt. Emperor Aurelian eventually defeats her. Some records show she was killed after Aurelian's triumph, but others say she was pardoned, due to her beauty and regal bearing, and married a Roman senator and lived peacefully in luxury the rest of her days.
271 Roman Emperor Aurelian starts building the walls around Rome which would run for 12 miles and were 11 feet thick and 26 feet tall. This is a concrete statement that Rome could no longer hold its enemies back at the border. Other major towns started constructing their own walls against the raiding barbarians whose skills do not typically include siege-craft.
285The 'Crisis of the Third Century' comes to an end with the ascension of Diocletian to the throne. He reorganizes the administration of the Empire. He also tries to setup a method of succession with Augustuses and Caesars to end the civil wars, but it fails.
313Edict of Milan is issued. Christians are now tolerated in the Roman Empire.
325Constantine the Great wins the Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy and reunites the four regions of Diocletian's administration into a single empire again.
329Saint Basil of Caesarea, Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca (modern day Turkey), is born. He will care for the poor and establish what we would consider the first hospital.
325, May 11Roman Emperor Constantine dedicates his new Eastern capital, Byzantium (Constantinople, modern day Istanbul). Although the Western capital, Rome, will fall in 476, the Eastern Roman Empire will survive another thousand years.
361 Emperor Julian, "The Apostate," tries to return the Empire back to the Pagan religions, but fails.
365, July 21 A devastating Tsunami overwhelms Alexandria Egypt killing five thousand people. Right before the wave hits, the water recedes from the coast as it is being sucked into the unseen approaching wave, beaching the trading ships in the harbor. Citizens quickly looted the overturned ships, but were in for the surprise of their lives when the water returned.
378, January 8 Mayan envoy "Fire Is Born" enters the city of Waka. He will consolidate the small Mayan city states and launch the Mayan golden age that will endure for five centuries.
378, August 9The Battle of Adrianople (Hadrianopolis) - the beginning of the end of Roman military power. Not waiting for reinforcements, Emperor Valens gives the order to his weary men to attack the circled wagons of the Goths. In a surprise to all, the absent Gothic Cavalry returns just as the battle is about to begin. The heavy Cavalry routes the light horsemen of the Romans and is victorious over the Roman infantry. Some scholars think this was a historic turning point in the tactics of warfare when the Cavalry gained supremacy over infantry. Others counter that the Roman infantry could have withstood the Cavalry if they had been properly rested, trained, and had a better commander. In either case the Battle of Adrianople shook the confidence of the Roman Empire and the Romans dealt in a defensive manner with the Goths. The Goths were originally glad to be allowed to enter the Empire, but were treated very badly and abused by corrupt Roman administrators. This treatment angered the Goths and they turned against the Romans.
400Saint Augustine of Hippo completes the first autobiography in the Western world, The Confessions. He dies on 28 August 430 during the Vandal siege of his African home of Hippo, in modern day Algeria. He wrote clearly about the absolute need of God's grace to a fallen humanity.
400 The first practical horse collar appears. Earlier versions choked the horse and limited their agricultural use. Horses quickly replaced some oxen since they are more efficient with the new collar.
410, August 24After being betrayed by Rome several times, Visigoths leader Alaric marches on Rome to demand the money promised to his troops. Emperor Honorius refuses to pay what is owed them, and the Visigoths sack Rome for three days. Aleric tells his troops to not kill unnecessarily and not to harm churches or religious statuary.
476 The Western Roman Empire falls.
496King Clovis of the Franks converts to orthodox Christianity.
January 13, 532Almost half of Constantinople is destroyed and tens of thousands of people killed in the Nika riots which starts as a sports riot and grows into a full rebellion against Emperor Justinian. Initially Justinian wants to flee, but his wife Theodora shames him into staying and fighting for his position, which he keeps.
536The coldest winter in 2,000 years haunts Europe. Summer does not come and the sun shines only faintly, perhaps due to ash from an Icelandic volcano. Famine stalks Europe and China as crops fail. Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian's dream of revitalizing the Eastern and Western Roman Empires is dealt a severe blow, but the bad news is just starting.
541Justinian's Plague starts and kills 40% of Constantinople by 544 and 25% of Europe south of the Alps. By the Eighth century this bubonic plague disappears mysteriously not to return to Europe until the Fourteenth century.
550Persians use windmills to power irrigation pumps.
570Mohammad born. Syria, Jerusalem, Egypt, Persia, & N. Africa fall to Muslim armies many decades later.
632 Muhammad dies.
637 A vastly superior army of Iranian Sassanians is defeated by determined Arab Muslims in the battle of Qadisiyya.
650 The beginning of the Mississippian Cahokia culture in America, the most advanced of the plains people. The Cahokia people will build the largest earthen mound structure in North America, Monk's Mound and create an astronomic observatory now known as Woodhenge, and trade from the Great Lakes to the Gulf coast. They decline in 1400, a century before the Europeans arrive.
637As the Muslim advance overtakes his home town of Tarsus, Byzantine Greek scholar Theadore flees to Constantinople, the capitol of the Eastern Roman Empire. There he studies astronomy, medicine, law, and Greek rhetoric and philosophy. He travels to Rome and learns Latin and literature. He is selected to be the Archbishop of Canterbury and brings the learning from the Roman Empire to England. He founds a school in Canterbury which teaches Greek and Latin.
657-680 The earliest poem written in English, Caedmon's Hymn, is composed.
732Battle of Tours, Charles Martel stops a Muslim army and the Muslim advance into Western Europe.
793 Vikings start raiding Ireland.
821Torrential rains causing crops to rot in the field followed by terrible winters that freeze the rivers of northern Europe so solid horse carts use the Rhine for a road and then three years of no summers and horrible winters that cause famine and disease cause some Norse to believe that Fimbulwinter, the precursor to Ragnarok, the dreadful apocalyptic end of time and death of the gods, has started. Scientists now believe the climate catastrophe was caused by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Katla.
850The "Medieval Warming Period" starts and lasts until 1315. The Vikings settle Greenland. English farmers grow grapes for wine. Temperatures rise in Europe and farming does well. The population in Europe swells.
900sFall of the Mayan Classic culture. In one of the great mysterious of North America, the Mayan abandon their amazing cities all over Mesoamerica.
904 Although the Chinese developed gunpowder by mixing 75 percent saltpeter, 15 percent charcoal, and 10 percent sulfur centuries earlier for fireworks, the black powder is used as a weapon perhaps for the first time in the siege of Wuchang.
910 The first nailed iron horseshoe is documented. After extensive use, a horse would have to be rested so their hooves could heal. With the invention of the iron horseshoe, horses could now work fulltime - a huge boost to agricultural productivity.
999 Gerbert (940-1003) becomes Pope Sylvester II and writes about "Arabic" numerals. Unfortunately the new numbering system doesn't really take hold in Europe until the 14th century. From Paul Gans "It should be noted that the Arabic numerals were neither invented by nor used by the Arabs. They were developed in India by the Hindus around 600 AD." "Counting boards" were being used with roman numerals in US Colonial times.
1009 An army led by Caliph al-Hakim destroys the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. This desecration will be a rallying point for the Crusades to come.
1021 Norse settlers build a village in the New World in Newfoundland at L’Anse aux Meadows and stay for a few years before returning to Greenland. It is thought they abandon the New World due to conflicts with the native inhabitants.
1024 The Chinese issue the first paper money.
1066 Harold Godwinson wins the Battle of Stamford Bridge and a second battle at Fulford against the Viking invaders of England lead by Harold Hardraada. Harold Godwinson then marches his weary army to Hastings to meet yet another invader, Duke William of Normandy. Harold Godwinson is defeated, and the period of Norman domination begins. William brought with him the French practice of building stone castles. Few stone castles had been in England before, but by only 1100 England had 84 castles.
1086 The Doomsday Book is written for William the Conqueror to detail the wealth and property of England.
1095 Pope Urban II calls for the First Crusade to protect the Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land from attack.
1099 The first crusade captures Jerusalem using 15,000 troops and establishes five small Christian states. Oddly, a thousand years earlier when Rome besieged Jerusalem, they fielded 60,000 soldiers. The Middle Age's battles were smaller in scope than antiquity.
1140 Angkor Wat, a huge temple complex - a really huge amazing complex, is built in Cambodia.
1144 Second Crusade is started by Bernard of Clairveaux after the Christian kingdom of Edessa falls to Muslims.
1144, June 11The St. Denis Cathedral outside Paris is dedicated marking the end of Romanesque and the beginning of Gothic architecture. It uses the pointed arch, ribbed vaults, and the flying buttresses. These new innovations produce an awe-inspiring, light-filled space never before seen and launches a wave of cathedral building in Europe following the French style.
1149 Oxford University is founded in England.
1175 The Toltec civilization collapses in Mexico.
1187 Although invented probably in 880, the magnetic compass now becomes common for ocean going ships in the Far East.
1200 In an amazing navigation feat, Tahitians sail to Hawaii and enslave the local inhabitants who had arrived around 800 years earlier.
1200 The Mayan culture revives after it's collapse in 900ad and survives until the 1450s when it falls shortly before the Europeans arrive.
1202 Leonardo Fibonacci publishes "The Book of the Abacus" and revolutionizes mathematics in Europe.
1206 Genghis Khan leads the Mongol armies. 30 to 60 million people are killed in their campaigns building the largest known land empire. It stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea.
1204 On the way to the holy land for the Fourth Crusade, the Crusaders are convinced by Enrico Dandologet, the Doge of Venice, to conquer Constantinople instead.
1215, June 15 England's King John puts his stamp on the Magna Carta binding himself to obey the country's laws such as Habeas Corpus
No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned,...or in any other way destroyed...except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to none will we deny or delay, right or justice.
1218 Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad ruler of the Khwarezmia empire, kills all the members of a 500 camel caravan from Genghis Khan and steals all the goods - but the Shah did not know who he was dealing with. The empire strikes back and the Mongols utterly destroy his empire. For the Shah's greed and arrogance, Two and a quarter million of his subjects die.
1223 Genghis Kahn invades Russia.
1241 April 9The Battle of Liegnitz is fought between Prince Henry and the Mongols commanded by Batu Khan for control of Poland. The Mongols successfully defeat another European army.
1242 Florence Italy mints the florin, the first gold coin in Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire. It is a sign that stability, trade, and wealth are returning to Europe. The florin would remain a popular coin for five centuries.
1250 European sailors now begin to use the magnetic compass.
1258 Mongol troops utterly destroy Baghdad, the capital of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate. The Mongols destroyed so many books by throwing them into Tigris that its water was colored black from the ink.
1275 Marco Polo starts on his alleged trip to China. He returns in 1295 to Venice.
1281, August After conquering most of Asia, Kublai Khan invades Japan with 4,400 ships and 140,000 soldiers, but a Typhoon, a "Divine wind", (Kamikaze) destroys most of the fleet. 70,000 troops die in the storm - the worst naval disaster in history.
1285 Spectacles for the farsighted are invented in Italy.
1300 Eyeglasses are common in Rome for scholars.
1300 After 1,500 years, the Anasazi of Arizona abandon their cliff dwellings for unknown reasons.
1300 Gunpowder is used for warfare in England after being introduced to Europe in 1242.
1309-1376 Pope Clement V moves the papacy to Avignon France for almost 70 years starting the "Babylonian Exile". Seven successive popes will reside there. This will complicate the Hundred Years War since funds from the English church are sent to the pope who was closely associated with the French state.
1315Great Famine of 1315-1317 Torrential rains and cool weather, perhaps the result from a volcano, devastate crops in Europe. Millions die from starvation.
1323 The Aztec tribe is forced to flee their homeland to a remote island in a lake because they sacrificed a young Colhua princess from the neighboring tribe to their god instead of marrying her to a prince. In their new island home they see an eagle perched on a cactus which the Aztecs, or Mexica as they are called, take for a divine sign that this is their home.
1337 The Hundred Years War between England and France starts when the king of France invades Gascony, which is held by the English King Edward III, although under homage to the French king. Remember William the Conqueror was from French Normandy, and still retained control of his French lands when he won the English Crown in 1066. So English kings even 271 years later had large holdings in France until the end of this dreadful 116 year war.
1337 Timur-i Lang (Tamerlane) a Muslim conqueror of Mongol descent, is born. He conquers a huge territory in the middle east and Asia. Some think his feats rival Alexander the Great. 17 million people die from his conquests.
1341, June 23 At the Battle of Bannockburn, the Scots defeat the English and regain their independence. Robert the Bruce becomes Robert I of Scotland.
1346, August 26 In the first major battle of the 100 year war, the English under King Edward III are victorious against overwhelming odds. They kill 1,500 French troops at the Battle of Crecy using the new super weapon of the time, the Welsh Longbow, while suffering less than 100 casualties themselves. Edward also deploys a few cannon which do little actual damage, but mostly scare the French with man-made thunder.
1346 The Bubonic plague starts in China and moves westward aided by the ease of travel in the Mongol empire. The Mongols laid siege to the port of Kaffa on the Crimean peninsula and catapulted plague corpses into the besieged city. The Mongol army withdraws, but has succeeded in bringing the plague to Europe.
1348 The Black Plague (aka Bubonic) in Europe kills about 75 million. Contemporary accounts place the death toll at one third of inhabitants. Vast social changes result. Workers become a scarce commodity, increasing their bargaining power with employers. Farm land reverts back to forests as the number of farmers decrease.
1381, May 30 The English Peasant's Revolt begins with riots in Kent and Essex over tax increases to fund coastal defenses. Wat Tyler will lead the rebels in a march to London burning homes and property of those deemed wealthy. Foreigners, especially the Flemish, are murdered along the way. Although Tyler is eventually killed, and the movement crushed, the revolt hastens the decline of feudalism in England.
1384 Translating from the official Latin Vulgate, Oxford scholar John Wycliffe and his team produce the first English Bible. Since it predated the printing press, all copies were hand written.
1408 September 16Thorsteinn Olafsson and Sigridr Bjornsdottir are wed in the Church of Hvalsey in Greenland. This is the last record of the Norse settlements founded in 986 which did well initially as the climate was warm and agreeable to crops, but as the climate turned colder, the Norse abandoned Greenland.
1414 After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the knowledge of how to build with concrete was gradually lost. A chance discovery of a manuscript from Pollio Virtruvius reignites interest in concrete.
1415 Using the Welsh longbow, the English devastate the French at Agincourt as the Hundred Years War drags on.
1431 Joan of Arc burned at the stake. She is credited with leading the French in victory over the English. The English had been dominating France since Agincourt. Joan of Arc was helped by artillery that could now damage castle walls of the English.
1436 Filippo Brunelleschi completes the dome on the Florence Cathedral which today is still the largest brick dome in the world. His enormous accomplishment of creating a dome larger than the Pantheon in Rome, put antiquity on notice that Renaissance Europe was here and could surpass the achievements of the ancient Romans whose works had dwarfed Western Europe for a thousand years.
1440 Van Eyck reveals the secret to his greatly improved oil paints that used linseed oil with piled glass, calcined bones and mineral pigments giving painters a wider palette.
1441 First documented black African slaves imported into Europe.
1453The Christian kingdom of Constantinople finally falls to the Muslims. Mahomet II using European artillery mercenaries destroys the walls. This is the first use of a forward observer to direct artillery fire whose crews cannot see their targets. In a sense this is the final fall of the Roman Empire.
1455 German inventor Johann Gutenberg revolutionizes knowledge transfer. He improves or invents three items: the printing press, movable metal type, and an oil-based ink. His first work is the 42-line Bible. Unscrupulous partners take over his business and Johann ultimately dies in poverty.
1455 By mixing the ash of the salsola soda and salsola kali bushes into his glass, Venetian glassmaker Angelo Barovier removes impurities and creates "Cristallo" a clear glass that will be crucial to scientific instruments and speed the birth of modern science.
1462 Ivan III finally overthrows the mongol overlords and declares Russia the third Rome; which is why the title 'Czar' sounds so much like 'Caesar'.
1476 The Chimu civilization in Peru is defeated by the rising power of the Inca. The Chimu started around 1100.
1485, 22 August The Lancastrians are ascendent. In the battle of Bosworth, Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian, defeats the Yorkish king, Richard III, starting the Tudor dynasty in England.
1485 The "Sweating Sickness", a devastating illness, hits England. Henry VIII's older brother dies of the disease, paving the way for him to become king. Several outbreaks occur until 1551 when it mysteriously disappears.
1487 Aztec ruler Ahuitzotl sacrifices 20,000 prisoners to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli.
1489 Instead of using abbreviated words to indicate addition and subtraction, German mathematician Johann Widmann starts the practice of using the symbols "+" and "-".
1492, January 2 The armed forces of Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V conquer Granada, the last Moorish fortress in Spain. The Reconquesta is complete.
1492, October 12 Queen Isabella's advisers correctly state that China could be visited by going West since they know the earth is round, but that a ship would run out of supplies first since it was so far. Christopher Columbus uses some creative math and drastically underestimates the size of the earth. Fortunately for him, the Americas got in the way. He lands in the Bahamas. He dies in 1506 still thinking he had landed in Asia.
1494 Charles VIII invades Italy with new bronze cannons. The French break through in eight hours the fortress walls of Monte San Giovanni, which had previously withstood a siege of seven years. The arrival of the mobile cannon greatly reduces the value of fortresses and had wide political impact - mostly increasing the power of kings over their nobles, since nobles could no longer defy the king and hide behind their castle walls.
1494 Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan friar and friend of Leonardo da Vinci, writes a 600 page mathematics textbook "Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalità" published in Venice in 1494 detailing mathematics, especially for the merchant, and formalizing Double-Entry Bookkeeping - although seen today as boring - it was revolutionary in its day and allowed Renaissance Europe to leap ahead in trade.
1498, May 20 Captain Vasco da Gama becomes the first European to travel to India by way of the sea. He arrives near the city of Calicut and receives a hostile welcome from the traders. Tensions run high; many people are killed. Spices are brought back to Portugal, the return on investment was an amazing 60 times the initial investment. da Gama, who earns a reputation of being very cruel, returns later with 20 warships to enforce trade agreements.
1504, Feb. 29 Columbus is shipwrecked on Jamaica with the locals being less inclined to provide food for his sailors. Columbus, after consulting his almanac, tells the Jamaicans that God is displeased with them and He will blot out the moon in three days. The eclipse does occur and the locals energetically resupply Columbus.
1513 Vasco Nunez de Balboa is the first European to see the Pacific ocean. Jealous of his fame, members of the Spanish court convince the King that Balboa is guilty of treason. For his bravery Balboa is beheaded in 1519.
1514 After studying in Italy, Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543) returns to Poland convinced that the earth revolves around the sun. He dedicates his work to his friend Pope Paul III.
1517, October 31 An Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, nails his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg; unknowingly initiating the Protestant revolution.
1521 Hernando Cortes conquers the Aztec empire by allying himself with the other people who hated the Aztecs for some reason (their unsavory habit of using them for human sacrifices perhaps?).
1521, May The Constable of France, Charles de Bourbon, attacks Rome. He is killed early by a crossbow dart, but his army sacks the treasures of ages from the eternal city.
1522, 6 September Basque captain Juan Sebastián Elcano and 17 of sailors complete the first circumnavigation of the globe that was started by Ferdinand Magellan 3 years and 1 month earlier. The feat will not be done again for 59 years.
1526 William Tyndale, scholar and speaker of eight languages, publishes the first translation of the New Testament in English. For his efforts he is imprisoned for 500 days in horrible conditions and then strangled and his body burned ten years later.
1528, November 6 Alvar Nunez Cabesa de Vaca becomes the first European to set foot in Texas. De Vaca is captured and enslaved by the Karankawa Indians, but escapes two years later.
1532, NovemberInca ruler Atahuallpa meets Francisco Pizarro. Atahuallpa wanted to impress the Spanish and the Inca by coming to the meeting with 4,000 unarmed men showing that he was so powerful he needed no soldiers to protect the royal personage. The 150 Spanish slaughter the Incas and hold Atahuallpa hostage. With 150 men, Pizarro conquers the Inca empire of six million people. Moral to the story: Don't trust strangers wanting gifts.
1536 John Calvin writes The Institutes of the Christian Religion.
1541 Francisco de Orellana is the first European to navigate down the length of the Amazon river enduring many hardships. He had a gift for the local languages and communicated with the local peoples. He wrote about large populations living in villages continually lining parts of the river; villages and cultures that will vanish totally when the inhabitants are struck by new and terrible diseases.
1550 Greek, Latin, and Hebrew scholar Robertus Stephanus publishes a Greek New Testament, the Textus Receptus, which will become the basis for many translations into common languages for centuries to come. This is the first Bible to have our familiar chapter and verse notations.
1550-1850 The Little Ice Age strikes Europe. After the Medieval Warming Period, when climate was ideal for raising grains in Europe, temperatures start to fall, and with them the fortunes of many in Europe. Crops fail and many starve and freeze to death.
1556 Earthquake in China kills 830,000.
1557 The equals sign is first used by Welsh physician and mathematician Robert Recorde, who was tired of having to write 'is equal to' and decided on parallel lines as the perfect symbol for equality. Adding to his credit Recorde, also popularized the '+' sign to English.
1559, January 15 Elizabeth Tudor, after surviving many attempts on her life, is crowned queen of England ushering in the English Renaissance where England becomes a major world power.
1572 The Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Tens of thousands of Huguenots (French Protestants) are killed in France.
1564, April 23William Shakespeare, titan of English literature, is born in Stratford-on-Avon in England.
1564, June 22Fleeing religious persecution French Huguenots establish Fort Caroline in Florida.
1567Spanish explorer Juan Pardo establishes the earliest Spanish outpost in the interior of North Carolina, part of a series of six forts in Appalachia. The Spanish trade with the local Mississippian culture locals while looking for gold. The natives will attack all forts in 18 months, burn them to the ground and kill all but one of the Spaniards.
September 1, 1575 Spain squanders the unbelievable wealth from the New World in senseless wars and the Spanish Crown must declare bankruptcy. All the gold of the Aztecs and the silver of the Incas, the accumulated wealth of centuries, are wasted in useless wars bringing bloodshed and destruction to Europe.
1575 In Japan two armies meet. The side with guns wins for the first time, yet by mutual agreement, guns are outlawed 100 years later.
1580, September 26Sir Francis Drake returns to England in the Golden Hind becoming only the second ship to circumnavigate the earth in a single voyage.
1585Thomas Hariot first writes about an amazing herbal remedy introduced to him by the local peoples of America called tobacco. (It's really the revenge of the indigenous peoples of America - its killed more Europeans than they could have imagined).
1582, October 4To correct for the drifting of the equinox from March 21, Pope Gregory XIII decrees that the next day would be October 15. Not all countries obey his edict and many disputes arise over interest to be paid, and wages.
1569Gerardus Mercator publishes his cylindrical projection of the earth.
1588, May 19Philip II's "Invincible" Spanish Armada of 130 ships embark for England, but are delayed by bad weather, giving the English more time to prepare. The outnumbered English navy win a decisive victory and destroy half the Armada.
March 20, 1602 United East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie ), or the VOC founded. This was the first multinational joint-stock company, a landmark in economic development. The VOC prospered for centuries, but went bankrupt at the end of the 18th some say due to corruption and poor management.
1603, Feb 7 Battle at Glenfruin when the MacGregors slaughtered the Colquhouns (my ancestors).
1607, May 14The English settle in Jamestown.
1608 The city of Santa Fe New Mexico, the oldest capital city in the US, is founded by the Spanish. Santa Fe prospers for 300 years before New Mexico becomes a state, well, except for the time 1680-1692 when the Pueblo people revolt and push the Spanish out of their territory.
1613, June 29Shakespeare's Globe Theatre burns down. The theatre could seat one thousand people in the galleries and another two thousand could stand on the grounds.
1617, Apr 4 John Napier, inventor of logarithms (1614) and Napier's Bones (ivory sticks which foreshadowed the slide rule) dies in Edinburgh.
1619 Johann Kepler finally solves the mystery of the motion of the planets. The early Greeks thought the study of the heavens was the highest calling of mankind and Johann discovered the plan. He stated three laws of planetary motion. His third law states: "The squares of the planets' orbital periods are proportional to the cubes of the semi-major axes of their orbits." Kepler is one of the most underrated scientist in history.
1620Pilgrims arrive at Plymouth.
1642, August 22The first of three English Civil Wars start with Charles the First and his "Cavaliers" fighting against Parliament and the "Roundheads".
1645, June 14In the Battle of Naseby, the Parliamentarian New Model Army soundly defeats the forces loyal to King Charles I of England effectively bringing an end to the First English Civil War.
16481/4 of Polish Jews are massacred, many survivors move to Jerusalem.
1656Christiaan Huygens, inspired by Galileo's observations about pendulums having a constant swing rate, invents the first working pendulum clock. Pendulum clocks will be the most accurate timepieces for 270 years. The increase in accuracy will accelerate scientific research.
1666, September 2The Great Fire of London ravages the City for three days destroying 80% of the buildings leaving thousands homeless and bankrupt. Afterwards London is remade when Sir Christopher Wren decrees new buildings will be made of brick and the streets to be widened. Oddly, the fire slows the progress of the plague by destroying so many rats. Only 16 people lost their lives in the inferno.
1685 The Edict of Nantes revoked by Louis XIV in France. Many Huguenots are killed and many (like my ancestors) flee France.
1653, December 16 Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
1676, October 9 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, father of the microscope and first microbiologist, describes seeing animalcules, a whole world of life in a drop of water, laying open the hitherto undiscovered universe of the small and laying the foundation of our modern view of disease. This is an under-appreciated revolution in science brought about by better instrumentation.
1683, September 11The King of Poland Jan III Sobieski leading 20,000 horsemen, the largest cavalry charge in history, rides down from the hills around Vienna and routes the besieging Ottoman forces led by Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha. The Battle of Vienna is the high water mark of the Ottoman Empire. The date of the 9/11 attacks is thought to avenge this battle.
1686 Isaac Newton writes Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy which shows the laws of the heavens are the same as the laws of earth.
1689, February 13 William of Orange and Mary are crowned king and queen of Britain in the bloodless Glorious revolution after accepting a Bill of Rights which limited royal authority and enlarged constitutional law.
1707, OctoberFour British warships lead by Admiral Shovell run aground on the Scilly Islands off the English coast killing 2000 sailors. This intensifies the search for a solution to "The Longitude Problem". Eventually solved by John Harrison with an accurate clock.
1714German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, who had a flair for glass blowing, invents the mercury thermometer. His eponymous scale sets zero degrees to be the lowest temperature he could make in his lab, a mixture of salt and ice. The thermometer is a huge boon to science because gas and chemical experiments involving temperature could now be measured precisely.
1712Thomas Newcomen creates the first successful steam engine used to evacuate water from mines.
1714Jethro Tull perfects the seed drill, which produces eight times more wheat from the sown seed. For his efforts, he is vilified.
1722The smooth bore flintlock musket known as the "Brown Bess" is first used by the British. Amazingly, firearm technology stagnates and this gun is used for 116 years until replaced by a smoothbore musket with percussion cap.
1722, April 5Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen becomes the first European to discover Easter Island (aka, Rapa Nui), the most remote inhabited island in the world with 2,000 to 3,000 natives whose Polynesian ancestors arrived at the island around 800 years earlier.
1735The wise Carolus Linnaeus, a homo sapien, creates a taxonomic system for naming species.
1735 Leonhard Euler solves the "Basel Problem", or what is the exact sum of the squares of the reciprocals of the natural numbers, (i.e., 1+1/4+1/9+1/16+ ....). By the way, in case you have forgotten, the answer is π2/6.
1746, April 16The last land battle fought in England is fought by the supporters of the House of Stuart, Charles Edward Stuart, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie, against the forces of the House of Hanover under the command of the Duke of Cumberland in the Battle of Culloden. Prince Charles' four thousand mostly Scottish Highlanders being hungry, poorly armed, and badly led lose a thousand men compared to the fifty causalities in the English army. A purge of Highland culture follows.
1750The "Kentucky Long Rifle", which has groves, or rifling, cut into its barrel to give the bullet spin for stability is common in the Appalachian Mountains being brought to the US by German gunsmiths. It has a 300 yard range instead of the 100 yard range of the smooth bore muskets of the day, but it takes 60 seconds to reload instead of the 20 seconds for smooth bore muskets.
1752England adopts the Gregorian calendar and moves New Year's day from late March to January 1st. Before this September was the seventh month, October was the eight month which makes sense, now the names are off by two.
1754Scottish chemist Joseph Black discovers carbon dioxide and later the latent heat of fusion.
1756Scottish physician William Cullen gives the first documented public demonstration of artificial refrigeration. Using a pump to create a partial vacuum in a container of diethyl ether, he creates artificial ice for the first time in human history.
1759, January 1After careful, measured experiments on models, John Smeaton publishes a paper showing that overshot water wheels are twice as efficient as undershot water wheels, disproving a French philosopher 50 years earlier who said undershot water wheels were more efficient. As England switched to Smeaton's recommendations, more power was available to the Industrial Revolution. Smeaton is remembered for his methodology of combining mathematics and carefully measured experiments to discovery the fundamental laws of engineering. He is considered the Father of Civil Engineering.
1763, February 10The French and Indian War ends with the Treaty of Paris. Britain gains all of North American east of the Mississippi (sans New Orleans), important parts of India, and various islands from the French. Many American colonists, most notably George Washington, gain military experience in the conflict.
1769, 5 January English patent 913 is granted to James Watt for his steam engine which had many improvements, the most important being a separate condenser from the main piston. Since this engine was five times more efficient than Newcomen's, it was practical for many new uses ushering in our modern age by powering the Industrial Revolution.
1775, April 19At 5am 700 British troops march into Lexington to capture rebel leaders and weapons. They are met by 77 armed minutemen waiting on the town's common green. After being ordered to disperse, the colonist start to leave the green, but then a "shot heard around the world" was fired by an unknown gunman, and the American Revolution is ignited.
1776The American colonies declare themselves independent of Great Britain.
1776, September 6David Bushnell navigates his primitive submarine, the Turtle, toward a British ship. His attempt at sinking the ship fails, but scares the blockading British ship away.
1777, September 7A British sharpshooter, Major Patrick Ferguson, has an American officer in his sights, but does not fire, since it would be unprofessional to kill an unsuspecting officer. The officer is later revealed to be George Washington.
1778, January 18After visiting Australia, James Cook is the first European to travel to Hawaii.
1781, March 13William Herschel discovers Uranus using a telescope - the first planet found in modern times.
1781, October 19General Cornwallis surrenders to the colonists in American while the band plays "The World Turned Upside Down". 25,000 Americans died in the war.
1783, November 21First manned hot air balloon flight in Paris by Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis D'Arlands.
1784Englishman Henry Shrapnel invents a hollow cannon ball filled with metal particles which explodes above enemy troops with horrific effect. We see these in "The Star-Spangled Banner" line "And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air".
1786 Sir William Jones, Chief Justice of India, proposes that Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and many European languages were all descended from a common Proto-Indo-European language.
1789, July 14The French Revolution ignites with the storming of the Bastille to gain badly needed gunpowder.
1791, November 4Miami Chief 'Little Turtle' inflicts the worst defeat by Native Americans on the US Army under the command of Arthur St. Clair, ninth President of the Continental Congress in the Battle of Wabash. Six hundred soldiers are killed, one-quarter of the US Army.
1795The Metric system of measurement is introduced into France.
1793John Smeaton, the father of Civil Engineering, lays the foundation for the modern age of concrete building by completing the innovative Eddystone Lighthouse in England. He solidifies the modern use of concrete, which had largely been forgotten since the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
1793 August 1A Yellow fever epidemic breaks out as French refuges from the Haitian Revolution flee to Philadelphia and bring the dreaded disease with them. Philadelphia with 50,000 residents is the largest city in the US and the federal capital. Ten percent will die from the disease making it one of the worst epidemics in the history of the country. Stephen Girard, the wealthiest man in America, personally nurses the sick back to health.
1796, May 14After noticing that milkmaids who had contracted cowpox never suffered the horrors of smallpox, English physician Edward Jenner infects a boy with cowpox and later infects him with smallpox. The boy never develops smallpox. Countless lives are saved through his simple observation.
1798Thomas Malthus publishes An Essay on the Principle of Population claiming starvation was inevitable for the human race. Oddly enough, 220 years later the world is better fed than ever.
1798, June 18Napoleon Bonaparte conquers Malta and outlaws slavery.
1799, July While scavenging for large rocks to build a wall near the town of Rosetta, a French soldier, Pierre-Francois Bouchard, discovers a curious large stone with three types of writing scripts. It will take 24 more years of scholarship before Jean-Francois Champollion, building on the work of Thomas Young, will decipher hieroglyphs. Champollion will read for the first time in over a thousand years the history of ancient Egypt.
1801Joseph-Marie Jacquard invents a loom that uses punched cards to create designs in fabric. Workers fearful for their jobs threw their sabots, or shoes, into the machines to destroy them; giving rise to our word 'sabotage'.
1801, December 24English inventor Richard Trevithick improves on James Watt's steam engine and drives a steam-powered wagon uphill in Camborne, Cornwall England. Many claim he is the "Father of the Steam Locomotive".
1804Napoleon is crowned Emperor of France.
1805, October 21 In the Battle of Trafalgar, the British fleet under the command of Horatio Nelson defeats a combined Spanish-French Fleet.
1805, April 27 William Eaton leads the first American overseas military action on land. Against enormous odds, the Marines and mercenaries take the city of Derna, Tripoli to prevent the Barbary pirates from stealing cargo and enslaving American citizens.
1807 Rev. Alexander John Forsyth of Scotland is getting tired of the birds he hunts seeing the flash of fire in his powder pan of his flintlock shotgun and escaping before the gun actually fires. Taking advantage of the recently discovered fulminates that explode upon impact, he invents the percussion cap. Now the birds have no early warning.
1808 Importing slaves into the United States is outlawed.
1809 Napoleon Bonaparte awards Nicolas Appert the 12,000 franc prize for preserving food in bottles. Napoleon now had a way to easily supply his troops with food. Appert is known as the father of canning. He put food in jars and heating them for as long as he thought necessary. The process was killing bacteria, although Louis Pasteur would not discover why Appert method worked for 100 years.
1812, September 17 The Battle of Borodino pitched Napoleon against the Russian army in the bloodiest day of the Grande Armee's invasion of Russia. The French barely won, but did not pursue the disorganized Russians.
1812, June 24 Napoleon takes Moscow, but it's a hallow victory. The city is burned to the ground and the Tsar does not surrender. Napoleon and what is left of the Grand Armee retreat. Of the original 600,000 soldiers, only 100,000 returned.
1814 During the War of 1812, the British under the command of General Robert Ross attack Washington D.C. and, in response to US forces burning Canadian buildings against the rules of war, burned the White House, but not before enjoying a lovely dinner prepared by Dolly Madison before she fled.
1815, June 18 Napoleon defeated at Waterloo
1816 The Year Without a Summer. Mount Tambora erupts and throws so much dust in the air that it causes 10 inches of snow to fall in June in New England (US). Crops fail and famine is common. Many blame Benjamin Franklin and his experiments with electricity for the freak weather. Mary Shelley is forced inside and writes Frankenstein.
1822, February 17The US Senate passes the Missouri Compromise admitting Maine as a free state and Missouri as a slave state in a futile attempt to ease tensions with slave proponents and abolitionists.
1822 Jakob Grimm, of Grimm Fairy Tales fame, proposes 'Grimm's Law' - that many consonants have shifted in a consistent way from Non-Germanic languages (like Latin and Greek) to Germanic languages (like English). For example, 'p's become 'f's, as in Latin 'pater' becoming English 'father'; Latin 'pisces' becomes English 'fish'.
1824Mexico's new constitution abolishes slavery.
1831, August 21 Nat Turner leads a long feared slave revolt in Virginia killing 60 whites. The revolt is quickly stopped by the local militia, but many innocent slaves are hanged and life made even more miserable for slaves by harsh new actions to prevent future revolts.
1833 Charles Babbage designs the Difference Machine - a forerunner of the modern computer. Traditionally it was thought to fail because metallurgy was not yet advanced enough. Recent views blame his machinist for wasting the money and being lazy.
1834, August 1 With the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 coming into force, England outlaws slavery and frees 780,993 slaves in most of its possessions and takes 20 million pounds to compensation the owners.
1835 In a radical departure of the accepted norm, Belgian mathematician and astronomer Adolphe Quetelet promotes using the statistical concept of "average" for use in other sciences besides astronomy. This is a turning point in social sciences.
1836, February 25Samuel Colt is awarded a US Patent for the first practical repeating revolver whose cylinders must be individually loaded with powder, wadding and lead projectile. His firearms allow the settling of the American West, for the first time giving pioneers a technical advantage over the native Americans. Colt is the first to make firearms using an assembly line with interchangeable parts. He dies one of the richest men in America.
1836, March 6 Mexican forces under the command of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna overwhelm the rebellious Texans inside the Alamo in a battle that lasts but ninety minutes.
1836Slavery, which had been outlawed in Mexico, is reintroduced into Texas with the birth of the Republic of Texas.
1837An over-investment in canals and railroads built with bonds from Europeans results in projects that cannot pay their bond holders. Many states in the US start to default on bonds owed to Europeans. This starts the financial Panic of 1837 and American slips into its first great depression.
1838 January 24Samuel Morse demonstrates the telegraph in public.
1838, October 5 Killough Massacre - an outpost of settlers in East Texas is attacked by renegade Cherokee, Caddo, Coushatta, Mexicans and several runaway slaves. Eighteen people are killed or kidnapped. This leads to an outrage of white settlers and many of the Cherokee are forced to leave Texas.
1840, March 28The ironclad gunboat, the Nemesis, built by a Scottish shipbuilder John Laird, leaves England bound for China becoming the first ironclad to round the Cape of Good Hope. In China, she destroys nine war-junks, five forts, two military stations and a shore battery in a single day. The technological gap in warfare is widening between Europe and the rest of the world.
1844, May 24Samuel Morse telegraphs "What hath God wrought?" from Washington to Baltimore. Many people thought the telegraph would help end wars, since opposing sides could "talk" out their differences.
1844, June 8 Texas Ranger Captain John Coffee Hays and fourteen Rangers encounter a much larger band of Comanche warriors under the command of Yellow Wolf at Walker's Creek in Texas. For the first time the Rangers use the new Colt Patterson 5-shot revolver in battle and the results are stunning: one Ranger is killed, but 20 to 50 Comanches become causalities. This encounter marks the turning of the war in the Plains. For centuries the Comanches were better armed since they could loose 6 arrows in the time it took to reload a single shot rife; now with the Colt revolver the Comanche weapons dominance is over.
1845-1848 The Great Hunger (aka Potato Famine). Blight causes potato crop to fail in Ireland. 1.5 million die of starvation and disease. Ireland still exports grain to England to pay rents. Help from England was too little too late.
1848 Uncoordinated revolutions take place all over Europe in the Revolts of 1848 when people demand more representation in their governments. Most will eventually fail, but some reforms come from the turmoil.
1847, Sept 14United States troops enter Mexico City under the command of General Winfield Scott ending the Mexican American War. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, was signed in February giving the United States California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The war was a dress rehearsal for the American Civil War.
1847Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor, noticing the high incidence of childhood fevers, suggests that after doing autopsies physicians should wash their hands before delivering babies. He said that the disease is transmitted by some "cadaveric material" instead of an imbalance of humors. He is ridiculed by the other doctors and eventually fired.
1848, February 26Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels publish a little pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto.
1849The Smithsonian Institution supplies weather instruments to telegraph operators who report back weather information. The Institution uses these readings to create the first real weather tracking and prediction system in the US.
1849Dr. John Snow through careful investigation traces the 1849 Cholera outbreak in Soho to a contaminated water pump on Broad Street earning the title of 'father of modern epidemiology'. The pump was disabled and the Cholera outbreak subsided. (The authorities never accepted his explanation and after the outbreak, they replaced the Broad Street pump that was three feet from a cesspit.)
1850Le Napoleon, the first steam-powered warship with screws for propulsion is built.
1850, July 14Scottish physician John Gorrie debuts a mechanical ice making machine at a Bastille Day party to rave reviews. The New England ice-shipping establishment ridicule his "artificial" ice as unhealthy and John dies five years later, penniless. Another 10 years will pass before artificial ice becomes available.
1850, SeptemberThe "Compromise of 1850" enacted which temporarily mitigated slavery issues in the US. Territory above 36 degrees 30 minutes latitude are free states. Texas loses the sliver of land going into Colorado since it's northern border is now capped at 36 degrees 30 minutes.
1850The Taiping Rebellion in China gains steam. Eventually 20-30 million people will die making this the most costly Civil war in human history.
1854, July 8 Admiral Perry visits Japan with his Black Ships and forces Japan to trade with the US. Japan had been in virtual isolation for two hundred years and had no defense against the cannons of Perry's fleet. This initiated a rapid industrialization in Japan resulting in a world class navy which defeated the Russians in 1904.
1854 Being distressed that so many British sailors were being lost in storms, Admiral Robert FitzRoy uses the new telegraph system to gather weather information and make forecasts. He is criticized for wasting government funds on what everyone knew was an impossible task. After saving many sailors lives, he later takes his own life.
1854 The clipper ship Flying Cloud sets the world sailing record for the fastest trip between New York and San Francisco, 89 days 8 hours. This record stood for over 130 years, until 1989. Clipper ships were narrow and long with huge amounts of sail, but passed out of fashion when steam ships became reliable.
1854, October 25 During the Crimean War, Lord Cardigan led the British cavalry against the Russians in what would become known as "The Charge of the Light Brigade".
1856Louis Pasteur shows that disease is spread from tiny, little organisms, instead of bad vapors. Germ theory is born.
1857, March 6The US Supreme Court rules in the Dred Scott case that a slave can be taken to free territory and the ownership of slaves overrules the laws of the local territory.
1859 After holding sway for two millennium, Aristotle's theory of Spontaneous Generation is finally put to bed by Louis Pasteur's swan neck flask experiment showing that particles from the air seed the growth of molds in flasks of broth.
1859 Charles Darwin publishes Origin of Species.
1859, August 27George Bissel sees prices for whale oil skyrocketing as the Spermaceti whales are over-hunted and gambles on hiring Edwin Drake to drill an oil well in Titusville, PA. Progress is very slow and Bissel mails Drake to shut down the well. Fortunately the letter arrives late. Edwin Drake had just completed the first oil well in America the day before. Whale oil was selling for 5 dollars a gallon, and kerosene soon sold for 10-25 cents a gallon.
1859, September 1 While looking at sunspots Richard Carrington, a widely respected solar astronomer, witnesses enormous solar flares which make the "Northern Lights" visible in the tropics and damages electric equipment all over the world. Telegraph equipment still can transmit messages without batteries due to the induced currents from the "Carrington Event". If a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) like the 1859 occurred today, electric power would be severely damaged and repairs might take months.
1860 James Clerk Maxwell completes his four equations of electromagnetism.
1860 Herman Hollerith invents an electronic tabulator for the US Census. He starts a company that eventually becomes IBM.
1860, JulyBased on the Le Napoleon design, the ironclad French warship, La Gloire is commissioned with 4.7-inch iron plates to protect her sides. A single screw and three masts provide power. The British quickly counter with the larger ironclad HMS Warrior. France does not have the industrial base to produce many of these ships, and the British soon take the lead in an expensive arms race.
1861 Scotsman James Clerk Maxwell proposes a method to make permanent color photographs. Thomas Sutton uses this technique to make the first color photograph, of a Tartan ribbon.
1861 April 12At 4:30am Southerner Lt. Henry S. Farley fires a 10-inch mortar round into Union held fortress of Ft. Sumter in Charleston Bay starting the American Civil War in which 400,000 union soldiers and 200,000 Southern soldiers will be casualties making it by far the most deadly conflict in American history.
1862, March 8 The ironclad CSS Virginia destroys two Union ships sweeping away hundreds of years of military ship design - the days of the wooden warship in the New World ends today.
1862, May 4 A scout in the Civil War became the first person to be killed by a pressure activated land mine. This novel instrument of war was developed by Southerner Gabriel J. Rains. The South buries mines in the road to slow down advancing Northern troops, until the North starts using Southern prisoners to walk ahead of their columns. Land mines will cause a third of the American injuries in Vietnam War.
1863, January 1 President Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves in rebelling states. This makes British intervention on behalf of the Confederacy less likely due to the strong anti-slavery sentiments there.
1863, May 22, 10amFor the first time in history, a military assault starts with synchronized watches in the Battle for Vicksburg in the American Civil War.
1864, February 17 The Confederate H. L. Hunley becomes the first submarine to sink an enemy ship, the Union Housatonic. The Hunley sinks shortly afterwords killing all nine men on board.
1864, April 19 The CSS Albemarle, a Confederate ironclad designed by a 19 year old, and built in a corn field from scrap iron, sinks a Union ship and wins the Battle of Plymouth for the South.
1865, April 9 At Appomattox, Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee in full dress uniform surrenders his Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, who was wearing a muddy field uniform, almost ending the American Civil War. The Southerners, after swearing not to take up arms against the United States, are generously allowed to return to their homes with their horses to start spring planting.
1865, April 26The US suffers its worst maritime disaster when the overcrowded steamboat Sultana, full of ex-POW Union soldiers who had survived 4 years of war and brutal captivity, has a boiler explosion and 1,800 people die in the chilly Mississippi. Two hundred more people die on the Sultana than the Titanic.
1865, May 13Private John Williams becomes the last soldier killed in the Civil war at the battle of Palmito Ranch in Texas, a Confederate victory.
1865, June 2 The American Civil War finally ends when Confederate General Edmund Smith, commander of all forces west of the Mississippi, surrenders the last Confederate army in the field. 400,000 Union soldiers and 200,000 Confederate soldiers are killed in the conflict.
1865 Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel sows the seeds of modern genetics.
1866 After his brother Emil is killed preparing Nitroglycerin, Alfred Nobel stabilizes the notoriously temperamental explosive by mixing it with diatomaceous earth creating the stable explosive dynamite. Alfred goes on to fund international prizes with his dynamite fortune.
1866, July 3 The Battle of Koniggratz is fought. Prussia had smartly sent observers to the American Civil War and learned of railroads, telegraphs, and new firearms. The Prussians use this new-found knowledge in the Austro-Prussian War. They overwhelm the Austrians using their new Needle guns which used a cartridge instead of muzzle loading, and could be reloaded in a prone positions instead of standing like the French soldiers did. With telegraphs the Prussians stayed in constant contact with the armies in the field and the railroads brought fresh troops quickly to battle areas.
1866 North America and Europe are connected by a 2,500 mile long telegraph table.
1868, January 3 The feudal leaders of Japan are swept aside by the young emperor Meiji who centralizes and reforms the government. He embarks on a process of industrializing the economy and modernizing the army and navy.
1867, August 2 Using their new .50 caliber Springfield breech loading rifles, 26 soldiers from Fort Kearny, Wyoming fend off 1,500 Lakota Indians led by Red Cloud in "The Wagon Box Fight". The Lakota attacked in waves. The second wave expected to kill the reloading soldiers, but instead were greeted by a round of bullets from the new repeating rifles. Three soldiers and approximately 50 Indians were killed.
1872, March 1 Yellowstone, the world's first national park is created in the western US.
1873 The Colt Firearms company debuts the revolutionary Colt Single Action Army Revolver, or Peacemaker, which employs metal cartridges.
1876-1878 Between 30 and 60 million people die in the Great Famine as the rains fail in India, China, and many other countries.
1876, March 10 Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell speaks into his new invention, "Mr. Watson - come here - I want to see you" and the world is never the same. He submits the patent for the telephone just hours ahead of his rival Elisha Gray. His patent may be the most valuable patent ever filed.
1876 Michelson and Morley fail to verify the existence of the ether.
1876, June 25-26 At the Battle of Little Big Horn, the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Crow Indians defeat General George Custer's troops. Many have speculated that if Custer had not split his troops, and kept the cannon, he could have won easily. 25% of the Indians are estimated to have had superior weapons than the US Cavalry. The Indians had Spencers, Winchesters, and Henry repeating rifles. Custer's men were armed primarily with the Springfield single shot rifles.
1877, August 12Thomas Edison invents the amazing phonograph to record voice and music. Many mediocre club singers and musicians will lose their jobs as clubs settle for a phonograph instead of live music.
1879, December 31Thomas Edison demonstrates his incandescent light bulb.
1882, September 30World's first hydroelectric dam is built in Appleton Wisconsin.
1883, August 26The island volcano of Krakatoa in Indonesia brilliantly explodes killing 36,000 people. The tide is influenced in England and fine volcanic dust settles in New York. The sound of the explosion is heard 3,000 miles away.
1883, November 18Exactly at noon all the railroads in North America started using four standard time zones. Before this each city had its own solar time leading to massive confusion in train schedules and accidents. In 1918 the US Congress officially adopts the four time zones.
1884 Paul Vieille revolutionizes firearms by inventing smokeless gunpowder which is three times more powerful than current gunpowder. The higher velocity of bullets allows for longer distances and more accuracy since the trajectory is flatter. With less smoke, snipers can fire without giving away their location. Being more powerful, bullets can be smaller. Smokeless gunpowder is first used in the Lebel rifle by the French two years later.
1886 Heinrich Hertz discovers radio waves and declares them of, "No use whatsoever."
1885, July 6 Nine year old Joseph Meister, a victim of a rabid dog bite, is given a miraculous new "vaccine" by Louis Pasteur. The boy recovers and the scourge of rabies, that had caused such dread, finally has a cure. The grateful Joseph works later as the caretaker of Pasteur's tomb.
November 1, 1893 In the opening battle of the First Matabele War in then Rhodesia, British troops use the Maxim machine gun for the first time in battle to devastating effect. The machine gun accelerates the colonization of Africa. In one later battle 50 British soldiers with four Maxim guns fight off 5,000 Ndebele warriors.
November 18, 1883 The railroads in the US and Canada replace thousands of local solar time scheduling with four time zones. The four time zones would be made official in the US in 1918. Before this each town would have its own time zone based on when the sun reached its zenith often displayed by a time ball dropped from a high tower.
1895Wilhelm Roentgen accidentally discovers X-Rays. Within a year, X-Rays are being used in the medical field to set bones and peer into the body. For his research, Wilhelm is awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.
1898, 13 August Newspaper reports of alleged atrocities by the Spaniards against Cubans fan the flames for the US to intervene to free the Cubans from their Colonial overlords. The USS Maine explodes in Havana harbor and the US Government blames the Spanish. This fuels the fire in America and the Spanish-American war starts. Later results show Spain was blameless and the explosion was probably caused by a coal dust explosion. Ironically after the war to stop abusive colonial powers and free peoples, the US is in possession of its own colonies of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
1899-1902 In the Boer War, the British take over Southern Africa from the Boers, descendants of the Dutch and German settlers. The technology foreshadows WWI - machine guns and barb wire. To prevent the locals from supporting the Boer fighters, the British burn the Boer farms and put their women and children into concentration camps where 30 thousand die from malnutrion and disease.
1901 Guglielmo Marconi sends the first wireless transatlantic radio signal from England to Newfoundland.
1902 Willis Carrier installs air conditioning at a printing plant to remove the humidity that was smearing the ink. Willis invents modern air conditioning and the South will never be the same.
1903 December 17Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright fly 37 meters in the first heavier than air aircraft. The flight lasted only 12 seconds.
1904 Japanese sink half the Russian fleet in the opening move of the Russo-Japanese war. The Russians badly underestimate the modern Japanese fleet which a year later destroys most of the remaining Russian navy.
1905While working as a patent clerk, Albert Einstein publishes his theory of relativity and also states energy equals matter (E = mc2). This is his 'miracle year'. He publishes four vastly different papers. Three of them are Nobel prize winning material in their own right. He discovers three different ways to calculate Avogadro's Number.
1906 HMS Dreadnought starts a new era in warships. It was unique in the following ways: more armor (11 inch plate), larger than predecessors (18,000 tons), uses a steam turbine engine for more power, has only large 12 inch caliber guns. The Dreadnought battleship makes all other ships immediately obsolete and starts a very expensive arms race.
1907, January 26The Tillman Act of 1907 becomes law stating that "... it shall be unlawful for any national bank, or any corporation organized by authority of any laws of Congress, to make a money contribution in connection with any election to any political office".
1908, September 17 Lt. Thomas Selfridge crashes the Wright Flyer becoming the first fatal airplane crash victim in history.
1908, September 26 Unknown to his employers, John Leal is the first person to add chlorine to a public water supply, saving thousands of people from typhoid fever and a host of other diseases in Jersey City. For his hard work, diligence, and foresight, he is sued.
1909 Norman Angell publishes "The Great Illusion" putting to rest fears in England of German aggression by reasoning that a future war does not make any sense with the economies of the world are so tightly linked.
1911 Rutherford proposes the 'Solar System' model of the atom.
1911 The first ammonia plant to fixate nitrogen from the air using the Haber-Bosch method is built at Ludwigshafen-Oppau, Germany. The process saved many lives by producing cheap fertilizer to feed the world. It will destroy many lives in WWI by creating the nitrogen needed for the artillery shells.
1911 Instead of each state's legislature selecting them, United States senators are now to be elected by popular vote.
1911, December 3 Willis Carrier presents a paper outlining the four principles of modern air conditioning making the American South habitable for millions of people.
1912, January 6A German Meteorologist, Alfred Wegener, proposes that all the earth was in a single continent he called Pangaea and then drifted apart. Geologists criticize and ridicule him for his theory of Continental Drift since he was not a geologist. He dies in 1931 without seeing the universal acceptance of this work. In Europe his ideas were accepted earlier, but in the US it took until the 1960s.
1912, April 15 The unsinkable Titanic goes down with over 1,500 souls. Before the voyage, a steward from the White Star Line is reported to have said, "Not even God Himself can sink this ship". ("Hubris" is what the Greeks called it.)
1913, October 7 Henry Ford's entire Highland Park car factory switches to a continuously moving assembly line. This innovation, borrowed from the meat packing industry, shortens the man-hours to make a Model T from twelve hours to six. The car will now be affordable to ordinary Americans and change manufacturing forever.
1914, June 28Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie are celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary in Sarajevo, when their driver takes a wrong turn and the car stalls. By pure chance Gavrilo Princip, who missed an opportunity earlier in the day to assassinate the pair, is just two yards away. Gavrilo shoots and kills Ferdinand and Sophie. This random act will set in motion the horrors of WWI and WWII, killing millions and destroying Europe.
1914, August 3 Germany declares war on France starting the "war to end all wars".
1914, August 15 The U.S. ship Ancon becomes the first ship to pass through the newly opened Panama Canal. 25,000 workers died during the construction.
1914, August 26 In the Battle of Le Cateau the German forces using protected howitzers dug in far behind the front lines firing shells in high arcs defeat the Allies that were using exposed low arc trajectory artillery. This marks the ascendancy of howitzers over line-of-sight artillery.
1914, September 5 The German U-Boat U-21 sinks the HMS Pathfinder becoming the second submarine in history to sink a ship and the first submarine to sink a ship by torpedo.
1914, October 31 60,000 Japanese and 1,500 British successfully attack the German-held port of Tsingtao. For their help in WWI, Japan keeps all the German territory in the Pacific north of the equator including the Marshalls, Marianas, and Carolines. Japan also holds onto German territory in China. These territories provide Japan a launching pad for WWII.
1915, 22 April In the first major use of modern chemical weapons, German forces open canisters of Chlorine gas to float across the battlefield near Ypres. The French Colonial troops flee leaving a gap in the lines, but the German forces are also scared of the gas, so they do not take advantage of the gap.
1915, September 6 The first military tank rolls off the assembly line in England to break the stalemate of trench warfare in WWI. Although the first tank, Little Willie, is woefully underpowered, it is a sign of things to come.
1915, July 28300 U.S. Marines land in Port-au-Prince Haiti beginning a controversial 19 year, sometimes brutal, occupation of the nation.
1916, April Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley, and four others begin a treacherous 800-mile ocean crossing from Antarctica to South Georgia Island in what will be, according to many, the greatest sailing journey of all time. Their original ship, the Endurance was crushed in the ice so six of the men set sail in one of the life boats, the James Caird, to get help for the others trapped back in Antarctica.
1916 Einstein publishes his 'General Relativity' paper.
1916, 31 May The Battle of Jutland. The first and last great battle of the Dreadnought class ships. Britain and Germany spent untold fortunes to build and man these ships, but battle was inconclusive. Air power would soon make these ships largely obsolete.
1916 The First Battle of the Somme begins. It lasts five months and the death toll of over one million is for the sake of an Allied control of 125 square miles.
1916, March 22 The German U-boat U-68 is the first submarine sunk by the Royal Navy's newly developed depth charge.
1916 , September 15In the trenches near Somme-Ypres, German soldiers are the first to glimpse steel monsters crawling slowly towards them from no man's land. These terrifying British tanks are impervious to machine guns. They don't know it on that day, but warfare is changed forever.
1916, November 21 HMHSBritannic, the sister ship to the Titanic, strikes a mine or perhaps is hit by a torpedo, and becomes the largest ship to be lost in WWI. Oddly enough, one person, Violet Jessop, survives both disasters.
1917, Apr 6The United States enters World War I against Germany. The tide of the war is already against the Germans. 10 million people will die from the war.
1917, November 2George Hale, a brilliant yet often troubled astronomer, sees his vision completed when the world's largest telescope sees "first light" at the Mount Wilson Observatory. Edwin Hubble will use Hale's 100-inch telescope to show the universe is filled with vast numbers of receding galaxies.
1917, December 17The first true aircraft carrier, the British HMS Argus is launched.
1918, November 11On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I is officially over. The treaty was signed at 5am with hostilities to cease at 11am. During those 6 hours 2,738 soldiers died. 320 of those were American. American commanders who knew the war was to be over in hours still sent soldiers into battle to "punish" the Germans.
1918The influenza virus kills over 50 million people. About a quarter of the US population catches it, and 2 to 3% die from it.
1919, October 28Prohibition starts in the US after Congress passes, over Wilson's veto, the Volstead Act making alcohol illegal. After failing to stem the consumption of alcohol, and spurring the growth of organized crime, it will be repealed in the 23rd Amendment in 1933.
1920, January 16The Eighteenth Amendment brings Prohibition to America with many unexpected results, like the rise of organized crime. Prohibition will last until 1933 and the passage of the Twenty-First Amendment.
1920British astrophysicist Arthur Eddington proposes that stars make their energy from the fusion of hydrogen into helium. Before this some thought the sun was a giant ball of coal.
1920, August 25In the Battle of Warsaw, the Polish forces surprisingly defeat the Red Army at the outskirts of Warsaw, stopping Lenin's plan of exporting the Communist revolution through Europe after World War I.
1923DeBroglie proposes the matter-wave theory.
1923Heisenberg probably stated his uncertainty principle.
1927, September 7Philo T. Farnsworth transmits the first television image and gives birth to a new industry. Later, he was so disappointed with the content, he forbade his family to watch TV.
1928First Soviet 5-year Plan. 5 million Ukrainian peasants are deliberately starved to death. Visiting journalists ignore famine and praise Stalin's success.
1928 September 15Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming notices penicillin mold killing a staphylococcus culture. The revolution of antibiotics starts.
1929, October 29The New York Stock Exchange crashes after trading 16 million shares in what will become known as "Black Friday". This will precede a global depression made worse by a drop in global trade started by the .
1930, February 18 In the late 19th century, astronomers postulated the existence of a ninth planet based on irregularities in the orbit of Uranus. Blyde Tombaugh finally finds the expected planet to be named Pluto. Oddly enough, Pluto is far too small to affect the orbit of Uranus. Pluto is officially declassified as a planet in 2006, much to the dismay of many.
1932 Sir James Chadwick discovers the neutron.
1932, June 17 To protect American industry and farmers from foreign competition, Congress passes the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act raising tariffs. One thousand economists petitioned Hoover not to sign the bill arguing that the tariff will only make the economy worse, but they are ignored. After other countries retaliate with their own tariffs, international trade grinds to a halt and the global depression becomes even worse.
1933 Ernst Ruska creates the first electron microscope in Germany. His invention was fundamental to the progression of science since scientists could now peer deeper into living cells.
April 5, 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Executive Order 6102 forbidding US citizens from owning more than 5 oz of gold coin. Citizens were forced under threat of 10 year prison sentence to sell their non-collector gold coins to the government for $20.67 an ounce. After collecting all the gold coins, the price of gold was then raised to $35 an ounce. The prohibition against owning gold coin was finally lifted in 1974.
1936The first semi-automatic rifle issued to infantry, the M1 Garand is invented. It had a clip with 8 cartridges allowing rapid fire and was so Superior to the bolt action M1903, Patton called it, "the greatest implement of battle ever devised." The M1 gave US troops in WWII tremendous advantage over the single shot rifles in the Asian theater.
1937, May 6 The German airship Hindenburg explodes in New Jersey. Amazingly 61 of the 97 persons aboard survive. The designers originally wanted to use Helium instead of the flammable hydrogen, but the United States, the major producer of Helium, had a Helium boycott of Germany.
1938, November 10 Kristallnacht, a night of terror visited upon the Jews of Germany by the Nazis. Hundreds of Jews are killed and the glass from synagogues and businesses are shattered onto the streets.
1939, September 1 Germany invades Poland starting World War II. Before the war ends 70 million people will die, with two-thirds being civilians. One in ten Germans will die with ninety percent of those dying on the Eastern Front with Russia. 15 million Chinese and 27 million Soviets will perish. On average nearly 30,000 people will die daily during this war, the most deadly conflict in our history to date.
1939, September 3 Mistaking her for a warship, German submarine U-30 sinks the civilian ship Athena starting the "longest, largest, and most complex" naval battle in history, the "Battle for the Atlantic".
1939, November 30 The Soviet Union invades Finland and starts the Russo-Finnish War. The Soviets do so poorly against such a weaker opponent that Hitler is confirmed in his belief that the Russians are inferior soldiers and the purge of the Red Army has weakened it. The Soviets do eventually win the Russo-Finnish war on March 12, 1940.
1940 Alan Turing with help from Polish sources and Cambridge mathematician, W. G. Welchman, breaks the German Enigma code saving countless Allied lives.
1940, September 7 Three hundred German bombers drop 337 tons of bombs on London starting fifty-seven consecutive days of bombing known as "The Blitz".
1940, November 11Using 21 obsolete Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, the British launch the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history against the Italians in the Battle of Taranto. The reign of the battleship is over. The carrier will become the main focus of navies around the world. The Japanese observers of the battle are taking notes.
1941, June 22 Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia, is launched 129 years to the day after Napoleon crossed the Niemen into Russia. Stalin did not believe the numerous intelligence reports detailing the German buildup.
1941, December 7353 Japanese planes and 5 midget submarines launch a surprise attack on the US military bases in Hawaii sinking four battleships and killing 2,401 Americans.
1941, December 8 Japanese attack Wake island. The defenders of the tiny island fight against overwhelming odds and hold the island, providing the first victory for the US in the Pacific. Reinforcements are sent from Hawaii, but later, in a very controversial decision, recalled back to Hawaii. The Wake island defenders push back advancing Japanese soldiers, but the American officers surrender the island on December 23, in another controversial decision.
1941, December 8 Due to bad weather, the Japanese could not attack the Philippines simultaneously with Pearl Harbor as they had planned, so ten hours after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese air force attacks American air force base Clark field in the Philippines. Despite having warning, McArther mounts no defense, and most of his planes are destroyed on the ground.
1941, December 10 The battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse are sunk by Japanese aircraft near Singapore bringing an end to the age of battleships ruling the seas. Admiral Sir Tom Phillips had declined air support, thinking his ships were not in danger and knowing that no battleship had been sunk solely by airpower in the open sea. After this, everyone realized that battleships without air cover were doomed.
1941, December 11 In a decision that puzzled his staff, Hitler, without consulting that staff, declares war on the United States. Winston Churchill is much relieved.
1942, March Germans cryptographers secretly break the Allied Naval Cipher 3 and read the Allied communications. This dramatically increases the sinking of Allied merchant ships. After code breakers from Bletchley Park tell the Admiralty that their code is mostly likely broken, the military waits 10 months to change the codes.
1942, December 2At the University of Chicago Enrico Fermi and friends generate the first self-sustained nuclear reaction.
1942, February 23A Japanese submarine shells an oil refinery near Santa Barbara California.
1942, May 7Carrier groups of Japanese and Americans fight the Battle of the Coral Sea. This is the first time that the ships fighting never had sight of each other; airplanes did the damage. Although the battle is a draw, one carrier loss for both sides, the Japanese invasion plans in the south are thwarted.
June 4, 1942The battle of Midway starts in the Pacific. Japan loses four carriers and 200 highly trained pilots. This is the turning point in the Pacific war and cements the role of the aircraft carrier as the dominant naval vessel.
1943, July 12The largest tank engagement, the Battle of Kursk, is fought between the Germans and the Russians. The German commander had wanted to attack months ago, but Hitler refused and wanted to wait until his new super-tank could be deployed there, giving the Russians amply time to dig trenches, mine the approaches, place artillery, and prepare the battleground to their liking.
1943, July 27Hamburg Germany endures the first firestorm, where 739 aircraft participate and drop incendiary bombs causing an unprecedented fire so large it resembled a tornado with winds of 150 mph and temperatures of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Asphalt streets spontaneously burst into flames, and many people huddled in underground bunkers died as all the oxygen was consumed in the fires above. 42,600 people were killed, about half that of the direct casualties of the Hiroshima bombing.
1943, September 9The battleship Roma is attacked by two German Fritz X bombs, becoming the first vessel sunk by a guided weapon.
1938 June 4thChiang Kai-shek orders commander Xiong Xianyu to open the levies of the Yellow River and flood the countryside to prevent a Japanese invasion. The floods slowed down the Japanese, but did not stop them. One million Chinese died from the resulting floods, and resentment to the Nationalist government over the flooding, drove more people into the Communist camp.
1944, May 22The Allies launch a major bombing attack on the synthetic oil plants in Germany, which supplied all its aviation fuel and three-quarters of its diesel, dooming the Third Reich war machine. During the final days, Germany will have tanks poised to strike but unable to continue due to not having any fuel.
1944, June 6The largest amphibious landing in history, the invasion of Normandy, starts. This accelerates the end for the Third Reich.
1945, February 6HMS Venturer sinks German U-864 off Norway becoming the only submerged submarine on record to sink another submerged submarine.
1945, March 9-10The most deadly single day air raid in WWII occurs when Tokyo is fire-bombed resulting in over 100,000 causalities.
1945, July 16, 5:29:21 MWTThe earth witnesses the first nuclear explosion as the Manhattan Project comes to fruition in the Trinity test of a plutonium bomb.
1945, August 6 At 08:16, the B-29 Enola Gay, piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets, drops an atomic bomb containing 60 kg of uranium-235 on Hiroshima Japan, killing an estimated 80,000 civilians outright and perhaps over 200,000 total.
1945, August 9The B-29 named "Bock's Car" drops a the bomb, "Fat Man", containing 8 kg of plutonium-239 on Nagasaki Japan. (The B-29 program cost 3 billion dollars, while the atomic bomb cost less, 2 billion).
1945, August 14 VJ Day - Japan surrenders in WWII eight days after the second atom bomb is dropped. His subjects hear Emperor Hirohito voice the next day for the first time on the radio as he announces the surrender. The estimated cost of WW2 in human lives is 35-60 million, two-thirds of them civilians, and a price tag of 1 trillion dollars.
1946 Jack T. Mullin builds a tape recorder based on the German Magnetophon he saw in studio of Radio Frankfurt in Bad Nauheim after the war. Bing Crosby uses it to tape delay his show. Radio was never the same.
1947, August 14The sun sets on the British Empire. Outgoing British Viceroy Lord Mountbatten and Nehru meet for the handover ceremony to make India free. Mountbatten makes a toast "To India" and Nehru makes a toast "To King George VI" and the world's largest democracy is born.
1947, November 29The United Nations (UN) General Assembly passes Resolution 181 calling for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states.
1948, May 14As the British mandate over Palestine is about to expire, David Ben-Gurion and the Jewish People's Council announce the new State of Israel.
1949 Half of all the gold mined in history, 22,000 tons, is in the United States due in part to the US selling weapons and supplies during WWII.
1949, July 27 The Comet, the world's first jet powered airliner, takes flight revolutionizing the airline industry. Unfortunately, the Comet was short-lived as it suffered several fatal crashes due to the unknown effects of metal fatigue.
1950, June 25 North Korean soldiers invade South Korea starting the Korean War. Fighting will end on 27 July 1953 without a formal peace treaty, so the nations are technically still at war. Three million people die in the war, mostly civilians. The final border is approximately where it started before the war.
1952, November 1 The world's first thermonuclear bomb is detonated on Eniwetok Atoll bringing the fire of the sun to our planet.
1953, March 26Jonas Salk announces the successful creation of a polio vaccine. The year before 58,000 people contracted the disease and 3,000 died from it. Before this mothers everywhere dreaded the start of summer as "Polio Season" and tried to protect their children from the relentless killer.
1953, May 29Humans finally conquer the highest point on earth. Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa, reach the summit of Everest. News of this once-in-a-species event reached England on the day of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.
1954, January 21 Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine, is launched.
1954, May 7The French fort at Dien Bien Phu is taken by the Vietnamese forces. In a heroic and unexpected move, the Viet Minh disassemble artillery pieces. Men, women, and children carry them up the rugged mountains around Dien Bein Phu. Once reassembled, the artillery shell the base into submission. This victory accelerates decolonization.
1955 Malcom P. McLean, a trucking entrepreneur from North Carolina, conceived of the idea of using an 8'x8'x20' steel container to move goods across land and sea thus creating the container that revolutionized world trade. Containers reduce the loading and unloading of boats from weeks to days.
1957 Sputnik I becomes the first man-made satellite.
1958, September 12 Jack Kilby, of Texas Instruments, demonstrates the first integrated circuit chip which replaces hand-soldiered transistors and ushers in the age of modern computing. Thank you Jack Kilby!
1958 John McCarthy designs Lisp, a versatile computer language whose descendents are still widely used today.
1958 Chairman Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward collectivizes Chinese agriculture and creates a command economy resulting in the deaths of 45 million people during the famine that follows.
1959 December Launching the SSBN George Washington, the world's first nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, the US moves unknowingly ahead in the cold war.
1960, January 23 Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh travel to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the lowest point on earth, in the Bathyscaphe Trieste. Oddly, no one has ever gone back a second time.
1961, January 3 An experimental nuclear power plant in Idaho, the SL-1, goes "prompt critical" during maintenance and kills three Army specialists. The reactor is buried on site.
1962, October 22In retaliation for American nuclear missiles in Turkey, the Soviet Union sends nuclear missiles to Cuba starting the "Cuban Missile Crisis". On this date, President Kennedy orders an embargo around Cuba to prevent more missiles coming to the island. The world comes close to a nuclear war. Khrushchev and Kennedy come to an agreement. The Soviet missiles are withdrawn from Cuba and the US missiles return home from Turkey.
1961, January 17 President Eisenhower gives his farewell speech warning Americans against the rising "military-industrial complex" that would grow beyond the country's needs. He also encouraged diplomacy and restraint in working with the Soviet Union.
1961, August 12 Communist East Germany starts erecting barbed wire fences and later concrete walls in what will become a symbol of the cold war, the Berlin Wall.
1961, April 11 Yuri A. Gargarin becomes the first human in space and to orbit the earth
1963 Norman Borlaug, the most under-appreciated humanitarian of our age, launches the "Green Revolution" by breeding strains of wheat that yield three to five times than ordinary wheat in Mexico. Borlaug saves millions of lives in India, which after much bureaucratic red tape, finally allows the grain to be grown locally.
1964 Quarks are proposed to be the basic building blocks of most matter.
1964 While trying to cleanup the noise on an antenna, Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson unknowingly find the Cosmic Background Radiation predicted by astrophysicists. For finding this evidence supporting the Big Bang Theory, they receive the Nobel Prize in 1978.
1966, January 17A US B52 bomber loaded with four nuclear weapons taking part in operation Chrome Dome crashes after colliding with its refueling tanker near Palomare Spain. Three of the four weapons are recovered quickly and the fourth falls into the Mediterranean and is recovered later as "the most expensive, intensive, harrowing and feverish underwater search for a man-made object in world history." Some plutonium is scattered around the area and cleaned up by the US government.
1967, June 11A UN brokered cease fire ends the Arab-Israeli six day war. Israel doubles in size and gains all of Jerusalem.
1966NASA receives its highest budget ever, 4.5% of the total US federal budget.
1967. October 21One hundred thousand Americans protest against the Vietnam War in Washington DC. Although polls show less than half the population support the war, it will continue for another seven years.
1968, March 16 504 Vietnamese are killed in the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. The incident is covered up by the army and only revealed later by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.
1969, July 20Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon.
1969The first four nodes of the ARPAnet are connected, becoming the forerunner of this thing we like to call "The Internet".
1969The Chemical Bank of Rockville Center New York, presents the world with the first ATM machine.
1971, August 15After years of inflation, caused in part by not offsetting the cost of the Vietnam war by either raising taxes or cutting other government programs, President Nixon takes the US dollar off the gold standard making the dollar a fiat currency.
1973, October 6A coalition of Arab armies led by Egypt and Syrian launch a surprise attack on Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. Although Egypt makes early gains in the Sinai and Syria pushes deep into the Golan heights, the Israel Defense Force eventually stops the advance and pushes the invading armies back.
1973Gary Kildall writes the CP/M operating system for his home computer so he doesn't have to drive to work to program the mainframe.
1973, January 22The Supreme Court legalizes abortion in the Roe v. Wade case.
1975, April 30After 11 years, 58,220 American dead, and 2 million Vietnamese killed, the Vietnam War finally ends.
October 20, 1975The Russian probe Venera-9 becomes the first human-made object to land on another planet when it descends to the surface of Venus and takes pictures for 53 minutes with one of its two cameras. The second camera's lens cap did not release. All the more impressive since the surface temperature of the planet is 864 degrees Fahrenheit.
1977, March 27The deadliest aircraft accident in history takes place in Canary Islands when 583 people are killed in the collision of two airplanes on the runway. Investigations revealed many causes including a "too great of an experience gradient" where younger crew members were discouraged from questioning the judgments of more experienced crew members.
1990Sir Tim Berners-Lee creates the first web browser at CERN.
1982, March 19 Argentine scrap-metal merchants raise their flag over the island of South Georgia in the opening scene of what will become the Falklands War with Great Britain. The British government instructed it's soldiers, "Not to resist beyond the point where lives might be lost to no avail."
1984Largest bio-terrorist attack in the United States modern history occurs in The Dalles, Oregon. 751 people become ill with the salmonella bacteria spread by followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in places like salad bars. They were trying to prevent enough people from voting that the Bhagwan's followers could take over the local government.
1986, April 26 1:24amAfter turning off safety system after safety system to run tests, the inadequately trained night staff of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor hear their first explosions as the plant becomes the site of history's largest nuclear plant accident.
1979, March 28At 4am a value fails to close at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania allowing cooling water to drain from the reactor. Operators, being confused from gauge readings, override the automatic cooling system and the reactor comes within an hour of a total catastrophic meltdown.
1989, November 9East and West Germans tear down the Berlin wall and pave the way for the uniting of Germany a year later. The Cold War ends and the Soviet Union will be dissolved.
1991, January 16President George Herbert Walker Bush with allies launches the First Iraqi War with Operation Desert Storm to push the Iraqi army out of the tiny kingdom of Kuwait.
1992, April 14The last of 36 hexagonal mirrors is placed in the Keck Telescope realizing Jerry Nelson's design of a new type of telescope composed of multiple mirrors with computer-controlled actuators to correction for atmospheric distortions. The Keck has four times the resolution of the Hale telescope.
1994In Rwanda ethnic Hutu extremists massacre 800,000 Tutsis in a few weeks using machetes and clubs.
1994, April 27Nelson Mandela wins South Africa's first multiracial election. Apartheid is dead.
1995 June Nick Steinsberger, while working for Mitchell Energy at the SH Griffin No. 4 well near Ft. Worth Texas, gambles on a new well drilling technique called slick water fracturing and starts the fracking boom in America and changes global politics and the American economy.
1997, May 11 IBM's Deep Blue chess playing program beats a world champion, Gary Kasparov, for the first time.
2001, September 11Nineteen al-Qaeda militants hijack four commercial airplanes. Two of the planes fly into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the third plane crashes into the Pentagon. On the fourth plane, the passengers learn of the other planes crashing into the Twin Towers. With the words, "Let's roll", the passengers attack the hijackers to prevent more Americans from dying. Their plane crashes in a field in Pennsylvania. The final toll was 2,996 people killed.
2001, October 7Under the direction of president George Bush, US forces invade Afghanistan to deny Al-Qaeda a base of operations, starting the longest war in American history.
2003, March 19Under the direction of president George W. Bush, US and British forces invade Iraqi to rid the country of its weapons of mass destruction. The death toll from the war and the instability that follows is estimated at one million, mostly Iraqi, people.
2005, August 29Hurricane Katrina slams into the Gulf Coast and becomes the worst natural disaster in the US to date. The government will be heavily criticized for its slow response to aid citizens.
2010, December 17After suffering for years under governmental corruption and abuse, Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi launches the "Arab Spring" revolutions throughout the Middle East by setting himself on fire in response to continued police harassment and demands for bribes.
2011, December 15After almost nine years, 4,500 American dead, 32,000 American wounded, over a million Iraqi dead and a cost of 4 trillion dollars, the US winds down the war in Iraq.
2012, July 4Scientists from the Large Hadron Collider announce the discovery of the Higgs particle at a mass of about 125 GeV further completing the Standard Model.
2014, December 14The Chinese rover Yutu, "Jade Rabbit", lands on the surface of the moon to start its 31 month mission.
2014, December 5 Wu et al use the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic editing technique to correct a genetic defect in mice.
2017Google's AI program AlphaZero teaches itself how to play chess. Unlike all the other chess programs before it, which were given guidelines by humans on how to play, AlphaZero teaches itself by playing games against itself. After two hours of teaching itself, it was better than human players; after four hours, it beat the best chess programs in the world.
2019, January 3The Chinese Chang'e-4 probe lands on the far side of the moon.
2020, FebruaryPeople stay home from work, global stock markets crash, and economies go into reverse as the Coronavirus ("COVID-19") strikes the world.
2021, August 30After 20 years, 2,326 U.S. military deaths, over 20,000 American wounded, 47,000 civilian Afghan deaths, and two trillion dollars, the US led war in Afghanistan winds down as the final C-17 leaves Kabul airport a minute before midnight.