St. Valentine's Day
1989 GPS The first of 24 satellites of the Global Positioning System is put into orbit.
1989 Bhopal gas leak Union Carbide is ordered, by the Indian Supreme Court, to pay $470,000,000 in restitution for the 1984 leak that killed 3,329 people.
1989 $1,000,000 bounty is offered by the Ayatollah Khomeini for the killing of Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses.
1980 CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite announces his retirement.
1946 Computers U.S. War Department announces its use of ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the first general-purpose stored program electronic digital computer. It could calculate 1,000 times faster than anything previous. It required 18,000 vacuum tubes and 130,000 watts of power.
1931 Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, opens.
1929 St. Valentine's Day massacre Members of Al Capone's gang - dressed as policeman - gun down seven members of Bugs Moran's gang in Chicago.
1924 IBM International Business Machines Corporation is founded.
1918 Tarzan The first movie featuring Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan character, Tarzan of the Apes, is released.
1918 Gregorian calendar is adopted by Russia The previous day had been January 31st.
1912 Warfare The first diesel-powered submarine is commissioned, in Groton, Connecticut.
1912 Arizona becomes the 48th state.
1899 Voting The U.S. Congress approves the use of voting machines in federal elections.
1876 Telephone Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray both file a patent for the telephone. A long legal battle ensued which Bell ultimately won (1888).
1859 Oregon becomes the 33rd state.
1849 Presidential First James Polk becomes the first U.S. President to have his photograph taken.
1843 Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! The circus event that inspired the Beatles song is held. John Lennon got the idea for the song from an antique poster advertising the circus. Many of the lyrics, such as "the Henderson's will all be there" and "through a hogshead of real fire," also came from the poster.
1960 Meg Tilly (Margaret Chan), American actress. Film: The Big Chill (1983) and Agnes of God (1985, title role).
1946 Gregory Hines d. 2003 American actor, dancer. Film: History of the World Part I (1981), The Cotton Club (1984), White Nights (1985), and Tap (1989). He made his Broadway debut at age 8.
1944 Carl Bernstein American journalist. He and Bob Woodward uncovered the Watergate scandal while working for the Washington Post.
1934 Florence Henderson American singer, actress. TV: The Brady Bunch (Mrs. Brady).
1932 Vic Morrow d. 1982 actor. TV: Combat! (Sgt. Chip Saunders). He was killed while filming Twilight Zone-The Movie.
1927 Lois Maxwell Canadian actress. Film: Miss Moneypenny in the first 14 of the James Bond movies.
1921 Hugh Downs American Emmy-winning news anchor, TV personality.
1913 Jimmy Hoffa d. 1975 American Teamster boss (1957-71). He disappeared outside of a motel in Detroit, Michigan (1975).
1894 Jack Benny d. 1974 (Benjamin Kubelsky), American comedian, famed for his violin concertos.
1865 Carl Thomas Anderson d. 1948 American cartoonist, creator of Henry.
1864 Israel Zangwill d. 1926 English-born writer, Zionist. He founded an organization called the Jewish Territorialist Organization (1905), to try to create a Jewish homeland, the location of which did not necessarily have to be in what is today the state of Israel. Quote: "The way [George Bernard] Shaw behaves himself is very refreshing in these atheistic days when so many people believe in no God at all." Source: Fifth 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said Writngs: Children of the Ghetto (1892) and The Melting Pot (1908).
1859 George Washington Gale Ferris d. 1896 American engineer, inventor of the Ferris wheel. It was constructed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago. His ride was 250 feet in diameter, took 20 minutes per revolution, and had a capacity of 2,160 people.
1819 Christopher Latham Sholes d. 1890 American inventor. He invented the first commercially-successful typewriter (1868), which was manufactured by E. Remington & Sons. He also coined the word "type-writer" and created the QWERTY keyboard layout (1873).
1760 Richard Allen d. 1831 American clergyman. Born a slave, he helped establish the first African American U.S. church (1816), the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Philadelphia, of which he was bishop, making him the first African American bishop in the U.S. Source: An Almanac of the Christian Church
1722 Georg Christian Füchsel d. 1773 German geolgist. He originated the concept of statra, rock layers that each represent a certain epoch of time.
1988 Frederick Loewe b. 1904 German composer of Lerner and Loewe, together they wrote My Fair Lady (1956) and Paint Your Wagon (1969).
1948 Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown b. 1876 American baseball Hall of Famer. He had the use of only three fingers on his pitching hand, giving him a natural knuckle ball.
1891 William Tecumseh Sherman b. 1820 American Civil War general (Union), known for his destruction of Georgia and his statement "War is hell."
1808 John Dickinson b. 1732 American statesman, author, member of the Colonial Congress (1765). He wrote the Farmer's Letters (1767-68), expressing opposition to the Townshend Acts of 1767.
1779 James Cook b. 1728 English naval captain and explorer. He discovered the Hawaiian Islands, and introduced tattoos to the western world. He was killed by the natives of the Sandwich Islands.
1400 Richard II b. 1367 King of England (1377-99).