Timeline of Human History IV: 1900-Present

NOTE: Some of the dates given below are approximate and some are subject to debate.

1900

  • In the Boxer Rebellion: (1) the Boxers march to Beijing, where they lay siege to foreign legations; (2) in support of the Boxers, Empress Dowager Cixi declares war on all foreign powers; and (3) an eight-nation alliance (including the UK, the US, Russia and Japan) invades China and defeats the forces of the Boxers and the Chinese government (China).
  • Paul Ulrich Villard discovers gamma rays (France).
  • The White Pass & Yukon Route is completed (Canada).

    A view of the White Pass and Yukon Route railway in Canada.

    Don’t look down: a view of the White Pass and Yukon Route railway in Canada.

  • Lord Jim, a novel written in English by Joseph Conrad (UK).
  • Sister Carrie, a novel written in English by Theodore Dreiser (US).
  • Uncle Vanya, a play written in Russian by Anton Chekhov (Russia).
  • Tosca, an Italian opera by Giacomo Puccini, premieres in Rome (Italy).
  • First European dance performance by Isadora Duncan, at the Lyceum Theatre in London (UK).
  • Gottfried Daimler dies.
  • Death of Oscar Wilde in Paris, France.
  • Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir dies.
  • Wolfgang Pauli is born in Vienna, Austria.

1901

  • The Australian colonies unite under a single government.
  • Theodore Roosevelt becomes 26th president of the United States.
  • J.P. Morgan and Elbert H. Gary combine three preexisting steel companies to form U.S. Steel (US).
  • Max Planck proposes that electromagnetic radiation consists of waves that gain and lose energy in finite packets called quanta (quantum theory) (Germany).

    A photograph of Max Planck (1858-1947) from 1915.

    A 1915 photograph of Max Planck.

  • Karl Landsteiner identifies the A, B, and O blood types (Austria).
  • Guglielmo Marconi announces the first transatlantic radio transmission (later disputed) (UK, Canada).
  • Charles Hart and Charles Parr sell their first model No. 1 tractor (US).
  • Dan Albone builds the Ivel Agricultural Motor tractor (UK).
  • Herbert Cecil Booth invents an electric vacuum cleaner (UK).

    Herbert Cecil Booth's jumbo-sized vacuum cleaner in the early 20th Century.

    Herbert Cecil Booth’s jumbo-sized vacuum cleaner.

  • Buddenbrooks, a novel written in German by Thomas Mann (Germany).
  • Kim, a novel written in English by Rudyard Kipling (UK).
  • Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, by Sergei Rachmaninoff (Russia).
  • Death of Queen Victoria (UK).
  • Linus Pauling is born in Portland, Oregon, US.
  • Enrico Fermi is born in Rome, Italy.
  • Werner Heisenberg is born in Würzburg, Germany.
  • Ernest O. Lawrence is born in Canton, South Dakota, US.
  • Birth of Walt Disney in Chicago, Illinois, US.
  • Louis Armstrong is born in New Orleans, Louisiana, US.
  • Hirohito is born in Tokyo, Japan.

1902

  • The eruption of the Mount Pelée volcano kills 29,000 (Martinique).

    A 1902 photograph of the erupting Mount Pelee.

    A 1902 photograph of the erupting Mount Pelee.

  • Cuba obtains independence from the US.
  • Under the Treaty of Vereenigning, which ends the Second Boer War, the UK defeats the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, which then become British colonies (South Africa).
  • Léon Philippe Teisserenc de Bort (France) and Richard Assmann (Germany), working independently, discover that the atmosphere is divided into the troposphere and the stratosphere.
  • Ivan Pavlov (Russia) and Edwin Twitmyer (US), working independently, discover the principles of classical conditioning.
  • Alfred von Decastello and Adriano Sturli identify the AB blood type (Austria).
  • Ernest Starling and William Bayliss are the first to identify and describe a hormone, secretin (UK).
  • Willis Carrier invents the first modern electrical air conditioner (US).

    Carrier and his air conditioner, in an undated photo.

    Willis Carrier and his air conditioner.

  • Ransomes, Sims & Jeffries introduces gasoline-powered lawn mowers (UK).
  • Egypt builds the first Aswan Dam.

    The opening ceremonies for the Aswan Dam.

    The opening ceremonies for the Aswan Dam.

  • William James publishes The Varieties of Religious Experience, an English-language work of philosophy, psychology and religion (US).
  • Heart of Darkness, a novella written in English by Joseph Conrad (UK).
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles, a novel written in English by Arthur Conan Doyle (UK: England).
  • Symphony No. 5 in C# minor, by Gustav Mahler (Czech Republic/Austria).
  • Symphony No. 2 in D Major, by Jean Sibelius (Finland).
  • Pelléas et Mélisande, a French opera by Claude Debussy, premieres in Paris (France).
  • A Trip to the Moon, a film by Georges Méliès (France).

    A still image from A Trip to the Moon.

    A still image from A Trip to the Moon.

  • Portrait of Miss N, a photograph of Evelyn Nesbit by Gertrude Käsebier (US).

    Portrait of Ms. N (Evelyn Nesbit).

    Portrait of Ms. N (Evelyn Nesbit).

  • Rodin with the Thinker, a photograph by Edward Steichen (France).

    Rodin and the Thinker.

    Rodin and the Thinker.

  • Paul Dirac is born in Bristol, England, UK.
  • Walter Brattain is born in Xiamen, China.
  • Fritz Strassmann is born in Boppard, Germany.
  • Barbara McClintock is born in Hartford, Connecticut, US.
  • Ruhollah Khomeini (Ayatollah Khomeini) is born in Khomeyn, Persia (now Iran).

1903

  • With US support, Panama achieves independence from Colombia.
  • Panama and US sign a treaty creating the US-controlled Canal Zone in Panama.
  • Emmeline Pankhurst founds the Women’s Social and Political Union (UK).

    Emmeline Pankhurst.

    Emmeline Pankhurst.

  • On December 17, Orville Wright makes the first powered, heavier-than-air flight in an airplane designed and built by Orville and Wilbur Wright.  The plane flies 12 seconds for a distance of 120 feet at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina (US).

    The Wright Brothers' first powered flight, December, 1903.

    The Wright Brothers’ first powered flight, December, 1903.

  • The Flatiron Building in New York City, designed by Daniel Burnham (US).
  • The Souls of Black Folk, a work of sociology written in English by W.E.B. Du Bois (US).

    A 1918 photograph of W.E.B. Du Bois.

    A 1918 photograph of W.E.B. Du Bois.

  • The Ambassadors, a novel written in English by Henry James (UK).
  • The Call of the Wild, a novel written in English by Jack London (US).
  • Man and Superman, a play written in English by George Bernard Shaw (UK: England).
  • String Quartet in F Major, by Maurice Ravel (France).
  • Flatiron Building, a photograph by Alfred Stieglitz (US).

    Flatiron Building, a photo by Alfred Stieglitz.

    Flatiron Building, a photo by Alfred Stieglitz.

  • John von Neumann is born in Budapest, Hungary.
  • George Wells Beadle is born in Wahoo, Nebraska, US.
  • Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) is born in Motihari, India.

1904

  • The Russo-Japanese War breaks out regarding disputes over Korea and Manchuria.
  • The Trans-Siberian Railroad is completed (Russia).
  • France and the UK sign the Entente Cordiale, which resolves disputes in Egypt, Morocco, Newfoundland, Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria, Madagascar and Siam.
  • Christian Hülsmeyer invents the Telemobiloscope, which can detect distant objects by bouncing radio waves off them (Germany).

    Christian Hülsmeyer's Telemobiloscope.

    Christian Hülsmeyer’s Telemobiloscope.

  • Benjamin Holt demonstrates the first tractor with crawler-type treads (US).
  • Sir John Fleming invents the first thermionic valve (vacuum tube) (UK).
  • New York tea seller Thomas Sullivan invents the tea bag (US).

    These gauze tea bags were made by Thomas Sullivan in the early 20th Century.

    Gauze tea bags made by Thomas Sullivan.

  • The Carson, Pirie, Scott building, designed by Louis Sullivan, opens in Chicago, Illinois (US).

    A photo of the Carson, Pirie, Scott Building in the early 1900s.

    A photo of the Carson, Pirie, Scott Building in the early 1900s.

  • The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, a work of sociology and economics written in German by Max Weber (Germany).
  • The Cherry Orchard, a play written in Russian by Anton Chekhov (Russia).
  • Nostromo, a novel written in English by Joseph Conrad (UK).
  • Violin Concerto in D minor by Jean Sibelius (Finland).
  • Madama Butterfly, an Italian opera by Giacomo Puccini, premieres at La Scala in Milan (Italy).
  • Robert Oppenheimer is born in New York, New York, US.

1905

  • Japan defeats Russia in the Russo-Japanese War and becomes a world power.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt brokers the Treaty of Portsmouth ending the Russo-Japanese War, in which Russia recognizes Japan’s claims to Korea and agrees to withdraw from Manchuria (US).

    A contemporary cartoon shows President Roosevelt bringing together caricatures of Russia and Japan.

    A contemporary cartoon shows President Roosevelt bringing together Russia and Japan.

  • A revolution in Russia fails to overthrow the Emperor, but results in a new constitution, a multi-party system and limited constitutional monarchy.
  • Norway obtains full independence from Sweden.
  • France and Germany come close to war over Germany’s interference with Morocco in the First Moroccan Crisis.
  • The British Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon announces the Partition of Bengal into mostly-Hindu west Bengal and mostly-Muslim east Bengal (India).
  • The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is formed in Chicago, Illinois (US).
  • During his Annus Mirabilis, Albert Einstein publishes four papers in the journal Annalen der Physik on the following topics:  (1) the special theory of relativity; (2) the equivalence of mass and energy (E = mc2); (3) Brownian motion, in which he proved that atoms and molecules exist; and (4) the photoelectric effect, which he explained in terms of quantum theory (Switzerland).

    A photograph of Albert Einstein (1879-1955) in about 1905.

    A photograph of Albert Einstein (1879-1955) in about 1905.

  • Ernest Rutherford proposes radiometric dating, the use of radioactive isotopes to determine the age of a substance (Canada).
  • Walter Griffiths invents the first portable vacuum for home use (UK).
  • Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, a book on psychology written in German by Sigmund Freud (Austria).
  • The House of Mirth, a novel written in English by Edith Wharton (US).
  • Major Barbara, a play written in English by George Bernard Shaw (UK: England).
  • La Mer, an orchestral compostition by Claude Debussy (France).
  • Salome, a German opera by Richard Strauss, premieres in Dresden (Germany).
  • The Dying Swan, a ballet choreographed by Michel Folkine and set to music from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns, premieres in St. Petersburg, with Anna Pavlova dancing the lead role for the first of approximately 4,000 times (Russia).
  • Dutch dancer Gertrude Zelle begins performing in Paris under the name Mata Hari (France).
  • The Flatiron Building, New York, a photograph by Edward Steichen (US).

    The Flatiron Building.

    The Flatiron Building.

  • Carl David Anderson is born in New York, New York, US.
  • M. Stanley Livingston is born in Brodhead, Wisconsin, US.

1906

  • A magnitude 7.8 earthquake and subsequent fire in San Francisco, California kills 3,000 people and destroys 80% of the city’s buildings (US).
  • The Algeciras Conference resolves the First Moroccan Crisis by allowing France to maintain influence in Morocco (Spain).
  • Lee de Forest invents the triode amplifying tube (US).

    Lee de Forest's original triode amplifying tube.

    Lee de Forest’s original triode amplifying tube.

  • Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne paints Mont Sainte Victoire Seen from Les Lauves and The Large Bathers (France).

    The Large Bathers.

    The Large Bathers.

  • First professional performance by dancers Fred and Adele Astaire (ages 6 and 9, respectively) In Keyport, New Jersey (US).
  • Looking Down Sacramento Street, San Francisco, April 18, 1906, a photograph by Arnold Genthe (US).

    Genthe.

    Arnold Genthe’s photo of the San Francisco earthquake and fire.

  • Hans Bethe is born in Strasbourg, Germany.

1907

  • A peasants’ revolt in Romania results in 11,000 deaths.
  • Leo Baekeland invents Bakelite, the first completely synthetic plastic (US).
  • Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, by Pablo Picasso, sets off a modernist revolution in art (France).

    Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

    Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

  • Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, a painting by Symbolist artist Gustav Klimt (Austria).

    Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.

    Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.

  • Pragmatism, a work of philosophy written in English by William James (US).
  • Creative Evolution, a work of philosophy written in French by Henri Bergson (France).
  • The Secret Agent, a novel written in English by Joseph Conrad (UK: England).
  • The Steerage, a photograph by Alfred Stieglitz (US).

    The Steerage.

    The Steerage.

  • William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, dies.
  • Dmitri Mendeleev dies.
  • Rachel Carson is born in Springdale, Pennsylvania, US.
  • John Mauchly is born in Cincinnati, Ohio, US.
  • Frank Whittle is born in Earlsdon, England, UK.

1908

  • An asteroid or comet causes devastation in Tunguska, Siberia (Russia).

    A forest destroyed by the Tunguska meteor.

    A forest destroyed by the Tunguska meteor.

  • Republican activists assassinate Portuguese King Carlos I and his heir, Luis Filipe, leading to accession of King Manuel II (Portugal).
  • The Young Turk Revolution returns constitutional government to the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).
  • In the Bosnian Crisis, Austria-Hungary annexes Ottoman territories Bosnia and Herzegovina at the same time that Bulgaria declares independence, sparking protests and bringing the world closer to war.
  • Discovery of oil in Persia (Iran).
  • Alva Fisher invents the first commercially-successful electric washing machine (US).

    A 1910 Thor electric washing machine.

    Alva Fisher’s Thor electric washing machine.

  • Hans Geiger and Ernest Rutherford invent the Geiger counter (UK).
  • Jack Johnson becomes the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion (US).

    A 1910 photo of Jack Johnson.

    A 1910 photo of Jack Johnson.

  • Reflections on Violence, a work of political philosophy written in French by Georges Sorel (France).
  • A Wind in the Willows, a children’s novel written in English by Kenneth Grahame (UK: England).
  • The final movement of Arnold Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 in F# minor (with soprano), op. 10, has no key signature, making it his first consciously atonal piece (Austria).
  • Sadie Pfeifer – 48 Inches Tall and Spinner in Whitnel Cotton Mill, photographs by Lewis Hine for the National Child Labor Committee (US).

    Spinner in Whitnel cotton mill.

    Spinner in Whitnel cotton mill.

  • Henri Becquerel dies.
  • Edward Teller is born in Budapest, Hungary.
  • John Bardeen is born in Madison, Wisconsin, US.
  • Willard Libby is born in Grand Valley, Colorado, US.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson is born in Stonewall, Texas, US.
  • Simone de Beauvoir is born in Paris, France.

1909

  • W.E.B. Du Bois, Moorfield Storey and Mary White Ovington found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in New York (US).
  • Louis Bleriot becomes the first person to fly across the English Channel in a heavier than air aircraft (France; UK).
  • American Navy engineer Robert Peary claims that he is the first person to reach the North Pole (later disputed).
  • Frank Shailor at General Electric invents the first commercially successful electric toaster (US).
  • The Robie House, a Prairie-style residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (US).

    The Robie House.

    The Robie House in Chicago, Illinois.

  • The Kiss, a painting by Symbolist Gustav Klimt (Austria).

    Klimt's The Kiss.

    Klimt’s The Kiss.

  • Three Lives, a book containing three short novels written in English by Gertrude Stein (US).
  • Das Lied von der Erde, a composition for two voices and orchestra by Gustav Mahler (Czech Republic/Austria).
  • Three Piano Pieces, an atonal work by Arnold Schoenberg (Austria).
  • Premiere of Les Sylphides, a non-narrative ballet blanc with choreography by Michel Fokine and music by Frédéric Chopin (orchestrated by Alexander Glazunov), at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, danced by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, including Tamara Karsavina, Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, and Alexandra Baldina (France).
  • Playground in Tenement Alley, a photograph by Lewis Hine (US).

    Playground in Tenement Alley.

    Playground in Tenement Alley.

  • Colin MacLeod is born in Port Hastings, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • Edward Lawrie Tatum is born in Boulder, Colorado, US.

1910

  • The Mexican Revolution begins.
  • A revolution in Portugal leads to First Portuguese Republic.
  • Japan annexes Korea.
  • Four British colonies unite to form the Union of South Africa.
  • Working with fruit flies, Thomas Hunt Morgan identifies the first genetic mutations and proves that genes are carried on chromosomes (US).

    Thomas Hunt Morgan in the fly room at Columbia University.

    Thomas Hunt Morgan in the fly room at Columbia University.

  • Mary Phelps Jacob designs the first modern bra (US).
  • The Art Nouveau AEG Turbine Factory in Berlin, designed by Peter Behrens (Germany).

    The AEG Turbine Factory.

    The AEG Turbine Factory.

  • Henri Matisse’s painting Dance (France).

    The Dance (II).

    Dance.

  • Gitanjali (Song Offerings), poems written in Bengali by Rabindranath Tagore (India).
  • Howards End, a novel written in English by E.M. Forster (UK: England).
  • Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 in D Major (Czech Republic/Austria).
  • Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, a work for string orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams (UK).
  • Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes premieres two ballets in Paris: (1) Scheherazade, with choreography by Michel Folkine, music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and designs by Leon Bakst, and (2) The Firebird, with choreography by Folkine, costumes and designs by Bakst and Golovine, and music by Igor Stravinsky (France).
  • Robert Koch dies.
  • Death of Florence Nightingale.
  • Death of Leo Tolstoy.
  • Death of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) in Connecticut, US.
  • William Shockley is born in London, England, UK.
  • Birth of Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa) in Üsküp, Kosovo Vilayet, Ottoman Empire (now Skopje, Macedonia).

1911

  • The Xinhai revolution overthrows the Qing Dynasty and establishes the Republic of China.
  • Italy occupies Ottoman-controlled Libya, triggering war.
  • Roald Amundsen becomes the first person to reach the South Pole (Norway).

    Roald Amundsen reaches the South Pole.

    Roald Amundsen poses at the South Pole.

  • A fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory kills 146 women workers in New York (US).
  • Ernest Rutherford proposes the solar system model of the atom (UK).
  • Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovers superconductivity in liquid helium (The Netherlands).
  • Georges Claude invents the neon light bulb (France).
  • The Palais Stoclet, in Brussels, a Vienna Secession-style home designed by Josef Hoffmann (Belgium).

    The Palais Stoclet in Brussels.

    The Palais Stoclet in Brussels.

  • I and the Village, a painting by Marc Chagall (France).

    Chagall's I and the Village.

    Chagall’s I and the Village.

  • Georges Braque’s Cubist painting The Portuguese (France).

    The Portuguese.

    The Portuguese.

  • The Red Studio, a painting by Henri Matisse (France).

    The Red Studio.

    The Red Studio.

  • The Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes premieres Petrushka, a ballet with choreography by Michel Folkine, music by Igor Stravinsky and sets and costumes by Benois, in Paris (France).
  • Der Rosenkavalier, a German opera by Richard Strauss, debuts in Dresden (Germany).
  • Breaker Boys in Coal Chute, South Pittston, Pennsylvania, a photograph by Lewis Hine (US).

    Breaker Boys in Coal Chute.

    Breaker Boys in Coal Chute.

  • Francis Galton dies.
  • Maclyn McCarty is born in South Bend, Indiana, US.
  • Ronald Reagan is born in Tampico, Illinois, US.

1912

  • The British passenger liner Titanic collides with a North Atlantic iceberg on her maiden voyage and sinks, killing over 1,500 of the 2,224 people on board (UK).

    Titanic leaves Southampton in April 1912 on her first and last voyage.

    Titanic leaves Southampton in April 1912 on her first and last voyage.

  • Sun Yat-Sen becomes the first President of the Republic of China.

    Colorized portrait of Sun Yat-sen.

    A tinted portrait of Sun Yat-sen.

  • France colonizes Morocco.
  • The African National Congress is founded (South Africa).
  • The Bread and Roses Strike of textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts (US).
  • Alfred Wegener proposes the theory of continental drift (Germany).

    A 1910 photograph of Alfred Wegener.

    A 1910 photograph of Alfred Wegener.

  • Frederick Gowland Hopkins proposes the existence of “accessory food factors” (i.e., vitamins) that are essential for animal growth and survival (UK).
  • Lester Wire installs the first modern traffic lights in Salt Lake City, Utah (US).

    Lester Wire and his 1912 two-color traffic light.

    Lester Wire and his two-color traffic light.

  • Native American athlete Jim Thorpe wins eight gold medals at the Olympic Games in Stockholm (Sweden).
  • Casa Milà, a modernist building in Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudì (Spain).

    Casa Mila.

    Casa Mila.

  • Orphic artist Robert Delaunay begins painting the Simultaneous Windows series (France).

    Windows Open Simultaneously.

    Delaunay’s Windows Open Simultaneously.

  • Nude Descending a Staircase #2, a Cubist-Futurist painting by Marcel Duchamp (France).

    Nude Descending a Staircase #2.

    Nude Descending a Staircase #2.

  • The Guitar, a cardboard sculpture by Pablo Picasso (France).

    The Guitar.

    The Guitar.

  • Death in Venice, a novella written in German by Thomas Mann (Germany).
  • Pierrot Lunaire, a song cycle by Arnold Schoenberg (Austria).
  • Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes premieres Daphnis et Chloé, a ballet with choreography by Michel Folkine and music by Maurice Ravel (France).
  • Vaslav Nijinsky choreographs and dances in the ballet L’Après-midi d’un faune, to music of Claude Debussy (France).
  • The Octopus, a photograph by Alvin Langdon Coburn (US).

    The Octopus.

    The Octopus.

  • Joseph Lister dies.
  • Wilbur Wright dies.
  • Alan Turing is born in London, England, UK.

1913

  • A military coup by the Committee of Union and Progress overthrows the government of the Ottoman Empire and leads to the rule of the Three Pashas: Mehmed Talaat Pasha, Ismail Enver Pasha and Ahmed Djemal Pasha (Turkey).
  • Woodrow Wilson becomes the 28th president of the United States.
  • Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson discover a layer of ozone in the atmosphere (France).
  • Henry Ford establishes a moving assembly line to build the Model T automobile (US).

    Ford's assembly line in action at his Highland Park Plant.

    Ford’s assembly line in action at his Highland Park Plant.

  • Fred W. Wolf invents the first electric refrigerator for home use (US).
  • Gideon Sundback invents the modern zipper (US).
  • The New York World publishes the first true crossword puzzle (US).
  • The International Exhibition of Modern Art (the Armory Show) introduces Americans to European avant garde styles (US).
  • The Fagus Factory in Alfeld an der Leine, designed by modernists Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer (Germany).

    The Fagus Factory was

    The Fagus Factory.

  • Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, a sculpture by Futurist artist Umberto Boccioni (Italy).

    Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.

    Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.

  • Wassily Kandinsky’s abstract painting, Composition VII (Germany).

    Composition VII.

    Composition VII.

  • Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell publish Principia Mathematica, an English-language treatise on the foundations of mathematics (UK).
  • Sons and Lovers, a novel written in English by D.H. Lawrence (UK).
  • The Rite of Spring, a Ballet Russes ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky, reportedly causes a riot at its premiere in Paris (France).

    A photographic portrait of Igor Stravinsky by Arnold Newman.

    A photographic portrait of Igor Stravinsky by Arnold Newman.

  • Death of Harriet Tubman.
  • Birth of Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm (Willy Brandt) in Lübeck, Germany.
  • Birth of Richard M. Nixon in Yorba Linda, California, US.
  • Rosa McCauley (Rosa Parks) is born in Tuskegee, Alabama, US.

1914

  • The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary in Sarajevo triggers World War I (Bosnia & Herzegovina).
  • World War I begins: Austria-Hungary delivers the July Ultimatum to Serbia; Russia mobilizes; Serbia mobilizes; Austria mobilizes; Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia; Germany declares war on Russia; Germany attacks Luxembourg; Germany declares war on France; Germany declares war on Belgium; the UK declares war on Germany; Japan declares war on Germany and Austria-Hungary; the Ottoman Empire attacks Russia.
  • With the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia, the entire continent of Africa is now occupied by European powers.african-col-1914
  • Opening of the 47-mile-long Panama Canal, which connects the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean (Panama).

    A man, a plan, a canal: Panama. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Carter Library.

    A man, a plan, a canal: Panama. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Carter Library.

  • Martha, the last passenger pigeon, dies in the Cincinnati Zoo (US).
  • James Fields Smathers invents the first practical electric typewriter (US).
  • The Bride of the Wind, a painting by Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka (Austria).

    The Bride of the Wind, also known as The Tempest.

    The Bride of the Wind, also known as The Tempest.

  • The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street, a painting by Metaphysical artist Giorgio de Chirico (Italy).

    Melancholy and Mystery of a Street.

    Melancholy and Mystery of a Street.

  • Kokoro, a novel written in Japanese by Natsume Soseki (Japan).
  • Dubliners, a book of stories written in English by James Joyce (Ireland).
  • Three Places in New England, an orchestral composition by Charles Ives (US).
  • Joseph Swan dies.
  • Jonas Salk is born in New York, New York, US.
  • Norman Ernest Borlaug is born in Cresco, Iowa, US.

1915

  • The Ottoman Empire begins the systematic killing, forced labor and deportation of ethnic Armenians known as the Armenian genocide, with an estimated 1-1.5 million killed (Turkey; Armenia).
  • Maurice Levy invents tube lipstick (US).

    Maurice Levy's 1915 lipstick tube.

    Maurice Levy’s 1915 lipstick tube.

  • Self-Portrait as a Soldier, a painting by Expressionist artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Germany).

    Self-Portrait as a Soldier.

    Self-Portrait as a Soldier is located at Oberlin College’s Allen Art Museum, in Oberlin, Ohio, US.

  • Black Square, a painting by Suprematist artist Kazimir Malevich (Russia).

    Black Square.

    Black Square.

  • The Charge of the Lancers, a painting by Futurist artist Umberto Boccioni (Italy).

    The Charge of the Lancers.

    The Charge of the Lancers.

  • Alfred Wegener publishes The Origin of Continents and Oceans, a German-language text that explains his theory of continental drift (Germany).
  • The Rainbow, a novel written in English by D.H. Lawrence (UK: England).
  • The Metamorphosis, a story in German by Franz Kafka (Czech Republic/Austria).
  • The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, a poem written in English by T.S. Eliot (UK)
  • The Birth of a Nation, a film by D.W. Griffith, sparks protests by the NAACP for its overt racism (US).

    A still image from The Birth of a Nation.

    A still image from The Birth of a Nation.

  • Wall Street, a photograph by Paul Strand (US).

    Strand's Wall Street.

    Strand’s Wall Street.

  • Making Human Junk, a poster by Lewis Hine (US).

    Lewis Hine's poster, Making Human Junk.

    Lewis Hine’s poster, Making Human Junk.

  • Paul Ehrlich dies.
  • Henry Moseley dies.
  • Charles Hard Townes is born in Greenville, South Carolina, US.
  • Eleanora Fagan (Billie Holiday) is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US.

1916

  • British officer T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) fights alongside Arab troops in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire (Saudi Arabia).
  • Haile Selassie becomes de facto ruler of Ethiopia after King Iyasu V is deposed.

    Haile Selassie in 1923.

    A 1923 photograph of Haile Selassie.

  • Irish Republicans stage the unsuccessful Easter Rising in Dublin against British rule (Ireland).
  • Radical Party leader Hipólito Yrigoyen is elected president of Argentina.
  • Germany and Austria create the autonomous Kingdom of Poland on Polish land formerly controlled by Russia (Poland).
  • Daylight savings time begins in Germany and Austria-Hungary.
  • Albert Einstein announces the general theory of relativity (Germany).
  • Gilbert N. Lewis develops the modern concept of the electron-pair bond (US).
  • Karl Schwarzschild uses Einstein’s relativity theory to predict the existence of black holes (Germany).
  • The British and French use Benjamin Holt’s Caterpillar tractors as the basis for creating the first military tanks.

    British troops surround a Mark I tank during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

    British troops surround a Mark I tank during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

  • The Summer Olympics are cancelled due to World War I.
  • Albert Einstein publishes the German-language science book Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (Germany).
  • Democracy and Education, a work about education written in English by John Dewey (US).
  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, an English-language novel by James Joyce (Ireland).
  • The Planets, an orchestral suite by Gustav Holst (UK).
  • Intolerance, a film by D.W. Griffith (US).

    A still image from the Babylonian sequence of Intolerance.

    A still image from the Babylonian sequence of Intolerance.

  • Blind Woman, New York, and Porch Shadows, photographs by Paul Strand (US).

    Blind

    Blind Woman.

  • Francis Crick is born in Weston Favell, England, UK.
  • Claude E. Shannon is born in Petoskey, Michigan, US.

1917

  • The Russian Revolution: (1) the February Revolution forces Emperor Nicholas II to abdicate, while a Provisional Government assumes power; (2) in the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Communists overthrow Alexander Kerensky’s Provisional Government and take power; (3) Bolshevik success triggers a civil war between the Reds (Bolsheviks) and the Whites (monarchists and liberals); (4) Vladimir Lenin becomes head of government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

    Lenin speaks to the crowd in 1917.

    Lenin speaks to the crowd in 1917.

  • The Arabs, working with T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), capture the city of Aqaba from the Ottomans (Jordan).
  • The US enters World War I after Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare.
  • The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary issues the Balfour Declaration expressing support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine that does not prejudice existing non-Jewish communities (UK).
  • Under the Treaty of the Danish West Indies, the US purchases the Danish West Indies from Denmark; the US renames the islands the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • A collision in Nova Scotia’s Halifax Harbour between two ships, one carrying tons of explosives, leads to a three-kiloton explosion that triggers a tsunami, kills 1,950 people and destroys buildings for miles (Canada).
  • Ernest Rutherford discovers the proton (UK).
  • Robert William Boyle and A.B. Wood create the first modern sonar system (UK).
  • The Gates of Hell, a sculpture by Auguste Rodin (France).

    A bronze version of Rodin's Gates of Hell.

    A bronze version of Rodin’s Gates of Hell.

  • Fountain, a readymade artwork consisting of a urinal signed “R.Mutt”, widely attributed to Dadaist Marcel Duchamp (France).

    Duchamp's Fountain.

    A replica of Duchamp’s original Fountain.

  • Egon Schiele’s Expressionist painting The Embrace (Austria).

    The Embrace.

    The Embrace.

  • On Growth and Form, a work of biology and mathematics written in English by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (UK: Scotland).
  • Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes premieres Parade, a ballet with choreography by Léonide Massine, scenario by Jean Cocteau, music by Erik Satie, and costumes and sets by Pablo Picasso (France).
  • Wire Wheel, a photograph by Paul Strand (US).

    Strand's Wire Wheel.

    Strand’s Wire Wheel.

  • Vortograph No. 1, a photograph by Alvin Langdon Coburn (US).

    Vortograph #1.

    Vortograph #1.

  • Birth of John F. Kennedy in Brookline, Massachusetts, US.
  • Birth of Indira Priyadarshini Nehru (Indira Gandhi) in Allahabad, India.

1918

  • An influenza pandemic infects 500 million people and kills 50-100 million worldwide in 1918-1919.
  • In March, Bolshevik Russia signs the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany and cedes rights to Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine (Belarus).
  • In August, the Allies beat back Germany’s final offensive of World War I in the Second Battle of the Marne (France).
  • In October, the German people overthrow Kaiser Wilhelm’s Empire and in November establish a German Republic.
  • World War I ends with Allied victory on November 11 when Germany becomes the last of the Central Powers to sign an armistice agreement (France).
  • The Bolsheviks execute Tsar Nicholas II and his family (Russia).
  • T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) helps establish a short-lived independent Arab state based at Damascus, under Emir Faisal (Syria).

    Emir Feisal and his party (including T.E. Lawrence) at Versailles.

    Emir Feisal and his party (including T.E. Lawrence) at Versailles.

  • Ukraine and Belarus declare independence.
  • The Republic of Poland obtains sovereignty and independence.
  • Iceland, Yemen and Azerbaijan become independent nations.
  • Oswald Spengler publishes the first volume of The Decline of the West, a work of history written in German (Germany).
  • The Education of Henry Adams, a memoir written in English by Henry Adams (US).

    A photograph of Henry Adams.

    A photograph of Henry Adams.

  • Willa Cather’s English-language novel My Ántonia (US).
  • The Twelve, a poem in Russian by Alexander Blok (Russia).
  • Richard Feynman is born in New York, New York, US.
  • Frederick Sanger is born in Rendcomb, England, US.
  • Rolihlahla Mandela (Nelson Mandela) is born in Mveso, South Africa.

1919

  • The Paris Peace Conference results in the Treaty of Versailles, which redraws the map of Europe (France).europe-map-before-after-wwi
  • The League of Nations is established, although the U.S. Senate refuses to allow the US to join (Switzerland).
  • Estonia becomes independent.
  • After blocking the exits, British troops fire into a crowd of unarmed Indian protesters in Jallianwala Bahg, Amritsar, killing 379-1500 people.
  • The Spartacist uprising, a Communist rebellion in Germany, ends with the arrests and killing of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.
  • The moderate Weimar Republic is established in Germany.
  • The Ottoman Empire is dissolved.
  • The Sinn Féin party declares independence from the UK and forms an Irish Republic, trigging the Irish War of Independence.
  • The Egyptian Revolution begins in Egypt and Sudan when the British exile Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party.
  • The Chinese government’s response to the Treaty of Versailles, in which Japan received territory in Shandong, triggers nationalist demonstrations known as the May Fourth Movement.
  • Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge suppresses the Boston Police Strike (US).
  • Assassination of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata.
  • Arthur Eddington and Frank W. Dyson confirm Einstein’s theory of general relativity during a solar eclipse (US).
  • British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown are the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean when they leave Newfoundland and arrive in Ireland less than 72 hours later (Canada; Ireland).
  • Charles Strite invents the automatic pop-up toaster (US).

    A Waters-Genter toaster from the 1920s, based on Charles Strite's design.

    A Waters-Genter toaster from the 1920s, based on Charles Strite’s design.

  • In the Black Sox scandal, eight members of the Chicago White Sox baseball team agree to intentionally lose the World Series in return for payments (US).
  • Sir Barton is the first horse to win the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes) of American horse racing (US).
  • Winesburg, Ohio, linked stories written in English by Sherwood Anderson (US).
  • Wallace Stevens publishes Harmonium, his first book of poems, written in English and including Anecdote of the Jar (US).
  • Poetry, a poem written in English by Marianne Moore (US).
  • D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks form United Artists, an independent film production company (US).

    Charlie Chaplin signs the United Artists contract in 1919, with (from left) D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks standing beside him.

    Charlie Chaplin signs the United Artists contract in 1919, with (from left) D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks standing beside him.

  • Cello Concerto in E minor, by Edward Elgar (UK).
  • Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes premieres The Three-Cornered Hat, a ballet with choreography by Leonide Massine and music by Manuel de Falla (France).
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a film by Robert Wiene (Germany).

    A still image from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

    A still image from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

  • Death of Theodore Roosevelt.
  • J. Presper Eckert is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US.
  • Birth of Eva María Ibarguren (Eva Perón) in Los Toldos, Argentina.

1920

  • The Haiyuan earthquake, magnitude 7.8, kills 273,400 people (China).
  • The UK creates the Palestine Mandate from the southern part of the Ottoman Empire’s Syria province (Israel; Palestine).
  • On Bloody Sunday in Dublin, the Irish Republican Army assassinates 14 British intelligence officers and informers, and the British respond by shooting into a crowd at a Gaelic football game, killing 14 civilians (Ireland).
  • The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution gives women the right to vote.
  • First meeting of the General Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva (Switzerland).
  • The US begins Prohibition, a ban on the sale, production, importation and transportation of alcoholic beverages.
  • Arthur Eddington proposes that the heavy elements in the universe were created in stars or explosions of stars (UK).
  • Earl Dickson at Johnson & Johnson invents the Band-Aid (US).
  • Racine Universal Motor Co. and Hamilton Beach Co., working independently, introduce the first portable handheld electric hair dryers (US).
  • The Skat Players, a painting by Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) artist Otto Dix (Germany).

    The Skat Players.

    The Skat Players.

  • The Second Coming, a poem written in English by W.B. Yeats (Ireland).
  • Edith Wharton’s English-language novel The Age of Innocence (US).
  • Women in Love, a novel written in English by D.H. Lawrence (UK).
  • Power House Mechanic, a work portrait photograph by Lewis Hine (US).

    Power House Mechanic.

    Power House Mechanic.

  • Rosalind Franklin is born in London, England, UK.
  • Birth of Karol Józef Wojtyła (Pope John Paul II) in Wadowice, Poland.

1921

  • The Pahlavi Dynasty comes to power in Persia through a coup d’etat (Iran).
  • The Irish War of Independence ends with a ceasefire and partition of Ireland into the Irish Free State (an independent nation) and Northern Ireland (part of the UK).
  • Frustrated by Bolshevik economic policies, Stepan Petrichenko leads the Kronstadt Rebellion, which is suppressed by troops led by Mikhail Tukhachevsky (Russia).
  • The Indian National Congress invests Mohandas K. Gandhi with executive authority and he leads India on a non-cooperation campaign.
  • Frederick Banting and Charles Best are the first to isolate and extract insulin (Canada).

    Banting and Best with one of the diabetic dogs they used to test insulin.

    Banting and Best with one of the diabetic dogs they used to test insulin.

  • Otto Loewi identifies acetylcholine, the first known neurotransmitter (Austria).
  • Pittsburgh radio station KDKA broadcasts a boxing match (US).
  • The Expressionist Einstein Tower, an astrophysical observatory in Potsdam designed by Erich Mendelsohn (Germany).

    Einstein's Tower.

    The Einstein Tower.

  • The Elephant Celebes, a Surrealist painting by Max Ernst (Germany).

    The Elephant Celebes.

    The Elephant Celebes.

  • Six Characters in Search of an Author, a play written in Italian by Luigi Pirandello (Italy).
  • John Galsworthy completes The Forsyte Saga, a series of three novels and two interludes written in English (UK: England).
  • Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, by Sergei Prokofiev (Russia).
  • Birth of Bettye Naomi Goldstein (Betty Friedan) in Peoria, Illinois, US.

1922

  • The partition of Ireland under the Anglo-Irish Treaty triggers the Irish Civil War.
  • Official end of the Ottoman Empire and formation of the state of Turkey.
  • Egypt obtains independence from the UK, except for the Suez Canal Zone.
  • Birth of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the first Communist state.
  • Vladimir Lenin becomes the first leader of the Soviet Union.
  • Benito Mussolini’s Fascists crush a general strike and march on Rome, where King Victor Emmanuel III hands power to Mussolini (Italy).
  • The first successful treatment of a human diabetic using insulin (Canada).
  • Howard Carter and George Herbert, Lord of Carnarvon, discover the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun (Egypt).

    Howard Carter with Tutankhamen's sarcophagus.

    Howard Carter with Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus.

  • First radio broadcast of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (UK).
  • Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, a German-language work of philosophy by Ludwig Wittgenstein (UK: England).
  • Ulysses, a novel written in English by James Joyce (Ireland).
  • The True Story of Ah Q, a novella written in Chinese by Lu Xun (China).
  • Wallace Stevens’ English-language poem The Emperor of Ice Cream (US).
  • The Waste Land, a poem written in English by T.S. Eliot (UK).
  • Premiere of Alban Berg’s German opera Wozzeck, which includes free atonality (Austria).
  • Nanook of the North, a documentary film by Robert J. Flaherty (US).

    A still image from Nanook of the North.

    A still image from Nanook of the North.

  • Echeveria, a photograph by Albert Renger-Patzsch (Germany).

    Echeveria.

    Echeveria.

  • Alexander Graham Bell dies.

1923

  • The Great Kantō earthquake, magnitude 7.9, causes over 100,000 deaths in Japan.
  • National Socialist (Nazi) leader Adolf Hitler is imprisoned after the failed Beer Hall Putsch (Germany).
  • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk becomes the first president of the Republic of Turkey.

    Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1931.

    Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1931.

  • Spanish King Alfonso XIII supports the military coup by General Miguel Primo de Rivera (Spain).
  • Assassination of Pancho Villa in Parral, Mexico.
  • Irish Free State forces defeat the anti-Anglo-Irish Treaty irregulars, ending the Irish Civil War.
  • In retaliation for Germany’s failure to make reparations payments due under the Treaty of Versailles, France invades and occupies the Ruhr section of Germany.
  • Walt and Roy Disney open Disney Brothers’ Studio in Hollywood, California (US).
  • Peking Man (Homo erectus) fossils discovered in Zhoukoudian (China).
  • Bird in Space, a sculpture by modernist Romanian artist Constantin Brâncuși (France).

    Bird in Space.

    Bird in Space.

  • The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), a work of art by Marcel Duchamp (US).

    The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even.

    The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even.

  • The Ego and the Id, an article on psychology by Sigmund Freud (Austria).
  • Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening and Nothing Gold Can Staypoems written in English by Robert Frost (US).
  • Duino Elegies, poems written in German by Rainer Maria Rilke (Germany).
  • William Carol Williams publishes Spring and All, a book of poems written in English and containing The Red Wheelbarrow (US).
  • Zeno’s Conscience (The Confessions of Zeno), a novel written in Italian by Italo Svevo (Italy).
  • Five Pieces for Piano, by Arnold Schoenberg, is the first composition using the 12-tone technique (Austria).

    A 1927 photograph of Arnold Schoenberg by Man Ray.

    A 1927 photograph of Arnold Schoenberg by Man Ray.

  • The Broadway musical Runnin’ Wild features The Charleston, a song by James P. Johnson and accompanying dance that becomes a sensation (US).
  • Lathe No. 3, Akeley Shop, NY, a photograph by Paul Strand (US).

    Lathe No. 3.

    Lathe No. 3.

  • Montage by Russian constructivist Alexander Rodchenko (Russia).

    Montage.

    Montage.

  • Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen dies.
  • Jack Kilby is born in Jefferson City, Missouri, US.

1924

  • Lenin’s death triggers a struggle for leadership of the Soviet Union (Russia).
  • Mohandas K. Gandhi becomes president of the Indian National Congress (India).
  • Raymond Dart discovers bipedal hominid Australopithecus africanus, which lived 3.3 to 2.1 mya (South Africa).

    Raymond Dart (1893-1988) with the Taung Child skull.

    Raymond Dart (1893-1988) with the skull of an immature Australopithecus africanus, known as the Taung Child.

  • Henry Gerber founds the Society for Human Rights, a gay rights organization, in Chicago, Illinois (US).
  • Aviators of the U.S. Army Air Service flying four Douglas World Cruiser biplanes become the first to circle the Earth by air.
  • William Howard Livens invents the first modern electric dishwasher (UK).
  • Kimberly-Clark Co. markets the first Kleenex facial tissues (US).
  • André Breton drafts the first Surrealist Manifesto (France).
  • Elements of Physical Biology, a English-language science text by Alfred Lotka (US).
  • The Magic Mountain, a novel in German by Thomas Mann (Germany).
  • A Passage to India, a novel written in English by E.M. Forster (UK).
  • Saint Joan, a play written in English by George Bernard Shaw (UK).
  • Juno and the Paycock, a play written in English by Sean O’Casey (Ireland).
  • Rhapsody in Blue, a musical composition by George Gershwin, premieres in New York (US).
  • Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh), a film by F.W. Murnau (Germany).

    Emil Jannings in Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh).

    Emil Jannings in Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh).

  • Greed, a film by Erich von Stroheim (US).

    A still image from Erich von Stroheim's Greed.

    A still image from Erich von Stroheim’s Greed.

  • Le Violon d’Ingres, a photograph by Man Ray (France).

    Man Ray's Violon d'Ingres.

    Man Ray’s Le Violon d’Ingres.

  • Portrait of My Mother, a photograph by Alexander Rodchenko (Russia).

    Rodchenko's Portrait of My Mother.

    Rodchenko’s Portrait of My Mother.

  • Death of Woodrow Wilson.

1925

  • High school teacher John Scopes is convicted of teaching human evolution, in violation of Tennessee state law (US).
  • Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, Pascual Jordan and Erwin Schrödinger develop quantum mechanics (Germany).
  • Wolfgang Pauli formulates the Pauli exclusion principle, which states that two electrons cannot occupy the same quantum state simultaneously (Austria).
  • Goodyear launches its first blimp (US).
  • Surrealist artist Joan Miró paints The Harlequin’s Carnival and The Birth of the World (France).

    The Birth of the World.

    The Birth of the World.

  • Adolf Hitler publishes the first volume of his political manifesto, Mein Kampf (Germany).
  • Franz Kafka’s German-language novel The Trial is published (Czech Republic/Austria).
  • The Great Gatsby, a novel written in English by F. Scott Fitzgerald (US).
  • Mrs. Dalloway, a novel written in English by Virginia Woolf (US).

    A 1925 photograph of Virginia Woolf.

    A 1925 photograph of Virginia Woolf.

  • An American Tragedy, a novel written in English by Theodore Dreiser (US).
  • André Gide’s French language novel The Counterfeiters (France).
  • Louis Armstrong makes the first Hot Five recordings (US).

    A 1926 photograph of Louis Armstrong (seated) and his Hot Five: from left, Johnny St . Cyr, Johnny Dodds , Kid Ory and Lil Hardin Armstrong.

    A 1926 photograph of Louis Armstrong (seated) and his Hot Five: from left, Johnny St. Cyr, Johnny Dodds, Kid Ory and Lil Hardin Armstrong.

  • Bessie Smith records W.C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues (US).
  • The Gold Rush, a film by Charlie Chaplin (US).

    Charlie Chaplin boils his boot in The Gold Rush.

    Charlie Chaplin boils his boot in The Gold Rush.

  • Battleship Potemkin, a film by Sergei Eisenstein (Russia).

    A still image from the Odessa Steps sequence of Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin.

    A still image from the Odessa Steps sequence of Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.

  • Avenue des Gobelins, a photograph by Eugène Atget (France).

    Avenue des Gobelins.

    Avenue des Gobelins.

  • Death of Sun Yat-Sen.
  • Simon van der Meer is born in The Hague, The Netherlands.
  • Malcolm Little (Malcolm X) is born in Omaha, Nebraska, US.
  • Norma Jeane Mortenson (Marilyn Monroe) is born in Los Angeles, California, US.

1926

  • Dictators comes to power after coups in Greece, Poland and Portugal.
  • Hirohito becomes Emperor of Japan.
  • A massive general strike in support of 800,000 locked-out miners lasts 10 days (UK).
  • Robert H. Goddard launches the first liquid fuel rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts (US).

    Robert Goddard with his first liquid fueled rocket in 1926.

    Robert Goddard with his first liquid fueled rocket in 1926.

  • John Logie Baird demonstrates a television system that transmits an image of a recognizable human face (UK).
  • Mark Lidwell and Edgar Booth invent the first cardiac pacemaker (Australia).
  • Erik Rotheim invents the aerosol can (Norway).
  • American athlete Getrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.
  • Walter Gropius designs the modernist Bauhaus Dessau (Germany).

    The Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany, by Walter Gropius.

    The Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany.

  • Claude Monet completes the last of his Nymphéas (Water Lilies) series of paintings (France).

    The Water Lilies: Setting Sun, by Claude Monet.

    The Water Lilies: Setting Sun, by Claude Monet.

  • Pillars of Society, a painting by New Objectivity artist George Grosz (Germany).

    The Pillars of Society.

    The Pillars of Society.

  • The Castle, a German-language novel by Franz Kafka, is published (Czech Republic).
  • The Sun Also Rises, a novel written in English by Ernest Hemingway (US).
  • Winnie-the-Pooh, a children’s novel written in English by A.A. Milne (UK: England).
  • Leoš Janáček’s musical compositions Sinfonietta and Glagolitic Mass (Czech Republic).
  • Turandot, an Italian opera by Giacomo Puccini, debuts at La Scala in Milan (Italy).
  • Premiere of Béla Bartók’s ballet The Miraculous Mandarin in Cologne (Germany).  
  • The General, a film by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton (US).

    Buster Keaton in The General.

    Buster Keaton in The General.

  • Mother, a film by Vsevolod Pudovkin (Russia).
  • Satiric Dancer, Paris, a photograph by André Kertész (France).

    Satiric Dancer.

    Satiric Dancer.

  • Portrait of James Joyce, a photograph by Berenice Abbott (France).

    Portrait of James Joyce.

    Portrait of James Joyce.

  • Heike Kamerlingh Onnes dies.
  • Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (Fidel Castro) is born in Birán, Cuba.
  • Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (Queen Elizabeth II) is born in London, UK.

1927

  • World population is estimated at two billion.
  • Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalists massacre Communists, triggering the Chinese Civil War.
  • Mao Zedong becomes leader of the Red Army (China).
  • Saudi Arabia becomes an independent nation.
  • Charles Lindbergh completes the first solo transatlantic flight (US).
  • Despite appeals and protests, Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed for murder and armed robbery in Massachusetts (US).
  • Georges Lemaître hypothesizes that the universe is expanding (Belgium).
  • Physicist Werner Heisenberg first articulates the uncertainty principle (Germany).
  • Philo T. Farnsworth’s Image Dissector transmits a visual image to a receiver (US).
  • Warren Marrison and J.W. Horton at Bell Labs invent the quartz clock (US).

    The first quartz clock, built in 1927 by Marrison and Hold at Bell Labs.

    The first quartz clock, built in 1927 by Marrison and Horton at Bell Labs.

  • SurrealistMax Ernst begins his Forest series of paintings (Germany).

    Petrified Forest, made with oils on a canvas measuring 2.6 ft. tall by 3.3 ft. wide, from 1927, now at the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

    Petrified Forest, now at the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

  • The final volume of Marcel Proust’s French-language novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time), is published posthumously (France).
  • Virginia Woolf’s English-language novel To the Lighthouse (UK).
  • Sailing to Byzantium, a poem written in English by William Butler Yeats (Ireland).
  • String Quartets No. 3 and 4 in C minor, by Béla Bartók (Hungary).
  • Bix Beiderbecke records his composition In a Mist (US).
  • Martha Graham opens a school of contemporary dance in New York (US).
  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, a film by F.W. Murnau (US).
  • Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis (Germany).

    A still image from Metropolis.

    A still image from Metropolis.

  • Napoléon, a film by Abel Gance (France).
  • The Jazz Singer, directed by Alan Crosland, is the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue, a ‘talkie’ (US).
  • Criss-Crossed Conveyors, River Rouge Plant, a photograph by Charles Sheeler for the Ford Motor Company (US).

    Caption.

    Criss-Crossed Conveyors.

  • Shells, a photograph by Edward Weston (US).

    Shells.

    Shells.

  • Theodore Maiman is born in Los Angeles, California, US.

1928

  • By this date, Joseph Stalin has removed his rivals and become dictator of the Soviet Union (Russia).

    Joseph Stalin in 1943.

    Joseph Stalin in 1943.

  • The Northern Expedition, a military campaign by the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek, results in the end of the Warlord Era, the reunification of China and the start of the Nanjing government (China).
  • The major powers sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in which they renounce the use of war as an instrument of national policy (France).
  • Alexander Fleming discovers that a mold, Penicillium notatum, destroys bacterial colonies (UK).
  • Frederick Griffith discovers a ‘transforming principle’ that can change one type of bacteria to another (UK).
  • Paul Dirac derives the Dirac equation, which describes the behavior of certain subatomic particles.
  • Philo T. Farnsworth demonstrates the first working all-electronic television system to the press (US).
  • Thomas Midgley, Jr. invents Freon (US).
  • Otto Frederick Rohwedder invents the bread slicer (US).

    A 1930 demonstration of a bread slicing machine in St. Louis, Missouri.

    A 1930 demonstration of Rohwedder’s bread slicing machine in St. Louis, Missouri.  Everything that’s come after has been the best thing since sliced bread.

  • Jacob Schick invents the electric razor (US).
  • Surrealist Joan Miró’s Dutch Interior I (Spain/France).

    Dutch Interior I.

    Dutch Interior I.

  • Federico García Lorca’s book of Spanish-language poems Gypsy Ballads (Spain).
  • D.H. Lawrence’s English-language novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover (UK: England).
  • André Breton’s French novel Nadja (France).
  • The Carter Family records Wildwood Flower (US).
  • Louis Armstrong records West End Blues and Weather Bird (US).
  • Premiere of the ballet Boléro, with choreography by Bronislava Nijinska and music by Maurice Ravel, in Paris (France).
  • The Threepenny Opera premieres, with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill (Germany).
  • Premiere of Apollo, a ballet with choreography by George Balanchine and music by Igor Stravinsky, in Washington, D.C. (US).
  • Walt Disney co-produces and co-directs Steamboat Willie, the first sound cartoon starring Mickey Mouse (US).

    A still image from Steamboat Willie.

    A still image from Steamboat Willie.

  • The Passion of Joan of Arc, a film by Carl Theodor Dreyer (France).

    Maria Falconetti in Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc.

    Maria Falconetti in Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc.

  • Pastry Cook, Cologne, a photograph by August Sander (Germany).

    Pastry Cook.

    Pastry Cook.

  • On the Telephone, a photograph by Alexander Rodchenko (Russia).

    On the Telephone.

    On the Telephone.

  • Death of Emmeline Pankhurst.
  • James Watson is born in Chicago, Illinois, US.
  • Noam Chomsky is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US.
  • Charles David Keeling is born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, US.

1929

  • The New York Stock Market collapses, triggering a world wide Depression (US).
  • Edwin Hubble obtains direct evidence that the universe is expanding (US).

    A photograph of Edwin Hubble (1889-1953).

    A photograph of Edwin Hubble (1889-1953).

  • Mies van der Rohe designs the Barcelona Pavilion (Spain).

    Meant to be a temporary structure, the Barcelona Pavilion was rebuilt in 1986.

    Meant to be a temporary structure, the Barcelona Pavilion was rebuilt in 1986.

  • An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, a memoir by Mohandas K. Gandhi (India).
  • A Room of One’s Own, an essay written in English by Virginia Woolf (UK).
  • The Sound and the Fury, a novel written in English by William Faulkner (US).
  • A Farewell to Arms, a novel written in English by Ernest Hemingway (US).
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, a German novel by Erich Maria Remarqué (Germany).
  • The Maltese Falcon, a detective novel written in English by Dashiell Hammett (US).
  • Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog), a Surrealist film by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel (France).

    A still image from Un Chien Andalou.

    A still image from Un Chien Andalou.

  • Man with a Movie Camera, an experimental documentary film by Dziga Vertov (Russia).
  • Pandora’s Box, a film by G.W. Pabst (Germany).

    A still image from Pandora's Box.

    A still image from Pandora’s Box.

  • Equivalent, a photograph by Alfred Stieglitz (US).

    One of Stieglitz's Equivalents, a series of photographs of clouds.

    One of Stieglitz’s Equivalents, a series of photographs of clouds.

  • E.O. Wilson is born in Birmingham, Alabama, US.
  • Gordon Moore is born in San Francisco, California, US.
  • Murray Gell-Mann is born in New York, New York, US.
  • Annelies Marie Frank (Anne Frank) is born in Frankfurt, Germany.
  • Birth of Michael King, Jr. (Martin Luther King, Jr.) in Atlanta, Georgia, US.

1930

  • Mohandas K. Gandhi leads the 24-day, 240-mile Salt March to the coastal village of Dandi, when he makes salt without paying the salt tax, triggering a wider civil disobedience movement against British rule of India.

    Gandhi leads the Salt March.

    Gandhi leads the Salt March.

  • Haile Selassie is crowned Emperor of Ethiopia.
  • King Alfonso XIII removes dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera from power (Spain).
  • A military coup led by pro-fascist general José Félix Uriburu overthrows Argentine President Hipólito Yrigoyen, ushering in the Infamous Decade in Argentina.
  • A military coup installs right wing dictator Getúlio Dornelles Vargas as president of Brazil, where he rules for 15 years.
  • Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto, which was originally thought to be the ninth planet orbiting our sun. (US).
  • Vladimir Zworykin at Westinghouse demonstrates both transmission and reception of images in an electronic television system (US).
  • Richard Drew at 3M invents Scotch Tape (US).
  • The Art Deco Chrysler Building, designed by William Van Alen, opens in New York City (US).

    The Chrysler building. Photo by David Shankbone.

    The Chrysler Building. Photo by David Shankbone.

  • American Gothic, a painting by Regionalist artist Grant Wood (US).

    American Gothic.

    American Gothic.

  • Early Sunday Morning, a painting by American Realist Edward Hopper (US).

    Early Sunday Morning.

    Early Sunday Morning.

  • As I Lay Dying, a novel written in English by William Faulkner (US).
  • The Bridge, a poem written in English by Hart Crane (US).
  • Duke Ellington records Mood Indigo (US).
  • L’Age d’or (The Golden Age), a film by Luis Buñuel (France).
  • The Blue Angel, a film by Josef von Sternberg (Germany).

    Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich in von Sternberg's The Blue Angel.

    Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich in von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel.

  • Earth, a film by Aleksandr Dovzhenko (Russia).
  • Pepper No. 30, a photograph by Edward Weston (US).

    Caption

    Edward Weston’s Pepper No. 30.

  • The Lynching of Young Blacks – Indiana, a photograph by Lawrence Beitler (US).

    The Lynching of Young Blacks.

    The Lynching of Young Blacks.

  • Alfred Wegener dies.
  • Neil Armstrong is born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, US.
  • Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin is born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, US.

1931

  • Flooding of the Yangtze and Huai rivers kills 145,000-4,000,000 people (China).
  • Using a faked sabotage incident as pretext (the Mukden Incident), Japan invades and occupies Manchuria (China).
  • A Spanish Republic is established after King Alfonso XIII flees the country.
  • Georges Lemaître proposes that the universe began expanding from an initial point he calls the ‘primeval atom’ (Belgium).
  • Mathematician Kurt Gödel publishes his incompleteness theorems (Austria).
  • Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll invent the transmission electron microscope (US).

    A replica of Ernst Ruska's 1933 electron microscope.

    A replica of Ruska and Knoll’s transmission electron microscope.

  • The Art Deco Empire State Building, designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, opens in New York City (US).
  • Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret design the International Style Villa Savoye (France).

    Villa Savoye is a dramatic revisioning of residential architecture.

    Villa Savoye is a dramatic revisioning of residential architecture.

  • The Persistence of Memory, a painting by Surrealist Salvador Dali (France).

    The Persistence of Memory.

    The Persistence of Memory.

  • Christ the Redeemer, a 98-foot-tall reinforced concrete and soapstone Art Deco statue, created by Paul Landowski and built by Heitor da Silva Costa and Albert Caquot, is placed at the top of Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).

    Christ the Redeemer.

    Christ the Redeemer is a Rio icon.

  • Axel’s Castle, a book of literary criticism written in English by Edmund Wilson (US).
  • Pearl Buck’s English-language novel, The Good Earth (US).
  • Cab Calloway records Minnie the Moocher (US).
  • Belshazzar’s Feast, a cantata by William Walton (UK).
  • Fritz Lang’s film M (Germany).
  • Le Million, a film by René Clair (France).

    A still image from Rene Clair's Le Million.

    A still image from Rene Clair’s Le Million.

  • Thomas Alva Edison dies.
  • Roger Penrose is born in Colchester, England, UK.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev is born in Privolnoye, Russian SSR, USSR (now Russia).

1932

  • Joseph Stalin’s policy of forced collectivization of agriculture triggers a two-year-long famine in the grain-producing areas of the USSR that causes the deaths of 3-8 million peasants, primarily in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
  • The Kingdom of Iraq achieves independence from the UK.
  • Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (US/Ireland).
  • James Chadwick discovers the neutron (UK).

    James Chadwick (1891-1974).

    James Chadwick (1891-1974).

  • Carl D. Anderson discovers the positron (US).
  • Jan Oort is the first to propose the existence of dark matter to explain the orbital velocities of stars (the Netherlands).
  • Linus Pauling introduces the concept of electronegativity to explain aspects of chemical bonding (US).
  • Ernest O. Lawrence and M. Stanley Livingston build and operate the first cyclotron (US).

    M. Stanley-Livingstone (left) and Ernest Lawrence standing with the 27" cyclotron.

    M. Stanley-Livingston (left) and Ernest Lawrence standing with the cyclotron.

  • Josef Klarer, Fritz Mietzsch and Gerhard Domagk synthesize and test Prontosil, the first sulfa drug (Germany).
  • Ad Parnassum, a painting by Paul Klee (Germany/Switzerland).

    Ad Parnassum.

    Ad Parnassum.

  • Journey to the End of the Night, a novel in French by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (France).
  • Light in August, a novel written in English by William Faulkner (US).
  • Brave New World, a novel written in English by Aldous Huxley (UK).
  • Fred Astaire debuts the Cole Porter song Night and Day in the play Gay Divorce (US).
  • Trouble in Paradise, a film by Ernst Lubitsch (US).

    A still image from Ernst Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise.

    A still image from Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise.

  • Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, a photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson (France).

    Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare.

    Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare.

  • Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, a photograph attributed to Charles Ebbets (US).

    Lunch Atop a Skyscraper.

    Lunch Atop a Skyscraper.

  • Glass Tears, a photograph by Man Ray (France).

    Glass Tears.

    Glass Tears.

  • Harlem Couple in Raccoon Coats, a photograph by James Van Der Zee (US).

    Harlem Couple in Raccoon Coats.

    Harlem Couple in Raccoon Coats.

  • Luc Montagnier is born in Chabris, France.

1933

  • President Field Marshal von Hindenburg appoints Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.

    Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering wave to a torchlight parade in honor of Hitler's appointment as chancellor.

    Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering wave to a torchlight parade in honor of Hitler’s appointment as chancellor.

  • The U.S. Marines end their occupation of Nicaragua, leaving Anastasio Somoza in charge.
  • Prohibition is repealed in the US.
  • Wiley Post flies solo around the world (US).
  • Eugene Wigner (US) and Enrico Fermi (Italy), working independently, propose the existence of a weak nuclear force/weak interaction that explains radioactive decay.
  • Eugene Wigner (US) and Werner Heisenberg (Germany), working independently, propose the existence of a strong nuclear force/strong interaction that binds protons and neutrons together.
  • Opening of the Afsluitdijk, which dams the Zuiderzee and creates the Ijsselmeer, part of the larger Zuiderzee Works hydraulic engineering project (The Netherlands).
  • Departure, a triptych by New Objectivity artist Max Beckmann (Germany).

    Departure.

    Departure.

  • The Human Condition (I), a painting by Surrealist René Magritte (Belgium).

    The Human Condition.

    The Human Condition.

  • The Expanding Universe, a book on astronomy written in English by Arthur Eddington (UK).
  • The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, a biography written in English by Gertrude Stein (US).

    Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas and friend.

    Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas and friend.

  • André Malraux’s French-language novel Man’s Fate (France).
  • Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) records Goodnight, Irene (US).
  • Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance together for the first time onscreen in the film Flying Down to Rio (US).
  • Duck Soup, a film by Leo McCarey starring the Marx Brothers (US).

    The four Marx Brothers in Duck Soup (1933) (from left, Chico, Zeppo, Groucho and Harpo).

    The four Marx Brothers in Duck Soup (from left, Chico, Zeppo, Groucho and Harpo).

  • Zéro de conduite (Zero for Conduct), a film by Jean Vigo (France).

    A still image from Vigo's Zero for Conduct.

    A still image from Vigo’s Zero for Conduct.

  • Madrid, a photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson (Spain).

    Cartier-Bresson's Madrid.

    Cartier-Bresson’s Madrid.

  • Steven Weinberg is born in New York, New York, US.

1934

  • Joseph Stalin begins the Great Purge, a campaign of political repression that targets Communist Party leaders, Army leaders, intellectuals and kulaks (well-off peasants) (Russia).
  • Upon the death of President Hindenburg, Adolf Hitler becomes Führer und Reichskanzler of Germany with dictatorial powers.
  • Mussolini invades Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia.
  • American, German and Russian scientists, working independently, develop the first practical radar systems.
  • Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature, a collection of four scientific articles and an introductory survey originally written in Danish by Niels Bohr (Denmark).
  • Logik der Forschung (The Logic of Scientific Discovery), a treatise on the philosophy of science, written in German by Karl Popper (Austria).
  • Tender Is the Night, a novel written in English by F. Scott Fitzgerald (US).
  • Tropic of Cancer, a novel written in English by Henry Miller (US).
  • The Idea of Order at Key West, a poem written in English by Wallace Stevens (US).
  • Béla Bartók’s String Quartet No. 5 (Hungary).
  • Four Saints in Three Acts, an English-language opera with music by Virgil Thomson and libretto by Gertrude Stein (US).
  • Triumph of the Will, a film by Leni Riefenstahl (Germany).

    A still image from Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda film, Triumph of the Will.

    A still image from Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda film, Triumph of the Will.

  • L’Atalante, a film by Jean Vigo (France).
  • Newspapers publish a purported photograph of the Loch Ness Monster.  In 1975, Christian Spurling confesses that he, Robert Wilson and Ian Wetherall had perpetrated a hoax (UK: Scotland).

    The hoax.

    The faked photo of the Loch Ness Monster.

  • Marie Curie dies.
  • Jane Goodall is born in London, England, UK.
  • Carl Sagan is born in New York, New York, US.
  • Carlo Rubbia is born in Gorizia, Italy.
  • Yuri Gagarin is born in Klushino, Russia.
  • Gloria Steinem is born in Toledo, Ohio, US.

1935

  • During the Long March, Mao Zedong becomes de facto leader of both the Chinese Communist Party and the Red Army (China).

    Mao Zedong (right) and Zhou Enlai in 1935.

    Mao Zedong (right) and Zhou Enlai in 1935.

  • British Parliament passes the Government of India Act, which contains some movement toward self-rule but also maintains British authority.
  • Wallace Carothers at DuPont invents nylon, the first completely synthetic fiber (US).
  • László and György Bíró patent the first practical and effective ballpoint pen (Hungary).

    A birome pen made by the Biro brothers in Argentina in the 1940s.

    A birome pen made by the Biro brothers in Argentina in the 1940s.

  • Carlton C. Magee invents and installs the first parking meter in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (US).).
  • The Viipuri Municipal Library, an example of regional modernism, designed by Alvar Aalto (Russia).

    An interior view of the Viipuri Municipal Library.

    An interior view of the Viipuri Municipal Library.

  • The Book of Disquiet, a work of fiction written in Portuguese by Fernando Pessoa (Portugal).
  • Independent People, a novel written in Icelandic by Halldór Laxness (Iceland).
  • Murder in the Cathedral, a play written in English by T.S. Eliot (UK).
  • Violin Concerto, by Alban Berg (Austria).
  • Romeo and Juliet, a ballet score by Sergei Prokofiev (Russia).
  • Porgy and Bess, an opera by George Gershwin, with an English-language libretto by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, premieres in Boston, Massachusetts (US).
  • Fred Astaire debuts the Irving Berlin song Cheek to Cheek in the movie Top Hat (US).
  • Bride of Frankenstein, a horror film by James Whale (US).

    Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff in Bride of Frankenstein.

    Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff in Bride of Frankenstein.

  • Interior Detail, West Virginia Coal Miner’s House, a photograph by Walker Evans (US).

    Interior Detail, West Virginia Miner's House.

    Interior Detail, West Virginia Coal Miner’s House.

  • William Dickson dies.
  • Death of Jane Addams.
  • Birth of Elvis Aaron Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi, US.
  • Birth of Lhamo Döndrub (Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama) in Taktser, Tibet (now China).

1936

  • No one opposes Hitler when German troops march into the Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versailles (Germany).
  • The pronunciamiento of a group of Spanish Army generals led by José Sanjurjo, against the leftist government of President Manuel Azaña, triggers the Spanish Civil War.
  • Germany and Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact (Germany).
  • Haile Selassie goes into exile during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.
  • Arabs in the Palestine Mandate rebel against British rule and Jewish immigration (Israel; Palestine).
  • A general strike in France ends after the Matignon Agreements provide for improved working conditions.
  • Alan Turing establishes the basic principles of computer science, including the Turing machine and the Universal Turing machine (UK).

    A photograph of Alan Turing.

    A photograph of Alan Turing.

  • The last captive thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) dies (Tasmania).

    The last known thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) in a 1933 photo at the Beaumaris Zoo in Tasmania.

    The last known thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) in a 1933 photo at the Beaumaris Zoo in Tasmania.

  • The Berlin Olympics are broadcast live on German television (Germany).
  • African-American track and field athlete Jesse Owens wins four gold medals and sets three world records at the Berlin Olympics (Germany).
  • The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) begins the first public television service (UK).
  • Hoover Dam is completed (US).

    A view of Hoover Dam.

    A view of Hoover Dam.

  • The Old King, an Expressionist painting by Georges Rouault (France).

    The Old King.

    The Old King.

  • The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Moneyan economics treatise written in English by John Maynard Keynes (UK).
  • Gone with the Wind, a novel in English by Margaret Mitchell (US).
  • Absalom, Absalom! a novel written in English by William Faulkner (US).
  • U.S.A., a trilogy of English-language novels by John Dos Passos (US).
  • Peter and the Wolf, a musical composition by Sergei Prokofiev (Russia).
  • Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is a musical setting of 24 of the poems in a medieval manuscript of the same name (Germany).
  • Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings is an arrangement for string orchestra of the second movement of Barber’s String Quartet, Op. 11 (US).
  • Paul Robeson sings Ol’ Man River in the movie Show Boat (US).
  • Billie Holiday records Summertime, written by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward for Porgy and Bess (US).
  • Blues musician Robert Johnson records 16 songs, including Cross Road Blues and Kind Hearted Woman Blues, in the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas (US).
  • Migrant Mother – Nipomo, California, by Farm Security Administration photographer Dorothea Lange (US).

    Caption.

    Migrant Mother.

  • Death of a Loyalist Soldier, a photograph by Robert Capa (Spain).

    Many now believe that this famous photo was staged.

    Many now believe that this famous photo was staged.

1937

  • Hostilities break out between Japan and the Republic of China at the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (China).
  • The Communists under Mao Zedong and the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-Shek suspend the civil war and unite to fight Japan (China).
  • Anastasio Somoza Garcia takes power in Nicaragua.
  • Italy signs the Anti-Comintern Pact.
  • The Hindenburg, a German passenger airship, explodes at Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 35 of the 97 people on board (US).
  • On June 1, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan take off from Miami, Florida in a Lockheed Electra 10E airplane in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe, but on July 2, the plane is lost near Howland Island in the Pacific (US).

    Amelia Earhard and Fred Noonan in 1937 with a map showing the route of their last flight.

    Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in 1937 with a map showing the route of their last flight.

  • Mother Teresa takes vows as a Roman Catholic Sister of Loreto and begins teaching school in Calcutta (India).
  • The Congress of Industrial Organizations splits from the American Federation of Labor (US).
  • Following sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan, General Motors recognizes the United Auto Workers union (US).

    Sit down strikers in Flint, Michigan.

    Sit down strikers in Flint, Michigan.

  • In April, Frank Whittle bench tests a prototype turbojet engine (UK).
  • In September, Hans von Ohain and Ernst Heinkel bench test a jet engine (Germany).
  • György Jendrassik designs the first working turboprop engine (Hungary).
  • Manfred von Ardenne invents the scanning electron microscope (Germany).
  • Chester F. Carlson invents the photocopier (US).
  • The Golden Gate Bridge, designed by Joseph Strauss, Irving Morrow and Charles Ellis, opens in San Francisco, California (US).

    The Golden Gate refers to

    The Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Theodosius Dobzhansky publishes the English-language biology text, Genetics and the Origin of Species (US).
  • Out of Africa, a memoir written in English by Isak Dinesen (Denmark).
  • Of Mice and Men, a novel written in English by John Steinbeck (US).
  • Pablo Picasso’s mural-sized protest painting Guernica (France).

    Picasso's Guernica.

    Picasso’s Guernica.

  • Symphony No. 5 in D minor, by Dmitri Shostakovich (Russia).
  • Benny Goodman records Louis Prima’s Sing, Sing, Sing (US).
  • Count Basie records One O’Clock Jump (US).
  • Walt Disney releases Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first feature-length animated film (US).

    A still image from Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

    A still image from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

  • Explosion of the Hindenburg, a photograph by Sam Shere (US).

    Sam Shere's photograph of the Hindenburg disaster.

    Sam Shere’s photograph of the Hindenburg disaster.

  • At the Time of the Louisville Flood, a photograph by Margaret Bourke-White (US).

    At the Time of the Louisville Flood.

    At the Time of the Louisville Flood.

  • Ernest Rutherford dies.
  • Guglielmo Marconi dies.
  • Wallace Carothers dies.
  • George Zweig is born in Moscow, Russian SSR, USSR (now Russia).
  • Robert Gallo is born in Waterbury, Connecticut, US.

1938

  • Hitler occupies Austria in the Anschluss.
  • In the Munich Agreement, the UK, France and Italy allow Hitler to annex the Sudetenland, a portion of Czechoslovakia (Germany).

    At Munich in 1938 are (from left): Neville Chamberlain (UK), Édouard Daladier (France), Adolf Hitler (Germany), Benito Mussolini (Italy) and Galeazzo Ciano (Italy).

    At Munich in 1938 are (from left): Neville Chamberlain (UK), Édouard Daladier (France), Adolf Hitler (Germany), Benito Mussolini (Italy) and Galeazzo Ciano (Italy).

  • Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ends the Great Purge, although mass arrests, exile and political executions continue at a reduced pace (Russia).
  • Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann split the nucleus of a uranium atom by bombarding it with neutrons (Germany); Lise Meitner and Otto Robert Frisch confirm that Hahn and Strassmann have achieved nuclear fission (Sweden).
  • Guy Stewart Callendar demonstrates that global land temperature has increased over the past 50 years due to rising carbon dioxide levels (UK).
  • Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.
  • Roy Plunkett invents Teflon coating (US).
  • American Joe Louis defeats German Max Schmeling in a world heavyweight boxing championship (US).

    Joe Louis (standing) and Max Schmeling (not standing).

    Joe Louis (standing) and Max Schmeling (not standing).

  • American baseball player Johnny Vander Meer, a pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, pitches back-to-back no-hitters, four days apart, against different teams (US).
  • Homage to Catalonia, a memoir written in English by George Orwell (UK).

    George Orwell in 1933.

    George Orwell in 1933.

  • Our Town, a play written in English by Thornton Wilder (US).
  • Nausea, a novel written in French by Jean-Paul Sartre (France).
  • Rebecca, a novel written in English by Daphne DuMaurier (UK: England).
  • Benny Goodman, his band and members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands are the first jazz musicians to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York (US).
  • Artie Shaw records Cole Porter’s Begin the Beguine (US).
  • Sunday on the Banks of the River Marne, a photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson (France).

    Sunday Afternoon on the Banks of the Marne.

    Sunday on the Banks of the River Marne.

  • Lynn Margulis is born in Chicago, Illinois, US.
  • Donald Knuth is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US.
  • Birth of Kofi Annan in Comassie, Gold Coast (now Kumasi, Ghana).

1939

  • The Spanish Civil War ends with the defeat of the Republican Loyalists and victory for Fascist dictator Francisco Franco.

    Generalissimo Francisco Franco reviewing his troops after taking Madrid in 1939.

    Generalissimo Francisco Franco reviewing his troops after taking Madrid in 1939.

  • In the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of non-aggression, Germany and the USSR agree to divide up Poland.
  • The Nazi invasion of Poland starts World War II.
  • The USSR invades Finland, starting the Winter War.
  • British forces suppress the Arab uprising in the Palestinian Mandate (Israel; Palestine).
  • Michael Perrin synthesizes polyethylene (UK).
  • Packard introduces the first air conditioned automobile (US).
  • Igor Sikorsky invents the first practical, commercially successful helicopter (US).

    Igor Sikorsky pilots his 1939 helicopter, the VS-300.

    Igor Sikorsky pilots his 1939 helicopter, the VS-300.

  • On August 27, the first jet aircraft, the Heinkel He178, takes its maiden flight (Germany).
  • NBC broadcasts the opening of the New York World’s Fair on W2XBS, its experimental television station (US).
  • Frank Lloyd Wright designs Fallingwater, a residence in Bear Run, Pennsylvania (US).

    The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residence, Fallingwater, has many Japanese influences.

    The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residence, Fallingwater, has many Japanese influences.

  • The Two Fridas, a painting by Surrealist/Magical Realist Frida Kahlo (Mexico).

    The Two Fridas.

    The Two Fridas.

  • Linus Pauling publishes the English-language scientific text, The Nature of the Chemical Bond (US).
  • Finnegan’s Wake, a novel written in English by James Joyce (Ireland).
  • Mother Courage and Her Children, a German-language play by Bertolt Brecht (Germany).
  • The Big Sleep, a detective novel written in English by Raymond Chandler (US).
  • Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra, by Joaquín Rodrigo (Spain).
  • Jazz pianist Art Tatum records Tea for Two (US).
  • Jazz saxophonist Coleman Hawkins records Body and Soul (US).
  • Glenn Miller and his band record In the Mood (US).
  • Billie Holiday records Strange Fruit, a song by Abel Meeropol (US).

    A 1947 portrait of Billie Holiday.

    A 1947 portrait of Billie Holiday.

  • The Wizard of Oz, a film by Victor Fleming, in which Judy Garland sings Over the Rainbow, a song by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg (US).
  • Gone with the Wind, a film by Victor Fleming (US).

    A still image from Gone with the Wind, showing Vivien Leigh and Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel.

    A still image from Gone with the Wind, showing Vivien Leigh and Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel.

  • The Rules of the Game, a film by Jean Renoir, is banned by the French government (France).
  • Stagecoach, a film by John Ford (US)
  • Mainbocher Corset, Paris, a photograph by Horst  P. Horst (France).

    Mainbocher Corset.

    Mainbocher Corset.

  • Sigmund Freud dies.

1940

  • Nazi Germany invades and occupies France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway.
  • Germany, Italy and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact in Berlin (Germany).
  • Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister (UK).

    Winston Churchill giving the "V for Victory" sign in 1940.

    Winston Churchill giving the “V for Victory” sign in 1940.

  • Britain fails to succumb to Nazi air attacks (the Battle of Britain) (UK).
  • Following the Nazi occupation of France and the establishment of the pro-Germany Vichy government, Charles de Gaulle organizes the Free French forces in England (UK).
  • The Moscow Peace Treaty, which gives some land to the USSR but maintains Finland’s independence, ends the Russo-Finnish War (Russia).
  • Agents of Stalin assassinate Leon Trotsky in Mexico.

    From left: Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera, and André Breton in a 1938 photo by Fritz Bach.

    From left: Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera, and André Breton in a 1938 photo by Fritz Bach.

  • The USSR annexes Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
  • The Olympics are cancelled due to World War II.
  • The Grapes of Wrath, a novel written in English by John Steinbeck (US).
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, a novel written in English by Ernest Hemingway (US).
  • Requiem, a poem written in Russian by Anna Akhmatova (Russia).
  • Long Day’s Journey into Night, a play written in English by Eugene O’Neill (US).
  • Native Son, a novel written in English by Richard Wright (US).
  • The Power and the Glory, a novel written in English by Graham Greene (UK: England).
  • Martha Graham – Letters to the World: Kick, a photograph by Barbara Morgan (US).

    Letters to the World: Kick.

    Letters to the World: Kick.

  • Hitler in Paris, by an unknown photographer (France).

    Hitler in Paris with Albert Speer.

    Hitler in Paris with Albert Speer.

  • J.J. Thomson dies.
  • John Lennon is born is Liverpool, England, UK.

1941

  • The Japanese stage a surprise attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

    The USS Shaw explodes after being struck during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941.

    The USS Shaw explodes after being struck during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

  • Hitler’s army invades the Soviet Union.
  • Hitler invades and occupies Yugoslavia and Greece.
  • The Nazis massacre 30,000 Jews in Babi Yar (Ukraine).
  • British, Ethiopian and other troops drive Italy out of Ethiopia; Haile Selassie returns from exile.
  • Hideki Tojo becomes Japanese Prime Minister.
  • Over 2,500 people suffocate in bomb shelters during a three-hour Japanese bombing raid of Chongquing, China.
  • The US passes the Lend-Lease Act, which provides supplies to the Allies.
  • George Wells Beadle and Edward Lawrie Tatum propose that genes control cells by controlling the specificity of enzymes – the one gene-one enzyme hypothesis (US).
  • Konrad Zuse builds the Z3, which may be the first working programmable, fully automatic digital computer (Germany).
  • John Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson invent polyester (UK).
  • DuPont introduces acrylic (US).
  • American baseball player Joe DiMaggio sets a record by hitting in 56 consecutive games (US).
  • American baseball player Ted Williams finishes the season with a batting average of .406 (US).
  • Billie Holiday records God Bless the Child, a song by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr. (US).
  • Duke Ellington records Billy Strayhorn’s Take the “A” Train (US).
  • Citizen Kane, a film by Orson Welles (US).

    Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane.

    Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane.

  • The Maltese Falcon, a film by John Huston (US).

    Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor in John Huston's The Maltese Falcon.

    Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor in John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon.

  • Portrait of Winston Churchill, a photograph by Yousuf Karsh (Canada).

    Portrait of Winston Churchill.

    Portrait of Winston Churchill.

  • Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, a photograph by Ansel Adams (US).

    Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.

    Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.

  • Pure Energy and the Neurotic Man, a photograph by Barbara Morgan (US).

    Pure Energy and the Neurotic Man.

    Pure Energy and the Neurotic Man.

  • The Last Jew in Vinnitsa, a photograph by an unknown photographer (Ukraine).

    "The Last Jew in Vinnitsa."

    “The Last Jew in Vinnitsa”, was written on the reverse of this photo, which was taken by an unknown Nazi soldier.

  • Frederick Banting dies.
  • Walther Nernst dies.
  • Stephen Jay Gould is born in New York, New York, US.

1942

  • Japan captures the Philippines, Singapore, Borneo, Celebes, Sarawak, the Dutch East Indies and Burma, marking the greatest extent of the Japanese Empire.

    A map of the Japanese Empire in 1942.

    A map of the Japanese Empire in 1942.

  • The US severely damages the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway.
  • The Axis powers reach the maximum extent of domination in Europe.
  • A map showing Nazi domination of Europe.

    A map showing Nazi domination of Europe.

  • At the Wannsee Conference, the Nazis plot the ‘final solution to the Jewish question’ (Germany).
  • The Nazi SS install the first gas chambers for exterminating Jews and other prisoners at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (Poland).
  • The Germans make the first successful test flight of the V-2 rocket, the first long-range ballistic missile (Germany).

    The Germans launched over 3,000 V-2 rockets from Peenemünde between 1942 and 1945.

    The Germans launched over 3,000 V-2 rockets from Peenemünde between 1942 and 1945.

  • The Japanese Navy scores a tactical victory, but the US and Australian navies win a strategic victory at the Battle of the Coral Sea (Australia; New Guinea).
  • British Imperial forces under Claude Auchinleck and Bernard Montgomery defeat the Germans under Erwin Rommel at the first and second battles of El Alamein (Egypt).
  • The United States begins forcing 110,000-120,000 Japanese-Americans living on the Pacific coast into internment camps for the duration of World War II.
  • Mohandas K. Gandhi and the All-India Congress Committee launch the Quit India campaign (India).
  • A gas explosion in the Japanese-controlled Benxihu mine in Liaoning leaves 1,549 people dead (China).
  • Anne Frank and her family go into hiding in an Amsterdam building (The Netherlands).
  • The Manhattan Project to build an atomic weapon begins (US).
  • Ernico Fermi and his team at University of Chicago (including Leó Szilárd) create the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction inside the first nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1 (US).

    Scientists observing the world’s first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, in the Chicago Pile No. 1, December 2, 1942. Photograph of an original painting by Gary Sheehan, 1957.

    A black and white photo of a 1957 painting by Gary Sheehan showing Enrico Fermi and his team observing Chicago Pile No. 1 on December 2, 1942.

  • Howard Florey, Norman Heatley, Ernst Chain and Andrew J. Moyer develop a method of manufacturing penicillin as a drug (US).
  • Dorothy Hodgkin and Harry Carlisle use X-ray diffraction to determine the three-dimensional structure of a complex molecule (cholesterol iodide) for the first time (UK).
  • Hugo Schmeisser invents the assault rifle (Germany).
  • Nighthawks, a painting by American Realist Edward Hopper (US).

    Nighthawks.

    Nighthawks.

  • The Stranger, a novel written in French by Albert Camus (Algeria/France).
  • Bing Crosby introduces Irving Berlin’s White Christmas in the movie Holiday Inn (US).
  • Casablanca, a film by Michael Curtiz, in which Dooley Wilson sings Herman Hupfeld’s song As Time Goes By (US).
  • The Tetons and the Snake River, a photograph by Ansel Adams (US).

    The Tetons and the Snake River.

    The Tetons and the Snake River.

  • Stephen Hawking is born in Oxford, England, UK.
  • Paul McCartney is born in Liverpool, UK.
  • Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. (Muhammad Ali) is born in Louisville, Kentucky, US.

1943

  • The Russians defeat the Germans at the Battle of Stalingrad (Russia).
  • The Nazis suppress an uprising in Warsaw’s Jewish Ghetto (Poland).
  • Allied leaders meet at the Tehran conference (Iran).
  • The Allies invade and liberate Sicily; then they land in Salerno and oust the Nazis from Italy; the Fascists fall; and the new Italian government declares war on Germany.
  • Max Newman, Tommy Flowers and others build the Mk I Colossus computing machine for the British military to break the German encryption system (UK).

    The Mk 1 Colossus in 1943.

    The Mk 1 Colossus in 1943.

  • Broadway Boogie Woogie, a Neoplasticist painting by Piet Mondrian (US).

    Broadway Boogie-Woogie.

    Broadway Boogie-Woogie.

  • The final volume of Robert Musil’s German-language novel The Man Without Qualities is published posthumously (Germany).
  • Canto General, poems written in Spanish by Pablo Neruda (Chile).
  • The Little Prince, a novella in French by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (France).
  • Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra (Hungary).
  • Symphony No. 8 in C minor, by Dmitri Shostakovich (Russia).
  • Lena Horne sings Stormy Weather in the movie Stormy Weather (US).
  • The Critic (Opening Night at the Opera), a photograph by Weegee (US).

    The Critic.

    The Critic.

  • Marines Under Fire, Saipan, a photograph by W. Eugene Smith (Mariana Islands).

    Marines under Fire.

    Marines under Fire.

  • Nikola Tesla dies.
  • Karl Landsteiner dies.
  • Lech Wałęsa is born in Popowo, Poland.
  • Billie Jean Moffitt (Billie Jean King) is born in Long Beach, California, US.

1944

  • Allied troops invade Normandy on D-Day (France).

    Allied troops land at Normandy on D-Day.

    Allied troops land at Normandy on D-Day.

  • The Soviets defeat the Germans at the Siege of Leningrad (Russia).
  • Germany launches its final offensive in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes forest (France; Belgium; Luxembourg).
  • Following the Allied liberation of France, Charles de Gaulle becomes leader of the French provisional government.
  • The Anti-Fascist Liberation Council of Yugoslavia governs areas liberated by Partisans under Josip Broz Tito (Serbia; Croatia; Bosnia & Herzegovina).
  • The underground militant Jewish group Irgun proclaims a revolt against the British government of the Palestine Mandate (Israel; Palestine).
  • Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty discover that DNA is the substance that carries genetic information (US).
  • Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, a tryptich by Francis Bacon (UK).

    Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion..

    Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion.

  • Ficciones, stories written in Spanish by Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina).
  • Appalachian Spring, a ballet score by Aaron Copland (US).
  • Woody Guthrie records his song This Land is Your Land (US).
  • Double Indemnity, a film by Billy Wilder (US).

    Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity (1944).

    Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity (1944).

  • Henry V, a film by Laurence Olivier (UK).

    Laurence Olivier directed and starred in Henry V.

    Laurence Olivier directed and starred in Henry V.

1945

  • In February, Allied fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo (Germany; Japan).
  • In February, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin meet at the Yalta Conference to make plans for postwar Europe (Ukraine/Russia).

    Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at Yalta.

    Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at Yalta.

  • Anne Frank dies in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp (Germany).
  • On May 7, Germany surrenders to the Allies, ending World War II in Europe (France).
  • On July 16, the US test detonates a plutonium implosion atomic bomb at Alamogordo, New Mexico (US).
  • On August 6, the US drops a uranium gun atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing 90,000-140,000 people and destroying 69% of the city’s buildings.

    Mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after atomic blast.

    Mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after atomic blast.

  • On August 9, the US drops a plutonium implosion atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing approximately 74,000 people.
  • On August 15, Japan surrenders to the Allies, ending World War II in the Pacific.
  • Ho Chi Minh announces the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
  • Tito’s Partisans and the Soviets liberate Yugoslavia from German occupation.
  • After Japan’s defeat, Chinese Communists and Nationalists resume their civil war (China).
  • Surviving Nazis are tried for war crimes in Nuremberg (Germany).
  • Founding of the United Nations.
  • Six nations form the Arab League in Cairo (Egypt).
  • Indonesia proclaims its independence, with Sukharno as its first president, triggering the Indonesian National Revolution against the Netherlands.
  • John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania launch ENIAC, the first electronic, digital, programmable general purpose computer (US).

    The ENIAC Computer.

    John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert with ENIAC.

  • Percy L. Spencer invents the microwave oven (US).
  • The Open Society and its Enemies, a work of political philosophy and the philosophy of history written in English by Karl Popper (UK).
  • Animal Farm, a novel written in English by George Orwell (UK).
  • Loving, a novel written in English by Henry Green (UK: England).
  • Brideshead Revisited, a novel written in English by Evelyn Waugh (UK: England).
  • Fern Hill, a poem written in English by Dylan Thomas (UK).
  • Peter Grimes, an English-language opera by Benjamin Britten, premieres in London (UK).
  • Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie introduce the world to bebop with their recording of Ko-Ko (US).

    Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at the Town Hall Concert in New York, 1945.

    Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at the Town Hall Concert in New York, 1945.

  • Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise), a film by Marcel Carné (France).

    A still image from Children of Paradise.

    A still image from Children of Paradise.

  • Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, a photograph by Joe Rosenthal (Japan).

    Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

    Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

  • Soviet Soldiers Raise USSR Flag over Reichstag in Berlin, a photograph by Yevgeny Khaldei (Germany).

    caption

    Soviet Soldiers Raise USSR Flag Over Reichstag.

  • The Kiss – V-J Day in Times Square, a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt (US).

    The Kiss.

    The Kiss.

  • Buchenwald Victims, a photograph by Margaret Bourke-White (Germany).

    Prisoners at Buchenwald.

    Prisoners at Buchenwald.

  • Thomas Hunt Morgan dies.
  • Robert Goddard dies.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi is born in Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar).

1946

  • Jordan becomes an independent nation.
  • The Philippines are declared independent by Treaty of Manila.
  • The First Indochina War begins between the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh, and France, allied with Emperor Bảo Đại’s Vietnamese National Army.
  • In the Iran Crisis of 1946, the Soviet Union refuses to withdraw from Iranian lands occupied during World War II and instead establishes two puppet states within Iran.
  • Eva Perón becomes the First Lady of Argentina.

    Eva and Juan Perón in 1950.

    Eva and Juan Perón in 1950.

  • Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri (US).
  • Walter Elsasser proposes that the Earth’s liquid outer core is a dynamo that generates the Earth’s magnetic field (US).
  • Marion Donovan invents disposable diapers (US).

    Marion Donovan in 1949 with one of her disposable diapers.

    Marion Donovan with one of her disposable diapers.

  • The Temptation of St. Anthony, a Surrealist painting by Salvador Dali (US).

    The Temptation of St. Anthony.

    The Temptation of St. Anthony.

  • Nude in the Bath and Small Dog, a painting by Pierre Bonnard (France).

    Nude in Bath with Small Dog.

    Nude in Bath with Small Dog.

  • Hiroshima, a work of journalism written in English by John Hersey (US).
  • All the King’s Men, a novel written in English by Robert Penn Warren (US).
  • The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a German play by Bertolt Brecht (Germany).
  • Directive, a poem written in English by Robert Frost (US).
  • The Best Years of Our Lives, a film by William Wyler (US).
  • Gandhi at his Spinning Wheel, a photograph by Margaret Bourke-White (US/India).

    caption

    Gandhi at his spinning wheel.

  • Gilbert N. Lewis dies.
  • Felix Hoffmann dies.
  • John Logie Baird dies.
  • Craig Venter is born in Salt Lake City, Utah, US.
  • William Jefferson Blythe III (Bill Clinton) is born in Hope, Arkansas, US.
  • George W. Bush is born in New Haven, Connecticut, US.

1947

  • India separates from the UK and becomes an independent nation.
  • The Partition of India and Pakistan triggers the first Indo-Pakistani War.
  • The Dutch invade Indonesia.
  • The United Nations adopts a resolution recommending adoption of a plan to partition Palestine, triggering a civil war between Arabs and Jews (Israel; Palestine).
  • President Harry S. Truman announces the Truman Doctrine, which pledges American support for anticommunist regimes threatened by Communist insurgencies or the USSR (US).
  • George Gamow develops Georges Lemaître’s ‘primeval atom’ idea into the Big Bang theory (UK).
  • The first Dead Sea Scrolls are found near Jericho (Israel; Palestine).

    A portion of the Dead Sea scrolls.

    A portion of the Dead Sea scrolls.

  • Piloted by Chuck Yeager, the Bell X-1 becomes the first aircraft to break the sound barrier (US).
  • William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain at Bell Labs build the first solid-state electronic transistor (US).
  • Dennis Gabor invents holography (UK).
  • Edwin Land introduces the Polaroid Land Camera, the first instant camera (US).
  • Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American to play for a Major League Baseball team when he signs a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers (US).

    Jackie Robinson steals home.

    Jackie Robinson steals home.

  • The structural expressionist Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, designed by Eero Saarinen and Hannskarl Bandel (US).

    The Gateway Arch symbolizes St. Louis's status as gateway to the western frontier of the United States.

    The Gateway Arch symbolizes St. Louis’s status as gateway to the western frontier of the United States.

  • The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank’s journal from 1942-1944, written in Dutch, is published (The Netherlands).

    Anne Frank.

    Anne Frank.

  • If This Is a Man (Survival in Auschwitz), a memoir in Italian by Primo Levi (Italy).
  • A Streetcar Named Desire, a play written in English by Tennessee Williams (US).
  • The Plague, a French-language novel by Albert Camus (France).
  • Under the Volcano, a novel written in English by Malcolm Lowry (UK).
  • Thelonious Monk records his composition ‘Round Midnight (US).

    Thelonious Monk.

    Thelonious Monk.

  • Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys record Blue Moon of Kentucky (US).
  • Max Planck dies.
  • Frederick Gowland Hopkins dies.
  • Alan Guth is born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, US.

1948

  • The British Mandate for Palestine ends, Israel declares independence and the Arab nations attack. At cease fire, Israel controls all of former Mandate except Gaza and the West Bank (Israel; Palestine).
  • The Soviets blocade Berlin and the Berlin Airlift begins.
  • The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, with Soviet backing, takes full power in a coup d’état (Czech Republic; Slovakia).
  • Burma achieves independence (Myanmar).
  • Gandhi is assassinated (India).
  • The racial apartheid policy begins in South Africa.
  • Korea is severed into North and South.
  • The four-year-long Marshall Plan, in which the US provides $17 billion in aid to Europe, begins.
  • The Organization of American States (OAS) forms.
  • A team of Soviet explorers are the first to reach the North Pole after Peary’s disputed claim.
  • Mother Teresa begins missionary work with the poor of Calcutta and elsewhere (India).

    Mother Teresa in 1986.

    Mother Teresa in 1986.

  • Claude E. Shannon develops information theory (US).
  • Cable television is introduced in the US.
  • Columbia Records introduces the first 12-inch long-playing (LP) 33 1/3 rpm microgroove vinyl record album (US).
  • George de Mestral invents Velcro (Switzerland).
  • Robert Motherwell begins his Elegies to the Spanish Republic series of paintings (US).

    Elegy to the Spanish Republic XXXIV, 1953-1954 is now at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.

    Elegy to the Spanish Republic XXXIV, 1953-1954 is now at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.

  • Christina’s World, a Contemporary Realist painting by Andrew Wyeth (US).
Christina's World.

Christina’s World.

  • Cry, the Beloved Country, a novel written in English by Alan Paton (South Africa).
  • Snow Country, a novel written in Japanese by Yasunari Kawabata (Japan).
  • The Pisan Cantos, English-language poems written by Ezra Pound (Italy).
  • Death Fugue, a poem written in German by Romanian poet Paul Celan (France).
  • Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano, by John Cage (US).
  • Ladri di Biciclette (released in the US as The Bicycle Thief), a Neorealist film by Vittorio de Sica (Italy).

    A still image from De Sica's Bicycle Thieves.

    A still image from De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves.

  • Dali Atomicus, a photograph by Philippe Halsman (US).

    Dali Atomicus.

    Dali Atomicus.

  • Weed Against Sky, a photograph by Harry Callahan (US).

    Weed Against Sky.

    Weed Against Sky.

  • Orville Wright dies.

1949

  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forms.
  • Germany is divided into East and West.
  • The Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War leads to the creation of the People’s Republic of China under Mao Zedong.
  • After being forced from the mainland, Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalists retreat to Taiwan.
  • Syria experiences three military coups in one year: first, Col. Husni al-Za’im ousts President Shukri al-Quwatli; then Col. Sami al-Hinnawi ousts Za’im; and finally Army officer Adib Shishakli ousts Hinnawi.
  • The Netherlands recognizes Indonesian independence.
  • Konrad Adenauer becomes the first Chancellor of West Germany.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson begins his first term as senator from Texas (US).
  • The Soviet Union tests its first fission-type atomic weapon.
  • Willard Libby and James Arnold use the radioactive carbon-14 isotope to accurately date wood samples in Ancient Egyptian tombs (US).
  • Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver invent the barcode (US).
  • Philip Johnson designs the Glass House in Connecticut (US).

    Philip Johnson's revolutionary statement, the Glass House. Presumably no stones are permitted in the building.

    Philip Johnson’s revolutionary statement, the Glass House.

  • The Second Sex, a work of feminist philosophy written in French by Simone de Beauvoir (France).

    Simon de Beauvoir in 1946. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

    A 1946 photograph of Simone de Beauvoir by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, a novel written in English by George Orwell (UK).
  • Death of a Salesman, a play written in English by Arthur Miller (US).
  • The Aleph and Other Stories, a book written in Spanish by Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina).
  • Hank Williams records I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (US).
  • The Third Man, a film by Carol Reed (UK).

    A still image from The Third Man.

    Orson Welles in a still image from The Third Man.

1950

  • The Korean War begins.
  • China enters the Korean War on behalf of North Korea.
  • Tenzin Gyatso is formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet (China).

    The Dalai Lama in 2012.

    The Dalai Lama in 2012.

  • Mother Teresa founds the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta (India).
  • The Diners’ Club Card, the first major credit card, is introduced (US).
  • Number 1, 1950 “Lavender Mist”, an action painting by Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock (US).

    Lavender Mist.

    Number 1, 1950 “Lavender Mist.”

  • The Empire of Light II, a painting by Surrealist René Magritte (Belgium).

    The Empire of Light (Museum of Modern Art, NY).

    The Empire of Light II (Museum of Modern Art, NY).

  • The Story of Art, an art history text written in English by Ernst Gombrich (UK).
  • The Liberal Imagination, a book of literary criticism written in English by Lionel Trilling (US).
  • The Weavers record Goodnight, Irene (US).
  • Sunset Blvd., a film by Billy Wilder (US).

    William Holden and Gloria Swanson in Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd.

    William Holden and Gloria Swanson in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd.

  • All About Eve, a film by Joseph Mankiewicz (US).
  • Rashomon, a film by Akira Kurosawa (Japan).
  • Segregated Water Fountains, a photograph by Elliott Erwitt (US).

    Segregated Water Fountains.

    Segregated Water Fountains.

  • Mine Workers, a photograph by Margaret Bourke-White (South Africa).

    Margaret Bourke-White's portrait of two South African mine workers.

    Margaret Bourke-White’s portrait of two South African mine workers.

  • Willis Carrier dies.
  • Death of George Orwell.

1951

  • The Allied occupation of Japan officially ends with the Treaty of San Francisco (US).
  • Iran nationalizes the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, triggering the Abadan Crisis with the UK.
  • Carl Djerassi, Luis Miramontes and George Rosenkranz at Syntex synthesize the first oral contraceptive (Mexico).
  • David Abraham at the Perkins School for the Blind invents the Braille typewriter (US).
  • Bette Nesmith invents correction fluid (US).
  • The Farnsworth House, in Plano, Illinois, designed by Mies van der Rohe (US).

    The Farnsworth House, now a museum, was originally built as a weekend retreat for Dr. Edith Farnsworth.

    The Farnsworth House, now a museum, was originally built as a weekend retreat for Dr. Edith Farnsworth.

  • The Origins of Totalitarianism, a work of political philosophy written in English by Hannah Arendt (US).
  • The Catcher in the Rye, a novel written in English by J.D. Salinger (US).
  • Memoirs of Hadrian, a French novel by Marguerite Yourcenar (France).
  • Les Paul and Mary Ford record How High the Moon (US).
  • Gene Kelly sings George and Ira Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm in the Vincente Minnelli film An American in Paris (US).

    A still image from the I Got Rhythm sequence of An American in Paris, with Gene Kelly.

    A still image from the I Got Rhythm sequence of An American in Paris, with Gene Kelly.

  • Spanish Village, a photo essay in Life magazine by W. Eugene Smith (Spain; US).

    Death Watch, from the Spanish Village photo essay.

    Death Watch, from the Spanish Village photo essay.

  • Pedestrian’s Foot, Paris, a photograph by Otto Steinert (France).

    Pedestrian's Foot.

    Pedestrian’s Foot.

  • Edward Witten is born in Baltimore, Maryland, US.

1952

  • Elizabeth II is crowned queen of the United Kingdom and 16 members of the Commonwealth of Nations (UK).
  • Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrows King Farouk and expels the British from Egypt.
  • Start of the Mau Mau Uprising, led by Dedan Kimathi, against the UK (Kenya).
  • Fulgencio Batista seizes power in a military coup (Cuba).
  • Fidel Castro begins a guerilla campaign to overthrow Batista (Cuba).
  • The left wing Revolutionary Nationalist Movement in Bolivia overthrows the government and installs Victor Paz Estenssoro as president.
  • Six Western European countries for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
  • The Great Smog, caused by mixing already-polluted air with sulfur dioxide from coal and diesel car exhausts, kills at least 4,000 and injures 100,000 more in London (UK).
  • The US tests its first thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb.
  • Jonas Salk develops a polio vaccine using inactivated polio virus (US).

    Jonas Salk. Photo by Yousef Kauch.

    Jonas Salk. Photo by Yousef Karsh.

  • The first jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, is introduced (US).

    The de Havilland Comet 1. Unfortunately, the square windows led to crashes.

    The de Havilland Comet 1. Unfortunately, the square windows led to crashes.

  • IBM markets its first mainframe computer (US).
  • Number 11, 1952 “Blue Poles”, a painting by Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock (US).

    Blue Poles.

    Blue Poles.

  • Abstract Expressionist artist Willem De Kooning’s painting Woman I (US).

    Woman I.

    Woman I.

  • Invisible Man, a novel written in English by Ralph Ellison (US).
  • The Old Man and the Sea, a novel written in English by Ernest Hemingway (US).
  • Singin’ in the Rain, a film by Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, in which Gene Kelly sings the title song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown (US).

    Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain.

    Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain.

  • Big Mama Thornton records Hound Dog, by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (US).
  • Death of Eva Perón.

1953

  • Cambodia achieves independence.
  • The Korean War ends.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower begins first term as 34th president of the United States.
  • Richard M. Nixon begins first term as 36th Vice President of the United States.
  • Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay are the first to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the highest peak on Earth (Nepal).
  • The USSR tests its first hydrogen bomb (Russia).
  • With the help of Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray diffraction image, James Watson and Francis Crick determine the double helix structure of DNA (UK).

    Rosalind Franklin's X-ray image of DNA.

    Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray image of DNA.

  • Charles Hard Townes, James Gordon and Herbert Zeiger create the first microwave amplifier, or maser (US).
  • Study After Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, a painting by Francis Bacon (UK).

    Study After Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X.

    Study After Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X.

  • The Destroyed City, a sculpture by Ossip Zadkine (The Netherlands).

    The Destroyed City.

    The Destroyed City.

  • The Origins of Totalitarianism, a book of political philosophy written in English by Hannah Arendt (US).
  • Philosophical Investigations, a posthumously-published book of philosophy written in German by Ludwig Wittgenstein (UK: England).
  • Waiting for Godot, a play written in French and translated into English by Samuel Beckett (France).
  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find, a story written in English by Flannery O’Connor (US).
  • Molloy; Molone Dies; The Unnameable, three novels written in French and translated into English by Samuel Beckett (France).
  • The Adventures of Augie March, a novel written in English by Saul Bellow (US).
  • Symphony No. 10 in E minor, by Dmitri Shostakovich (Russia).
  • Chet Baker records My Funny Valentine (US).
  • Hank Williams records Your Cheatin’ Heart (US).
  • Tokyo Story, a film by Yasijiro Ozu (Japan).

    A still image from Ozu's Tokyo Story.

    A still image from Ozu’s Tokyo Story.

  • Ugetsu Monogatari, a film by Kenzo Mizoguchi (Japan).

    A still image from Ugetsu Monogatari.

    A still image from Ugetsu Monogatari.

  • Pool in a Brook, near Whiteface, NH, a photograph by Eliot Porter (US).

    Pool in a Brook.

    Pool in a Brook.

  • The Family, Luzzara, Italy, a photograph by Paul Strand (Italy).

    The Family, Luzzara, Italy, a photograph by Paul Strand.

    The Family, Luzzara, Italy, a photograph by Paul Strand.

  • Edwin Hubble dies.
  • Death of Stalin.
  • Birth of Benazir Bhutto in Karachi, Pakistan.

1954

  • The First Indochina War ends with French withdrawal and division of Vietnam into North, led by Ho Chi Minh, and South, led by Emperor Bảo Đại.

    Ho Chi Minh in 1954.

    Ho Chi Minh in 1954.

  • The Viet Cong insurgency against the South Vietnamese government begins.
  • In Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court declares that racial segregation in public education is unconstitutional (US).
  • The first nuclear reactor for civilian use begins operating (USSR).
  • Joseph E. Murray and his team perform the first successful organ transplant (of a kidney) in Boston, Massachusetts (US).
  • The first transistor radio, the TR-1, from Texas Instruments/Regency, is introduced (US).
  • George Devol invents Unimate, the first digitally operated and programmable robot (US).

    The first industrial robot - the Unimate - at General Motors in 1961.

    The first industrial robot – the Unimate – at General Motors in 1961.

  • British medical student Roger Bannister is the first person to run a mile in under four minutes (UK).

    Getty Images.

    Roger Bannister runs a mile in under four minutes. Getty Images.

  • Lord of the Flies, a novel written in English by William Golding (UK).
  • Muddy Waters records Willie Dixon’s Hoochie Koochie Man (US).
  • Big Joe Turner records Jesse Stone’s Shake Rattle and Roll (US).
  • Seven Samurai, a film by Akira Kurosawa (Japan).

    Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai.

    Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai.

  • On the Waterfront, a film by Elia Kazan (US).

    A still image from On the Waterfront.

    A still image from On the Waterfront.

  • Enrico Fermi dies.
  • Alan Turing dies, by suicide, after being persecuted for his homosexuality.
  • Oprah Winfrey is born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, US.

1955

  • By refusing to move to the back of the bus, Rosa Parks sparks a civil rights bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama (US).

    Rosa Parks with Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1955.

    Rosa Parks with Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1955.

  • As head of the Montgomery Improvement Association, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. leads the Montgomery Bus Boycott (US).
  • Nikita Khruschchev is now unquestioned leader of the Soviet Union (Russia).
  • The Soviet Union and seven Eastern European nations form the Warsaw Pact (Poland).
  • Asian and African states meet to establish cooperation and oppose colonialism at the Bandung Conference (Indonesia).
  • Lyndon B. Johnson becomes U.S. Senate Majority Leader.
  • The AFL and CIO merge (US).
  • Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California (US).
  • Le Corbusier designs Notre Dame du Haut (France).

    Notre Dame du Haut.

    Notre Dame du Haut.

  • Flag, a work of art by Neo-Dada artist Jasper Johns (US).

    Flag.

    Flag.

  • Bed, a work of art by Neo-Dada artist Robert Rauschenberg (US).

    Bed.

    Bed.

  • Lolita, a novel written in English by Vladimir Nabokov (US).
  • Errol Garner’s live album, Concert by the Sea (US).
  • The album Clifford Brown and Max Roach (US).
  • Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, an album by Frank Sinatra (US).
  • Nat King Cole records Stardust, by Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parrish (US).
  • Errol Garner records Misty (US).
  • Johnny Cash records his song Folsom Prison Blues (US).
  • Chuck Berry records his song, Maybellene (US).
  • Little Richard records Tutti Frutti (US).
  • The movie Blackboard Jungle features the song Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets (US).
  • Charles Laughton’s film The Night of the Hunter (US).

    A still image from The Night of the Hunter.

    A still image from The Night of the Hunter.

  • Night and Fog, a documentary film by Alain Resnais (France).
  • Marilyn Monroe stars in Billy Wilder’s film The Seven Year Itch (US).

    Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.

    Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.

  • Albert Einstein dies.
  • Alexander Fleming dies.
  • Oswald Avery dies.
  • Arthur Tansley dies.
  • Tim Berners-Lee is born in London, England, UK.
  • William Henry Gates III (Bill Gates) is born in Seattle, Washington, US.

1956

  • Sudan and Tunisia become independent nations.
  • The USSR crushes an anti-government uprising in Hungary.
  • Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal triggers the Suez Crisis, in which Israel, the UK and France invade Egypt until the US and USSR force them to withdraw.
  • The SS Andrea Doria, an Italian luxury liner, sinks after colliding with the MS Stockholm; 1,660 out of 1,706 passengers and crew are rescued (US).
  • Felix Wankel invents the rotary engine (Germany).
  • IBM introduces the first hard drive, which can store 5 MB of information (US).
  • Robert Adler invents the Zenith Space Command, the first effective television remote control (US).

    Robert Adler's wireless remote control from 1956 - the Zenith Space Command.

    Robert Adler’s wireless remote control from 1956 – the Zenith Space Command.

  • American heavyweight boxer Rocky Marciano retires with a lifetime record of 49-0 (US).
  • American baseball player Don Larsen pitches a perfect game during Game 5 of the World Series (US).
  • African-American tennis player Althea Gibson wins the French Open, the first Grand Slam title won by a person of color (France).
  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s English-language fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings (UK).
  • The Visit, a German play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt (Germany).
  • Saxophone Colossusan album by Sonny Rollins (US).
  • Fats Domino records Blueberry Hill (US).
  • Elvis Presley records four #1 songs: Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel, Love Me Tender and Heartbreak Hotel (US).

    Elvis Presley performing in 1956.

    Elvis Presley performing in 1956.

  • Johnny Cash records I Walk the Line (US).
  • The Five Satins record In the Still of the Night (US).
  • Marilyn Monroe stars in Bus Stop, directed by Joshua Logan (US).
  • John Ford’s film The Searchers (US).

    John Wayne in The Searchers.

    John Wayne in The Searchers.

  • Portrait of Marilyn Monroe, a photograph by Cecil Beaton (US).

    Portrait of Marilyn Monroe.

    Portrait of Marilyn Monroe.

  • Frederick Soddy dies.

1957

  • Ghana achieves independence.
  • Six European nations sign the Treaty of Rome, which creates the European Economic Community (Italy).
  • The USSR launches Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite (Russia).
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. becomes the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, based in Atlanta, Georgia (US).

    Martin Luther King in 1964.

    Martin Luther King in 1964.

  • Albert Sabin uses live but attenuated polio virus to create an oral polio vaccine (US).
  • The University of Oklahoma football team wins its 47th consecutive game in a winning streak that spans five seasons (US).
  • Syntactic Structure, a book on linguistics written in English by Noam Chomsky (US).
  • Doctor Zhivago, a novel written in Russian by Boris Pasternak (Russia).
  • Endgame, a play written in French and translated into English by Samuel Beckett (France).
  • On the Road, a novel written in English by Jack Kerouac (US).
  • West Side Story, a work of musical theater with music by Leonard Bernstein and book by Steven Sondheim (US)
  • Brilliant Corners, an album by Thelonious Monk (US).
  • Blue Train, an album by John Coltrane (US).
  • The album Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section (US).
  • You Send Me, is written and recorded by Sam Cooke (US).
  • Buddy Holly records the songs That’ll Be the Day, Words of  Love, Everyday, Not Fade Away, Oh, Boy! and Peggy Sue (US).

    Buddy Holly.

    Buddy Holly.

  • Jerry Lee Lewis records the songs Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On and Great Balls of Fire (US).
  • The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, films by Ingmar Bergman (Sweden).

    A still image from The Seventh Seal.

    A still image from The Seventh Seal.

  • John von Neumann dies.
  • Osama bin Laden is born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

1958

  • China begins the Great Leap Forward, a rapid industrialization and collectivization campaign.
  • During the Algerian crisis, Charles de Gaulle is installed as leader of France.
  • Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista flees the country.
  • King Faisal II, his heir Prince ‘Abd al-illah and Prime Minister Nuri al-Said are among those assassinated during a military coup overthrowing the Hashemite monarchy and establishing the Republic of Iraq.
  • The US sends Project Score, the first communications satellite, into orbit.
  • Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments creates the first prototype integrated circuit (US).

    Jack Kilby's prototype integrated circuit, from 1959.

    Jack Kilby’s prototype integrated circuit, from 1959.

  • Rune Elmqvist and Åke Senning invent the first implantable cardiac pacemaker (Sweden).
  • Robert Banks and Paul Hogan invent polypropylene (US).
  • Gerald Holtom designs the peace sign as the symbol for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK).

    The peace sign began as the symbol for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

    The peace sign began as the symbol for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

  • RCA Victor introduces the first cassette tape (US).
  • The Seagram Building, designed by Mies van der Rohe (exterior) and Philip Johnson (interior) (US).

    Love 'em or hate 'em, skyscrapers of today are much indebted to the Seagrams Building.

    Skyscrapers of today are much indebted to the Seagrams Building.

  • A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, written in English by Winston Churchill (UK).
  • Things Fall Apart, a novel written in English by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria).
  • The Leopard, a novel written in Italian by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (Italy).
  • William Carlos Williams publishes the fifth and final book of his English-language poem Paterson (US).
  • Somethin’ Else, an album by Cannonball Adderley (US).
  • Tom Dooley, recorded by The Kingston Trio (US).
  • Summertime Blues, recorded by Eddie Cochran (US).
  • Johnny B. Goode, recorded by Chuck Berry (US).
  • Touch of Evil, a film by Orson Welles (US).

    Orson Welles in Touch of Evil.

    Orson Welles in Touch of Evil.

  • Vertigo, a film by Alfred Hitchcock (US).

    A still image from Hitchcock's Vertigo.

    A still image from Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

  • The Americans, a book of photographs by Robert Frank (France).

    Parade, Hoboken, New Jersey, a photograph from Robert Frank's The Americans.

    Parade, Hoboken, New Jersey, a photograph from Robert Frank’s The Americans.

  • Rosalind Franklin dies.
  • Wolfgang Pauli dies.
  • Ernest O. Lawrence dies.
  • Birth of Michael Jackson in Gary, Indiana, US.
  • Birth of Madonna Louise Ciccone (Madonna) in Bay City, Michigan, US.

1959

  • World population reaches three billion.
  • Start of famine in China that will kill 20 million people by 1961.
  • Fidel Castro becomes Prime Minister of Cuba.
  • Cyprus and Singapore achieve independence.
  • The Dalai Lama flees Tibet during an internal uprising against Chinese rule.
  • North Vietnam declares a “People’s War” against South Vietnam.
  • Protest against police LGBT harassment at Cooper’s Donuts in Los Angeles (US).
  • On September 14, the USSR’s unmanned Luna 2 probe lands on the moon.
  • The USSR’s unmanned Luna 3 probe sends back the first photos of the moon’s far side.
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (US).

    Twenty-five artists signed a petition saying the Guggenheim was inappropriate for showing their artwork.

    The Guggenheim Museum in New York.

  • Monogram, an artwork by Neo-Dada artist Robert Rauschenberg (US).

    Monogram.

    Monogram.

  • Advertisements for Myself, a book of essays written in English by Norman Mailer (US).
  • The Tin Drum, a novel written in German by Günter Grass (Germany).
  • Kind of Blue, an album by Miles Davis (US).
  • Time Out, an album by Dave Brubeck (US).
  • Giant Steps, an album by John Coltrane (US).
  • The Shape of Jazz to Come, an album by Ornette Coleman (US).
  • Mingus Ah Um, an album by Charles Mingus (US).
  • Moanin’, an album by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers (US).
  • Drums of Passion, an album by Babatunde Olatunji (Nigeria/US).
  • Motown Records releases its first single, Money (That’s What I Want), by Barrett Strong (US).
  • The Isley Brothers record Shout (US).
  • Bobby Darin records Kurt Weill’s Mack the Knife (US).
  • Ray Charles records What’d I Say (US).
  • Some Like It Hot, a film by Billy Wilder (US).

    Jack Lemmon and Joe E. Brown in Some Like It Hot (1959).

    Jack Lemmon and Joe E. Brown in Some Like It Hot (1959).

  • Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows), a French New Wave film by François Truffaut (France).

    Jean-Pierre Leaud in The 400 Blows.

    Jean-Pierre Leaud in The 400 Blows.

  • Young Couple, a photograph by Bruce Davidson (US).

    Young Couple.

    Young Couple.

  • Death of Billie Holiday.
  • Saul Perlmutter is born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, US.

1960

  • At magnitude 9.5, the Valdivia earthquake is the strongest ever recorded (Chile).
  • Seventeen African nations achieve independence.
  • Independence of the Republic of the Congo leads to the five-year-long Congo Crisis, with civil wars, racial war, seceding states, foreign involvement, UN peacekeepers, military coups and as many as 100,000 killed (Dem. Rep. of the Congo).
  • OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) is formed.
  • Don Walsh (US) and Jacques Picard (Switzerland) reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the ocean, in the bathyscaphe Trieste.

    The bathyscaphe Trieste.

    The bathyscaphe Trieste.

  • Harry Hess and Robert Dietz hypothesize that the seafloor is spreading, and that this spreading is the cause of continental drift (US).
  • Theodore Maiman creates the first working laser (US).

    Ted Maiman's first laser, from 1960.

    Theodore Maiman’s first laser, from 1960.

  • The FDA approves Enovid, the first birth control pill, for contraception (US).
  • In April, Texas Instruments announces its first integrated circuit (US).
  • On September 27, Jay Last and his team at Fairchild Semiconductor build the first operational semiconductor integrated circuit (US).
  • Painted Bronze: Ale Cans, a work of art by Neo-Dada artist Jasper Johns (US).

    Painted Bronze: Ale Cans.

    Painted Bronze: Ale Cans.

  • Growing Up Absurd, a book of social criticism written in English by Paul Goodman (US).
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel written in English by Harper Lee (US).
  • Rabbit, Run, a novel written in English by John Updike (US).
  • Dreamtigers (The Maker), stories written in Spanish by Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina).
  • The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best – accept a 48-night residency at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg, Germany.
  • Soul Station, an album by Hank Mobley (US).
  • My Favorite Things, an album by John Coltrane (US).
  • Ray Charles records Hoagy Carmichael’s Georgia on My Mind (US).
  • Chubby Checker records Hank Ballard’s The Twist (US).
  • Etta James records At Last, a song by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren (US).
  • Psycho, a film by Alfred Hitchcock (US).

    Janet Leigh in Psycho.

    Janet Leigh in Psycho.

  • A Bout de Souffle (Breathless), a French New Wave film by Jean-Luc Godard (France).

    Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Breathless.

    Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Breathless.

  • Assassination of Inejiro Asunama in Japan, a photograph by Yasushi Nagao (Japan).

    Assassination.

    Assassination of Inejiro Asunama.

  • Guerrillero Heroico, a photograph of Che Guevara by Alberto Korda (Cuba).

    Korda's portrait of Che Guevara.

    Korda’s portrait of Che Guevara.

1961

  • After millions of deaths, China ends the Great Leap Forward campaign.
  • The Berlin Wall is constructed (East Germany).
  • The Congo Crisis begins after the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba (Dem. Rep. of Congo).
  • Nelson Mandela co-founds Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (South Africa).
  • John F. Kennedy becomes the 35th president of the United States.
  • A CIA-sponsored right wing group attempts to overthrow the Cuban government in the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion (Cuba).
  • Assassination of Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, who had ruled since 1930.
  • On April 12, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first person in space when his  capsule leaves the atmosphere and enters Earth’s orbit (USSR).
  • Charles David Keeling publishes measurements showing that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising (US).

    Charles David Keeling (1928-2005).

    Charles David Keeling (1928-2005).

  • Luther George Simjian invents the automatic teller machine (ATM) (US).
  • Catch-22, a novel written in English by Joseph Heller (US).
  • The Moviegoer, a novel written in English by Walker Percy (US).
  • The Bill Evans Trio releases the live albums Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby (US).
  • Oliver Nelson’s album Blues and the Abstract Truth (US).
  • Roy Orbison records Crying (US).
  • Ben E. King records Leiber & Stoller’s Stand By Me (US).
  • Andy Williams records Moon River (US).
  • Patsy Cline records Willie Nelson’s Crazy (US).

    A Patsy Cline album cover

    A Patsy Cline album cover.

  • The Misfits, a John Huston film starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach (US).

    A still image from The Misfits.

    A still image from The Misfits.

  • Erwin Schrödinger dies.
  • Death of Ernest Hemingway, by suicide.
  • Birth of Diana Frances Spencer (Princess Diana) in Sandringham, England, UK.
  • Birth of Barack Hussein Obama II in Honolulu, Hawaii, US.

1962

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis between the US (Kennedy) and the USSR (Khrushchev).

    A US surveillance photograph showing a missile site in Cuba.

    A US surveillance photograph showing a missile site in Cuba.

  • Border disputes between China and India lead to the Sino-Indian War, which results in exclusive Chinese control of the disputed Aksai Chin area.
  • War between France and Algeria ends with Algerian independence.
  • A military coup deposes Crown Prince Muhammad al-Badr in Yemen and establishes the Egyptian-backed Yemen Arab Republic, triggering the North Yemen Civil War.
  • Socialist Ne Win takes power in Burma after a military coup (Myanmar).
  • The US sends the first military advisors to support South Vietnam in its civil war.
  • Nelson Mandela is convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state and sentenced to life in prison (South Africa).
  • Illinois becomes the first US state to decriminalize homosexual behavior.
  • The US launches Telstar, the first active direct relay communications satellite.
  • Philips introduces the first standard size cassette tape (The Netherlands).
  • American basketball player Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points in a single game (US).
  • Campbell’s Soup Cans and Marilyn Diptych, by Pop Artist Andy Warhol (US).

    Campbell's Soup Cans.

    Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans.

  • Floor Burger, a sculpture by Pop Artist Claes Oldenburg (US).

    Floor Burger.

    Floor Burger.

  • Thomas Kuhn publishes The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, an English-language text on the history and philosophy of science (US).
  • Rachel Carson publishes the English-language environmentalist book Silent Spring (US).

    Rachel Carson in 1951.

    Rachel Carson in 1951.

  • Labyrinths, stories written in Spanish by Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina).
  • Daddy, a poem written in English by Sylvia Plath (US).
  • The Golden Notebook, a novel written in English by Doris Lessing (Zimbabwe/UK).
  • Pale Fire, a novel written in English by Vladimir Nabokov (US).
  • A Clockwork Orange, a novel written in English by Anthony Burgess (UK).
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a novel written in Russian by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Russia).

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

  • Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (UK).
  • David Lean’s film Lawrence of Arabia (UK).

    Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

    Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia.

  • Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, New York, a photograph by Diane Arbus (US).

    Boy with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park.

    Boy with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park.

  • Navy Chaplain Luis Padillo Gives Last Rites to Soldier, a photograph by Héctor Rondón Lovera (Venezuela).

    Priest givein

    PNavy Chaplain Luis Padillo Gives Last Rites to Soldier.

  • Niels Bohr dies.
  • Death of Marilyn Monroe, probably by suicide.

1963

  • President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas (US).
  • Lyndon B. Johnson becomes 36th president of the United States.

    Judge Sarah T. Hughes administers the Presidential Oath of Office to Lyndon B. Johnson aboard Air Force One, at Love Field, Dallas Texas. Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Kennedy, Jack Valenti, Cong. Albert Thomas, Cong. Jack Brooks, Associate Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff (holding microphone) and others witness. Photograph by White House staff photographer Cecil Stoughton.

    Judge Sarah T. Hughes administers the Presidential Oath of Office to Lyndon B. Johnson aboard Air Force One in Dallas, Texas. Photograph by White House staff photographer Cecil Stoughton.

  • Jack Ruby kills suspected Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (US).
  • Kenya and Malaysia become independent nations.
  • Haile Selassie named as first president of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
  • Military coup in Togo.
  • Saloth Sar (Pol Pot) becomes the leader of the Cambodian communist rebels.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington (US).
  • Maarten Schmidt identifies the first quasi-stellar radio source, or quasar (US).
  • Fall, an op-art painting by Bridget Riley (UK).

    Fall.

    Fall.

  • Whaam! a painting by Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein (US).

    Whaam!

    Whaam!

  • The Feminine Mystique, a work of feminist sociology written in English by Betty Friedan (US).
  • The Kingsmen record Louie Louie (US).
  • Bob Dylan records Blowin’ in the Wind (US).
  • The Beatles record the Lennon/McCartney songs Please Please MeShe Loves You, From Me to You and I Want to Hold Your Hand (UK).
  • Phil Spector produces the recordings Baby, I Love You and Be My Baby by The Ronettes, Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home) and Then He Kissed Me, by The Crystals, and Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home), by Darlene Love (US).
  • 8 1/2, a film by Federico Fellini (Italy).

    A still image from Fellini's 8 1/2.

    A still image from Fellini’s 8 1/2.

  • Ruby Shoots Oswald, a photograph by Bob Jackson (US).

    Most newspapers ran this cropped version of Bob Jackson's award-winning photo.

    Most newspapers ran this cropped version of Bob Jackson’s award-winning photo.

  • JFK, Jr. Salutes Father’s Coffin, a photograph by Stan Stearns (US).

    JFK, Jr. Salutes His Father's Coffin.

    JFK, Jr. Salutes His Father’s Coffin.

  • Vietnamese Monk Self-Immolation, a photograph by Malcolm Browne (Vietnam).

    Malcolm Browne's photo of Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, committing suicide on a Saigon street on June 11, 1963 to protest persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government.

    A Buddhist monk commits suicide to protest persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government.

1964

  • A magnitude 9.2 earthquake hits Prince William Sound, Alaska (US).
  • Malta, Malawi and Tanzania become independent nations.
  • Willy Brandt becomes Chancellor of West Germany.
  • China tests its first nuclear weapon.
  • Louis Leakey discovers Homo habilis, which lived 2.4 to 1.4 mya (Tanzania).
  • The US launches Syncom 3, the first geostationary communications satellite.
  • Emmett Leigh and Juris Upatnieks at the University of Michigan create the first hologram (US).
  • Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston to become the world heavyweight boxing champion (US).
  • Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig, working independently, propose that subatomic particles are composed of smaller particles called quarks (US).
  • The first edition of Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (The Little Red Book) is published (China).
  • Herzog, a novel written in English by Saul Bellow (US).
  • In C, a minimalist composition by Terry Riley (US).
  • A Love Supreme, an album by John Coltrane (US).
  • Eric Dolphy’s album Out to Lunch! (US).
  • The Sidewinder, an album by Lee Morgan (US).
  • Getz/Gilberto, an album by Stan Getz and João Gilberto (US/Brazil).
  • The Animals record The House of the Rising Sun (UK).
  • In February, The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show (US).

    The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964.

    The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show.

  • Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, a film by Stanley Kubrick (US/UK).

    George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove.

    George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove.

  • Cathedral in the Desert, a photograph by Philip Hyde (US).

    Cathedral in the Desert.

    Cathedral in the Desert.

  • Rachel Carson dies.
  • Gerhard Domagk dies.

1965

  • A failed coup by the 30 September Movement in Indonesia leads to bloody anti-Communist purge in which up to 500,000 die.
  • War between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
  • President Lyndon Johnson sends troops into the Dominican Republic to support the right wing military against the left wing Constitutionalists in a civil war.
  • Malcolm X is assassinated by members of the Nation of Islam (US).

    Malcolm X in 1964.

    Malcolm X in 1964.

  • Civil rights marchers led by Martin Luther King, Jr. attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in support of the Voting Rights Act (US).
  • Race riots in Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California (US).
  • Olivetti introduces the Programma 101, the first commercially-produced desktop computer (US).

    Olivetti's Programma 101.

    Olivetti’s Programma 101.

  • James Russell invents the compact disc (CD) (US).
  • Stephanie Kwolek at DuPont invents Kevlar (US).

    Kevlar inventor Stephanie Kwolek holds a model of the polymer she synthesized.

    Kevlar inventor Stephanie Kwolek holds a model of the polymer she synthesized.

  • Sherman Poppen invents the Snurfer, the precursor to the snowboard (US)
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, written in English by Malcolm X with Alex Haley (US).
  • Wayne Shorter’s album Speak No Evil (US).
  • Maiden Voyage, an album by Herbie Hancock (US).
  • Song for my Father, an album by Horace Silver (US).
  • Rubber Soul, an album by The Beatles (UK).
  • Bob Dylan releases the albums Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited (US).

    Bob Dylan in 1965.

    Bob Dylan in 1965.

  • Traditional Music of India, an album by Ali Akbar Khan (India).

1966

  • Lesotho, Botswana and Barbados achieve independence.
  • The Cultural Revolution begins in China.
  • Nigeria experiences three military coups: the Young Majors overthrow the NPC-NNDP government and assassinate the prime minister; they are ousted by General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi; who is overthrown by Major General Yakubu Gowon.
  • Ghanaian dictator Kwame Nkrumah is overthrown in a military coup by members of the National Liberation Council (Ghana).
  • Indira Gandhi becomes the first woman Prime Minister of India.

    Indira Gandhi.

    Indira Gandhi.

  • Betty Friedan becomes the first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) (US).
  • Protest against police LGBT harassment at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco (US).
  • The USSR’s unmanned Luna 9 probe lands on the moon and sends back photos from the surface.
  • Billie Jean King is rated number one women’s tennis player (US).
  • Coach Red Auerbach leads the Boston Celtics basketball team to its eighth consecutive championship (US).
  • War, a painting by Marc Chagall (France).

    War.

    War.

  • Against Interpretation, a book of essays written in English by Susan Sontag (US).
  • Truman Capote’s English-language non-fiction novel In Cold Blood (US).
  • Mikhail Bulgakov’s 1939 Russian-language novel, The Master and Margarita, is finally published (Russia).
  • The Beatles’ album Revolver (UK).

    The cover of the Beatles' album Revolver.

    The cover of the Beatles’ album Revolver.

  • The Beach Boys’ album Pet Sounds (US).
  • Blonde on Blonde, an album by Bob Dylan (US).
  • Georges Lemaitre dies.
  • Death of Walt Disney.

1967

  • Israel wins the Six-Day War against the Arab nations and occupies the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem).
  • Indonesian President Sukarno is stripped of power and replaced by Suharto.
  • The Bolivian Army captures and kills Che Guevara.

    The body of Che Guevara with the Bolivian army.

    The Bolivian army poses with the body of Che Guevara.

  • Military coup in Greece.
  • The People’s Republic of South Yemen declares its independence.
  • ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is formed.
  • Former actor Ronald Reagan becomes governor of California (US).
  • Muhammad Ali is convicted of draft evasion after the US rejects his claim of conscientious objector status (US).

    Muhammad Ali in 1967.

    Muhammad Ali in 1967.

  • Biologist Lynn Margulis advocates the theory of endosymbiosis, which holds that mitochondria and chloroplasts are derived from free-living bacteria (US).
  • Christiaan Barnard conducts the first successful human heart transplant (South Africa).
  • Jack Kilby, Jerry Merryman and James van Tassel at Texas Instruments invent the Cal Tech, the first handheld calculator (US).
  • A Bigger Splash, a painting by Pop Artist David Hockney (US/UK).

    A Bigger Splash.

    A Bigger Splash.

  • White and Orange, a matter painting by Antoni Tàpies (Spain).

    White and Orange.

    White and Orange.

  • The Naked Ape, a work of biology written in English by Desmond Morris (UK).
  • The New Industrial State, a work of economics written in English by John Kenneth Galbraith (Canada).
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, a Magical Realist novel written in Spanish by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia).
  • The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK).
  • Are You Experienced?, an album by Jimi Hendrix (US).
  • The album The Velvet Underground & Nico is produced by Andy Warhol (US).
  • The Doors‘ self-titled debut album, containing the song Light My Fire (US).
  • Love’s album Forever Changes (US).
  • Aretha Franklin records Respect, a song by Otis Redding (US).
  • Don’t Look Back, a documentary film about Bob Dylan by D.A. Pennebaker (US).

    Bob Dylan in D.A. Pennebaker's documentary Don't Look Back.

    Bob Dylan in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary Don’t Look Back.

  • Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman makes Titicut Follies, a film about Bridgewater State Hospital in Massachusetts (US).

    A still image from Frederick Wiseman's documentary Titicut Follies.

    A still image from Frederick Wiseman’s documentary Titicut Follies.

  • Robert Oppenheimer dies.
  • Brian Schmidt is born in Missoula, Montana, US.

1968

  • The Soviet Union crushes Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy are assassinated (US).
  • Student protests in France nearly topple the government.
  • Beginning of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
  • The Viet Cong and North Vietnam launch the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War.
  • Mauritius becomes independent of the UK.
  • A military coup by the Ba’ath Party, led by General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, overthrows the government of Abdul Rahman Arif (Iraq).
  • On December 24, three American astronauts in the Apollo 8 spacecraft enter the moon’s orbit (US).

    Caption.

    A view of the Earth rising over the moon, taken by the crew of Apollo 8 from the moon’s orbit.

  • Sheldon Glashow (US), Abdus Salam (Pakistan) and Steven Weinberg (US) prove that the weak force/weak interaction and electromagnetism are two aspects of a single electroweak force.
  • Using the Stanford Linear Accelerator, Jerome Friedman, Henry Kendall, and Richard Taylor detect the up, down and strange quarks (US).
  • Ralph Baer invents the first video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey (US).
  • American athlete Bob Beamon breaks the world long jump record by two feet at the Mexico City Olympics (Mexico).

    A photo of Bob Beamon's record-breaking long jump, by Tony Duffy.

    A photo of Bob Beamon’s record-breaking long jump, by Tony Duffy.

  • African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos lose their medals after raising the Black Power salute in protest during a medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics (Mexico).

    Black Power Salute at Mexico City Olympics.

    Black Power Salute at Mexico City Olympics.

  • The Double Helix, a book written in English by James Watson, describes the search for the structure of DNA (US).
  • The Beatles’ White Album (UK).
  • Electric Ladyland, an album by Jimi Hendrix (US).

    Jimi Hendrix in 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

    Jimi Hendrix performing in 1968. Photo by Baron Wolman.

  • Van Morrison’s album Astral Weeks (UK).
  • Call of the Valley, an album by Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra and Hariprasad Chaurasia (India).
  • Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey (UK/US).

    A still image from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    A still image from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  • Execution of a Viet Cong Prisoner, a photograph by Eddie Adams (Vietnam).

    Eddie Adams won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo of South Vietnamese National Police Chief Brig Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon on Feb. 1, 1968.

    South Vietnamese National Police Chief Brig Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes a Viet Cong prisoner.

  • Otto Hahn dies.
  • Yuri Gagarin dies.

1969

  • Muammar Gaddafi seizes power in a coup d’etat in Libya.
  • Border conflict between China and the Soviet Union, including the Zhenbao Island incident.
  • Yahya Khan becomes the third president of Pakistan.
  • Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon and walk on its surface (US).

    American astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Photo by Neil Armstrong.

    American astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Photo by Neil Armstrong.

  • Richard M. Nixon begins his first term as 37th president of the United States.
  • The Woodstock music festival in New York (US).
  • The Stonewall Riots in New York City against police harassment of the gay community (US).
  • The Internet is born: (1) In September, the first node of the ARPANET is installed at UCLA; (2) in October, the first message is sent over the ARPANET between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute; (3) by the end of the year, four computers are linked in the ARPANET (which will become the Internet).
  • Stephen Benton creates the first rainbow hologram (US).
  • Sony introduces the videocassette (Japan).

    A VHS videocassette, showing the magnetic tape inside.

    A VHS videocassette, showing the magnetic tape inside.

  • Slaughterhouse-Five, a novel written in English by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (US).
  • Bitches Brew, an album by Miles Davis (US).
  • The Beatles’ album Abbey Road (UK).
  • Let It Bleed, an album by The Rolling Stones (UK).
  • Tommy, a rock opera by The Who (UK).
  • The album The Band (US).
  • Trout Mask Replica, an album by Captain Beefheart (US).
  • The Jackson 5 records I Want You Back (US).
  • Sam Peckinpah’s film The Wild Bunch (US).

    A still image from The Wild Bunch.

    A still image from The Wild Bunch.

  • The Sorrow and the Pity, a documentary film by Marcel Ophüls (France).
  • Death of Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, North Vietnam.
  • Adam Riess is born in Washington, DC, US.

1970

  • The Bhola Cyclone kills 300,000-500,000 people in East Pakistan (Bangladesh).
  • Pakistan President Yahya Khan sends troops to quell a rebellion in East Pakistan (Bangladesh).
  • The Nigerian Civil War ends with reintegration of breakaway Republic of Biafra.
  • Prime Minister General Lon Nol and Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak overthrow the government of King Norodom Sihanouk in a military coup (Cambodia).
  • The Khmer Rouge, supported by North Vietnam and Viet Cong, begins the Cambodian Civil War.
  • Marxist physician Salvador Allende is elected as president of Chile.
  • The National Guard kills four students and injures nine at Kent State in Ohio during protests over the US bombing of Cambodia (US).

    John Filo's iconic image from the Kent State massacre.

    John Filo’s iconic image from the Kent State massacre.

  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is ratified (US).
  • Despite a ruptured oxygen tank and rising carbon dioxide levels, the crew of the aborted Apollo 13 mission returns safely to Earth.
  • The first Gay Pride Parade is held in New York City (US).
  • Yoichiro Nambu, Holger Bech Nielsen and Leonard Susskind propose string theory (US).
  • Zhores Alferov (Russia), Izuo Hayashi (US) and Morton Panish (US), working independently, develop room-temperature, continual-operation diode lasers.
  • Robert Maurer, Donald Keck and Peter Schultz at Corning Glass develop highly efficient fiber optic cables using fused silica (US).
  • John M. Bergey and George Thiess invent the first electronic watch with a digital display (US).
  • Spiral Jetty, an environmental sculpture by Robert Smithson, located in Utah’s Great Salt Lake (US).

    Spiral Jetty.

    Spiral Jetty.

  • The Beatles break up (UK).
  • Ancient Voices of Children, a musical composition for two voices and instruments, by George Crumb (US).
  • Plastic Ono Band, an album by John Lennon (UK).
  • Moondance, an album by Van Morrison (UK).
  • After the Gold Rush, an album by Neil Young (US).
  • Bridge over Troubled Water, an album by Simon & Garfunkel (US).
  • Mali: Ancient Strings, an album by various artists.
  • The Jackson 5 records ABC and I’ll Be There (US).
  • Woodstock, a documentary film by Michael Wadleigh (US).

    A split-screen image from Woodstock.

    A split-screen image from Woodstock.

  • Gimme Shelter, a documentary film by Albert & David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin (US).
  • Death of Charles de Gaulle.
  • Physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman dies.

1971

  • The Bangladesh Liberation War leads to the separation of East Pakistan (renamed Bangladesh) from West Pakistan, but not before the Pakistan military kills 3 million people and systematically rapes 200,000-400,000 Bangladeshi women.
  • India defeats Pakistan in the 13-Day War.
  • Idi Amin seizes power in a military coup, deposing Milton Obote (Uganda).
  • The National Women’s Political Caucus is founded by Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan and Shirley Chisholm and others (US).
  • Ray Tomlinson at BBN writes the first electronic mail program and sends the first e-mail on the ARPANET network (US).

    Ray Tomlinson, who sent the first true e-mail in 1971.

    Ray Tomlinson, who sent the first true e-mail in 1971.

  • Intel introduces the first microprocessor (US).
  • Godfrey Hounsfield invents X-ray computed tomography (CAT or CT scan) (UK).
  • Busicom produces the LE-120A “Handy”, the first true pocket calculator (Japan).
  • Pierre Verdun invents the first home food processor, the Magimix 1800, which is redesigned and marketed in the US as the Cuisinart (France).

    A 1970s Cuisinart, manufactured by French company Robot-Coupe.

    A 1970s Cuisinart, manufactured by French company Robot-Coupe.

  • Sony invents the first videocassette recorder (VCR) (Japan).
  • The album Led Zeppelin IV (UK).
  • What’s Going On, an album by Marvin Gaye (US).
  • Who’s Next, an album by The Who (UK).
  • David Bowie’s album Hunky Dory (UK).
  • Sticky Fingers, an album by The Rolling Stones (UK).

    The cover art for the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers album was designed by Andy Warhol.

    The cover art for the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album was designed by Andy Warhol.

  • Blue, an album by Joni Mitchell (US).
  • Death of Louis Armstrong.

1972

  • On Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland, the British Army kills 14 civil rights protesters dead and injures 13 more (UK).
  • Palestinian terrorists kidnap and kill eight Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich (Germany).

    A terrorist stands guard at the Munich Olympics.

    A terrorist stands guard at the Munich Olympics.

  • Military coup in Ghana.
  • The US returns control of Okinawa and the other Ryukyu Islands to Japan.
  • An airplane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team crashes in the Andes; 16 of the 45 passengers survive, partly through cannibalism, until rescue (Chile).
  • Gloria Steinem co-founds Ms. magazine (US).
  • Charles Thomas Bolton (US) and Louise Webster and Paul Murdin (UK), working independently, obtain the first indirect evidence of a black hole.

    An artist's depiction of the black hole near the star Cygnus X-1. It formed when a large star caved in. This black hole pulls matter from blue star beside it. Image Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

    An artist’s depiction of the black hole near the star Cygnus X-1, which pulls matter from blue star beside it.
    Image Credit: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss.

  • The Miami Dolphins, an American football team, finish the season with a record of 14-0, the only undefeated season in the history of the National Football League (US).
  • Invisible Cities, a novel written in Italian by Italo Calvino (Italy).
  • David Bowie’s album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (UK).
  • Exile on Main St., an album by the Rolling Stones (UK).
  • Lou Reed’s album Transformer (US).
  • The Godfather, a film by Francis Ford Coppola (US).

    Marlon Brando in The Godfather.

    Marlon Brando in The Godfather.

  • Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath, Minamata, Japan, a photograph by W. Eugene Smith.

    Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath.

    Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath.

  • Vietnamese Children After Napalm Attack, a photograph by Huyn Cong “Nick” Ut (Vietnam).

    Vietnamese children after napalm attack.

    This is the cropped version of the photograph Vietnamese Children After Napalm Attack.

  • Colin MacLeod dies.

1973

  • With the clandestine support of the US, a military coup deposes elected Chilean President Salvador Allende and installs Augustus Pinochet as dictator.

    11 Sep 1973, Santiago, Chile --- Salvador Allende photographed the day of the coup which overthrew him. --- Image by © Luis Orlando Lagos Vázquez/The Dmitri Baltermants Collection/Corbis

    Salvador Allende photographed the day of the coup. Image by © Luis Orlando Lagos Vázquez/The Dmitri Baltermants Collection/Corbis.

  • Egypt and Syria launch the Yom Kippur War against Israel, but fail to achieve their objectives.
  • The Athens Polytechnic uprising against military junta in Greece.
  • In Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court declares that women have a constitutional right to choose abortion.
  • The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II) (US).
  • The U.S. launches Skylab, the first space station.
  • Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match (US).
  • Billie Jean King founds the Women’s Tennis Association (US).
  • Stanley Cohen, Annie Chang and Herbert Boyer insert antibiotic resistant genes from resistant E. coli bacteria into non-resistant E. coli, creating the first genetically modified organisms (US).
  • Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer insert a frog ribosomal RNA gene into E. coli bacteria, creating the first genetically modified organisms containing genetic material from a different species (US).
  • John Mitchell and Martin Cooper at Motorola invent the mobile cellular phone (US).

    Martin Cooper places a call in 1973 using the mobile phone he and John Mitchell developed at Motorola.

    Martin Cooper with the mobile phone he and John Mitchell developed at Motorola.

  • American football player O.J. Simpson sets a record by running more than 2,000 yards in one season (US).
  • Secretariat wins the Triple Crown of American horse racing (US).
  • The Sydney Opera House, designed by Jørn Utzon, is completed (Australia).

    The Sydney Opera House.

    The Sydney Opera House.

  • The Gulag Archipelago, a work of history and journalism written in Russian by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Russia).
  • Gravity’s Rainbow, a novel written in English by Thomas Pynchon (US).
  • The Dark Side of the Moon, an album by Pink Floyd (UK).

    The cover of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

    The cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

  • Planxty’s album The Well below the Valley (Ireland).
  • Death of Lyndon B. Johnson.

1974

  • World population reaches four billion.
  • Turkey invades Cyprus.
  • The military junta collapses in Greece, leading to democratic elections.
  • Richard Nixon resigns as president following the Watergate scandal (US).
  • A revolution in Ethiopia overturns Haile Selassie’s monarchy and establishes government by a military committee called the Derg.
  • Donald Johanson discovers Australopithecus afarensis, which lived 3.85 to 2.95 mya (Ethiopia).
  • The Terracotta Army, buried with Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the 3rd Century BCE, is discovered in Xi’an (China).

    Some of the life-sized warriors of the Terracotta Army.

    Some of the life-sized warriors of the Terracotta Army.

  • Rudolf Jaenisch inserts foreign DNA into a mouse embryo, creating the first genetically modified animal (US).
  • Burton Richter and Samuel Ting detect the charm quark (US).
  • Raymond Damadian obtains a patent for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine (US).
  • On June 26, a pack of chewing gum with a barcode becomes the first product to be scanned (US).
  • Arthur Fry at 3M invents Post-It Notes (US).
  • In the Rumble in the Jungle, Muhammad Ali defeats George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire to win the heavyweight boxing crown for the second time.
  • Baseball player Henry “Hank” Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s lifetime home run record (US).
  • The Lives of a Cell, essays on biology written in English by Lewis Thomas (US).
  • Celia & Johnny, an album by Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco (US: Puerto Rico).
  • Roman Polanski’s film Chinatown (US).

    Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in Roman Polanski's Chinatown.

    Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.

  • James Chadwick dies.

1975

  • Typhoon Nina causes the Banqiao Dam to collapse, creating waves 23 ft. high and six miles wide moving 31 mph, killing 26,000 and causing famine and illness (China).
  • The Vietnam War ends with the victory of Communist North Vietnam and Viet Cong and the union of North and South Vietnam.

    Evacuation of CIA personnel from Saigon in April 1975. Photo: Hubert van Es / UPI

    Evacuation of CIA personnel from Saigon in April 1975. Photo: Hubert van Es / UPI

  • The Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot obtains victory in the Cambodian Civil War and begins the Killing Fields murders.
  • Strikes and anti-government protests lead Indira Gandhi to proclaim a 21-month State of Emergency, during which she rules by unilateral decree (India).
  • Fidel Castro becomes president of Cuba.
  • When Angola obtains independence from Portugal, a civil war begins between the MPLA and Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA.
  • Robert Mugabe becomes the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front that is fighting against the white minority government of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
  • Steven Sasson at Eastman Kodak invents the first digital camera (US).
  • Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico (US).
  • Coach John Wooden takes UCLA to its 10th consecutive NCAA men’s college basketball championship (US).
  • Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, poems written in English by John Ashbery (US).
  • Rituel in Memoriam Bruno Maderna, a composition for a large chamber ensemble by Pierre Boulez (France).
  • The Köln Concert, an album by Keith Jarrett (US).
  • Bruce Springsteen’s album Born to Run (US).
  • Blood on the Tracks, an album by Bob Dylan (US).
  • Horses, an album by Patti Smith (US).
  • Physical Graffiti, an album by Led Zeppelin (UK).
  • Wish You Were Here, an album by Pink Floyd (UK).
  • The Bothy Band’s self-titled album (Ireland).
  • One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a film by Milos Forman (US).

    Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).

    Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

  • Fire Escape Collapse, a photograph by Stanley J. Forman (US).

    Fire escape collapses at Boston fire.

    Fire escape collapses at Boston fire.

  • Women Are Beautiful, a book of photographs by Garry Winogrand (US).

    The cover of Garry Winogrand's book, Women Are Beautiful.

    The cover of Garry Winogrand’s book, Women Are Beautiful.

  • Edward Lawrie Tatum dies.
  • Death of Haile Selassie.

1976

  • The magnitude 7.8 Tangshan earthquake kills 242,000-655,000 people (China).
  • The death of Mao Zedong and the end of the Cultural Revolution in China.
  • Idi Amin permits a hijacked airplane to land at Entebbe Airport, and Israeli commandos stage a raid, leading to the deaths of three hostages and the rescue of 100 others (Uganda).
  • Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson found Genentech, the first commercial enterprise based on genetic engineering (US).
  • At the Montreal Olympics, Romanian athlete Nadia Comaneci becomes the first gymnast to achieve a perfect 10 score (Canada).

    Nadia Comaneci competes at the Montreal Olympics (AP-Photo/mk).

    Nadia Comaneci competes at the Montreal Olympics (AP-Photo/mk).

  • The Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) opens in Chicago (US).

    The Willis Tower in Chicago, formerly the Sears Tower, was for a time the tallest building in the world.

    The Willis Tower in Chicago, formerly the Sears Tower, was for a time the tallest building in the world.

  • The CN Tower opens in Toronto (Canada).

    The CN Tower is the tallest building in Canada.

    The CN Tower is the tallest building in Canada.

  • Richard Dawkins publishes The Selfish Gene, an English-language book on genetics and evolution (UK).
  • Einstein on the Beach, an opera composed by Philip Glass in collaboration with producer Robert Wilson, premieres at the Avignon Festival (France).

    A scene from the premiere of Einstein on the Beach. Photo by Lucie Jansch.

    A scene from the premiere of Einstein on the Beach. Photo by Lucie Jansch.

  • Steve Reich debuts his minimalist composition Music for 18 Musicians at Town Hall in New York City (US).
  • The Ramones release their self-titled debut album (US).
  • Songs in the Key of Life, an album by Stevie Wonder (US).
  • Taxi Driver, a film by Martin Scorcese (US).

    Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976).

    Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver.

  • Werner Heisenberg dies.

1977

  • Mengistu Haile Mariam becomes leader of the ruling Derg and head of state in Ethiopia.

    A 1977 photograph of Mengistu Haile Mariam giving a speech in Addis Ababa. .

    A 1977 photograph of Mengistu Haile Mariam giving a speech in Addis Ababa.

  • Mengistu begins the Red Terror against political opponents with estimates of total deaths ranging from 30,000 to 500,000 (Ethiopia).
  • General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq ousts elected prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and appoints himself president of Pakistan.
  • Launch of the Voyager spacecraft (US).
  • On March 27, two Boeing 747 jets collide on the runway at Tenerife Airport in the Canary Islands, killing 583 people (Spain).
  • Frederick Sanger and his team sequence the genome of bacteriophage ΦX174 (UK).
  • Leon Lederman detects the bottom quark (US).
  • Jack Corliss and his team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography discover chemosynthetic biological activity surrounding underwater hydrothermal vents (US).

    A hydrothermal vent with black smokers and a biological community with large numbers of tube worms.

    A hydrothermal vent with black smokers and a biological community with large numbers of tube worms.

  • The first mass-produced personal computers: the Commodore PET, the Apple II and the TRS-80/Model I.
  • The Minoru Yamasaki-designed twin towers of the World Trade Center open in New York City (US).

    On August 7, 1974, Philippe Petit walked between the two World Trade Center towers on a wire.

    The two World Trade Center towers in New York.

  • Song of Solomon, a novel written in English by Toni Morrison (US).
  • Tabula Rasa, a double concerto for two solo violins, prepared piano, and chamber orchestra, by Arvo Pärt (Estonia).
  • The album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (UK).
  • Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours (UK).
  • Marquee Moon, an album by Television (US).
  • High Part of the Road, an album by Tommy Peoples (Ireland).
  • Annie Hall, a film by Woody Allen (US).

    Woody Allen, Diane Keaton and an uncredited lobster in Annie Hall.

    Woody Allen, Diane Keaton and an uncredited lobster in Annie Hall.

  • Star Wars, a film by George Lucas (US).

    Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in Star Wars.

    Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in Star Wars.

  • Death of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee, US.

1978

  • Tuvalu becomes an independent nation.
  • The Caribbean island of Dominica wins independence from the UK.
  • On July 25, the birth of Louise Brown, the first person conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) (UK).
  • Peoples’ Temple leader Jim Jones leads 920 of his followers to commit mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.

    The scene at Jonestown, Guyana after Jim Jones led his followers in a mass suicide.

    The scene at Jonestown, Guyana after Jim Jones led his followers in a mass suicide.

  • Military coup in Afghanistan.
  • War begins between Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • War begins between Uganda and Tanzania.
  • Abdullah Öcalan and others found the Kurdistan Peoples’ Party (PKK) (Turkey).
  • Polish cleric Karol Józef Wojtyła is elected Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II (Italy).
  • Muhammad Ali wins the heavyweight boxing championship a third time by defeating Leon Spinks (US).
  • The World According to Garp, a novel written in English by John Irving (US).
  • The Stories of John Cheever, a collection of short fiction written in English (US).
  • Parallel Lines, an album by Blondie (US).

    The cover of Blondie's album Parallel Lines.

    The cover of Blondie’s album Parallel Lines.

  • Siembra, an album by Willie Colón & Rubén Blades (US).
  • Kevin Burke’s album If The Cap Fits (Ireland).
  • Charles Best dies.

1979

  • Public health officials announce that smallpox has been eradicated worldwide.
  • The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.
  • An Islamic Revolution in Iran overthrows Shah Reza Pahlavi, who is replaced by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

    A scene from the Iranian Revolution.

    A scene from the Iranian Revolution.

  • US hostage crisis in Iran.
  • US President Jimmy Carter brokers Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
  • China begins one child policy.
  • The Khmer Rouge regime is overthrown by Vietnamese forces (Cambodia).
  • The Sandinistas overthrow Anastasio Somoza DeBayle’s dictatorship in Nicaragua.
  • Idi Amin flees Uganda after Tanzanian troops take Kampala, ending Tanzania-Uganda War.
  • Saddam Hussein takes control of Iraq and executes hundreds of high ranking Ba’ath Party members.
  • Bill Clinton begins first term as governor of Arkansas (US).
  • Akio Morita, Masaru Ibuka and Kozo Ohsone at Sony invent the Walkman, the first personal stereo (Japan).
  • The ESPN cable sports network premieres in the US.
  • E.O. Wilson publishes On Human Nature, an English-language book on biology (US).

    E.O. Wilson.

    E.O. Wilson.

  • Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, a book on consciousness and intelligence written in English by Douglas Hofstadter (US).
  • James Lovelock’s English-language book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth popularizes his theory that the Earth is a living organism (US).
  • Sophie’s Choice, a novel written in English by William Styron (US).
  • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, a novel written in Italian by Italo Calvino (Italy).
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a novel written in English by Douglas Adams (UK: England).
  • The Clash release their self-titled debut album (UK).
  • Pink Floyd’s album The Wall (UK).
  • Apocalypse Now, a film by Francis Ford Coppola (US).

    A still image from Apocalypse Now.

    A still image from Apocalypse Now.

  • The Battle of Chile, a documentary film by Patricio Guzman (Chile).
  • Horse Training for the Militia, China, a photograph by Eve Arnold (China).

    Horse Training for the Militia.

    Horse Training for the Militia.

1980

  • Rhodesia achieves independence and becomes Zimbabwe.
  • Robert Mugabe is elected Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
  • Vanuatu becomes an independent nation.
  • The Iran-Iraq War begins.
  • The Solidarity labor union, led by Lech Wałęsa, forms at Gdańsk Shipyard (Poland).

    Lech Wałęsa in 1980.

    Lech Wałęsa in 1980.

  • Alan Guth proposes that scalar-driven inflation occurred in the early universe (US).
  • Luis and Walter Alvarez, Frank Asaro and Helen Michel propose that an asteroid impact caused the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous Period (US).
  • John Lennon is shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in New York (US).
  • Swede Bjorn Borg defeats American Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon in a 3 hour, 53 minute tennis match.
  • The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan leads the US and 64 other countries to boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow (Russia).
  • St. Francis in Ecstasy, a painting by Neo-Expressionist artist Julian Schnabel (US).

    Julian Schnabel's St. Francis in Ecstasy.

    Julian Schnabel’s St. Francis in Ecstasy.

  • London Calling, an album by The Clash (UK).
  • Back in Black, an album by AC/DC (UK).
  • Remain in Light, an album by Talking Heads (US).
  • Raging Bull, a film by Martin Scorcese (US).

    A still image from Raging Bull.

    A still image from Raging Bull.

  • Atlantic City, a film by Louis Malle (Canada).

    Susan Sarandon and Burt Lancaster in Atlantic City.

    Susan Sarandon and Burt Lancaster in Atlantic City.

  • The cover of Rolling Stone magazine features Annie Leibowitz’s portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono (US).

    Annie Leibovitz's portrait of John and Yoko on the cover of Rolling Stone.

    Annie Leibovitz’s portrait of John and Yoko on the cover of Rolling Stone.

  • Missionary Holding Hand of Starving Child in Uganda, a photograph by Mike Wells (Uganda).

    Missionary holding hand of starving child.

    Missionary holding hand of starving child.

  • John Mauchly dies.
  • Fritz Strassmann dies.
  • Willard Libby dies.

1981

  • Palau becomes an independent nation.
  • Assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
  • Drought in Africa costs one million lives between 1981 and 1984.
  • First flight of the Space Shuttle (US).
  • Prince Charles and Lady Diana marry (UK).
  • Ronald Reagan becomes 40th president of the United States.

    Official Presidential portrait of Ronald Reagan in 1981.

    Official Presidential portrait of Ronald Reagan in 1981.

  • Reagan fires striking air traffic controllers (US).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports unusual clusters of Pneumocystis pneumonia in homosexual men (US).
  • IBM introduces the IBM PC (US).
  • Debut of music television station MTV.
  • Tilted Arc, a minimalist sculpture by Richard Serra (US).

    Richard Serra's Tilted Arc, which has since been removed following citizen protests.

    Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, which has since been removed following citizen protests.

  • Stephen Jay Gould publishes The Mismeasure of Man, an English-language critique of biological determinism (US).
  • Midnight’s Children, a novel written in English by Salman Rushdie (India/UK).
  • Rabbit is Rich, a novel written in English by John Updike (US).
  • Reds, a film by Warren Beatty (US).
  • They’re Coming!, a pair of photographs by Helmut Newton, is published in French Vogue (France).

    They're Coming, Part 2.

    They’re Coming, Part 2.

1982

  • Israel invades Lebanon.
  • Britain defeats Argentina in the Falklands War.
  • At least 20,000 people die in ethnic cleansing overseen by Robert Mugabe between 1982 and 1985 (Zimbabwe).
  • The Hama massacre in Syria leads to more than 10,000 deaths.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially coins the term AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) (US).
  • Bill Moggridge’s GRiD Compass 1101 is the first modern laptop computer (US).

    Bill Moggridge's GRiD 1101 laptop, from 1979-1980.

    Bill Moggridge’s GRiD 1101 laptop.

  • Sony introduces the CDP-101, the first commercial CD player (Japan).
  • Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky is the first to score over 200 points in a season.
  • The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed by Maya Lin, opens in Washington D.C. (US).

    Over 50 names

    The Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

  • The House of the Spirits, a novel written in Spanish by Isabel Allende (Chile).
  • Schindler’s List, a novel written in English by Thomas Keneally (Australia).
  • Michael Jackson’s album Thriller (US).

    The cover of Michael Jackson's Thriller album.

    The cover of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.

  • Juju Music, an album by King Sunny Adé (Nigeria).
  • Madonna releases her first single, Everybody (US).
  • Tootsie, a film by Sydney Pollack (US).
  • Fitzcarraldo, a film by Werner Herzog (Germany).

    A still image from Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, starring Klaus Kinski.

    Klaus Kinski in a still image from Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo.

  • Fanny and Alexander, a film by Ingmar Bergman (Sweden).

    A still image from Ingmar Bergman's Fanny & Alexander.

    A still image from Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander.

1983

  • Brunei becomes an independent nation.
  • The US invades Grenada.
  • The bombing of US and French barracks in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War kills 299 soldiers (Lebanon).
  • The assassination of Begnino Aquino in Manila triggers protests against President Ferdinand Marcos (The Philippines).
  • Military rule ends in Argentina and Raúl Alfonsín becomes the democratically-elected president.
  • Start of civil war in Sri Lanka by Tamil Tiger separatists.
  • Satellite television begins in US.
  • A French research group led by Luc Montagnier (with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi) isolates the virus that causes AIDS, which is named lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV) (France).
  • Carlo Rubbia (Italy) and Simon van der Meer (The Netherlands) experimentally detect the W and Z bosons.
  • Sony introduces the Betamovie BMC-100P, the first consumer camcorder (Japan).

    The Sony Betamovie BMC-100P, the first consumer camcorder, went on the market in 1983.

    The Sony Betamovie BMC-100P, the first consumer camcorder.

  • Australia wins the America’s Cup yacht race, breaking a 125-year US winning streak (US).
  • Gorillas in the Mist, a memoir written in English by Dian Fossey (Rwanda).
  • Ironweed, a novel written in English by William Kennedy (US).
  • Madonna releases her self-titled debut album (US).

    The cover of Madonna's self-titled debut album, released in 1983.

    The cover of Madonna’s self-titled debut album.

  • Djivan Gasparyan’s album I Will Not Be Sad in This World (Armenia).
  • The King of Comedy, a film by Martin Scorcese (US).

    Robert De Niro in Martin Scorcese's The King of Comedy.

    Robert De Niro in Martin Scorcese’s The King of Comedy.

  • Scarface, a film by Brian DePalma (US).

    Al Pacino in Scarface.

    Al Pacino in Scarface.

1984

  • Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two of her bodyguards in New Delhi (India).
  • The PKK begins a full-scale Kurdish uprising in Turkey.
  • In Bhopal, India, methyl isocyanate leaks from a Union Carbide pesticide plant and kills at least 16,000 people, with a minimum of 100,000 permanently injured.
  • Alec Jeffreys at the University of Leicester develops DNA fingerprinting (UK).

    Alec Jeffreys with a copy of the first DNA fingerprint profile. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA.

    Alec Jeffreys with a copy of the first DNA fingerprint profile. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA.

  • Robert Gallo and his team identify the virus that causes AIDS, which they name human T lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III) (US).
  • Sony (Japan) and Philips (The Netherlands) jointly release the first CD-ROMs.
  • Apple introduces the Macintosh personal computer (US).
  • Czechoslovakian tennis player Martina Navratilova wins 74 consecutive games during the Women’s Tennis Association singles tour (US; France; UK; Australia).
  • Boston College football quarterback Doug Flutie throws the ‘Hail Mary’ pass to defeat Miami (US).
  • The postmodern AT&T Building, designed by Philip Johnson, opens in New York (US).

    The AT&T Building, now the Sony Building, in New York. Photo by David Shankbone.

    The AT&T Building, now the Sony Building, in New York. Photo by David Shankbone.

  • The Itaipu Dam,  a hydroelectric dam on the Paraná River, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, begins operation (Brazil; Paraguay).

    An aerial view of Itaipu Dam.

    An aerial view of Itaipu Dam.

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a novel written in Czech by Milan Kundera (France).
  • Akhnaten, an English-language opera by Philip Glass, premieres in Stuttgart (Germany).
  • Purple Rain, an album by Prince (US).
  • Like a Virgin, an album by Madonna (US).
  • Immigrés, an album by Youssou N’Dour (Senegal).
  • This is Spinal Tap, a film by Rob Reiner (US).

    These go to eleven.

    These go to eleven.

  • Paul Dirac dies.

1985

  • Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the final leader of the Soviet Union and adopts perestroika and glasnost policies (Russia).
  • José Sarney becomes the first civilian president of Brazil in 21 years.
  • Harold Kroto, Richard Smally, Robert Curl, James Heath and Sean O’Brien at Rice University discover and prepare C-60, the first fullerene, which they name buckminsterfullerene (US).
  • American scientists Joe Farman, Brian Gardiner and Jonathan Shanklin announce the existence of a ‘hole’ in the ozone layer over Antarctica.
  • Scientists determine that Montagnier’s LAV and Gallo’s HTLV-III are the same virus, which is the cause of AIDS.
  • The first ‘dot com’ domain name is registered (US).
  • Love in the Time of Cholera, a novel written in Spanish by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia).
  • Don DeLillo’s English-language novel White Noise (US).
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, a novel by Margaret Atwood (Canada).
  • Yemenite Songs, an album by Ofra Haza (Israel).
  • Shoah, a documentary film by Claude Lanzmann (France).
  • Ran, a film by Akira Kurosawa (Japan).

    A still image from Akira Kurosawa's Ran, based on King Lear.

    A still image from Akira Kurosawa’s Ran King Lear.

  • Come and See, a film by Elem Klimov (USSR).
  • Brazil, a film by Terry Gilliam (UK).

    A still image from Terry Gilliam's Brazil.

    A still image from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

  • Omayra Sanchez after Colombia Volcano, a photograph by Frank Fournier (Colombia).

    Omayra Sanchez.

    Omayra Sanchez after Colombia Volcano.

  • Afghan Girl, a photograph by Steve McCurry (Pakistan).

    Steve McCurry photographed this Afghan girl in a Pakistani refugee camp.

    Steve McCurry photographed this Afghan girl in a Pakistani refugee camp.

1986

  • The People Power Revolution in the Philippines overthrows authoritarian ruler Ferdinand Marcos and brings democratic rule under Corazon Aquino.

    Corazon Aquino in 1986.

    Corazon Aquino in 1986.

  • A popular uprising in Haiti leads to the ouster of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, followed by a military coup.
  • Saddam Hussein begins the Al-Anfal campaign against Kurdish insurgents and civilians (Iraq).
  • The Challenger Space Shuttle explodes soon after launch, killing all seven crew members (US).

    A NASA photo of the Challenger explosion.

    A NASA photo of the Challenger explosion.

  • A catastrophic accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant releases large quantities  of radioactive material into the environment (Russia).
  • The Iran-Contra Scandal reveals that Reagan Administration officials illegally sold arms to Iran and used the proceeds to provide illegal support to the right-wing contra rebels in Nicaragua (US).
  • The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses replaces the names LAV and HTLV-III with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the new name for the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Debut of The Oprah Winfrey Show (US).

    Oprah Winfrey on the first episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

    Oprah Winfrey on the first episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

  • American golfer Jack Nicklaus wins the Master’s Tournament, his 18th and final major tournament (US).
  • Minimalist Donald Judd’s Untitled, an installation of 100 mill-aluminum boxes at the Chiniti Foundation in Marfa, Texas (US).

    Untitled (100 mill aluminum boxes).

    Untitled (100 mill aluminum boxes).

  • The Smiths record the album The Queen is Dead (UK).
  • Graceland, an album by Paul Simon (US).
  • Rock band Aerosmith re-records Walk This Way with rap group Run-D.M.C.
  • Tango: Zero Hour, an album by Ástor Piazzolla (Argentina).
  • The Indestructible Beat of Soweto, an album by various artists (South Africa).
  • Blue Velvet, a film by David Lynch (US).