The Pony Express made its first run. (1860) The Pony Express was the quickest and most reliable mail delivery method in the newly developed American West, and covered land from Missouri to California in under ten days, an unheard speed at the time. Though the Pony Express only lasted for about a year, it deeply impacted the development of the West.
The Unabomber was arrested. (1996) Ted Kaczynski was an anti-technology anarchist who went on a mail bombing spree that lasted for more than 20 years. What many people don't know was that Kaczynski was considered a child prodigy, and was even accepted into Harvard to study mathematics at age 16.
The first cellphone call was made. (1973) Motorola researcher Martin Cooper made the first phone call on a non-car based mobile phone to his rival, Dr. Engel of Bell Labs.
President Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan. (1945) The Marshall Plan sent more than $13 billion US Dollars (USD) in aid to Europe. The plan helped out both post-war Europe and post-war America by opening up the global market to American goods.
Jesse James was killed. (1882) James was shot in the back by one of his fellow gang members, Bob Ford, who betrayed him for the reward money. The James gang terrorized the Midwest for over 14 years, though they were largely romanticized even in their own time — in fact, James' tombstone said that he was "murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here."
Vladimir Lenin returned to Russia from exile. (1917) Lenin's return to Russia marked the beginning of Bolshevik rule in Russia, which eventually led to the modern form of Russian government.
Microsoft was found to be in violation of anti-trust laws. (2000) United States v. Microsoft found Microsoft guilty of a host of civil complaints under the Sherman Antitrust Act. The court case was appealed several times and the rulings — although not the findings of fact — were overturned; a settlement was eventually reached in 2001.
Oscar Wilde sued a Marquess for libel. (1895) Wilde sued the Marquess of Queensberry for implying that Wilde was homosexual, despite the fact that he was. The ill-advised trial ended unhappily for Wilde, who found himself jailed for homosexuality.
The American Civil Liberties Union declared it would defend Howl. (1955) Allen Ginsburg's poem Howl was a classic of the Beat generation, but might not have been if the ACLU hadn't decided to back it up against obscenity charges. The book was only released in the US after the ACLU defended the book at trial; before that all copies were confiscated by the US Customs department.
Annie Hall beat out Star Wars for the Best Picture Oscar. (1978) Many were shocked when the quirky romantic comedy beat out the hugely popular sci-fi film. It was a turning point for both director Woody Allen and the starring actress Diane Keaton, on whom the movie's plotline was loosely based.