What Happened on May 12?

  • The USSR lifted the Berlin Blockade. (1949) Soviet troops had blockaded the city about a year earlier, leading Allied troops to begin the Berlin Airlift program, through which thousands of pounds of food and supplies were dropped into the city. It became a PR disaster for the USSR, which agreed to lift the blockade on this day.

  • The first fully functional programming computer was displayed. (1941) Called the Z3, the computer was operated by commands in punch cards, and could be used to calculate complex statistics. The original computer, which was made in Berlin, was destroyed in World War II by Allied bombing.

  • Pope John Paul II survived an assassination attempt. (1982) A mentally unbalanced priest named Juan Fernandez Krohn attempted to stab the pope with a bayonet, but was overpowered before he could do any damage. When asked later, Krohn said that the pope was an "agent of Moscow" and had to be killed.

  • Bob Dylan walked off of the Ed Sullivan Show. (1963) Dylan was unknown at the time, though he was starting to gain popularity for his cover of Blowin' in the Wind. He walked off the show when the planners refused to let him play the Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues, a move which actually ended up helping jumpstart his career because of all the publicity that came after.

  • A massive earthquake hit Sichuan, China. (2008) Around 70,000 people died, and millions were left homeless; tremors were felt as far away as India and Pakistan.

  • The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous met. (1935) Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith met in Akron, Ohio, through Henrietta Siberling, the host of a Christian meeting group called the Oxford Group. The two came up with the Alcoholics Anonymous program based on their experience with the group and their own struggles with alcoholism.

  • Jimmy Carter visited Cuba. (2002) Carter was the first of any president or former president to visit the island since the 1959 revolution. The five-day visit went off peacefully, and Carter made several pro-democratic speeches to Cuban students.

  • The body of the Lindbergh baby was found. (1932) The Lindbergh kidnapping had been a major national news event, and the Lindberghs were devastated when they paid the ransom, but the baby was not returned. After two years of investigation, Bruno Hauptmann was arrested, and eventually executed for the crime.

  • The National University of San Marcos was founded. (1551) The Lima, Peru, university is the oldest one in the Americas, and one of the oldest in the world.

  • Florence Nightingale was born. (1820) Nightingale's name became synonymous with nursing during her lifetime, and she made major reforms to nursing practices as well as battlefield and emergency medicine.

Discussion Comments


Is Alcoholics Anonymous still around in this day and age? I can't believe it dates all the way back to 1935. I guess that even back then, it was a common problem.


There have definitely been a lot of assassination attempts on quite a few people, most of which (unfortunately) have been rather successful. However, not only is this the first time I've heard about someone managing to survive an attempt on their life, but they were even able to hold them off. That's really something else.


Maybe its because there have been so many natural disasters in the past years or so (which is why I didn't hear about this), but has anyone noticed that earthquakes tend to occur a lot more in other countries, such as China and even Haiti? Does anyone know why this is the case? For example, you'd never hear about natural disasters happening in the middle of New York City.

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