On Feb. 16, 1968, the nation's first 911 emergency telephone system was inaugurated in Haleyville, Ala., as the speaker of the Alabama House, Rankin Fite, placed a call from the mayor's office in City Hall to a red telephone at the police station that was answered by U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill.
On this date:
In 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur led a successful raid into Tripoli Harbor to burn the U.S. Navy frigate Philadelphia, which had fallen into the hands of pirates.
In 1862, the Civil War Battle of Fort Donelson in Tennessee ended as some 12,000 Confederate soldiers surrendered; Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's victory earned him the nickname "Unconditional Surrender Grant."
In 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was organized in New York City.
In 1923, the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen's recently unearthed tomb was unsealed in Egypt by English archaeologist Howard Carter.
In 1937, Dr. Wallace H. Carothers, a research chemist for Du Pont who'd invented nylon, received a patent for the synthetic fiber.
In 1945, American troops landed on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines during World War II.
In 1959, Fidel Castro became premier of Cuba a month and a half after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista.
In 1961, the United States launched the Explorer 9 satellite.
In 1977, Janani Luwum, the Anglican archbishop of Uganda, and two other men were killed in what Ugandan authorities said was an automobile accident.
In 1987, John Demjanjuk went on trial in Jerusalem, accused of being "Ivan the Terrible," a guard at the Treblinka Nazi concentration camp. (Demjanjuk was convicted, but the conviction ended up being overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court.)
In 1988, seven people were shot to death during an office rampage in Sunnyvale, Calif., by a man who was obsessed with a co-worker, who was wounded in the attack. (The gunman, Richard Farley, is under sentence of death.)
In 1998, a China Airlines Airbus A300-600R trying to land in fog near Taipei, Taiwan, crashed, killing all 196 people on board, plus six on the ground.
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