Z Day (People whose first or last name start with the letter Z must have it pretty rough. Most processes, systems and organizations use alphabetical sorting as standard, meaning they are always last no matter the place or occasion)
In 2018 researchers at Harvard (Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences), writing in Nature Nanotechnology, report the first single lens that can focus all colours of the rainbow in the same spot and in high resolution, previously only achievable with multiple lenses.
2007 – Adam Air Flight 574 disappears over Sulawesi Strait, Indonesia with 102 people on board.
2002 – Euro currency becomes legal tender in twelve of the European Union's member states.
1999 – Euro currency is introduced in 11 member nations of the European Union (with the exceptions of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece and Sweden; Greece later adopts the euro).
1998 – Russia begins to circulate new rubles to stem inflation and promote confidence.
1996 – Curaçao gains limited self-government, though it remains within free association with the Netherlands.
1995 – The Draupner wave in the North Sea in Norway is detected, confirming the existence of freak waves.
1995 – The World Trade Organization goes into effect.
1994 – The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) comes into effect.
1993 – Dissolution of Czechoslovakia: Czechoslovakia is divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
1990 – David Dinkins is sworn in as New York City's first black mayor.
1989 – The Montreal Protocol comes into force, stopping the use of chemicals contributing to ozone depletion.
1988 – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America comes into existence, creating the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States.
1985 – The first British mobile phone call is made by Michael Harrison to his father Sir Ernest Harrison, chairman of Vodafone.
1984 – Brunei becomes independent of the United Kingdom.
1984 – The original American Telephone & Telegraph Company is divested of its 22 Bell System companies as a result of the settlement of the 1974 United States Department of Justice antitrust suit against AT&T.
1983 – The ARPANET officially changes to using the Internet Protocol, creating the Internet.
1982 – Peruvian Javier Pérez de Cuéllar becomes the first Latin American to hold the title of Secretary-General of the United Nations.
1981 – Greece is admitted into the European Community.
1979 – Formal diplomatic relations are established between China and the United States.
1978 – Air India Flight 855 Boeing 747 crashes into the sea, due to instrument failure and pilot disorientation, off the coast of Bombay, India, killing 213.
1973 – Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Ireland are admitted into the European Economic Community.
1971 – Cigarette advertisements are banned on American television.
1965 – The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan is founded in Kabul, Afghanistan.
1964 – The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is divided into the independent republics of Zambia and Malawi, and the British-controlled Rhodesia.
1962 – Western Samoa achieves independence from New Zealand; its name is changed to the Independent State of Western Samoa.
1960 – Cameroon achieves independence from France and the United Kingdom.
1959 – Fulgencio Batista, dictator of Cuba, is overthrown by Fidel Castro's forces during the Cuban Revolution.
1958 – European Economic Community established on this day.
1956 – Sudan achieves independence from Egypt and the United Kingdom.
1950 – Standard practice uses this day as the origin of the age scale Before Present
1949 – United Nations cease-fire takes effect in Kashmir from one minute before midnight. War between India and Pakistan stops accordingly.
1947 – The American and British occupation zones in Germany, after World War II, merge to form the Bizone, which later (with the French zone) became part of West Germany.
1947 – The Canadian Citizenship Act 1946 comes into effect, converting British subjects into Canadian citizens. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King becomes the first Canadian citizen.
1945 – World War II: In retaliation for the Malmedy massacre, U.S. troops kill 60 German POWs at Chenogne.
1945 – World War II: The German Luftwaffe launches Operation Bodenplatte, a massive, but failed attempt to knock out Allied air power in northern Europe in a single blow.
1942 – The Declaration by United Nations is signed by twenty-six nations.
1937 – Safety glass in vehicle windscreens becomes mandatory in the United Kingdom.
1934 – Alcatraz Island becomes a United States federal prison.
1934 – Nazi Germany passes the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring".
1932 – The United States Post Office Department issues a set of 12 stamps commemorating the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth.
1928 – Boris Bazhanov defects through Iran. He is the only assistant of Joseph Stalin's secretariat to have defected from the Eastern Bloc.
1927 – The Cristero War begins in Mexico.
1923 – Britain's Railways are grouped into the Big Four: LNER, GWR, SR, and LMS.
1920 – The Belorussian Communist Organisation is founded as a separate party.
1914 – The SPT Airboat Line becomes the world's first scheduled airline to use a winged aircraft.
1912 – The Republic of China is established.
1908 – For the first time, a ball is dropped in New York City's Times Square to signify the start of the New Year at midnight.
1902 – The first American college football bowl game, the Rose Bowl between Michigan and Stanford, is held in Pasadena, California.
1901 – Nigeria becomes a British protectorate.
1901 – The British colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia federate as the Commonwealth of Australia; Edmund Barton is appointed the first Prime Minister.
1899 – Spanish rule ends in Cuba.
1898 – New York, New York annexes land from surrounding counties, creating the City of Greater New York. The four initial boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx, are joined on January 25 by Staten Island to create the modern city of five boroughs.
1892 – Ellis Island opens to begin processing immigrants into the United States.
1890 – Eritrea is consolidated into a colony by the Italian government.
1885 – Twenty-five nations adopt Sandford Fleming's proposal for standard time (and also, time zones)
1881 – Ferdinand de Lesseps begins French construction of the Panama Canal.
1877 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom is proclaimed Empress of India.
1863 – American Civil War: The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect in Confederate territory.
1860 – First Polish stamp is issued.
1847 – The world's first "Mercy" Hospital is founded in Pittsburgh by the Sisters of Mercy; the name will go on to grace over 30 major hospitals throughout the world.
1833 – The United Kingdom claims sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.
1822 – The Greek Constitution of 1822 is adopted by the First National Assembly at Epidaurus.
1808 – The United States bans the importation of slaves.
1806 – The French Republican Calendar is abolished.
1804 – French rule ends in Haiti. Haiti becomes the first black republic and second independent country in North America after the United States
1803 – Emperor Gia Long orders all bronze wares of the Tây Sơn dynasty to be collected and melted into nine cannons for the Royal Citadel in Huế, Vietnam.
1801 – Ceres, the largest and first known object in the Asteroid belt, is discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi.
1801 – The legislative union of Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland is completed to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
1788 – First edition of The Times of London, previously The Daily Universal Register, is published.
1781 – American Revolutionary War: One thousand five hundred soldiers of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment under General Anthony Wayne's command rebel against the Continental Army's winter camp in Morristown, New Jersey in the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny of 1781.
1776 – American Revolutionary War: Norfolk, Virginia is burned by combined Royal Navy and Continental Army action.
1773 – The hymn that became known as "Amazing Grace", then titled "1 Chronicles 17:16–17" is first used to accompany a sermon led by John Newton in the town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.
1772 – The first traveler's cheques, which can be used in 90 European cities, go on sale in London, England.
1739 – Bouvet Island is discovered by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier.
1700 – Russia begins using the Anno Domini era instead of the Anno Mundi era of the Byzantine Empire.
1600 – Scotland begins its numbered year on January 1 instead of March 25.
1502 – The present-day location of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is first explored by the Portuguese.
1001 – Grand Prince Stephen I of Hungary is named the first King of Hungary by Pope Sylvester II.
417 – Emperor Honorius forces Galla Placidia into marriage to Constantius, his famous general (magister militum).
404 – Telemachus, a Christian monk, is killed for attempting to stop a gladiators' fight in the public arena held in Rome.
45 BC – The Julian calendar takes effect as the civil calendar of the Roman Empire, establishing January 1 as the new date of the new year.
1989 – Jason Pierre-Paul, American football player
1987 – Meryl Davis, American ice dancer
1987 – Ryan Perrilloux, American football player
1986 – Glen Davis, American basketball player
1986 – Ramses Barden, American football player
1984 – Lance Brooks, American discus thrower
1979 – Brody Dalle, Australian-American singer-songwriter and guitarist
1975 – Joe Cannon, American soccer player and sportscaster
1973 – Bryan Thao Worra, Laotian-American author, poet, and playwright
1973 – Danny Lloyd, American actor and educator
1972 – Barron Miles, American-Canadian football player and coach
1971 – Bobby Holík, Czech-American ice hockey player and coach
1971 – Chris Potter, American saxophonist and composer
1971 – Denise Stapley, American former game show contestant, winner of Survivor: Philippines
1971 – Sammie Henson, American wrestler and coach
1969 – Morris Chestnut, American actor and producer
1969 – Verne Troyer, American actor and stuntman
1965 – Andrew Valmon, American runner and coach
1965 – John Sullivan, American real estate agent and politician
1964 – Dedee Pfeiffer, American actress
1961 – Sergei Babayan, Armenian-American pianist and academic
1960 – Michael Seibert, American ice dancer and choreographer
1959 – Andy Andrews, American tennis player
1958 – Dave Silk, American ice hockey player and coach
1956 – Mark R. Hughes, American businessman, founder of Herbalife (d. 2000)
1956 – Mike Mitchell, American basketball player (d. 2011)
1955 – LaMarr Hoyt, American baseball player
1954 – Bob Menendez, American lawyer and politician
1954 – Richard Edson, American drummer
1953 – Gary Johnson, American businessman and politician, 29th Governor of New Mexico
1953 – Lynn Jones, American baseball player and coach
1951 – Martha P. Haynes, American astronomer and academic
1951 – Radia Perlman, American software designer and network engineer
1950 – James Richardson, American poet and academic
1949 – Olivia Goldsmith, American author (d. 2004)
1948 – Joe Petagno, American illustrator
1947 – Jon Corzine, American sergeant and politician, 54th Governor of New Jersey
1947 – Leon Patillo, American singer and evangelist
1947 – Leonard Thompson, American golfer
1946 – Claude Steele, African-American social psychologist and academic
1946 – Shelby Steele, American journalist, author, and director
1945 – Victor Ashe, American politician and former United States Ambassador to Poland
1944 – Jimmy Hart, American wrestling manager and singer
1943 – Bud Hollowell, American baseball player and manager (d. 2014)
1943 – Don Novello, American comedian (Father Guido Sarducci), screenwriter and producer
1943 – Jerilyn Britz, American golfer
1943 – Ronald Perelman, American businessman and philanthropist, founded MacAndrews & Forbes
1943 – Tony Knowles, American soldier and politician, 7th Governor of Alaska
1942 – Al Hunt, American journalist
1942 – Billy Lothridge, American football player (d. 1996)
1942 – Country Joe McDonald, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
1942 – Dennis Archer, American lawyer and politician, 67th Mayor of Detroit
1939 – Senfronia Thompson, American politician
1938 – Frank Langella, American actor
1938 – Robert Jankel, English businessman, founded Panther Westwinds (d. 2005)
1937 – Matt Robinson, American actor and screenwriter (d. 2002)
1936 – Don Nehlen, American football player and coach
1936 – James Sinegal, American businessman, co-founded Costco
1934 – Alan Berg, American lawyer and radio host (d. 1984)
1933 – James Hormel, American philanthropist and diplomat, United States Ambassador to Luxembourg
1932 – Jackie Parker, American football player and coach (d. 2006)
1930 – Frederick Wiseman, American director and producer
1930 – Jean-Pierre Duprey, French poet and sculptor (d. 1959)
1930 – Ty Hardin, American actor (d. 2017)
1929 – Larry L. King, American journalist, author, and playwright (d. 2012)
1929 – Raymond Chow, Hong Kong film producer, co-founded Orange Sky Golden Harvest
1928 – Ernest Tidyman, American author and screenwriter (d. 1984)
1928 – Gerhard Weinberg, German-American historian, author, and academic
1927 – Doak Walker, American football player and businessman (d. 1998)
1927 – James Reeb, American clergyman and political activist (d. 1965)
1927 – Vernon L. Smith, American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
1925 – Matthew Beard, American actor and singer (d. 1981)
1924 – Charlie Munger, American businessman and philanthropist
1923 – Daniel Gorenstein, American mathematician and academic (d. 1992)
1923 – Milt Jackson, American vibraphonist and composer (Modern Jazz Quartet) (d. 1999)
1922 – Ernest Hollings, American soldier and politician, 106th Governor of South Carolina
1922 – Jerry Robinson, American illustrator (d. 2011)
1922 – Roz Howard, American race car driver (d. 2013)
1921 – César Baldaccini, French sculptor and academic (d. 1998)
1921 – Ismail al-Faruqi, Palestinian-American philosopher and academic (d. 1986)
1921 – Regina Bianchi, Italian actress (d. 2013)
1920 – Mahmoud Zoufonoun, Iranian-American violinist (d. 2013)
1920 – Osvaldo Cavandoli, Italian cartoonist (d. 2007)
1919 – Carole Landis, American actress (d. 1948)
1919 – J. D. Salinger, American soldier and author (d. 2010)
1919 – Rocky Graziano, American boxer and actor (d. 1990)
1918 – Ed Price, American soldier, pilot, and politician (d. 2012)
1917 – Shannon Bolin, American actress and singer (d. 2016)
1912 – Kim Philby, British spy (d. 1988)
1911 – Audrey Wurdemann, American poet and author (d. 1960)
1911 – Hank Greenberg, American baseball player and lieutenant (d. 1986)
1911 – Roman Totenberg, Polish-American violinist and educator (d. 2012)
1909 – Dana Andrews, American actor (d. 1992)
1909 – Stepan Bandera, Ukrainian soldier and politician (d. 1959)
1905 – Stanisław Mazur, Ukrainian-Polish mathematician and theorist (d. 1981)
1903 – Dwight Taylor, American screenwriter and author (d. 1986)
1902 – Hans von Dohnányi, German jurist and political dissident (d. 1945)
1900 – Paola Borboni, Italian film actress (d. 1995)
1900 – Xavier Cugat, Spanish-American singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1990)
1895 – J. Edgar Hoover, American law enforcement official; 1st Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (d. 1972)
1894 – Edward Joseph Hunkeler, American clergyman (d. 1970)
1894 – Satyendra Nath Bose, Indian physicist and mathematician (d. 1974)
1892 – Artur Rodziński, Polish-American conductor (d. 1958)
1889 – Charles Bickford, American actor (d. 1967)
1888 – John Garand, Canadian-American engineer, designed the M1 Garand rifle (d. 1974)
1884 – Chikuhei Nakajima, Japanese lieutenant, engineer, and politician, founded Nakajima Aircraft Company (d. 1949)
1883 – William J. Donovan, American general, lawyer, and politician (d. 1959)
1879 – E. M. Forster, English author and playwright (d. 1970)
1879 – William Fox, Hungarian-American screenwriter and producer, founded the Fox Film Corporation and Fox Theatres (d. 1952)
1878 – Agner Krarup Erlang, Danish mathematician, statistician, and engineer (d. 1929)
1874 – Frank Knox, American publisher and politician, 46th United States Secretary of the Navy (d. 1944)
1874 – Gustave Whitehead, German-American pilot and engineer (d. 1927)
1867 – Lew Fields, American actor, producer, and manager (d. 1941)
1864 – Alfred Stieglitz, American photographer and curator (d. 1946)
1864 – Qi Baishi, Chinese painter (d. 1957)
1863 – Pierre de Coubertin, French historian and educator, founded the International Olympic Committee (d. 1937)
1860 – Dan Katchongva, American tribal leader and activist (d. 1972)
1860 – Jan Vilímek, Czech illustrator and painter (d. 1938)
1860 – John Cassidy, Irish sculptor and painter (d. 1939)
1859 – Michael Joseph Owens, American inventor (d. 1923)
1857 – Tim Keefe, American baseball player (d. 1933)
1854 – James George Frazer, Scottish anthropologist and academic (d. 1941)
1848 – John W. Goff, Irish-American lawyer and politician (d. 1924)
1833 – Robert Lawson, Scottish-New Zealand architect, designed the Otago Boys' High School and Knox Church (d. 1902)
1819 – Arthur Hugh Clough, English-Italian poet and academic (d. 1861)
1819 – George Foster Shepley, American general (d. 1878)
1818 – William Gamble, American general (d. 1866)
1813 – George Bliss, American politician (d. 1868)
1806 – Lionel Kieseritzky, Estonian-French chess player (d. 1853)
1803 – Edward Dickinson, American politician and father of poet Emily Dickinson (d. 1874)
1769 – Marie Lachapelle, French obstetrician (d. 1821)
1752 – Betsy Ross, American seamstress, credited with designing the Flag of the United States (d. 1836)
1750 – Frederick Muhlenberg, American minister and politician, 1st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (d. 1801)
1745 – Anthony Wayne, American general and politician (d. 1796)
1735 – Paul Revere, American silversmith and engraver (d. 1818)
1638 – Nicolas Steno, Danish pioneer in anatomy and geology, bishop (d. 1686)
1561 – Thomas Walsingham, English spymaster (d. 1630)
1548 – Giordano Bruno, Italian mathematician, friar, philosopher, poet, and cosmological theorist (d. 1600)
1545 – Magnus Heinason, Faroese naval hero (d. 1589)
1449 – Lorenzo de' Medici, Italian politician (d. 1492)
2016 – Dale Bumpers, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 38th Governor of Arkansas (b. 1925)
2016 – Mike Oxley, American lawyer and politician (b. 1944)
2016 – Vilmos Zsigmond, Hungarian-American cinematographer and producer (b. 1930)
2015 – Donna Douglas, American actress (b. 1932)
2015 – Mario Cuomo, American lawyer and politician, 52nd Governor of New York (b. 1932)
2014 – Juanita Moore, American actress (b. 1914)
2014 – Pete DeCoursey, American journalist (b. 1961)
2013 – Patti Page, American singer and actress (b. 1927)
2012 – Tommy Mont, American football player and coach (b. 1922)
2010 – Lhasa de Sela, American-Mexican singer-songwriter (b. 1972)
2009 – Claiborne Pell, American politician (b. 1918)
2008 – Harold Corsini, American photographer and educator (b. 1919)
2007 – Leon Davidson, American chemist and engineer (b. 1922)
2007 – Tillie Olsen, American short story writer (b. 1912)
2006 – Harry Magdoff, American economist and journalist (b. 1913)
2005 – Eugene J. Martin, American painter (b. 1938)
2005 – Shirley Chisholm, American educator and politician (b. 1924)
2003 – Joe Foss, American soldier, pilot, and politician, 20th Governor of South Dakota (b. 1915)
2003 – Royce D. Applegate, American actor and screenwriter (b. 1939)
2002 – Julia Phillips, American film producer and author (b. 1944)
2001 – Ray Walston, American actor (b. 1914)
1998 – Helen Wills, American tennis player and coach (b. 1905)
1997 – Townes Van Zandt, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1944)
1996 – Arleigh Burke, American admiral (b. 1901)
1996 – Arthur Rudolph, German-American engineer (b. 1906)
1995 – Eugene Wigner, Hungarian-American physicist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)
1994 – Cesar Romero, American actor (b. 1907)
1992 – Grace Hopper, American computer scientist and admiral, co-developed COBOL (b. 1906)