What Happened on November 21?

  • The first Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPNET) link was permanently established for the first time. (1969) The packet-switching network was developed by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It connected the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and was one of the initial networks used to establish the Internet.

  • The first woman was sworn into the US Senate, and many records were set. (1922) Georgia teacher and writer Rebecca L. Felton was sworn in on this day to fill a seat vacated by senator who had died. She served on the Senate for one day, filling the vacancy so Governor Thomas W. Hardwick wouldn't have a competitor in his running for the seat. Hardwick was elected and assumed office on November 22, 1922. Felton's one-day term was the shortest in the history of the US Senate. She also set the record for being the oldest sitting Senator at 87 years, 9 months and 22 days old. She was also the last US Senator to have been a slave owner.

  • The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened as the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time. (1964) The bridge connects Brooklyn and Staten Island in New York City with a double deck of six lanes each. It is 4,260 feet (about 1,298 meters) long. It held the record for being the longest suspension bridge until 1997 when the Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong opened.

  • The world's first untethered balloon flight took place. (1783) The marquis d' Arlandes, Francois Laurent, and Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier, a French physician, flew the balloon more than 5 miles (about 8 km) above Paris. The flight lasted about 25 minutes. The balloon was made by the Montgolfier brothers, who invented the first successful hot-air balloon.

  • US Marine officer Oliver North ordered his staff to shred incriminating documents related to the Iran Contra political scandal. (1986) The documents were evidence that implicated the US government in selling weapons to Iran to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels. Some hoped the sale also would serve as an exchange for six US hostages. North was ultimately convicted of three felonies, but an appeals court later vacated the convictions.

  • The research that led to the E=mc2 formula was published. (1905) The Annalen der Physik journal published a paper written by Albert Einstein, "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?" The research in the paper introduced his findings on the relationship between mass and energy.

  • The "Piltdown Man" skull was exposed as a hoax. (1953) The skull, which actually had been fashioned by combining parts from both orangutan and human skulls, had been viewed as an important human fossil find, identifying a form of man previously unknown to scientists.

  • Iraq's debt was nearly wiped out by the Paris Club. (2004) The Paris Club — a financial group that consists of some of largest countries in the world, including the US, Germany, the UK and Canada — wrote off 80% of Iraq's debt, equaling about $100 billion US Dollars (USD).

  • The Mayflower Pilgrims signed the "Mayflower Compact." (1620) The compact was a set of documents the early colonists used to govern their new settlement. It was signed by 41 of the male passengers who had arrived on the Mayflower ship.

  • North Carolina became the 12th US state. (1789) It also ratified the US Constitution on this day.

  • The great mystery of "Who Shot J.R.?" was solved. (1980) In what was one of the most-watched TV cliffhangers in television history, 350 million viewers worldwide tuned into the American television series Dallas to find out who had shot J.R. Ewing at the end of the show's previous season. As it turned out, he was shot by his wife's sister, who also was his former mistress, Kristin Shepard.

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