What Happened on October 12?

  • Arms control peace talks stalled between the US and Soviet superpowers. (1986) Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan couldn't come to an agreement, as Gorbachev insisted on limiting the US Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a pet project of President Reagan's. Talks didn't resume until more than a year later when Gorbachev ceded the point.

  • The sixth billionth person in the world was born. (1999) Though there is some disagreement as to the exact date, the United Nations Population Fund established this day as "The Day of Six Billion."

  • The Soviet Union pulled ahead in the "space race," launching a spacecraft into orbit with a multi-person crew. (1964) Voskhod 1 launched with astronauts Boris Yegorov, Konstantin Feoktistov and Vladamir Komarov on board. This was also the first mission flown without space suits.

  • Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, threw a fit at a U.N. General Assembly session. (1960) Khrushchev protested a speech that criticized Soviet policy by angrily pounding his shoe on the meeting table. Frederick Boland, the General Assembly President, was only able to regain control over the meeting by breaking his gavel on the table.

  • United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher narrowly escaped assassination. (1984) Terrorists from the Irish Republican Army bombed the Grand Hotel where Prime Minister Thatcher was staying. Five people were killed and 31 were wounded in the blast, but the Prime Minister was able to escape unharmed.

  • US Vice President Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (2007) Vice President Gore won the award together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the United Nations for increasing awareness of global warming.

  • The world's first raincoat was sold. (1823) Scottish inventor Charles Macintosh, who invented waterproof fabric, sold the first raincoat.

  • The first Oktoberfest occurred. (1810) The Oktoberfest tradition actually began as a festival celebrating the marriage of Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen and Prince Louis of Bavaria in Munich, Germany. The festival was such a success, the locals decided to hold it annually.

  • The first insane asylum in the US opened. (1773) The Eastern State Hospital asylum opened in Williamsburg, Virginia.

  • Columbus Day was first celebrated in the US. (1792) This first celebration occurred on the 300th anniversary of Columbus' arrival. The day didn't become a federal holiday until 1934.

  • The Pledge of Allegiance was recited in US schools for the first time. (1892) The pledge was recited to honor the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World.

Discussion Comments


I had no idea that Oktoberfest was that old. I guess I had never really thought about it as being more than just some kind of harvest festival that was modernized to give people an excuse to drink.

I do have to wonder whether or not the drinking was originally part of the tradition.


@Ana1234 - Actually, one of my geography professors at university was fond of quoting the prediction that the population increase is going to stop in the next few decades. Many countries are actually in decline in terms of birthrate already.

Although there's no way to entirely predict the future, of course. When you look at all the events in this article where the Russians and the Americans butted heads it makes me feel surprised that we've made it this far!


I guess they probably decided on 12 of October as the day that the six billionth person was born so that they could make a statement about it. It would be harder to say that a particular year or even month was as exact as they could get because the message about over population would be diluted.

I'm guessing it's not going to stop at six either. This is already more than scientists predicted the Earth could sustain a few decades ago. I wonder at what point we really are going to doom ourselves.

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