(1919) – Major League Baseball star Jackie Robinson was born. Robinson was the first African-American to play in the MLB in the modern era. The Brooklyn Dodgers started Robinson at first base in 1947, breaking the color line in baseball for the first time. Previously, due to racial segregation, Robinson and other African-American ball players were restricted to play in the Negro Leagues. Robinson played for ten seasons in Brooklyn and was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1962.
(1940) – The first social security check was issued by the U.S. government to a woman named Ida Mae Fuller in the amount of $22.54. The Social Security Act of 1935 was part of the second New Deal, a series of programs enacted to help reform the country after the economic struggle of The Great Depression. In 1940, $35,000,000 was paid out in social security benefits.
(1958) – The United States launched its first satellite into orbit. The launch of Explorer I officially entered the U.S. into the Space Age. The mission followed the successful launches of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 and 2, which inevitably sparked the Cold War Space Race between the two countries. In orbit Explorer I discovered a much lower cosmic ray count than anticipated, and also it is credited with the discovery of what came to be known as the Van Allen Belts.
(2000) – Alaskan Airlines flight 261 crashed off the coast of California, killing 88 people on board. The flight took off from Puerto Vallarta. Throughout the flight, crew members reported a problem with a jammed horizontal stabilizer. The crew managed to un-jam the stabilizer, but upon repair the airplane took a nose dive. The pilots managed to maintain control of the airplane, but just ten minutes later lost control again and crashed into the ocean. The accident prompted several improvements in design and protocol.