January 1
On this day in 1984, the breakup of AT&T took place as Ma and Pa Bell filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable long-distance bills."

On this day in 1892, the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York celebrated the opened its state-of-the-art "melting pot" by melting its first batch of immigrants.

On this day in 1999, Europe's new currency, the euro, officially came into existence, promoted by the slogan E. Pluribus Euro.

Today's Birthdays:

Paul Revere (1735-1818): jockey, guided 10-1 longshot Midnight Rider to victory in the 1776 Kentucky Derby.

Betsy Ross (1752-1836): seamstress, founded the nation's first needle exchange program.

J.D. Salinger, 85: author, best known for the baseball classic "Shortstop in the Rye.

January 2

On this day in 1974, President Nixon signed a law requiring states to limit highway speeds to 55 mph or forfeit federal road-kill cleanup funds.

On this day in 1983, the musical stage version of the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie Oakley" closed after three patrons were slain during the climactic gunfight scene.

Today's Birthdays:

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992): science fiction author, wrote "I Was a Teenage Robot" and "2001 Dalmations."

Jim Bakker, 65: former television evangelist known for his slogan: "Praise the Lord and pass the condoms."

January 3

On this day in 1868, the Meiji Restoration marked end of brutal rule by tiny but vicious samurai warriors called "sawed-off shoguns."

On this day in 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a proclamation making Alaska the 49th state. Word reached the people of Alaska three months later by dogsled.

Today's Birthdays:

J.R.R. Tolkein (1892-1973): author, best known for the classic trilogy "Lord of the Ringworms."

Bobby Hull, 65: hockey Hall-of-Famer, lead the league in teeth knocked out three straight years.

Mel Gibson, 48: actor, stared in The Patriot 2: Lethal Musket."

January 4
On this day in 1896, Utah was admitted as the 45th state, thanks to the efforts of statehood proponent Paul Liggemast and his 43 wives.

On this day in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson outlined the goals of his "Great Society," which he said would look "somewhat like Texas, only with more guns."

Today's Birthdays:

Isaac Newton (1643-1727): physicist-mathematician, his famous statement "I've fallen and I can't get up" led to his discovery of gravity.

Louis Braille (1809-1852): French inventor, went blind at an early age because his mother forced him to read using a system of little raised dots.

General Tom Thumb (1838-1883): commanded U.S. forces to victory in the Midget Wars of 1871, best known for his uncanny ability to be shot out of a cannon.

Dyan Cannon, 67: actress, nominated for an Oscar in the theological sex romp "Heaven Can Mate."

Michael Stipe, 44: singer with R.E.M., hits include "Radio Free Afghanistan" and "The End of Iraq as We Know It."