January and its successor, February, were not originally part of the calendar. Rome, until the addition of these months, used a ten month calendar, with winter being an unnamed period. Tradition states that around 714 BC January and February were added to round out the calendar. However, the year still started in March. The start of the year was moved to January about 450 BC. January was named after Janus the Roman god of beginnings and transitions.
January is the coldest month of the year in the northern hemisphere and the warmest of the year in the southern hemisphere.
January 1, 1966 – The law went into effect requiring all cigarette packages to carry the warning:
“Caution: Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.”
January 2, 1959 – Luna 1, the U.S.S.R. spacecraft, is launched. It is the first spacecraft to be launched towards the moon. Due to a navigational problem, it missed the moon, passing by at a distance under 6000 kilometers. The space vessel ended up orbiting the Sun in an orbit located between the Earth and Mars.
January 3, 1959 – Bought from Russia in 1867 for about 2 cents per acre, Alaska is admitted to the United States as the 49th state on January 3, 1959. Alaska is twice as big as the next largest state, Texas, and if it was its own country, it would be rated at number 19 in size.
January 4, 1999 – Jesse Ventura, once employed as a professional wrestler, is sworn into office as the governor of Minnesota. Before governor, Ventura served as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He did not run for a second term as governor. He has expressed interest in running for Senate and President, but has never formally announced plans or run.
January 5, 1948 – The first colored newsreel is debuted by Warner Brothers-Pathe. The movie includes pictures of the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl Football game.
January 6, 1994 – Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan is clubbed in the right knee. Kerrigan had placed 3rd in the 1992 Winter Olympics and 2nd at the 1992 World Championships. The assault turned out to have been planned by Juff Gillooly, ex-husband of rival Tonya Harding, and his friend. Harding was having trouble with her skating, so it is assumed that they felt with Kerrigan out of the way, Harding would placed higher in the standings.
Kerrigan was still named to the US Olympic team, and won a silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
January 7, 1927 – Using radio, the first commercial telephone service starts between New York and London.
January 8, 2004 – RMS Queen Mary 2 is christened on this day. She is the largest ocean liner ever built and the only one currently in operation today. In 2004 she was the largest passenger liner ever built, but has since been surpassed by two cruise ships.
January 9, 1918 – The last battle of the American Indian Wars, the Battle of Bear Valley, takes place on Southern Arizona. The battle is between the United States Army and Yaqui n
January 10, 1949 – 1949 saw the introduction of the “single”, a 7 inch diameter 45 rpm record.
January 11, 1960 – Henry Lee Lucas commits his first murder. Lucas was one considered America’s most notorious serial killer. He confessed to about 600 murders, and then recanted most of them. He was sentenced to death, then later the sentence was commuted to life in prison.
January 12, 1915 – The United States House of Representatives fails to pass a proposal to give the right to vote to women. The 19th Amendment passes in 1920 giving American women the right to vote, in time for the 1920 Presidential Election.
January 13, 1978 – A group of astronauts is selected after a period of nine year without the introduction of new astronauts. This group represents the first female astronauts,, the first black astronauts, and the first Army astronauts.
January 14, 1978 – The Sex Pistols announce their breakup. Originally started in 1975, the band was together only two and a half years, and produced only four singles and one album. But these numbers do nothing to show the influence they had on music. The group inspired many later groups and was the real start and inspiration behind the punk style.
January 15, 1967 – Super Bowl I is played in Los Angeles, California. The game is between the NFL champion, the Green Bay Packers, and the AFL champion, the Kansas City Chiefs. The packers take the game, 35-10.
January 16, 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia leaves on STS-107. The sixteen day mission included taking up a portion of the s
January 17, 1929 – Popeye the Sailor Man appears for the first time in a comic strip called the Thimble Theatre comic strip. The strip was 10 years old at the time, but Popeye quickly became the focus of the strip. The title was also changed to be named after Popeye.
January 18, 1911 – Eugene Burton Ely is the first to land an airplane on a ship. He lands a Curtiss pusher airplane on the USS Pennsylvania, an armored cruiser. It is the first successful shipboard landing of an airplane, and the first ever landing of an airplane using a tailhook system.
January 19, 1954 – F.M. Jones, a black American inventor, was awarded more than 20 patents for his inventions in the gas engines and refrigeration fields over his lifetime . On January 19, 1954, it was for a method of defrosting a cold diffuser.
January 20, 1986 – Martin Luther King, Jr Day was declared a federal holiday in 1983, and celebrated for the first time on January 20, 1986. In 1992 President George H. W. Bush proclaimed it would be on the third Monday of January. Not all 50 states officially recognized the holiday at first, and it was not until January 17, 2000, that the last three holdouts of Arizona, New Hampshire and Utah officially recognized the holiday.
January 21, 1954 – The first atomic submarine is launched in 1954. In 1958, the USS Nautilus became the first vessel to sail under the Arctic icepack to the North Pole.
January 22, 1997 – Lottie Williams, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is believed to be the first and only person to be struck by a piece of man-made space debris. The debris was not checked, but a used rocket and entered the Earth’s atmosphere 30 minutes earlier.
January 23, 1986 – The first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place and the first 16 inductees are honored. Among the first are Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Inductee spread among three groups, consisting of performers, non-performers and early influencers. The Hall of Fame was started in 1983, but did not have a home until 1995, when a building was completed specially for them.
January 24, 1961 – A B-52 Stratofortress carrying two nuclear weapons broke up in the air over North Carolina and crashed near Goldsboro, North Carolina. The weapons were hurled from the wreckage while in the sky. One weapon landed safely by parachute, while the other hit the ground at an high speed and broke into pieces. The uranium for the second bomb was never recovered and is buried somewhere in the area. The Air Force bought the area to safeguard the uranium.
January 25, 1949 – The Emmy Awards are presented for the first time. In 1949, the presentation took place at the Hollywood Athletic Club, and honored shows produce and aired locally. In the 1950s, the Emmys were expanded to cover nationwide broadcasts.
January 26, 1998 – US President Bill Clinton goes on television and states, “I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false.” After Miss Lewinsky give testimony and proof in July of 1998, President Clinton goes back on television on August 17, 1998, and admits to the relationship.
January 27, 2006 – Western Union started in 1855 as a telegraph company, and at one time had a monopoly on this kind of communication in the United States. The company has been instrumental in various parts of the US history. It was the first company to issue a charge card, and it leased equipment to the United States Department of Defense that they would use to work out the technology that would become the internet. In the 1980s the company began to focus more on the money transfer side of the business and to get rid of the communications side. On January 17, 2006, they announced they would no longer offer telegram service.
January 28, 1986 – Space Shuttle Challenger, STS-51-L, suffers a failure of an O-ring on a rocket booster and breaks up two minutes after takeoff. All seven crew members onboard are killed.
January 29, 1998 – Steven Goldstone, chairman and CEO if RJR Nabisco, admits that there is a health risk associated with tobacco products. Goldstone is the first tobacco company executive to admit to the problem.
January 30, 1969 – The Beatles perform publicly for the last time on the roof of the Apple Headquarters. They were working in the studio on their album, and went to the roof and started playing. The police were called to break it up as it was disrupting the lunch hour at businesses nearby as people gathered to listen.
January 31, 1961 – Ham, a just under four-year old chimp, is launched on MR-2, part of the manned spaceflight program. The flight, as planned, did not go orbital. It lasted 16 minutes and traveled 422 miles. There were several malfunctions during the flight, but Ham was fine. He was retired after the flight and died in 1983 at the age of 26.