October 1959

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October 4, 1959: Lunik 3 launched toward Moon
October 26, 1959: Earth's people see the other side of the Moon for the first time
October 5, 1959: IBM 1401, the first business computer, introduced
October 25, 1959: The last propeller driven Air Force One flight

The following events occurred in October 1959:

October 1, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

October 2, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

October 3, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

Theodore Roosevelt's daughter
USS Theodore Roosevelt

October 4, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

October 5, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • The IBM 1401 computer and data processing system was introduced, providing the first fully transistorized computer intended for business use.[9] The three piece system, which could be rented for $2,500 a month, had a memory ranging from 1.4 KB to 16K, could read 800 punchcards per minute and could print 600 lines per minute. More than 14,000 units were installed.[10]
  • Born: Maya Lin, American architect best known for Vietnam Memorial, in Athens, Ohio; and Kelly Joe Phelps, blues musician, in Sumner, Washington

October 6, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

October 7, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • From 0330 to 0410 GMT, the Lunik 3 probe took the first pictures of the far side of the Moon, 29 images that were later transmitted back to Earth.[14]
  • On Baghdad's al-Rashid Street, Iraq's President Abd al-Karim Qasim was ambushed on his way to the East German embassy. The five man team, led by future Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, killed Qasim's driver and wounded Qasim. One assassin died and Saddam himself was injured, but escaped to farm.[15] After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saddam fled to the same farm, where he was captured on December 13 of that year.[16]
  • A Taiwanese RB-57 surveillance plane, flying at an altitude of 20,000 meters, was downed by three V-750 missiles as it flew near Beijing. It was the first time that a surface-to-air missile (SAM) had brought down an aircraft.[17]
  • The U.S. Court of Claims ruled that the Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes had been the original owners of southeast Alaska and entitled to monetary compensation. An award for $7.5 million was made in 1968.[18]
Mario Lanza

October 8, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

October 9, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • Russell Langelle, a CIA agent with a cover as security officer at the Embassy of the United States in Moscow, was arrested as he stepped off of a city bus, where he had met Soviet double-agent Pyotr Popov. Langelle was expelled from the Soviet Union, and Popov was later executed for treason.[22]

October 10, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Fatah, Palestinian nationalist political party, was founded by Yasser Arafat, Khalil al-Wazir, and others to fight for Palestinian independence. "Fatah" is a reverse acronym for Harakat al Tahir al Filastini.[24]
  • A courageous letter of protest from author Viktor Nekrasov appeared in the Soviet weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta, after Nekrasov learned that the city planners of Kiev planned to pave over Babi Yar, site of the 1941 Nazi massacre of more than 30,000 Ukrainians, mostly Jews. Learning that a soccer stadium was to be built there, Nekrasov wrote, "How is this possible? Who could have thought of such a thing? On the site of such a colossal tragedy to make merry and play football? No! This must not be allowed!" [25] Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Anatoly Kuznetsov were inspired by Nekrasov's protest to write their own works about Babi Yar.[26]
Watts Towers
  • James Earl Ray was arrested after robbing a supermarket in St. Louis, and given a 20-year sentence in the Missouri State Penitentiary. With more than twelve years remaining on his jail term, Ray would escape on April 23, 1967, and assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King the following year.[27]
  • The Watts Towers, a metal sculpture by Simon Rodia, withstood a "10,000 pound pull" stress test and earned its right to remain a Los Angeles landmark. The city's Building and Safety Department had ordered the demolition of the landmark, but agreed to let Rodia prove that the 99-foot-tall (30 m) structure would not collapse.[28]
  • Born: Kirsty MacColl, British singer and songwriter, in Croydon (killed in boating accident, 2000)

October 11, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • War broke out in the Belgian Congo between two rival tribes, the Lulua and the Baluba, in the city of Luluabourg (now Kananga). [29] Fighting would continue throughout the first campaigns for the first elected legislature in May, 1960, in advance of the Congo's independence from Belgium. [30]
  • Elections were held in the Malagasy Republic on the island of Madagascar for the leaders of 739 rural communes, scheduled to take office on January 1. "The great majority of rural voters," a historian would later note, "had no idea what the new communes were for, and most of the officers elected not only were illiterate but lacked a sense of civic responsibility." [31]
  • Died:
    • Bert Bell, 64, the Commissioner of the National Football League, died of a heart attack while attending the Eagles-Steelers game in Philadelphia. Bell, who had been Commissioner since 1946, had owned both teams earlier in his career. Sports columnist Red Smith later wrote, "It was like Caruso dying in the third act of Pagliacci".[32]
    • Rex Griffin, 53, American country singer
    • Nop Bophann, the editor of Pracheachon, a leftist newsweekly in Cambodia, died of his wounds two days after he was shot by the kingdom's security police while leaving his office. One author would comment later, "His death was probably intended as a gesture of reassurance to the Right that, notwithstanding Cambodia's difficulties with America, the communists would be held in check." [33]

October 12, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

October 13, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

October 14, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Ruth Urdanivia, a widow in Allentown, Pennsylvania, murdered her five children with overdoses of barbiturates, and unsuccessfully attempted suicide. After being found sane to stand trial, she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. She was paroled in 1967.[37]

October 15, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

October 16, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • Lee Harvey Oswald arrived in Moscow on a six-day visa, and applied for Soviet citizenship. Coincidentally, he would begin work at the Texas School Book Depository four years to the day later, on October 16, 1963.[42]
  • Television was inaugurated in the State of Western Australia as TVW7 went on the air.[43]

October 17, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

October 18, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The X-3C, a circular wing hovercraft designed at Princeton University, made its first flight. Twenty feet in diameter and constructed of aluminum, the X-3C has been described as the closest approximation to a flying saucer.[46]
  • Former President Harry S. Truman appeared in a series of comic sketches on The Jack Benny Program. Critics disagreed on whether the dignity of the American presidency had been compromised.[47]
  • Died: Boughera El Ouafi, 61, Algerian runner and 1928 Olympic marathon winner, was shot to death while dining in a cafe

October 19, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

October 20, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

October 21, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

The Guggenheim
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, popularly referred to as "the Guggenheim", opened in New York. The art museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is built in the form of a spiral.[50]
  • After being told to leave the U.S.S.R., Lee Harvey Oswald slashed his wrists at his Moscow hotel room. His life was saved after Rima Shirokova found Oswald unconscious and had him taken to the Botkinskaya Hospital.[51]
  • Major Pedro Díaz Lanz, who had been chief of the Cuban Air Force until defecting in July, flew an airplane from Florida and dropped thousands of leaflets over Havana, then returned to the U.S. In the chaos that followed, two people died and 45 were injured, and Fidel Castro charged that the United States had bombed Cuba.[52]
  • Wernher von Braun's team of rocket scientists was transferred from the Army Ballistic Missile Agency to NASA.[53]
  • Ten members of India's Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed near Ladakh at Hot Springs, while defending an incursion by soldiers from neighboring China. The other members of the 21 man patrol were taken prisoner, though later released. October 21 is now observed as Police Commemoration Day throughout India.[54]
  • Born:

October 22, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Rioting broke out in San'ya, the ghetto area of Tokyo, as a crowd of about 300 attacked the local police station.[55]
  • The Franco-German Extradition Treaty, adopted in 1951, went into effect.[56]
  • VES (vesicular exanthema of swine), which had caused a 15-month-long epizootic in 1952 and 1953, was declared to be eradicated.[57]
  • Died: Joseph Cahill, 68, Premier of New South Wales since 1952, died of a heart attack

October 23, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • India and Pakistan signed an agreement that provided that any border disputes would be submitted to "an impartial tribunal consisting of three members".[58]
  • The Mummy, the most popular horror film to that time, was released in American theaters.[59]
  • Born: "Weird Al" Yankovic, American singer and parodist, in Lynwood, California

October 24, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Cuba instituted Law 851, nationalizing more than 150 American investments, including the hotels, casinos and racetrack. Foreign tourism, which had been nearly 275,000 in 1957, fell to 87,000 by 1960.[60]
  • Playboy's Penthouse began a brief run on syndicated television. Broadcast live from Chicago, the program was in the format of a cocktail party hosted by Hugh Hefner. Besides increasing sales of the magazine, the program paved the way to the creation of the Playboy Clubs.[61]

October 25, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

October 26, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

October 27, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • More than 1,000 people in Mexico were killed by a hurricane that struck the states of Colima and Jalisco. The town of Minatitlán was heaviest hit, with winds, floods and landslides.[66]
  • Pakistan's President Muhammad Ayub Khan instituted the program he called "Basic Democracy", whereby the nation would be divided into 80,000 constituencies, each of which would elect its own representative. These 80,000 persons would elect members of parliament and provincial legislatures, as well as the President, and would carry out governmental programs.[67]
  • Born: Rick Carlisle, American NBA player, later coach of the NBA 2010-11 champion Dallas Mavericks; in Ogdensburg, New York

October 28, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The synthetic fabric spandex (trademarked as Lycra) was introduced by DuPont, relying upon a "Fiber K", a synthetic elastomer that was lighter and more durable than conventional elastic, making it ideal for swimsuits.[68]
  • U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts began the planning of a presidential run with a meeting at Bobby Kennedy's home in Hyannisport.[69]

October 29, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

Sri Savang Vatthana
  • Camilo Cienfuegos, the 26-year-old Commander of Cuba's revolutionary army, took off in a Cessna 310 from Camagüey, bound for Havana, along with three other people. The airplane vanished without a trace, although a bulletin on November 4 from Cuba announced that Cienfuegos had been found on "an island off southern Cuba".[70] Cienfuegos was later celebrated as a Cuban martyr.[71]
  • The character of Astérix the Gaul made his debut, appearing in the first regular issue of the comic magazine Pilote.[72]
  • The Arkansas State Press, an African-American weekly newspaper founded in 1941 by Lucious Bates, published its last issue. During its 14 years, the newspaper had lobbied to end racial discrimination in Arkansas.[73] 0
  • Died: Sisavang Vong, 74, King of Laos, since independence an King of Luang Prabang during the French colonial period since 1904, died in Luang Phrabang. He was succeeded by Crown Prince Savang Vatthana, who would be the last monarch.[74]

October 30, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

October 31, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

Lee Oswald USMC
  • Lee Harvey Oswald entered the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and told officer Richard Edward Snyder that he wished to renounce his American citizenship. Snyder accepted Oswald's passport and a written note, but told Oswald that further paperwork would need to be completed. Oswald did not complete the process and returned to the United States in 1962.[80] News of the defection made the front pages of American newspapers four years before he would resurface as the accused assassin of John F. Kennedy.[81]
  • Born: Neal Stephenson, American sci-fi author (The Diamond Age) writer, in Fort Meade, Maryland


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