On this day, April 4

Published Apr 4, 2024


Nato created, the Beatles set a record or five, Microsoft is founded, the Angolan civil war finally ends, US troops booted out of France and the Elon Musk takeover of Twitter begins

1841 William Henry Harrison becomes the first US president to die in office (of typhoid fever), and sets the record for the briefest administration (31 days).

1875 Karl Mauch (37), the first person to discover gold in SA, dies in poverty in Stuttgart, Germany. His discoveries included the Witwatersrand and Lydenburg gold reefs.

1889 Henry Allen Fagan, chief justice (1957-59), cabinet minister and playwright, is born in Tulbagh. A significant figure in the rise of Afrikaner nationalism, he nonetheless became an important opponent of Apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd’s National Party.

1905 An earthquake hits India’s Kangra Valley, killing 20 000 people.

1923 Brothers Jack, Harry, Albert and Sam Warner start Warner Brothers Pictures.

1944 An Anglo-American bombardment of Bucharest oil refineries kills 5 000 civilians.

1945 Soviet troops liberate Hungary from German occupation and occupy the country.

1949 Twelve nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty, creating Nato.

1964 The Beatles occupy the top five positions on the Billboard Hot 100, with Can’t Buy Me Love (1), Twist and Shout (2), She Loves You (3), I Want to Hold Your Hand (4), and Please Please Me (5).

1968 US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

1975 Microsoft is founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

1999 Jack Ma founds the Chinese internet company Alibaba.

2002 The Angolan government and Unita rebels end the Angolan Civil War.

2009 France returns to Nato after years on the sidelines after President Charles de Gaulle withdrew in protest at a “special relationship” between the US and the UK. In 1966, all non-French Nato troops were “asked” to leave France; US Secretary of State Dean Rusk asked if that included “bodies of American soldiers in France’s cemeteries?”.

2010 Africa's tallest monument, the 52m tall, bronze, African Renaissance Monument, dedicated outside Dakar, Senegal, designed by Pierre Goudiaby to commemorate Senegal's 50th anniversary of independence

2013 A giant tarantula with a 20cm leg span, is discovered in Sri Lanka

2017 Chinese online store Alibaba becomes the world’s largest retailer.

2022 Eon Musk buys 9.2% of Twitter stock, making him the company’s largest shareholder. In October, he buys the company and begins wholesale changes.

Finland officially joins Natos, becoming its 31st member and doubling Nato’s border with Russia