World Wide Web (WWW) launches in the public domain

Year
1993
Month Day
April 30

On April 30, 1993, four years after publishing a proposal for “an idea of linked information systems,” computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee released the source code for the world’s first web browser and editor. Originally called Mesh, the browser that he dubbed WorldWideWeb became the first royalty-free, easy-to-use means of browsing the emerging information network that developed into the internet as we know it today.

READ MORE: The Invention of the Internet

Berners-Lee was a fellow at CERN, the research organization headquartered in Switzerland. Other research institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University had developed complex systems for internally sharing information, and Berners-Lee sought a means of connecting CERN’s system to others. He outlined a plan for such a network in 1989 and developed it over the following years. The computer he used, a NeXT desktop, became the world’s first internet server. Berners-Lee wrote and published the first web page, a simplistic outline of the WorldWideWeb project, in 1991.

CERN began sharing access with other institutions, and soon opened it up to the general public. In releasing the source code for the project to the public domain two years later, Berners-Lee essentially opened up access to the project to anyone in the world, making it free and (relatively) easy to explore the nascent internet.

Simple Web browsers like Mosaic appeared a short time later, and before long the Web had become by far the most popular system of its kind. Within a matter of years, Berners-Lee’s invention had revolutionized information-sharing and, in doing so, had dramatically altered the way that human beings communicated. The creation and globalization of the web is widely considered one of the most transformational events in human history. 4.39 billion people, including you, are now estimated to use the internet, accounting for over half the global population. The average American now spends 24 hours a week online. The internet’s rise has been the greatest expansion in information access in human history, has led to the exponential growth in the total amount of data in the world, and has facilitated a spread of knowledge, ideas and social movements that was unthinkable as recently as the 1990s.

READ MORE: The World’s First Web Site 

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Astronaut Ellen Ochoa becomes the first Hispanic woman in space

Year
1993
Month Day
April 08

On April 8, 1993, the space shuttle Discovery lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center. On board is astronaut Ellen Ochoa, soon to become the first Hispanic woman in space.

Ochoa started at NASA in 1988 after receiving a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Two years later, she was selected as an astronaut. On her first mission, Ochoa served as a Mission Specialist on a 9-day space flight, the primary mission of which was to study Earth’s ozone layer. She went on to fly three more space shuttle missions, one of which conducted further atmospheric research and two of which carried components to the International Space Station. Over the course of her four flights, Ochoa compiled a total time of 40 days, 19 hours, and 35 minutes in space.

In addition to her extra-planetary contributions, Ochoa has served the cause of space exploration in a number of ways from Earth. She holds several patents for technologies related to automated space exploration and served as Director of the Johnson Space Center—the first Hispanic director and the second woman to hold the position—from 2013 to 2018. Among numerous other awards, she has received NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal.

READ MORE: When Sally Ride Took Her First Space Flight, Sexism Was the Norm

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Mail bomb injures Yale professor

Year
1993
Month Day
June 24

On June 24, 1993, Yale University computer science professor David Gelernter is seriously injured while opening his mail when a padded envelope explodes in his hands. The attack just came two days after a University of California geneticist was injured by a similar bomb and was the latest in a string of bombings since 1978 that authorities believed to be related.

In the aftermath of the attack on Gelernter, various federal departments established the UNABOM Task Force, which launched an intensive search for the so-called “Unabomber.” The bombings, along with 14 others since 1978 that killed 3 people and injured 23 others, were eventually linked to Theodore John Kaczynski, a former mathematician from Chicago. Kaczynski won a scholarship to study mathematics at Harvard University at age 16. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, he became a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Although celebrated as a brilliant mathematician, he suffered from persistent social and emotional problems, and in 1969 abruptly ended his promising career. Disillusioned with the world around him, he tried to buy land in the Canadian wilderness but in 1971 settled for a 1.4-acre plot near his brother’s home in Montana.

READ MORE: Why the Unabomber Evaded Arrest for 17 Years

For the next 25 years, Kaczynski lived as a hermit, occasionally working odd jobs and traveling but mostly living off his land. He developed a philosophy of radical environmentalism and militant opposition to modern technology, and tried to get academic essays on the subjects published. It was the rejection of one of his papers by two Chicago-area universities in 1978 that may have prompted him to manufacture and deliver his first mail bomb.

The package was addressed to the University of Illinois from Northwestern University, but was returned to Northwestern, where a security guard was seriously wounded while opening the suspicious package. In 1979, Kaczynski struck again at Northwestern, injuring a student at the Technological Institute. Later that year, his third bomb exploded on an American Airlines flight, causing injuries from smoke inhalation. In 1980, a bomb mailed to the home of Percy Wood, the president of United Airlines, injured Wood when he tried to open it. As Kaczynski seemed to be targeting universities and airlines, federal investigators began calling their suspect the Unabomber, an acronym of sorts for university, airline and bomber.

From 1981 to 1985, there were seven more bombs, four at universities, one at a professor’s home, one at the Boeing Company in Auburn, Washington and one at a computer store in Sacramento. Six people were injured, and in 1985 the owner of the computer store was killed–the Unabomber’s first murder. In 1987, a woman saw a man wearing aviator glasses and a hooded sweatshirt placing what turned out to be a bomb outside a computer store in Salt Lake City. The sketch of the suspect that emerged became the first representation of the Unabomber, and Kaczynski, fearing capture, halted his terrorist campaign for six years, until the bombings of June 1993. In 1994, another mail bomb killed an advertising executive at his home in New Jersey. In April 1995, a bomb killed the president of a timber-industry lobbying group.

This was to be the Unabomber’s final attack. With the help of Kaczynski’s older brother David, FBI agents gathered evidence against him and on April 3, 1996, arrested him in a remote Montana cabin. On May 4, 1998, Kaczynski was sentenced to four life terms in prison after pleading guilty in order to escape the death penalty.

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New floating bridge opens in Seattle; I-90 stretches from coast to coast

Year
1993
Month Day
September 12

On September 12, 1993, the rebuilt Lacey V. Murrow Bridge over Lake Washington opens in Seattle. The new bridge, which was actually the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 (the westbound lanes cross the lake on a separate bridge), connects the city and its eastern suburbs. It replaced the original Murrow Bridge, the first floating concrete bridge in the world, which was destroyed by a flood in November 1990.

In December 1938, Washington governor Clarence Martin and Lacey V. Murrow, the director of the Washington Toll Bridge Authority, broke ground on what would be the largest floating structure in the world: the Lake Washington Floating Bridge, also known as the Mercer Island Bridge, between Seattle to the west and Bellevue, Washington, to the east. (It was renamed for Murrow in 1967.) At the time the bridge was built, it carried US Route 10 across the lake; a few decades later, that highway became Interstate 90. The bridge was a Public Works Administration-financed project designed to give work to unemployed Washingtonians and to make the towns across the lake from Seattle more accessible to suburban development.

When the bridge opened in 1940, the Seattle Times called it “the biggest thing afloat.” It was almost two miles long, contained 100,000 tons of steel, floated on more than 20 hollow concrete pontoons, and carried 5,000 cars each day. (By 1989, its daily load was closer to 100,000 cars.)

In 1990, while the bridge was closed for repairs, construction workers punched giant holes in the pontoons that kept it afloat and went home for the weekend. A few days of rain and high winds filled the pontoons with water, and the bridge broke apart and sank.

Repairing it was no easy task: The sinking pontoons had pulled more than a half-mile of highway into the lake with them, and the structure needed to be rebuilt from scratch. This project took three years and cost $93 million. When the bridge finally reopened, it closed one of the last remaining gaps in the interstate highway system: a person could drive from Boston to Seattle without ever leaving I-90.

READ MORE: The Epic Road Trip That Inspired the Interstate Highway System

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Fleetwood Mac reunites to play “Don’t Stop” at Bill Clinton’s first inaugural ball


Year
1993
Month Day
January 19

On January 19, 1993, the band Fleetwood Mac reunites to perform at the recently elected U.S. President Bill Clinton’s first inaugural gala.

Fleetwood Mac had faced much intra-band squabbling since their 1970s heyday, why they released one of the biggest albums of all time—Rumours—and a string of decade-defining hits like “Landslide,” “Rhiannon,” “Say You Love Me” and “Go Your Own Way.” And then, of course, there was “Don’t Stop” (as in “thinking about tomorrow”), which was candidate Bill Clinton’s unofficial theme song during the 1992 presidential campaign.

Along with Truman’s “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” Eisenhower’s “I Like Ike” and Ross Perot’s “Crazy,” Clinton’s “Don’t Stop” can certainly be placed within the catchy-and-memorable subset of Presidential campaign songs—in contrast to, say, “Buckle Down with Nixon,”  “Get on a Raft with Taft” and “Huzzah for Madison.” Clinton’s theme song may have lacked specificity regarding his political agenda, but it had a good beat, a warm vibe and a chorus that audiences could sing along to. Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 recording of “Don’t Stop” played in a seemingly endless loop from the night of Clinton’s nomination at the 1992 Democratic National Convention that previous summer through to election night in November, so that by the time January rolled around, the mere playing of the record would have seemed a disappointing way to end the evening of the inaugural ball.

And so the Clinton transition team sprang into action and accomplished a political feat that certainly seemed to bode well for the new president’s ambitious plans to bring peace and stability to Haiti and overhaul the nation’s health-care system. It had been more than five years since Lindsay Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks had shared a stage, but in a true coup of diplomacy, the Clinton team convinced the entire Rumours-era lineup of Fleetwood Mac to reunite for a truly historic live performance of “Don’t Stop” on this day in 1993.

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NAFTA signed into law

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Clinton said he hoped the agreement would encourage other nations to work toward a broader world-trade pact.

NAFTA, a trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico, eliminated virtually all tariffs and trade restrictions between the three nations. The passage of NAFTA was one of Clinton’s first major victories as the first Democratic president in 12 years—though the movement for free trade in North America had begun as a Republican initiative.

During its planning stages, NAFTA was heavily criticized by Reform Party presidential candidate Ross Perot, who argued that if NAFTA was passed, Americans would hear a “giant sucking sound” of American companies fleeing the United States for Mexico, where employees would work for less pay and without benefits. The pact, which took effect on January 1, 1994, created the world’s largest free-trade zone.

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Romanov remains identified using DNA

Year
1993
Month Day
July 09

British forensic scientists announce that they have positively identified the remains of Russia’s last czar, Nicholas II; his wife, Czarina Alexandra; and three of their daughters. The scientists used mitochondria DNA fingerprinting to identify the bones, which had been excavated from a mass grave near Yekaterinburg in 1991.

On the night of July 16, 1918, three centuries of the Romanov dynasty came to an end when Bolshevik troops executed Nicholas and his family. The details of the execution and the location of their final resting place remained a Soviet secret for more than six decades. Lacking physical evidence, rumors spread through Europe in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, telling of a Romanov child, usually the youngest daughter, Anastasia, who had survived the carnage. In the 1920s, there were several claimants to the title of Grand Duchess Anastasia. The most convincing was Anna Anderson, who turned up in Berlin in 1922 claiming to be Anastasia. In 1968, Anderson emigrated to Charlottesville, Virginia, where she died in 1984.

READ MORE: The Romanov Family Tree: Real Descendants and Wannabes

In 1991, Russian amateur investigators, using a recently released government report on the Romanov execution, found what they thought to be the Romanov burial site. Russian authorities exhumed human remains. Scientists studied the skulls, claiming that Anastasia’s was among those found, but the Russian findings were not conclusive. To prove that the remains were indisputably those of the Romanovs, the Russians enlisted the aid of British DNA experts.

First, the scientists tested for gender and identified five females and four males among the remains. Next they tested to see how, if at all, these people were related. A father and mother were identified, along with three daughters. The four other remains were likely those of servants. The son Alexei and one daughter were missing.

To prove the identity of Alexandra and her children, the scientists took blood from Prince Philip, the consort of Queen Elizabeth II and the grand nephew of Alexandra. Because they all share a common maternal ancestor, they would all share mitochondria DNA, which is passed almost unchanged from mother to children. The comparison between the mtDNA in Philip’s blood and in the remains was positive, proving them to be the Romanovs. To prove the czar’s identity, who did not share this mtDNA, the remains of Grand Duke George, the brother of Nicholas, were exhumed. A comparison of their mtDNA proved their relationship.

READ MORE: Why Czar Nicholas II and the Romanovs Were Murdered

The Crown Prince Alexei and one Romanov daughter were not accounted for, adding fuel to the persistent legend that Anastasia had survived execution. Was it possible that Anastasia had escaped and resurfaced as Anna Anderson? 

In 1994, American and English scientists attempted to answer this question once and for all. Using a tissue sample of Anderson’s recovered from a Virginia hospital, the English team compared her mtDNA with that of the Romanovs. Simultaneously, an American team compared the mtDNA found in a strand of her hair. Both teams came to the same decisive conclusion: Anna Anderson was not a Romanov. In 1995, a Russian government commission studying the remains presented what it claimed was proof that one of the skeletons was in fact Anastasia’s, and that the missing Romanov daughter was, in fact, Maria.

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President Clinton punishes Iraq for plot to kill George H.W. Bush

Year
1993
Month Day
June 26

In retaliation for an Iraqi plot to assassinate former U.S. President George H.W. Bush during his April visit to Kuwait, President Bill Clinton orders U.S. warships to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraqi intelligence headquarters in downtown Baghdad.

On April 13, 1993, the day before George Bush was scheduled to visit Kuwait and be honored for his victory in the Persian Gulf War, Kuwaiti authorities foiled a car-bomb plot to assassinate him. Fourteen suspects, most of them Iraqi nationals, were arrested, and the next day their massive car bomb was discovered in Kuwait City. Citing “compelling evidence” of the direct involvement of Iraqi intelligence in the assassination attempt, President Clinton ordered a retaliatory attack against their alleged headquarters in the Iraqi capital on June 26. Twenty-three Tomahawk missiles, each costing more than a million dollars, were fired off the USS Peterson in the Red Sea and the cruiser USS Chancellorsville in the Persian Gulf, destroying the building and, according to Iraqi accounts, killing several civilians.

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World Trade Center is bombed


Year
1993
Month Day
February 26

At 12:18 p.m., a terrorist bomb explodes in a parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City, leaving a crater 60 feet wide and causing the collapse of several steel-reinforced concrete floors in the vicinity of the blast. 

Although the terrorist bomb failed to critically damage the main structure of the skyscrapers, six people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured. The World Trade Center itself suffered more than $500 million in damage. After the attack, authorities evacuated 50,000 people from the buildings, hundreds of whom were suffering from smoke inhalation. The evacuation lasted the whole afternoon.

City authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) undertook a massive manhunt for suspects, and within days several radical Islamic fundamentalists were arrested. In March 1994, Mohammed Salameh, Ahmad Ajaj, Nidal Ayyad, and Mahmoud Abouhalima were convicted by a federal jury for their role in the bombing, and each was sentenced to life in prison. Salameh, a Palestinian, was arrested when he went to retrieve the $400 deposit he had left for the Ryder rental van used in the attack. Ajaj and Ayyad, who both played a role in the construction of the bomb, were arrested soon after. Abouhalima, who helped buy and mix the explosives, fled to Saudi Arabia but was caught in Egypt two weeks later.

The mastermind of the attack–Ramzi Ahmed Yousef–remained at large until February 1995, when he was arrested in Pakistan. He had previously been in the Philippines, and in a computer he left there were found terrorist plans that included a plot to kill Pope John Paul II and a plan to bomb 15 American airliners in 48 hours. On the flight back to the United States, Yousef reportedly admitted to a Secret Service agent that he had directed the Trade Center attack from the beginning and even claimed to have set the fuse that exploded the 1,200-pound bomb. His only regret, the agent quoted Yousef saying, was that the 110-story tower did not collapse into its twin as planned–a catastrophe that would have caused thousands of deaths.

READ MORE: How the Design of the World Trade Center Claimed Lives on 9/11

Eyad Ismoil, who drove the Ryder van into the parking garage below the World Trade Center, was captured in Jordan that year and taken back to New York. All the men implicated had ties to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a radical Egyptian religious leader who operated out of Jersey City, New Jersey, located just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. In 1995, Rahman and 10 followers were convicted of conspiring to blow up the United Nations headquarters and other New York landmarks. Prosecutors argued that the World Trade Center attack was part of that conspiracy, though little clear evidence of this charge was presented.

In November 1997, Yousef and Ismoil were convicted in a courtroom only a few blocks away from the twin towers and subsequently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Only one other man believed to be directly involved in the attack, Iraqi Abdul Rahman Yasin, remains at large.

After the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, U.S. investigators began to suspect that Yousef had ties to Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, the head of the anti-U.S. al Qaeda terrorist network. Whether bin Laden was in fact involved in the 1993 Twin Tower attacks has not been determined, but on September 11, 2001, two groups of al Qaeda terrorists finished the job begun by Yousef, crashing two hijacked airliners into the north and south tower of the World Trade Center. 

The structural steel of the skyscrapers could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel, and both collapsed within two hours of being struck. Close to 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center and its vicinity, including a staggering 343 firefighters and 23 policemen who were struggling to complete the evacuation and save the office workers trapped on higher floors. Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived. Almost 10,000 other people were treated for injuries, many severe.

READ MORE: 9/11: Rebuilding of Ground Zero

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Kim Campbell becomes Canada’s first female prime minister

Year
1993
Month Day
June 25

In Ottawa, Kim Campbell is sworn in as Canada’s 19th prime minister, becoming the first woman to hold the country’s highest office.

Born in Port Alberni, British Columbia, in 1947, Campbell studied law and political science before entering Canadian politics during the 1980s. In 1986, she was elected to the British Columbia legislature as a Conservative, and two years later she was appointed minister of Indian affairs by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. In 1988, she became the first female to hold the office of Canadian attorney general and proved instrumental in the movement to increase gun control in Canada. In 1993, Campbell was appointed minister of national defense and veterans’ affairs.

READ MORE: 7 Women Leaders Who Were Elected to Highest Office

Two months later, Prime Minister Mulroney announced his resignation, and Campbell was encouraged to run for the Conservative Party leadership. In a close contest, she was elected at a national convention on June 13 and on June 25 took office as Canada’s first female prime minister. Prime Minister Campbell won widespread public approval, but the Conservative mandate to govern had nearly expired, and she was forced to call for a general election to be held in October. 

On October 25, 1993, the Conservatives’ nine years as Canada’s ruling party came to a decisive end. Voters had become disenchanted with the party after enduring higher taxes and constitutional crisis under Mulroney, and the Conservatives were reduced to just two seats in the House of Commons. Campbell herself lost her Vancouver seat and retired from politics. She returned to academic life, accepting a fellowship at Harvard University. Later, she served as Canada’s Consul General to Las Vegas

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