This Day in History: Sept. 19

On this day, Sept. 19 ...

1982: The smiley emoticon is invented by Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman, who suggested punctuating humorously intended computer messages with a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis as a horizontal "smiley face." :-)

Also on this day:


  • 1881: James A. Garfield, 20th president of the United States, dies in New Jersey two-and-a-half months after being shot in Washington by Charles Guiteau; Chester Alan Arthur becomes president.
  • 1934: Bruno Hauptmann is arrested in New York and charged with the kidnap-murder of 20-month-old Charles A. Lindbergh Jr.
  • 1955: President Juan Peron of Argentina is deposed and exiled after a military coup.
  • 1957: The United States conducts its first underground nuclear test in the Nevada desert.
Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper on the set of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper on the set of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." (Getty Images)

  • 1970: The "Mary Tyler Moore" show premieres on CBS.
  • 1985: The Mexico City area is struck by a devastating earthquake that kills at least 9,500 people.
  • 1986: Federal health officials announce the experimental drug AZT will be made available to thousands of AIDS patients. 
  • 2001: The Pentagon orders combat aircraft to the Persian Gulf following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
  • 2008: The Bush administration lays out a bailout plan calling for a takeover of a half-trillion dollars or more in worthless mortgages and other bad debt held by tottering institutions. Relieved investors send stocks soaring on Wall Street and around the globe.