This Day In History : December 20

1960 Vietnam

National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) Formed in South Vietnam

The National Liberation Front (NLF), commonly known as the Viet Cong, was officially formed on December 20, 1960, in South Vietnam. Comprising communist forces and sympathizers opposed to the government of South Vietnam and its allies, the NLF played a significant role in the Vietnam War, aiming to unify Vietnam under communist rule.

Also on This Day in History December 20

Discover what happened on December 20 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, December 20
  • 1901 Robert Jemison Van de Graaff

    American physicist and inventor of the Van de Graaff generator, a type of high-voltage electrostatic generator that can be used as a particle accelerator in atomic research.

  • 1868 Harvey S. Firestone

    Harvey S(amuel) Firestone was an American industrialist who developed straight-side pneumatic tyres used on the Model T Fords.

  • 1890 Jaroslav Heyrovský

    Czech chemist who received the 1959 Nobel Prize for Chemistry "for his discovery and development of the polarographic methods of analysis" (1922), which is one of the most versatile analytical techniques.

  • 1876 Walter Adams

    Walter Sydney Adams was an American astronomer who is best known for his spectroscopic studies of sunspots, the rotation of the Sun, the velocities and distances of thousands of stars, and planetary atmospheres.

  • 1935 William Julius Wilson

    Black-American sociologist who is a leading scholar of urban poverty.

Deaths on This Day, December 20
  • 2002 Grote Reber

    U.S. amateur astronomer and radio engineer who self-financed and built the first radio telescope.

  • 1915 Thomas L. Willson

    Thomas Leopold Willson was a Canadian-American chemist and inventor who discovered a commercial production method for calcium carbide using an electric arc furnace.

  • 1993 W. Edwards Deming

    William Edwards Deming was an American statistician, known as the father of “Total Quality Management.”

  • 1590 Ambroise Paré

    French physician, one of the greatest surgeons of the European Renaissance, known as the "father of modern surgery" for his many innovations in operative methods.

  • 1962 Emil Artin

    Austro-German mathematician who worked in algebraic number theory, made a major contribution to field theory, and stated a law of reciprocity which included all previously known laws of reciprocity (1927).


Nuclear electricity

In 1951, the first electricity ever generated by atomic power began flowing from the EBR-1 turbine generator when Walter Zinn and his Argonne National Laboratory staff of scientists brought EBR-1 to criticality (a controlled, self-sustaining chain reaction) with a core about the size of a football.

Giacobini-Zinner comet

In 1900, Michel Giacobini in France discovered a comet, which was rediscovered by a German, Ernst Zinner, on 23 Oct 1913, and since named the Giacobini-Zinner comet.

Great White Way

In 1880, New York Broadway was first lighted by electricity and became known as the “Great White Way.” Charles F. Brush successfully demonstrated his arc lamps along Broadway.

First cotton yarn spun on U.S. made machines

In 1790, the first successful cotton spinning machines built using American resources began production of cotton yarn in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
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