This Day In History : January 6

1980 United States

The Beginning of the GPS epoch

The beginning of the first GPS epoch occurred in January 1980. This marked the start of the modern Global Positioning System (GPS), a satellite-based navigation system originally developed by the United States Department of Defense for military use. The epoch is crucial as it defines the start of time calculations and positioning data used by GPS satellites and receivers worldwide.

Also on This Day in History January 6

Discover what happened on January 6 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, January 6
  • 1906 George Ledyard Stebbins

    American geneticist who was one of the leading evolutionary biologists.

  • 1865 Nikolay Yakovlevich Marr

    Russian archaeologist, ethnographer and linguist, who contributed to the language studies and archaeology of the Caucasus.

  • 1795 Anselme Payen

    French chemist who made important contributions to industrial chemistry and discovered cellulose, a basic constituent of plant cells.

  • 1745 Jacques Étienne Montgolfier

    French ballooning pioneer, who with his brother Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, developed the hot-air balloon and conducted the first untethered flights.

  • 1944 Rolf M. Zinkernagel

    Swiss immunologist and pathologist who received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1996 because of his relatively early work with colleague Peter Doherty defining the system by which the immune system identifies friend and foe.

Deaths on This Day, January 6
  • 1988 Bern Dibner

    Ukrainian-American engineer and science historian who worked as an engineer during the electrification of Cuba.

  • 1945 Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky

    Russian geochemist and mineralogist who was a founder of the specialist sciences of geochemistry and biogeochemistry.

  • 1918 Georg Cantor

    Georg (Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp) Cantor was a Russian-German mathematician who created modern set theory and extended it to give the concept of transfinite numbers,with cardinal and ordinal number classes.

  • 1884 Gregor Mendel

    Gregor Johann Mendel was an Austrian botanist, geneticist and monk who pioneered in the study of heredity.

  • 1990 Pavel A. Cherenkov

    Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov was a Soviet physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 1958 with Ilya Frank and Igor Tamm for the discovery of Cherenkov radiation, made in 1934.


First U.S. adult heart transplant

In 1971, the first adult heart transplant in the U.S. was performed at the Stanford Medical Center, Stanford, Calif., by Dr. Norman Shumway.

Synthetic growth hormones

In 1971, Berkeley chemists announced the first synthetic production of growth hormones.

Vietnam held its first general election

National Assembly elections were held in areas controlled by North Vietnam on 6 January 1946. Held under the 1946 constitution, they resulted in a victory for the Communist-led Việt Minh, which won 182 of the 302 seats, although the distribution of seats between parties had been decided before the elections.

New Mexico Becomes the 47th State of the United States

On January 6, 1912, New Mexico officially became the 47th state to join the United States. Located in the southwestern region of the country, New Mexico's statehood followed a period of territorial status and marked a significant milestone in its history. It is known for its rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes, and contributions to the nation's arts, sciences, and economy.
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