On this day - January 4

NATIONAL DAY OF BURMA

1493: Christopher Columbus sailed from America to Spain in the Nina.

1809: Louis Braille, inventor of the alphabetic system for the blind which bears his name, was born in Paris.

1813: Isaac Pitman, English publisher and inventor of shorthand, was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

1884: The Fabian Society was founded to promote socialist ideals.

1885: The first successful appendix operation was performed by Dr William West Grant, in Iowa.

1929: Australian cricketer Don Bradman made his first Test century, playing against England in Melbourne.

1936: Billboard magazine in New York published the first popular music chart.

1958: Sir Edmund Hillary, with a New Zealand party, reached the South Pole, the first man to do so overland since Captain Scott.

1967: Donald Campbell died attempting to break the world water speed record on Coniston Water in the Lake District.

1972: Rose Heilbron became Britain's first woman judge at the Old Bailey.

1986: Novelist and playwright Christopher Isherwood died. His novel Goodbye To Berlin was adapted as the musical Cabaret.

1993: P&O European Ferries announced the closure of its passenger service between Dover and Boulogne after 170 years.

2009: Colin Freeman, the Sunday Telegraph's chief foreign correspondent, was released by Somalian kidnappers after 40 days in captivity.

ON THIS DAY LAST YEAR: The first person in the UK to have a hand transplant described how he was most looking forward to holding his grandson's hand.

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