Following the recap of events from 1975 through 1996, here’s a sampling of further major events during the second half of my lifetime. It’s weird how you sort of feel like things haven’t really changed, and then you look at what has happened and realize that computers and cell phones only showed up recently, while things that dominated everyday life for decades like Communism and Pan-American Airlines disappeared only a short time ago and now seem solely like subjects for the history books.
- April 13, 1997 – Tiger Woods wins his first major golf championship at the Masters, setting records for youngest winner (21), lowest score (-18), and largest margin of victory (12 strokes).
- May 11, 1997 – IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat chess grand master Gary Kasparov in a six game match, the first time that a computer defeated a chess world champion.
- July 9, 1997 – Eleven years after being ousted as CEO of Apple Computer and only months after his return to the company, Steve Jobs is named interim CEO. At that time Apple was losing money and had to negotiate a $150 million investment from Microsoft; in 2012 the company would report a yearly profit of $41.66 billion on $156.5 billion in sales and would have $121.25 billion in cash on hand.
- August 31, 1997 – Princess Diana dies after a high-speed car chase in Paris. Her funeral on September 6 was watched by over two billion people.
- September 4, 1998 – Google is founded in Palo Alto by two Stanford PhD candidates.
- November 25, 1998 – The first module of the International Space Station is launched into orbit from Russia. Humans take up permanent residence on November 2, 2000, meaning that for over thirteen years there has been a continuous human presence in space.
- December 31, 1999 – The US transfers control of the Panama Canal to Panama after 85 years of American operation.
- January 10, 2000 – America Online (AOL) announces an agreement to purchase Time Warner for $164 billion in what was, at that time, the largest-ever corporate merger. In 2002 the failing of AOL would result in a write-off of $99 billion, which was also a record for its time as the largest loss ever reported by a company.
- July 25, 2000 – The Concorde crashes after take-off in Paris, leading to the end of supersonic passenger transport in 2003.
- December 12, 2000 – Thirty-five days after the election, the Bush v Gore Supreme Court decision is announced, leading to George W. Bush being declared the winner of Florida by 537 votes (out of almost six million cast), and thus the next President of the United States.
- January 15, 2001 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, launches.
- September 11, 2001 – September 11 terrorist attacks.
- October 7, 2001 – The War in Afghanistan begins.
- October 23, 2001 – Apple introduces the iPod.
- January 1, 2002 – Euro notes and coins go into circulation in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and the Netherlands.
- February 1, 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia and its seven member crew is lost during re-entry after sustaining damage to its protective tiles during launch. This accident would lead to the end of the shuttle program in 2011.
- March 19, 2003 – The Iraq War begins. US forces would seize Baghdad on April 9, but the war would continue until the last personnel left Iraq in December 2011.
- February 4, 2004 – Facebook launches with membership initially limited to students of Harvard College.
- June 21, 2004 – Spaceship One successfully completes the first privately funded human spaceflight.
- December 26, 2004 – A magnitude 9.3 earthquake in the Indian Ocean spawns a massive tsunami that impacts countries around the world and kills over 180,000 people.
- April 2, 2005 – Pope John Paul II dies. He is succeeded seventeen days later by Pope Benedict XVI.
- August 29, 2005 – Hurricane Katrina makes landfall along the Gulf Coast, killing at least 1,833 people and doing $81 billion in damage.
- January 9, 2007 – Apple introduces the iPhone; it goes on sale June 29, 2007.
- September 15, 2008 – Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy, a major catalyst of the Great Recession.
- September 28, 2008 – The SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket reaches orbit, becoming the first privately developed space launch vehicle to do so.
- January 20, 2009 – Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.
- February 17, 2009 – President Obama signs a $787 billion stimulus package into law as an effort to address the Great Recession.
- June 25, 2009 – Michael Jackson dies just before his 51st birthday, and just prior to a scheduled fifty show tour at London’s O2 Arena.
- January 27, 2010 – Apple announces the iPad.
- March 23, 2010 – President Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) into law.
- April 20, 2010 – The Deepwater Horizon oil platform explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil being released (compared with between 260,000 and 750,000 barrels released during the Exxon Valdez spill) over a period of 87 days.
- January 14, 2011 – After twenty-three years in power the President of Tunisia flees the country following protests. Before the end of the Arab Spring the longtime rulers of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen would all be forced from office.
- March 11, 2011 – A magnitude 9.0 earthquake strikes Japan (the fifth strongest in recorded history) and causes a tsunami that decimates the coast and cripples the Fukushima nuclear reactor.
- July 21, 2011 – Shuttle Atlantis lands following the completion of its mission to the International Space Station, marking the end of the shuttle program after 135 flights.
- March 13, 2013 – Following the resignation of Pope Benedict, Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina is elected as the 266th pope, becoming the first pope from the Americas.