Special Report

The Biggest News Story Every Year Since 1950

Source: James the photographer / Wikimedia Commons

1997: Machine tops chess champ
> Date: May 11
> Location: New York City

Artificial intelligence and machine learning notched a significant victory in 1997, when IBM’s Deep Blue machine defeated a world chess champion. The refrigerator-sized computer lost to grandmaster Garry Kasparov in the first match but proceeded to beat him twice and tie him three times in the next five games.

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

1998: The age of Google begins
> Date: Sept. 4
> Location: Menlo Park, California

With seed money from Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos among others, Stanford University Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched the search engine Google. The digital behemoth Google Inc., now Alphabet Inc., is an $863 billion company with several subsidiaries, including YouTube, autonomous-car development company Waymo, and X, the company’s research and development division.

Source: Steve Eason / Getty Images

1999: NATO’s first independent strike
> Date: March 24
> Location: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

In order to get Yugoslav forces out of Kosovo during the Kosovo War, NATO forces initiated their first-ever military campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Montenegro and Serbia) without U.N. Security Council authorization as Russia and China opposed the attack. The NATO air strikes aimed at stopping an onslaught against ethnic Albanians by the government of Slobodan Milošević. The NATO attacks lasted nearly three months, culminating in the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo.

Source: NASA / Getty Images

2000: International Space Station opens
> Date: Nov. 2
> Location: Low earth orbit

Commanders Bill Shepherd from the United States and Yuri Gidzenko of Russia, along with Russian flight engineer Sergei Krikalev, became the first temporary residents of the International Space Station. There have been 239 total visitors to the ISS, some of them multiple times, led by 151 from the United States and 47 from Russia.

Source: Mario Tama / Getty Images


2001: 9/11
> Date: Sept. 11
> Location: Multiple

In the worst attack on U.S. soil since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, 19 hijackers inspired by Islamist extremism killed nearly 3,000 people by crashing three passenger-laden commercial aircraft into the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth plane, United Airlines 93, crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew attempted to regain control of the plane headed to Washington D.C.

Source: Senate TV / Getty Images

2002: Homeland Security Act
> Date: Nov. 25
> Location: Washington D.C.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush enacted the Homeland Security Act, the biggest government reorganization of national security efforts since the Department of Defense was created in 1947. The sweeping legislation created the massive Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for everything from protecting infrastructure from cyber attacks to managing the new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Source: christiaanbriggs / Flickr

2003: US invades Iraq
> Date: March 19
> Location: Iraq

With the help of British and other allied forces, the United States began its invasion of Iraq with a rapid bombing campaign called Shock and Awe with the intention of destroying Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction; the weapons were never found. Coalition forces managed to quickly topple the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein but had to fight insurgent forces for years afterward.

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

2004: Facebook founded
> Date: Feb. 4
> Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard University student, created The Facebook, a local social networking site named after the orientation materials given to incoming freshmen. Within 15 years, Facebook became a $512 billion digital advertising behemoth so integral to many people’s lives that it is criticized for helping foreign powers and propagandists influence the U.S. political system.

Source: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

2005: Katrina overwhelms New Orleans
> Date: Aug. 29
> Location: U.S. Gulf Coast

After spending four days in the Gulf of Mexico bulking up to a category 5 hurricane, Katrina slammed into New Orleans, inundating the city and creating a humanitarian crisis that lasted for weeks. The catastrophe underscored the precarious situation not only in the Big Easy, but also the surrounding area of the Gulf Coast. At least 1,833 people in the storm’s path were killed, and the storm inflicted $161 billion in damages to the region, the costliest storm in U.S. history.

Source: Salah Malkawi / Getty Images

2006: Hussein executed
> Date: Dec. 30
> Location: Baghdad

Three years after U.S. soldiers pulled him from a hole in the ground where he had been hiding, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was hanged. Hussein was convicted for crimes against humanity, specifically for ordering the massacre of 148 Shiites in 1982 following a failed assassination attempt against him.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.