Special Report

The Biggest News Story Every Year Since 1950

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

2007: The iPhone
> Date: Jan. 9
> Location: San Francisco

Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed the iPhone, which became one of the most popular branded consumer electronic devices in history. Since the first generation phone that Jobs introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show that year, there have been 24 versions of the mobile device, and more than 2.2 billion units were sold globally through 2018, when Apple stopped reporting iPhone sales. Only Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone comes close to that volume.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

2008: Dow plunges
> Date: Sept. 29
> Location: New York City

The Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded what was then the largest-ever intraday drop in points, 777.68, after Congress rejected a massive $700 billion bailout of U.S. banks. The bill would pass days later. The market reacted to months of global market turmoil amid the 2008 global financial crisis spurred by the U.S. subprime mortgage market crash. The Dow fell by more than half during the 2007-2009 Great Recession, tumbling from 14,164 on Oct. 9, 2007 to 6,594 on March 5, 2009.

Source: Chuck Kennedy-Pool / Getty Images

2009: America’s first African-American president
> Date: Jan. 20
> Location: Washington D.C.

After winning in a landslide against Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, amassing 365 electoral votes and 53% of the popular vote, Barack Obama was sworn in as the first African American president of the United States. Obama inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, but with his party holding majorities in both houses of Congress at the time, the president passed a stimulus package and his signature Affordable Care Act.

Source: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

2010: Catastrophic oil spill
> Date: April 20
> Location: Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana

Eleven workers died and 17 were injured after an explosion and fire erupted on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig 40 miles from the Louisiana coast. The explosion caused the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, spewing 3 million barrels of crude oil over the three months it took to stop the leak. British oil company BP says costs from the clean-up, legal fees, and settlements reached $65 billion.

Source: franckreporter / Getty Images

2011: Bin Laden killed
> Date: May 2
> Location: Abbottabad, Pakistan

In an intense 40-minute nighttime operation, 25 U.S. Navy SEALs hunted down and killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Within hours, bin Laden’s body was identified using facial recognition technology and then buried in the Arabian Sea.

Source: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

2012: The ‘God Particle’ is (Probably) Discovered
> Date: July 4
> Location: Near Geneva

Nearly 600 feet below the France-Switzerland border at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider Facility, an international team of scientists discovered a new particle widely believed to be the elusive Higgs boson particle. Known as the “God Particle,” it is thought to be a fundamental component of the universe. The Higgs boson had been an important element of particle physics theory for decades, but until 2012 there had been no physical evidence to support its existence.

Source: Handout / Getty Images

2013: Snowden reveals secrets
> Date: June 6
> Location: Hong Kong

After surreptitiously leaving his job at U.S. National Security Agency contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, computer security consultant Edward Snowden met secretly in Hong Kong with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Snowden revealed the first of a series of secrets about numerous U.S. and European government surveillance operations. Hailed as a courageous whistleblower and privacy champion by some and a traitor that compromised counterterrorism efforts by others, the American now resides in exile in Moscow.

Source: Alexander Aksakov / Getty Images

2014: Russia invades Ukraine
> Date: March 16
> Location: Crimea

Exploiting political unrest in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. The action incited condemnation from world leaders and a raft of economic sanctions against Moscow. This strategically important and predominantly Russian-speaking region surrounded by the Black Sea was coveted by the Russians as part of their strategic efforts to check NATO expansion along Russia’s western border.

Source: NASA / Getty Images

2015: NASA flies by Pluto
> Date: July 14
> Location: 3 billion miles from Earth

NASA spacecraft New Horizons became the first human-made object to fly past and observe the dwarf planet Pluto. New Horizons sent back stunning photographs of this enigmatic and distant member of the solar system, including images of a mountain range and massive iceberg-like masses floating in frozen nitrogen.

Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images


2016: Trump elected
> Date: Nov. 8
> Location: U.S.

Running on a populist agenda, Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States and the fifth president in U.S. history to win despite losing the popular vote. The real estate developer and television personality ran on a platform of putting “America First” in global trade and foreign policy negotiations and cracking down on undocumented immigrants.