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Sunday, August 7, 2005

Today in History: August 7

1560: Countess Elizabeth Báthory, one of Europe’s most celebrated serial killers, is born at Nyírbátor in present-day Hungary. Estimates of her victims range from 20 to 2,000, but it’s never actually been proved that she liked to take baths in their blood.

1789: The U.S. Congress creates the War Department. Henry Knox, owner of Boston’s London Book Store, is the first Secretary of War.

1817: Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, the French economist and statesman who twice fled to America to avoid execution, dies shortly after fighting a fire at the gunpowder plant founded by his son on the Brandywine River in Delaware.

1944: IBM delivers the first Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator -- the first real electronic computer -- to Harvard University. It’s 51 feet long, 8 feet high, 2 feet deep, and weighs 5 tons.

1965: Singapore is expelled from its federation with Malaysia, due in large part to its opposition to affirmative action programs for Malays which are seen to disadvantage the city’s Chinese population.

1981: After 128 years of publication, the Washington Star folds, leaving the nation’s capital (temporarily, at least) as a one-newspaper town.

1990: It’s a numerolgist’s dream at At 12:34:56 (both a.m. and p.m.), the time and date are 12:34:56 7/8/90 -- or 1234567890.

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