Today In History, 31 December: What Happened On This Day

What happened today in history (31 December): Establishment of British East India Company, births of Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley, demise of Kader Khan, identification of the Covid-19 virus, end of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijacking, and more.
This day in history (31 Dec): Establishment of the British East India Company
This day in history (31 Dec): Establishment of the British East India Company

Today in History: It’s New Year’s Eve today, and 2023 is almost here. As we bid goodbye to the wonderful year of 2022, let’s have a look at the historical significance of its last month. Today is 31 December. The day doesn’t evoke much beyond the desire to party hard, but December 31 holds a pivotal place in world history.

From the births of two of the greatest actors in history, the demise of an iconic comic actor of India, and the formation of the British East India Company, to the identification of the COVID-19 virus in Wuhan, China, many important events took place on December 31st.

Read on to know what happened on this day (Dec. 31) in sports, politics and art, along with famous birthdays and deaths in world history.

Historical Events On This Day

  • In 1600, the British East India Company was formed by an English royal charter.
  • In 1744, English astronomer James Bradley announced the discovery of Earth’s nutation motion (wobble).
  • In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as Canada’s capital.
  • In 1879, Thomas Edison demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public for the first time.
  • In 1911, Polish physicist Marie Curie received her second Nobel Prize, in chemistry, for her contribution to radioactivity.
  • In 1935, Charles Darrow patented the popular game of Monopoly, becoming the first millionaire game designer.
  • In 1946, American President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of World War II.
  • In 1997, Microsoft bought the popular email service Hotmail and relaunched it as MSN Hotmail.
  • In 1999, the Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijacking ended in Kandahar with the release of 190 survivors in exchange for three Islamic terrorists imprisoned in India.
  • In 1999, the last day of the 20th century and the 2nd Millenium was celebrated.
  • In 1999, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin became the acting President after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin.
  • In 2004, Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper at the time, was officially opened and stood at a height of 509 metres.
  • In 2019, the World Health Organization was first informed of mysterious pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, which later turned out to be the COVID-19 virus and sparked a global pandemic.

Sports Events Today

  • In 1952, American boxer Danny Nardico finished former world middleweight champion Jake LaMotta.
  • In 1984, Indian batsman Mohammad Azharuddin made his test cricket debut in a match against England.

Art and Culture Events Today

  • In 1907, Austrian composer Gustav Mahler conducted the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
  • In 1961, the American rock band The Beach Boys performed their first concert for the public.
  • In 2017, revered Indian actor Rajinikanth announced his entry into politics.
  • In 2017, New Zealand singer Lorde was labelled a bigot in an ad in The Washington Post for cancelling her concert in Israel.

Notable Deaths On This Day

Sr No

Death Year




Robert Boyle, Anglo-Irish philosopher, writer and scientist who is considered the first modern chemist



Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher who gave the idea “the medium is the message”



Rick Nelson, American singer and actor who starred in the series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet



Kader Khan, Acclaimed Indian actor known for his impeccable comic timing in films like Raja Babu, Dulhe Raja and Coolie No. 1



Betty White, beloved American actress known for starring in the sitcoms The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls

Famous Birthdays On This Day

Sr No

Birth Year




Jacques Cartier, French navigator and explorer who mapped and named Canada



Henri Matisse, French artist regarded as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century



Anthony Hopkins, Welsh actor renowned for his intense performances in films like The Silence of the Lambs and The Father



Ben Kingsley, British actor of Indian origin who played the titular revolutionary in the 1982 classic film Gandhi



Dawood Ibrahim, notorious Indian crime boss and terrorist who spread havoc in Mumbai in the 1990s



Val Kilmer, American actor who played Batman in Batman Forever



Nicholas Sparks,  American novelist and author of several best-selling romance novels like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember



Psy, South Korean singer and rapper who rose to fame with his 2012 pop song Gangnam Style

Also Read | Today in History (30 December)

Also Read | Today in History (29 December)

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