From the first images of Pluto, the introduction of a  new computer language to the 26th Olympic Games, 1996 was an eventful year.

To learn more about the 1996 events mentioned, a 1996 newspaper provides a great way to delve deeper in the past.

1996 Timeline

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January 3: The first flip mobile phone goes on sale. The Motorola StarTAC goes on to sell over 60 million units.

January 6: A record £42 million is won by 3 people in the Lottery in Britain. The winning numbers were 2-3-4-13-42-44.

January 8: 50 are killed due to blizzards on the East Coast of the US.

January 10: Israel frees hundreds of its Palestinian prisoners.

January 10: Israel receives a visit from King Hussein of Jordan.

January 11: Endeavour 10, Space Shuttle STS 72, launches into space.

January 17: Iraq agrees to enter talks about a United Nations plan to allow the sale of $1 billion of Israeli oil. The proceeds of the sale would go towards humanitarian purposes.

January 21: In the 53rd Golden Globes, Nicholas Cage and Sharon Stone win Best Actor and Actress respectively.

January 23: The first version of the Java programming language is released.

January 27: Sarah and Sarahi Morales, 15 day old conjoined twins, are separated. Sarahi dies.

January 28: The Dallas Cowboys defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Super Bowl XXXI at at the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

January 29: In London, Cats is performed for the 6.138th time – surpassing Broadway’s record of A Chorus Line.

January 29: Jacques Chirac, President of France, announces that France will no longer test nuclear weapons. This comes after an international outcry over nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean.

January 30: Gino Gallagher is killed while waiting in a line for his unemployment benefit. Gallagher was the suspected leader of the Irish National Liberation Army.

endeavour 10

Endeavour 10
Image: Wikipedia


February 1: In one of the key 1996 events in America, US Congress passes the Communication Decency Act. This was the first attempt to regulate pornographic material online.

February 2: Ali Landry, aged 22 of Louisiana, is crowned the 45th Miss USA.

February 5: British supermarkets begin to stock genetically modified tomato puree – the first genetically modified food to be sold in the country.

February 9: The Irish Republican Army (IRA) announces the end of its ceasefire for the last 18 months. This announcement was shortly followed by a large bomb in Canary Wharf, London.

February 13: Tupac releases his fourth album All Eyez on Me.

February 13: Take That announce that they are splitting up. The UK government set up counselling phone lines for fans.

February 15: Tommy Morrison, American heavyweight boxer, announces that he has HIV.

February 23: Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle, is released in cinemas in the UK and Ireland. Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle star.

February 27: Adam Sandler founds the Happy Madison Productions company.


March 7: The Hubble Space Telescope photographs the first surface photos of Pluto.

March 7: A elected Palestinian parliament is formed – the first to be democratically elected.

March 16: Mike Tyson TKOs Frank Bruno in the third round to gain the Heavyweight title.

March 18: 162 are killed in a nightclub fire in Quezon City, Philippines.

March 20: The British government admits that humans can catch CJD, also known as Mad Cow Disease.

March 24: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) raises the New York City bridge toll to $3.50 each way.

March 25: The US issues a new design of the $100 bill.

March 25: The European Union’s Veterinarian Committee bans the export of all British beef and by-products due to the mad cow disease.

March 26: A $10.2 billion loan for Russia is approved by the International Monetary Fund.

March 30: Prince Edward and his girlfriend, Sophie, visit Greystoke Castle in Cumbria, England. The couple will marry in 1999 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.


April 10: In Barrow Island, Australia, the fastest wind speed is recorded during a tropical storm, but not a tornado, at 253 mph.

April 18: 106 civilians are killed in Lebanon when the Israel Defense Forces bomb the UN compound accidentally.

April 20: The Chicago Bulls win a record 72 games out of 80 in a season.

April 23: Sotheby auction house begins an auction of Jackie Onassis’ belongings. The four-day auction makes $34.4 million.

April 23: At the 49th BAFTA Awards, Sense and Sensibility wins Best Film, Michael Radford wins Best Director and Father Ted wins Best Comedy.

April 23: Forensic Files premieres on TLC.

April 24: A baseball game between the Twins and Tigers is the highest scoring game in 17 years. The Twins finish on 24, and Tigers on 11.

April 28: Martin Bryant shoots and kills 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania. It becomes Australia’s worst massacre in modern history, and leads to a compulsory gun buy-back program, and major changes to gun control laws.

April 30: Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, approves the sale of $227 million of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The petrol prices in the US are the highest in 5 years.


May 5: Renette Cruz, from Vancouver, wins Miss Canadian Universe.

May 6: William Colby’s body is found washed up on a riverbank in Maryland, eight days after he disappeared.

May 8: South Africa’s Constitutional Assembly adopts a permanent post-apartheid constitution.

May 9: Geddy Lee, of Rush, is made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

May 10: Twister, a film written by Michael Critchon, premieres.

May 10: Excel Communications, Inc. becomes the youngest company to join the New York Stock Exchange. It begins trading under the symbol ECI.

May 13: On British television, O.J. Simpson discusses his not guilty verdict.

May 13: 600 people are killed in Bangladesh when a severe thunderstorm and tornado hits.

May 18: Eimear Quinn wins the 41st Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland, singing The Voice in Oslo, Norway.


June 10: A 200 mhz pentium chip is released by Intel.

June 12: Marge Schott, CEO of the Cincinnati Reds, gives up daily operations due to her comments about Hitler, working women and Asians.

June 17: The Fifteenth Amendment to the Irish Constitution is signed into law following a vote in the previous year. This amendment removes the prohibition of divorce.

June 23: Archbishop Tutu retires from being the Archbishop of Cape Town and the head of the Anglican Church in South Africa, at age 65.

June 25: Independence Day, starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum, premieres in Westwood, California.

June 25: Jay-Z releases his debut album Beyond Reasonable Doubt.


July 3: In the House of Commons, it is announced that the Stone of Scone will be returned to Scotland after 700 years in Westminster Abbey. The stone, that is also known as the Stone of Destiny, was used in the coronations of Scottish, English and British monarchs.

July 4: Hotmail begins, a free email service.

July 7: Nelson Mandela steps down as President of South Africa, at age 78.

July 8: The Spice Girls release their debut single Wannabe.

July 15: An earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale hits Mexico.

July 15: TWA 800 flight from New York bound to Paris explodes off the coast of Long Island, killing all 230 on board.

July 19: In one of the most famous events in 1996, the 26th Olympic Games opens in Atlanta, Georgia.

July 21: Bjarne Riis, from Denmark, wins the 83rd Tour de France.

July 27: A bomb explodes in Atlanta Olympic Park, killing 1 and injuring 110.

July 28: The remains of a prehistoric man are discovered near Kennewick, Washington. The remains are dubbed the “Kennewick Man”.

July 29: In the Communications Decency Act, the child protection portion is struck down as too broad by the US Federal Court.

1996 timeline

The Spice Girls, pictured in 1997


August 1: George R.R. Martin publishes A Game of Thrones, the first in his series A Song of Ice and Fire.

August 1: Tiffeny Milbrett scores the winning goal as the US beats China 2-1 to win the first ever Olympic gold medal in women’s football.

August 2: The US’ “Dream Team III” basketball team beats Yugoslavia 95-69 to win gold at the Atlanta Olympics.

August 6: The 1996 Atlanta Olympics closes. The United States had the most medals in total, with 101, and 44 gold medals in total.

August 6: The Ramones perform for the last time at the Palace in Hollywood, California.

August 13: Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 3.0.

August 23: Osama bin Laden declares war on the United States with the following message: “A declaration of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places.”

August 26: Bill Clinton signs welfare reform into law, marking a major change in welfare policy.


September 7: Tupac is shot multiple times in a shooting in Las Vegas. He dies 6 days later.

September 25: The last remaining Magdalen asylums close in Ireland. The Magdalen asylums were institutions for “fallen women” and it’s estimated that 30,000 women were confined to these.

September 27: In Afghanistan, the Taliban capture Kabul, the capital city. This occurred after driving out the President, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and executing the former leader, Mohammad Najibullah.

September 29: The Nintendo 64 video game system debuts in America.


October 1: Following the massacre at Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia, the Australian government starts a buy-back scheme. The scheme acquires more than 640,000 firearms, including newly illegal semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

October 7: Rupert Murdoch launches Fox News.

October 16: In the Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, 84 fans are killed and 180 are injured as 47,000 fans try to enter the 36,000 seat stadium. 


November 1: Shaquille O’Neal makes his debut for the LA Lakers against the Phoenix Suns.

November 3: Kobe Bryant becomes the youngest (at the time) player to make his NBA debut at 18 years, 2 months and 11 days old.

November 4: The Spice Girls release their debut album, Spice. It went on to sell over 23 million copies.

November 5: Bill Clinton is re-elected as the President of the United States, defeating Bob Dole, the Republican candidate.

November 18: Star Trek: First Contact premieres, starring Patrick Stewart.

November 22: O.J. Simpson takes to the stand as a hostile witness in the wrongful death lawsuit filed against him. He says that it’s “absolutely not true.”

November 23: The Republic of Angola joins the World Trade Organisation.

November 25: Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade ends after 24 years.

1996 timeline

Kobe Bryant, pictured in 2015
Image: Wikimedia


December 12: An assassination is attempted on Uday, Iraq’s heir to Sadam Hussain.

December 13: Kofi Annan is elected as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

December 21: David Ho, a Taiwanese-American AIDS researcher, is named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year.

December 30: In the final event in this 1996 timeline, the United Nations announces that 21 contracts have been approved for the limited Iraqi oil sales, under the Resolution 986.

The First Images of Pluto

On the March 7 1996, the Hubble Space Telescope photographs the first surface images of Pluto. The telescope took photos over a 6.4 day period as the planet rotated, to reveal that Pluto is a complex object with more contrast than any planet, other than Earth.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, as the ninth planet from the Sun. The discovery made headlines across the world.

Lowell Observatory had the right to name the new object, and received over 1,000 suggestions, which were all disregarded. Venetia Burney, an eleven year old girl from Oxford, suggested the name Pluto, as she was interested in classical mythology. Each member of the Lowell Observatory was allowed one vote on a short-list of three names: Minerva, Cronus or Pluto – Pluto received all the votes and it was announced on May 1 1930.

26th Olympic Games

The 26th Olympic Games were held in Atlanta, Georgia from July 19 to August 4 1996, and marked the fourth Summer Olympics hosted in the United States.

Over 10,000 athletes from 197 countries competed in 26 sports, including the Olympic debuts of beach volleyball, mountain biking and softball. 24 of the 197 countries made their Olympic debut in Atlanta, including 11 former Soviet republics. The United States topped the table with 44 gold medals, 32 silver and a total of 101 medals. Russia had 26 gold medals, with Germany in third with 20.