1906: Grace Murray Hopper (nee’ Grace Brewster Murray) is born in New York City. She later serves in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral, and invents the COBOL computer language, one of the first software programs enabling computers to be used by non-mathematicians. She also invents the term “bug” for an electronic glitch when, in 1945, she opens a malfunctioning computer and captures a moth that had been fluttering around inside of it and causing electrical relays to fail.
1931: Pres. Herbert Hoover proposes the creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corp. to provide Federal funding to help creditworthy banks, railroads, and other companies remain in business. Instead of viewing that as a positive step, the market views it as an act of desperation, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average sinks another 2.36 points, or 2.7%, to close at 84.14.
1941: As the U.S. declares war on Japan, the S&P 500 nosedives, losing 3.23% and bringing its loss since Pearl Harbor to 7.5%.
1999: VA Linux Systems goes public on the NASDAQ market, selling 4.4 million shares at an initial offering price of $30. Shares in the company, which had a net loss of $14.5 million on $17.7 million in revenues, open for trading at $299—nearly 10 times the IPO price. At that level, VA Linux has a total market capitalization of roughly $7 billion, or 400 times its revenues and an infinite multiple of its earnings. The stock closes the day at $239.25, an all-time record first-day gain of 698%. Just a year later, the stock is at $9.406.