3 December 1994

The PlayStation was first released in Japan.

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On December 3, 1994, the PlayStation was finally released in Japan, one week after the Sega Saturn. The initial retail cost was 37,000 yen, or about $387. Software available at launch included King’s Field, Crime Crackers, and Namco’s Ridge Racer, the PlayStation’s first certifiable killer app. It was met with long lines across Japan, and was hailed by Sony as their most important product since the WalkMan in the late 1970’s.

Also available at launch were a host of peripherals, including: a memory card to save high scores and games; a link cable, whereby you could connect two PlayStations and two TVs and play against a friend; a mouse with pad for PC ports; an RFU Adaptor; an S-Video Adaptor; and a Multitap Unit. Third party peripherals were also available, including Namco’s Negcon.

The look of the PlayStation was dramatically different than the Saturn, which was beige (in Japan), bulky, and somewhat clumsy looking. In contrast, the PlayStation was slim, sleek, and gray, with a revolutionary controller that was years ahead of the Saturn’s SNES-like pad. The new PSX joypad provided unheardof control by adding two more buttons on the shoulder, making a total of eight buttons. The two extended grips also added a new element of control. Ken Kutaragi realized the importance of control when dealing with 3 Dimensional game worlds. “We probably spent as much time on the joypad’s development as the body of the machine. Sony’s boss showed special interest in achieving the final version so it has his seal of approval.” To Sony’s delight, the PlayStation sold more than 300,000 units in the first 30 days. The Saturn claimed to have sold 400,000, but research has shown that number to be misleading. The PSX sold through (to customers) 97% of its stock, while many Saturns were still sitting on the shelves. These misleading numbers were to be quoted by Sega on many occasions, and continued even after the US launch.

2 December 1848

Franz Joseph I becomes Emperor of Austria.

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The third longest reigning European monarch 67 years after King Louis XIV of France and Johann II, Prince of Liechtenstein, Franz Joseph Karl was born on August 18, 1830 at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. He was the eldest of the four children of Archduke Franz Karl of Austria and Princess Sophia of Bavaria.

Franz Joseph was educated with his brother Maximilian, and they were first taught by their governess Baroness Louise von Sturmfeder. In 1836, Count Heinrich Bombelles became responsible for the education of the young archdukes. Bombelles created a rigorous course of study for Franz Joseph. He was expected to study 18 hours a week when he was six years old. The hours of study per week increased to 36 hours at age eight and 46 hours at age 11. Franz Joseph became seriously ill at the age of 13 due to the stress of his studies. However, his rigorous education continued and he was studying 56 hours a week at the 15. It was important for Franz Joseph to learn the languages of the Austrian empire, and so he studied not only French, Latin and Greek , but also Hungarian, Czech, Italian, and Polish. His studies mathematics, physics, history, geography, jurisprudence and political science, and physical education. On his 13th birthday, Franz Joseph was appointed Colonel of the Dragoons Regiment, and the focus of his education shifted to military strategies and tactics.

The biggest ambition of Franz Joseph’s mother Sophie was to place her oldest son on the Austrian throne. During the Revolution of 1848, she persuaded her husband to give up his rights to the throne in favor of their son Franz Joseph, and on December 2, 1848, Emperor Ferdinand abdicated the throne in favor of his 18-year-old nephew. Franz Joseph was now Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and Croatia and King of Bohemia.

1 December 1973

Papua New Guinea gains self governance from Australia.

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After the war, some Australian officials wanted a return to the prewar order, while others wanted to empower the local population in gratitude for their assistance in the fighting. At first the Highlanders were utilized as a massive new source of labour for the coastal plantations. From the 1950s the growing of Arabica coffee by local smallholders spread rapidly throughout much of the Highlands, providing another source of income and keeping the people there in their villages. Meanwhile, cacao was rapidly adopted as a plantation and smallholder crop in the islands and around Madang. Despite the general lack of economic development in Papua, the town of Port Moresby grew rapidly and attracted large numbers of migrants, particularly from the poorer areas and especially the Highlands.

In 1945 Australia combined its administration of Papua and that of the former mandate into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, which it administered from Canberra via Port Moresby. From 1946 Australia managed the New Guinea (eastern) half as a United Nations trust territory. In the 1950s Australia took a gradualist approach to educating the population and improving health services, but from 1960 international pressure led Australia to expedite efforts to create an educated elite and improve social conditions, boost the economy, and develop political structures in preparation for decolonization. General elections for a House of Assembly were held in 1964, 1968, and 1972; self-government was achieved on December 1, 1973, and full independence from Australia on September 16, 1975. At that time Australian development assistance provided nearly half of the national budget.

30 November 1864

In the Battle of Franklin, the Confederate Army of Tennessee suffers heavy losses in an attack on the Union Army of the Ohio.

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The Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30, 1864, in Franklin, Tennessee, as part of the Franklin–Nashville Campaign of the American Civil War. It was one of the worst disasters of the war for the Confederate States Army. Confederate Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee conducted numerous frontal assaults against fortified positions occupied by the Union forces under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield and was unable to break through or to prevent Schofield from a planned, orderly withdrawal to Nashville.

The Confederate assault of six infantry divisions containing eighteen brigades with 100 regiments numbering almost 20,000 men, sometimes called the “Pickett’s Charge of the West”, resulted in devastating losses to the men and the leadership of the Army of Tennessee—fourteen Confederate generals (six killed, seven wounded, and one captured) and 55 regimental commanders were casualties. After its defeat against Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas in the subsequent Battle of Nashville, the Army of Tennessee retreated with barely half the men with which it had begun the short offensive, and was effectively destroyed as a fighting force for the remainder of the war.

The 1864 Battle of Franklin was the second military action in the vicinity; a battle in 1863 was a minor action associated with a reconnaissance in force by Confederate cavalry leader Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn on April 10.

29 November 1549

The papal conclave of 1549–50 starts.

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The papal conclave from November 29, 1549, to February 7, 1550, convened after the death of Pope Paul III and eventually elected Giovanni Del Monte to the papacy as Pope Julius III. It was the second-longest papal conclave of the 16th century, and the largest papal conclave in history in terms of the number of cardinal electors. The cardinal electors were roughly divided between the factions of Henry II of France, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and Alessandro Farnese, the cardinal-nephew of Paul III.

Noted for the extensive interference of European powers, the conclave was to determine whether and on what terms the Council of Trent would reconvene and the fate of the Duchies of Parma and Piacenza. Although the conclave nearly elected Reginald Pole, the late arrival of additional French cardinals pushed the conclave back into deadlock, and eventually Giovanni del Monte was elected Pope Julius III as a compromise candidate.

The French hoped that Julius III would be hostile to the interests of the Holy Roman Empire. Nevertheless, tensions between him and the French boiled over when he reconvened the Council of Trent in November 1550, culminating in the threat of schism in August 1551 and the brief War of Parma fought between French troops allied with Ottavio Farnese and a papal-imperial army. French prelates did not attend the 1551–1552 sessions of the Council of Trent and were slow to accept its reforms; because Henry II would not allow any French cardinals to reside in Rome, many missed the election of Pope Marcellus II, arriving in Rome just in time to elect Marcellus II’s successor Pope Paul IV after Marcellus II’s brief reign.

28 November 1942

A fire in the Cocoanut Grove in Boston nightclub kills 492 people.

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The Cocoanut Grove Fire was a nightclub fire in the United States. The Cocoanut Grove was a premier nightclub during the post-Prohibition 1930s and 1940s in Boston, Massachusetts. On November 28, 1942, it was the scene of the deadliest nightclub fire in history, killing 492 people and injuring hundreds more. The scale of the tragedy shocked the nation and briefly replaced the events of World War II in newspaper headlines. It led to a reform of safety standards and codes across the US, and to major changes in the treatment and rehabilitation of burn victims internationally.

It was the second-deadliest single-building fire in American history; only the 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago had a higher death toll, of 602. It was only two years after the Rhythm Club fire which had killed 209.

Official reports state that the fire started at about 10:15 pm in the dark, intimate Melody Lounge downstairs. Goody Goodelle, a young pianist and singer, was performing on a revolving stage, surrounded by artificial palm trees. The lounge was lit by low-powered light bulbs in coconut-styled sconces beneath the fronds. A young man, possibly a soldier, had unscrewed a light bulb in order to give himself privacy while kissing his date. Stanley Tomaszewski—a 16-year-old busboy—was instructed to put the light back on by tightening the bulb. He stepped up onto a chair to reach the light in the darkened corner. Unable to see the bulb, he lit a match to illuminate the area, tightened the bulb, and extinguished the match. Witnesses first saw flames in the fronds, which were just below the ceiling, immediately afterward. Though the lit match had been close to the same fronds where the fire was seen to have begun, the official report determined that Tomaszewski’s actions could not be found to be the source of the fire, which “will be entered into the records of this department as being of unknown origin.”

27 November 1987

South African Airways Flight 295 crashes all on board were killed.

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South African Airways Flight 295, a Boeing 747 named Helderberg, was a commercial flight from Taiwan to South Africa that suffered a catastrophic in-flight fire in the cargo area and crashed into the Indian Ocean east of Mauritius on 28 November 1987, killing everyone on board. An extensive salvage operation was mounted to try to recover the flight data recorders, one of which was recovered from a depth of 4,900 metres (16,100 ft)—the deepest successful salvage operation ever conducted.

The official inquiry, headed by Judge Cecil Margo, was unable to determine the cause of the fire, leading to a number of conspiracy theories being advanced in the following years.

South African Airways Flight 295 was a Boeing 747-200B Combi, named The Helderberg that was delivered to the airline in 1980. The aircraft took off on 27 November 1987 from Taipei Chiang Kai Shek International Airport, on a flight to Johannesburg via Mauritius. Dawie Uys served as the captain of the flight.

The Boeing 747-200B Combi is a variant of the aircraft that permits the mixing of passengers and airfreight on the main deck according to load factors on any given route and Class B cargo compartment regulations. Flight 295 had 140 passengers and six pallets of cargo on the main deck. The master waybills stated that 47,000 kilograms of baggage and cargo were loaded on the plane. A Taiwanese customs official performed a surprise inspection of some of the cargo; he did not find any cargo that could be characterised as suspicious.

At some point during the flight, a fire developed in the cargo section on the main deck; the fire was probably not extinguished before impact. The ‘smoke evacuation’ checklist calls for the aircraft to be depressurised, and for two of the cabin doors to be opened. No evidence exists that the checklist was followed, or the doors opened. A crew member might have gone into the cargo hold to try to fight the fire. A charred fire extinguisher was later recovered from the wreckage on which investigators found molten metal.

26 November 1998

The Khanna rail disaster takes 212 lives in Khanna, Ludhiana, India.

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At least 150 people were feared killed and 250 injured in a train accident between Kaudi and Daudpur villages near Khanna railway station on the Khanna-Ludhiana section of the Northern Railway in Punjab, a couple of hours before dawn today.

The accident occurred at about 0315 hours IST when the Calcutta-bound 3152-down Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express rammed into 10 derailed coaches of the Amritsar-bound 2903-up Frontier Mail (recently renamed the Golden Temple Express).

Ten coaches of the Frontier Mail got decoupled from the train and derailed, six of them falling onto a parallel track where they were hit by the oncoming Sealdah Express even as passengers were alighting from the other four coaches.

Northern Railway General Manager V K Mehta said there was “a gap of just one minute” between the Frontier Mail coaches getting derailed and the Sealdah Express ramming into them.
Driver Subhash Chander and co-driver Sewa Ram Murti of the Sealdah Express were among those killed.

Railway and police officers said 101 bodies had been extricated, but feared that at least 50 more could be trapped in the wreckage.The extricated bodies were removed to A S College at Khanna. The deputy commissioner of Ludhiana district has permitted relatives of the victims to take the bodies away for last rites without post-mortems.

The injured have been admitted to the Post-Graduate Institute in Chandigarh, Rajendra Medical College Hospital in Patiala, Dayanand Medical College and Christian Medical College hospitals in Ludhiana, and the civil hospitals in Ludhiana, Samarala, Khanna, Doraha, Mandi Gobindgarh, and Sirhind.

Railway Minister Nitish Kumar, who visited the site, said it was yet to be ascertained if decoupling had led to derailment or vice-versa.He said the toll could go up as some of the injured passengers are in a critical condition, with multiple head and chest injuries.The commissioner of railway safety has been asked to ascertain the cause of the accident.

Kumar declined to speculate on the possibility of sabotage, saying this would be known only after the inquiry. But Punjab Director General of Police P C Dogra ruled out sabotage. He said preliminary investigations had revealed that the accident was caused by a mechanical failure.

The accident occurred on the electrified track in Ambala division, but both trains were being hauled by diesel engines.