21 December 1995

The city of Bethlehem passes from Israeli to Palestinian control.

Bethlehem is a small city located some 10 km south of the Old City of Jerusalem within the West Bank, in an “Area A” zone administered by the Palestinian Authority.

The “little town” of Bethlehem, mentioned in any number of Christmas carols, attracts pilgrims worldwide on account of its description in the New Testament as the birthplace of Jesus, whom Christians believe to be Messiah and Son of God. The Church of the Nativity, one of the oldest churches in the world, is the focus of Christian veneration within the city.

Bethlehem is revered by Jews as the birthplace and home town of David, King of Israel, as well as the traditional site of Rachel’s Tomb.

Although also home to many Muslims, Bethlehem remains home to one of the largest Arab Christian communities in the Middle Eastand one of the chief cultural and tourism drawcards for the community. The Bethlehem agglomeration also includes the small towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, the latter also having biblical significance.

Building up to the Millennium in the year 2000, Bethlehem underwent a massive largely foreign-funded project called Bethlehem 2000 in hopes of turning Bethlehem into a major tourist destination comparable to destinations such as Jerusalem or Tel Aviv in tourism infrastructure. Unfortunately a year later, the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occurred and the ensuing violence scuttled these tourism efforts. With the Palestinian uprising and violent clashes between both sides now have been over and done with for quite a few years, violence is now a thing of the past and many in Bethlehem hope to continue on where Bethlehem 2000 started them off.

20 December 1995

NATO starts peacekeeping in Bosnia.

SARAJEVO – NATO forces formally began their year-long peacekeeping mission in Bosnia on Wednesday, taking over from the United Nations at a ceremony at Sarajevo’s airport.

U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith, commander of the NATO operation, was unable to attend the ceremony due to poor weather conditions. The official signing ceremony marking the transfer of military authority which was to occur during the morning ceremony was rescheduled for approximately 3 p.m. local time so that Smith can attend.

The formal hand-over was announced by U.N. Commander General Bertrand Janvier and Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Walker, head of NATO ground forces in Bosnia.

The ceremony clears a path for the deployment of 60,000 NATO troops who will begin setting up their military operations for the mission to enforce the Dayton Accord.

NATO forces have been preparing for the hand-over for the last two weeks. The familiar white United Nations vehicles have been painted military green, and in Tuzla Wednesday a sign identifying the U.N. airbase was removed to be replaced by a sign for the U.N. Implementation Force.

The transfer marks the end of the U.N.’s ill-fated three-and-a-half year peacekeeping mission and the start of the largest NATO operation in alliance history.

7 December 1995

The Galileo spacecraft arrives at Jupiter six years after it was launched.

Galileo was an American unmanned spacecraft that studied the planet Jupiter and its moons, as well as several other Solar System bodies. Named after the astronomer Galileo Galilei, it consisted of an orbiter and entry probe. It was launched on October 18, 1989, carried by Space Shuttle Atlantis, on the STS-34 mission. Galileo arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995, after gravitational assist flybys of Venus and Earth, and became the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. It launched the first probe into Jupiter, directly measuring its atmosphere. Despite suffering major antenna problems, Galileo achieved the first asteroid flyby, of 951 Gaspra, and discovered the first asteroid moon, Dactyl, around 243 Ida. In 1994, Galileo observed Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9’s collision with Jupiter.

Jupiter’s atmospheric composition and ammonia clouds were recorded, the clouds possibly created by outflows from the lower depths of the atmosphere. Io’s volcanism and plasma interactions with Jupiter’s atmosphere were also recorded. The data Galileo collected supported the theory of a liquid ocean under the icy surface of Europa, and there were indications of similar liquid-saltwater layers under the surfaces of Ganymede and Callisto. Ganymede was shown to possess a magnetic field and the spacecraft found new evidence for exospheres around Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Galileo also discovered that Jupiter’s faint ring system consists of dust from impacts on the four small inner moons. The extent and structure of Jupiter’s magnetosphere was also mapped.

On September 21, 2003, after 14 years in space and 8 years in the Jovian system, Galileo’s mission was terminated by sending it into Jupiter’s atmosphere at a speed of over 48 kilometers per second, eliminating the possibility of contaminating local moons with terrestrial bacteria.

22 November 1995

Toy Story is released as the full length film created completely using computer generated imagery.


On this day in tech history, “Toy Story” was released in theaters, becoming the first entirely computer-animated feature-length film. It was the first film produced by Pixar with Steve Jobs serving as an executive producer.

Jobs bought the Computer Graphics Division of Lucasfilms in 1986 and made it an independent company called Pixar. That year it released “Luxo Jr.”, the first 3D computer-animated film to be nominated for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar. It featured the desk lamp often seen in the Pixar logo.

Pixar produced short animated films to promote their computers and software. In 1989 it released the first commercial version of RenderMan, a software for rendering computer graphics in film.

Pixar began working with Disney in 1991 to create a “computer-generated animated movie.” That movie was “Toy Story” and it became the highest grossing film of 1995, making $192 million in the US, and $362 million worldwide. The sequel was released four years later and was the first film to be entirely created, mastered, and exhibited digitally. “Toy Story 2” made more money than the original, and 2010’s “Toy Story 3” was the first animated film to make over $1 billion worldwide.

In 1996 Pixar director John Lasseter received a Special Achievement Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his “inspired leadership of the Pixar Toy Story Team resulting in the first feature-length computer animated film.” Pixar’s Ed Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith, Thomas Porter, and Tom Duff also received the Sciences Scientific and Engineering Academy Award for their pioneering inventions in digital image compositioning.

Pixar was bought by The Walt Disney Company in 2006, and it has now released 19 feature films, many nominated for Academy Awards.

In 2005 “Toy Story” was inducted into the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

23 May 1995

The first version of the Java programming language is released.

On 23 May 1995, John Gage, the director of the Science Office of the Sun Microsystems along with Marc Andreesen, co-founder and executive vice president at Netscape announced to an audience of SunWorldTM that Java technology wasn’t a myth and that it was going to be incorporated into Netscape Navigator.

At the time the total number of people working on Java was less than 30. This team would shape the future in the next decade and no one had any idea as to what was in store. From running an unmanned vehicle on Mars to serving as the operating environment of most consumer electronics, e.g. cable set-top boxes, VCRs, toasters and PDAs, Java has come a long way from its inception. Let’s see how it all began.

In December of 1990, a project was initiated behind closed doors with the aim to create a programming tool that could render obsolete the C and C++ programming languages. Engineer Patrick Naughton had become extremely frustrated with the state of Sun’s C++ and C APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and tools. While he was considering to move towards NeXT, he was offered a chance to work on new technology and the Stealth Project was started, a secret nobody but he knew.

This Stealth Project was later named the Green Project when James Gosling and Mike Sheridan joined Patrick. As the Green Project teethed, the prospects of the project started becoming clearer to the engineers working on it. No longer did it aim to create a new language far superior to the present ones, but it aimed to target devices other than the computer.

Staffed at 13 people, they began work in a small office on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California. This team came to be called the Green Team henceforth in time. The project they underwent was chartered by Sun Microsystems to anticipate and plan for the “next wave” in computing. For the team, this meant at least one significant trend, that of the convergence of digitally controlled consumer devices and computers.

13 May 1995

Alison Hargreaves becomes the first woman to conquer Everest without oxygen or the help of sherpas.

In 1995, Hargreaves determined to climb, unaided, the three highest mountains in the world, Mount Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga. She made her first attempt of Everest in 1994 but abandoned the climb at just 450 metres because of frostbite. She was determined to go again and in one year’s time, she did. On 13 May 1995 Hargreaves made history when she reached the top of Mount Everest, becoming the first woman and only the second person in history to reach the 8,847.7-metre summit without supplemental oxygen, sherpas, or any other companionship. At the top, she immediately radioed her base camp and had a fax sent to her two children, then aged six and four, reading, “I am on the top of the world and I love you dearly.”

Jubilant with success, Hargreaves quickly planned her next expedition and just two weeks after returning home from Everest, left for K2 in Pakistan. At 8,600 metres, the peak in Pakistan is the second-highest mountain in the world, and, due to wild weather and fierce winds, one of the most daunting to climb. After a stormy and challenging climb, Hargreaves reached K2’s summit on 17 July. However, on 13 August 1995, exactly three months after she made history on Everest, Hargreaves made history again when a horrific storm took her life, along with those of her five fellow mountaineers.

21 December 1995

The city of Bethlehem passes from Israeli to Palestinian control.

On December 21, 1995, Israeli troops withdrew from Bethlehem, and three days later the city came under the complete administration and military control of the Palestinian National Authority in conformance with the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1995.During the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000–2005, Bethlehem’s infrastructure and tourism industry were damaged. In 2002, it was a primary combat zone in Operation Defensive Shield, a major military counteroffensive by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). During the counteroffensive, the IDF besieged the Church of the Nativity, where dozens of Palestinian militants had sought refuge. The siege lasted for 39 days. Several militants were killed. It ended with an agreement to exile 13 of the wanted militants to various foreign countries.