On This Day, February 10th
1. 1962: The real Spy vs. Spy
It was on this date in 1962 that representatives from Russia and the United States met at the Gilenicker Bridge to exchange imprisoned spy’s from each other’s countries. The bridge connected East and West Germany so it was the perfect location for somewhat neutral ground during the intense time in history. Roughly two years prior, American Pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down while on a reconnaissance mission in a top-secret U-2 spy plane. Following his training, he ejected and hit the self-destruct button on the plane so American technology didn’t fall into the wrong hands. As Powers landed, he was captured by the Russians and later convicted of espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison. To make matters worse, half the spy plane managed to stay intact and was acquired by the Russian military. After long and arduous negotiations between the two superpowers, Russia finally announced that they would release Powers. They only agreed because the U.S. was whiling to release the Russian spy they had captured and imprisoned by the name of Rudolf Abel. The Russians claimed to the public that the decision was made based on signed petitions and pleas from his family. However, officials from the U.S. Government quickly jumped in to shed light on the truth behind the spy vs spy exchange.
2. 1971: Four top-level journalists killed in Laos
The Vietnam War was one of the most deadly for the press with a reported 74 dead or missing correspondents by the end of the war in 1975. It was on this date in 1971 that a helicopter shot down by a North Vietnamese 37 mm anti-aircraft gun killed four top-level journalists. On board the chopper was Kent Potter, of the United Press International, Henri Huet, of the Associated Press, Keisaburo Shimamoto, of Newsweek, and Larry Burrows, of LIFE Magazine. The photojournalists were on location in Laos to cover Operation Lam Son 719 when apparently the chopper they were on lost its way over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Also on board were three Saigon soldiers and the four-man flight crew.
3. 1996: Game 1 of the Kasparov versus Deep Blue chess game
It was on this date in 1996 that history was made when a computer beat a grandmaster level chess player and reigning world champion under normal timed tournament conditions. The computer went by the name Deep Blue and it was built in part by IBM. The player was none other than Gary Kasparov who was the highest ranked chess player in the world from 1985 till he retired in 2004. At the young age of 22, he managed to defeat then-champion Anatoly Karpov in 1985 and was essentially unbeaten for years to come. He even battled a computer called Deep Thought, Deep Blues predecessor, in 1989 which he defeated without breaking a sweat. But that all changed in 1996 when he sat down across from Deep Blue for the first of six scheduled games. It was reported that the supercomputer was capable of evaluating 200 million moves a second and when it defeated Kasparov in the first game it seemed as if the man had finally met his match. However, Kasparov was able to adapt his style of play to confuse the computer and managed to save face for humanity by defeating the machine 4-2.