World Events

  • Russian president Boris Yeltsin survives impeachment hearings (May), reshuffles his cabinet twice (May, Aug.), and takes military action against Islamic separatists in Dagestan and Chechnya. Background:
  • Nelson Mandela, first black president of South Africa, steps down (June 16), and Thabo Mbeki takes over.
  • War erupts in Kosovo after Yugoslavia’s president Slobodan Milosevic clamps down on the province, massacring and deporting ethnic Albanians. NATO begins Operation Allied Force on March 24, 1999, launching air strikes against Belgrade for 78 consecutive days until Milosevic relents. Background: Timeline: The Splintering of Kosovo and Timeline: NATO in Kosovo.
  • Magnitude 7.4 earthquake kills more than 15,600 and leaves 600,000 homeless in Turkey (Aug. 17).
  • East Timor population votes for independence from Indonesia (Aug. 30, 1999), which causes pro-Indonesian forces to massacre and uproot thousands of East Timorese.
  • Pakistani government is overthrown in the midst of economic strife and intensified fighting with India over Kashmir (Oct. 12). Background: 1999 in Review.
  • The world awaits the consequences of the Y2K bug, with more drastic millennial theorists warning of Armageddon.
U.S. Events
  • US Senate Opens impeachment trial of President Clinton (Jan. 7); Senate acquits Clinton and rejects censure move (Feb. 12). Background: A Short History of Impeachment.
  • John William King, 24, a white supremacist, is convicted of murder and sentenced to death in case involving the dragging death of a black man, James Byrd, Jr. (Feb 23).
  • Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, storm Columbine High School in Littleton , CO, killing twelve other students and a teacher, then themselves (April 20). Background:
  • John F. Kennedy Jr., wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister Lauren G. Bessette are lost at sea when a plane he was piloting disappears near Martha’s Vineyard, off Mass. coast (July 16). Background: John F. Kennedy, Jr. Remembered and Timeline of Kennedy tragedies.

Federal spending:   $1716.95 billion
Federal debt:   $5978.5 billion
Consumer Price Index:   166.6
Unemployment:   4.2%
Cost of a first-class stamp:   $0.33 (as of 1/10/99)


Super Bowl
Denver d. Atlanta (34-19)

NBA Championship
San Antonio d. New York (4-1)

Stanley Cup
Dallas d. Buffalo (4-2)

NCAA Basketball Championship
Connecticut d. Duke (77-74)



  • The merger of two major recording labels, Universal and Polygram, causes upheaval in the recording industry. It is estimated that the new company, Universal Music Group, controls 25% of the worldwide music market.
  • About 48.5 million people tune in to Monica Lewinsky’s first televised interview. In her sit-down with Barbara Walters during 20/20, the former intern was alternately smug, insecure, funny, and girl-like (but she did look like a million bucks).
  • ER‘s Dr. Doug Ross bids a bitter farewell to Chicago’s General Memorial Hospital. George Clooney played the maverick pediatrician since the show debuted in 1994.
  • Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel dies at age 53.
  • Stanley Kubrick, the iconoclastic director of such legendary films as Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange, dies at his home outside London. He was 70.
  • The Blair Witch Project emerges as an instant cult classic and becomes the most profitable film of all time, grossing more than $125 million. The film cost $30,000 to make.
  • Rev. Jerry Falwell outs Teletubby Tinky Winky and calls him a gay role model. Falwell deduced that because Tinky Winky’s purple, carries a purse and has a triangle on his head he’s gay.
  • Woodstock ’99 kicks off in Rome, N.Y. Concertgoers complain that the spirit of the original Woodstock has been compromised and commercialized. The event is far from a love-in; the crowd set fires and destroyed property during the finale and there were several reports of sexual assaults.
  • Star Wars Episode I–The Phantom Menace opens and breaks a string of box office records. The film grosses $102.7 million in its debut five-day weekend.


  • Blair Witch Project, American Beauty, Three Kings, The Sixth SenseThe Matrix


  • J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
  • Ian McEwan, Amsterdam
  • Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet
  • Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
  • The number of Internet users worldwide reaches 150 million by the beginning of 1999. Over 50% are from the United States.
  • The Melissa and Chernobyl viruses afflict computers worldwide, forcing several large corporations to shut down their e-mail servers. Background: Computers and Internet
  • Brian Jones (UK) and Bertrand Piccard (Switzerland), make the first nonstop, non-refueled around-the-world balloon flight in the Breitling Orbiter 3 (Mar. 1). Background: Famous Firsts in Aviation
  • Doctors in Louisville, Ky. perform the first human hand transplant in the US, replacing the severed left hand of a New Jersey man with one from a recently dead donor. (Jan. 24).
  • The Liberty Bell 7 space capsule, piloted by Gus Grissom on America’s second manned space flight, is discovered off the Florida coast after being submerged for 38 years (May 2). Background: US Staffed Space Flights
  • Joe DiMaggio
  • Clifton Fadiman
  • Raisa Gorbachev
  • King Hassan II
  • King Hussein I
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr.
  • Carolyn Bessette Kennedy
  • Stanley Kubrick
  • George C. Scott


The movie “Matrix” Came out
(Keanu Reeves & Carrie-Anne Moss)