1972: Hank Aaron breaks records ... and the bank
On Feb. 29, 1972, Hank Aaron signed a three-year, $200,000 contract with the Atlanta Braves, making him the highest-paid player in baseball. By comparison, his 1954 rookie jersey sold in 2011 for $167,300.
1960: Tony Robbins Is Born
Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Tony Robbins has made a career out of helping millions of people to redefine their goals and maximize their potential. His own route to "peak performance" began on Feb. 29, 1960. Side note (with apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan fans): Robbins will therefore be his celebrating his "13th" birthday in 2012.
1940: Finland Ends Its Cold War
On Feb. 29, 1940, Finland sued for peace to end the Winter War, a land grab by the Soviet Union. The conflict, which saw the creation of the famed "Molotov Cocktail," which the Finns used to fight Soviet soldiers, ended with the Scandinavian country agreeing to give up a significant part of its territory and an estimated 30% of its economic resources.
1916: Minimum Working Age Is Raised From 12 ... to 14
On Feb. 29, 1916, South Carolina's General Assembly passed a law raising the minimum age for a worker from 12 to 14. In addition, the young employees gained some new protections: Textile workers could not work more than 11 hours a day or 60 hours a week, and railway workers were limited to working 10 hours per day.
1860: A Computer Pioneer Is Born
History has largely forgotten Herman Hollerith, but the New York-born statistician was one of the innovators of punch card-based electronic tabulating machines. In 1910, he joined with four other business leaders to create the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation. A few years later, the firm changed its name to International Business Machines, which today just goes by IBM.
1794: England and America Make Up ... For a While
While the Revolutionary War officially ended in 1783, there were still tensions between the U.S. and Great Britain. The Jay Treaty, which was signed in 1794 and negotiated by John Jay, established that the British had to pay for ships that they had confiscated, Americans had to pay debts they owed to the British, and both sides benefited from worldwide trade. The treaty was set to last 10 years, after which the two sides couldn't agree on an extension. That failure of negotiations led to the War of 1812.