1770 – Ludwig van Beethoven the German pianist and composer was born on the 17th December 1770 (d. 1827).
1790 – The Aztec calendar stone was discovered on the 17th December 1790.
1865 – First performance of the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert was on the 17th December 1865.
1903 – The Wright brothers made their first powered, heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer on the 17th December 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
1935 – First flight of the Douglas DC-3 was on the 17th December 1935.
1936 ~ Pope Francis the 266th and Pope of the Catholic Church, was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the 17th December 1936. The Pope worked briefly as a chemical technician and a nightclub bouncer before entering the seminary, and getting his biggest gig as the Bishop of Rome.
1937 – Kerry Packer the Australian businessman and founder World Series Cricket was born on the 17th December 1937 (d. 2005).
1967 – Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt disappeared while swimming near Portsea, Victoria on the 17th December 1967, and was presumed drowned.
1969 – Mick Quinn the English singer-songwriter and guitarist from Supergrass.
1969 – Project Blue Book: The United States Air Force closed its study of UFOs on the 17th December 1969.
1975 – Milla Jovovich the Ukrainian-American actress was born on the 17th December 1975.
1989 – The first episode of The Simpsons, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire“, aired in the United States on the 17th December 1989.
1989 ~ Taylor York the American guitarist from rock band Paramore was born on the 17th December 1989. Taylor York also plays the keyboard and glockenspiel occasionally during live shows. Taylor York is the brother of Justin York, a touring member of Relient K and Paramore.
2003 ~ Ed Devereaux the Australian actor best known as Matt Hammond Skippy died on the 17th December 2003 (born 27 August 1925).
2003 – SpaceShipOne flight 11P piloted by Brian Binnie made its first supersonic flight on the 17th December 2003.