1879: Born Iossif Vissarionovich Djugashvili on Dec. 21, at Gori, Georgia, son of an alcoholic cobbler and a serf's daughter.
1894: Entered Orthodox Theological Seminary at Tiflis to become a priest, but soon fell under the spell of Socialist literature and became leader of the seminary's Marxist group.
1899: Expelled form the seminary for revolutionary activities as a member of the Social Democratic Party.
1900: Made his first public speech to workers at a fiery May Day meeting in Tiflis. The incident brought him to the attention of the czarist police, forcing him from that point on to live the life of an underground revolutionary, moving from place to place with false documents and under assumed names.
1902: Arrested by the imperial secret police and exiled - a pattern which was to be repeated seven times in the next 11 years. Six times Stalin escaped from exile in Siberia and northern Russia.
1905: Met Lenin for the first time at a party conference in Tammerfors, Finland. Stalin's first wife, Ekaterina Svandidze, died after bearing him one son, Jakob. (Their marriage date is unrecorded.)
1907: Met Leon Trotsky at an underground conference in London. Masterminded a raid on the Bank of Tiflis in which millions of rubles were "expropriated" for the party purse.
1912: Social Democratic Party split at Prague into two feuding wings - Lenin's Bolsheviks and the less extreme Mensheviks. Stalin was established as an influential leader of the Bolsheviks. With V.M. Molotov, founded the Communist newspaper Pravda.
1913: Recaptured for the last time by the Czar's police and sent to a remote part of Siberia from where escape was impossible. Spent the next four years under extreme physical hardship.
1917: Released from prison after the overthrow of the Czarist government, took over as co-editor of Pravda, and played a leading role in events that brought the Soviets to power on Nov. 7. In the new government Stalin was given the post of commissar of nationalities. His power and titles grew rapidly through the stormy years of 1918, 1919 and 1920.
1918: Married Nadehzda Alliluyeva, who later bore him a son, Vassily, and a daughter, Svetlana. Nadehzda died under mysterious circumstances in 1932.
1923: Lenin became dangerously ill. Stalin and two others - Zinoviev and Kamenev - formed a triumvirate to direct party affairs.
1924: Lenin died, and Stalin seized party leadership against the bitter opposition of Trotsky.
1926-1929: With the backing of the Army, Stalin proceeded to destroy all opposition to his rule. Trotsky was exiled in 1927, scores of other former Communist leaders were eliminated from power by purges, and Stalin was uncontested master of Russia.
1930: The kulaks - well-to-do farmers - were declared enemies of the people as Stalin launched cruel and sweeping economic reforms. Kulaks were deported or killed by the thousands and by the end of 1930 more than half of Russia's farms were collectivized.
1933: The United States recognized Stalin's government.
1936: Stalin ordered the bloody series of "public trials" which purged all remaining opposition to his rule. Political enemies and about 25 of the Soviet army officer corps were executed. Trotsky's murder by Communist agents in Mexico in 1940 completed the downfall of the opposition.
1938: Signed non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany Aug. 23, making it possible for Hitler to invade Poland and precipitate World War II. Russian troops occupied eastern Poland, then moved into Finland - forcing the Finns to cede strategic territory.
1941: Hitler turned on Russia. Stalin assumed the duties of Soviet prime minister in May, and in November took personal command of the Red Army.
1943: Conferred at Teheran with the other members of the wartime Big Three - President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
1945: Attended the Yalta Conference with Roosevelt and Churchill. Later, after the end of European fighting, attended the Potsdam conference with President Truman, Churchill and Clement R. Atlee.
1946: Started "consolidation" of Communist world, which brought waves of purges to Soviet satellite countries of Eastern Europe.
1950: Wooed Red China into Soviet camp through signing of mutual aid pact with Communist Chieftain Mao Tse-tung.
1952: Addressed Communist Party's 19th all-union congress at Moscow, pledging Soviet support to Communist parties throughout the world in the struggle against capitalism. Expressed willingness to meet with President Eisenhower in a telegraphed interview with a New York newspaper correspondent.
1953: Appeared publicly for last time Jan. 21 at memorial rites for Lenin at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater.
Mar. 1-2: Stricken with violent paralytic stroke during night and entered coma.
Mar. 5: Stalin died in the Kremlin at 9:50 p.m., aged 73.