Whenever I setup a new machine I install Python from source. One little thing always bugged me though. In the interactive shell a press of the up arrow always resulted in ^[[A being output, rather than the previous command I had entered (similar behaviour to the bash shell). After seeing ^[[A again tonight I decided that enough was enough. A little bit of investigation led me to the readline documentation:

Settings made using this module affect the behaviour of both the interpreter’s interactive prompt and the prompts offered by the raw_input() and input() built-in functions.

I grabbed [readline][2], built and installed it. Then I rebuilt Python and installed it. Lo and behold I now have an interactive shell with history enabled.

[2]: http://tiswww.case.edu/php/chet/readline/rltop.html