This Day in Geek History: April 11
Frederic Ives receives a patent for the first half-tone printing press process used in the U.S. However, the very first half-tone photoengraving process was invented by George-Édouard Desbarats and William Leggo of Canada, and it was already being used by the Canadian Illustrated News in 1869.
Submarine builder John Holland delivers his newest model, the Holland VI, to the United States Navy for US$150,000. The vessel, commissioned as the USS Holland (SS 1), on Oct. 12, 1900, is the Navy’s very first submarine. It weighs 64 tons, runs just short of fifty-four feet in length, and requires a crew of seven. Browse a gallery of photos of USS Holland.
Albert Einstein first unveils his Theory of Relativity.
German civil engineer and early computer pioneer Konrad Zuse files for a patent on the automatic execution of calculations, a process that will become central to the Z-1, Germany’s first computer. In the patent application, Zuse describes the first programmable memory, which he dubs “combination memory” to describe the process of breaking programs into bit combinations for efficient storage. The Z1 is the first device able to make calculations in binary and translate those calculations back to decimal. Read more about the Z1 at Epemag.
The California Rocket Society tests the first hybrid rocket design in the United States, using oxygen and carbon as fuel. Hybrid rocket propulsion systems uses a solid fuel in conjunction with a liquid or gas oxidizer.
J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly demonstrate ENIAC to representatives of the Census Bureau and National Bureau of Standards. Following the demonstration, Eckert and Mauchly agree to send the Census Bureau, which will later become their first client, a set of specifications for their system. Later in the month, the bureau will pay a US$300,000 deposit to Eckert and Mauchly to research a new computer that will become the UNIVAC.
During a test flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California, a Ryan X-13 Vertijet becomes the first jet to take-off and land vertically. Read more about the Ryan X-13 Vertijet at the U.S. AirForce National Museum.
The first successful weather satellite, Tiros 1, is launched.
NASA launches Apollo 13 from Cape Canaveral at 2:13pm EST on what is intended to be the third manned mission to the Moon. Two days later, an explosion in the liquid oxygen tank will force astronauts to dramatically abort their mission in order to return to the Earth. On April 17, the crew will return safely to Earth.
Microsoft announces its COBOL-80 programming language, which conforms to the 1974 ANSI standards for 8080, Z80, and 8085 microprocessor systems.