This Day in Geek History: April 13
Johannes Faber of Bamberg, Germany coins the word “microscope” in a letter written to Federigo Cesi, Duke of Aquasparata and founder of Italy’s Lincean Academy (Accademia dei Lincei or Academy of the Lynx).
The first Pony Express rider arrives in Sacramento, California (the state’s capitol), ceremonially completing the service’s inaugural delivery. The next day the mail will be delivered to San Francisco, where all subsequent runs will ends.
FM Station W71NY in New York becomes the first commercial broadcaster to sign an advertiser to a contract.
The United States Air Force (USAF) launches the Discoverer II surveillance satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base into a polar orbit aboard a Thor Agena A.
Transit 1B, the first navigational satellite, is launched into Earth orbit for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It is the first satellite to use a magnetic torque device to maintain attitude control, and it will remain operable for eighty-nine days.
The Star Trek episode “Operation: Annihilate!” first airs. (No. 29) In it, the Enterprise encounters a murderous swarm of neurological parasites that have swept through a Federation colony. Memory Alpha entry
At 2:08 UTC (10:08PM EST), an oxygen tank aboard the Service Module of Apollo 13 explodes mid-mission. Moments later, astronaut John Leonard “Jack” Swigert, Jr. announces, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” The explosion cripples the spacecrafts, resulting in a near-complete loss of electricity and oxygen, and it will lead to the most spectacular rescue mission in U.S. space history. The Apollo 13 crew will be stranded for four days, more than two hundred thousand miles (321,860km) from Earth (about four-fifths of the way to the moon). An oxygen leak will force the crew to abandon ship and return to Earth in the lunar module. Against all odds, the three astronauts will return safely back to Earth. The crew include: Fred Haise, Jim Lovell, and Jack Swigert. The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology. Read the original coverage of the Apollo 13 mission at the Times.
Stephen Jones publishes an article in the San Jose Business Journal entitled, “Atari targets computer sales: Firm’s ‘gee whiz’ image may make sales tough.” In the article, Jerry Brown, vice president and general manager of Atari’s U.S. operations is quoted as saying, “You can debate whether people think we’re a game company or not, but I think our past is a plus.”
Basketball star Grant Hill of the Detroit Pistons is interviewed courtside after a game against the Chicago Bulls. When he is asked what he thought of the victory and he replies, “Well, it wasn’t as easy as beating them on the PlayStation.”
Thousands of AT&T internet customers experience the a service interruption lasting up to twenty-four hours beginning at 3:00pm. Many internet-based business services, including airline reservation services, bank Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) services, and gas station pumps payment systems, are disabled. Within forty-eight hours, AT&T will correct the issue by replacing two of its frame relay switches, but the company will never organization is unable to determine what actually caused the switches to fail in the first place.
Lewis Platt, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Hewlett-Packard Company raises a controversy on Wall Street when he announces his intentions to generate a “double digit” revenue growth in 1999. Once the market closes, the firm’s marketing department issues a statement elaborating on Platt’s remarks and explaining that “double digit” refers to the expected shipments of computers rather than the financial results.
The heavy metal group Metallica sues Napster, alleging copyright infringement and racketeering after after several radio stations played an unfinished demo of their latest song, “I Disappear,” downloaded from Napster in advance of its official release. The case will result in the Ninth Circuit Court ordering the service shut down in June 1999. A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc. is the first major case to address the issue of copyright as it pertains to peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. Visit the official Napster website.
United States prosecutors announce indictments against five alleged Internet child pornography traffickers. According to U.S. District Attorney Paul Coggins, “This indictment is the first in history to target foreign Web masters and their corrupt co-conspirators in the United States.” The indictment names Thomas and Janice Reedy, who have allegedly collected over one million dollars for providing clients access to child pornography sites hosted by three web masters in Indonesia and Russia.
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