This Day in Geek History: April 26
Nicholas Copernicus makes his first observations of the planet Saturn which will later lead his to propose that the Sun is stationary while the Earth and other planets move in circular orbits around it.
Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter demonstrate the photophone, a device in which a mirrored silver disc is made to vibrate by speech from a speaking tube. Light reflected off the disc is captured in a parabolic dish and focused onto a selenium cell, where variations in the reflected light are converted into the electrical signals that are carried to headphones. The laser disc and CD of the seventies will work on a remarkably similar principle.
Guglielmo Marconi is granted a patent for a system of tuned coupled circuits that allow simultaneous radio transmissions on different frequencies, allowing adjacent stations to operate without interfering with one another. (UK No. 7,777)
The first film screening in Hawaii is held.
In an article in the April 26th issue of Look magazine, “Deac” Aylesworth predicts that radio is “doomed” and that television will overtake it within three years.
International Business Machines (IBM) sends out a press release regarding its IBM 7030, otherwise known are the Stretch supercomputer. “The $10-million-and-up class computers are the world’s fastest and most powerful. They are similar to the STRETCH computer which IBM is now completing for the Atomic Energy Commission at Los Alamos, New Mexico. IBM will now contract with business firms and government agencies to build STRETCH type computers. They can complete 100 billion computations in a day. The new machines are seventy-five times faster than the large-scale IBM 704 computer.”
The NASA Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the Moon after sixty-four hours of flight. The probe’s mission is to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study the radar reflectivity of the lunar surface, and to continue testing the Ranger program for development of lunar and interplanetary spacecraft.