This Day in Geek History: April 27
The first commercial ship to be equipped with a radar system, the SS African Star, goes into service.
Professional wrestler Freddie Blassie first coins the term “Pencil neck geek.”
The first atomic powered submarine is launched at Tullibee.
NASA launches the Explorer 11 spacecraft into Earth orbit equipped with the first gamma ray telescope aboard a Juno II rocket. Its mission marks the beginning of gamma-ray astronomy. Visit the official NASA website for the Explorer 11.
At an American Physical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., the discovery of element 105, Hahnium. The discovery was achieved primarily through the work of Albert Ghiorso of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. The element has an atomic mass of 260, and it was named for the German physicist Otto Hahn.
Xerox introduces the Xerox 8010 Star Information System, featuring a bitmapped screen, Ethernet, the first computer mouse, a laser printer, the Smalltalk language, a WYSIWYG word processor, and software for combining text and graphics in the same document.
John R. MacDougall, better known by the handle Captain Midnight, hijacks an HBO satellite at 12:32am to transmits his own message to HBO subscribers in the United States’ Eastern time zone. MacDougall, who works at the Central Florida Teleport, a company that uplinks services to satellites, was overseeing the uplink of the movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure on the night of the hack. At the end of his shift, he swung the dish back into its storage position, pointing directly upward, which happened to be the location of Galaxy 1, the satellite that transmits HBO. As a protest against the introduction of high fees and scrambling equipment, he transmits a signal onto the satellite, overriding an HBO showing of The Falcon and the Snowman. The signal contains a text message that reads, “GOODEVENING HBO FROM CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT $12.95/MONTH ? NO WAY ! [SHOWTIME/MOVIE CHANNEL BEWARE!]” MacDougall chose the name “Captain Midnight” from a movie he had recently seen, On the Air Live with Captain Midnight. After media pressure forces the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to act, MacDougall will be charged and sentenced, per a plea bargain, to a US$5,000 fine and one year’s probation.
The San Jose Mercury News features an article by G. Pascal Zachary, entitled “Atari’s Back and Cost-cutting ignites Atari’s new takeoff.” Leonard Tramiel, Allan Pratt, and Dave Staugas are pictured in a featured photo. Trip Hawkins, president of Electronics Arts of San Mateo, California, is quoted in the article as stating, “Atari has been very shrewd. They were able to get a running start in Europe – before taking on the big guys in the United States.”
Touchstone Pictures releases the science fiction comedy film Spaced Invaders, directed by Patrick Read Johnson and starring Douglas Barr, Ariana Richards, Royal Dano, Gregg Berger, and Wayne Alexander, to 1,821 US theaters. The “B movie” is a comedy in which dim-witted Martians choose to invade a small American town on the same night that the local radio station rebroadcasts Orson Welles’ 1938 “War Of The Worlds”. The title is a play on the title of the classic video game, “Space Invaders.” It will gross US$4,474,336 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
The Navigation Satellite Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System (NAVSTAR GPS) satellite constellation becomes fully operational.
The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) files suit against software giant Microsoft to block the company’s proposed acquisition of the financial software developer Intuit. In its suit, the DoJ alleges that the purchase would lead to higher software prices while diminishing market innovation.
The Sega Saturn game system is released in Canada.