This Day in Geek History: April 3
The first English patent is granted to John of Utynam for the production of colored glass. King Henry VI grants the exclusive privilege for a period of twenty years, during which no English subjects imitate the manufacturing process with John of Utynam’s consent.
James Carrington of Wallingford, Connecticut, patents the coffee mill.
The Pony Express begins mail service between Saint Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, with a pledge to “deliver the goods in ten days or less” at a price of US$5 an ounce per package. Averaging a speed of 12mph over stretches approximately 75-100 miles in length between 153 stations (with horses switched out every 10 to 15 miles), the Pony Express is the United States’ first high speed message system. Prior to the Pony Express, letters sent from the East Coast to the West coast could be sent by ship, which required about a month to arrive, or by stagecoach over the Butterfield Express route, which required about three weeks. However, the Pony Express it will be put out of business just eighteen months later by the proliferation of the telegraph following the completion of the first transcontinental telegraph line in October 1861.
Following the acquisition of the Chicago, Illinois-based TV Forecast and similar television publications in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C., Walter Annenberg publishes the TV Guide for the first time. The first issue features a photo of Lucille Ball’s second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, on the cover. Within the first year of the national magazine’s first publication, its circulation will exceed 1.5 million readers. Visit the official TV Guide website.
SNAP 10A, the first spacecraft powered by a nuclear reactor, is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California. SNAP stands for Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power. It is activated by a signal from scientists on Earth about four hours after its launch, and once active, it generates five hundred kilowatt-hours of power over the course of its life, providing electrical power for a one kilogram-force (kgf) ion engine. The orbiting reactor will deactivate prematurely due to an electrical failure after just forty-five days into operations, falling far short of generating the intended ten thousand kilowatt-hours of power of previous ground models.
The Soviet space probe Luna 10 becomes the first spacecraft to enter orbit around the Moon, and it completes its first orbit three hours later. It was launched by the USSR from an Earth orbiting platform on March 31, 1966. The scientific instruments on board include a gamma-ray spectrometer, meteorite detector, and triaxial magnetometer. The spacecraft is also equipped with instruments to investigate gravity, infrared emissions from the Moon, radiation conditions of the lunar environment solar-plasma. It is battery powered, and it will operate for 460 lunar orbits before deactivating as planned on May 30, 1966.
The field of biocybernetics is born when the Polish Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza demonstrates the first artificial animal, an electronic dog. The device featured very elementary pattern recognition of two spoken Polish commands based on a biocybernetic model of the auditory system that imitated the functions of a simple neural network for sound pattern recognition using relays.
Jon Postel creates the first Telnet specification in Request for Comment 318 (RFC 318), entitled “Ad hoc Telnet Protocol”. Read the full text of RFC 318. At the time of the posting, there is no official telnet protocol.
The first portable cell phone call is placed in New York City by its inventor, Martin Cooper to his chief rival, Dr. Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs. The phone is ten inches tall, three inches deep, an inch and a half wide, and weighs thirty ounces. Cooper’s so-called ”shoebox” model will replace car phones that weigh more than thirty pounds and cost thousands of dollars.