This Day in Geek History: April 4
A pianist performs in Philadelphia, while an audience enjoys the performance in New York City. The event is an important early demonstration of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell.
The first episode of the silent film serial The Perils of Pauline premieres in New York. The cliffhanger serials shown in weekly installments feature Pearl White, a perpetual damsel in distress, as the title character. She is menaced by assorted villains, including pirates and Native Americans. At the end of each installment she is generally placed in a situation that looks sure to result in her imminent death. The start of the next episode shows how she is rescued or otherwise escapes the danger, only to face fresh peril again.
The American Interplanetary Society (AIAA) is founded in New York City by David Lasser, G. Edward Pendray, and Laurence Manning, and nine others, for the “promotion of interest in and experimentation toward interplanetary expeditions and travel.” It will become known the American Rocket Society on April 6, 1934. Through the thirties, the group will design an experimental test stand and tested liquid-fueled rockets. Their pioneering experiments will lay the ground work for the United States space program. Their ARS-4 will be the first rocket launched in America to break the sound barrier on September 9, 1934. In early 1963, the society will merge with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
Scientists records the largest group of sunspots on record.
At a British ban-the-bomb rally, the peace symbol is used for the first time. The symbol is an amalgamation of two flag semaphores, one for the letter “N” and one for the letter “D.” The letters N and D are intended to stand for “nuclear disarmament.” It was created by British graphic designer Gerald Holtom, a conscientious objector, and he will choose not to trademark the symbol so that it may be used freely in future protests.
Read more at the website for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
MGM releases the science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, to U.S. theaters. The critically acclaimed film has what is believed to be a record number of 70-millimeter wide gauge prints made for a film during the roadshow era. The film’s grand scale and accurate portrayal of technology will go on to inspire generations to pursue careers in science, and the film’s mainstream success will inspire countless science fiction films. However, at the time of the film’s release, IBM, the world’s leading (or, at least, the most recognizable) computer manufactuer strongly disapproved of the film’s portrayal of a computer that kills people. (Though Kubrick had made a point of removing the IBM logo from computer equipment used in the film, the logo can still be spotted on a handful of instrument panels, most notably the wrist keypads the astronauts wear.) As a result, IBM management frowned on any mention of 2001 and will even go so far as to actively discourage their employees from seeing it. The film was produced on a budget of US$12 million. IMDB (MPAA Rating: G) Running Time: 2 hrs 19 mins
Dr. Denton Cooley implants the first temporary artificial heart in a man. The patient, Haskell Karp, lived for 65 hours on artificial heart.
The first electric power generated in the U.S. fueled by municipal solid waste is produced at the Meramec Plant of the Union Electric Company in St. Louis, Missouri. The venture is a cooperative effort with the city of St. Louis, with financial support from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The power plant’s coal-fired boiler is supplemented with a small percentage of shredded refuse. In the following month, the plant will generate 200,000 kiloWatt hours of electricity, with wastes consumed at the rate of 12.5 tons an hour or about 300 tons a day. The plant disposes of solid waste, reduces fossil fuel consumption, and cuts costs to both the utility and the city.
The World Trade Center in New York is officially dedicated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Tenants had begun moving into the first tower in January 1972, but this day marks the completion of the second tower. The towers was built by the New York Port Authority at a cost of US$900 million.
Microsoft is founded as a partnership between Bill Gates, age 19, and Paul Allen, age 22, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The company, which is founded to develop BASIC for the Altair 8800, will grow into one of the largest companies in the United States or, in fact, the world. In 1986, the company’s initial public offering (IPO) will leave four Microsoft employees billionaires and approximately twelve thousand employees millionaires.