This Day in Geek History: April 8
Dr. Carl Gassner is issued a German patent for the first “dry” cell battery, which uses zinc as its primary component. (No. 37,758) He encased the cell chemicals in a sealed zinc container. Gassner’s battery is much like the carbon-zinc, general-purpose batteries popularly used today. Gassner will also patent his invention in Austria, Belgium, England, France, and Hungary by the end of the year. A U.S. patent will be issued to Gassner in 1887. (US No. 373,064)
J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly are informed by their patent lawyer that First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC by John von Neumann (published a year prior) poses an obstacle to their efforts to patent ENIAC.
The largest sunspot group recorded is observed on the Sun’s southern hemisphere. Its size is an estimated seven billion square miles, with an area approximately 6,100 millionths of the Sun’s visible hemisphere. A large sunspot will usually measure 300 to 500 millionths of the visible hemisphere, whereas the entire surface area of the Earth is only 169 millionths of the solar disk.
Columbia Pictures premieres the first 3-D movie produced and released by a major studio, Man in the Dark, at the Globe Theater in New York City. The film stars Edmund O’Brien, starring Edmond O’Brien, and it is a remake of the 1936 film “The Man who Lived Twice.” The next 3-D feature movie, The House of Wax, will be the first from a major company to be shot in color. It will open only two days later, at the Paramount Theater in New York City. The concept of the 3-D movie isn’t new, though. The very first one, “The Power of Love,” was produced in the U.S. by Perfect Pictures in 1922, using the familiar method of providing the audience spectacles with red and green lens to produce the illusion of depth. The first 3-D movie with sound was a Russian production of “Robinson Crusoe,” which premiered in Moscow in February 1947.
IBM publicly unveils the IBM 701. The system marks a lot of firsts for the company. It is the company’s first electric computer, as well as its first mass produced unit. The 701 is also the company’s first commercially available scientific computer and the first system developed by IBM to store programs in internal, addressable, electronic memory. On April 29, 1952, IBM President Thomas J. Watson, Jr., described the system to the company’s stockholders as “the most advanced, most flexible high-speed computer in the world.”
WKY-TV broadcasts the first live color program from its studios, just three weeks after RCA shipped its first color camera.
At the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, astronomer Frank D. Drake, age 29, turns the observatory’s 85-foot Howard Tatel telescope toward the star Tau Ceti, marking the start of Project Ozma, the first search for signs of possible extraterrestrial intelligence. Read more about Project Ozma.
OAO 1, the first orbiting astronomical observatory, is launched. The observatory is equipped with instruments to detect X-ray, ultraviolet and gamma ray emissions.
Disc-jockey Larry Norton ends a record-breaking continuous broadcast of 484 hours on radio station WGRQ FM in Buffalo, New York, which began on March 19.
According to Twin Galaxies, Burt Jennings scores a record-setting 76,377,300 points playing the Williams Electronics arcade game Defender at the Outer Limits arcade in Durham, North Carolina. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
According to Twin Galaxies, Roger Mangum scores a record-setting 71,473,400 points playing the Williams Electronics arcade game Stargate at the Outer Limits arcade in Durham, North Carolina. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
Atlantic Releasing releases the romantic comedy Valley Girl, starring Nicolas Cage, Deborah Foreman, E.G. Daily, Cameron Dye, and Joyce Hyser, is released to 442 U.S. theaters. Shot in just twenty-two days, the film is a quick jump-on-the-bandwagon response to popular film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which had been a blockbuster upon its release the prior August and in which Cage had also played a role. The combination of the two films will make an enormous impact on teen culture, introducing a wealth of vernacular into daily language. Nowhere will that vernacular be more evident than on the BBS forums of the day. Produced on a budget of US$350,000, it will gross US$1,856,780 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating:R) Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins
John Sculley, age 44, is named as president and CEO of Apple Computer after Steve Jobs convinced him to leave his position as president of PepsiCo, reportedly asking him, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”
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