This Day in Geek History: August 10
The foundation stone of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London is laid by King Charles II.
An Act of Congress signed by U.S. President James K. Polk establishes The Smithsonian Institution as a trust to administer the generous bequest of James Smithson in an amount over US$500,000. In 1826, James Smithson, a British scientist, drew up his last will and testament, naming his nephew as beneficiary. Smithson stipulated that, should the nephew die without heirs (as he did in 1835), the estate should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” The motivation behind Smithson’s bequest remain mysterious. He had never traveled to the U.S. and seems to have had no correspondence with anyone there. Read more about the history of the Smithsonian Institute.
Baird demonstrates television pictures with a stereoscopic relief effect.
A 11.2 pound (5.1kg) chondrite-type meteorite breaks into at least seven pieces and lands near the town of Archie in Cass County, Missouri.
An ejected space capsule from Discoverer 13 is recovered after it returns from orbit, becoming the first human-made object ever recovered from space.
A daylight meteor is seen from Utah to Canada. It is the only known case of a meteor entering the Earth’s atmosphere and then leaving it again.
According to Twin Galaxies, Samir Mehta scores a record setting 338,000 points playing the Atari arcade game Centipede for thirty minutes at the Time Zone arcade in Mountain View, California. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
A cockpit style version of a Star Wars coin-operated arcade game is presented to George Lucas by Don Osborne, vice president of marketing for Atari, Inc. An inscription on the game reads: “A special thanks for creating The Force behind so much fun.”
MGM releases the action film Red Dawn to 1,822 U.S. theaters. It is the first widely distributed PG-13 film ever released. The PG-13 rating is introduced by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) on July 1, 1984 after the release of a number of films that had straddled the PG and R ratings, including Dragonslayer, Footloose, Gremlins, Poltergeist, and Tootsie. Watership Down, an 1978 animated film that had featured explicit violence, was particularly instrumental in motivating the development of the new rating.
Paul H. Levy releases “The Ultimate in WarGames Dialer Programs,” Ultra-Dial version 5.1.
The first Macworld Expo is held, in Boston, Massachusetts. The event is attended by about thirty thousand people..
The NASA space probe Magellan arrives at its planned polar orbit around the planet Venus. As the planet rotates slowly beneath it, Magellan circled once every three hours fifteen minutes, collecting radar images of the surface in strips about 10-17 miles (17-28km) wide and returns the data via radio. The Magellan mission also provides gravity and atmospheric measurements.
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