This Day in Geek History: August 13
The four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) written by German composer Richard Wagner premieres at the new Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which Wagner had custom built just for performances of the Ring cycle. The cycle takes four nights to perform, for a total of up to fifteen hours of performance. The plot revolves around a magic ring forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold stolen from the river Rhine that grants the wearer the power to rule the world. Read more about the opera at the University of Texas.
The first coin-operated telephone box is patented by William Gray of Hartford, Connecticut. He developed the device after a foreman had refused to let him call his sick wife from the company phone. He will begin selling the device through the Gray Telephone Pay Station Company, which he will found in 1891. The device is not the first pay telephone however. As early as 1880, a series of telephone pay stations were operating throughout New York City. Customers could use these phones by paying their attendants.
The journal Nature reports that helium gas is produced by the radioactive decay of Radium. This key discovery by William Ramsay and Frederick Soddy will help to reveal the structure of atoms.
The U.S. Congress approves Public Law No. 264, “An Act to regulate radio communication,” also known as the Radio Act of 1912, mandating that radio stations must be manned twenty-four hours a day. The same day, the first experimental radio transmission license is granted by the U.S. Department of Commerce to St Joseph’s College, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Paramount Pictures releases the sci-fi film The War of the Worlds, directed by Byron Haskin and starring Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, and Less Tremayne, to U.S. theaters. It is based on the H.G. Wells novel of the same name. Produced on a budget of two million dollars, it will go on to win an Oscar for its special effects. IMDB listing
The first two-way telephone conversation by satellite takes place with the use of Echo I, a balloon satellite.
The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) is founded. The organization will regulated the professional standards of the computer industry, offering a certification program for engineers to earn Certified Computing Professional or Associate Computing Professional designations.
AIP releases the sci-fi film Futureworld, directed by Richard T. Heffron and starring Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, Arthur Hill, Yul Brynner, and Jim Antonio, is released to U.S. theaters. It is the sequel to the 1973 film Westworld. In the film, it has been a couple of years since the disasterous events of “Westworld” and the Delos amusement park is reopening to rave reviews. However one of Delos’s most famous critics, reporter Chuck Browning, is still unconvinced of the park’s safety, especially after one of his friends dies after returning from the new Delos. Deciding to investigate, Chuck goes to Delos and teams up with fellow reporter Tracy Ballard to find out why his friend died. What they discover is that the androids of Delos are being used to replace famous and important visitors with duplicates which will, unless stopped, conquer the world. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG) Running Time: 1 hr 44 mins
The Gen Con XIV is held from August 13 – 16 at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
According to Twin Galaxies, Joel Barrett scores a record-setting 18,201,100 points playing the Konami arcade game Amidar at the Pot of Gold arcade in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
According to Twin Galaxies, Antonio Medina scores a record-setting 6,198,490 points playing the Namco arcade game Dig Dug at the Cosmic Palace arcade in Napa, California. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
Atari files a US$100 million suit in Santa Clara County Superior Court against the Amiga Corporation alleging a breach of contract. Atari charges that Amiga fraudulently dealt with other potential buyers while developing graphics microprocessors under an exclusive contract with Atari despite a US$500,000 advance payment. The tentative plans between Amiga and Atari incorporated state that Atari would purchase one million preferred shares of Amiga, a privately held company, at US$3 each by September 1st. Although Amiga had returned the US$500,000 advance by the end of June, Atari seeks damages as well as an injunction barring Amiga from delivering or selling chips except to Atari.
The International Fidonet Association (IFNA), a pioneering force for the establishment and popularization of Usenet, files Articles of Association in the state of Missouri, declaring itself as a non-profit organization.
Scientists announce that fossilized bones discovered in Texas in 1984 may be those of the world’s oldest birds.
Nintendo releases the platform game Super Mario World along with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in North America. It is the original game to come bundled with the SNES, and will go on to become one of the most sold games for the system. The game introduces the Yoshi character to the Mario franchise. ESRB: E (Everyone)
Steve Ahola, Regional Coordinator for FidoNet EchoMail Region 16, commits suicide, partially over the prospect of losing his BBS and his position with it.
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