This Day in Geek History: August 14
A financier of Johannes Gutenberg, Johann Fust, and calligrapher Peter Schoffer publishes the second printed book in history, the Latin Psalter. The Latin Psalters are translations of the Book of Psalms into the Latin language. It is the first known printed book to be dated.
Japan, which will one day become the world’s foremost leader in technological innovation, issues its first patent to the inventor of a rust-proof paint.
Oliver B. Shallenberger, of Rochester, Pennsylvania, receives a patent for the electric meter. The meter is operated by rotating electrical fields, which Shallenberger was the first to observe. Before the invention, Edison had charged customers a fee for each of their lamps. Then, he attempted to employ a notoriously impractical chemical meter. Shallenberger’s meter, proved superior to both methods. Over one twenty thousand of the devices will be in use within a decade.
The first wireless transmission of information using Morse code is demonstrated by Oliver Lodge during a meeting of the British Association at Oxford. A message is transmitted about 150 yards (50m) from the old Clarendon Laboratory to the University Museum. He will later write in Work of Hertz and Some of his Successors, the idea didn’t occur to Lodge at the time to develop the discovery into long-distance telegraphy. “Stupidly enough, no attempt was made to apply any but the feeblest power, so as to test how far the disturbance could really be detected.”
The first purportedly powered flight, made by Gustave Whitehead in his Number 21 takes place. Though the flight is accomplished more than two years in advance of the Wright Brothers, it will go largely undocumented, unnoticed, unremarked until long after the Wrights’ globally renowned feat at Kitty Hawk.
Philips manufactures its one millionth radio.
The Student of Prague is the first feature film to be shown in full on 405-line television by the BBC.
John Atanasoff completes a paper describing the Atanasoff Berry Computer (ABC), the world’s first electronic digital computing device. He designed the system with Clifford Berry for the purpose of solving simultaneous linear equations. Atanasoff will only be given credit for the paper and title of inventor of the electronic digital computer after a long court battle that won’t end until 1972. The case will involve lengthy testimony by Atanasoff and ENIAC inventors J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, who disputed the patent. A judge will rule that Atanasoff is the true inventor, invalidating the ENIAC patent. Read more about the ABC. Read more about the case of Honeywell vs Sperry Rand Records.
The Japanese anime Alakazam the Great, based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka, is released to theaters in Japan. The film is of special note, as it will become one of the first anime films ever to be released in the United States on July 26, 1961. IMDB listing
The NASA Lunar Orbiter 1, which was launched on August 10, enters orbit around the Moon. It will return two hundred photographs, which will be used by NASA to select landing sites for both the Surveyor and Apollo missions.
The UK Marine Broadcasting Offences Act declares participation in offshore pirate radio illegal. The Radio London pirate station closes at 3:00pm and both the pirate stations Radio Scotland and Radio 270 close at midnight.
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) announces the Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA), supporting up to 640×350 resolution in sixteen colors. With 64K, the card costs US$524. For 640x350x16 mode, a US$200 64KB RAM expander is required.
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) announces its PC Network local area network, the PC/IX for the PC/AT, based on UNIX System III from AT&T. Code-name: Ringmaster (at IBM) and Octopus (at Microsoft) Price: US$695
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) announces the IBM PC/AT computer, featuring a 6MHz Intel 80286 processor, the PC-DOS 3.0 operating system, a 5.25-inch 1.2MB floppy drive, 256 or 512KB RAM, an optional 20MB hard drive, and either a monochrome or color monitor. The system also features the MS-DOS 3.0 operating system. The XENIX operating system from Microsoft is also available. Code-name: Bigtop (at IBM) and Salmon (at Microsoft) Price: US$4,000 – US$6,700
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) announces the Professional Graphics Display Monitor. The fourteen inch monitor, priced at US$1,300, features a total of 4,096 possible colors (256 at any one time) and a resolution of 640×480. The Professional Graphics Controller Card requires two adjacent expansion slots in a PC. The US$3,000 card features an 8MHZ 8088 chip and 384KB of RAM.
Rod Brock, of Seattle Computer Products (SCP), writes to Microsoft president Jon Shirley, notifying the intent to sell SCP’s royalty-free DOS license, and seeking a Microsoft buyout of SCP for US$20 million.
The Silicon Mountain Conference of the International Fido Net (Later called Fidocon ’86 or The First International Fidonet Conference) is held from August 14th to 17th, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Fidocons will be held into the nineties and into the 21st century in Europe. FidoNet is a computer network connecting bulletin board systems (BBS) around the globe, both socially and technologically.
Daniel T. Depew and Dean Ashley Lambey of Richmond Virginia are arrested on charges of plotting to kidnap, molest and kill a boy to produce a snuff film. The pair initially contact undercover agents through a computer bulletin board system (BBS), bringing further attention to the case, which is considered to be one of the first nationwide computer bulletin board entrapment cases. Ultimately, Depew is sentenced to thirty-three years in prison and Lambey is sentenced to thirty. While the BBS angle is slight, it is played up significantly in the media. Some media outlets even go so far as to speculate that the pair were pre-selling the film on local computer bulletin boards.
Hewlett-Packard introduces the HP DeskWriter 300 dpi ink jet printer for Macintosh computers. Price: US$1,195 Weight: 15lb
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