This Day in Geek History: August 3
The New York World newspaper runs an article about Thomas Edison’s opinions on Radium and X-rays that begins on the front page. The article is entitled, “Edison Fears Hidden Perils of the X-rays.” In the article, Edison describes the injuries his laboratory employee, Clarence Dally, incurred during his research into Radium. Dally had an arm and hand amputated to remove the cancer caused by exposure to X-rays. Edison also felt that viewing the element with his own X-ray fluoroscope had harmed his eyesight two years earlier. When the focus of his left eye was disturbed he abandoned research on X-rays. Edison is quoted as saying, “I am afraid of radium and polonium too, and I don’t want to monkey with them.” Edison goes on to say, “I have had several pieces of it from Mme. Curie in Paris, and I have experimented with it. I do not see its commercial utility, but it opens up a great field of thought and scientific research. It overturns all the old theories of force and energy… I have a peculiar theory about radium, and I believe it is the correct one. I believe that there is some mysterious ray pervading the universe that is fluorescing to it. In other words, that all its energy is not self-constructed but that there is a mysterious something in the atmosphere that scientists have not found that is drawing out those infinitesimal atoms and distributing them forcefully and indestructibly.”
A nearly complete, buried, skeleton of a Neanderthal is discovered in a cave at La Chapelle-aux-Saints, France. It will be examined by Marcellin Boule, who will overlook its arthritic condition and published a description that characterized the Neanderthal as a shuffling, bent-kneed, and hairy creature capable only of “rudimentary intellectual abilities.” The description will become a stereotype, until it is corrected in the fifties. The species is named after the Neander Valley in Germany, where the earliest discovery of the species was made in August 1856.
Aircraft are used in a military capacity for the first time when Italian planes reconnoitered Turkish lines near Tripoli.
The nuclear submarine USS Nautilus, the first atomic-powered submarine in the United States Navy, becomes the first submarine to travel beneath the Arctic ice cap to the North Pole. Attempts earlier in the year failed due to the ice-pack conditions. The crew will create a post office while underneath the North Pole which the Post Master General will later retroactively declare official and use a home-made North Pole stamp to post their letters.
Bell Laboratories scientists conduct a coast-to-coast telephone conversation by “bouncing” their voices off the Moon.
At the Warwick Hotel in New York City, Lewis Kornfeld, president of Radio Shack, a division of Tandy Corporation, announces the TRS-80 (“Trash-80″) Model I microcomputer. The TRS-80, the first mass-produced desktop computer, is based on the Z-80 8-bit microprocessor manufactured by Zilog, which cost Tandy less than US$150,000 to develop. It features 4KB RAM, expandable to 16K RAM, a 4KB ROM, expandable to 12K ROM, a 53-key keyboard, a twelve inch RCA video display, a Realistic CTR-41 cassette-based data recorder, a built-in BASIC interpreter, BlackJack, and Backgammon. The computer uses the TRSDOS and CP/M operating systems. Several other programs are available for the system, including: the 12 Employees payroll application (US$19.95), the Math I educational application (US$19.95), and the Personal Finance finance application (US$14.95). Though only twenty-five of the systems exist at the time of the announcement, over ten thousand orders will be taken for the system within the first month of its introduction. Price: US$599.95 (Full System), US$399.95 (Microcomputer), US$199.95 (Monitor), US$49.95 (Cassette Drive)
At the Macworld Expo in Boston, Apple Computer releases the Newton MessagePad, featuring built-in “intelligence” for managing routine tasks. The system will ultimately prove unpopular, largely due to the short lifespan of its batteries and the lengthy adjustment time required by the system to adapt its handwriting recognition to a new user.
The Fear and Loathing BBS of Birmingham, Alabama is raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on suspicion of pirating Novell and Quarterdeck products.
Pages: 1 2