This Day in Geek History: August 9
The first train to run on a steam engine makes its inaugural trip, traveling from Albany to Schenectady, New York.
Thomas Edison receives a patent for a two-way telegraph. (US No. 480,567)
French inventor Rudolf Diesel of Berlin, Germany is granted a patent for the internal combustion engine. (US No. 608,845) Read the patent on Google Patents.
During World War II, the U.S. B-29 bomber Bockscar (named for its assigned pilot, Frederick C. Bock) drops a 10,000lb plutonium bomb, “Fat Man,” on Nagasaki, Japan, destroying a third of the city and killing 74,000 people, according to later U.S. estimates. Nagasaki was chosen after the primary objective of Kokura was passed over due to visibility problems. Japan’s government will surrender five days later.
The USSR launches the Mars 7 space probe on a Proton SL-12/D-1-e booster rocket. The Mars 7 spacecraft consists of a flyby bus and a descent module intended separate to study the atmosphere and the Martian surface. It will reach Mars on March 9, 1974. However, an equipment malfunction most likely caused by a faulty computer chip will result in the premature separation of the lander. Released four hours too early, the lander will miss the planet by 1,300km.
Release 22 of Infocom‘s interactive fiction game Deadline becomes available for personal computers. Written by Marc Blank, it was one of the first murder mystery interactive fiction games ever released.
Touchstone Pictures releases the sci-fi comedy film My Science Project, directed by Jonathan R. Betuel and starring John Stockwell, Danielle von Zerneck, Dennis Hopper, Richard Masur, and Barry Corbin, to 1,003 U.S. theaters. In the film, Michael and Ellie break into a military junkyard to find a science project for Michael’s class, and discover a strange glowing orb which absorbs electricity. When the orb begins to blend past, present, and future, its up to Michael and Ellie to stop the orb and save mankind. The film will gross US$1,504,118 domestically in it opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG) Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins
The Gen Con Game Fair is held August 9 – 12 at the Milwaukee Exposition & Convention Center & Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Mustang Software’s Co-Founder and President, Jim Harrer posts an angry response denying a Usenet rumor that Wildcat! BBS Software contains a backdoor that allows remote sysop privileges. The rumor, response, and the widespread discussion raised among Usenet users make this issue one of the very first privacy controversies in internet history.
Netscape Communications Corp. goes public after generating revenues of US$16.6 million over the course of the past year. Five million shares are offered. 4,250,000 of the shares are offered in North America on the NASDAQ, making this the third largest NASDAQ offering to date. Another 750,000 shares are offered internationally. The stock is initially valued at US$14 a share, but at the last minute, the price of the initial offering is raised to US$28. The stock opens at US$71, reaching a high of US$74.75 before closing at US$58 at the close of trading, setting the company’s value at US$2.2 million. It is the best opening day for a stock issue of its size in Wall Street history. The success of the offering inspires a horde of internet firms to make their own public offerings during a period that will later be known as the Dot-com bubble. Its success is also credited with bringing the internet phenomena to the attention of millions who had previously ignored the struggling technology. Netscape was co-founded by Marc Andreessen the developer of the MOSAIC web browser while a student at the University of Illinois.
Paramount Pictures releases the action film Escape from L.A., directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell, to 2,312 U.S. theaters. The film will be a box office bomb, largely due to its extreme similarity to its predecessor, Escape from New York. Produced on a budget of US$50 million, it will gross US$8,912,557 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: R) Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) introduces the Athlon line of processors. The processor features Enhanced 3DNow! technology. Code-name: K7 Price: US$849 (650MHz), US$615 (600MHz), US$449 (550MHz), US$249 (500MHz)
Yahoo launches Yahoo! Greetings.
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