This Day in Geek History: December 10
A second legal definition of the metre is made by the French National Assembly to be 3 feet and 11.296 lines of the toise of Paris, 0.144 of a line shorter than the 1795 definition. This new definition also doesn’t rely on the length of a meridian as part of the definition. With the new definition, the metric system is made compulsory by law in France.
The first traffic lights are installed outside the Palace of Westminster in London, England. They resemble railway signals, they use semaphore arms and are illuminated by green and red gas lamps.
George Eastman receives a patent for the first flexible celluloid film, which he developed in cooperation with chemist Henry M. Reichenbach. Soon after being granted the patent, Eastman will introduce roll film, which will vault photography into the mainstream.
The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in the fields of chemistry, literature, medicine, peace, and physics. The prizes are awarded by the King of Sweden in Stockholm, Sweden, in accordance with the will of inventor Alfred Nobel.
The Nobel Prize for Physics is awarded to Pierre and Marie Curie and fellow physicist Henri Becquerel for their work with radioactivity. Working together after their marriage in 1895, the Curies demonstrated that the elements Thorium and Uranium emit radiation. They also found that radioactivity causes particles to be electrically charged and discovered two new elements, Polonium and Radium.
The ten millionth Model T Ford automobile is assembled.
To determine whether or not a pilot can safely eject from an aircraft traveling at supersonic speeds, Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Stapp, a flight surgeon, rides in a rocket sled that accelerates to 632mph in just five seconds then stops in just 1.25 seconds at Holloman Air Force Base, in New Mexico. The trip exposes him to forty Gs, the equivalent of a car crashing into a brick wall at 120 mph.
The first Saturday morning animated cartoon series, Mighty Mouse Playhouse, premieres on CBS.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) unveils the IBM 7320 drum, a random access magnetic drum storage device.
The Military Standard reference manual for the Ada programming language is released on the anniversary of Ada Lovelace’s birthday. The manual is given the number MIL-STD-1815 in honor of Ada Lovelace’s birth year. Ada is touted as the language in which all U.S. Defense Department programs will be written in the future, though it will never quite achieve that level of prevalence.
The RipCo BBS is launched by Dr. Ripco in Chicago on an Apple II. Arguably mislabeled as a “phreak and hacker board,” RipCo’s claim to fame will be it’s open door policy and easy going administration. Users will have the run of the board and frequently post illicit information of interest to the hacking community. On the morning of May 8th, United States Secret Service agents will seize the hardware used to operate Ripco. An interesting account of the seizure can be found at Totse.com. Ripco will have 701 users at the peak of its popularity.
Inspired by the harassment and practical jokes he receives on a daily basis, following his publication of “Night of the Hackers,” Richard Sandza submits a second article for the December 10th issue of Newsweek, entitled “Revenge of the Hackers.”
The National Science Foundation reports the discovery of the first planet outside our solar system, orbiting a star twenty-one million light years from Earth.
id Software releases the first-person shooter Doom for MS-DOS via an ftp site on the University of Wisconsin computer network to nearly instant success. Doom will later be voted by industry insiders as the number one game of all time. It is will be widely recognized for its groundbreaking use of immersive 3D graphics, networked multiplayer gaming, and extensive support for players to create custom expansions. Distributed as shareware, Doom will be downloaded by an estimated ten million people within two years, popularizing the mode of gameplay and spawning a gaming subculture. Its graphic interactive violence will make Doom the subject of much controversy outside the gaming world. It’s title was inspired by a scene in the movie The Color of Money. Visit the game’s official website. BBFC: 15 ESRB: M (Mature) OFLC: MA15+ PEGI: 16+
Paramount Pictures releases the comedy film Wayne’s World 2, directed by Stephen Surjik and starring Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Christopher Walken, and Tia Carrere, to 2,400 U.S. theaters. In it, Wayne and Garth try to organize a rock concert while Wayne fends off a record producer who has an eye for his girlfriend. A character wearing an Amiga Video Toaster t-shirt appears in the film. Produced on a budget of US$40 million, it will gross US$13,516,699 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG-13) Running Time: 1 hr 34 mins
Trans World Music opens the first store of its F.Y.E. (For Your Entertainment) chain in Trumbull, Connecticut. F.Y.E. concept is a family-oriented, multimedia retailer specifically designed for malls.
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