This Day in Geek History: December 11
Guglielmo Marconi attempts to transmit a Morse Code signal via radio telegraph across the Atlantic Ocean, from Poldhu in Cornwall, England to Percy Wright Page in Signal Hill, St. John’s, Newfoundland. The attempt fails, but the following night, December 12th, he will succeed.
A B-29 Superfortress breaks records by crossing the U.S. in just five hours and twenty-seven minutes.
Frederic Calland (F.C.) Williams patents a way to “memorize” or store digital data on the cathode ray screen screen of specially designed television sets. The Williams Tube memory is another approach experimented with by early computer engineers, which makes use of a cathode ray tube (CRT), the type commonly used for oscilloscope, radar, and television view screens, to store binary data.
Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers a lecture at the University of Oslo the day after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. He argues that progress in science and technology is not equaled by “moral progress”; instead, mankind suffers from a “moral and spiritual lag.”
This evening I would like to use this lofty and historic platform to discuss what appears to me to be the most pressing problem confronting mankind today. Modern man has brought this whole world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future. He has reached new and astonishing peaks of scientific success. He has produced machines that think and instruments that peer into the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space. He has built gigantic bridges to span the seas and gargantuan buildings to kiss the skies. His airplanes and spaceships have dwarfed distance, placed time in chains, and carved highways through the stratosphere. This is a dazzling picture of modern man’s scientific and technological progress.
Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.
The Concorde, the world’s first supersonic airliner, is unveiled in Toulouse, France.
Apollo 17 becomes the sixth and final mission to set down on the surface of the Moon. The astronauts will remain on the surface for seventy-five hours, and the mission will be the last time that men will step foot on the Moon.
General Electric Company agrees to buy Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and its subsidiary, NBC for US$6.3 billion, making it the most expensive non-oil business acquisition in U.S. history. Visit the company’s official website.
The Star Trek: Voyager episode Macrocosm first airs. (No. 312) In it, Voyager answers a distress call from a mining colony, but the crew comes under attack from a macro virus that manages to get past the transporter’s safeguards. The episode is the first to use special effects provided by the former Babylon 5 special FX house Foundation Imaging. Memory Alpha entry.
Version 4 of the Eiffel programming language is released.
District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issues a preliminary injunction against Microsoft for violating the court’s earlier July 1994 consent decree. The injunction requires Microsoft to “unbundle” its Internet Explorer (IE) web browser from its operating systems by offering licensees the option of selling computers with Windows pre-installed but free of IE. Judge Jackson also appoints long-time Microsoft critic Lawrence Lessig as a “special master” to advise him through an amicus brief. In Jackson’s works, Lessig is appointed “… in the interest of justice to resolve as expeditiously as possible the complex issues of cybertechnology and contract interpretation connected therewith.” However, Jackson declines to impose a one million dollar per day fine, as the Justice department has requested. Microsoft will appeal the injunction December 16th.
The website of the United States Air Force headquarters (USAF) is hacked, and files are renamed at random.
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