This Day in Geek History: December 12
The first U.S. patent for aerial photography is issued to Cornele B. Adams of Augusta, Georgia. (US No. 510,758) His method of photogrammetry can produce a topographic map by means of photographing the same tract of land from different points from an unmanned stationary balloon on a tether. “The pictures obtained can be converted into topographic maps, to delineate not only the horizontal positions and distances of the objects correctly, but from which the altitude of the objects can be quickly and accurately ascertained, and such results obtained without the aid of other field instruments.”
Guglielmo Marconi gives the first public demonstration of his radio equipment at Toynbee Hall in East London. He is introduced and assisted by William Preece, chief electrician of the British Post Office. The event draws a large audience and considerable attention from the press. While Marconi taps the key on the transmitter, Preece carries the receiver box around the room, demonstrating that there are no wires, as the bell in the receiver rings each time Marconi closes the key.
Guglielmo Marconi successfully transmits a Morse Code letter “S” via radio telegraph 2,137 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, from a 10kW station at Poldhu in Cornwall, England to Percy Wright Page in Signal Hill, St. John’s, Newfoundland at approximately 4:30 UTC. Such a connection won’t be established again for another ten years.
The American Multigraph Sales Company of Cleveland, Ohio begins manufacturing the Multigraph duplicating machine, the first commercially successful device to simplify the printing process. It was patented on March 10, 1903 by inventor, Harry C. Gammeter, a typewriter salesman. Consisting of a metal drum with vertical channels running across it, it allows laymen to arrange moveable type with a retaining foot into the channels to roll out professionally lettered solicitation letters.
NBC begins experiments with a mobile television vans in the streets of New York City.
A proposal made by Louis de Broglie recommending the creation of an European Institute of Nuclear Physics to match U.S. atomic research is adopted at the European Cultural Conference, a four day meeting of one hundred fifty European leaders. The proposal will eventually lead to the establishment of the Centre Européenne de Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) laboratory on September 29, 1954.
The General Electric Company announces the creation of Borazon, a boron nitride allotrope harder than diamond. The substance is created by heating equal quantities of boron and nitrogen at temperatures greater than 1800°C (3300°F) under 7GPa of pressure. The material was first produced by chemist Robert H. Wentorf, Jr.
Oscar I (“Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio”), the first satellite in orbit built by private citizens, is launched on a Thor-Agena rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The ten pound satellite is carried on the Discoverer XXXVI. Once in orbit, Oscar separates from the Discoverer and begins operating as a separate satellite, transmitting the message “HI” in morris code (four dots and two dots) ten times a minute for three weeks in the two meter band. The satellite was designed and hand-built by San Francisco Bay area radio amateurs, most of whom are associated with electronics firms. It will reenter the atmosphere on January 31, 1962 after making 312 orbits.
Over-the-air subscription television (pay TV) is formally adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as a regular United States broadcast service.
Oil tycoon Armand Hammer purchases the thirty-six sheet manuscript Codex Leicester by Leonardo DaVinci at an auction at Christie’s in London for US$5.28 million, the highest price ever paid for a manuscript. Written from 1506 to 1510, the manuscript covers DaVinci’s observations and theories a wide variety of topics, ranging from astronomy to hydrodynamics, all written in his signature mirror writing, as well as in more than three hundred pen-and-ink sketches.
Underwriters Morgan Stanley and Hambrecht & Quist take Apple Computer public in the most successful initial public offering (IPO) in the U.S. since the Ford Motor IPO of 1956. The company sells 4.6 million shares at US$22 per share under the stock symbol “AAPL” on the NASDAQ market. The shares sell out almost instantly, and by the end of the day, the stock increases in value by almost thirty-two percent to close at US$29, leaving the company with a market value of US$1.778 billion. More than forty of Apple’s one thousand employees and investors become instant millionaires. Steve Jobs, the company’s single largest shareholder, makes US$217 million dollars alone, while Mike Markkula makes US$203 million, an incomprehensible 220,700% return on their investment. Apple will not initially pay dividends on its common stock.
The United States Congress passes The Computer Software Act of 1980, which amends the Copyright Act to extend federal copyright protection to include computer programs. Software is now considered an invention and can be patented.
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