This Day in Geek History: December 13
The horror film The Werewolf, directed by Henry MacRae and starring Clarence Burton, to US theaters. The silent short film is the very first film to feature a werewolf. The film is framed as an old Indian legend. In it, a jilted Navajo woman turned witch raises her daughter to reap a horrible vengeance on all men, in the form of a werewolf. IMDB listing Running Time: 18 mins
In order to settle an antitrust suit filed in Portland, AT&T pledges to dispose of its Western Union telegraph stock, provide long distance connection to independent telephone systems, and not to purchase any more independent telephone companies except as approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission in a letter to the Attorney General of the United States which will later be referred to as the “Kingsbury Commitment.” The letter will historically be considered the mark of the beginning of AT&T’s monopoly, as the settlement establishes AT&T as a government sanctioned monopoly.
NASA launches Relay I, the first active repeater communications satellite, aboard a Thor-Delta rocket from the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral. It will transmit its first test patterns on January 3, 1963, once its solar cells are fully charged. Once in service, it will transmit facsimile, telephone, television, and teleprinter signals.
Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt begin the sixth and final Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) or “Moonwalk” of Apollo 17. It will be the last manned mission to the Moon of the 20th century.
Robert M. Metcalfe, David R. Boggs, Charles P. Thacker, and Butler W. Lampson received a patent for Ethernet, which they titled “Multipoint Data Communication System with Collision Detection” and described as an “apparatus for enabling communications between two or more data processing stations comprising a communication cable arranged in branched segments including taps distributed thereover.” The patent was assigned to the Xerox Corporation.
Paramount Pictures releases the comedy film Clue, directed by Jonathan Lynn and starring Tim Curry, Martin Mull, Eileen Brennan, Lesley Ann Warren, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, and Madeline Kahn, to 1,006 US theaters. In it, six guests are invited to a strange house and must cooperate with the staff to solve a murder mystery. It is based on the board game Clue. It is notable for being the first film to open nationally with three different endings. Newspaper ads indicate which ending is playing at which theater, allowing audiences to choose. Produced on a budget of US$15 million, it will gross US$2,014,166 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG) Running Time: 1 hr 36 mins
Project Runeberg, an open and voluntary initiative to publish free electronic editions of Scandinavian literature on the Internet, is launched by Lars Aronsson. The project is inspired by and modeled after the English-language Project Gutenberg. It is named after Finland’s national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, but it can also be roughly translated as a play on words meaning “mountain of letters.” Visit the official Project Runeberg website.
Cyrix and Texas Instruments (TI) file lawsuits against each other over Cyrix’s 486 processor design databases. Texas Instruments demands that Cyrix deliver the design databases, and Cyrix demands that Texas Instruments cease manufacturing and distributing Cyrix products.
Apple Computer announces the specifications of its Pippin video game system, based on the Macintosh personal computer. It features a 66MHz PowerPC 603 processor, a 14.4kbps modem, with a 640×480 resolution in 24-bit color on a television, and a CD-ROM disk system. A license is granted to Bandai of Japan to manufacture and sell units, tentatively called the Power Player.
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