This Day in Geek History: December 16
The first U.S. submarine to be equipped with an internal combustion engine, the Argonaut, is demonstrated on the Patapsco River. During the demonstration, twenty-two members of the press make descents in the vessel for up to four hours. It was built in 1897 at the Columbian Iron Works and Dry Dock Company of Baltimore, Maryland for its inventor, Simon Lake. The submarine is thirty-six feet (11m) long and nine feet (2.7m) in diameter with wheels to travel on the sea floor. Lake was issued patents for the submarine on April 7, 1896 (US No. 557,835) and on April 20, 1897 (US No. 581,213).
The first radio broadcast of a singer in the U.S., featuring Eugenia H. Farrar, is transmitted by Lee De Forest from the Brooklyn Naval Yard in Brooklyn, New York to mark the departure of Admiral Robley Dunglison Evans (“Fighting Bob Evans”), commanded the U.S. Navy’s “Great White Fleet,” on its world-wide cruise.
Albert Einstein publishes the definitive form of his General Theory of Relativity.
The silent film Wolf Blood, also known as Wolfblood: A Tale of the Forest, is released in the U.S. It is one of the first werewolf films. In it, a grievously injured logger must accept a blood transfusion from a wolf, and after his recovery, he and his fellow lumberjacks believe that he is transforming into a werewolf. IMDB profile Running time: 1 hr 8 mins
The use of eye prints, the pattern of retina capillaries, photographed through the pupil with a Zeiss retinal camera for identification is published in an article in Time magazine by Dr. Carleton Simon, a psychiatrist and criminologist, upon the suggestion of Dr. Isadore Goldstein, an ophthalmologist from Mount Sinai Hospital. Simon and Goldstein published a paper on the method in the September 1935 issue of the New York State Journal of Medicine.
William B. Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain of Bell Laboratories patent the point-contact transistor, the first solid-state electronic transistor, and demonstrate it to a small audience.
Twentieth Century Fox releases the science fiction film Journey to the Center of the Earth, directed by Henry Levin and starring Pat Boone, James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Diane Baker, Peter Ronson, and Thayer David, to U.S. theaters. It is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Jules Verne. IMDB listing Running time: 2 hrs 12 mins
Explorer 16, the first satellite to be used exclusively to study meteorites, is launched from Cape Canaveral.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) announces MATLAN, a computer application to aid scientists and engineers in solving large matrix problems.
The television anthology series Night Gallery premieres on the NBC network. The series, which is a follow-up to The Twilight Zone, will run for forty-three episodes across three seasons. Rod Serling, the creator and host of the series, will not be afforded the same creative control over the series as he had over The Twilight Zone. As a result, by the end of the series’ run, Sterling will have all but disowned the series, frustrated by his inability to address widespread criticism of the series. TV.com entry
IMS Associates of San Leandro, California begins shipping IMSAI 8080 computer kits, one of the first consumer computers, to customers. Approximately twenty thousand units will be sold at a price of US$931 assembled or US$599 as a kit. The system features a 2.0MHz Intel 8080A chipset, a maximum of 64K of RAM, and an optional cassette or floppy drive.
Kevin Mitnick, age 25, is charged with stealing US$1 million in software from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), including VMS and XSafe source code, causing US$4 million in damages to the system, and gaining unauthorized access to MCI long-distance codes through university computers in Los Angeles and England. The Magistrate takes the unusual step of ordering Mitnic held without bail. The prosecutor says in a statement to the press that, “This thing is so massive, we’re just running around trying to figure out what he did. [...] This person, we believe, is very, very dangerous, and he needs to be detained and kept away from a computer.” Federal prosecutors also obtain a court order restricting Mitnick’s telephone calls from jail, fearing he might gain access to a computer over the phone. The case is the first in the nation to be prosecuted under a federal law that makes it a crime to gain access to an interstate computer network for criminal purposes.
In the United States, F.A.O. Schwarz and Toys ‘R’ Us stops selling the Digital Pictures game The Night Trap video game for personal computers and the Sega Genesis game system, in response to public complaints about violence contained in the game and a December 9, 1993 joint Senate Judiciary and Government Affairs Committee hearing on video game violence that prominently and infamously examined both Mortal Kombat and Night Trap. In particular, the game contains a highly controversial full-motion scene in which of a young girl in a nightgown is murdered. During the hearings, the game was described as “disgusting,” “shameful,” “sick,” and “ultra-violent.”
CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) receives funding for the Large Hadron Collider and the CERN Council unanimously approves its construction. Due to budgetary constraints, CERN also decides to discontinue the development of the World Wide Web in favor of particle physics. CERN consequently transfers the WebCore project to the French organization INRIA (the Institut National pour la Recherche en Informatique et Automatique.)
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