This Day in Geek History: December 17
The Edison Electric Illuminating Company is incorporated to provide electric light to New York City with one million dollars in capital. Within fourteen months, the service will have 508 subscribers and power 12,732 bulbs. The company will become the prototype for all other local illuminating companies established in the eighties.
The first radiotelegraphic transmission of a complete text is achieved.
The first powered flight is made by the brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright on the sands of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina using a gasoline engine. The flight, made in the in the Wright Flyer lasts twelve seconds and spans a distance of 120 feet (or 36.5 meters.)
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approves the revised RCA all-electronic color television system and discontinues the CBS sequential color system. Color broadcasts will begin thirty days later. Radio Corporation of America (RCA) transmits its new NBC Chimes logo at 5:32pm to celebrate.
Universal Pictures releases the science fiction film Monster on the Campus, directed by Jack Arnold and starring Arthur Franz and Joanna Cook Moore, to U.S. theaters. IMDB listing
The United States Air Force (USAF) closes its study of the UFO phenomena, known as “Project Blue Book,” concluding that prior sightings had been the result of “a mild form of mass hysteria, individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or seek publicity, psychopathological persons, and misidentification of various conventional objects.”
Local independent television station WTBS in Atlanta, which was recently acquired by Ted Turner, is broadcast nationally via the Satcom 1 satellite, becoming the first “superstation,” defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as “a television broadcast station, other than a network station, licensed by the FCC that is secondarily transmitted by a satellite carrier.”
The animated series The Simpsons premieres with the episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” on the FOX television network. The series will continue to run for twenty-one seasons and four forty-nine episodes over the next twenty years. Visit the official Simpsons website.
According to an article written by Lorianne Denne in the December 17th issue of The Puget Sound Business Journal, Nintendo of America employs about 1,400 people in their Redmond, Washington headquarters. According to the same article, seventy percent of all American homes with children between ages 8 and 15 have Nintendo products, and, in 1989, sixteen cents of every dollar spent on toys went to Nintendo.
In the United States, Kay-Bee Toy Stores 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.” F.A.O. Schwarz and Toys ‘R’ Us stopped selling the game a day earlier.
At the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the “Option Red” supercomputer is activated. Equipped with 9072 Intel Pentium Pro processors with 600GB of memory and 2TB of disc storage, the computer is able to perform one trillion floating-point operations per second, making it the fastest computer in the world. The computer cost US$55 million dollar computer.
Jorn Barger begins posting daily entries on his weblog, Robot Wisdom, which features “links to articles about politics, culture, books and technology that he found interesting.” Robot Wisdom will come to widely be acknowledged as the first weblog ever. In fact, Barger will coin the term “weblog” in his December 23rd entry.
Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA) files suit against six alleged software counterfeiters that have done business over the Internet.
The United States Justice Department asks Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to hold Microsoft in contempt for failing to obey court orders regarding their bundling of Internet Explorer with the Windows operating system.
The website of Softex is hacked by “tattoo & mantis”. View an archived version of the defaced website.
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