This Day in Geek History: December 19
Samuel Clemens, better known by the pen name Mark Twain, receives a patent for “An Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Garment Straps,” later known as suspenders. (US No.121,992) It is the first of three patents he will be granted in his life.
At Pitcairn Field, in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, Amelia Earhart becomes the first autogyro pilot to carry a passenger. Flying a Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogyro, she makes trips carrying various passengers until dark. Just the previous day, December 18, 1930, Earhart made her first solo flight in the same autogyro, becoming the first female to make a solo flight. Two years earlier, on December 19, 1928, Harold F. Pitcairn made the first ever autogyro flight.
The first known radio broadcast from outer space is transmitted from the SCORE (Signal Communications Orbit Relay Equipment) communication satellite, which was launched from Cape Canaveral the previous day. The voice of President Eisenhower issues a Christmas greeting from a pre-recorded tape recording aboard. The battery-operated 132MHz vacuum tube transmitter has an 8W output. His full message is, “This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one. Through this unique means I convey to you and all mankind America’s wish for peace on earth and good will to men everywhere.”
Transit 5A1, the first operational navigational satellite, is launched.
The Altair 8800 microcomputer kit goes on sale in the U.S. as a do-it-yourself computer kit. The kit is sold by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), which was founded by Ed Roberts. The Altair uses switches for input and indicator lights as a display. It’s powered by a 2MHz Intel 8080A microprocessor. It’s first sold through Popular Electronics magazine, where the designers intended to sell only a few hundred kits to hobbyists; however, demand for the machine ultimately exceeded the manufacturer’s wildest expectations when ten times that many were sold in the first month. The Altair kit will later be widely recognized as the spark that led to the personal computer revolution. Price: US$397
Bloggers Note:The first programming language for the Altair will be Microsoft’s first product, Altair BASIC.
Mary Lund becomes the first woman to receive a Jarvik VII artificial heart. She will receive a human heart transplant forty-five days later, and she will survive with the heart until October 1986.
The television industry and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agree to adopt a national ratings system in the U.S. in response to rising public concerns over the increasingly graphic natural of television programming. The system will go into effect on January 1, 1997.
The Videogame Music Archive (VGMusic.com) is launched on the Internet by Michael Newman, a chemical engineer. The website archives MIDI sequences of video game theme music. The archive will grow to include tens of thousands of pieces from a wide variety of games spanning many systems, including the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Wii, and the Xbox 360. Visit the website.
The Generic Extension programming language is released.
Sony Pictures Entertainment releases the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Pierce Brosnan, to 2,807 U.S. theaters. Produced on a budget of US$110 million, the film will gross US$25,143,007 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG-13) Running Time: 1 hr 59 mins
Twentieth Century Fox releases the romance film Titantic, directed by James Cameron and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher, Kathy Bates, Gloria Stuart, and Bill Paxton, to 2,674 U.S. theaters. The film will become both a critical and commercial success, winning eleven of the fourteen Academy Awards for which it will be nominated, including Best Picture, and it will become the highest grossing film of all time, with a total worldwide gross of US$1.8 billion. The epic film relies heavily on state-of-the-art computer graphics and animation to tell the story of a romance aboard the ill-fated 1912 maiden voyage of the Titanic. Produced on a budget of US$200 million, it will gross US$28,638,131 domestically in its opening weekend. Visit the film’s official website. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG-13) Running Time: 3 hrs 14 mins
A page of Tudelft.nl, the Delft University of Technology, is hacked and defaced by “pOOt & clOut”. View the an archived version of the defaced website.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com is named Person of the Year by Time magazine. Bezos started the e-commerce sensation with US$300,000, three Sun Workstations and a garage office. Critics, however, argue that Time magazine’s choice may have been ill placed since Amazon.com has never shown a profit and has not predicted a profit in the foreseeable future.
Pages: 1 2