This Day in Geek History: December 2
The first Ford Model A automobiles are unveiled and sold at New York City’s Waldorf Hotel and in thirty-five other cities around the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The Phaeton sells for US$395 and the Tudor Sedan sells for US$495.
A team led by physicist Enrico Fermi initiates the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois as part of the Manhattan Project.
BBC Television introduces a new on-screen logo, which is the world’s first moving logo for a television service.
The Naval Ordnance Research Calculator (NORC) is presented to the United States Navy at the Naval Surface Weapons Center in Dahlgren, Virginia by International Business Machines (IBM). The machine was built at the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory under the direction of Wallace Eckert. At the machine’s inauguration, John von Neumann gives the keynote speech and the machine calculates pi to 3,089 digit as a demonstration of its capabilities.
The first full-scale atomic electric generating station in the U.S. goes into operation in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. The plant will reach full power in twenty-one days, generating sixty megawatts of power for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Atari signs a long-term agreement with Destron, to market home video game versions of Destron’s arcade games.
A U.S. federal court rules that Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) does not have the right to use Intel’s 486 microcode in its microprocessors.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announces it is closing the case of its two-year investigation of Nintendo based on charges that the company has been conspiring to eliminate retail discounting of its popular home video games, with no further action being warranted.
NASA launches the Space Shuttle Endeavour on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. During the course of the mission, the crew uses a notebook computer in space for the first time. The notebook, an IBM ThinkPad 750, is used to observe color schematics and sketches of the telescope.
New York Federal District Court Judge Kimba Wood upholds the US$208 million patent infringement award against Nintendo, refusing the company’s request for a new trial in the matter of patent infringement against Alpex Computer.
Robert and Carleen Thomas, the sysops of the Amateur Action Bulletin Board System of Milpitas, California, are sentenced to 37 and 30 months, respectively, in Memphis, Tennessee, where their California-based BBS was found to be in violation of Tennessee obscenity standards. The sysops have been scanning photos from sexually-explicit magazines and posting them for their members, who were charged a US$55 membership fee. Under federal sentencing rules, both are required to serve their full term. This is the first case of a BBS owner being prosecuted for the content of their BBS based on the standards of a community in a different state.
Net Address launches as a new free e-mail address service for Internet users. The service provides new users an extension of “@usa.net”.
The California Department of Fish and Game is anonymously hacked.
+At Home Network, a prominent high-speed cable Internet service provider, announces that they have acquired Full Force Systems, Inc., an interactive television set-top box software developer.
At the College of William and Mary in Willamsburg, Virginia, a thirty-six member Commission on Information Technology publicly endorses the Virginia Internet Policy Act, a piece of proposed legislation drafted by Virginia Governor James Gilmore that would make Internet “spam” illegal. The commission includes members such as Robert McDowell, a vice president at Microsoft, Frank Bowers, vice president of Cox Communications, John Sidgmore, vice chairman of MCI-Worldcom, and Michael Daniels, chairman of Network Solutions. If passed, the seven part Act will address such issues as child pornography, consumer privacy, fraud, and spam. and it will be the first such legislation of its kind in the United States.
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