This Day in Geek History: December 29
Gottlieb Daimler patents the first bike in Germany.
Thomas Edison is granted a patent for “a means for transmitting signals electrically,” the wireless radio.
The first motion picture serial to feature what will become the genre’s characteristic cliffhanger endings at the end of each installment (chapter), “The Adventures of Kathlyn,” premieres in Chicago. The thirteen episode serial was produced by the Selig Polyscope Company after William Selig was inspired by the rising sensationalism of news journalism during Chicago’s newspaper circulation war to bring serial stories to the big screen. The very first serial, What Happened to Mary was released by Edison Studios on July 26, 1912, but it was Selig’s cliffhanger endings that would popularize the format.
The identification of heavy water is publicly announced by H.C. Urey.
William Shockley records in his laboratory notebook that it should be possible to replace vacuum tubes with semiconductors. Eight years later, Shockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen at AT&T Bell Laboratories successfully tested the point-contact transistor. It will take approximately ten years after the creation of the point-contact transistor for transistors to replace vacuum tubes in computers.
The first hearing aid to use a transistor goes on sale, the Sonotone model 1010 manufactured by the Sonotone Corporation of Elmsford, New York. It weighs 3.5oz, measures 3″ x 1.5″ x 0.6″ and costs US$229.50. It consists of two sub-miniature pre-amplifier tubes and a single transistor as the final audio amplifier. The devices uses both pre-amplifier tubes and a transistor because the tubes have a superior signal to noise ratios compared to early junction transistors. Just months later, transistor production techniques will be greatly refined, eliminating noise, and these hybrid models will soon after be discontinued.
American physicist Richard Feynman delivers a lecture entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” at an American Physical Society meeting at Caltech. In the lecture, Feynman considers the ramifications of future technologies that may one day make it possible to directly manipulate individual atoms. He asserts that such a technology would be a more powerful form of chemical synthesis than those currently available. The lecture will come to be considered the birth of nanotechnology. Read the lecture online.
The Star Trek episode “Shore Leave” first airs. (No. 15) In it, the crew of the Enterprise visits a bizarre planet of dangerous illusions, encountering the rabbit from “Alice in Wonderland”, fighter planes and Samurai. They soon come to realize that things they imagine become real. Memory Alpha entry
The Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” first airs. (No. 44) In it, fuzzy little creatures called tribbles invade and over-populate a Federation star base, inadvertently exposing a Klingon plot. The script is the first professional sale for writer David Gerrold. The episode will be nominated for a Hugo Award in 1968 as “Best Dramatic Presentation”, but lost to the version of “The City on the Edge of Forever” that was actually shown on-air. Memory Alpha entry
According to Twin Galaxies, Kevin Gentry scores a record-setting 2,117,570 points on Atari’s Asteroids Deluxe after playing the game for five hours and twenty-five minutes at the Court Jester arcade in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
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