This Day in Geek History: December 30
Skylab 4 and Soyuz 13 photograph the Comet Kohoutek at its perihelion, capturing the first images of a comet ever taken by from space. The media hyped Kohoutek as the “comet of the century” and scientists predicted that Kohoutek would be an Oort Cloud Object. As such, it was believed likely that this was the comet’s first visit to the inner solar system, which would result in a spectacular display of outgassing. However, Kohoutek’s display will be considered a let-down, leading some media sources to dub the event “Comet Watergate.” Infrared and visual telescopic studies will later lead scientists to conclude in retrospect that Kohoutek is actually a Kuiper belt object, which accounts for its apparent rocky makeup and lack of outgassing.
Version 3.2 of the IBM PC-DOS operating system is released. The system requires 128KB RAM and is available on either one 720KB disk or two 5¼ disks.
Blogger’s Note: Some sources date the release of PC-DOS to 1985, while others date the release to 1987. As I’ve been unable to find a definitive source, I’ve used 1985, as it seems the most logical of the two possible dates.
At 10:00pm, Now We’re Talking becomes the first network television program in the UK to be wholly funded by adverting. The program, commissioned by Carlton Television for the ITV Network, is funded by British Telecom.
Reuters reveals that officials at FedEx and UPS are “not terribly enthusiastic” about the upward surge in online sales. The increasing demand for deliveries to remote residential addresses and the multiple stops required when recipients aren’t at home is rapidly increasing the companies’ cost of doing business.
Bandai releases the WonderSwan Color handheld game console in Japan. The system features a 3.072MHz 16-bit NEC V30MZ Clone, 64KB VRAM/WRAM, a 2.1 inch reflective TFT LCD screen, and four channel mono sound. Prior to the release, Nintendo held a near monopoly over Japan’s handheld game market, but, largely due to its low price, the WonderSwan will rapidly win over approximately eight percent of the market. Price: ¥6,800 (about US$65)
Onafhankelijke Post en Telecommunicatie Autoriteit (OPTA), an agency charged with enforcing Dutch telecommunications law, issues its first fines for spam sent in the Netherlands. The organization has been collecting consumer complaints regarding unsolicited e-mails since the government banned spam in May. The three fines were fifty-eight, thirty-four, and twenty-seven thousand dollars respectively. One of the offenders used a SMS (short messaging service) to send mail to mobile phones. When consumers opened the message, they were automatically charged US$1.49 (€1.1).