This Day in Geek History: February 14
According to legend, a Roman priest named Saint Valentine is stoned, beaten to death, beheaded, and buried at the Via Flaminia, north of Rome. Under the rules of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in multiple military campaigns, the Empire was experiencing difficulties recruiting new soldiers. Convinced that the problem was that men were unwilling to leave behind their wives and children, Claudius banned marriage. Valentine, however, continued to perform ceremonies for young lovers in secret. When his actions were uncovered, the Emperor ordered him arrested and the Prefect of Rome ordered his death. According to legend, the priest left a farwell note for his jailer’s daughter, with whom he had befriended during his imprisonment, signed “From Your Valentine.” In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius I declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine’s Day in order to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. Learn more about the history of Valentine’s Day.
This date is sometimes cited as the first observance of St. Valentine’s Day by the declaration of Pope Gelasius. Read more about the history of Valentine’s Day.
The first U.S. textile machinery patent is granted to James Davenport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia.
Alexander Graham Bell applies for a patent on his telephone apparatus, the “speaking telegraph,” allegedly less than three hours before Elisha Gray files a caveat at the Patent Office for a similar device featuring a liquid transmitter that will later prove to be the linchpin of the technology. The patent will be granted three weeks later, on March 7th. After a long, heated legal battle, the United States Supreme Court will eventually uphold Bell’s patent, leaving him the official inventor of the telephone.
Thomas Edison is issued a patent for a “Telephone-Transmitter.” (US No. 278,044)
The first U.S. submarines with diesel engines were commissioned at Groton, Connecticut.
The National Film Corporation of America releases the silent film Tarzan of the Apes, directed by Scott Sidney and starring Elmo Lincoln, Enid Markey, George B. French, and Gordon Griffith, to U.S. theaters. It is based on the first part of the 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and it’s the first film to feature the popular character Tarzan. IMDB listing
Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR) becomes the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) with Thomas J. Watson as both CEO and chief operating officer. Visit the official IBM website.
The first automated speaking clock which can be accessed over the telephone goes into operation in the Paris, France.
John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert unveil ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the world’s first digital electronic computer, at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. The result of a US$400,000 contract from the U.S. Army granted in April of 1943, ENIAC performs calculations at five thousand operations per second, one thousand times faster than its contemporaries. The system occupies over fifteen hundred square feet of space, weighs thirty tons, and uses 17,468 vacuum tubes, working at a speed of 100,000 pulses per second each. The heat generated by all of the tubes can raise the room temperatures to one hundred twenty degrees. ENIAC is programmable by means of plugging and unplugging hundreds of wires patterns that make it the first true “stored-program” computer. It will capture the imagination of the nation, not only because of its size but also because of its speed. The system will be used for calculations, mostly for ballistics, through the mid-fifties. Read more about ENIAC at the ENIAC Museum Online.
NASA launches the communications satellite Syncom 1. It’s the first satellite in a program to establish the world’s first network of geosynchronous communication satellites, however, it will be lost before establishing an orbit due to an electronics malfunction.
Twentieth Century Fox releases the black and white sci-fi film The Day Mars Invaded Earth, directed by Maury Dexter and starring Kent Taylor and Marie Windsor, to U.S. theaters. In it, Martians replace a scientist and his family in order to pave the way for a planetary invasion. IMDB listing Running time: 1 hr 10 mins
The Star Trek episode “Requiem for Methuselah” first airs. (No. 74) In it, the crew is confronted by a reclusive immortal on an isolated planet while searching for a cure to a rare disease. Memory Alpha entry