This Day in Geek History: February 15
The philosopher Socrates, who will widely be credited with the laying the foundations of Western philosophy, is sentenced to death after being found guilty of corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and introducing new Gods into Greek ideology.
Ferdinand Braun publishes a paper in the journal Annalen der Physik und Chemie describing his “Braun tube,” the first cathode-ray oscilloscope. He developed the oscilloscope to record and study the time dependence of alternating currents. Cathode-ray tubes had previously been characterized by uncontrolled rays. Braun produced a narrow stream of electrons, guided by means of alternating voltage, that can be traced on a fluorescent screen. A coil wrapped around the Braun tube produces a vertical deflection of the electron beam. Horizontal deflection of the image to create a “time” axis is achieved by a small rapidly rotating mirror placed in front of the CRT.
The first teddy bear is introduced in America. It is made by two Russian immigrants, Morris and Rose Michtom, who own a toy and novelty store in Brooklyn, New York. They coined the term “teddy bear” from President Theodore Roosevelt’s nickname, “Teddy.” While bear hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt decided to spare the life of a bear cub which had been orphaned during the hunt. The event was the subject of a cartoon in the Washington Post seen by the Michtoms. Inspired by the cartoon, Mrs. Michtom made a toy bear which became enormously popular with the public in short order.
The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), the first electronic general-purpose computer, is officially dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The first test problem it solves concerns the trajectory of a 155-millimeter shell. The test is programmed by Jean Bartik and Betty Holberton, two members of the all-woman team that had previously performed such calculations by hand. The U.S. Army chose six women, including Frances Holberton to program ENIAC.
The first atomic reactor to be used in medical therapy, is first used on a human patient at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), in Upton, New York. The Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor (BGRR) begins the experimental treatment of brain cancer using neutrons from the reactor. Over the next two years, ten patients will be treated with boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT). The reactor, the first to be dedicated to peaceful exploration of atomic energy will be operated from 1950 until 1968, and it will be used for a wide variety of research.
The General Electric Company (GE) announces the successful synthesis of sixteenth inch diamonds using the first successfully reproducible diamond production process. The GE Super Pressure Project research team had been working since 1951 to create a special pressure vessel to subject carbon compounds to pressures of up to one and a half million pounds per square inch at temperatures of up to five thousand degrees Fahrenheit. They created the first diamonds on December 16, 1954, beginning GE’s man-made industrial diamond business. The manufactured diamonds will be used as abrasives in masonry saws, mining drill bits, polishing machinery, and cutting tools. On February 16, 1953, a Swedish scientist became the the first person in history to create diamonds, but his experiment that was never repeated and the process was held secret prior to the GE announcement.
The first anti-bootleg recording legislation is enacted.
Magnavox settles its television game patent infringement suit against Mattel Electronics and five other companies. Mattel will pay a settlement fee and receive a license to continue producing and selling its Magnavox game console.
Kevin Mitnick is arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at his apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina on charges of breaking into some of the most secure computer systems in the United States, including the California DMV, NORAD, and PacBell, of the course of a two and a half hacking spree. Mitnick is also alleged to have stolen twenty thousand credit card numbers. In 1999, Mitnick will confess to four counts of wire fraud, two counts of computer fraud, and one count of illegally intercepting a wire communication. Mitnick will be released Jan. 21, 2000, after serving five years behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter blocks enforcement of the Communications Decency Act signed by President Bill Clinton punishing anyone who makes indecent material available to minors over computer networks. The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until attorneys present their case pursuant to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and nineteen other groups. The crux of the matter rides on the definition of “indecent.”
In the Thursday, February 15 issue of Computer Entertainment News, David Gerding publishes an article discussing Atari’s recent layoffs. The article, entitled “Atari Raises Suspicions; Is the Industry Pioneer in … or out of … the Video-Game Business?”
The Fox Broadcasting Company airs The Simpsons episode “Das Bus.” (No. 914) In the episode, Bill Gates offers to buy out Homer’s Internet start-up, Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net. Instead of actually buying the company, two of his goons trash the office.
The The X-Files episode “Kill Switch” first airs. (No. 511) The episode was written by cyberpunk pioneers William Gibson and Tom Maddox. In it, Mulder and Scully investigate the death of a reclusive computer genius who died while researching artificial intelligence. TV.com
Pages: 1 2