This Day in Geek History: February 16
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is founded when forty engineers from eight states meet in New York City in the offices of American Machinist. Read more about the history of the ASME. Visit the official ASME website.
Archaeologist Howard Carter opens the sealed doorway to the sepulchral chamber of the tomb of King Tutankhamen in Thebes, Egypt. A group of invited visitors and officials is present for the event, including Lord Carnarvon, who had funded the excavation. Inside the tomb, the party discovers a sarcophagus containing three coffins nested inside one another. The smallest of the coffins, made of solid gold, contains the mummified body of King Tut, the first perfectly preserved mummy ever to be discovered, along with golden statues, jewelry, weapons, and clothing.
The first patent for a tree, only the seventh patent on a plant in the U.S., is granted to James E. Markham of Stark Brothers Nurseries and Orchards in Louisiana, Missouri for a peach tree which ripens later than most varieties.
Wallace H. Carothers receives a patent for nylon, the first first synthetic polymer that will go on to be a commercial success.
The first commercial helicopter, a four-seat, single rotor Sikorsky S-51, makes its first flight. It can carry three passengers over a distance of two hundred fifty miles at a top speed of a hundred miles per hour.
A team of Swedish scientists headed by Erik Lundblad successfully create diamond crystals the size of grains of sand in a high pressure press by subjecting graphite to eighty-three thousand atmospheres of pressure at about two thousand degrees Celsius for an hour. The research is funded by the Swedish electrical company ASEA, which will keep the results in order to keep the a trade secret. General Electric will produce synthetic diamonds later in the year, on December 16, 1954.
The first U.S. space cabin simulator makes headlines nationwide when Airman D. F. Smith emerges from seven day stay within the chamber, housed in San Antonio, Texas to be greeted by Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and the press. Smith passed the time in isolation, performing psychological evaluations while his health was monitored. The cabin is about one hundred cubic feet in size and contains only a standard aircraft seat and a mock-control panel with displays, lights, and switches. It is equipped with air conditioning, a carbon dioxide absorption system, an oxygen supply, and a urine distillation and recycling system to duplicate a space capsule in every way but for the weightlessness.
China brings its first nuclear reactor online.
NASA launches the Explorer 9 satellite. It is the first satellite launched from the Wallops Station on Wallops Island in Virginia. It is also the first satellite launched using a wholly solid-fuel rocket.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) announces the Hypertape Automatic Cartridge Loader, the first device to permit automatic loading and unloading of magnetic tape for electronic computers. Visit the official IBM website
The Computerized Bulletin Board System (CBBS), the first computer bulletin board system is created in Chicago, Illinois by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess. The system is conceived, designed, built, programmed, tested, and installed in the thirty day period between January 16th and February 16th 1978. Some sources claim that this is only the first “observed” day of operation of CBBS, and the actual operation date was weeks earlier. According to these sources, Ward and Randy stretched out the development time to one month because two weeks sounded like an empty boast. When the board is finally launched in 1979, Christensen will manage the system under the title “system operator,” which will soon after be shortened “sysop”. CBBS operates like a virtual thumb-tack bulletin board. Participants can post messages to a public “board,” and others can read and respond to those messages, creating an ongoing virtual discussion. The popularity of BBS services will explode in November 1978 when Christensen and Suess publish an article in Byte magazine describing CBBS and outlining the technology for creating virtual bulletin boards.
International Business Machines (IBM) introduces the IBM Portable Portable Computer, featuring a 4.77MHz Intel 8088 processor, 256KB RAM, a 9 inch amber monitor, a 360KB 5.25 inch drive, and the DOS 2.1 operating system. Price: US$2,795 Weight: 30lbs Visit the official IBM website.
Version 1.00 of RemoteAccess BBS is released. Written in Turbo Pascal with some Assembly Language routines, RemoteAccess, began as a clone of QuickBBS, but will quickly develop features that make it one of the most popular bulletin board system (BBS) programs in the U.S. Visit an archived version of the official RemoteAccess website.
In Japan, Fujitsu introduces the Marty model of FM Towns personal computer featuring an Intel 386 processor. It runs software from a CD-ROM drive. Marty has no keyboard and requires a connection to a television. It’s the first line of computers to include a CD-ROM drive standard in every model. Price: US$800
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