Thomas Alva Edison is issued a patent for an improvement to the “Alkaline Storage Battery.” (No. 879,612) Its purpose is to reduce foaming of the electrolytes in alkaline batteries, an effect which Edison attributes to the presence of microscopic quantities of organic matter. To correct the problem, the alkaline solution is filtered through bone black that has been purified in a hot potash solution.
English Chemist Frederick Soddy introduces the term “isotope.” He suggests that different elements produced in different radioactive transformations can occupy the same position in the Periodic Table, and dubs such forms of an element “isotopes” from the Greek word for “same place.”
Clyde Tombaugh discovers the planet Pluto, becoming the only American astronomer to find a planet inside the solar system. The discovery is the culmination of three decades of work at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, which involved taking millions of photographs of the night sky one tiny sections at a time in search of the one moving point.
Television signals are first successfully transmitted from Washington D.C. to New York City over a AT&T“>AT&T coaxial cable.
The first 3D feature film, Bwana Devil, directed by Arch Oboler and starring Robert Stack, Barbara Britton, and Nigel Bruce premieres at Loew’s State Theatre in New York City. The film’s tagline is, “The Miracle of the Age!!! A LION in your lap! A LOVER in your arms!” The film was produced on a budget of US$400,000. IMDB listing Running time: 1 hr 19 mins
The first Computer Shack franchise opens in Morristown, New Jersey. It is visited by one hundred twelve people on the first day.
The first space shuttle orbiter, the Enterprise, embarks on its maiden flight in “captive mode,” attached to the top of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. The flight is the first of five captive flights before the orbiter is finally released to land on its own. The nine month test program is conducted through November 1977 at the Dryden Flight Research Facility to demonstrate that the orbiter can fly and land like an airplane. The orbiter was originally to be named Constitution, in honor of the bicentennial anniversary of the US Constitution, but fans of the popular television series Star Trek stagged a write-in campaign urging the White House to rename the vehicle.
Snow falls in Sahara Desert, in Southern Algeria during a storm which lasts about half an hour.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “First Contact” first airs. (No. 415) In it, Riker is seriously injured during an away mission to establish first contact with an alien race. When he is discover, xenophobic factions put him in danger. Memory Alpha entry
A Buddist temple in Hiroshima, Japan announces plans to open a “virtual graveyard” on the Internet. on which the deceased can be represented by government records, photos, and virtual gravestones. Families of the deceased can establish memorials for the deceased at no charge, choosing from a range of tombstones and flowers which can be customized with text and photos. Registrants can also create their own memorials and informal wills in advance of their own death.
Corel begins shipping the WordPerfect Suite for DOS. The office suite includes WordPerfect 6.2, Quattro Pro 5.6, and Presentations 2.1. Visit the official Corel website. Price: US$495 or US$149 (Upgrade)
The website of Kecoak Elektronik is hacked.
Abdul Traya, 16, of Calgary, Canada, receives a threatening letter from the legal representation of Apple Computer, Fenwick & West LLP. The letter demands that that the teenager turn over his Internet domain, www.appleimac.com, without making any offer of compensation. Traya decides to keep the domain, which he had registered in July 1998 to draw attention to the web-hosting business that he was running out of his parent’s basement, WestNet. Westnet is the first Canadian host to offer city-wide WiFi access. The threat makes news when Reuters reports the story. In April, the matter will be settled out of court when Apple pays Traya’s legal fees and an additional “token payment” in exchange for the domain.
The website of the Charles Schwab Corporation suffers a thirty minute outage beginning at approximately 1:45pm EST, preventing the leading US discount brokerage from fulfilling customer stock orders during that time. The company will later announce that the outage was caused by a “software error”.
Activision Value releases the historical first-person shooter (FPS) Gods and Generals for personal computers in the US. It is based on the historical fiction novel Gods and Generals. ESRB: T (Teen)
Version 7.02 of the Netscape internet suite is released. Visit an archived version of the official Netscape website.
The Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Doctor’s Orders” first airs. (No. 316) In it, the Enterprise must pass through a spacial disturbance, and to survive, the crew must be placed in stasis, leaving only Phlox to run the ship. Memory Alpha entry
Andromeda episode “Saving Light from a Black Sun” first airs. (No. 516) In it, the Andromeda is trapped in another vessel and is soon in danger of being destroyed.
The Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Affliction” first airs. (No. 415) In it, Phlox is kidnapped by Klingons who are attempting to cure a genetic defect caused by a failed attempt to create a race of Klingon Augments. Memory Alpha entry