This Day in Geek History: February 19
In Pennsylvania, the first practical coal-burning locomotive makes its first test run.
The first U.S. patent for the tintype photographic picture process is issued to Professor Hamilton L. Smith of Gambier, Ohio. The patent describes the patent as being “For the Use of Japanned Metallic Plates in Photography” to obtain “positive impressions upon a japanned surface previously prepared upon an iron or other metallic plate or sheets; and it consists in the use of collodion and a solution of a salt of silver and an ordinary camera.” (US No. 14,300) The patent describes the preparation of the black varnish, along with the varnish’s application and baking.
Thomas Edison patents the phonograph. (US No. 200,521) His first recording is of himself reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb” by speaking into the device’s large horn, which transmits vibrations to a needle, which inscribes a recording onto a tin-foil cylinder, which is rotated by hand. Read an excellent history of the Edison phonograph at the U.S. Library of Congress website.
Alan Turing presents the “Proposal for the Development in the Mathematics Division of an Automatic Computing Engine (ACE)” to a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington, England.
The Soviet Union launches the Sputnik 52 space probe and the Molniya 1-13 communications satellite.
The first warrant to search a computer is issued in San Jose, California. The search will ultimately lead to a conviction for theft of trade secrets.
Nolan Bushnell is issued a patent for his Pong home video game system, which the patent describes as a “video image positioning control system.” (US No. 3,793,483) Read more about Pong. View the patent at Google.
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference, Intel introduces the iAPX432 processor, the company’s first 32-bit processor, and begins shipping evaluation sets. The processor is a set of three chips, which incorporate over two hundred thousand transistors. Intel claims the processor should perform at two million instructions per second (MIPS). Visit the official Intel website.
Embassy Pictures releases the horror film Swamp Thing, directed by Wes Craven and starring Louis Jourdan, Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Wise, and David Hess, to U.S. theaters. The film is based on the DC Comics character “Swamp Thing“. The film was produced on a budget of US$3 million. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG) Running time: 1 hr 31 mins
According to Twin Galaxies, Tracey Miller scores a record-setting 171,110 points playing the Stern arcade game Ant Eater at the Bun ‘n Games arcade in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
According to Twin Galaxies, Mike Klug scores a record-setting 65,410 points playing the popular Namco arcade game Pole Position at the Video Paradise in San Jose, California. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
United States President Ronald Regan jointly awards Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple Computer, Inc. a National Medal of Science in recognition of the company’s technological innovations just two weeks after their highly publicized parting ways. Visit the official National Science Foundation (NSF) website.
Activision, an American computer and video game developer, makes a deal to acquire Infocom, an American software company, for US$7.5 million in cash and stock. Visit the official Activision website.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” first airs. (No. 315) In it, the crew encounters the Enterprise C at a spacial anomaly, and during a resulting change in the timeline, Tasha Yar is once again a part of the crew. Memory Alpha entry
American Video Entertainment accuses Nintendo of secretly making technical changes to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to make competitors’ game cartridges unplayable. Nintendo claims that the changes are part of an ongoing effort to stop worldwide game counterfeiting. Visit the official Nintendo website.
Mike Godwin publishes an article entitled “When Copying Isn’t Theft: How the Government Stumbled in a ‘Hacker’ Case” in the January-February issue of the magazine Internet World. The article comments on some of the issues involved in the Craig Neidorf case, in which Neidorf was accused of stealing documents from Bell South. Read a transcript of the Craig Neidorf trial at the Temple of the Screaming Electron.
Apple Computer announces that Motorola’s Computer Group has licensed the Mac OS. Motorola will be able to sub-license the Mac OS to other manufacturers who purchase PowerPC motherboards from Motorola. Visit the official Motorola website.
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