This Day in Geek History: February 28
The American Telephone & Telegraph Company is incorporated as a subsidiary of the American Bell Telephone company in New York.
The synthetic polymer Nylon is first produced by Dr. Wallace H. Carothers of DuPont. It will first be used commercially for the bristles of toothbrushes in 1938, and it will go on to become the first commercially successful synthetic polymer.
James D. Watson and Francis Crick announce to their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of the DNA molecule earlier that morning. The had determined that the structure of DNA was composed of a double helix of monomer nucleotides. The formal public announcement won’t be made until April 25, in the April issue of the journal Nature.
The first NTSC standard color television sets, the model H840CK15, are offered for sale to the general public in sixty stores across New York by Westinghouse for US$1,295, or roughly one-half to one-third the cost of a new car. Only thirty will be sold by April, and only five hundred will ever be built. March 25th, RCA will begin shipping its model CT-100, the first mass-produced all-electronic compatible color set, for US$1,000, and later in the year, a still cheaper model that will secure the company’s dominance in the television market.
Jay Wright Forrester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is awarded a patent for his coincident current magnetic core memory. (US No. 2,736,880) The device, which Forrester describes as a “multicoordinate digital information storage device,” will become the standard for computer storage devices until it’s usurped by solid state RAM in the mid-seventies.
Discoverer 1, the first of the satellite in the Corona reconnaissance (spy) satellite program, is launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base. It is the first satellite to be launched towards the South Pole in the hope of achieving a polar orbit, but it will fail, falling to Earth somewhere near the South Pole.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) creates a new regulation aimed at protecting the right to privacy by prohibiting eavesdropping of private conversations by the direct or indirect use of radio-controlled devices. Visit the official FCC website.
The Star Trek episode “The Cloud Minders” first airs. (No. 76) In it, the Enterprise’s mission to obtain a life-saving mineral are complicated when terrorist strike out at the city which provides the mineral. Memory Alpha entry
According to Twin Galaxies, Mike Klug scores a record-setting 65,460 points playing the Namco arcade game Pole Position at the Video Paradise arcade in San Jose, California. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
Paramount Pictures releases the romantic teen drama Pretty in Pink, directed by Howard Deutch and starring Molly Ringwald, to 827 U.S. theaters. In one scene, Andie Walsh, played by Molly Ringwald, receives a message via computer from her crush via computer while sitting the school’s library. Though the movie’s messaging is clearly a series of graphic rather than any actual software application, it marks the first use of graphical messaging (what might later be refereed to as “IM-ing”) in a teen drama. It will gross US$6,065,870 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG-13) Running Time: 1 hr 36 mins
The Star Trek: The Next Generation releases the episode “Eye of the Beholder” first airs. (No. 718) In it, Troi investigate a death that occurred before the Enterprise was under construction. Memory Alpha entry
The first gamma-ray burst to generate an observed afterglow is detected at 02:58 UTC by the BeppoSAX satellite and the Ulysses space probe. The event lasts for eighty seconds and is the first evidence that gamma-ray bursts occur outside the Milky Way.
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) launches the Net Yaroze development system for the PlayStation video game system for programming enthusiasts. Visit the official Yaroze website. Price: US$750
The website of Åsö Gymnasium is hacked by “PM”.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk, the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) certified by the FAA to file its own flight plans and fly in U.S. civilian airspace without advanced notice, makes its maiden flight. The vehicle, manufactured by Northrop Grumman is traditionally used as a surveillance aircraft.
PeopleSoft, Inc. of Pleasanton, California, the second largest provider of business management software, reveals plans to dismiss four hundred thirty employees, or about six percent of its work force. The firm will also take a charge against earnings in the first quarter for nearly US$175 million to create a new business group called Momentum.
Reuters news service reports that a British military communication satellite has fallen under the control of hackers who have issued terms for its release back to the British government. The newspaper quotes unnamed security sources which claim that the satellite was seized nearly two weeks prior.
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