This Day in Geek History: February 6
Radio Corporation of America (RCA) demonstrates its electronic color television system to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but the technology is unimpressive and the company cancels its plans for a public demonstration. Visit the official FCC website.
The first radio-controlled airplane is flown for the first time.
The cryotron superconductive computer switch is introduced. Developed by Dudley Allen Buck at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the cryotron is the first practical use of superconductivity, the ability of some metals to conduct current with no resistance at temperatures below -420 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be hailed as a revolutionary step in miniaturizing room-sized computers.
Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments (TI) applies for the first patent on the integrated circuit. In his patent application, Kilby describes his new device as “a body of semiconductor material … wherein all the components of the electronic circuit are completely integrated.”
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) announces an advanced communications technique that could double the speed at which IBM machines are able to communication with each other over phone lines called “Binary Synchronous Communications.” Visit the official IBM website.
Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard becomes the first person to hit a golf ball on the Moon. Near the end of the second moonwalk and just before entering the lunar module for the last time, Shepard attaches a six-iron to the end of a sample collecting tool. Despite thick gloves and a stiff suit that force him to swing the club one-handed, he hits two golf balls. The first lands in a nearby crater. He hits the second one squarely, and, in the one-sixth gravity of the Moon, Shepard says that it travels “miles and miles and miles.” The astronauts remain on the surface for a total of thirty-three hours in total. Watch a video of the golf shot or read a transcript of the Apollo 14 crew’s second day of extra-vehicular activity at the NASA website.
According to Twin Galaxies, Leo Daniels, age 20, scores a record-setting 40,101,910 points playing the Atari arcade game Asteroids, after playing the game for thirty-six hours and four minutes at the Ocean View Corporation in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
The Ormond Beach Commission in Florida approves an ordinance prohibiting electronic games from being placed within one thousand feet of a church, school, or youth activity center in Ormond Beach.
Steve Wozniak leaves Apple Computer, twelve years after co-founding the company, in order to pursue other interests. He officially remains on the payroll as an engineering consultant with a twenty thousand dollar salary, and he remains a major shareholder with a close, personal connection to co-founder Steven Jobs. However, prior to leaving Wozniak makes several scathing remarks regarding the company’s policy of favoring the Macintosh over the Apple II, despite the Apple II accounting for some seventy percent of the company’s revenue. Visit the official website of Apple Computer.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “A Matter of Honor” first airs. (No. 208) In it, Riker serves as first officer on a Klingon battle cruiser as part of an officer exchange program. Memory Alpha entry
A Chicago Task Force raids the business of alleged computer hacker Richard Andrews. The U.S. Secret Service arrest computer hackers known as Leftist, Prophet, Terminus, and Urvile. Read more in Bruce Sterling’s “Hacker Crackdown”, available online and as a free download.
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