This Day in Geek History: January 12
The first public museum in America is established in Charleston, South Carolina.
The first X-ray photo in the U.S. is made by Dr. Henry Louis Smith in Davidson, North Carolina. Smith shot a bullet into the hand of a human cadaver and then made a fifteen minute x-ray exposure of the hand to reveal the bullet.
The first long-distance wireless message is sent from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
At 10:58am PST, scientists conduct what they term a “controlled excursion,” launching a nuclear rocket in Jackass Flats, Nevada and burning off a portion of its radioactive core. The resultant radioactive close drifted over Los Angeles before It produced a radioactive cloud over Los Angeles. Documents released in 1994 will reveal that the cloud was an “intentional accident” designed to test the possible effects of a malfunction aboard a rocket. While the population’s exposure to radiation was negligible, far less than the 25 millirad danger level, the incident will spark controversy when it comes to light in 1994. Read more about the incident.
The television series Batman debuts on the ABC network with the episode “Hi Diddle Riddle.” The series is a lighthearted comedy based on the DC comic book character Batman, created by Bob Kane. The series will run two half-hour episodes a week for two and a half seasons, for a total of 120 episodes. TV.com entry
Ben S. Gilmer, president of AT&T, announces the Bell System’s adoption of the “911″ as a nationwide emergency services telephone number. Huntington, Indiana will become the first city to activate the number on March 1st.
Eric Gordon Corley releases the first issue of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, which will go on to become one of the most prominent publications covering the “hacker scene” in the U.S., using the pen name “Emmanuel Goldstein,” an allusion to George Orwell’s distopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four. The three sheets of paper that compose the informal newsletter are mailed to “several dozen” people. It will be years before the underground magazine becomes popular enough to be sold through stores, at which point is will be published on the first Friday of each quarter.
Engineers stop using mortar and begin using the original method of interlocking blocks that was used by the ancient Egyptians to restore the pyramids. The international panel charged with overseeing the restoration of the Great Pyramids in Egypt abandoned modern construction techniques, which turned out to be destructive when water in modern cement split adjacent limestone. The restoration effort had been frustrated by the problem, but after returning to the ancient methods, the project continued without complications.
International Business Machines (IBM) introduces the Personal Computer Interactive Executive operating system, a UNIX system licensed from AT&T and developed to IBM specifications by Interactive Systems Corp. The software will be available in April. Price: US$900
Sinclair Research announces the Sinclair 16/32-bit QL (Quantum Leap) microcomputer, featuring a 7.5MHz Motorola 68008 microprocessor, 128KB RAM, two tape drives, and the Sinclair QDOS ROM-based operating system. It is notable for being the first home computer based on a 32 bits CPU, preceding Apple Computer’s release of the Apple Macintosh by mere days. Price: US$500 Weight: 3lbs
NASA launches the Space Shuttle Columbia with a seven-member crew that includes
the first Costa Rica-born astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz, the first Hispanic-American in space, Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, the second African-American pilot, Charles F. Bolden, Jr., and the first sitting member of the House of Representatives to venture into space, Bill Nelson. (STS-61-C) It will be the last shuttle flight before the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
Version 1.1, the second version (and the first stable version) of the Line Mode Browser is released via FTP. The first version of the line-mode browser was written in 1990 by Nicola Pellow, who worked as an intern at CERN where Tim Berners-Lee recruited her to write a cross-platform browser. Berners-Lee released the first browser, WorldWideWeb, but it only worked on NeXT computers, which were fairly rare. The name comes from the fact that the browser displays only one line of text at a time, in order to maintain its compatibility with teletype machines.
Apple Computer announces that it will post a US$68 million first quarter loss. It also announces a restructuring plan that reduce the company by a thousand employees. Later reports will increase the estimate to somewhere between 1,300 to 3,000, or approximately a quarter of the company’s workforce.
The first Malaysian satellite, MEASAT 1, is launched.
New Line Cinema releases the science fiction film Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, directed by and starring Farhad Mann, Matt Frewer, and Austin O’Brien to 1,589 U.S. theaters. It will gross US$1,428,658 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG-13) Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins
Scott Morris, sysop of the Assassin’s Guide BBS, agrees to a settlement with Microsoft and Novel following an April 19th raid and the companies’ subsequent civil suit.
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