This Day in Geek History: January 16
The Superman comic strip premieres. The series will run continuously until May 1966, and, at the peak of its popularity, it will run in over three hundred newspapers with an aggregate readership of over twenty million.
The United States government’s automated air defense system, the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE), is disclosed to the public. The SAGE system connects hundreds of radar stations in Canada and the United States into the first large-scale computer communications network. With the increasing fear of a large-scale attack on the United States, it was evident that the nation’s defense capabilities required an improvement, and the Lincoln Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was commissioned to develop an automated nationwide computer-based air defense system to provide the edge that the nation needed. SAGE was completed in the early sixties, and it revolutionized air defense and civilian air traffic control. In 1979, SAGE will be replaced by Regional Operations Control Centers (ROCC).
The Bell System proposes a new service called TELPAK (TELecommunications PAcKage) which would create “electronic high-ways” between specific points, over which many types of communications might be transmitted.
The final episode of the science fiction anthology television series The Outer Limits, “The Probe,” first airs. (No. 48) In it, four survivors from a plane crash find themselves trapped in an alien space probe that was taking water samples. Inside, they race to unlock the probe’s mystery before they are killed. The series ran for forty-nine episodes across two seasons. IMDB entry
Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 perform the first docking of manned spacecraft in orbit as well as the first-ever transfer of crew from one space vehicle to another. Yevgeny Khrunov became the first astronaut to transfer between linked capsules. It is the only time such a transfer will ever be accomplished with a space walk.
The USSR Lunakhod 2 lunar rover begins to survey the surface of the Moon via radio-control. The rover will make astronomical observations, measure magnetic fields, perform laser ranging experiments, and shoot video footage.
NASA names thirty-five candidates to fly on the Space Shuttle, including Sally K. Ride, who will become America’s first woman in space, and Guion S. Bluford Jr., who became America’s first black astronaut in space. Six women, out of roughly three thousand original applicants, will graduate from NASA’s rigorous training program to become the first female astronauts in the space program.
While snowed in during the Great Chicago Snowstorm of 1978, Ward Christensen begins preliminary work on what will eventually become Computer Bulletin Board System (CBBS), the first Bulletin Board System (BBS). Christensen will collaborate with his friend Randy Suess. The entire system is conceived, designed, programmed, debugged, and tested in thirty days. between January 16 and February 16 1978.
According to Twin Galaxies, Joe Carson scores a record-setting 75,865,365 points playing the Williams Electronics arcade game Defender at Sandy’s arcade in Cheektowaga, New York. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
The first meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is held. The organization’s purpose is to develop and promotes Internet standards, particularly the TCP/IP and Internet protocol suite. Visit the official IETF website.
The science fiction series Star Trek: Voyager premieres with the two-hour episode, “Caretaker.” (No. 101 – 102) In it, the first female starship Captain to be featured as the central character of major science fiction series gets sucked into another quadrant, bangs up her ship, kills half her crew, gets hopelessly lost, and pisses off the locals … to the unending delight of male chauvinists everywhere. The series will run for seven seasons, for a total of 172 episodes. Visit the series’ official website. Memory Alpha entry TV.com entry
The United Parmount Network (UPN) begins telecasting, from it’s flagship, WWOR in New York City. The network will be dissolved on September 15, 2006. Visit an archived version of the official UPN website.
In the case of Lotus v. Borland, the Supreme Court of the United States allows the Appeals Court’s ruling of March 9, 1995 stand by a tie vote of four-to-four, with Justice John Stevens not participating. In the suit, Lotus claims that Borland has infringed upon its copyrights with Quattro Pro. The district court ruled in favor of Lotus, however, on appeal, the allegedly infringing features in Quattro Pro were ruled to be a “method of operation” and thus not subject to copyright.
Multimedia Wire publishes a report entitled, “Atari Corp. Exits Video Game Business, To Liquidate Game Assets.”
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