This Day in Geek History: January 21
The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth by William Hill Brown, is published in Boston, Massachusetts by Isaiah Thomas.
Charles Babbage’s son, Henry Provost Babbage, uses the mill portion of the Analytical Engine he constructed from his father’s drawings to compute multiples of Pi in order to prove that the design is functional.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a non-profit organization that defends and the constitutional rights of individuals, is formed. The organization will have a significant impact on a number of fundamental issues surrounding the internet, the media, and the communication industry in general. Visit the official ACLU website.
New York Mayor Fiorello Henry LaGuardia bans pinball games in New York City, comparing them to slot machines and labeling them games of chance. LaGuardia will have thousands of the machines busted up and dumped into the ocean. Over seven thousand pounds of scraps material from the machines, including three thousand pounds of steel balls. The ban will continue through to 1976.
The first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus, is christened by First Lady Mamie Eisenhower and launched on the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut. The propulsion system of the Nautilus makes the ship the first “true” submarine. Vessel previously termed “submarines” were, in fact, only submersibles powered by diesel engines which consumed vast amounts of oxygen. However, the Nautilus can remain submerged for months on end.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) announces plans to install six IBM System/360 Model 90 supercomputers in 1967 and one per month beginning in January 1968.
The January 21st issue of U.S. News & World Report features a story entitled “Consumer Electronics: Smaller, Cheaper, Better”. In the story, it is reported that the Atari ST computers represent “a quantum leap in computer value.”
International Business Machines (IBM) announces the IBM RT (or IBM 6150) series of personal computers, notable for being one of the earliest systems to feature 32-bit RISC (reduced instruction set computer) technology. (The RT in IBM RT, in fact, stands for “RISC technology”.) It also features 1MB RAM, a 1.2MB floppy, a 40MB hard drive, and the AIX (Advanced Interactive eXecutive) operating system. Price: US$11,700
America Online (AOL) acquires Personal Library Software.
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