This Day in Geek History: January 22
The Columbia Phonograph Company is formed in Washington, D.C. as a successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. The company will go on to become the first record company to produce pre-recorded records rather than just blank cylinders.
Edouard Bélin uses his Bélinographe, a system able to send remote photographs over telephone and telegraphic networks, to transmit a photograph 1,700km from Paris to Bordeaux to Lyon then back. The historical event takes twenty-two minutes.
The Uranium atom is split for the first time using the cyclotron at Columbia University, in New York City. The break through will lead to the creation of the atom bomb in Manhattan Project.
U.S. President Harry S. Truman creates the Central Intelligence Group, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. Read more at the CIA website.
KTLA, the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River, goes into operation in Hollywood, California.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) introduces the IBM 3740 data entry system and the IBM Diskette.
Microsoft enters into an agreement with Apple Computer, for Microsoft to develop an office suite for the Macintosh with the restriction that Microsoft won’t release similar software before January 1, 1984. The software will include a BASIC interpreter, and the agreement will lead to the development of Multiplan. Specifically, the agreement stipulates that Microsoft will not “undertake in any way to sell, lease, license, publish or otherwise distribute… any financial modeling, business graphics or data base program which utilizes a mouse or tracking ball for any computer not manufactured by Apple.” The agreement does not, however, bar the company from developing a competing operating system, and Microsoft soon begins working on what will eventually become its Windows operating system.
Apple Computer launches what will become one of the best known ad campaigns in history during SuperBowl XVIII. The sixty-second commercial, is dubbed “1984,” an allusion to the classic dystopian novel novel of the same title by George Orwell. In the commercial, Big Brother, a reference to the market dominating IBM, is destroyed by a runner, who is intended to represent Macintosh. Apple only runs the commercial once, but it will be replayed by news and talk shows across the nation, making it one of the most famous campaigns in television history. The ad, directed by Ridley Scott, cost US$400,000 to produce, and the air time cost US$800,000. Two days later, Apple releases the Macintosh 128K, which will become the first successful mouse-driven computer with a graphic user interface, and the Lisa 2.
Cornell University student Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. is convicted in Syracuse, New York of releasing the 1988 Internet Computer worm. His Internet worm, though not intended to be malicious, crashed many computer systems. It’s the first adult conviction made under the U.S. under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. A year prior, on January 23, 1989, Herbert Zinn was the first juvenile to be convicted under the law.)
The first Argentine satellite, Lusat, is launched.
The Space Shuttle Discovery is launched on an extended scientific mission, carrying the first International Microgravity Laboratory Spacelab experiment. (STS-42) During the mission, Dr. Roberta Bondar becomes the first Canadian woman in space. Read more at the Canadian Space Agency’s website.
At the NeXTWORLD Expo in San Fransisco, Steven Jobs introduces NeXTstep 3.0, a version of NeXTstep that will run on an Intel 486 along with MS-DOS. All NeXT operating systems will eventually be made compatible with Intel x86 architecture.
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