This Day in Geek History: January 24
A two minute long motion picture of a solar eclipse is recorded by the United States Navy from the dirigible Los Angeles from an elevation of about 4,500 feet, about nineteen miles east of Montauk Point, Long Island, New York. It is the first time a dirigible has been used for astronomical observations in the U.S.
International Business Machines (IBM) dedicates the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC), also known as the Poppa, at the company’s world headquarters in New York City. The SSEC is the first computer to combine electronic computation with stored instructions, and it will be the first computer to run a stored program and the last large electromechanical computers to be built. It contains 13,500 vacuum tubes and 21,000 relays and occupies three sides of a 1,800 square foot room. Among it’s most notable accomplishments will be the calculation of a table of the Moon’s positions which will be used to plot the course of the 1969 Apollo flight.
It will be decommissioned in 1952.
Percy LeBaron Spencer is issued a patent for the original microwave oven, which he describes in his application as a “Method of Treating Foodstuffs.” (US No. 2,495,429) However, the first commercial microwave oven, the 1161 Radarange, won’t be marketed to the public until 1954.
As part of the consent decree resulting from the 1949 antitrust case, AT&T and Western Electric are restricted from expanding their businesses into any field outside the telecommunications industry, with the notable exceptions of conducting research.
English nuclear scientists announce that Project Zeta has achieved the first man-made nuclear fusion reaction. The aim of Project Zeta is to achieve fusion by heating deuterium to approximately five million degrees Celsius, however, further investigation of the data will prove that no fusion actually took place.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) introduces the IBM 7770 Audio Response Unit, which makes data within a computer available over the telephone.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) introduces expanded programming support for the Operating System/360 (OS/360). The system allows the IBM 2311 disk storage drive and the IBM 2314 direct access storage facility to be shared by up to four System/360 computers.
The Star Trek episode “That Which Survives” first airs. (No. 72) In it, the crew of the Enterprise are stranded on a seemingly haunted abandoned outpost, which they discover is guarded by a mysterious computer. Memory Alpha entry
The four month-old Soviet satellite Cosmos 954 burns up in Earth’s atmosphere, scattering debris over Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Apple Computer releases a 3.5″ floppy.
Apple Computer releases a 300-baud and 1200-baud modem. Price: US$300 and US$500, respectively
At the annual Apple Computer stockholders meeting at the Flint Center at the De Anza Community College in Cupertino, California, Steven Jobs introduces the Lisa 2, featuring a 5MHz Motorola MC68000 processor, 512KB RAM, a 16KB ROM, a built-in twelve-inch black and white monitor, a keyboard, a built-in 400KB 3.5″ floppy disk drive, and a mouse. LISA is an acronym for Local Integrated Software Architecture. Price: US$3,495 (standard), US$4,495 (5MB hard drive), US$5,495 (10MB hard drive)
At the annual Apple Computer stockholders meeting at the Flint Center at the De Anza Community College in Cupertino, California, Steven Jobs introduces the Macintosh, featuring a 7.83MHz 32-bit Motorola MC68000 processor, 128KB RAM (not expandable), a 64KB ROM, a built-in 400KB 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, a built-in nine-inch black and white monitor, eight bit mono sound, and a mouse. The system comes with the 216KB System 1 operating system, which was derived from LisaDesk. It features a revolutionary graphic interface and comes bundled with the MacWrite word processor, MacPaint, and sound-sampling technology that can play recorded sounds. It is the first commercially successful system to feature both a graphical user interface (GUI) (rather than a command line interface) and a mouse standard. The system’s introduction comes after numerous delays since the beginning of its development since 1979. Within seventy-five days, fifty thousand units will be sold. Within six months, one hundred thousand units will be sold. In September 1984, the system will be upgraded to include 512KB RAM standard. Price: US$2,495 Weight: 20lbs
Microsoft releases Microsoft BASIC and Microsoft Multiplan for the Apple Macintosh to coincide with Apple’s launch of the Macintosh computer. The release comes at the behest of Steven Jobs, who had seen what an enormous role Basic had played in the success of the Apple II. However, the development of Microsoft’s implementation was rushed to market for the Macintosh’s release and was significantly flawed.
Apple Computer settles a trademark-infringement lawsuit with Management and Computer Services over the use of the word “Mac” for Macintosh computer-related products for an undisclosed sum.
Space Shuttle Discovery is launched on the fifth mission of the shuttle program. It’ the first secret, shuttle mission wholly devoted to military purposes.
The Voyager II space probe makes its closest approach to the previously unexplored planet Uranus. The spacecraft comes within 50,679 miles (81,500km) of the planet’s atmosphere. It will radio back thousands of images along with data that will lead to the discovery of ten new moons, several new rings, and a bizarre magnetic field. Launched on August 20, 1977, the Voyager II has already examined both Jupiter and Saturn. Visit NASA’s official Voyager 2 website.
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