This Day in Geek History: January 28
Pall Mall in London becomes the first street in the world to be lit by gaslight.
The first commercial telephone exchange in the world is installed in New Haven, Connecticut to serve twenty-one subscribers connected by a single strand of iron wire. For the first six weeks, the exchange won’t be operated at night. The first experimental message sent over the system is “Ahoy, ahoy.” The first operator is George W. Coy. A Bell franchise had been awarded for New Haven and Middlesex Counties to Coy on November 3, 1877, paid for by incorporating the system into a company with two financial partners. Coy improvised the first crude switchboard, building it from carriage bolts, handles from teapot lids and bustle wire. The concept of interconnecting phone wires had been tried before by three other men, but none of them had operated commercially. Click here to view the original patent application for the telephone exchange.
The Yale Daily News becomes the first daily college newspaper in the United States.
In England, Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent becomes the first person to ever be convicted of speeding. He is fined 1 shilling plus costs for driving at 8mph (13 km/h), violating the speed limit of 2mph (3.2 km/h).
In Berlin, Albert Einstein first suggests the possibility of measuring the universe.
The Bank of America and SRI sign a contract for the development, construction, and testing of a pilot model Electronic Recording Machine – Accounting (ERMA) to provide service to the bank’s twelve branches at a cost of US$850,000 over four years, with an additional US$25,000 for subcontracts. However, engineers will later estimate that the final total of the project was closer to US$10 million.
The EDVAC, one of the earliest electronic computers, runs its first production program.
Construction begins on the first privately owned thorium-uranium atomic reactor in Buchanan, New York. The Consolidated Edison Company’s Indian Point 1 nuclear generating station is designed to utilize Uranium-235 supplemented with Thorium-232. Built at a cost of one hundred million dollars on the former site of an amusement park, the power plant will produce 275,000kW of power for New York City. However, it will be decommissioned on October 31, 1974 due to a lack of an emergency cooling system for the reactor core.
The Lego company patented their design of Lego bricks, still compatible with bricks produced today.
The first photograph transmitted by radio waves bounced off the Moon is transmitted between Hawaii and Washington, D.C. by the U.S. Navy, using an eighty-four foot diameter parabolic antenna. The image transmitted is of the aircraft carrier Hancock with sailors on the deck spelling the words “Moon Relay.” The system operates in the ultra-high frequency range at approximately 400MHz, so as to avoid interference from geomagnetic storms or ionospheric disturbances.
Apple Computer moves from an office suite at 20863 Steves Creek Boulevard in Cupertino, California into an office building built at 10260 Bandley Drive, which Apple’s team dubs “Bandley One.”
According to Twin Galaxies, David Plummer, age 14, scores a record-setting 623,720 points playing Atari’s Space Duel for an hour and fifty-five minutes at Midtown Amusements in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
According to Twin Galaxies, Paul Barrette scores a record-setting 515,280 points playing the Konami arcade game Tutankham at the Pot of Gold arcade in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
According to Twin Galaxies, Robin Bowman scores a record-setting 245,821 points playing the Sega arcade game Buck Rogers at the Mr. Bill’s arcade in Moscow, Idaho. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
Ottumwa, Iowa official holds “Tim McVey Day,” in honor of McVey’s record setting one billion point, one quarter game. It is the first day held to honor a video gamer. Read the official declaration at Twin Galaxies.
The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes in mid-air seventy-three seconds after its lift-off from the Kennedy Space Center, approximately nine miles up, killing all seven of the astronauts on board, including mission commander Francis R. Scobee, pilot Michael J. Smith, mission specialist Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist Judith A. Resnik, payload specialist Gregory B. Jarvis, payload specialist Christa McAuliffe, and Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher in space, as part of the Teacher In Space Program (TISP). (STS-51-L) The failure will later be blamed on a Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster which leaked due to seal that had become fragile in the previous night’s low temperatures. The Space Shuttle Challenger had previously flown nine successful missions, but following the disaster, Space Shuttle Flights will be suspended until 1988. To read more about the disaster, visit Aerospaceweb.
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