This Day in Geek History: January 3
Leonardo da Vinci unsuccessfully tests a flying machine of his own design. In the 2002 BBC television series Leonardo, it will be theorized that da Vinci, who was a devout pacifist, purposefully designed the flying machine to fail, so that it could not be put to a military use. Read more about the documentary at the The Sydney Morning Herald’s website.
The refracting telescope at the Lick Observatory, measuring 36 inch (91cm) in diameter, is used for the first time. It is the largest telescope in the world.
The word “automobile” is first printed in an editorial column in The New York Times.
Professor Ernest Rutherford splits an atom for the first time, thus earning the title of “father of nuclear physics.” He accomplishes the split by bombarding Nitrogen atoms with Alpha particles emitted by radioactive materials to produce Oxygen.
The first televised broadcast about a missing person airs.
The opening ceremonies of the 80th Congress become the first Congressional proceedings to be televised.
The television series Dragnet, which will become the first network-sponsored television program on December 24, 1953, premieres on the NBC network. The series will shortly become the highest rated crime series on television, and it will go on to become one of the first television series to be exported from the U.S.
At a press conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Hamilton Watch Company introduces the world’s first electric watch. The watch is the result of over ten years of research and development, and the novelty of a watch that didn’t need to wound will make it an instant success. The line of watch will continue to be wildly popular until 1969, when the company discontinues its production. Visit the official website of the Hamilton Watch Company.
The Star Trek series episode “Whom Gods Destroy” first airs. (No. 69) In it, Kirk visits an asylum where he is held hostage by an insane starship captain who believes that he is destined to control the universe. Memory Alpha entry
The United Kingdom’s first Open University broadcast, a session of a course entitled “Introduction to Mathematics,” airs at 11:00am.
Steven Paul Jobs and Stephan Gary Wozniak file papers to incorporate the Apple Computer Corporation, and the company moves from Jobs’ parent’s garage to a building on Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino, California. The move comes after Armas Clifford Markkula Jr., formerly of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, comes out of retirement to become Apple’s first chairman, investing US$92,000 in venture capital to secure a quarter of a million dollar line of credit from the Bank of America to finance the company. Later financing will come from venture capitalists such as Arthur Rock and Associates, Capital Management Corporation, and Venrock Associates. Apple’s initial public offering (IPO) will take place three years later. In May 1983, Apple will enter the Fortune 500 at a position of 411, having become one of the fastest growing companies in history. Visit the official Apple website.
Time magazine dubs the personal computer “Machine of the Year” rather naming a “Man of the Year.” Time publisher John A. Meyers writes, “Several human candidates might have represented 1982, but none symbolized the past year more richly, or will be viewed by history as more significant, than a machine: the computer.”
The “Plover-NET” bulletin board system (BBS) is launched by hackers “Lex Luthor” and “Quasi Moto,” using the Graphics BBS (GBBS) software running on an Apple II+ system. It will host a wide range of hacking and phreaking tutorials, collectively dubbed the “G-Philes,” and it will go down in history as one of the principal centers of the hacker subculture on the Internet in the eighties.
Packard Bell announces plans to launch the C115, featuring a 120MHz Pentium processor, 16MB EDO RAM, a 1.2GB hard drive, a 8x CD-ROM, a 33.6Kbps modem, and a 14-inch color monitor. Price: US$999
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