This Day in Geek History: January 6
Englishman Henry Mill receives a patent for the first typewriter. (UK No. 395) He will never successfully market his invention and, while it will later be recognized as the first in a long evolution of devices, his design will die with him. The patent is titled, “An artificial machine or method for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another, as in writing, whereby all writing whatever may be engrossed in paper or parchment so neat and exact as not to be distinguished from print.”
Samuel Morse gives the first public demonstration of his new invention, the electric telegraph, to his partner (financial backer) Judge Alfred Vail at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey. The signal transmitter and the signal receiver are place on opposite ends of a long bench, connected by 5km of wire. To test the device, Vail gave his son a message to send. Morse, manning the receiver, correctly deciphered the message as, “A patient waiter is no loser.” More official demonstrations will be given on January 23 and 24 at New York University.
Paul Gottlieb Nipkow is granted a German patent (No. 30,105) for an “electric telescope” comprised of a scanning disc and a selenium cell.
The first commercial transatlantic telephone service between New York and London is inaugurated.
The first trip made in diesel-engine automobile is successfully completed. The trip was made between Indianapolis, Indiana and New York City.
Thomas Edison submits his last patent application.
Dr. Daniel Chapin Pease and Dr. Richard Freligh Baker become the first to photograph genes at the University of Southern California.
International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division introduces Virtual Storage Personal Computing, a new program that will allow inexperienced users to easily use a computer terminal for day-to-day problem solving.
The Surveyor 1 spacecraft is reactivated after almost six months of lying dormant on the Moon’s surface.
French Public Law 78-17 goes into effect. The law establishes the Commission on Freedom and Computers and lays down the requirements that must be met by organizations that collect and process “personal” data. The Commission tracks the operation of databases containing personal data, both in the public and private sector.
The Wild-2 comet was discovered by Swiss astronomer Paul Wild.
00:00:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) or 00:00:19 International Atomic Time (TAI) marks the beginning of the first Global Positioning System (GPS) epoch – its first week zero. In the GPS system, dates are expressed as a number representing the week of the year and a number representing the day of the week. As a ten-bit field, the week re-zeros every 1,024 weeks, or 19.6 years.
Jack Tramiel steps down as president of Commodore International, but will remain active as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). James Finke steps into his role as president and Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Microsoft and Seattle Computer Products sign an agreement giving Microsoft the non-exclusive right to market 86-DOS operating system for US$10,000 and an additional US$10,000 per sub-license, and another US$5,000 if the source code is sold with the sub-license.
The Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is held January 6 – 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Several landmark computing advances are unveiled, including the Apple IIe. The event is attended by 1,056 exhibitors and 78,126 guests.
At the Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Apple Computer introduces the Lisa computer, which will ultimately prove to be a commercial flop. Of the fifty thousand units Apple hoped to sell in the first year, only about fifteen thousand will actually be sold. The system is based on the Xerox Star and was developed at a cost of approximately US$50 million. Price: US$9,995
At the Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Mattel introduces the Intellivision II video game system. The system features a 12K ROM, 10K RAM, a built-in voice synthesizer, stereo output, keypad controllers, an optional keyboard, optional joysticks, a redesigned Intellivoice and 2600 game adapter. The system is backwards compatible for use with existing Intellivision games. Mattel also introduces a 49-key music keyboard which converts the Intellivision to a music synthesizer.
At the Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Unitronics unveils the Expander tape player for the Atari 2600 Video Computer System, which allows users to play 16K games and convers the system into a 16K computer with a 64-key keyboard.
Astronomers reported sighting a new galaxy 12 billion light years away.
The Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is held January 6 – 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event is held on 750,000 square feet, where 1,350 exhibitors demonstrate products and services in 95 categories.
At the Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Atari demonstrates the handheld Atari Lynx video game system. The system was developed by R.J. Mical and Dave Needle, who were the engineers behind the Commodore Amiga home computer. Price: US$149
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “New Ground” first airs. (No. 510) In it, Alexander, Worf’s son, comes to live on the Enterprise, and the crew monitors a shuttle as it tests an experimental form of propulsion. Memory Alpha entry
Future AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis sends the first documented AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) message to his wife. “Don’t be scared … it is me. Love you and miss you” She responds “Wow … this is so cool!” His company, Redgate Communications, will be acquired by America Online (AOL) in 1994, and Leonsis will spend the next thirteen years as a senior AOL executive.
The Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is held January 6 – 9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Las Vegas Hilton, the Mirage, and Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. As the video game industry shifts its focus from the CES to the upcoming E3 show in Los Angeles, it continues to withdraw its presence from the CES. However, Nintendo reveals the technical specifications for the pending Ultra 64 game system, and Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI) reports they have finished developing the system, leaving it ready for production. Microsoft’s Bill Gates unveils Microsoft Bob, a “social interface” for desktop computing. Visit the event’s official website
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