This Day in Geek History: July 12
The first “telephone” is demonstrated by Captain J.N. Taylor of the British Royal Navy. The device is not, however, the same technology that will later be known as a telephone. Rather, it is the original name for what will later be called a fog horn.
Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth (The Loves of queen Elizabeth), released under the title “Queen Elizabeth,” becomes the first foreign feature-length film released in the United States. The four-reel, fifty-three minute silent film tells the story of the affair between Elizabeth I of England and Earl of Essex. IMDb entry
Thomas J. Watson Jr. of International Business Machines (IBM) predicts that moving machine parts will be replaced by electronics within just ten years during a sales meeting. Read more about Watson at the official IBM website.
At the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, near Simi Valley, California, the first Sodium Reactor Experiment becomes the first nuclear reactor in the U.S. to generate electricity for a commercial power grid.
NASA launches the Echo I communication satellite, the first passive satellite, aboard a Delta rocket. The satellite will be used to redirect radio, telephone, and television signals across continents. It consists primarily of a 30.5 meter diameter Mylar polyester film balloon with a highly reflective surface that will be visible to the naked eye from across the Earth. Before it burns up upon re-entering the atmosphere on May 24, 1968, it will be seen by more people than any other man-made object in space.
The USSR launches the Sputnik 5 spacecraft with two dogs, Belka (“Squirrel”) and Strelka (“Little Arrow”), forty mice, two rats, and a variety of plants. It is the first space mission to send animals into orbit and then successfully return them.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) announces the IBM 3663 Models 1P and 3P programmable terminals, the IBM 3651 Model 25 and Model 75 store controllers, and three new supermarket programs designed to customize checkout operations and in-store reports.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial breaks box-office records by surpassing US$100 million in box office sales within the first thirty-one days of its opening. The film was produced on a budget of US$10.5 million.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) introduces the HP-86 microcomputer. Price: US$1,795
Hewlett-Packard (HP) introduces an upgraded HP-87 microcomputer, featuring increased memory.
Private Sector BBS, the official bulletin board system (BBS) of 2600 Magazine, is seized by police in a raid for alleged “complicity in computer theft” under a new, untested New Jersey statute (2C:20-25). Police seize the server, along those of at least six of boards, after Middlesex County police uncovered a credit card ring on another, completely unrelated BBS. Following the seizure, the board’s operators alerted the media and bombarded the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office with requests for information until the prosecutor’s office scheduled a press conference for July 16. At the press conference, the prosecutor’s alleged that the board’s sysop, along with six others, had repositioned satellites and done “strange things” to the defense department. Ultimately, despite a large number of absurd charges, the equipment was returned and all charges were dropped, except a single fourth-degree misdemeanor. Read more at The Art of Hacking.
The Phobos 2 space probe is launched by the Soviet Union on a mission to study Mars and its moons Deimos and Phobos. It will return thirty-eight photos with resolutions of up to forty meters before suffering a critical failure in March 1989. View a collection of the photos returned.