This Day in Geek History: July 15
An Enigma machine is used to encode a message for the first time. Enigma machines are cipher machines used to encrypt and decrypt communications. They will be used by German forces during World War II, but by December 1941, British code breakers will secretly crack the code and begin to routinely intercept intelligence.
Wiley Post embarks on the first solo flight around globe in history. Post will complete his flight on July 22nd, 7 days and 19 hours later.
Warren Weaver begins circulating a memorandum entitled “Translation,” in which he first suggests it may be feasible to translate languages using digital computers, among his colleagues at the Rockefeller Foundation. In the document, Weaver suggests four proposals for advancing translation beyond a simple word-for-word approach. Specifically, he theorizes that the problem of words with multiple meanings might be tackled by examining their immediate context, that there are logical elements in language, that cryptographic methods may be applicable, and that there may be pattern that occurs systematically across natural languages, which are known as “linguistic universals.” Weaver will later be considered to be the chief pioneer of machine translation, if not the “father” of machine translation, and this memo will be credited with inspiring the first research in the field. Read a copy of “Translation” at Google Docs.
The first commercial jet transport plane built in the United States, a prototype of the Boeing 707, embarks on its maiden flight from Renton Field, southeast of Seattle. The planes will soon replace propeller-driven planes on international routes.
Eighteen Nobel laureates sign the Mainau Declaration, an appeal against the use of nuclear weapons, at a conference of Nobel Prize laureates in Lindau, Germany. The declaration will later be co-signed by thirty-four other Nobel Laureates.
Aldus begins shipping PageMaker, the first desktop publishing application. This first version is for the Macintosh. A version will be released for the IBM in December. The application was developed by Paul Brainerd.
At Johnny Zee’s Family Fun Center in Victoria, British Columbia, James Vollandt, age 18, wins the 1985 Canada Iron Man Contest by playing the Williams Electronics arcade game Joust for over sixty-seven hours on a single quarter, with the exception of four twenty minute breaks (one due to a game malfunction), setting a world record for the longest game ever played on an arcade machine on a single quarter. According to Twin Galaxies, the final high score of the game is 107,216,700 points.
The National Computer Conference is held in Chicago, Illinois. At the event, Verbatim introduces a prototype of an optical disk drive capable of reading, writing, and erasing data. Visit the official Verbatim website.
Microsoft enters into a settlement with both the European Commission and United States Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding allegations of monopolistic practices. Under the terms of the agreements, the company agrees to moderate its practices in regard to how it licenses its operating systems to vendors. Specifically, it can no long tie the inclusion or exclusion of other products, such as Internet Explorer, to the sales of Windows, but it remains free to continue to integrate new features into the operating system itself. In exchange, the Department of Justice begins to seek court approval for the consent decree. Read more about the case at the Department of Justice website.
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