This Day in Geek History: July 27
After three failures, Cyrus West Field finally succeeds in laying the first underwater transatlantic telegraph cable. The Atlantic Cable spans the 1,686 miles across the Atlantic Ocean between Valentia, Ireland and Heart’s Content, Newfoundland. Massachusetts merchant and financier Cyrus West Field first proposed laying a 2,000-mile copper cable along the ocean bottom from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1854, but the first three attempts ended in broken cables and failure. Field’s persistence finally paid off when the steamship SS Great Eastern, the largest ship afloat, successfully laid the cable along the level, sandy bottom of the North Atlantic. The cable will remain in use for nearly a century, and many future telecommunication historians will mark its completion as the dawn of the information age.
Elisha Gray of Chicago, Illinois is granted a patent for “methods of transmitting musical impressions or sounds telegraphically,” the acoustic telegraph. (US No. 166,095, -6)
The first electric automobile, designed by Philip W. Pratt, is first demonstrated in Boston, Massachusetts. The three-wheeled vehicle is powered by six Electrical Accumulator Company cells, which weigh ninety pounds.
In Fort Myer, Virginia, Orville Wright sets a record for the longest sustained flight in the army’s first airplane by remaining in the air for 1 hour, 12 minutes and 40. Exhausted from the flight, Wright crash-lands the plane, but he and his passenger are uninjured.
A radio compass is used for aircraft navigation for first time.
Warner Brothers releases the Merrie Melodies animated short film Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery, is released by Warner Bros. This short introduces Bugs Bunny who will appear in over one hundred sixty cartoons over the next twenty-four years. It also introduces his catchphrase, “What’s up, doc?”
The de Havilland Comet, the world’s first commercial jet airliner to reach production, embarks on its first flight.
Microsoft acquires the full rights to the 86-DOS operating system (v 1.14) from Seattle Computer Products (SCP) for fifty thousand dollars, and renames the system MS-DOS. The payment is in addition to the twenty-five thousand dollars Microsoft had previously paid for the rights to market the system to computer manufacturers. The acquistion comes just a little more than two weeks before International Business Machines (IBM) will begin selling computers featuring MS-DOS. SCP will later bring a lawsuit again Microsoft, alleging the company of defrauding SCP by concealing the fact that IBM was one of software’s licensees. The lawsuit will later settled for one million dollars in SCP’s favor, but by that time, MS-DOS will have been responsible for about half of Microsoft’s sixty-one million dollars of annual revenue. The system, which was initially called QDOS as an acronym for “Quick and Dirty Operating System,” was written by Tim Paterson, age 22, as a substitute for Digital Research’s CP/M-86 operating system.
Radio Shack announces the Tandy 1000 SL computer, featuring a proprietary keyboard port, two joystick ports, a digital monitor connector, a 5.25 disk drive, an additional bay for the installation of a second disk drive, 128k of memory, MS-DOS 2.11, and DeskMate 1.0.
IBM reports a record quarterly loss of US$8.4 billion.
Microsoft releases the Windows NT 3.1 operating system, the first release in the Windows NT series. Its name is chosen to match the current version of the 16-bit version of Microsoft Windows. NT contains a new “kernel” at its core of the operating system, unlike Windows 3.x. It is not based on MS-DOS. It is designed to be platform independent. The “Win32″ API was developed for Windows NT, providing a native 32 bit API that programmers use to the 16-bit version of Microsoft Windows would be at home with. Read more a history of Windows products.