This Day in Geek History: July 5
Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, the three volume explanation of Newton’s laws of motion. Read Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica online.
The world’s first maximum speed law is enacted in England. The speed limit of 2mph in town and 4mph in the country is imposed under the Locomotives and Highways Act.
A near-complete skeleton of a Mastodon is discovered near Newburgh, New York, by a farmer’s son while digging a ditch. The area had been a bog until drained and cultivated fifty years earlier. From a five-foot deep trench over the next three days, neighbors unearthed about two hundred petrified bones, including ribs, spine, legs, feet, and a skull with its teeth and lower jaw in tact. The find will be reported in The New York Times on July 8th and 9th.
In Paris, a French officer displays a new, powderless electric gun.
The Kodak Model A film camera and Model A motorized Kodascope projector, the first complete 16mm system, are introduced in the U.S.
Harry Crosby takes the first rocket airplane, the MX-324, on its maiden flight, at Harper Dry Lake, California. It was built by the Northrop Corporation. The rocket motor in the MX-324 uses monoethylaniline and red fuming nitric acid. After a tow to 8,000 feet from a P-38, the Aerojet motor is ignited and begins to produce 200lb of thrust. The flight lasts over four minutes and ends with a safe landing. The gliders are constructed of a metal tubing center section, with plywood elsewhere. The pilot lay prone, allowing it to be an all-wing aircraft, with no protruding cockpit. The craft also has the advantage of allowing the pilot to withstand a great deal of g-forces while maneuvering. Read more about the MX-324.
Dr. William Shockley of Bell Labs announces the invention of the junction transistor in Murray Hill, New Jersey. This new type of transistor overcomes problems created by earlier point-contact transistors. The junction transistor consists of three layers. The outer layers are semiconductors with too many electrons (N-type) and the inner layer has too few (P-type). They don’t have the same ability to handle signals that fluctuate extremely rapidly as point-contact transistors, but in every other way, they are superior. The NPN transistors are much more efficient, use very little power, and are so much quieter that they can handle far weaker signals than the type-A transistors ever could. The junction transistor is a mudlike substance in the center of the board.
At 19:30, the first edition of BBC Television News and Newsreel airs with and introduction by Richard Baker and voice-over commentary read by John Snagge and Andrew Timothy.
Live studio scenes are first included in the BBC’s colour television experiments.
A Saturn I-B rocket, an unmanned Apollo test flight, the first Apollo orbital mission, is launched at Cape Kennedy and makes four orbits at an altitude of about 113 miles (180km). The AS-203 mission will successfully evaluate the performance of the S-IVB instrument unit stage under orbital conditions and obtain flight information on venting and chill-down systems, fluid dynamics, and heat transfer of propellant tanks, attitude and thermal control system, launch vehicle guidance, and checkout in orbit. The Saturn rocket is designed for transporting humans to the moon, requiring a rocket larger and more powerful than any built before. It combines five F-1 rocket engines to yield more than 7.5 million pounds of thrust.
The first quadraphonic experimental broadcast by the BBC is transmitted, the front pair of channels on Radio 2 stereo, the rear pair on Radio 3.
At Atari, many departments outside of engineering are notified that Friday will be their last day of employment. In a meeting held with customer service, management announces its intentions to reduce Atari to a just two hundred people. Shiraz Shivja and a few other employees appointed by Jack Tramiel interview engineering personnel at Atari. Those already working on 68000 projects were clearly being prioritized. By Thursday, superiors will ask employees, such as Jerry Jessop, if they wish to stay at Atari or take advantage of a severance package that will expire after Friday, July 6.
In San Francisco, California, U.S. District Court judge Fern Smith rules in favor of Lewis Galoob Toys over Nintendo, allowing the manufacture and sale of the Game Genie to continue. Nintendo alleged that the product infringes on its copyrights, and plans to appeal the decision.
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