This Day in Geek History: June 30
The first electric company in the U.S. to produce and sell electricity California Electric Light Company is established in San Francisco, California.
At around 7:15am, northwest of Lake Baikal, Russia, a huge fireball nearly as bright as the Sun is seen crossing the sky. Minutes later, there is a huge flash and a shock wave felt up to 400 miles (650km) away. Over Tunguska, a meteorite traveling at over 60,000mph (25km per second) penetrates Earth’s atmosphere, heats to about 10,000°C, and detonates 3 to 4 miles (6 to 10km) above the ground. The blast releases the energy of 10-50 Megatons of TNT, destroying 830 square miles (2,150 sq km) of forest (approximately 80 million trees) and leaving no trace of life. The Tunguska rock came out of the Taurid Meteor storm that crosses Earth’s orbit twice a year. Read more about The Tunguska Event.
The first U.S. broadcast to be transmitted globally takes place, using a series of short-wave radio relays with only a one-eighth of a second delay. The broadcast, a live oration from Clyde D. Wagoner, originates at station W2XAD in Schenectady, New York.
John von Neumann introduces the concept of a stored program in the first draft of a report on the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC) is published. Brian Randell notes, “It is generally accepted that the first documented discussion … of the advantages of using just one large internal memory, in which instructions as well as data could be held, was the draft report on EDVAC written by Von Neumann.” The draft report contains a description of the planned machine and the reasoning behind the various design decisions. The stored-program computer will subsequently become known as “von Neumann architecture”.
“Able,” the first U.S. atomic bomb, is dropped as a part of Operation Crossroads. A U.S. Air Force B-29 Superfortress, named Dave’s Dream, is used to deliver the bomb, which is dropped over the Bikini Lagoon in the Pacific Ocean onto a target group of seventy-three ships placed there for the purpose. The explosion results in a 520 foot burst of flame. Two transport ships are sunk, and eighteen of the other ships are damaged.
After six months of secrecy, the point-contact transistor is first publicly demonstrated by its inventors, John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley scientists at the Bell Telephone Laboratory in Murray Hill, New Jersey. It is a simple, tiny device utilizing the electronic semiconducting properties of a germanium wafer, but it represents a significant advance in technology. The same day, Bell Labs runs an article on page 46 of the New York Times, heralding the device as a replacement for the vacuum tube. Over the coming years, the transistor will allow computers to be miniaturized. They will be awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for the invention in 1956.
Telephone recording devices are first authorized for use in the U.S. outside the government for the first time. To comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, recording devices must periodically “beep” to make those using the telephone line aware that their conversation is being recorded.
The Tandy Corporation converts the preferred Radio Shack stocks acquired in 1964 to common stock and exercises their option to acquire additional shares of common stock. The Tandy Corporation now owns eighty-five percent of the outstanding shares of stock for the Radio Shack Corporation. Read more about the history of the Tandy Corporation.
International Business Machines (IBM) announces that, effective January 1, 1970, it will begin to unbundle (charge separately for) some of its software, effectively ending its customers’ expectation that they will always be able to get all the software they needed from IBM for free.
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) announces the IBM System/370 (S/370) mainframe as the successors to the System/360 line. The new architectural introduces standard dual-processor capability, full support for virtual memory, and a 128-bit floating point arithmetic.