This Day in Geek History: June 4
The first total solar eclipse reliably recorded by Chinese scholars is observed.
Henry Ford, age 32, finishes work on the Ford Quadricycle, his first completed automobile in a tiny shed behind his house. His first road test is delayed an hour when he’s forced to tear out the door frame of his shed with an axe because the vehicle is wider than its door. He then makes a successful first test run with his car on a pre-dawn drive through the streets of Detroit. The Quadricycle has four wire bicycle wheels, and it’s steered with a tiller like a boat. It runs at two speeds (10 mph or 20 mph), but it has no gear for reverse. Although Ford isn’t the first to build a self-propelled vehicle with a gasoline engine, the achievement will propel him into a role as an industry pioneer. Ford will sell this first Quadricycle for US$200 later in the year to Charles Ainsley. Read more at the Ford Motor Company.
Thomas Edison is issued a patent for a “Diaphragm for Talking-Machines” that “will be readily responsive to vibrations of comparatively great amplitude.” (US No. 855,562) The invention is comprised of a duplex diaphragm made of at least two disks, each of which is radially slotted so that each disk constitutes a series of reeds. By staggering the slots of the disks, a continuous surface is presented for actuating sound waves. The disks, made of mica about one-thousandth of an inch thick, are cemented together with an elastic cement, such as a solution of gum rubber.
The very first Pulitzer Prizes are awarded. Laura E. Richards, Maude H. Elliott, and Florence Hall receive the first Pulitzer for a biography of Julia Ward Howe. Jean Jules Jusserand receives the first Pulitzer for history for his work With Americans of Past and Present Days. Herbert B. Swope receives the first Pulitzer for journalism for his work at the New York World.
Capitol Record Company begins operations in U.S. Its first record to sell one million copies will be Ella Mae Morse’s Cow Cow Boogie.
Dr. Robert Dennard of the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center is granted a patent for a one-transistor Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) cell and the basic idea behind the three-transistor cell. (US No. 3,387,286)
A patent for the first successful modern Automated teller machine (ATM) is granted to Donald C. Wetzel, Tom Barnes, and George Chastain of Docutel. It took five million dollars to develop the ATM. The modern ATM was conceived in 1968 and a working prototype was developed in 1969. The first working ATM will be installed in a New York branch of Chemical Bank. Luther George Simjian patented the first-ever ATM in 1939, however, it was a commercial failure.
The 3Com corporation is founded in Santa Clara, California by Robert Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet. The company’s name is a reference to its focus on “Computers, Communication and Compatibility.” 3Com will go on to become a pioneer in computer communication technology, particularly modems.
Paramount Pictures releases the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (ST2:TWOK or TWOK), directed by Nicholas Meyer starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, and Walter Koenig, to 1,621 U.S. theaters. This will widely be regarded by fans as the best film in the Star Trek film franchise, and it is the first in a three film story arc that will conclude with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The movie becomes known for Industrial Light and Magic’s (ILM) first completely computer-generated scene, in which the “Genesis sequence” brings life to Ceti Alpha VI. Produced on a budget of US$11 million, the film will gross US$14,347,221 in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG) Runtime: 1 hr 52 mins