This Day in Geek History: June 5
The first hot-air balloon ascent flies unmanned for ten minutes. It was constructed by the French brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier at their home town of Annonay, France.
Ada Byron, who will later become the Countess Lovelace, meets computer pioneer Charles Babbage in England. Byron will later become known for writing a description of Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine.
Ernst Alexanderson transmits the first facsimile message across the Atlantic Ocean.
The first machine in history to produce intelligible speech-like sounds is exhibited by Bell Telephone scientists Homer Dudley, Richard Riesz, and Stanley Watkins. Called “Pedro, the Voder,” it is put on display to the public at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to human voices, it can imitate the sound of various farm animals. It is basically a spectrum-synthesis device operated from a finger keyboard and a foot pedal pitch control. Its operation requires a user to be very familiar with its use.
The film The Wizard of Oz is first screen tested.
The U.S. government commissions the University of Pennsylvania to conduct “research and development of an electronic numerical integrator and computer and delivery of a report thereon” on a six month contract with US$61,700 in funding from U.S. Army Ordnance. The contract is extended nine times by 1946, and by the time the machine is completed, it will cost a total of US$486,804.22. The final product is the ENIAC computer.
The Apple II, which will later be noted for being the first practical personal computer, goes on sale. The Apple II featured an a 1MHz MOS 6502 processor, an integrated keyboard, a built-in BASIC programming environment, expandable memory (4K expandable to 48K), a monitor capable of color graphics, a sound card, and eight expansion slots. Most importantly, they have a total of eight expansion Slots for adding peripherals and come bundled with the first “killer app” of the business world, the VisiCalc spreadsheet program. The combination popularizes personal computers among business users. Read more an extensive history and description of the Apple II at Apple2History.org.
JVC introduces the Video Home System (VHS) videocassette format to the North American market at a press conference before the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. The system is called Vidstar. The format’s recorder, the VCR, will cost US$1,280. Individual blank cassette tapes will cost US$20.