This Day in Geek History: March 11
In China, Ts’ai Lun, an official of the Han Dynasty Chinese Imperial Court, invents the world’s first paper from a mixture of bamboo, fish nets, mulberry, and rags. He will eventually become wealthy after he present his paper to the Emperor Han Ho Ti.
The first regularly printed English-language newspaper, The Daily Courant is launched by Edward Mallet in London, England. The paper consists of a single sheet with two columns. Printed in the rooms above the White Hart pub on Fleet Street, the paper will run until 1735.
The Luddite riots break out in Nottingham, England. Driven by poverty and insufferable living conditions, a group of laborers launch an assault on the factory where they work, destroying sixty-three lace and stocking manufacturing frames that threaten to render many of their jobs unnecessary. The outbreak occurs in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, when starvation and unemployment are running rampant across Europe. Over the next three weeks, armed mobs of Luddites will continue to root out the frames, destroying two hundred of the devices in all.
A meteorite enters the Earth’s atmosphere and explodes over New Martinsville, West Virginia, causing property damage but no personal injuries.
NASA launches the Pioneer 5 space probe from Cape Canaveral towards a solar orbit between Earth and Venus aboard a Thor-Able three-stage rocket. It will become the first successful US deep space probe. Pioneer 5 will provide a wealth of data, including measurements of cosmic radiation, electrical fields, and magnetic fields. It will continue to transmit until June 26, 1960, out to a distance of 22.5 million miles (36 million kilometers) from Earth. Visit the official Pioneer 5 website.
The Atari coin-operated arcade game Hi Way goes into production release in North America. It’s Atari’s first game to feature a cockpit cabinet, which allows players to to sit down while they play. Hi Way is a single player horizontal-scrolling racing game. It will be marketed under the slogan “Hi Way — All It Needs Is Wheels,” and its unique cabinet will make it a smash success.
Infocom releases the interactive fiction game Deadline is released for personal computers. It is one of the first interactive mystery games ever released and only Infocom’s third game.
According to Twin Galaxies, Mark Robichek scores a record-setting 1,214,600 points playing the Williams arcade game Moon Patrol at the Golfland USA arcade in Mountain View, California. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
Atari and Coleco Industries settle their lawsuits. Under the settlement, Coleco is licensed to continue making and selling the Expansion Module No. 1 for the ColecoVision and to produce the Coleco Gemini video game system.
ConnNet, the nation’s first local public packet switching network, is launched in Connecticut. The network can be used to access a number of services, and corporations can use the network to provide their employees mainframe access at home. The system is an earlier forerunner of later internet service providers.
Apple Computer discontinues the Macintosh IIcx, featuring a 16MHz Motorola 68030 processor, 1 – 2MB RAM (expandable to 128MB), and the System 6.0.5 OS. The system was introduced on March 7, 1989, and it gained popularity among Mac enthusiasts because its components could be snapped into place without screws. Price: US$5369
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Galaxy’s Child” first airs. (No. 416) In it, the Enterprise is forced to defend itself against an space-dwelling alien entity, then it rushes to rescue the creature’s unborn offspring. Memory Alpha entry
Version 8.0 of the Unicos operating system is released.
The EU Database Directive is passed, extending and harmonizing the treatment of databases under copyright law.
The March 11th issue of Forbes magazine dubs George Lucas “The magician” for erasing the line between fantasy and reality. In the seven page feature article, author Randall Lane profiles Lucas and reports on how his company, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), has brought computer technology to filmmaking. Read the ILM technology timeline.
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