This Day in Geek History: March 18
A patent for the Electrical Integration Circuit is issued to William “Willy” A. Higinbotham. (US No. 2,589,807) The circuit was conceived in the early forties for the Eagle radar bombsight. Six years later, Higinbotham will develop one of the first video games, Tennis for Two.
MGM, which has been working on its own wide-screen system, becomes the first studio to adopt CinemaScope. So as to create an industry standard and justify exhibitors’ commitment of investment in equipment, other major studios agree to adopt the Fox system as standard. Warner Bros will join later in the year after the release of The Robe but Paramount prefers to back developments in 3D.
Howard Hughes buys RKO Pictures for US$23,489,478.
The initial trial installation of electronic telephone switching for Morris, Illinois is announced. Recorded announcements of disconnects and changed numbers will be used in some small dial offices.
Voskhod 2 is launched into space carrying Cosmonauts Aleksey Leonov and Pavel Belyayev aboard. On the second orbit, Leonov leaves the spacecraft for twelve minutes, becoming the first person to walk in space. While outside the craft, he takes motion pictures and practices maneuvering. By the end of the spacewalk, Leonov’s spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space, and upon his return, he discovered that it was too wide to re-enter the capsule. With a bit of quick thinking, he opened a value to allow some of the suit’s air to bleed off without venting all of it, only barely getting back into the capsule in time. Voskhod 2 makes a total of seventeen orbits at an altitude of about 110 miles (177km) above Earth.
Atari Introduces Gran Trak 10. It is the first arcade game to use read-only memory (ROM) to store sprites for each car, the game timer, the race track, and the score. As such, it’s the the first game to have defined characters rather than mathematically manipulated dots. The game’s controls, which include a four-position gear shifter, a steering wheel, and two foot pedals, are also all firsts for arcade games.
Federal District Judge George N. Leighton in Chicago orders Magnavox Home Entertainment Center to take its K.C. Munchkin video game off the market because of its similarity to Atari’s popular Pac-Man game.
The New York Times reports that a seventeen year-old New Jersey student named Phillip Naranjo discerned the launch of the new Soviet space station, Mir, before the Soviet government formally announced it. Naranjo and a group of friends tracked transmissions between space vessels and control centers on Earth, and just before the Russians announced Mir on February 20, the teens picked up the transmission of Cyrillic code.
Version 3.2 of PC DOS is released. It features support for Token Ring Networks and 3.5-inch double-density (720KB) floppy drives, which would soon be featured on the PC Convertible and the first IBM laptop computer in April 1986. In addition, DOS 3.2 adds the REPLACE and XCOPY commands. Version 3.2 will be the first DOS system released on both 3.5-inch and 5.25-inch diskettes. Shortly after the release, Microsoft release will be the first non-specific OEM version of MS-DOS, making this the first release of MS-DOS available in Microsoft packaging directly from Microsoft.
The discovery of “high-temperature” superconductivity is announced to thousands of scientists at a packed meeting of the American Physical Society in New York City. The phenomenon, discovered in 1911, was first known to occur at only four degrees above absolute zero, when all electrical resistance in a metal disappears. In 1986, researchers discovered a ceramic material that is a superconductor at a temperature of more than thirty degrees above absolute zero. When published in September of that year, that news stirred the wider scientific community into action. By the time the APS meeting convened, further discoveries had been made. The scene of excitement at the meeting will later be dubbed the “Woodstock of Physics.” Visit the official American Physical Society website.
Microsoft announces the Microsoft Bookshelf 1.0 for Windows. Bookshelf a set of reference books on a CD-ROM, including an almanac, an atlas, a dictionary, an encyclopedia, two quote books, and a thesaurus.
In San Francisco, California, the Software Publisher’s Association holds its Spring Symposium, including the Excellence in Software Awards ceremony. Winners include: Lifetime Achievement Award: Steve Wozniak. Best Consumer Program: GeoWorks Ensemble. Best Business Program: Microsoft Windows 3.0.
The SATAN (Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks) security tool is released on the Internet by Dan Farmer and Wietse Venema. The release raises a debate about whether security auditing tools should be posted openly for the public to use. Visit the official SATAN website.
Guillermo Gaede pleads guilty in Federal Court on charges of mail fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property. Formerly a software engineer at Intel’s Chandler, Arizona plant, Gaede stole proprietary 486 and Pentium specifications and transferred the data to video tape. He then offered the data to Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) who turned the data and Gaede in to authorities.
Texas Instruments (TI) announces a new processor family, the TMS320 Digital Signal Processing (DSP), which doubles recording time in digital telephone answering devices and adds full-duplex speakerphone capabilities.
Nineteen year old Israeli hacker Ehud Tenebaum, also known by the web handle “The Analyzer”, is arrested in Israel. During heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf, hackers touched off a string of break-ins to unclassified Pentagon computers in order to steal software. Officials suspect Tenebaum of working in concert with American teens to break into Pentagon computers. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre calls it “the most organized and systematic attack” on U.S. military systems to date. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls Tenebaum “damn good … and very dangerous.” The attacks exploited a well-known vulnerability in the Solaris operating system for which a patch had been available for months.
Version 5.5.5 of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) freeware is illegally exported from the U.S. anonymously.
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