This Day in Geek History: March 2
The Patent Act of 1861 increases the duration of a patent’s term from fourteen to seventeen years.
Gabriel Lippman introduces the new three-dimensional color photography to the Academy of Sciences.
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. premieres the great-granddaddy of all monster movies, King Kong, directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack and starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. In it, a film crew brings what it bills as the “eighth wonder of the world,” a giant prehistoric ape, back to New York, where he subsequently escapes and runs amok through the city. The film will spawn one of Hollywood’s first blockbuster movie franchises and save RKO Studios from an untimely bankruptcy. Produced on a budget of US$650,000, the film will gross US$89,931 over the course of its first four days, even with tickets priced at thirty-five and seventy-five cent, setting an all-time attendance record for an indoor event. Visit the film’s official website. IMDB listing
Running Time: 1 hr 44 mins
William “Willy” A. Higinbotham is issued a patent for an “An Electronic Circuit for Differentiating Voltage Waveforms.” (US No. 2,436,891) The invention was originally developed in 1942 for a radar bombsight, but the circuit will eventually come to be used in all analog computers.
The first automatic street light is installed in New Milford, Connecticut.
Silly Putty is released to the public. The silicone polymer was accidentally invented in 1943 by James Wright of General Electric in the course of research into potential rubber substitutes.
The U.S. Navy launches the K-1, the first submarine designed to hunt enemy submarines.
The Star Trek episode “This Side of Paradise” first airs. (No. 24) In it, the Enterprise visits a planet where mysterious plants regulate the population. Spock is entranced by the planet and refuses to leave. Memory Alpha entry
The Concorde supersonic transport (SST) jet makes its maiden flight. The Concode is only the second supersonic passenger airliner to have been commercially operated, the first being the Tupolev Tu-144, which took its initial flight on December 31, 1968. The Concorde line will be retired on November 26, 2000, following its only crash on July 25, 2000.
NASA launches the Pioneer 10 spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a mission to explore the outer planets of the solar system. It will pass near Jupiter and Neptune before leaving the solar system. The mission receives a great deal of media attention for carrying a plaque designed by renowned astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake visually depicting the spacecraft’s Earth origins, in case it should ever encounter by alien life-forms. Visit the Pioneer Project website.
According to Twin Galaxies, Robert Purser scores a record-setting 974,475 points playing the Sega arcade game Star Trek at Player’s arcade in Norcross, Georgia. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.