This Day in Geek History: March 23
The first Otis commercial passenger elevator is installed at the E.V. Haughwout and Company department store in New York City at a cost of US$300.
The Wright Brothers apply for a patent for the first successful airplane. The patent will be granted on May 22, 1906. View the original patent application.
Tennessee Governor Austin Peay signs the Butler Act into law, making Tennessee the first state to outlaw teaching the theory of evolution. Peay says at the time of the signing that “the very integrity of the Bible in its statement of man’s divine creation is denied by any theory that man descended or has ascended from any lower order of animals.” The Act will lead to the Scopes Trial in July after high school biology teacher John Scopes is accused of violating the law. That case will ultimately be overturned on a legal technicality, though.
The first telephone is installed in the White House.
NASA launches Gemini III, nicknamed the “Molly Brown,” is launched from Cape Canaveral. It is the United State’s first maneuverable two-man mission. The mission is crewed by astronauts Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom and John W. Young. The flight is the first for Young, who breaks quarantine regulations by smuggling a sandwich into orbit to share with Grissom. Before the end of the mission, Young will become the first man to eat a corned beef sandwich in space. The mission is notable for being the first American space mission to carry an on-board computer. The computer is nineteen inches long, weighs fifty-eight pounds, and contains a 159,744 bit array of core memory roughly the size of a shoe box. The astronauts are under orders to ignore the computer if its instructions conflict with prior ground calculations, but it will later be determined that the system’s calculations would have resulted in the capsule splashing down closer than the sixty miles from target that resulted from following prior calculations. Read more about the history of Project Gemini.
The Star Trek episode “The Alternative Factor” first airs. (No. 27) In it, the Enterprise encounters a scientist with the ability to shift between universes who claims to be pursued by a monster. Memory Alpha entry
The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) changes its name to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and is established as a separate agency under the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Visit the official DARPA website.
According to Twin Galaxies, Michael Weisberg, age 27, scores a record-setting 638,651 points playing the Atari arcade game Tempest for fifty minutes at the Space Port Arcade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.