This Day in Geek History: March 24
The first long-distance telephone service between Chicago and New York City is inaugurated.
An automobile is sold for the first time in history.
The planet Pluto is officially named. The name was suggest by a eleven year-old girl named Venetia Burney from Oxford, England. The name was selected from three suggestions by a unanimous vote of the members of the Lowell Observatory. The other two possible names were “Cronus” and “Minerva.” Read more about the history of Pluto.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) invites applications for over-the-air paid television experiments, for a three-year period. Only one trial will be permitted in any market with at least four commercial television stations.
The “Microwave Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation” (MASER) is patented by Arthur Schawlow and Charles Townes. (US No. 2,879,439) The device is an apparatus for producing coherent electromagnetic energy from excited atoms. It will be used to amplify radio signals.
Relay II relays the first trans-Pacific broadcast made via satellite.
The first “teach-in” is held at the University of Michigan to protest the U.S. government’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The students who stage the anti-war demonstration hope to slow the escalation of the war. Soon after, teach-in demonstrations will be held across the nation, and many historians will later cite the protests as a crucial factor in influencing the government’s later decision to withdraw from Vietnam.
NASA launches the Space Shuttle Atlantis on a mission to study the Earth’s atmosphere. (STS-45) The first Belgian to travel into space, Dirk Frimout, is aboard the shuttle as a member of the crew. It is the first space mission dedicated to studying the environment.
NASA astronaut Shannon Lucid transfers from the Space Shuttle Atlantis to the Russian space station Mir, beginning a five-month stay. (STS-76) On July 15, 1996, she will break the U.S. space endurance record of 115 days.
In Jonesboro, Arkansas, two boys, ages eleven and thirteen, open fire on fellow students at Westside Middle School while remaining hidden in the nearby woodlands. Both boys are heavily armed and wearing full camouflage. Four students and one teacher are killed and ten others are injured in the incident. Because of the clearly premeditated nature of the crime, first-person shooter (FPS) games came under criticism in the media. Read more about the massacre at CNN.