This Day in Geek History: March 30
Chinese Astronomers record the first confirmed perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet. The account is confirmed by Babylonian, Japanese, and Mesopotamian astronomers.
After a proposal in the journal Académie des sciences by Borda, Condorcet, Lagrange, Laplace, and Monge, the French National Assembly decides that a metre will be defined as ten millionth of the distance between the North Pole and the equator.
Physician Dr. Crawford W. Long of Jefferson, Georgia first uses ether as an anesthetic in surgery. The patient is James Venable, and the surgery is to remove a tumor from the man’s neck.
Hyman L. Lipman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is granted the first U.S. patent for a lead pencil with an eraser. (US No. 19,783) One-fourth of the length of the pencil contains a piece of india-rubber, so that cutting one end prepares the pencil for writing and cutting the other end prepares it for erasing.
The first commercial computer, the UNIVersal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC I), is unveiled by John William Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, formally of the University of Pennsylvania. The computer was manufactured under the company name of Sperry Rand Corporation for the United States Census Bureau. Although the Census Bureau will begin using the computer at the end of March, it won’t actually be moved to the Census Bureau for months. The system is capable of performing 1,905 operations per second and storing data on magnetic tapes. The event raises concerns at International Business Machines (IBM) because the new computer will replace many of the punch card machines previously supplied by IBM. The UNIVAC will remain in operation through 1963, and it will also be sold to companies such as General Electric and Sylvania.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea two Oscars, one for Art Direction – Set Decoration and one for Special Effects. The film is the third cinematic rendition of the classic Jules Verne science fiction novel.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) introduces the IBM 1203 unit for preparing checks for automated demand deposit accounting. Visit the official IBM website.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) announces new teller terminals and powerful, advanced controllers for the IBM 3600 finance communication system. Visit the official IBM website.
AT&T Graphics Software Labs closes. It had been responsible for the development of such software as Comet CG, Panorama, Rio, StudioMaster, and Topas.
Microsoft announces the availability of the MS-DOS 6.0 Upgrade.
Nintendo names Rare and Williams as partners and a self-described “dream team” in the development of Project Reality, a modification for the computer game Battlefield 2 that produces a more realistic combat environment. Visit the official Project Reality website.
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