This Day in Geek History: March 8
Johannes Kepler formulates his Third Law of Planetary Motion. The third law states that, “The squares of the orbital periods of planets are directly proportional to the cubes of the semi-major axis of the orbits.” In other words, the period of a planet’s orbit around the Sun is determined by its distance from the Sun.
Joseph Priestley, having discovered oxygen, experiments with mice in his home laboratory to determine whether or not it is necessary to support life.
In New York City, a helicopter is licensed for commercial use for the first time history.
An artificial heart is used for the first time in a 41 year-old man. The heart keeps him alive for eighty minutes.
Doug Ross of MIT publicly demonstrates the the “Director” tape for the groundbreaking Whirlwind computer. The Director is a predecessor of later operating systems. The Whirlwind is the first computer to be considered truly digital (rather than just featuring electronic components), the first computer to operate in real time, and the first computer to feature a video terminal (a large oscilloscope screen) for graphic and text output. It features 4,500 vacuum tubes, 14,800 diodes, electrostatic tube memory, and magnetic core RAM. In all, the system occupies 3,100 square feet of space. Though the Whirlwind first came online on April 20, 1951, the U.S. Navy lost interest in the project, and its development was largely neglected until the U.S. Air Force became interested in developing computers for ground controlled interception.
For the release of Psycho, director Alfred Hitchcock and his distributor, Paramount, mandate that no one is to be admitted to theater auditoriums after the film has started so as not to spoil the suspense. This is the first step in what will eventually become the industry standard practice of holding discrete exhibitions of films, rather than continuously playing them throughout the day, as had previously been the practice. IMDB listing
American International Pictures releases the horror film The Last Man on Earth, directed by Sidney Salkow and Ubaldo Ragona starring Vincent Price and Franca Bettoia, to U.S. theaters. The film is based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. IMDB listing Running Time: 1 hr 26 mins
The largest single recovered stony meteorite in history (1,774kg) falls in Jilin, China, during a meteor shower that drops over four thousand kilograms of extra-terrestrial rock.
The Dallas Morning News prints a story entitled “Pac-Man’s doing Navy duty”, a syndicated article written by Bob Greene. In the article, Bob introduces Chief Petty Officer Julie Red, age 27, who had been named the best of the Navy’s 3,500 recruiters. Petty attributes her success to her tactic of hanging out in video game arcades and challenging young men to games of Pac-Man.