This Day in Geek History: March 9
Nicolaus Copernicus first begins recording his astronomical observations.
Dutch astronomer Johannes Fabricius becomes the first person to observe sunspots as he observes the rising sun through his telescope. Observing the Sun becomes painful, so Fabricius and his father will soon switch to making observations using a camera obscura. Johannes will later become the first to publish information on the phenomena in his book, Narratio de maculis in sole observatis et apparente earum cum sole conversione (“Narration on Spots Observed on the Sun and their Apparent Rotation with the Sun”). The dedication of the book will be dated June 13, 1611.
The Ford Motor Company assembly line produces the first Ford Flathead engine. The Flathead is the first independently designed and built V8 engine to be produced by Ford for mass production.
The Atomic Energy Commission and the University of California at Berkeley officially announce the artificial production of meson particles using the 184 inch cyclotron at the university’s Radiation Laboratory.
The first local color television commercial, a furniture advertisement for Castro Decorators, is broadcast by station WNBT-TV in New York. The advertisement is for Castro convertible sofa beds that open into a bed, and it features a young girl pulling the bed out to demonstrate how easily the conversion is.
The modern mailbox is patented.
The first known radar contact is made with the planet Venus.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) introduces the IBM 1710 industrial control system. The system, which will be widely used in paper mills and oil refineries, is designed for systems that interpret data from frequent samples. Visit the official IBM website.
The Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 9 (Korabl-Sputnik-4) is launched, completes one orbit, returns to Earth, and is successfully recovered. The spacecraft carries a dog named Chernushka, which is Russian for “Blackie,” a dummy cosmonaut, several mice, and a guinea pig. Read more about the history of Soviet Canine Cosmonauts at About.
The Star Trek episode “The Devil in the Dark” first airs. (No. 25) In it, the Enterprise arrives at Janus VI, where Kirk must deal with a mysterious creature that is destroying machinery and menacing the miners. It’s the first and only time of Star Trek: The Original Series that begins without a teaser scene before the main credits role. Memory Alpha entry
According to Twin Galaxies, Lee Hedrich scores a record-setting 5,829,783 points playing the Atari arcade game Tempest at the Arcade City arcade in Naples, Florida. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.