This Day in Geek History: May 13
The table knife is invented by Cardinal Richelieu in France. Previously, daggers were used to cut meat at a meal and to pick one’s teeth. Richelieu becomes the first person of note to provide his dinner guests with knives so that there would be no need for them to bring their own along and to further round the points off all of his knives to remove their usefulness as personal weapons.
Samuel Rust of New York City patents the Washington Press, the first practical and successful printing press to be built in America. George E Clymer’s Columbian Press was the first press to be built in America, however, it was never widely adopted.
Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electric railway in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
Less than five years after the successful development of the first incandescent light bulb, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), the predecessor of the later Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), is formed. Members will include Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison.
Nikola Tesla is issued a patent for an electric generator. (US No. 428,057)
At the University of California Berkeley, hundreds of students congregate for the first day of protest against a visit by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Thirty-one students participating in the protest are arrested, and the Free Speech Movement is born.
Bally releases the pinball game Flash Gordon. This is the first split-level pinball machine from Bally. It’s also the first machine to use the “Squawk and Talk” (S&T) sound board that would become the signature of pinball machines in the eighties, and it was only the second publicly distributed Bally machine to feature speech. Read more at the The Internet Pinball Database.
The British rock band Dire Straits releases its fifth album, Brothers in Arms. The album will be the first CD to sell over a million copies, becoming the world’s most successful CD album. It will remain the most successful album release on compact disc for over two decades.
Carol Saal, Harry Saal, and Len Shustek found the Network General Corporation, which will go onto become a major computer networks management solutions in Menlo Park, California. After Network General merges with McAfee in 1997, the two companies will become Network Associates, Inc. Visit the official Network Associates website.
Version 1.0 of the Turbo C programming language is released. It offers the first integrated edit-compile-run development environment for the C programming language for IBM-compatible personal computers. The software is, like many other Borland products of the time, bought from another company and branded with the “Turbo” name. Originally, Turbo C was developed by Bob Jervis as “Wizard C.” It runs on just 384KB of memory, and it is capable of inline assembly with full access to C symbolic names and structures, supports all memory models, and offers optimizations for speed, size, constant folding, and jump elimination.
The Jerusalem virus (also known as “BlackBox”), a variant of the Suriv virus that destroys all executable files (except for COMMAND.COM) on an infected system is triggered, crashing computers around the globe.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Host” first airs. (No. 423) In it, Dr. Crusher falls in love with a visitor named Odan, only to discover that he is a symbiote, which must be implanted into Riker after his original host dies in order to complete peace negotiations. Memory Alpha entry
The System 7 operating system for the Macintosh is released. It is the second major upgrade to the Mac OS, and it features a significant overhaul of its predecessor’s interface, new applications, and stability improvements. The most notable of all the features included in System 7 is the built-in co-operative multitasking. In System Software 6, this function was optional through the MultiFinder. System 7 also introduces aliases, similar to shortcuts that will be introduced in later versions of Microsoft Windows.
The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “To the Death” first airs. (No. 423) In it, Sisko and must join forces with a Jem’Hadar force to prevent renegade Jem’Hadar from using a gateway than can transport them anywhere in the galaxy. Memory Alpha entry
Cyrix files a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Texas against Intel, claiming that Intel Pentium, Pentium Pro, and Pentium II microprocessors infringe on Cyrix-owned patents related to power management and pipeline techniques.
The Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) files a lawsuit against Intel in the US District Court of Worcsester, Massachusetts, claiming that Intel’s Pentium Pro and Pentium II processors infringe on ten DEC patents related to the Alpha RISC processor.
International Business Machines (IBM) introduces the ThinkPad 380 notebook computer, featuring a 150MHz Pentium processor, 16MB RAM, a 1.08GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, and a built-in floppy drive. Price: US$2,199 to US$3,899
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