This Day in Geek History: May 29
Thomas Edison receives a series of patents for his “Dynamo-Electric Machine,” two for a “Regulator for Dynamo-Electric Machines” (US No. 278,413, -4, -9), three for the “Manufacture of Incandescing Electric Lamps,” one for an “Apparatus for Translating Electric Currents From High to Low Tension” (US No. 278,415, -6, -7, -8), and one for a “Design for Incandescing Electric Lamp.”
Chemist John Pemberton places his first advertisement for Coca-Cola in the newspaper Atlanta Journal. In later decades, the Coca-Cola brand will be well known as the most advertised brand in the world.
The heirs of Alfred Nobel sign a “reconciliation agreement” so that lawyers and accountants can execute his will. The will’s major bequest will create the Nobel Prizes, once disputes to the will are settled.
A solar eclipse makes it possible to test Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity by observing the stars during the eclipse. Expeditions of the Royal Astronomical Society travel to Sobral, Ceará, Brazil and Principe on the west coast of Africa to measure the position of stars made visible by the eclipse. The observations will later prove that the light of stars near the sun is bent as it passes through the gravitational field of the sun, thus proving that Einstein’s prediction that gravity energy such as light just the same as it effects matter. The verification is key to proving Einstein’s theory.
The German television transmitter station at Witzleben, Berlin is renamed Fernsender Paul-Nipkow in honor of the pioneer of mechanical television, Paul Gottlieb Nipkow. In a speech to the Television Congress in Berlin, Eugen Hadamowsky, head of the television department (Fernsehgemeinschaft) of the Reich Broadcasting Office (Reichsrundfunkkammer, RRK), declares television to be a German invention because of Nipkow’s work.
Bing Crosby records White Christmas, written by Irving Berlin at the studios of Decca Records in Los Angeles, California. Recorded for the film Holiday Inn, it will sell a million copies by 1946 and twenty-five million copies by 1965, making it the highest selling disc of all time, a distinction that it will hold until 1997.
Embassy Pictures Corporation releases the black-and-white science fiction film Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is released to theaters in Japan. The film is an American adaptation of the 1954 Japanese film Godzilla, which had previously been shown with subtitles in Japanese community theaters in the United States and is unknown in Europe. IMDB listing Running Time: 1 hr 20 mins
The Italian B-movie Atom Age Vampire is released to Italian theaters. In the movie, a singer is horribly disfigured in a car accident, and a scientist develops a treatment which can restore her beauty by injecting her with the glands of a murdered woman. While performing the procedure, however, he falls in love with her, but before long, the treatments take a terrible turn. IMDB listing
At the Park West nightclub in Chicago, Apple Computer CEO John Sculley first announces the coming release of the Newton personal digital assistant to an audience of over six hundred journalists. Sculley explains to the crowd that the Newton “is nothing less than a revolution.” The Newton is Apple’s first major new product line since the Mac, eight years prior, and it’s unveiling generates immediate buzz. Unfortunately, Sculley’s announcement will widely be considered a major mistake by industry analysts, as it committed the company to a design months before the product shipped, tipped the company’s hand to its competitors, and wildly inflated consumer expectations.
The first JavaOne developers’ conference is held by Sun Microsystems to discuss Java technologies, primarily among Java developers. Over six thousand people attend. Visit the official JavaOne website.
Version 4.0 of the Vim text editor is released, featuring a new graphical user interface. Vim is an open source, multi-platform text editor popular among programmers and users of Unix operating systems. Visit the official Vim website.
Reporters around the country receive an email claiming that the website of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was hacked late the previous night (or, more accurately very early in the morning) by “P.A.R.A.” By the time most reporters have a chance to visit the site, it shows only a blank, gray screen with the words “lapd.org Initial Home Page.” However, archived copies of the site show a highly sophisticated graphical defacement, complete with a political message accusing the LAPD of racism, calling it the “Death Squad Home Page.” The rumor spread to news outlets across the nation, where it is widely reported as fact. However, it will later be revealed that, in fact, no hack took place. A year prior, an LAPD police officer went to Internet Presence Providers for Internet access. That got Peter Hertan, president of IPP, thinking. When he discovered that the domain “www.lapd.org” had never been registered with the InterNIC, he went ahead and filed for it. A year later, some LAPD officers determined to build an LAPD website asked to buy back the URL, and Hertan sold it to them at cost. The officers asked EarthLink to host the site, and EarthLink agreed, pending an official go-ahead. But official approval never came. The officers went up and down the chain of command, and at every level, the answer came back the same: No. So, in mid-May of 1996, when it was registered, through May 1997, the LAPD site consisted of a gray screen with the words “lapd.org Initial Home Page.” According to Hertan, from the day he put it up to the day it was taken down, “nothing was added to the web site. Nothing was taken away. We show no evidence of it being hacked.” In 2002, the domain will finally officially be adopted by the department. View an archived version of the allegedly defaced website.
Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) invites children of Atlanta, Georgia to take participate in PlayStation City, a themed video game competition and exhibition planned to help kick off the E3 trade show. Sony Computer Entertainment America also hosts a private party in a complex adjacent to the E3 trade show. Admission is by invitation only and the event includes free alcohol, caps, cigars, and sports bags. Entertainment for the event is provided by the band Foo Fighters. Visit the official E3 website.
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