This Day in Geek History: May 7
The Greek philosopher Socrates commits suicide at age 71 after having been indicted for allegedly corrupting youth.
Otto Steiger is issued a patent for the “Millionaire calculating machine”. Four thousand seven hundred of the 120 pound machines will be built over the next forty years, by Switzerland’s Hans Egli. The calculating machine’s main selling point is its ability to easily perform multiplication calculations.
In Japan, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering, which will be renamed Sony in 1958, is founded with about twenty employees. Read more at Sony’s website.
The concept of the integrated circuit is first presented at a symposium on “Progress in Quality Electronic Components” in Washington, D.C. by radar scientist Geoffrey W.A. Dummer. He and his team of researchers at the Royal Radar Establishment of the British Ministry of Defense work towards developing methods of improving the reliability of the Royal Air Force’s radar systems. Dummer was working from a theory that it is possible to fabricate multiple circuits onto a single half-inch square of silicon, however, by 1956, his attempts to create such a functional circuit will fail.
The International Business Machines (IBM) announces the IBM 704 Data Processing System. the world’s first mass produced computer to feature floating point arithmetic hardware. The IBM 704 will leave a significant impression on the computer industry before it is withdrawn from market on April 7, 1960. Both the FORTRAN and LISP programming languages were first developed for the IBM 704, as well as the first music application, MUSIC. Physicist John Larry Kelly, Jr. of Bell Labs will synthesize speech for the first time in history on an IBM 704. A demonstration of the synthesis using the song Daisy Bell will inspire a scene in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Read more about the IBM 704 at its official IBM webpage.
The United States launches the Telstar II communication satellite on behalf of AT&T. On its tenth orbit, it transmits the first transatlantic television program seen in color. It succeeds AT&T’s original Telstar satellite, which ceased operating on February 21, 1962, when radiation from a high-altitude nuclear test causes transistor damage to the satellite. The Telstar II was built with shielding against such radiation.
German-born American inventor Ralph Baer first tests his circuit for a simple block chase game, “Fox and Hounds”, on a standard television set. The game features one dot chasing another. The “hound” dot would disappear when it was caught. According to Baer, the game is the very first two-player video game, but Baer will later loose the game.
Over the course of three days, the United States Secret Service and the Arizona Organized Crime and Racketeering Bureau implement Operation Sundevil, a series of raids on alleged computer hackers in Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Tucson, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco. Read more in Bruce Sterling’s The Hacker CrackDown.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Most Toys” first airs. (No. 171) In it, an obsessed collector, determined to add Data to his private collection of unique items, fakes Data’s death. Memory Alpha entry