This Day in Geek History: November 18
William Caxton issues his first dated printed book in England, Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres (“Sayings of the Philosophers). Caxton will produce approximately one hundred copies of the work.
Eugen Skladanowsky presents the first public projection of photographs at the Floria Theatre in Berlin.
The “New York World” publishes the first regular Sunday comic section.
Vladimir Kozmich Zworykin demonstrates a television receiving system called the Kinescope to the Institute of Radio Engineers in the U.S.
The first situation comedy to be broadcast on network television, Mary Kay and Johnny, debuted on the DuMont Television Network. The fifteen minute weekly sitcom follows a newlywed couple, played by real-life husband and wife Johnny Stearns and Mary Kay Stearns, living in an apartment in New York City. It is the first television program to show a couple sharing a bed, and in later episodes, it will be the first television series to show a woman’s pregnancy on television.
The fifty millionth telephone in the United States is installed on the desk of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The first weekday-afternoon network animated series for children, Barker Bill’s Cartoon Show, premieres.
The Bell X-2 rocket plane makes its first powered flight.
Bell Telephone introduces the push button telephone for the first time ever. The phones are manufactured by Western Electric Manufacturing and feature ten buttons (not twelve) set into a round back so that they resemble the earlier rotary phones, and they are available for an extra charge to Bell System subscribers. The new push-button phones are first used in Pennsylvania.
International Business Machines (IBM) releases the IBM 1231 optical mark page reader.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates gets his start in computer programming at the Lakeside School in Seattle. The school owns several early computers that Gates and his friends spend all their spare time programming. Time on Lakeside and other machines in the Seattle area is costly, however, so the newly formed Lakeside Programmers Group will offer Information Sciences Inc. free programming services on its PDP-10 in exchange for free time on the computer. The group will design a payroll program for the company.
A court decides that Microsoft is free to market its BASIC programming language to others. Within months, Microsoft will licenses BASIC for the Commodore PET and TRS-80 computers, and begins negotiating with other companies.
The International Business Machines (IBM) Data Processing Division (DPD) releases the IBM 4321 processor, the IBM 4331 Model Group 11 processor, and the IBM 4341 Model Group 10 and Model Group 11 processors, which have twice the maximum main storage as the IBM 4341 Model Group 2 processors. IBM also releases the Small Systems Executive/Virtual Storage Extended, a simplified operating system for the IBM 4321 and IBM 4331 processors.
The Amusement and Music Operators Association (AMOA) show is held Thursday, November 18 through Saturday, November 20 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. At the event, Atari introduces three new coin-operated arcade games Liberator, Millipede, and Pole Position.
The Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Watterson is first syndicated. The strip will be syndicated through December 31, 1995. The comic follows the imaginary adventures of a six year-old boy and his stuffed tiger. At the height of its popularity, the comic will be carried in over 2,400 newspapers worldwide, and more than thirty million copies of the eighteen Calvin and Hobbes compilations will be printed. Visit the comic’s official website.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “A Matter of Time” first airs. (No. 509) In it, a historian from the twenty-sixth century appears on the Enterprise, while the crew races to prevent nuclear winter from engulfing a planet. Memory Alpha entry
Atari releases the Atari Jaguar video game console in the U.S. Promoted as the “first 64-bit system,” the system features 2MB RAM and five processors residing in three chips. Two of chips, dubbed Tom and Jerry, are proprietary. The third chip is a Motorola 68000 coprocessor. The system supports games stored on cartridges with capacities up to 6MB each. The system will be marketed under the slogan “Do the Math” and a campaign that claims superiority over competing 16-bit systems. Price: US$249.99
Oral arguments are heard in the David LaMacchia BBS Piracy Case, in which LaMacchia is accused of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud for allegedly operating the pirate bulletin board system (BBS) “Cynosure” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a period of about six weeks. LaMacchia was indicted on April 7 in the Federal District of Massachusetts for facilitating the illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted software by other unknown persons. The government doesn’t allege that LaMacchia violated the federal copyright or computer fraud statutes or that he uploaded, downloaded, or transmitted any copyrighted material. Rather, the prosecution charges him with engaging in a criminal conspiracy to violate the federal wire fraud statute, which was enacted in 1952 to prevent the use of the telephone wires in interstate fraud schemes. The case raises significant issues concerning how the freedom of speech applies to cyberspace. It will be dismissed on December 29, 1994.
In San Diego, California, Nintendo holds the Nintendo PowerFest World Championships 1994 video game competition, over three days. Michael Iarossi of New Jersey wins the grand prize of US$5,000 and a new Ford Mustang car.
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