This Day in Geek History: November 2
The DuPont Company, of Wilmington, Delaware, announces the first practical synthetic rubber, DuPrene, which will later be renamed Neoprene. The new rubber is expensive to produce, but it resists oil and gasoline, which natural rubber doesn’t.
The British Broadcasting Corporation begins transmitting the world’s first regularly scheduled high-definition (200 lines) television service, the BBC Television Service, from Alexandra Palace, in north London. The service will later be renamed BBC1 in 1964. Its range is about thirty-five miles. Regular programs are broadcast twice a day, from 3 – 4pm, and from 9 – 10pm, Monday through Saturday.
In California, Howard Hughes conducts the first and only flight of the Spruce Goose, the largest fixed-wing aircraft ever built, over Long Beach Harbor in California. The Spruce Goose, which was formally named Hercules, is the first US plane with eight engines; it boasts a wing span of 319 feet, 11 inches; it weighs over two hundred tons; and it cost twenty-five million dollars to build. It’s named the “Spruce Goose” because its entire airframe and surface is composed entirely of laminated birch wood rather than the aluminum typically used in airplane design, due to wartime restrictions. Its flight lasts about a minute, and it only achieves an altitude of seventy feet.
A four-way split screen is used for the first time in television history when commentators from four regions chat remotely.
The first titanium mill is opened in Toronto, Ohio by the Titanium Metals Corp. of America (TIMET). The mill is the first in the US to roll and forge titanium. (This marks the beginning of the eventual creation of the Terminator.)
The Data Processing Division (DPD) of International Business Machines (IBM) introduces the IBM 7010 data processing system, which combines the power of IBM’s large-scale 7000-series with the data handling capabilities of the company’s widely used IBM 1400 series.
The McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, the largest solar telescope ever designed, is dedicated in Kitt Peak, Arizona. The telescope captures images of the Sun using a mirror eighty inches in diameter (2m). At the dedication ceremony, a letter sent from President Kennedy, extolling the virtues of the facility is read. Visit the official McMath-Pierce website.
Kee Games, a wholly owned subsidiary of Atari, releases the racing game Sprint 2 to arcades in North America. Sprint 2 is evolutionary descendant of Gran Trak 10 and Gran Trak 20, but it features the notable addition of a MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor, a first for racing games. The upgrade in processing power allows Sprint 2 to include two computer-controlled cars, improved graphics, and a larger selection of tracks.
The identification of methanogens, a form of life dating back some 3.5 billion years, is first reported by scientists at the University of Illinois. Microbiologist Carl R. Woese discovered the organisms are so different from bacteria that they deserved their own branch of the family tree as the third domain of life, Archaea. Methanogens are found in oxygen-deficient environments, and mostly obtain their energy by reducing carbon dioxide and oxidizing hydrogen, with the production of methane.
Robert T. Morris, Jr., a computer science graduate student at Cornell University and son of a chief scientist at a division of the National Security Agency (NSA), launches a self-replicating worm on the government’s ARPANET as part of a research project meant to determine the size of the internet by infecting UNIX systems in order to count the number of connections that existed. Because of the of a programming error, the worm, which will be known initially as the “Internet Worm” and later as the “Morris Worm,” will began infecting machines repeatedly, causing clogged networks and system crashes. Eventually, the worm will spread to some six thousand networked computers (roughly ten percent of internet users), clogging government and university systems for two days. Specifically, it will effect DEC VAX systems and Sun-3 machines running BSD UNIX with an internet connection. It will become the first worm to spread extensively “in the wild,” the first worm to receive extensive media coverage, and one of the first programs to exploit a buffer overrun vulnerability. The worm will strike the Pentagon, SDI research labs, and six major universities. According to later reports from the the United States General Accounting Office, the attack will cause between one hundred thousand and ten million dollars in damages, all told. Morris will be dismissed from Cornell, sentenced to three years probation and fined US$10,000 for releasing the worm, and the incident will mark a significant turning point in the evolution of the internet. By crippling the small, elite community, Morris will expose the unexamined vulnerability of the network and plant the seeds of worry that will ultimately give rise to modern computer security.
A second court hearing is held concerning the Microsoft consent decree.
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