This Day in Geek History: November 21
Thomas Edison announces the invention of his “talking machine,” which he will later dub the phonograph. The device can record and play sound using a tin-foil cylinder. He will receive a patent for the invention on February 19, 1878.
Albert Einstein publishes his paper, “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?,” in the journal “Annalen der Physik.” This paper reveals the relationship between energy and mass and leads to the mass-energy equivalence formula E = MC2.
The first permanent ARPANET link is established, after a bit of tweaking, between UCLA and the SRI machine at Stanford over a 50Kbps connection. An earlier attempt had failed when the SRI system crashed after typing the “L” and “O” of the login command. Most industry historians will later consider this date to be the birth of the internet.
Warner Bros. releases the action film Supergirl, directed by Jeannot Szwarc and starring Faye Dunaway, Helen Slater, Peter O’Toole, Mia Farrow, Maureen Teefy, Hart Bochner, Peter Cook, Marc McClure, and Brenda Vaccaro, to 1,608 U.S. theaters. In it, a power source for a community of Krypton’s survivors is accidentally whisked to Earth, Kara-El, Superman’s cousin, comes to Earth to retrieve it. Upon her arrival, she discovers that she has become just as powerful as Superman, but trouble arises when she encounters a woman with arcane powers who wants the power source for herself. Produced on a budget of US$35 million, it will gross US$5,738,249 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG) Running Time: 2 hrs 5 mins
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Child” first airs. (No. 201) In it, Dr. Pulaski joins the Enterprise while La Forge prepares the Enterprise to carry dangerous plague specimens and Deanna gives birth to a mysterious child, Ian. Memory Alpha entry
Atari releases the Lynx hand-held video game system, featuring a 4.0MHz 65C02 processor, 64KB DRAM, a 16-bit graphics processor, 6 sound channels, and a 3.5-inch color LCD screen. The Lynx is the world’s first handheld electronic game with a color LCD display. Games are stored on 2MB cartridges. Price: US$189.95
Nintendo releases the Super Family Computer (Super Famicom) game system in Japan. The system features a 16-bit processor and 512KB RAM. The system comes bundled with the Super Mario World platform game. The system’s launch was so successful that the Super Famicom will sell out across Japan within three days.
Twentieth Century Fox releases the science fiction film Predator 2, directed by Stephen Hopkins and starring Kevin Peter Hall, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, and Bill Paxton, to 1,950 U.S. theaters. While fighting a battle with drug lords, a police chief discovers a being that slowly starts to slaughter the criminals in a sadistic fashion. As the invisible hunter kills off the drug lords and fellow officers, the police chief discovers that the visitor, an extraterrestrial big game hunter, has targeted him as its next victim. Although his superiors prohibit him from taking any action, the police chief sets out to put an end to the murders. Produced on a budget of US$35 million, it will gross US$8,784,943 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: R) Running Time: 1 hr 48 mins
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