This Day in Geek History: November 23
The first free public library in the U.K. opens in Manchester.
The world’s first commercial juke box or “Nickel-in-the-Slot” is installed at the Palais Royal Saloon in San Francisco, California. The device, constructed by the Pacific Phonograph Company, consists of an Edison phonograph with four coin-operated listening tubes. Five cents buys a few minutes of music which customers listen to through the stethoscope-like tubes. The device will be a success, earning a thousand dollars in just the first six months of operation. Its name is a reference to the word “Juke,” which is slang for a a disorderly house or house of ill repute.
The Wright brothers form a million-dollar corporation for the commercial manufacture of airplanes.
American International Pictures releases the science fiction film The Angry Red Planet, directed by Ib Melchior and starring Gerald Mohr, Naura Hayden, Jack Kruschen, and Les Tremayne, to U.S. theaters. In it, the first manned flight to Mars returns to Earth. After efforts to raise contact the ship, it is landed by remote control. As the two surviving crew members fight an alien infection, they retell the tale of their harrowing escape from the red planet. The film was produced on a budget of US$190,000, and the B-movie will go on to become a cult classic well known for its campy action sequences. IMDB listing
The science fiction television series Doctor Who premieres on the BBC with the episode “An Unearthly Child.” However, the program is preempted by round-the-clock coverage of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and so, the pilot goes largely unnoticed. In the episode, two contemporary high school teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, become concerned by the unusual behavior of their fifteen-year-old student, Susan Foreman. When they follow her home, they meet her mysterious grandfather, the Doctor, and find themselves unwilling passengers on his time ship, the TARDIS. Dr. Who will later be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running science fiction television series in history, and it will widely be acknowledge as one of the most influential science fiction series in history. TV.com entry
An anonymous hacker cracks United State Air Forces’ Sperry 1160 computer in San Antonio, Texas.
Business Week magazine publishes an article in which it declares that the computer industry is “on the skids,” citing IBM’s projected loss of US$5 billion in 1992 as well as layoffs at a number of established computer companies, such as Sun Microsystems. Visit the official Sun Microsystems website.
Sega of America announces that they have shipped one million Sega Dreamcast video game consoles in North America since the launch of the platform on September 9, 1999. Sega also points out that it took Sony nine months to ship one million PlayStations when it was launched in September of 1995.
Two class-action lawsuits are filed in Ohio against Microsoft alleging that the company used monopolistic power to overcharge its customers by a cumulative total of some US$10 billion. One of the cases is filed in a United States District Court in Columbus and the other in state court in Cincinnati.
The Convention on Cybercrime, the fist international treaty to address cybercrime, is opened for signatures in Budapest, Hungary. The U.S. will sign the first day, and by September 2, 2006, fifteen other states will have signed, ratified, and acceded to the convention, with another twenty-eight states having signed the convention but not yet ratified it.
Blizzard Entertainment launches the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft at 12:01AM in North America and, later in the day, in Australia and New Zealand. The launch was proceeded by an extensive marketing campaign and a highly publicized launch event at Fry’s Electronics in Fountain Valley California that drew nearly five thousand people. The game includes a free one-month subscription to the game. Visit the official U.S. World of Warcraft website. ESRB: T (Teen) Price: US$49.99 or US$79.99 (Collector’s Edition)
Version 2 (v1.4.2_06) of the Java programming language is released.