This Day in Geek History: November 27
The College of Pennsylvania becomes the University of Pennsylvania and the first legally recognized university in America.
Thanksgiving is first celebrated in the United States after Congress requested that President George Washington proclaim a “…day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity to peaceably establish a form of government for their safety and happiness…” After several subsequent U.S. Presidents declared a national Thanksgiving, Abraham Lincoln finally made it an annual event with his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation. The official date of the holiday was changed from the fifth Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday in November by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939.
Thomas Davenport invents the first commercially successful electric motor, which he used with great ingenuity to power a number of established inventions. He would receive a U.S. patent February 25, 1837.
Alfred Nobel signs his last will and testament at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, setting aside his estate for the purpose of establishing the Nobel Prize after his death.
United Artists releases the silent film The Mark of Zorro, starring Douglas Fairbanks. The film will go on to be extremely influential in the world of comics. Specifically, Fairbanks’ rendition of Zorro will influence Bob Kane’s creation of Batman, as well as the design of The Bat, Dick Tracy, Dracula, The Green Hornet, Jimmie Dale, The Phantom, The Shadow, Sherlock Holmes, and Spring Heeled Jack. Some Batman artists pay homage to the film by showing Bruce Wayne’s parents leaving this movie on the night they were killed. IMDB listing Running Time: 90 mins
The first rocket to intercept an airplane is fired from the White Sands Missile Range.
The Centaur II becomes the first flight of space vehicle fueled by a combination of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen when it is launched at 19:03 from Cape Canaveral.
The Soviet Union’s Mars 2 lander releases a descent module. It malfunctions and crashes, but in doing so, it becomes the first man-made object to land on the surface of Mars. It was launched on May 19.
According to Twin Galaxies, Sam Middleton scores a record-setting 754,400 points playing the Sun Electronics arcade game Kangaroo at the Aladdin’s Castle arcade in Panama City, Florida. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
The internet domain KSR.com is registered, becoming the ninety-ninth .com.
Microsoft releases version 2.0 of its Internet Explorer web browser to compete with the popular Netscape Navigator web browser, which has attained a virtual monopoly on the web browser market. Microsoft markets the browser as providing superior privacy protection to Netscape. The 32-bit web browser, Microsoft’s first cross-platform browser, supports background audio, inline AVI graphics, RSA encryption, and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocols.
Sega launches the Dreamcast video game console in Japan. The system features a 200Mhz Hitachi SH-4 RISC processor, 16MB RAM, a 56kbps modem, a 32-bit Yamaha Super Intelligent Sound Processor, a proprietary 1.2 Gigabyte CD-ROM, and the Windows CE operating system. The system is accompanied by the release of five software titles including: Godzilla Generations, July, Pen Pen TriIcelon, Sega Rally 2, and Virtua Fighter 3. Price: ¥29,800 (US$220)
The Brazilian website of Banco Central do Brasil is hacked by the hacking group “prime suspectz”. The website is hosted on a server running Windows NT. View an archived version of the defaced website.
The E-Stamp Corporation stops selling postage over the Internet and lays off one third of its employees, blaming the cuts on high operating costs.
Martin Schweiger releases Orbiter, a freeware space shuttle simulator for Windows. Unlike other simulators, Orbiter is focused on controlling the shuttle, rather than on the views or destination of the flight. Visit the application’s official website.
Microsoft again denies it is a monopoly or has violated any antitrust laws when it files an appeal to throw out a lower court ruling that would force it to split into two smaller companies.
The Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Vanishing Point” first airs. (No. 210) In it, Hoshi finds herself invisible after her first trip through the transporter, while the rest of the crew believing she’s dead. Memory Alpha entry
Google Maps introduces “Terrain View,” a mode that shows basic topographic map features. The system’s “Hybrid View” is replaced with a “Show labels” option for the “Satellite View.”
Ashley Towns, the 21 year-old hacker responsible for writing and releasing the first iPhone worm, Ikee, reports being hired by Australian iPhone app developer Mogeneration, which claims to be Australia’s “leading iPhone development company.”
A Swedish appeals court upholds the copyright convictions of three of the four founders of The Pirate Bay, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström. However, the court did revise the ruling to decrease the defendants’ jail sentences and increase the amount they must pay in damages. A lower court had previously sentenced the men to a year in prison and damages of about 30 million Swedish kronor (US$4.2 million). The new ruling adds another 16 million kronor in damages and reduces Neij’s sentence to 10 months, Sunde’s to 8 months, and Lundstrom’s to 4 months, based on each man’s individual involvement in the operation of The Pirate Bay.