This Day in Geek History: November 3
In Florence, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci is commissioned to paint a portrait of Lisa Gherardini that will later be known as the “Mona Lisa.” The husband of Lisa del Giocondo, Francesco del Giocondo, commissioned the work shortly after she had three teeth pulled and false teeth fitted.
In LaPorte, Indiana, The Cushman Telephone Company (the Bell Telephone Company) launches the first automatic telephone exchange using the “step-by-step machine” invented by Almon Brown Strowger with about seventy-five subscribers. The event is commemorated with a ceremony, a special train run from Chicago, and a brass band to greet the guests. Strowger, the owner of a funeral parlor, invented the system to eliminate the need for an operator after discovering that his town’s operator had been intercepting calls for his competitor.
The Marconi-Wright facsimile system, a system that uses super high-speed Morse telegraphy, is first demonstrated. With it, documents and images can be transmitted across the Atlantic in just three minutes. The earliest users of the system will be newspapers.
The first commercially produced synthetic rubber is manufactured.
Howard H. Aiken of Harvard University corresponds with J.W. Bryce of International Business Machines (IBM) to suggest constructing an automatic calculating machine for use in computing physical problems. This exchange will eventually inspire the creation of The Harvard Mark I, the first large-scale automatic digital computer in the U.S.
The first live coast-to-coast color (transcontinental) television telecast in U.S. history is transmitted by Radio Corporation of America (RCA) from the Colonial Theater in New York City to station WNBT in Burbank, California. An earlier demonstration was held by CBS for ad executives on December 6, 1951; however the earlier demonstration was a closed circuit program never seen by the public.
The first Godzilla film is released in Japan.
The Wizard of Oz airs on television for the first time, with an audience of approximately forty-five million people.
The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2, the first spacecraft to ever carry a living creature into space. It carries the first animal to enter orbit, a Siberian husky named Laika. The satellite will return the first biological data on how living creatures adapt to space. The satellite is the size of a small car, weighs approximately one thousand pounds, and will remain in orbit 162 days. Deorbiting technology has not yet been developed, and Laika dies several hours into the flight.
The New York Times publishes an article that features one of the earliest uses of the term “personal computer”. The article is a report on a recent meeting of the American Institute of Industrial Engineers at which John W. Mauchly spoke to the assembly about his vision of the future of computing. Mauchly is quoted in the article as stating that, “There is no reason to suppose the average boy or girl cannot be master of a personal computer.” The term will be popularized six years later when Hewlett Packard begins referring to its Hewlett Packard 9100A as a personal computer in advertising.
The Star Trek episode “I, Mudd” first airs. (No. 37) In it, Captain Kirk and the crew has a second run in with the con man, Harry Mudd, this time finding him as the king of a planet with an army of androids. Memory Alpha entry
The UNIX Time-Sharing System First Edition (VI) is released.
The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “Once Upon a Planet” first airs. (No. 09) In it, the crew of the Enterprise revisits the “amusement park” planet first seen in the Classic Trek episode “Shore Leave” hoping for some rest and relaxation, but they discover that the planet’s Keeper is dead. When the untended machinery begins constructing dangerous images from the crew members’ thoughts, Lieutenant Uhura is captured by the planet’s master computer, who resents being made to serve humans. Memory Alpha entry
According to Fred Cohen’s later 1984 paper Computer Viruses – Theory and Experiments, the first virus in history is conceived on this date as an academic experiment to be presented at an upcoming computer security seminar. Len Adleman created the script in eight hours of work on a VAX 11/750 Unix system, and he dubs his creation a “virus.” Adleman performs a battery of five tests on the virus before successfully demonstrating it at the security seminar on November 10. Read Computer Viruses – Theory and Experiments online.
The existence of the Morris Worm, one of the first computer worms to spread through the internet, becomes public knowledge the day following its release. The first mention of the worm is posted to Usenet, and the New York Times learns that the author of the worm is Cornell University graduate student Robert T. Morris, Jr. after an anonymous caller accidentally lets slip the authors initials (rtm) and login. Bob Morris, Chief National Computer Security Center Scientist with the National Security Agency (NSA), calls the Times and confirms that the author is his son. The worm was originally created by Morris as part of a legitimate research project in an attempt to count the number of computers actively connected to the internet around the globe. However, due to a programming error, the day will become known as Black Thursday as administrators around the country discover that their computers are hampered by hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of shell processes that appear faster than they can be deactivated. Rebooting systems does little to help, and, around the nation, networks fail as six thousand computers, about on tenth of all connections to the internet, crash.
The first World of Commodore trade show in the U.S. is held, over four days in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Version 4.0a of Crack, a Unix password cracking application designed to allow system administrators to locate users who may have weak passwords vulnerable to a dictionary attack, is released. This version is often credited with putting Crack on the map, introducing several important features, including a programmable dictionary generator and distributed network password cracking. Visit the application’s official website.
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