This Day in Geek History: November 5
Stephen van Renssalaer founds the first engineering college in the United States, the Renssalaer School in Troy, New York. It will open on January 3, 1825, and the first class will graduate with ten students April 26, 1826.
The first U.S. national civil engineering society, the American Society of Civil Engineers and Architects, is founded. Twelve engineers attend the event at which the society was founded, though an invitation had been extended to all civil engineers in New York. The purpose of the society is “the advancement of the sciences of engineering and architecture in their several branches, the professional improvement of its members, the encouragement of intercourse between men of practical science, and the establishment of a central point of reference and union for its members.” The organization’s architects will later split off into their own organization, and the organization will be retitled the “American Society of Civil Engineers” (ASCE). Visit the official ASCE website.
George B. Selden of Rochester, New York, receives the first U.S. patent for a gasoline-driven automobile. (US No. 549,160) In the patent, he describes the complete automobile incorporating such a clutch, a compressed air self-starter, and a steering system. As a patent attorney, he knows to delay the contention over the patent by sending amendments and other communications every two years. Meanwhile, others develop the actual working of the automobile, increasing the value of his patents, and making him one of the earliest successful “patent trolls.”
Henry Ford receives a patent for a motor carriage.
Marie Curie becomes the first females lecturer at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. In her inaugural lecture, Curie explains her treatise on radioactivity. One hundred twenty students attend the lecture, along with several members of the public and the media.
Archaeologist Howard Carter excavates a further eleven steps and exposes a large portion of the plastered and sealed entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The first step had been discovered by a laborer the day before. Carter cables his financier, Lord Carnarvon, in England with the following message, “At last have made wonderful discovery in Valley a magnificent tomb with seals intact recovered same for your arrival congratulations.” The tomb entrance is refilled, to be uncovered fully November 23 – 24, 1922, after the arrival of Lord Carnarvon.
A demonstration of the Baird closed circuit television system at the Hairdressing Fair of Fashion, held November 5 – 13, includes the first advertisement, a short promotion of the Eugène Method of permanent hair waving.
American election returns are broadcast on television for the first time.
Universal Pictures releases the horror film Son of Dracula, directed by Robert Siodmak and starring Lon Chaney, Jr., Robert Paige, Louise Allbritton, and Evelyn Ankers to U.S. theaters. It is the third in Universal Studios’ Dracula trilogy, preceded by Dracula and Dracula’s Daughter. IMDB listing
Archaeologists find Viking ruins at L’Anse-aux-Meadows in Newfoundland that predate Columbus‘ landing by five hundred years. The discovery supports the belief of many historians that Leif Ericson, second son of Eric the Red, was the first European to reach the North American mainland, at a place that he called Vinland.
NASA launches the ATS-3 communications satellite. It will remain in service longer than any other satellite in history, remaining active for over twenty-eight years. It will return the first photographs of the the full Earth disk.
The Data Processing Division (DPD) of International Business Machines (IBM) releases three new products: the IBM 303 control unit, the IBM 3420 tape drive, and the IBM 129 card data recorder with monolithic-circuit memory.
Atari releases the duck hunting game Qwak! to arcades. The game is notable for being among the first games to feature a single-player mode with enemies with basic artificial intelligence (AI). The game marks the beginning of the trend of increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence in video games. Earlier single-player games, such as Gotcha, Pong, and Spacewar! used discrete logic, rather than AI.
Kee Games, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Atari, releases the Tank! arcade game in North America. Tank is the first game to use IC-based ROM to store graphical data. Although Gran Trak 10, released in July of 1974, was the first arcade game to use ROM data, Gran-Trak’s ROM uses an earlier diode-based ROM technology. The game will become so popular that Atari makes its “secret” ownership of Key Games public knowledge, merging the company back into Atari and later releasing Tank under the Atari label as well.
According to Twin Galaxies, Mike Lepkosky scores a record-setting 8,161,270 points playing the Midway arcade game Pac-Man at the Fantasy Freeway arcade in Houston, Texas. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
In the U.S., the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) is signed into law by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The law prohibits the “wrongful disclosure of video tape rental or sale records” outside the ordinary course of business. The act was passed after the video rental history of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork was nationally publicized. Violators of the law may be held liable for up to US$2,500 in actual damages. Read more about the VPPA at Epic.org.
PC Week publishes a forceful letter from Brad Silverberg, Vice President of Systems Software at Microsoft and General Manager of its Windows and MS-DOS Business Unit, which denies that Microsoft has ever engaged in fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) tactics or that Microsoft has stolen features from the DR-DOS operating system, claiming that, “The feature enhancements of MS-DOS version 5.0 were decided and development was begun long before we heard about DR DOS 5.0.”
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Reunion” first airs. (No. 407) In it, Picard is selected to arbitrate the selection of a new Chancellor for the Klingon Empire and, in doing so, find out who dishonorably murdered the old Chancellor. Also involved is Ambassador K’Ehleyr, who has a surprise for Worf, their son. Memory Alpha entry
United States President George H. W. Bush signs the Launch Services Purchase Act into law. The Act, in a reversal of the Space Shuttle monopoly, orders NASA to purchase launch services for its primary payloads from commercial providers whenever such services are required in the course of its activities.
Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, California and Mayor Xavier Suarez of Miami, Florida officially declare the day “Nintendo Fun Day.”
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