This Day in Geek History: November 7
The Ensisheim Meteorite, the first meteorite with a known date of impact, strikes the Earth in a wheat field outside the village of Ensisheim, Alsace, France at near noon.
Pierre Gassendi first observes the transit of a planet. Johannes Kepler had predicted a transit of Mercury would occur in 1631. When Gassendi observed the dot of Mercury passing across the face of the Sun with a Galilean telescope by projecting the sun’s image on a screen of paper. He will recount the observation in Mercurius in sole visus (“Mercury in the Face of the Sun”) in 1632.
The first air freight shipment is undertaken by the Wright Brothers on behalf of department store owner Max Moorehouse between Dayton, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio.
Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton, in his presidential address to the Röntgen Society in London, suggests that high-definition television is possible with cathode ray tubes. The paper won’t be published until April 1924 in the magazine Wireless World.
Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard demonstrates a tube-launched solid propellant rocket, using a music stand as his launching platform. Goddard began work for the Army in 1917 to design rockets to aid in the war effort. Further development led to the World War II bazooka, a small, hand-held rocket launcher.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century premieres on the radio. The show is based on two novellas published in Amazing Stories by Philip Francis Nowlan and a subsequent comic strip. Many will later cite Buck Rogers series as the great-grandfather of many later science fiction series, such as Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek.
Royal National Institute for the Blind issues the first “talking book,” using twelve inch discs.
The first U.S. coin-operated television is publicly exhibited in New York City. It operates when a quarter is inserted, playing various test patterns and a model of Felix the Cat. The receiver, named the Tradio-Vision, contains twenty tubes and a five inch cathode ray tube that reflected a 500-line image on mirror in the lid of its metal cabinet.
A feature-length film to premiere on television before opening in U.S. theaters airs.
At the Rand Corporation, the JOSS conversational timesharing service is first implemented on the Johnniac computer. Mathematician and systems programmer Cliff Shaw developed the Johnniac Open Shop System (JOSS) in a symbolic assembly language called EasyFox, which he had also developed. The system’s purpose is to bring users back into contact with the machine to do online debugging and program development. Prior to timesharing, batch turn-around times impeded the solution of many problems as programmers submitted punch cards to computer operators and waited for their results for as long as several days.
Rolling Stone magazine publishes an article by Stewart Brand,the author of The Whole Earth Catalog, entitled “Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums.” The article begins, “Ready or not computers are coming to the people.”
The internet domain Northrop.com is registered. It is the sixth internet domain ever to be registered.
Atari makes an initial public offering. Four and a half million shares are initially sold for US$11.25 each, raising US$50.6 million. Atari pays its debts to Warner Communications and other loans of US$36.2 million with the proceeds.
Read more about Atari at the Atari Museum.
USA Today publishes an article on the Morris Worm as its headline story. The article describes the worm as the “worst computer virus outbreak in history”, with over 6,000 computers being affected on something called INTERnet (“a low-security computer network… which is designed to let researchers across the USA easily exchange messages by computer.”)
Z-Nix sues Microsoft for allegedly violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by exerting monopolistic control of operating system user interfaces to control the mouse pointer market. Z-Mix asks for US$4.5 million in damages.
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