This Day in Geek History: October 16
The Collegiate School of America, later named Yale University, is founded by Congregationalists who are unhappy with the liberal bent of Harvard. The school was chartered on October 9th. It will become the first school in the U.S. to award a doctorate degree.
Irish mathematician Sir William Rowan Hamilton conceives of the concept of quaternions, non-commutative extensions of complex numbers as he strolls along the Royal Canal in Dublin, Ireland with his wife. During the walk, he realizes that the theory of conjugate functions which he had been working on since the thirties could be solved using quadruplets rather than triplets. In his excitement over the realization, he carves the underlying equations in a nearby bridge.
In Farnborough, the first aeroplane flight in England is accomplished by Samuel Cody, a self-proclaimed American cowboy who built his own flying machines. Read more online.
The first blood transfusion of World War I is performed on a wounded soldier when Isidore Colas gives his blood to Corporal Henri Legrain of 45th Infantry Corps of the French Army.
The first evidence of Peking Man, a well-preserved left lower molar, is uncovered by Swedish paleontologist Birgir Bohlin at a large-scale archaeological dig in caves inside Zhoukoudian Cave, outside Peking. A well-preserved, nearly complete skull of an adolescent will be excavated at the same site in 1929.
A patent is issued for the first electric light bulb frosted on the inside with sufficient strength for commercial handling. (US No. 1,687,510) The inventor, Marvin Pipkin, is employed by the Incandescent Lamp Department of the General Electric Company in Nela Park, Ohio. Frosting the inside of a bulb rather than the outside means that the glass absorbs less light and collects less dust. Previously, bulbs had been frosted with an etching processes that weakened the glass, rendering the bulb too fragile to survive packaging and shipping.
The first motion picture in the U.S. of the inside of a living heart, A Cinematographic Study of the Function of the Mitral Valve in Situ, is shown at a clinical session of the New York Academy of Medicine Post Graduate Fortnightly held at Montefiore Hospital, New York City, where the film was made. The subject of the film is a dog’s mitral valve, which is often damaged by rheumatic fever.
The Control Data Corporation (CDC) releases the model 1604 computer, designed by electrical engineer Seymour Cray, who will later go on to found Cray Research and be dubbed “the father of supercomputing.” The computer is the first model released by the company, which was founded by a group of former Sperry Rand Corporation employees under the leadership of William Norris, the new company’s CEO. At the time of its release, the 48-bit computer is the most powerful computer on the market, and it will rapidly become the world’s first commercially successful transistorized computer. The main body of each computer weighs one ton its console weighs another half ton. It boasts 32K 48-bit words of magnetic core memory with a cycle time of 6.4 microseconds organized into two banks of 16K words each. Each 48-bit word contains two 24-bit instructions: 6 bits for its operation code, 3 bits for a “designator” (access or jump instructions), and 15 bits for a memory address.
The first 1604 will be delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1960 to supporting major Fleet Operations Control Centers in Hawaii, London, and Norfolk. By 1964, over fifty units will have gone into use for commercial applications, controlling weapons systems, processing data in real time, and solving large-scale scientific problems. The success of the model 1604 will be a precursor to success of the burgeoning company, which will distinguish itself by competing with industry IBM and winning. View an archived copy of the 1604 programming manual. View more photos at Histoire de l’Informatique.
People’s Republic of China detonates its first nuclear weapon, becoming the fifth country with nuclear arms after the United States (1945), Great Britain (1953), the Soviet Union (1961), and France. The United States Atomic Energy Commission will later determine that the detonation took place in the vicinity of Lop Nor, a lake in a remote area of Central Asia and characterizes it as a low-yield explosion “typical of an early nuclear test” of a fission device employing uranium-235 equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT or less.
Halley’s Comet is observed on its thirtieth recorded trip past Earth.
Dr. Leonard L. Bailey performs the first transplant of a baboon heart into a human at the Loma Linda University Medical Center in California.
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