This Day in Geek History: October 18
Dr. James D. Watson, Dr. Francis Crick, and Dr. Maurice Wilkins of Britain win the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for their work in determining the double-helix molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
The Star Trek episode “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” first airs. (No. 62) In it, the Enterprise travels with an alien ambassador who must travel inside a special black case because his appearance causes insanity. Memory Alpha entry
Nintendo releases the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in New York. The system is an immediate success and Nintendo launches the game nationwide in February 1986. The NES comes with the Robotic Operating Buddy (R.O.B.) and the Zapper light gun. Eighteen games are available at the launch of the game system, two of which (Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros.) come bundled with the system. The marketing slogan for the NES in North America is “Now You’re Playing With Power!” Price: US$125
Nintendo releases eighteen games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) at the time of the release of the system in the U.S., including: 10-Yard Fight, Baseball, Clu Clu Land, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Duck Hunt, Excitebike, Golf, Gyromite, Hogan’s Alley, Ice Climber, Kung Fu, Mach Rider, Pinball, Stack-Up, Tennis, Wild Gunman, Wrecking Crew, and Super Mario Bros..
The Space Shuttle Atlantis releases the Galileo space orbiter. The orbiter’s inertial upper stage rocket then pushes it onto a course through the inner solar system, which will carry it past Venus before it heads outward to Jupiter. It will become the first space probe to conduct an asteroid flyby, and it will be responsible for discovering the first asteroid moon before becoming the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. Visit the Galileo home page.
The Digital Equipment Corporation announces its MicroVAX system at a press conference in Marlboro, Massachusetts. MicroVAX is a desktop version of the Digital VAX server, featuring a quad-sized 32-bit processor board with a MicroVAX chip, the MicroVMS or ULTRIX operating system, a floating-point co-processor chip, 1MB of on-board memory, and a Q22-bus interface.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Gambit” (Part 2) first airs. (No. 705) In it, Picard and Riker help mercenaries collect archaeological artifacts to prevent an ancient Vulcan weapon from falling into the wrong hands. Memory Alpha entry
Apple Computer introduces the Apple Performa 6360 CD computer, featuring a 160 MHz PowerPC 603e processor, a 8X CD-ROM drive, a 28.8 kbps modem, 1MB video RAM, 16MB RAM, a 1.2GB Quantum IDE hard drive, one PCI slot, and over twenty-four applications. Price: US$1,499
Apple Computer introduces the Performa 6400/200 “Video Editing Edition,” featuring a 200MHz PowerPC 603e processor, 32MB RAM, a 2.4GB hard drive, 1MB video RAM, a 28.8kbps modem, an 8X CD-ROM drive, a 256KB level-2 cache, Avid Cinema video editing software, and over twenty-four applications. Price: US$2,699
International Business Machines (IBM) releases the latest in cutting edge hard drive technology, the 10,000 RPM Ultrastar 72ZX. The line of drives is the world’s highest capacity drive at 73GB. The family of record-breaking hard drives feature a new technology that protects drives against temperature variation and vibration.
The CBS television network airs an episode of the 48 Hours investigative news series featuring an over-blown investigation into the dangers of online gaming, particularly EverQuest. The report drastically dramatizes the games as being highly addictive, fraught with online predators, and psychologically dangerous. After being aired, the program’s report be widely ridiculed on the internet.
The Public Library of Science (PLoS) launches its second open-access journal, PLoS Medicine.
The science fiction television series Battlestar Galactica premieres in the UK with the episode “33.” In it, mankind flees from the Colonies, but the fleet is attacked by the Cylons every 33 minutes as the survivors cope with their losses and struggle with sleep deprivation. The series will run for sixty-three episodes over four seasons. Battlestar Wiki entry
Vivendi Universal releases the first-person shooter (FPS) F.E.A.R. for Windows, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in Europe and the U.S. The game will be very well received by critics and gamers alike. PC Gamer will declare that it is “the first game to convincingly channel the kinetic exhilaration of ‘John Woo violence‘ in the FPS format.” F.E.A.R. is an acronym for First Encounter Assault Recon, the tactical team that the game follows. Visit the game’s official website. BBFC: 18 ESRB: M (Mature) PEGI: 18+
Microsoft releases version 7.0 of its Internet Explorer web browser for Windows Vista. It’s the first major update to the browser in more than 5 years, and it introduces a number of significant improvements to the applications, including a feed reader, an integrated search box,, page zooming, tabbed browsing, and improved web standards support. Visit the official Internet Explorer website.
Vidalinux Desktop Project releases version 1.3 of the VidaLinux Linux distribution. Visit the distribution’s official website.
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