This Day in Geek History: October 20
The Athenian fleet, under the command of Themistocles, defeats the Persians in the Naval Battle of Salamis. Though the Persians marched on Athens and burned it to the ground in the weeks prior, this decisive naval victory, coupled with the losses the Persians suffered in the Battle of Thermopylae will force Persian forces to withdraw from Greece. That victory will arguably lead to the rise of Greece as a global power and the eventual dissemination of Greek philosophies and ideals, such as democracy, throughout the western world.
Harvard University organizes the first astronomical expedition in U.S.
Dr. Lee DeForest, one of the “fathers of radio,” announces his three-element electrical vacuum tube, later known as a triode, to a meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE). He had discovered that when a mesh of wire is placed between the filament and collector “plate” in a diode tube, a large voltage-amplifying effect was produced. This ability to amplify weak signals will make long-distance communication possible for the first time.
George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. publish the fantasy novel The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien. It’s the third and final book in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The first fully mechanized post office opens in Providence, Rhode Island.
The length of the meter is redefined by the international body Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures (General Conference on Weights and Measures) to make the measure more accurate. Originally, the measure was one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the equator. Following the conference, the meter is re-defined as 1,650,763.73 wavelengths in a vacuum of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the 2p10 and 5d5 quantum levels of the krypton-86 atom.
Atari files for a patent on the first sit-down cockpit-style arcade cabinet, which was designed by Peter L. Takaichi for the horizontal scrolling driving game Hi-Way. (US No. D243,624) The cabinet will not only be the most notable feature of the machine, it will send ripples of innovation through the gaming industry. Each cabinet is so large that it requires at least sixteen square feet of floor space. The game was first released in March of 1975, but Atari won’t be granted its patent until March 8, 1977. View the patent at Google Patents.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, the largest artificial environment for marine life, opens on Cannery Row on the site of the old Hovden sardine cannery, with a US$40 million grant from David Packard of Hewlett Packard to house 6,500 marine animals of at least 525 species. The idea for an aquarium devoted to showcasing Monterey Bay habitats came in 1977 from a group of four marine biologists at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station. Currently, the aquarium has an active research program, with groups working on Sea Otter conservation and Tuna conservation biology and a sister institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, which conducts deep-sea research in the vast Monterey submarine canyon. Visit the organization’s official website.
In the case of Sega versus Accolade, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses Sega’s appeal of the earlier August 28th ruling in favor of Accolade. The case sets a precedent under which copyright does not extend to content required by another system to operate where the content is deemed non-expressive. It becomes a landmark case for the software industry.
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