This Day in Geek History: October 30
John L. Loud of Weymouth, Massachusetts is granted the first US patent for a ballpoint pen. (US No. 392,046) The pen uses a revolving spherical marking point held in place by three smaller anti-friction bearings, which are held in place in turn by a spring-loaded rod. The pen was designed to be used on rough surfaces unsuitable for the nib of a traditional fountain pen. Fifty-seven years later, the first mass-produced pens would be sold at Gimbels Department Stores in New York City for US$12.95.
69230 Hermes passes within 485,000 miles of Earth, the closest approach to the Earth of any asteroid. It was discovered and photographed by Karl Reinmuth. Within five days of its discover, it will pass outside of observation distance, until it will be re-discovered in 2003.
Orson Welles panics the nation with a radio broadcast of the Mercury Theatre radio adaptation of “The War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells. Panic begins to spread when a large number of listeners tune into the program ten minutes late, after the more popular Edgar Bergen Show, which is playing on a rival network, begins airing a terrible singing performance. Many of the listeners who tune in late miss the introductory warning that the program is purely fiction and are fooled by the news-style format of the program.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) holds the first conference on Digital Computer Technique, sponsored the National Research Council. The even is attended by the team that will be responsible for developing the Whirlwind computer, the first computer to operate in real time or to use video displays for output.
Radio Corporation of America (RCA) gives the first public demonstration of its color television system.
The Soviet Union detonates the hydrogen bomb Tsar Bomba,the largest nuclear device ever detonated, over Novaya Zemlya. The device has a fifty-eight megaton yield, and Nikita Kruschev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party, announces that the only reason the scientists had not made it one hundred megatons was to avoid breaking all the windows in Moscow.
Viewtron, one of the first videotext services, is launched by AT&T and Knight-Ridder in Miami, Florida. The service features news from the Associated Press and Miami Herald, as well as banking services.
The first fibre-optic cable to span the English Channel goes into service.
The Nippon Electric Corporation (NEC) releases the first 16-bit home entertainment system, the PC-Engine, otherwise known as TurboGrafx-16, in Japan. The system features an 8-bit HuC6280A CPU, 8KB RAM, and 64KB VRAM.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Booby Trap” first airs. (No. 306) In it, the Enterprise falls victim to an ancient booby trap set to snare starships, while in an effort to find an escape, Geordi finds himself falling for the holodeck’s representation of a famous Starfleet engineer. Memory Alpha entry
At the Internet World Conference in Boston, Borland International Inc., Intuit Inc., Lotus Development Corp., Macromedia Inc., and Spyglass Inc. announce plans to license Java.
Oracle announces its WebSystem, suite of Internet software which includes a Java-compatible browser.
DSPC and Proxim announce plans to merge in a deal valued at US$400 million.
The first version of Enlightenment, a free open source window manager for the X Window System, is released by Carsten Haitzler, known by the handle “Raster” or “Rasterman.” Visit the application’s official website.
International Business Machines (IBM) unveils a 300MHz Aptiva E Series model D1N, which will be available in stores in November. Price: US$599
Microsoft re-releases Office 97 Service Release 2. The update had been released a month ago, but distribution was suspended to correct occasional improper installations.
The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) debugs a “glitch” that erroneously sent multiple automated e-mail replies to people who submitted fraudulent on-line stock offers received through spam through the report form at cyberfraudnasaa.org.
Sony Pictures releases John Carpenter’s Vampires, directed by John Carpenter and starring James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, and Maximilian Schell, to 1,793 US theaters. Produced on a budget of US$20 million, it will gross US$9,106,497 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: R) Running Time: 1 hr 48 mins
The last Multics (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service) system is shut down. Multics was a ground-breaking time-sharing operating system when it was first released in 1965.
Microsoft releases the Works Suite 2002 software package, which includes Word 2002, Encarta Encyclopedia Standard 2002, Money 2002 Standard, Picture It! Photo 2002, Streets & Trips 2002, and Works 6.0. Price: US$109
Version 6.2 of the Netscape web browser is released.
The European Union fines Nintendo €168 million (US$147 million) for colluding with game distributors to sell products at different prices in different parts of Europe, in violation of European Union treaties.