Magician Harry Houdini dies of gangrene and peritonitis that developed after his appendix ruptured. The time of his death, on Halloween, will give rise to myths and legend that will cement Houdini’s place
An LC-47 transport plane lands at the South Pole for the first time. When Navy Admiral George J. Dufek steps off the Que Sera Sera, he becomes the first American to set foot there. He and an advance party arrive to build the first permanent South Pole Station.
According to Twin Galaxies, Kenneth Vance, age 18, scores a record-setting 411,200 points playing the Atari video game Kangaroo for two hours and twenty-seven minutes at Tilt Arcade in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
Coleco Industries announces that it has sold over 2.2 million table-top video-game machines to date.
Texas Instruments (TI) cancels the US$50 rebate program for the TI-99/4A home computer, but it extends the offer to give a free Speech Synthesizer to qualified purchases of six program modules through Tuesday, January 31, 1984.
At the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York, International Business Machines (IBM) officially announces the release of OS/2 1.1 Standard Edition with Presentation Manager. Code-name: Trimaran
The Vatican formally admits its error in condemning Galileo Galilei for heresy for over 359 years for his geocentric view of the solar system. After thirteen years of inquiry, the Pope’s commission of historic, scientific, and theological scholars brought the pope a “not guilty” finding for Galileo. Pope John Paul II himself met with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to help set the record straight.
Pagan Publishing announces a new Cthulhu role-playing game (RPG) called End Time in a press release. End Time is Pagan Publishing’s first role-playing game. It is set in the year 2094, after the stars have come right and Cthulhu and the other Great Old Ones have arisen and laid waste to humanity. It serves as a sequel to the award-winning Call of Cthulhu RPG published by Chaosium, Inc..
Quantum Link (Q-Link), an online service for e-mail, games, news, and shopping on Commodore 64 and 128 computers, announces that it will withdraw from the Commodore market. Past subscribers are offered memberships on the new America Online (AOL) service.
Eidos Interactive releases the third-person shooter Tomb Raider for the Saturn in the US. The game introduces numerous innovations within 3D third-person adventure games and will remain extremely influential for years to come. Visit the game’s official website. ESRB: T (Teen)
Alternic founder Eugene Kashpureff is arrested in Toronto, Canada on wirefraud charges brought by the US for hijacking the URL of the InterNIC registry website and redirecting its traffic to his own Alternic website July 11 – 14, 1997 to protest Network Solutions’ monopoly on the domain name system. Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), which runs the InterNIC, took Kashpureff to court in August, but the case was settled. Kashpureff apologized to the Internet community and tried to help inform it how to prevent someone else from perpetrating the same kind of domain name hijacking. NSI turned the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), dissatisfied with the outcome of its civil suit. The news of Kashpureff’s arrest shocks many. Richard Sexton, who worked with Kashpureff on the AlterNIC but disagreed with the actions he took, will later release a statement in which he says, “The most you could have lost is two seconds and one mouse-click. It is fraud, but the fiscal damage amounts to zero. He should be found guilty and fined a dollar.” Many will later characterize the protest as an act of civil disobedience. Visit the Wayback Machine archive of AlterNIC.net. Visit Eugene Kashpureff’s personal website.
The first public version of Sketch, version 0.5.0, is released. Sketch is a free vector graphics editor written almost completely in Python and released under the GNU Lesser General Public License. The application will later be renamed Skencil. Visit the application’s official website.
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (H.R. 4151) is signed into law in the US. The bill makes identity theft a federal crime, with penalties of up to three years imprisonment and a maximum fine of US$250,000. It also directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help victims deal with the consequences of identity theft.
Napster announces a partnership with German recording company Bertelsmann AG (BMG) under which the companies will develop a membership-based distribution system that guarantees payment to artists. In exchange for a stake in the business, Bertelsmann drops its lawsuit against Napster.
The US Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) releases a summary of a draft report concluding that cloned farm animals and their offspring pose little danger to the national food supply. News of the report leads scientists and media outlets to predict that products derived from clones could one day be sold in grocery stores. While no federal rules currently prohibit the sale of such products, food producers are currently observing a voluntary moratorium on cloned animals. Since clones can still cost as much as US$20,000 a piece, however, they are unlikely to be be used as food anytime in the near future.
Apple Computer announces that it has sold one million videos through its iTunes Store in the nineteen days since it began offering videos October 12th. iTunes offers approximately two thousand videos, including animation, music videos, and popular network programing for US$1.99 per video. Steve Jobs comments that, “Selling one million videos in less than twenty days strongly suggests there is a market for legal video downloads,” in the statement announcing the milestone. “Our next challenge is to broaden our content offerings so that customers can enjoy watching more videos on their computers and new iPods.” Visit the official iTunes website.
Jason Scott Sadofsky marks the tenth anniversary of Textfiles.com, a website devoted to archiving and documenting the history of the bulletin board system (BBS) communities that were the forerunners of the modern internet. The site has cataloged roughly sixty thousand text files documenting the era of the BBS, and each month, the site boasts approximately one hundred fifty thousand unique visitors. To commemorate the anniversary, Sadofsky has created a sub-site called the Ten Years of Textfiles, on which he recounts his experiences as the website’s administrator. Visit the official Textfiles website.
The OpenBSD Project releases version 4.4 of the OpenBSD operating system.