This Day in Geek History: September 28
Donati’s comet discovered by Giovanni Battista Donati, becomes the first comet to be photographed. It is a bright comet that developed a spectacular curved dust tail with two thin gas tails, captured by an English commercial photographer, William Usherwood, using a portrait camera.
Two two-seat Douglas World Cruiser (DWC) planes set down in Seattle, Washington after completing the first round-the-world flight in history. The planes, the Chicago and the New Orleans, were developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the U.S. Army Air Service specifically for the purpose of attempting to fly around the world. Four of the planes had departed from Seattle on April 4, 1924, but the Seattle crashed in Alaska and the Boston was damaged beyond repair while crossing the Atlantic. Over the 175 days of their expedition, the Chicago and the New Orleans set down have traveled 23,942 nautical miles (44,342km). Read more at the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission.
Sir Alexander Fleming notices a bacteria-killing mold growing in his laboratory. The discovery will later become known as penicillin.
The first musical comedy on television, Boys from Boise, is broadcast in the U.S.
The first made for television movie, Dinner Date with Death, in the UK is screened by broadcast on the BBC.
The Explorer VI satellite discovers an intense radiation belt around Earth and takes the first remote television footage of Earth’s meteorological conditions.
A meteorite falls over Murchison, Australia. Only 100kg of the meteorite will later be found, and it will be classified as a carbonaceous chondrite, type II (CM2). The meteorite will be suspected to have originated with a comet because of its high (12%) water content. The later discovery of some ninety-two different amino acids within the meteorite will lead to an intense study by researchers attempting to discover the meteorite’s origins. Nineteen of the amino acids are found on Earth, but the remaining amino acids will be determined to have no apparent terrestrial source.
The thirteen-part science ducmentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, written and hosted by Carl Sagan, premieres on PBS. Produced on a budget of approximately US$6.3 million budget, the series is notable for its groundbreaking use of special effects, which make it appear as if Sagan is walking through through environments that are actually models, rather than full-sized sets. Visit the series’ official website. Watch Cosmos on Hulu.
Atari hosts a luncheon meeting for distributors in San Francisco, California to officially introduce Tempest featuring Atari’s newly developed QuadraScan Color Display system and Skill-Step feature.
According to Twin Galaxies, Shawn Dybdall, age 16, scores a record-setting 12,822,460 points playing the Atari arcade game Dig Dug after playing for eight hours and sixteen minutes at the Tilt Arcade in Las Vegas, Nevada. Much later, on July 6, 2000, Mark Longridge will write, “I can say as an expert player, and as an owner of the machine, that 12 million points is 100% impossible. This is because round 256 (round 0 in 8-bit logic) is a “kill screen,” that is a screen which is impossible to clear. It’s impossible to clear because one of the pookas starts the round on top of your game, and the collision detection of the program doesn’t allow you to pump up anything right on top of you… My own personal best was 2.7 million set at Funspot in Weir’s Beach, New Hampshire, early this year. I have a 2.5 million on video tape.” Visit the official Twin Galaxies website.
The New York Times reports that Atari has lost more than US$310 million in only three months, and that Atari’s El Paso plant is being converted into a recycling center. Atari will rapidly fade from popularity, and Atari’s disposal of six million E.T. cartridges in a remote desert dump the day before will become a symbol to America’s media, investors, and consumers that the video game boom is, at least temporarily, over.
Hackers from Brooklyn penetrate MILNET, accessing at least one computer. The breach will lead to the Department of Defense severing the links between the unclassified Military Network, or Milnet, and Arpanet, the early Internet.
The science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation premieres with the episode Encounter at Farpoint on CBS. In it, the crew of the newly-commissioned USS Enterprise-D is challenged by Q, an omnipotent extra-dimensional being, to solve the mystery of a strange base in a manner that proves humanity’s worth. The episode will later be broken into two parts for syndication, but for its premiere, it is shown in its full two-hour entirety. The series will run for 178 episodes over seven seasons. Memory Alpha entry
The Atari Corporation and Sega announce a US$90 million settlement regarding possible patent infringements. Terms include US$50 million (less attorney fees) in prepaid royalties to Atari in exchange for more than seventy U.S. patents and applications. Sega also receives 4.7 million shares or 7.4% of Atari in the arrangement for an additional US$40 million.
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