This Day in Geek History: September 30
The world’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant (later known as Appleton Edison Light Company) begins operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin. Powered by a water wheel, a single dynamo provides 12.5 kilowatts, just enough for 180 lights of ten candlepower each which will light Rogers’ home, the plant itself, and a nearby building. Appleton paper manufacturer H.F. Rogers had been inspired by Thomas Edison’s plans for a steam-powered electricity production station in New York. He had financial support from a personal friend of Edison’s and two other men.
The Bundy Manufacturing Co., a maker of time recording equipment, is incorporated. It’s the first of many components that eventually become the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, Inc. (C-T-R), which will later become International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
Thomas Edison is granted a patent for telegraphy, a phonograph, a phonograph-recorder, a “Method of Making Phonograph Blanks,” a “Propelling Device for Electrical Cars,” and a phonogram blank. (US No. 437422 -9)
A memorandum from David Sarnoff, contracts manager of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), to Edward J Nally, vice-president and general manager of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, proposes the idea of a “Radio Music Box” as a multi-frequency radio receiver that would become a “household utility.” This may be the first conception of the radio that will later be commonly used in households and cars.
An early manned rocket-powered flight is made by German auto maker Fritz von Opel. His Sander RAK 1 is a glider powered by sixteen fifty pound thrust rockets. In it, Opel makes a successful flight of seventy-five seconds spanning nearly two miles near Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.
John Mauchly writes to John Atanasoff suggesting a cooperative effort to develop the first electronic computer. The offer will be declined, and the two will later enter into a bitter dispute as to who will receive credit for the creating the first computer. Eventually, the matter will be taken to court where a judge will rule in favor of Dr. Atanasoff.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) freezes all television broadcast license applications pending further study of technical developments, most notably the development of color transmissions. Interference between adjacent stations’ transmitters has become a major issue. The intended six-month moratorium, which will lasts for four years, won’t affect the scant thirty-seven stations already operating or the eighty-six stations licensed and under construction, but three hundred pending applications are delayed.
The world’s first submarine with a nuclear reactor, the “USS Nautilus,” is commissioned by the U.S. Navy at Groton, Connecticut. Its nuclear reactor eliminates the diesel engines which had limited submarines’ range and speed, along with the need for diesel fuel storage spaces and the need to surface periodically to recharge batteries. Nautilus can dive longer, faster, and deeper than any previous submarine. It was launched January 17, 1954, and it will be decommissioned in 1980. During its service, the Nautilus will continually break records.
Radio Corporation of America (RCA) demonstrates the HoloTape video playback system, before its audio component had yet been completed. This appears to be a rushed response to the Electronic Video Recording (EVR) system developed by CBS. RCA was working on a film-based video playback system when EVR, backed by its rival, CBS, was unveiled. Like EVR, the system uses an electron beam recording (EBR) to make a master recording on a plastic tape. A second tape is coated with a photoresist that hardens in proportion to its exposure to light. A laser beam passed through a beam-splitter to direct one stream through the master recording and the other directly to the photoresist tape. The interference patterns created at the intersection of the two beams was recorded on the second tape, from which the unhardened photoresist was then removed. The resultant holographic tape was nickel-plated to produce a duplication master. This is passed through rollers in contact with blank vinyl tape to replicate the holographic pattern. A low-power laser read the tape in the consumer player. The system will later become the first to bear the name SelectaVision but was abandoned by RCA three years later in favor of magnetic tape technology (the VCR).
Bill Gates, Bob O’Rear, and Steve Ballmer meet with IBM representatives in Boca Raton, Florida, to deliver a report. They propose that Microsoft be put in charge of the entire software development process for IBM’s new microcomputer, including providing the main operating system to run on the computer. Bill Gates insists on maintaining rights to the DOS, receiving royalty payments rather than a lump sum.
Commodore International announces the CBM 8032 computer with 96KB RAM.
H. Ross Perot and Jay Colburn complete the first circumnavigation of the world in a helicopter, a model Bell 206 JetRanger called the Spirit of Texas. Their journey, which began and ended in Fort Worth, Texas, started on September 1 and lasted 29 days, 3 hours, and 8 minutes, during which the helicopter maintained an average ground speed of 117mph.
Digital Research announces that it will modify its GEM (Graphical Environment Manager) operating system to avoid claims by Apple Computer of violating its copyrights. Digital Research will also pay Apple an undisclosed sum, and develop software for Apple computers.
The internet domain DEC.com is registered, becoming the fifth .com registered.
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) announces the shipment of its three millionth PS/2 personal computer. The PS/2 is the successor to the IBM PC, PC/XT, and PC/AT systems. The PS/2 uses the Micro Channel Architecture, a bus format incompatible with IBM’s open Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) standard adopted by clone manufacturers. IBM introduced PS/2 machines just the year before, making the 3½ inch floppy disk drive and video graphics array standard for IBM computers and compatibles. The PS/2 is the first IBM computer to use the Intel 80386 processor. IBM releases its new operating system, OS/2, at the same time, allowing the use of a mouse with IBM computers for the first time.
David Cole, head of the Windows development team at Microsoft, sends an email to another executive stating that a “bug” inside Windows would “put competitor’s (software) on a treadmill (and) should surely crash at some point…”. Cole warns that the existence of the bug must be kept secret. The message is in direct response to rival operating systems being developed.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok” first airs. (No. 502) In it, Picard struggles to communicate with an alien Captain who speaks in metaphors, before an invisible beast tries to kill them both. Memory Alpha entry
The defense attorneys of David LaMacchia ask the US District Court of Massachusetts to dismiss the case against him. LaMacchia is accused of running a piracy BBS called “Cynosure” on MIT Servers and has been indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud in the first case of its kind in history. The government doesn’t allege that LaMacchia violated the federal copyright or computer fraud statutes or that he uploaded, downloaded, or transmitted any copyrighted material. Rather, the prosecution charges him with engaging in a criminal conspiracy to violate the federal wire fraud statute, which was enacted in 1952 to prevent the use of the telephone wires in interstate fraud schemes. Arguments will be made in the case in November, but ultimately, the case will be dismissed on December 29, 1994, creating what will come to be known as the “LaMacchia loophole.”
Miacomet is formed as a limited liability company in Massachusetts to develop Real Feel simulator peripherals for computers and video games.
Version 2.1 of the Linux operating system is released.
The website of ValuJet Airlines is anonymously hacked.
Creative Labs files a suit against Aureal Semiconductor seeking injunctive relief and damages for alleged false advertising and related claims. This suit is unrelated to another suit filed by Creative against Aureal in February alleging patent infringements.
Blogger’s Note: This is popularly cited as the date of the
Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines hack by “Sarin”, but research into contemporary media archive reveals that the incident actually occurred on Thursday, August 26, 1999.
Amazon.com opens zShops and adds half a million products in an online mall environment.
The Cleveland Freenet closes down permanently. One of the world’s oldest and longest running Atari fourms, the Atari SIG, had worked within the framework of the Freenet and is shut down with the network.
Nintendo of America, Inc. announces that it has been awarded a United States patent for its in-flight video game system. (US No. 5,959,596) The system enables airline passengers to play video games hosted by participating airlines while traveling.
Sega Enterprises Ltd. announces the establishment of Sega of America, Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary dedicated to the North American sales and support for the Sega Dreamcast. At the same time, Sega Enterprises transfers Dreamcast-related network operations to the International Investment Corporation (IIC).
Version 4.7 of the Netscape Communicator web browser for personal computers is released. This version features Netscape Radio and Winamp 2.5.
The Vintage Computer Festival (VCF4.0) is held Saturday, September 30 through Sunday, October 1 at the Parkside Hall in the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California. Visit the event’s official website.
SPACE.com, a space and astronomy news website, announces that it will lay off twenty-two employees, about twenty percent of its work force.
The television series Alias, created by J. J. Abrams and starring Jennifer Garner, premieres on the ABC network with the episode “Truth Be Told.” The series will run for 105 episodes over five seasons, until May 22, 2006. Though the program begins as an action series, it will progressively pass further into the science fiction genre. TV.com entry
A draft of the Fortran 2000 programming language is released.
Version 5.0 of the Java 2 programming platform is released.
Universal Pictures releases the sci-fi action film Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision, directed by Steve Boyum and starring Jason Scott Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Mary Page Keller, John Beck, and Tava Smiley, direct to video in the US. In it, a Time Enforcement Commission (TEC) operative sets out to change history hoping to make the world a better place but turns to vengence after another TEC operative stops him, killing the woman he loves in the process. Now, he must be stopped before he alters the course of history forever. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: R) Running Time: 1 hr 21 mins
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill into law that makes Phishing a civil offense, leaving violators liable for actual damages or US$500,000 per violation, whichever is greater. The law, while widely criticized for being “too little, too late,” is nonetheless the first effort of its kind to address the issue of widespread email fraud.
Universal Pictures releases the science fiction film Serenity, directed by Joss Whedon and starring Nathan Fillion and Summer Glau, to 2,188 US theaters. The film is based on the television series Firefly, which was canceled by the Fox network in December 2002. Produced on a budget of US$39 million, it will gross US$10,086,680 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG-13) Running Time: 1 hr 59 mins