Today in Tech History

Today in Tech History – Oct. 24, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1861 – The First Transcontinental Telegraph line across the United States was completed, ending the need for the Pony Express which had only been around for a year and a half. Pony unemployment skyrocketed.

In 1998 – NASA launched Deep Space 1, it’s mission to seek out an asteroid, specifically, asteroid 9969 Braille. When that mission ended up being only partially successful, it went after Comet Borrelly where it got some choice information.

In 2003 – The Concorde made its last commercial flight, a victim of air traffic reductions and rising maintenance costs. 100 passengers, including actress Joan Collins and model Christie Brinkley, made the flight from New York to London in the aircraft’s usual three and a half hours. Flights have been slower ever since.

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Today in Tech History – Oct. 23, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1906 – Alberto Santos-Dumont flew an airplane in the first heavier-than-air flight in Europe at Champs de Bagatelle, Paris, France. Some argue he should be credited with the first flight at all. But that’s a long controversy.

In 1995 – A federal judge for the first time authorized a wiretap of a computer network, leading to hacking charges against a young Argentinean for breaking into sensitive U.S. government networks.

In 2001 – Apple announced their new music player, the iPod. Apple used PortalPlayer’s reference platform and hired Pixo to design and implement the user interface. The iPod became the first massively successful digital music player.

In 2012 – Apple announced the iPad Mini at 7.9 inches.

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Today in Tech History – Oct. 22, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1938 – Chester Carlson, tired of the exhaustive process of hand-copying or photographing patent paperwork, decided to make an easier way. On this date he produced the first electrophotographic image. Xerox would later make it automatic, popular, and make Carlson rich.

In 1968 – The US bounced back from tragedy with the first manned mission to space, Apollo 7, safely splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean after orbiting the Earth 163 times.

In 1975 – The Soviet unmanned space mission Venera 9 landed on Venus. Pics or it didn’t happen you say? Well Venera 9 was the first spacecraft to return an image from the surface of another planet.

In 2009 – Microsoft released Windows 7. People liked it.

In 2013 – Apple announced the new iPad Air and iPad Mini with retina display. They also released OS X Mavericks for free.

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Subscribe to the podcast. Like Tech History? Get Tom Merritt’s Chronology of Tech History at Merritt’s Books site.

Today in Tech History – Oct. 21, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1879 – Thomas Edison finished up 14 months of testing with an incandescent electric light bulb that lasted 13½ hours. It improved on 50-year-old technology to make light bulbs safe and economical by using lower electricity, a carbon filament and an improved vacuum.

In 1949 – An Wang filed a patent for a magnetic ferrite core memory, that he called pulse transfer controlling devices. Two years later he formed Wang computers.

In 1983 – The seventeenth General Conference on Weights and Measures ruled the meter would be defined as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second. This actually simplified it from the previous definition of 1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red emission line in the electromagnetic spectrum of the krypton-86 atom in a vacuum.

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Subscribe to the podcast. Like Tech History? Get Tom Merritt’s Chronology of Tech History at Merritt’s Books site.

Today in Tech History – Oct. 20, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1975 – Atari filed for a patent on the sit-down “cockpit” arcade cabinet, literally putting you inside the game. The game Hi-Way with the slogan “Hi Way — All It Needs Is Wheels”, was the first Atari game to use the cabinet. It was a first-person driver in which you had to dodge cars and– well– drive.

In 1984 – The Monterey Bay Aquarium opened in Monterey, California. It not only provided a world-class place to learn about sea life, but inspired millions of screensavers and wallpaper images.

In 2004 – Mark Shuttleworth sent out an email to Ubuntu developers announcing the first official release of the Linux-based operating system, Warty Warthog. Every six months since, a new version of Ubuntu comes out with a new alliterative animal-inspired name.

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Today in Tech History – Oct. 19, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1832 – Samuel Morse first conceived of the electric telegraph system. At least he said later this was the day he first thought of it.

In 1941 – The Smith-Putnam Wind Turbine first fed AC power to the electric grid on Grandpa’s Knob in Castleton, Vermont, becoming the first wind machine to do so. The 1.25 MW turbine operated for 1100 hours before a blade failed.

In 1973 – The Atanasoff-Berry Computer finally got its due. US Federal Judge Earl R. Larson signed his decision that the ENIAC patent was invalid and named Atanasoff the inventor of the electronic digital computer. But ENIAC still incorrectly gets the credit from many to this day.

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Today in Tech History – Oct. 18, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1922 – Six telecom companies joined to found the British Broadcasting Company in order to provide radio broadcasts in Britain. The private company was later replaced by the non-commercial British Broadcasting Corporation in 1927.

In 1954 – Texas Instruments announced the Regency TR-1, the first transistor radio, produced jointly with the Regency Division of Industrial Development Engineering Associates in Indianapolis. TI executive Vice President Pat Haggerty hoped the product would show what transistors could do and spur demand.

In 1985 – Nintendo introduced the Nintendo Entertainment System aka the NES at FAO Schwarz in New York. A little game called Super Mario Brothers was introduced on the same day. The NES was the North American version of the Famicom sold in Japan. It was test-marketed in New York and eventually conquered the continent, becoming an 8-bit classic.

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Today in Tech History – Oct. 17, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1888 – Thomas Edison filed a patent for something called an optical phonograph. Despite the conflicting name, it was a film camera with images 1/32nd of an inch wide. He said it would “do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear.”

In 1907 – Guglielmo Marconi’s company began the first wireless commercial radio service, and Canada got some tech first. Glace Bay, Nova Scotia was able to transmit to Clifden, Ireland. The service was used for trans-atlantic telegraph service.

In 1990 – Col Needham posted a software package to rec.arts.movies which he called at the time “rec.arts.movies movie database.” It made the lists of movies on the newsgroup searchable. It would move to the web in 1992 and became known as IMDB, the Internet Movie Database.

In 2013 – Microsoft released Windows 8.1, a free update to the Windows 8 operating system, that among other improvements, brought back the much beloved ‘Start’ button.

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Today in Tech History – Oct. 16, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1843 – Sir William Rowan Hamilton finally hit on the idea of Quaternions, and needing a bit more space than his hand to jot it down, he carved it into the stone of Brougham Bridge in Dublin. Why do you care about quaternions? Because calculations involving three-dimensional rotations are essential for 3D computer graphics and computer vision. Video games people.

In 1923 – Distributor M. J. Winkler, contracted to distribute the “Alice Comedies” marking the founding of the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio which eventually changed its name to the Walt Disney Company, at Roy’s suggestion. So don’t expect anything after this date to ever go out of copyright.

In 1959 – Control Data Corp. released its model 1604 computer, the first from William Norris’s group that left Sperry Rand Corp.

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Today in Tech History – Oct. 15, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1878 – The Edison Electric Light Company began operation. They would go on to become more general. As in making up a significant part of General Electric.

In 1956 – Fortran, the first modern computer language was shared with the public for the first time. The IBM Mathematical Formula Translating System made John Backus a legend, kicked off modern programming, and is still developed by the Fortran Standards Technical Committee.

In 2003 – China launched the Shenzhou 5, its first manned space mission, becoming the third country in the world to have independent human spaceflight capability. Yang Liwei piloted the capsule showing the flags of the People’s Republic of China and the United Nations.

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Subscribe to the podcast. Like Tech History? Get Tom Merritt’s Chronology of Tech History at Merritt’s Books site.