December 20

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Podcast Episode

Day in Tech History: Dec 20th

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Prev: December 19 - Next: December 21 - Full Catalog list at Day in Technology History Project

1879

Thomas Alva Edison privately demonstrates his incandescent light at Menlo Park, New Jersey. He invented the lamp on October 21, 1879 after thirteen months of experimentation to discover a suitable material for the filament and discovery that carbonized cotton filaments could operate for forty hours in the vacuum of a glass bulb. The first public demonstration of the incandescent light bulb will be given at Menlo Park on December 31 1879.

1907

Physicist Albert Michelson becomes the first US scientist to receive the Nobel Prize. He is awarded the prize for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations. Specifically, he designed the highly accurate Michelson interferometer and used it to accurately measure the speed of light, establishing the Michelson Effect, which states that the speed of light is a constant.

1909

Volta Picture Theatre, Ireland’s first cinema, opens in a disused warehouse on Mary Street, in Dublin, under the management of James Joyce.

1910

AT&T acquires control of thirty percent of the Western Union Telegraph Company.

1938

Vladimir Zworykin receives a patent for the iconoscope, an early television camera tube, fifteen years after filing his application.

1943

Thomas Watson Jr. informs Harvard University President James B. Conant that popular American theatrical and industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes will be designing the cover of the Harvard Mark I computer. Bel Geddes’ past work includes the Philco radio cabinets and the GM pavilion for the 1939 World’s Fair. He was well known for his interest in futuristic designs.

1951

At 1:50 p.m., the first electricity ever generated by atomic power begins flowing from the EBR-1 turbine generator when Walter Zinn and his Argonne National Laboratory staff of scientists bring EBR-1 to criticality (a controlled, self-sustaining chain reaction) with a core about the size of a football. The reactor initially powers four light bulbs, gradually increasing over several hours. The next day, Experimental Breeder Reactor-1 will generate enough electricity to supply all of the necessary power for its own building. Additional power and core experiments will then be conducted until it is decommissioned in December 1963. Construction began in 1949, between Idaho Falls and Arco, Idaho. EBR-1 will later become a Registered National Historic Landmark.

1961

IBM 7040 Data Processing SystemThe IBM Data Processing Division releases the IBM 7040 and IBM 7044 data processing system, the most versatile ever offered for scientific data processing.

1967

Southern Bell forms South Central Bell Telephone Company to operate in five of its nine states.

1973

The IBM Data Processing Division releases new versions of the IBM 3741 data station, a key component in the IBM 3740 family of data entry products, to enable users at remote or decentralized sites to process and edit information quickly before it is enters into a computer and to write and execute their own 3741 programs.

1995

The homepage of the NASA Ames Research Center is hacked, not for the first or last time.

1996

Apple Computer announces its intentions to acquire NeXT Software, Inc. in a US$400 million deal. Steve Jobs founded both companies and is currently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NeXT Software. As part of the acquisition, Jobs will rejoin Apple and report to Dr. Gilbert F. Amelio, Apple’s present Chairman and CEO. NeXT Software’s NeXTstep operating system will become the foundation of the Mac OS X operating system.

American astronomer & astrophysicist Carl Sagan passed away in Seattle WA. He was born Nov. 9, 1934 in Seattle WA.

1999

Astronaut John Grunsfield radios mission control from Space Shuttle Discovery while on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. I can’t get the email, he states while struggling with his Windows-based e-mail application. It’s just coming out as X’s and O’s. Intel releases the 750 and 800 MHz Pentium III processors. These new processors feature Advanced Transfer Cache and Advanced System Buffering, which boost performance by placing a full-speed Level-2 cache memory directly on the processor die and increasing the width of the data pathway to the processor. Price: US$803 and US$851 respectively,

2002

Eight men involved in an international conspiracy to sell and obtain bogus identification documents are charged after their arrest earlier in the year. Five convicted felons, including a child molester from Virginia, allegedly sought bogus, but authentic-looking documents with assumed names from several websites operated by the men, including fakeidsite.com, fakeidsource.com, and sob-ids.com which offered exact or novelty replicas of state driver’s licenses. While the websites were hosted on computer servers in other countries, the two men who operated the sites resided in Riverside, California. Mail from those attempting to obtain counterfeit identification was sent to other countries before being redirected to mail drops in Temecula and Lake Elsinore, California. In the Spring of 2001, both men agreed to plead guilty to felony charges in Riverside Superior Court. Because felons and others with suspended driver’s licenses were seeking the bogus documents, federal authorities, including the United States Marshals Service, continued the investigation by opening an undercover website that would offer fake identification. On June 1, 2001, the undercover site www.fakeidworld.com went online. During the fifteen months that the site was in operation, approximately 430 applications for counterfeit identification were submitted.

The San Francisco Chronicle publishes an article entitled, Charles Rosen — expert on robots, co-founder of winery by Wyatt Buchanan to mark Rosen’s passing. In it, Buchanan writes, Charles Rosen, who pioneered artificial intelligence in the 1960s and 1970s and helped found one of California’s best known wineries, died in Atherton on Dec. 8, one day after his 85th birthday. … Mr. Rosen did his groundbreaking artificial intelligence work while at Stanford Research Institute, known now as SRI International, a Menlo Park nonprofit research and development organization. His success came from his ability to find the edge of creative thought and innovation in his discipline and to push past the known limits, friends and colleagues say, developing things like neural networks in machines and Shakey, the first robot to see and learn on its own.

2004

A judge in Iowa awards CIS Internet Services, a small internet service provider (ISP), more than US$1 billion in damages in a default judgment against three alleged spammers who failed to appear at an earlier November hearing. The enormous sum is determined under an Iowa law that levies a US$10 fine for each individual piece of spam sent. At one point in 2000, CIS, which serves about five thousand local customers, claims to have been receiving up to ten million spam e-mails a day, most of which were sent to non-existent email addresses. While it is unlikely that the plaintiff will recover any of the awarded damages, his lawyer tells the press that there will be an attempt to recover legal fees.

Version 1.1 of VidaLinux operating system is released. VidaLinux is based on Gentoo Linux but features a simplified installation process.

2005

Tribe.net announces a decision to prohibit sexually explicit content, partially in response to the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. The decision comes shortly after the company hired new, more conservative CEO. This move comes as both a surprise and disappointment, as tribe has been widely known for its exceptionally lax content policy.

2006

The Internet Archive announces that it has received US$1 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to continue its effort to scan public domain works for open online access. The nonprofit organization’s Open-Access Text Archive is an open-source alternative to book archiving efforts undertaken by major corporate interests such as Google and Microsoft. The grant from the Sloan charitable trust will enable the Internet Archive, which is best known for its WayBack Machine archive of webpages, to scan the collections of several major institutions into its archives, including the entire collection of publications from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Adams’ personal library of over 3,800 works at the Boston Public Library, and collections from The Getty Research Institute, Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley. The announcement comes just after the San Francisco-based company reached the milestone of scanning its one hundred thousandth book. Visit the Internet Archive.

2008

After talks disintegrate, Warner music pulls all their videos from YouTube

2009

Bing Information Design sued Microsoft for trademark infringement.

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