December 6

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Podcast Episode

Day in Tech History: Dec 6th

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"The transit of Venus occurs as predicted by Johannes Kepler. He correctly predicted that an ascending node transit of Venus would occur in December 1631, but it passed unobserved in part because his prediction wasn’t sufficiently accurate to predict the exact time it would occur and in part because it occurred after sunset for most of Europe."


"The first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which will eventually become the oldest continuously published English-language encyclopedia, is published under the title, “Encyclopedia Britannica, or, A dictionary of arts and sciences, compiled upon a new plan.” The first edition is published in one hundred installments, which were later bound in three volumes. Each installment costs sixpence or eight pence for an edition printed on finer paper and was delivered in weekly installments. It will also be published under the pseudonym “A Society of Gentlemen in Scotland,” a title which refers to the many gentlemen who had purchased subscriptions. The three bound volumes will be sold for twelve pounds sterling apiece. The set runs 2,391 pages and includes 160 copperplate illustrations. However, one set of illustrations, a three page depiction of female pelvises and fetuses in the midwifery article will be torn from every copy by order of King George III."


"Thomas Alva Edison records his own recitation of “Mary had a Little Lamb” onto a cylinder wrapped with tin foil using his newly completed prototype hand-cranked phonograph at his Menlo Park Laboratory. For all intents and purposes, it is the first recording of a human voice. The word “Halloo” may have been recorded in July on an earlier, paper model derived from his 1876 telegraph repeater, but if such a recording was made, it was destroyed before this recording was made. John Kruesi built the phonograph December 1 - 6, from a sketch Edison made on November 29 (not on August 12 as Edison mistakenly wrote on another sketch in 1917). When Kruesi heard Edison’s first recording later the same day, he exclaims “Gott in Himmel!” (”God in Heaven”). Edison will be granted a patent for the phonograph on February 19, 1878. (US No. 200,521)"


"The transit of Venus across the sun is first photographed on a series of glass plate negatives by Amherst College astronomer David Peck Todd. He used a solar photographic telescope manufactured by the renowned optical firm Alvan Clark & Sons from the summit of Mount Hamilton in California, where the Lick Observatory is under construction."


President Calvin Coolidge makes the first presidential address on US radio.


"EMI demonstrates its first 180-line electronic television system, which is only capable of scanning film, to the BBC."


"One day prior to the United States’ formal entry into World War II, Geophysical Service, Inc. (GSI), a Delaware division of Geophysical Service is purchased by a team of young investors. The investors were Dr. Henry Bates Peacock, John Erik Jonsson and Cecil H. Green who were employees of GSI, and Eugene McDermott who was one of the two original founders of Geophysical Service. GSI will later become known as Texas Instruments, Inc. (TI) in 1951."


The microwave oven is first patented.


"America’s first attempt at putting a satellite into orbit failed when the Vanguard rocket carrying it explodes on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral. With a series of rumbles audible for miles around, the vehicle, having risen about four feet into the air, suddenly sank. Its fuel tanks rupture as it falls against its firing structure, and the rocket topples to the ground on the northeast, ocean side of the structure in a roaring, rolling ball of flame."


The IBM Data Processing Division (DPD) rolls out a lower-cost version of the IBM 2420 magnetic tape unit to be used with seven models of the IBM System/360 family.


Atari installs an IBM 370-148 computer system for internal business accounting and data processing functions.


"Franz Lanzinger, age 26, scores 2,999,999 points on Atari’s Centipede after playing the game for six hours at Central Park Center in Mountain View, California."

"Skeet Shoot for the Atari 2600Games by Apollo releases Skeet Shoot for the Atari 2600 video game system. Despite the fact that the game will widely be proclaimed to be one of the worst Atari 2600 games of all time, Games by Apollo will sell US$200,000 worth of the game by Christmas, and the company will go on to gross another US$8 million on just a dozen video game titles within a year’s time. The initial bulk distribution of Skeet Shoot will later be recalled due to a glitch in the game that causes a rolling screen on many televisions sets."


"Paramount Pictures releases the action film Young Sherlock Holmes, directed by Barry Levinson and starring Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, Anthony Higgins, Sophie Ward, and Roger Ashton-Griffiths, to 920 US theaters. In it, a teenage Sherlock Holmes decides to investigate a case in which assorted people have experienced inexplicably delusion that have lead to their deaths. The film is notable for being the first to feature a computer-generated character, “the stained glass man,” which was created by Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). In particular, the effected was primarily the work of John Lasseter, who will later direct the ground-breaking animated film Toy Story. Produced on a budget of US$18 million, it will gross US$2,538,234 domestically in its opening weekend. MPAA Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 1 hr 48 mins"


"Covidea announces it will discontinue its videotex services, Business Banking and Pronto."


"Amid a wealth of rumors, Leslie Schmick resigns from Atari Corp. In 1991, Schmick will file a lawsuit against Atari and Gregory Pratt alleging that she was coerced by Pratt into a sexual relationship in order to keep her position."


"Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryParamount Pictures releases the science fiction film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, directed by Nicholas Meyer and starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and Nichelle Nichols, to 1,804 US theaters. In it, the crews of the Enterprise and the Excelsior must stop a plot to prevent a peace treaty between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. Produced on a budget of US$30 million, it will gross US$18,162,837 domestically in its opening weekend. MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 1 hr 53 mins"

Treco releases the fighting game Fighting Masters for the Sega Genesis in Japan.


Adobe and IBM announce a licensing agreement with Sun Microsystems for the use of Java.

"Microsoft agrees to pay royalties to Spyglass of close to US$1 per web browser shipped for the Windows 3.1, after nearly a year of shipping the browser royalty-free."

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems agree on terms under which Microsoft will license Java for its web browser software near midnight. "Sony announces that sales of the PlayStation“>PlayStation video game system in the US have reached 300,000 units to date. Only 130,000 units of the Sega Saturn video game system have been sold in the US."


Five commercial websites are hacked by “KAOS 97?. View archived versions of several of the websites.


"Astronauts on the US Space Shuttle Endeavour complete the most difficult task of their twelve day mission, maneuvering modules from Russia and the United States to join the first two building blocks of International Space Station at approximately 9:07pm EST." "In an published in Reuters, entitled “Internet Capacity Major Theme For 1999 Study,” Frances Hong reports that “… traffic over the Internet is doubling every 100 days.”"


"Avid Technology releases version 7.55 of the Avid Matador graphics application is released for Silicon Graphics workstations. Matador is graphics package intended for creating animation and rotoscoping for films. Price: US$10,000"

White Wolf Publishing publishes the roleplaying game guide Vampire Storytellers Handbook as a hardcover. (ISBN-10: 1565042646) Length: 224 pages


Hasbro announces plans to sell their Hasbro Interactive and divisions to France-based Infogrames Entertainment SA for US$5 million cash and US$95 million in stock. The company also plan to reduce its staff by 750 people. Hasbro Interactive wholly owns Atari’s home console patents and intellectual rights.

Shares of Apple Computer fall to their lowest price in two years following the company’s announcement that slow holiday sales will contribute to its first quarterly operating loss in three years a day earlier.

Version 5 of the Opera internet suite is released. It is the first version supported by ads rather than a trial period and a purchasable full version.


Yahoo! launches Yahoo! Finance Money Manager.


Version 1.3 of the CRUX operating system is released. Crux is designed to be a lightweight, i686-optimized Linux distribution for experienced Linux users.


The final assets of Acclaim Entertainment go up for auction.


"Apple Computer announces that iTunes Music Store customers have downloaded one million videos since the launch of the service’s video support on October 12, 2005. Visit the official iTunes Store website."


The Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Denmark reports that it hasn’t uncovered any statistically significant correlation between cancer and cell phone use in a study based on about four hundred thousand cell phone users.

NASA reveals photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars.

Version 1.5.2 of the BioPerl programming language is released.


Google announces a SIM and hardware unlocked version of the G1 smartphone.


Vitaly Borker was arrested on cyberstalking, wire fraud and mail fraud. Borker was exposed for gaming Google by getting the worst feedback possible - in turn boosting his Google search results.


After years of debate, top level domain .XXX goes live


After pressure from the FDA, 23andMe ceases health-focused gene testing

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