November 15

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Podcast Episode

Day in Tech History: Nov 15th

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Gowan Knight presented his research on permanently magnetizing steels to the Royal Society. The use of steel instead of soft iron represents a significant improvement in the compass needles used by England’s Royal Navy. but Knight won’t apply for a patent for his compass until 1766.


Thomas Alva Edison receives a patent for his two-element vacuum tube, the forerunner of the vacuum tube rectifier.


German scientist, Dr. Carl Gassner, is issued a patent for the first dry cell. (US No. 373,064)


Gaumont Chronochrome, the first practical three-color film process, is demonstrated to the French Photographic Society in Paris. A three-lens camera with different color filters is used, compared with the two-color approach of Kinemacolor.


The NBC radio network opens with 24 stations.

National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is incorporated in the USA as an offshoot of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA).


The Polaris missile is test launched.

A patent is issued to P.A. Marsal, Karl Kordesch, and Lewis F. Urry for an alkaline dry-cell battery, and they assigned the patent to the Union Carbide Corporation, the manufacturer of Eveready batteries. (US No. 2,960,558)

Gemini 12 splashes down safely in the Atlantic Ocean.


The Soviet moon rover, Lunokhod 1 lands on the moon. Lunokhod is the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another world.


Intel announced the Model 4004 microprocessor, the world’s first single-chip microprocessor as an advertisement in the periodical: Electronic News. The ad talked about being a micro-computer on a single chip. It contained the equivalent of 2,300 transistors, and was capable of around 60,000 Interactions per second (0.06 MIPs), running at a clock rate of 108KHz with a 4-bit bus. The chief designers of the chip were Marcian Ted Hoff and Federico Faggin of Intel and Masatoshi Shima of Busicom. Originally designed to drive a desktop calculator, the 4004 will provide the computing power for the Pioneer 10 spacecraft which will launch Friday, March 3, 1972. The chip is introduced to the public in Las Vegas by Wayne Pickette, and the first advertisement for it appears in the journal Electronic News. It was developed for Busicom, a Japanese calculator manufacturer, as an alternative to traditional circuitry. Along with Intel’s RAM chip, the microprocessor will allow a fourth generation of computers to developed even smaller and faster than previous generations. Documentation manuals were written by Adam Osborne. Price: US$200[1]


IBM Data Processing Division (DPD) rolls out the IBM Health Care Support Electrocardiogram Analysis program, a computer program for cardiologists.


The first Spanish satellite, Intasat, is launched.


Atari signs an agreement with Nintendo for the world-wide license of Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior for Atari home computers.


The Lehigh virus is discovered at and named for Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. It is the first virus that causes direct damage to data. It does so by attacking a file called COMMAND.COM, which is present on all MS-DOS formatted disks and drives. It doesn’t increase the size of the file, it simply overwrites the stack space at its end. When the file is activated, usually by booting from an infected floppy disk, the virus remains in the resident memory. It is loaded into the memory during each boot, and once the infection count reaches four, it begins overwriting the boot and FAT areas of the disk with data from the BIOS. Fortunately, however, there are several computer experts at Lehigh University who were skilled at analyzing viruses, and the virus never leaves the university or is detected in the wild. The fact that the virus never spread is also due, in part, to its own ineffectiveness. The virus destroys itself along with its host after only four reproductions, proving to be highly ineffectual. In addition, the virus changes the date of COMMAND.COM, providing a method for discovering whether or not a file had been infected. The virus can be defeated by either making COMMAND.COM read-only, or with a simple program that returns the file’s stack space to zeros, over-writing the virus.


The Soviet Buran spacecraftThe Soviet Union launches its first space shuttle, Buran (Snowstorm), without a crew, on what will be its first and only orbital flight, at 3:00 UTC. The craft’s flight is unmanned due to the fact that the life support system hasn’t been completed and the instrument panels’ software had not yet been installed, and the mission’s flight is limited to two orbits because of the shuttle’s limited computer memory. Upon its return to Baikonur Cosmodrome, the shuttle performs an automated landing, and, despite a lateral wind speed of 17 meters per second, it makes a successful landing just 3 meters laterally and 10 meters longitudinally from its intended target.


Hayes Microcomputer, a major US manufacturer of modems, files for Chapter 11 protection. The company will emerge from Bankruptcy in April of 1996, after resisting acquisition attempts by both Diamond Multimedia and US Robotics.


Christopher Pile, known by the web handle Black Baron, becomes the first person to be jailed for writing and distributing a computer virus. Pile is sentenced to eighteen months in jail.


At the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington, over five days, three thousand participants rate fifty-seven video games. Their top pick is Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64.


The website of China’s Agricultural Univeristy is hacked and deface with a message condemning China’s recent nuclear tests.


At the Fall COMDEX trade show, Corel releases version 1.0 of the Corel Linux operating system. Price: Free (website download) US$59.95 (standard edition), US$89.95 (deluxe edition)

Everex announces it has abandoned plans for the Freestyle 540 handheld computer and is discontinuing its monochrome palm-size computer. The Marshall Islands issues a postage stamp depicting personal computers, part of a series on commemorating events of the twentieth century.

Nobuyuki Idei, president and co-chief executive of Sony Corporation, gives the keynote address at the COMDEX trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Other speakers at the event include George Lucas who discusses new digital camera technologies and Phil Harrison of Sony Computer Entertainment America who discusses the PlayStation 2. In his presentation, Harrison promises that 250 PlayStation 2>PlayStation 2 titles will be available when the system is launched.

The virtual pets website Neopets is founded by Adam Powell and Donna Williams. On June 20, 2005, Viacom will buy Neopets, Inc. for US$160 million. Visit the website.

The website of the Cartoon Network cable channel is cracked by the Varna Hacking Group.


The Southern Cross Cable opens, connecting Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, and the west coast of the US, a distance of 30,500 km. It carries 120 Gbps to Australia and 160 Gbps from Hawaii to California. The last cable segment from Hawaii to California won’t go into operation until February 28, 2001.


AMD introduces the 1.2 MHz Duron processor, featuring a 192KB on-chip cache and a 200MHz front-side bus. Price: US$103 in 1,000-unit quantities

Dutch SURFnet and the Internet2 Abilene Network connect via gigabit ethernet.

The Microsoft XboxMicrosoft releases the Xbox video game console. The system features a 733 MHz Intel processor, an 8GB hard drive, 250 MHz NVidia XGP graphics processor, 64 MB RAM, four controller ports, one controller, 3D audio support, and an Ethernet port. Games for the system come on dual-layer DVD-ROM discs that can store 9GB of data. The system can also play DVD movies, but require an optional remote control device. To kick off the release, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates signs and sells the first Xbox at 12:01am in New York’s Time Square, to Edward Glucksman. The system will be launched in Japan on February 22, 2000 and in Europe on March 14, 2002. Price: US$299


The European Space Agency ion propulsion spacecraft SMART-1 enters into a lunar orbit, fourteen months after its launch. A server at the University of Georgia is hacked, exposing thirty-two thousand students’ credit card numbers.


Scientists publish the results from the first successful partial reconstruction of nuclear DNA from a Neanderthal fossil bone, that is about 38,000 years old.


Facebook pulls several pages that promote Italian neo-natziism against gypsies.


Apple iMatch goes live

Amazon released Kindle Fire - In effort to compete with iPad, Jeff Bezos released the next version of the Kindle, the Kindle Fire. This $199 Android tablet would be available at


Batkid - a 5 year old names Miles - was given a wish to save San Francisco with his hero Batman. With public nearby, Miles was able to nab the Riddler

Google opens Winter Wonderlab pop up shops which showcase the latest gadgets.

LulzSec hacker Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years for leaking Stratfor emails

Google Play music app arrives on iPhone

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