Monday, October 31, 2011

Today in Geek History


Today is October 31st and today in Geek History...

1926 Magician Harry Houdini dies of Gangrene and peritonitis that developed after his appendix ruptured. The time of his death, on Halloween, will give rise to myths and legend that will cement Houdini’s place. Speaking of cement...

1956 An LC-47 transport plane lands at the South Pole for the first time. When Navy Admiral George J Dufek steps off the Que Sera Sera, he becomes the first American to set foot there. He and an advance party arrive to build the first permanent South Pole Station. Hey guys! Santa lives at the North Pole!

1982 Kenneth Vance at the age of 18 scores a record-setting 411,200 points playing the Atari video game Kangaroo for two hours and twenty-seven minutes at Tilt Arcade in Las Vegas Nevada. Now you can play it on your phone for free.

1983 Texas Instruments (TI) cancels the US$50 rebate program for the TI-99/4A home computer, but it extends the offer to give a free Speech Synthesizer to qualified purchases of six program modules through Tuesday, January 31, 1984. I'd rather have the $50.

1988 At the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York, International Business Machines (IBM) officially announces the release of OS/2 1.1 Standard Edition with Presentation Manager. Code-name: Trimaran

1898 The internet service provider (ISP) Prodigy announces that it has 100,000 subscribers in households in eight major metro areas. Billions use the internet worldwide now. You're using it right now.

1992 The Vatican formally admits its error in condemning Galileo Galilei for heresy for over 359 years for his geocentric view of the solar system. After thirteen years of inquiry, the Pope’s commission of historic, scientific, and theological scholars brought the pope a “not guilty” finding for Galileo. Pope John Paul II himself met with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to help set the record straight. Took them long enough.

1993 Pagan Publishing announces a new Cthulhu role-playing game (RPG) called End Time in a press release. End Time is Pagan Publishing’s first role-playing game. It is set in the year 2094, after the stars have come right and Cthulhu and the other Great Old Ones have arisen and laid waste to humanity. It serves as a sequel to the award-winning Call of Cthulhu RPG published by Chaosium, Inc.. RPGs including MMORPGs (Mega Muli Online Role Play Games like World of Warcraft) net billions of dollars every year. You can thank a geek for that bump to the economy.

1994 Quantum Link (Q-Link), an online service for e-mail, games, news, and shopping on Commodore 64 and 128 computers, announces that it will withdraw from the Commodore market. Past subscribers are offered memberships on the new America Online (AOL) service. I could say something about AOL here, but I will take the high road on this one.

1996 Eidos Interactive releases the third-person shooter Tomb Raider for the Saturn in the US. The game introduces numerous innovations within 3D third-person adventure games and will remain extremely influential for years to come.

1997 Alternic founder Eugene Kashpureff is arrested in Toronto, Canada on wirefraud charges brought by the US for hijacking the URL of the InterNIC registry website and redirecting its traffic to his own Alternic website July 11 – 14, 1997 to protest Network Solutions’ monopoly on the domain name system. Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), which runs the InterNIC, took Kashpureff to court in August, but the case was settled. Kashpureff apologized to the Internet community and tried to help inform it how to prevent someone else from perpetrating the same kind of domain name hijacking. NSI turned the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), dissatisfied with the outcome of its civil suit. The news of Kashpureff’s arrest shocks many. Richard Sexton, who worked with Kashpureff on the AlterNIC but disagreed with the actions he took, will later release a statement in which he says, “The most you could have lost is two seconds and one mouse-click. It is fraud, but the fiscal damage amounts to zero. He should be found guilty and fined a dollar.” Many will later characterize the protest as an act of civil disobedience.

2004 Apple Computer releases its Mac OS X 10.4.3 operating system for the Macintosh. The update include an updated version of Safari.

2005 Apple Computer announces that it has sold one million videos through its iTunes Store in the nineteen days since it began offering videos October 12th. iTunes offers approximately two thousand videos, including animation, music videos, and popular network programing for US$1.99 per video. Steve Jobs comments that, “Selling one million videos in less than twenty days strongly suggests there is a market for legal video downloads,” in the statement announcing the milestone. “Our next challenge is to broaden our content offerings so that customers can enjoy watching more videos on their computers and new iPods.”

2006 Version 3.0.8 (“Feynman”) of the Scientific Linux operating system is released.

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