Today in Geek History for March

March 1

1976: Steve Wozniak puts the finishing touches on the basic design for a circuit board that would later become the basis of Apple Computers. Initially Woz wanted to share the schematics openly but Steve Jobs convinced him to produce PCB's instead.

March 2

1969: The Concorde supersonic jet made its first flight. The Concorde fleet continued trans-atlantic service until 2003

March 3

1969: Apollo 9 is launched from Cape Kennedy on a 10 day mission to test the Lunar Module for the upcoming Apollo 11 mission.

1971: Magnavox gets exclusive licensing for the first commercial home video game console. The Magnavox Odyssey was developed by Sanders Associates and desgined by Ralph H. Baer. Their project was started in 1966 and the prototype "Brown Box" was finished in 1968. It is now housed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

2005: The first solo, non-stop, fastest flight around the world was achieved by Steve Fossett in The GlobalFlyer. This was a single-engine, single-use craft that made the trip without refueling.

March 4

1936: The first flight of the LZ 129 Hindenburg airship. There were two hydrogen passenger carrying airships built Germany but the Hindenburg was the only one with an established transatlantic service. Most everyone knows the Hindenburg which was destroyed in a fiery crash over New Jersey in 1937. The other airship, the LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin never saw regular use but became famous with many rock music lovers of the late 1960s. Can you guess why?


1976: The first Cray supercomputer was delivered to Los Alamos Labs in New Mexico. Its price tag was a steep $19,000,000 and it was Freon-cooled. This computer was on my Christmas wish list as a child. Of course, now I know there was no way Santa could have fit something like that on his sleigh.

March 8

1964: The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price is released in the U.S. The film is based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. The modern remake starring Will Smith was pretty scary, too.

1978: The first episode of The Hitchkiker's Guide to the Galaxy was presented on BBC Radio 4. Don't Panic, Towel Day will arrive on May 25th.

2005: The first mobile messaging service (MMS) worm is detected by F-Secure. The CommWarrior.A is transmitted when messages carrying the worm are opened on a phone. It duplicates itself and uses's the infected phone's contact list to send copies of itself downstream.

March 14

Happy Pi Day!!

1930: Pluto, the ninth planet (Yes, I still say it is a planet!) was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory.

March 22

1931: William Shatner was born. Happy Birthday Captain Kirk! Live Long and Prosper

1960: Schawlow and Townes were granted the first patent for a laser. Their patent is filed as "Masers and Maser Communications System." So where are my sharks with frickin' lasers?!?

1993: The first Pentium chips were shipped by Intel featuring a blazing 60 and 66 MHz. That's MHz not GHz. My, how far we have come!

March 23

2001: The final command was sent to the Russian Space Station MIR. This command lit the engines of the Progress supply ship attached to MIR and set it for a collision course with the Earth's atmosphere. MIR had spent 15 years in space but its original plan was only for 5 years. The final maneuvers were successful and while most of MIR burned up in the atmosphere; 25 tons of wreckage came to rest in the South Pacific.

March 25

1979: The first space shuttle in NASA's orbiter fleet, Columbia, was delivered to the John F. Kennedy Space Center in preparation for its first launch. Its first mission, STS-1 was on April 12, 1981. It completed 27 missions and was lost with all hands on February 1, 2003, its 28th mission.

March 26

1999: The Melissa virus was first released into the wild. It infected up to 250,000 machines within 3 days. It is notorious for crashing Microsoft's own corporate email servers.


2005: The Dr. Who television series returned after a 15 year hiatus. The Ninth Doctor was played by Christopher Eccleston and the first episode was titled "Rose."

March 27

1899: Guglielmo Marconi sent the first wireless transmission from France to England. It spanned a distance of 32 miles. Unfortunately, today we have taken this incredible asset and created "Hello Barbie" a Wi-Fi doll that talks to kids. Anyone else scared by this?


1982: Buckner & Garcia's hit "Pac-Man Fever" peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Admit it...some of you had that 45 and you wore it out.

March 30

1951: The original UNIVAC I, the world's first commercially available computer was delivered to the U.S. Census Bureau. It's price tag was over one million dollars. It was 25 feet by 50 feet. It had 5,600 vacuum tubes, 18,000 crystal diodes and had in internal storage capacity of 1,000 words. We've come a long way in a very short time. At that time, there was IBM and the seven dwarfs. These eight major American computer companies were IBM, Burroughs, Univac, NCR, CDC, GE, RCA and Honeywell. How many of those names do you recognize?

March 31

1939: Harvard and IBM agree to build the Mark I. This was an Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC). It weighed 5 tons and contained more than 750,000 components. It read instructions from paper tape and data from punch cards. Does anyone remember the phrase: Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate?? Yep, I'm dating myself there.


1993: Richard Depew accidentally posted 200 identical messages to news.admin.policy while testing software. This became the first USENET posting to be referred to as spam. USENET is one of the oldest computer network communications systems dating back to 1979, a forerunner to the WWW. Around 2005 popular culture said that USENET was dead however more and more people are sliding back over to USENET. I definitely ran up some hefty long distance bills back in the day with USENET.


2013: IBM shut down the Roadrunner supercomputer. This was the world's first hybrid supercomputer and it was the first system to break the petaflop barrier (at 12 parsecs....just kidding). It was built in 2008 and based on the IBM QS22 blades and x86 chips from AMD. It was created to monitor the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.


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