Today in Geek History for June

June 1

1890: The US. Census Bureau began using Herman Hollerith’s tabulating machine for the first time. You may wonder where I’m going with this one…… Well, Hollerith used his proceeds to later found his Tabulating Machine Company, which was one of four companies that merged to form IBM. The IBM PC model 5150 led to the war of the PC clones. I know that growing up in my household we all whispered the name IBM for fear that they would materialize in our living room. BTW: Halt And Catch Fire’s second season started last night on AMC. This series is really good at portraying the atmosphere of the early days of the PC wars. I can look back at it fondly now but at the time it was very stressful for my family.

1926: Andy Griffith was born…..yes, I know, you think I’ve totally lost it with this one but he really did have a scifi TV show in 1979. It was called Salvage 1 and it had 16 episodes. Isaac Asimov was even the science advisor for the show. If you can find it anywhere, it really is worth watching. Mind you, it was produced in 1979 so it didn’t have great special effects but it’s the idea of the story that is great. Andy’s character Harry Broderick owns a scrap and salvage company where he is building a rocket to go to the moon and recover all the space junk left by the Apollo missions and reclaim old and failing satellites before they crash back to Earth.

June 3

1965: NASA launched Gemini 4. There were 2 crew members: James McDivitt and Edward White. This was NASA’s first extended mission. It lasted 4 days and included the first EVA (spacewalk.)

1983: The Cold War era scifi movie War Games was released in theaters. This was the Matthew Broderick film that showed the dangers of letting artificial intelligence run our wars. Broderick’s character uses his IMSAI 8080 computer to hack into a computer housed at NORAD. Thinking he is just playing a cool hidden game, he doesn’t realize that he has started a program capable of launching WWIII. I don’t think enough people got the message about Mutually Assured Destruction. It was a pretty cool movie, though.

June 4

1903: One of the first known hacks took place during a demonstration of the Marconi Wireless at the Royal Institution, London. Nevil Maskelyne hijacked the signal and began to repeatedly broadcast the word “rast” followed by a limerick.

1936: Bruce Dern was born. He really unnerved me in Silent Running. He also was in one of my favorite movies: The Burbs...funny stuff...sort of reminds me of my neighborhood.

1971: Noah Wyle was born. I loved The Librarian movies. They took me back to the early days of Indiana Jones plus they also starred Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain. I also really like Falling Skies which is the perfect combination of scifi and revolutionary history. The fifth and final season of Falling Skies is set to begin June June 28th.

1977: The VHS videocassette was introduced by JVC at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. Soon after, the battle between VHS and Sony’s Betamax began. How many of you had Betamax machines??

June 5

1833: Ada Byron aka Countess Lovelace first met Charles Babbage. Babbage originated the idea of a programmable computer with his plans for devices like the Difference Engine. While he didn’t finish his plans, they were the basis for our modern computing devices. Ada Lovelace was a gifted mathematician and the daughter of the poet, Lord Byron. Lovelace was asked to translate an article on Babbage’s analytical engine and in her notes on the article she included ideas for using codes to handle letters, symbols and numbers in calculations. This led to the first computer program.

2002: Mozilla released for public use their first full-fledged browser suite Mozilla 1.0. This software was developed in an open-source environment and targeted the developer community. To this day it is still the number one fully customizable browser.

June 19

1963 - Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet cosmonaut and the first woman in space, returns to Earth after a 3 day mission aboard the Vostok 6.
1997 - The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is held for the first time in Atlanta, GA. It had 37,100 people in attendance.

June 21

1969 - The final black and white episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC.

1979 - Bert Macklin, FBI (Chris Pratt) was born. Some of his aliases are: Johnny Karate, Andy Radical, and Star Lord. Some of his former jobs: possum tackler, shoeshinest, musician, and Guardian of the Galaxy. I'm glad to know you've got our backs, Star Lord.

1979 - The Sony Walkman is released in Japan. The demand is so high that in less than a month, the Walkman is sold out.

2003 - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is published in the US by Scholastic. An estimated 5 million copies of the book were sold in the first 24 hours.

June 22

1910: Konrad Zuse was born. Zuse was one of the fathers of the modern computer. He invented the world’s first programmable computer known as the Z3 in 1941. He also founded one of the first computer businesses in 1941. The Z4 became the world’s first commercial computer and in 1946 IBM was granted option on his patents.
In 1967 Zuse published a book titled Rechnender Raum (Calculating Space) wherein he suggested that the universe ran on a type of digital physics. He proposed that the universe is being computed by some hidden computing machinery. This may have led to the naming of the character Zuse in Tron: Legacy which was released in 2010.

1958: The birthday of Bruce Campbell. Oh my, what can I say….. “This is my boomstick!” “Shop smart, shop S-Mart” and as much as I love the original Evil Dead I and II and Army of Darkness…..I also am a huge fan of Bubba Ho-Tep. You may wonder, ‘What is Bubba Ho-Tep?’ It is a very funny and twisted movie that you need to watch about Elvis, JFK, and an evil Egyptian mummy in a nursing home.
Ok, another great Campbell movie is My Name is Bruce where Campbell is mistaken for his character Ash from the Evil Dead trilogy and is forced to fight a real monster. Finally, some good news for you Ash fans out there….the Stars network is working on Ash vs. Evil Dead. So far 4 episodes have been shot and hopefully it will be released later this year. It also stars Lucy Lawless from Xena: Warrior Princess fame.

1996 - GT Interactive releases the FPS Quake for PC. The game was developed by Id Software. Quake had a cutting edge 3D engine and audio effects were provided by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The Quake engine became the foundation for many other games.

2001 - Midway Games stopped manufacturing and distribution of coin-operated video games. They cited "declining demand." A moment of silence, please.

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