First Telephone Book Published

First Telephone BookFebruary 21, 1878

The first telephone book is issued in New Haven, Connecticut by the New Haven Telephone Company. It lists twenty-one names. You probably have at least twice as many names in your cell phone today!

First Burglar Alarm Installed

Edwin HolmesFebruary 21, 1858

The first electrical burglar alarm is installed by inventor Edwin T. Holmes in Boston, Massachusetts.

Edison Patents Light Switch, Sort Of

Thomas EdisonFebruary 21, 1893

Thomas Edison receives three US patents on this day, two of which are in essence the first light switches: “Cut Out for Incandescent Electric Lamps” (US Patent 491,992) and “Stop Device.” (US Patent 491,993).

Space Station Mir is Launched

MirFebruary 20, 1986

The Soviet Union launches the core module of the Mir space station. The core module will provide living quarters for the cosmonauts, including a galley, cooking elements, storage, individual crew cabins and personal hygiene area. Five additional modules will be launched between March 1987 and April 1996.

John Glen Becomes First American to Orbit Earth

John GlennFebruary 20, 1962

John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth, riding aboard Friendship 7. Glenn orbits the Earth three times in four hours, fifty-five minutes. NASA accomplishes the landmark using an IBM 7030 Stretch supercomputer.

HD DVD Surrenders

HD DVDFebruary 19, 2008

The “war” over the High Definition successor to the DVD ends when the supporters of the HD DVD format discontinue it. The Sony-backed Blu-ray format had garnered the support of many players in the industry, leading to the demise of HD DVD.

In the Beginning Apple.com Was Created

February 19, 1987

The Internet domain apple.com is created. Note that this was a full 4 years before the World Wide Web was launched or microsoft.com was registered … I’m just sayin’.

First Warrant to Search Computer Data

Computer CrimeFebruary 19, 1971

The first warrant is issued to search a computer’s storage. This event would lead to increasingly sophisticated methods of encryption to hide computer files from law enforcement agents.

First Flight of Space Shuttle – Just Not Into Space

Enterprise on Boeing 747February 18, 1977

The first Space Shuttle orbiter, the Enterprise, embarks on its maiden flight in “captive mode,” attached to the top of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. The flight is the first of five captive flights before the orbiter is finally released to land on its own. The nine month test program is conducted through November 1977 at the Dryden Flight Research Facility to demonstrate that the orbiter can fly and land like an airplane. The Enterprise, while the first shuttle to fly, was not the first space-worthy orbiter and was only used for testing purposes.

First Cable TV Test

1946 TVFebruary 18, 1946

Television signals are first successfully transmitted from Washington D.C. to New York City over an AT&T coaxial cable. And you thought cable TV was invented in the 1980s!