Skylab Reentry

SkylabJuly 11, 1979

The first American space station, Skylab, reenters the Earth’s atmosphere and burns up after plans for keeping it in orbit fail to materialize. Fragments of Skylab fell around Perth, Australia, killing one cow.

First International Communications Satellite

Telstar IJuly 10, 1962

The world’s first international communications satellite, Telstar I, is launched into orbit. A collaboration between the US, Britain, and France, Telstar I introduced the world to trans-Atlantic video feeds and ushered in a new era of communication.

Gil Amelio Ousted from Apple

Gil AmelioJuly 9, 1997

Apple Computer announces the resignation of Gil Amelio as CEO. Having been ousted by the board of directors, Amelio’s departure paved the way for Steve Jobs to re-take the helm of Apple. Ironically, it was Amelio who brought Jobs back into the fold of Apple by purchasing Jobs’ company NeXT to use as the basis for the next Mac operating system.

Donkey Kong and Mario’s Birthday

Donkey Kong ArcadeJuly 9, 1981

The game that launched two of the most famous characters in video game history is released for sale. Donkey Kong was created by Nintendo, a Japanese playing card and toy company turned fledgling video game developer, who was trying to create a hit game for the North American market. Unable at the time to acquire a license to create a video game based on the Popeye character, Nintendo decides to create a game mirroring the characteristics and rivalry of Popeye and Bluto. Donkey Kong is named after the game’s villain, a pet gorilla gone rogue. The game’s hero is originally called Jumpman, but is retroactively renamed Mario once the game becomes popular and Nintendo decides to use the character in future games.

Due to the similarity between Donkey Kong and King Kong, Universal Studios sued Nintendo claiming Donkey Kong violated their trademark. Kong, however, is common Japanese slang for gorilla. The lawsuit was ruled in favor of Nintendo. The success of Donkey Kong helped Nintendo become one of the dominant companies in the video game market.

Control Data Corporation Founded

Control Data Corporation LogoJuly 8, 1957

Control Data Corporation, an early pioneer in the field of supercomputers, is incorporated. CDC’s most notable employee was Seymour Cray, who during the 1960’s developed for CDC the fastest computers in the world at the time. However, in 1972 Seymour Cray left CDC to form his own company, Cray Research, which then took the title of creating the world’s fastest computers.

A Whole New Way to Drive a Screw

Phillips Screwdriver and ScrewJuly 7, 1936

Several US patents are issued for the Phillips-head screw and screwdriver to inventor Henry F. Phillips. Phillips founded the Phillips Screw Company to license his patents. One of the first customers was General Motors for its Cadillac assembly-lines. By 1940, 85% of U.S. screw manufacturers had a license for the design.

Simple as 1-2-3: IBM Buys Lotus

IBM LotusJuly 6, 1995

IBM completes a $3.5 billion buyout of Lotus Development, the producer of the once-dominant Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet software and the then-popular Lotus Notes groupware. IBM had hoped to leverage Lotus 1-2-3 to challenge the increasingly demanded Microsoft Excel software, but alas, there was little slowing down the Microsoft juggernaut during the 1990’s. Lotus 1-2-3 steadily lost marketshare, and IBM finally announced the end of support for the software in 2013.

Lotus Notes groupware faired little better than 1-2-3, succumbing to Microsoft Exchange as the dominant groupware platform among large companies, but it is still entrenched among certain corporations today under the name IBM notes.

The First 16mm Film System Introduced

Cine-Kodak Model AJuly 5, 1923

Kodak introduces the hand-cranked Cine-Kodak Model A, the first complete 16mm film system. 16mm film was developed to be an amateur alternative to 35mm film most often used by professionals. However, it found widespread use during World War II and later for television production, especially TV news. 16mm film is still in use today for certain applications.

Keyboards and Computers, Together at Last!

MIT Whirlwind ComputerJuly 4, 1956

MIT’s Whirlwind, which had been completed five years earlier, becomes the first computer in the world to allow its users to enter commands through a keyboard. Previously, all input was accomplished through dials, switches, and/or punch cards.

World, Meet the Internet

Boelter Hall, UCLAJuly 3, 1969

UCLA issues a press release stating that it “will become the first station in a nationwide computer network which, for the first time, will link together computers of different makes and using different machine languages into one time-sharing system.” It went on to say that “Creation of the network represents a major forward step in computer technology and may server as the forerunner of large computer networks of the future.”

How right they were! Of course, this was the first step in creating what became known as the Internet. The first transmission on that newly created internet wasn’t actually sent until October 29th.

I could only find the text of the press release from the above link, which is a scan from a book. So I took the liberty of transcribing it using Siri along with a little manual editing. The text of the UCLA press release dated July 3rd, 1969 follows:

UCLA will become the first station in a nationwide computer network which, for the first time, will link together computers of different makes and using different machine languages into one time-sharing system.

Creation of the network represents a major forward step in computer technology and may serve as the forerunner of large computer networks of the future.

The ambitious project is supported by the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA), which has pioneered many advances in computer research, technology and applications during the past decade. The network project was proposed and is headed by ARPA’s Dr. Lawrence G. Roberts.

The system will, in effect, pool the computer power, programs and specialized know-how of about 15 computer research centers, stretching from UCLA to M.I.T. Other California network stations (or nodes) will be located at the Rand Corp. and System Development Corp., both of Santa Monica; the Santa Barbara and Berkeley campuses of the University of California; Stanford University and the Stanford Research Institute.

The first stage of the network will go into operation this fall as a subnet joining UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. The entire network is expected to be operational in late 1970.

Engineering professor Leonard Kleinrock, who heads the UCLA project, describes how the network might handle a sample problem:

Programmers at Computer A have a blurred photo which they want to bring into focus. Their program transmits the photo to Computer B, which specializes in computer graphics, and instructs B’s program to remove the blur and enhance the contrast. If B requires specialized computational assistance, it may call on Computer C for help.

The processed work is shuttled back and forth until B is satisfied with the photo, and then sends it back to Computer A. The messages, ranging across the country, can flash between computers in a matter of seconds, Dr. Kleinrock says.

UCLA’s part of the project will involve about 20 people, including some 15 graduate students. The group will play a key role as the official network measurement center, analyzing computer interaction and network behavior, comparing performance against anticipated results, and keeping a continuous check on the network’s effectiveness. For this job, UCLA will use a highly specialized computer, the Sigma 7, developed by Scientific Data Systems of Los Angeles.

Each computer in the network will be equipped with its own interface message processor (IMP) which will double as a sort of translator among the Babel of computer languages and as a message handler and router.

Computer networks are not an entirely new concept, notes Dr. Kleinrock. The SAGE radar defense system of the Fifties was one of the first, followed by the airlines’ SABRE reservation system. At the present time, the nation’s electronically switched telephone system is the world’s largest computer network.

However, all three are highly specialized and single-purpose systems, in contrast to the planned ARPA system which will link a wide assortment of different computers for a wide range of unclassified research functions.

“As of now, computer networks are still in their infancy,” says Dr. Kleinrock. “But as they grow up and become more sophisticated, we will probably see the spread of ‘computer utilities’, which, like present electronic and telephone utilities, will service individual homes and offices across the country.”