Archive for 2023

Tetris Sneaks Into the US

Tetris DOSJanuary 29, 1988

The computer game Tetris makes its first appearance in the United States as a PC game. The company that released the game was Spectrum Holobyte, which had dubious licensing rights to the game. When companies became interested in licensing Tetris for other platforms besides the PC, a series of events kicked off a long legal battle, in which the big winner was eventually Nintendo, who used the game Tetris to drive sales of its new Game Boy platform.

Phobos II Orbits Mars

Phobos IIJanuary 29, 1989

The USSR’s Phobos II enters Martian orbit on its way to the moon Phobos. The spacecraft never completed its mission as it lost contact with mission control on March 27. Due to some unusual last photos received from Phobos II, speculation arose that it was destroyed by a UFO. Official reports blame the failure on the onboard computer. I wonder if mission control was trying to secure the Martian licensing rights to Tetris.

Karl Benz Patents Gas Automobile

Karl BenzJanuary 29, 1886

Karl Benz patents the first successful gasoline-driven automobile. He would eventually go on to found the Mercedes Benz company.

Radio Shack Chooses Compaq

Radio Shack LogoJanuary 28, 1998

Radio Shack partners exclusively with Compaq rather than IBM to sell PCs throughout their 7,000 stores. Six years later, IBM sold its PC division to the Chinese company Lenovo. Compaq was the exclusive PC sold in Radio Shack stores for many years.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Challenger Flight 51-L CrewJanuary 28, 1986

On this cold January morning, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board. Contrary to popular belief, while the external fuel tank did combust, the Challenger didn’t truly explode as much as it was torn apart by aerodynamic forces.

Yahoo! Buys GeoCities

GeoCities LogoJanuary 28, 1999

Yahoo! buys GeoCities for $3.65 billion USD. GeoCities was an early web hosting service getting its start in 1994. As a testament to its popularity, there were at least 38 million pages remaining on GeoCities when Yahoo!  shut it down in 2009.

iPad Introduced

iPad IntroductionJanuary 27, 2010

Apple introduces the iPad. While still only a few years old, the introduction of the iPad triggered the close of the PC era and will certainly go down in history as one of the pivotal points in computing history.

Jim Clark Leaves Silicon Graphics

Netscape LogoJanuary 27, 1994

Silicon Graphics Inc. co-founder Jim Clark leaves the company to start Mosaic Communications, the operation that later became Netscape Communications Corp. With Netscape cofounder Marc Andreesen, Clark helped popularize the World Wide Web by distributing the company’s browser for free.

Apollo 1 Tragedy

Apollo 1 PatchJanuary 27, 1967

Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee are killed in a fire during a test of their spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center. After the fire, the spacecraft and planned launch which never took place was posthumously named Apollo 1, in the astronauts honor.

Edison Patents Incandescent Lamp

Incandescent Lamp PatentJanaury 27, 1880

Thomas Edison patents the electric incandescent lamp. While other incandescent lamps were created before his, Edison’s version was able to outstrip the others because of a combination of three factors: an effective incandescent material, a higher vacuum than others were able to achieve (by use of the Sprengel pump) and a high resistance that made power distribution from a centralized source economically viable.