July 16, 1969
Apollo 11 is launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida, on the way to becoming the first space mission to land men on the Moon.
July 15, 1983
Nintendo releases their Famicom system, short for “Family Computer,” in Japan. The Famicom would be slightly modified with a copy protection system, a redesigned chassis, a front loading cartridge mechanism, and released in North America just over two years later as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The Famicom/NES system would become one of the most influential game systems ever produced, making Nintendo the premier company in the video game industry during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, picking up the mantle where Atari left off.
July 14, 1965
NASA’s Mariner 4 becomes the first spacecraft to perform a successful fly-by of Mars and the first to send back photographs of another planet from deep space. The photographs are the first showing details of Mars’ surface including extensive cratering.
July 13, 2001
The Code Red worm is released onto the Internet. Targeting Microsoft’s IIS web server, Code Red had a significant effect on the Internet due to the speed and efficiency of its spread. Much of this was due to the fact that IIS was often enabled by default on many installations of Windows NT and Windows 2000. However, Code Red also affected many other systems with web servers, mostly by way of side-effect, exacerbating the overall impact of the worm, ensuring its place in history among the many malware outbreaks infecting Windows systems in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
July 12, 1990
Nintendo releases the original Final Fantasy video game for its Nintendo Entertainment System in North America. One of the most successful role-playing games for the NES, Final Fantasy helped to popularize the genre and has gone on to spawn one of the most well-known RPG franchises in history. Ironically, the game’s creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, thought the game would be his last one, hence the “final” in Final Fantasy. Had the game not sold well, he would have quit making games and gone back to college. So much for that.
July 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.
July 10, 1962
The world’s first experimental international communications satellite, Telstar I, is launched into orbit. Built by Bell Labs and launched by NASA, Telstar 1 was 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. For example, in August of that year, Telstar I became the first satellite to synchronize time between the UK and the US, bringing them to within 1 microsecond of each other, where 2000 microseconds had been the previously most accurate effort. Telstar 1 was also the first satellite to send data between 2 computers, doing so in October of that year between two IBM 1401s in Endicott, New York and La Gaude, France.
For all its technological achievements, Telstar 1 was damaged by high levels of radiation in the Van Allen radiation belts primarily due to high altitude nuclear bomb testing by both the United States and the Soviet Union in 1962. It went out of service in November of that year, only 4 months after its launch. It was able to be restarted in January of 1963 but in late February it failed again and was not able to be placed back in service. Telstar 2 was launched a few months later in May of 1963, using radiation-resistant transistors and launched at a higher altitude to reduce the amount of time in the Van Allen radiation belts. Telstar 2 stayed in operation for 2 years. The success of the two Telstar satellites, along with other experimental satellites launched in the few years after 1962 helped paved the way for the first commercial geosynchronous communication satellite, Intelsat I in 1965. Both Telstar 1 and 2, although no longer in service, still orbit the Earth to this day.
July 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.
July 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.
July 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.