Friday’s Fact: ‘Bits’ of historical information

Friday’s Fact: ‘Bits’ of historical information

May 17

We will be the first to admit social media is a great tool to generate sales, but we also view social media as tool to share knowledge and to have a good time. For this reason, we have been posting since early March a popular segment on Facebook and Twitter called Friday’s Fact, which provides historical and/or other information about various subjects. After all, you can’t improve the future without knowledge of the past.

While Friday’s Fact mostly focuses on computer-related subjects, occasionally it highlights other areas of interest (Hint, hint: Next week’s Fact will be a feature related to Memorial Day.) Below you will find an archive of Friday’s Facts that have appeared on Facebook to date. Also, the archive will be updated each Friday with a new Fact.

We hope that you will continue to read and enjoy Friday’s Fact. If you haven’t seen Friday’s Fact before and you want some more, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @Storagecraft.

Friday’s Fact Archive

May 31, 2013 – Many sources, such as the October 1982 issue of Creative Computing, credit William Higinbothan with creating the first video game, Tennis for Two. Higinbothan was a physicist with the Brookhaven National Laboratory who created the game in 1958 in order to entertain and amuse visitors and spur interest in the more scientific projects at Brookhaven. According to Stony Brook University Tennis for Two was “the first computer game to utilize handheld controllers and to display motion. It was also the first game to be played by the general public.” Check out the link to see a demo of Tennis for Two and get a feel for how far video games have advanced.

May 24, 2013 – Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day and observed on May 30) commemorates and honors all of the men and women who died while serving the United States. It was first officially observed in 1868 when Gen. John Logan ordered that flowers be placed on the graves of all Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. New York became the first state to recognize the Memorial Day holiday in 1873. After World War I, Memorial Day became a day to remember all Americans who died serving their county. It became a Federal holiday in 1971 and was moved to the last Monday of May. As of 2000, a National Moment of Remembrance occurs on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time across the nation.

May 17, 2013 – Swiss watch maker Patek Phileppe made the first wristwatch in 1868 for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. However, Phileppe designed this wristwatch more for the purpose of decorative jewelry than for being used as a time-keeping device. There are claims that some pocket watches were adapted for use on the wrist, but Guinness World Records gives Phileppe’s device credit as being the first wristwatch.

May 10, 2013 – The GRiD Compass was the first laptop computer to fly in space. It first flew on Space Shuttle Discovery in 1985. (Note: One source said it flew on a shuttle as early as 1983). The Compass, designed by Bill Moggridge, also has the distinction of being one of the first laptops on Earth and the first with the common clam shell design used today. It first came on the market in 1982 at a cost of $8150, which is equivalent to more than $19,000 today. Two of the reasons NASA selected the GRiD Compass was its graphical display capabilities and the ability to fit easily in the tight confines of a shuttle. It is also reported to have been used on submarines.

Photo Caption: Astronaut John Creighton poses with the onboard Graphical Retrieval Information Display (GRID) computer, which displays a likeness of Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. (Photo Courtesy of NASA. Flight STS-51G.)

May 3, 2013 – While it is disputed who coined the word “software” as it relates to computers, the first known use of “software” in print was in the January 1958 edition of American Mathematical Monthly by Princeton University statistics professor John W. Tukey. The terms “soft-ware” (matter that would decompose) and “soft wares” (woolen or cotton fabrics and also relatively perishable consumer goods) were first used in the early 1850s. Today, according Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of software is “the entire set of programs, procedures, and related documentation associated with a system and especially a computer system; specifically: computer programs.” Since “software” is a collective noun, its plural is “software.”

April 26, 2013 – The first public radio broadcast of voice and music occurred at 9 p.m. EST Christmas Eve in 1906. It took place at Brant Rock, Mass., and broadcast to ships owned by the United Fruit Company. The man responsible for the broadcast was Reginald Fessenden, who is considered to be the “Father of Voice Radio.” This broadcast included Fessenden playing a violin solo of “O Holy Night” and reading the Biblical account of the birth of Christ from Luke chapter 2.

April 19, 2013 – The first recorded usage of the word “data” was in 1646, with its origins traced back to the Latin word “datum”, which means “something given”. The word was first used to describe “transmittable and storable computer information” in 1946. The term “data processing” was first used in 1954. In popular culture, Data is a character (an android that holds the rank of Lt. Commander) in the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show and movies.

April 12, 2013 – Iowa State University Professor John Atanasoff and student Clifford Berry created the world’s first electronic digital computer. It was called the Atanasoff–Berry Computer (ABC), and development took place between 1939 and 1942. (Source: Guinness World Records).

April 5, 2013 – The computer mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart in 1963. The early versions only had one button. Englebart first revealed the mouse to the public and 1968, and this version had three buttons. The device received the name mouse due to the wire, which looked like a tail.

March 29, 2013 – In 725 A.D., the first mechanical clock was completed in China by Yi Xing and Liang Lingzan. (Source Guinness World Records.) As for the word “clock”, its first known use was in the 14th century in western Europe. In Old French (cloque) and Middle Dutch (clocke) the words mean “bell.” (Source: Merriam-Webster)

March 22, 2013 – Joseph Nicéphore Niépce is credited for producing the first successful photograph. Depending on the source, this event, occurred in 1826 or 1827. The image was of a view from an upstairs window at Niépce’s home in France. Also of note, Niépce and his brother Claude invented an internal-combustion engine they called the Pyréolophore.

March 15, 2013 (St. Patrick’s Day edition) – The first “stored program computer” in Ireland was installed in 1957 by the Irish Sugar Manufacturing Company. Click here for more information.

March 8, 2013 – The first recorded usage of the word compute was in 1631. At least as early as the mid-1640s, a person who performed mathematical calculations was referred to as a computer.