Geek Facts Retrospective – My Favorite Geek Facts


trs80Each day last year, I posted a Geek Fact for that day.  A Geek Fact is something geeky that happened on that day in history.   I have to say that it was a pretty interesting exercise.  I learned many things that I ordinarily wouldn’t have.  For the 366 days of 2012, 464 Geek Facts were posted.   On average, that’s roughly one each day with an extra one posted each 4th day.

This is the first in a series of articles that look at the Geek Facts f from several perspectives.  I thought I would start out by compiling my favorite Geek Facts.

Out of all 464 Geek Facts, my favorite Geek Facts are listed below in chronological order.

 

  • January 26, 1697 – Isaac Newton received Jean Bernoulli’s 6-month time-limit problem and solved the problem before going to bed that same night. The object was to find the curve connecting two points, at different heights and not on the same vertical line, along which a body acted upon only by gravity will fall in the shortest time.  Genius doesn’t even begin to describe him.

 

  • October 10, 1796 – According to tradition, the metric system began to be used.  The whole 10/10 thing with the date.  Just cool.

 

  • August 1, 1818 – Maria Mitchell, America’s first woman astronomer, was born. In 1847, she discovered a comet now known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”. She later became the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Association for the Advancement of Science.

 

  • January 3, 1825 – The first engineering college in the United States, Rensselaer School, opened in Troy, New York.   Since my degrees are in engineering, I just found this to be pretty interesting.

 

  • March 30, 1858 – The pencil with an attached eraser was patented by Hyman L. Lipman.  Where would we be without erasers on our pencils?  Four years later, Lipman sold his patent to Joseph Reckendorfer for $100,000.

 

  • November 2, 1920 – KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA went on the air as the first commercial radio station.

 

  • September 13, 1941 – Dr. Henry Edward “Ed” Roberts was born.  The ‘father of the PC’, his Altair 8800 appeared on the cover of Popular Electronics in January 1975.  It is said to have inspired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to found a company, Micro-Soft.  It also inspired the Homebrew Computer Club, whose members Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs went on to start their own company, Apple Computer.  Enough said.

 

  • September 20, 1954 – The first program written in the FORTRAN programming language was executed.  I was a FORTRAN programmer a few decades later.

 

  • July 20, 1969 – Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the Moon.  I remember it like it was yesterday yet it was more than 40 years ago!

 

  • February 1, 1972 – The first scientific handheld calculator, the HP-35, was introduced for $395.  When I started college in 1975, my parents bought me a TI scientific calculator and an electric typewriter.  At the time, pretty much bleeding edge technology for a college engineering freshman.

 

  • November 29, 1975 – The name “Micro-soft” was first used in a letter from Bill Gates to Paul Allen.  Just seems pretty wild to me.

 

  • September 1, 1977 – The first TRS-80 Model I computer was sold.  My husband bought me one as a wedding present at my request.  I was even a geek way back then.

 

  • January 1, 1992 – computer scientist Admiral Grace Murray Hopper died.  Admiral Hopper was a pretty remarkable lady.  She is best know for inventing the first compiler as well as being one of the inventors of COBOL.

 

  • January 9, 2007 – Steve Jobs announced Apple’s iPhone at the Macworld keynote address.  Whether you love or hate Apple products, the iPhone is pretty universally credited with revolutionizing the smartphone industry along with launching the mobile app industry.

As you can see, these are primarily computer-related with a few other topics thrown in.   Seems pretty fitting to me.


In Part 2 of this series, I will review what the geekiest topic of the year was.  Can you guess?

About the Author

Judy Novotny

Judy is a computer veteran with 30 years of experience. She has owned everything from a TRS-80, Apple IIe and various Windows-based PCs. She is currently living in her Apple ecosystem at home consisting of an iPhone, iPad, iMac, MacBook, Apple TV, iPod nano and two Time Capsules. She is a fan of all things mobile since she got her first Palm Pilot in 1999. Check out her iPad app, Number Wizard, in the App Store. Follow her on Twitter @junovotech or at Junovo.com.

13 Comments

    • Geek Fact for November 17th – In 1979, Judy Novotny became the first and only bride to receive a computer as a wedding present from her husband and she was darn happy about it! 🙂

  1. These geek facts are great fun..especially the one regarding the TR-S 80.
    i was fortunate enough to have been cast in their first commercial here in dallas, tx.

  2. I got my first Texas Instrument computer in 1984. Had no way to save, so when they came with a tape drive I thought I had gone to Heaven. My first project was to take the weather readings for the past 80 years and punch them in, still have the dern thing. But 50 or so puters later and still going strong.

    • The first computer that I owned was a TI-994A that was given to me as a birthday present. I was lucky enough to have both an end table to set it on and a tape recorder to store my programs! 🙂

      This, of course, led to a long line of related holiday and birthday presents including, a real computer desk and chair, the Texas Instruments expansion box, 48KB memory expansion, and the floppy disk drive. Needless to say, I was one happy teenager for many years. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the facts, Judy.
    My favorite was Neil Armstong and his Apollo 11 cronies landing on the moon. I was 13 years old and I bought a 12 inch b&w tv–from proceeds saved my my newspaper route–just for the occassion.
    (My parents did not own a tv; the living room was for reading and accommodating my dad’s stereo system.)
    My two older brothers, with whom I shared the bedroom, thought I was nuts.
    To this day, I love them dearly, but they could never understand why I thought this was the most important day in the history of history!

    • Joe,
      I think that you when the moon landing happened, either you ‘got’ how important that day was in history or you didn’t. I remember sitting on the floor in our living room with my best friend, watching it. We were allowed to stay up late to watch it since, thankfully, my parents ‘got it’.

  4. Grace Hopper was THE person to coin the phrase “Computer Bug”. She was a VERY amazing person. You actually can see the bug that was in the computer taped into her journal at the Smithsonian. I ook a group of 11 students to her final retirement gathering at a DPMA meeting in Reston, VA. years ago. It was the most entertaining couple of hours I have ever spent. She was a wonderful speaker.