Today in 1994, Sony released its game-changing (no pun intended) console, the PlayStation. It was released as part of the fifth-generation of consoles, with its main competitors being the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn. With a library that included milestone games like Grand Theft Auto, Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, and Tomb Raider (among many others), Sony's PlayStation emerged as the clear winner of the fifth-gen console wars. On December 3, 2018, Sony released the PlayStation Classic, a dedicated console (meaning it doesn't play external games) with 20 games built in.
Today in 1993, NASA launched the Space Shuttle Endeavour on mission STS-61. The mission lasted just under 11 days and saw the installation of a new main camera, as well as various other repairs. The Hubble Space Telescope was originally launched on April 24, 1990. It remains in functioning order today and is one of the most recognizable symbols of NASA. It is estimated that it will continue to function for another 10-20 years.
Today in 1913, industrialist Henry Ford introduced the first moving assembly line to the public. The idea was brought to Ford by William Klann after witnessing a similar "disassembly" line at a slaughterhouse. The idea was simple- if cars can be assembled in multiple stages simultaneously, production would increase. It certainly did, lowering the time it took to assemble one car to 93 minutes. Cars were being completely assembled faster than the paint would dry, leading to Ford only offering one color (black, which dried the fastest) for several years. Ford followed the principles of design for his assembly line: (1) Place the tools and…
Today in 1971, ABC's made-for-TV movie Brian's Song premiered. Based on a true story, Brian's Song is centered around two friends and NFL running backs (Billy Dee Williams as Gale Sayers and James Caan as the titular Brian Piccolo) whose lives and careers are complicated after one is diagnosed with cancer. The movie is regarded as one of the best made-for-TV movies ever produced and frequently tops "best of" lists relating to sports films, buddy films and "male weepies." It has also won numerous accolades, including three Emmy awards.
Today in 1972, the newly-founded game developer Atari released their first video game, Pong. With its simple yet addictive gameplay, it became the first commercially successful video game. Along with the first home console, the Magnavox Odyssey, Pong is often cited as the catalyst for the emergence of the video game industry.
Today in 1964, NASA launched the Mariner 4 spacecraft. It performed the first ever flyby of Mars and was the first craft to return pictures of another planet from deep space.
Today in 2001, NASA and the ESA's Hubble Space Telescope detected sodium in the atmosphere surrounding HD 209458 b, nicknamed Osiris. This marked the first time that an atmosphere had been detected on an exoplanet (a planet outside of our Sun's solar system). The find was predicted by award-winning exoplanet expert Sara Seager weeks before.
Today in 1977, an unidentified person hacked into a local English television broadcast. He identified himself as Vrillon, a representative of an "intergalactic association" called Ashtar Galactic Command. He claimed to be warning Earth of an impending intergalactic judgement, urging "All your weapons of evil must be removed" and "You have but a short time to learn to live together in peace and goodwill." The broadcast interrupted six minutes of airtime, taking over the audio only of a news broadcast featuring Andrew Gardner. The hoaxer remains unidentified today. The incident made a small splash in the conspiracy theorist realm as well, with UFO enthusiasts citing…
Today in 1952, English author Agatha Christie's murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre. It featured a young Richard Attenborough in the role of Sergeant Trotter. The show is known for its highly secretive twist ending, which audiences are encouraged not to spoil after every show. The show continues to run today, making it the longest-running West End show and the longest initial run of any play in history (currently there have been over 27,000 performances).
Today in 1971, an unidentified man known only as "D.B. Cooper" hijacked a Boeing 727 that was carrying passengers from Portland, OR to Seattle, WA. Cooper calmly and discreetly informed a flight attendant that he had a bomb and demanded $200,000 (about $1.2 million today), several parachutes, and a refueling for the plane. Upon landing, Cooper's demands were met and he released all hostages other than 5 crew members to continue his flight. Cooper had the crew take off and fly toward Mexico City. Sometime during the flight, Cooper jumped from the plane with the money, unbeknownst to the crew and the five other aircraft…