Opportunity Lands on Mars

NASA Mars RoverJanuary 25, 2004

Opportunity rover (MER-B) lands on surface of Mars, three weeks after its twin, Spirit (MER-A), touched down on the other side of the planet.

First Transcontinental Phone Service

The First Transcontinental Phone CallJanuary 25, 1915

Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco. President Woodrow Wilson and the mayors of both cities were also involved in the call.

First Transcontinental Jet Flight

American Airlines Boeing 707January 25, 1959

The first transcontinental commercial jet trip was made by an American Airlines Boeing 707, from Los Angeles to New York.

Voyager 2 Flies By Uranus

Voyager SpacecraftJanuary 24, 1986

The interplanetary probe Voyager 2 makes the first fly-by of the planet Uranus. During its study of Uranus, it finds 10 previously undiscovered moons.

Macintosh Launched

The Original Macintosh ComputerJanuary 24, 1984

Apple Computer, Inc. launches the Macintosh computer with a demonstration of the computer in front of 3,000 people. While the Apple Lisa was the first commercial computer with a graphical interface, the Macintosh would bring graphical computing, and computing in general, to “the rest of us”, as Apple’s early slogan for the Macintosh claimed. While not as commercially successful as Microsoft’s DOS and later Windows, there is no doubt that the innovations of the Macintosh pushed the entire computing industry ahead and continue to do so to this day.

Microwave Oven Patented

Microwave Oven Patent PictureJanuary 24, 1950

The original microwave oven patent was issued to Percy LeBaron Spencer under the title “Method of Treating Foodstuffs.” Five years earlier, Spencer accidentally discovered that microwave energy could heat food when a chocolate bar in his pocket melted while he was experimenting with a microwave tube. Microwave tubes were originally designed for RADAR systems.

Last Contact with Pioneer 10

Pioneer 10January 23, 2003

The last successful contact was made with the spacecraft Pioneer 10, one of the most distant man-made objects in the universe. Pioneer 10 is heading in the direction of the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus at roughly 2.6 AU per year. If Aldebaran had zero relative velocity, it would take Pioneer 10 about 2 million years to reach it.

Java Released; Coffee Drinkers Confused

Java LogoJanuary 23, 1996

The first version of the Java programming language was released. The ability of Java to “write once, run anywhere” made it ideal for Internet-based applications. As the popularity of the Internet soared, so did the usage of Java.

First Bridge Over the Mississippi River

Hennepin Avenue Bridge 1865January 23, 1855

The first bridge over the Mississippi River opens in what is now Minneapolis, Minnesota, a crossing made today by the Father Louis Hennepin Bridge.

1984 Commercial Introduces the Macintosh

January 22, 1984

Apple Computer broadcasts their now-famous “1984” commercial introducing the Macintosh, during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII. It was the first and last time the ad was truly broadcast. However, it is a little-known piece of trivia that the ad was aired one other time at 1 AM on December 15, 1983 in Twin Falls, Idaho, but only so that the advertisement could be submitted to award ceremonies for that year. A 30-second version also ran in theaters starting January 17, but it was the broadcast during the Super Bowl that people really took notice of.

I was 9 years old then and I vaguely remember seeing the commercial, but I also remember being more interested in watching the Raiders beat the Redskins at that time. It wasn’t until many years later that I actually recalled the commercial. Yet when I recalled it, it was as if I remembered that commercial all along. I guess even though I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I somehow knew that moment truly was changing the world.