1822 – Francis Galton, English biologist and statistician is born.
Sir Francis Galton was an English Victorian statistician, progressive, polymath, sociologist, psychologist, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist and psychometrician. He was knighted in 1909.
Galton produced over 340 papers and books. He also created the statistical concept of correlation and widely promoted regression toward the mean. He was the first to apply statistical methods to the study of human differences and inheritance of intelligence, and introduced the use of questionnaires and surveys for collecting data on human communities, which he needed for genealogical and biographical works and for his anthropometric studies.
He was a pioneer in eugenics, coining the term itself and the phrase “nature versus nurture”. His book Hereditary Genius (1869) was the first social scientific attempt to study genius and greatness.
As an investigator of the human mind, he founded psychometrics (the science of measuring mental faculties) and differential psychology and the lexical hypothesis of personality. He devised a method for classifying fingerprints that proved useful in forensic science. He also conducted research on the power of prayer, concluding it had none by its null effects on the longevity of those prayed for. His quest for the scientific principles of diverse phenomena extended even to the optimal method for making tea.
As the initiator of scientific meteorology, he devised the first weather map, proposed a theory of anticyclones, and was the first to establish a complete record of short-term climatic phenomena on a European scale. He also invented the Galton Whistle for testing differential hearing ability. He was Charles Darwin’s half-cousin.
1935 – Bradford Parkinson, American engineer and inventor, father of the Global Positioning System is born.
Bradford Parkinson is an American engineer and inventor, and United States Air Force colonel best known as the father of the Global Positioning System (along with Roger L. Easton and Ivan A. Getting).
He attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1957, but decided to join the Air Force because of its superior educational opportunities. Parkinson then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his M.S. in Aeronautics, graduating in 1961.
After several years in the Air Force, he entered a Ph. D. program at Stanford University, graduating in 1966. In 1973 he became manager of the NAVSTAR GPS development program, where he remained until 1978 when he retired from the Air Force. In 1984, Parkinson became a professor at Stanford University, where today he is a professor emeritus.
In 2003 he shared the Draper Prize with Ivan A. Getting for his contributions to the invention of the Global Positioning System. In 2004 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
1953 – Roberta Williams, American video game designer, co-founded Sierra Entertainment is born.
Roberta Williams is an American video game designer, writer and a co-founder of Sierra On-Line (later known as Sierra Entertainment), who developed her first game while living in Simi Valley, California. She is most famous for her pioneering work in the field of graphic adventure games with titles such as Mystery House, the King’s Quest series, and Phantasmagoria. She is married to Ken Williams and retired from her career in 1999. Roberta Williams is one of the most influential PC game designers of the eighties and nineties, and has been credited with creating the graphic adventure genre.
1961 – The DuSable Museum of African American History is chartered.
The DuSable Museum of African American History is dedicated to the study and conservation of African American history, culture, and art. It was founded in 1961 by Dr. Margaret Taylor-Burroughs (sometimes Margaret Burroughs or Margaret Goss Burroughs), her husband Charles Burroughs, Gerard Lew, Eugene Feldman, and others. Dr. Taylor-Burroughs and other founders established the museum to celebrate black culture, then overlooked by most museums and academic establishments. It is located at 740 E. 56th Place at the corner of Cottage Grove Avenue on the South Side of Chicago in the Washington Park community area.
1968 – In Haleyville, Alabama, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service.
In 1968, the number was agreed upon. AT&T chose the number 9-1-1, which was simple, easy to remember, dialed easily, and worked well with the phone systems in place at the time.
Just 35 days after AT&T’s announcement, on February 16, 1968, the first-ever 9-1-1 call was placed by Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite, from Haleyville City Hall, to U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill, at the city’s police station. Bevill reportedly answered the phone with “Hello”. At the City Hall with Fite was Haleyville mayor James Whitt; at the police station with Bevill were Gallagher and Alabama Public Service Commission director Eugene “Bull” Connor. Fitzgerald was at the ATC central office serving Haleyville, and actually observed the call pass through the switching gear as the mechanical equipment clunked out “9-1-1”. The phone used to answer the first 9-1-1 call, a bright red model, is now in a museum in Haleyville, while a duplicate phone is still in use at the police station.
1977 – Ian Clarke, Irish-American computer scientist, founded Freenet is born.
Ian Clarke is the original designer and lead developer of Freenet. Clarke grew up in Navan, County Meath, Ireland…
In 1995 Clarke left Dundalk to study Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. While at Edinburgh Clarke became president of the then dormant Artificial Intelligence Society, resulting in its revival. In Clarke’s final year at Edinburgh, he completed his “final year project”, entitled “A Distributed, Decentralised Information Storage and Retrieval System”. In July 1999, after receiving a ‘B’ grade for his paper, Clarke decided to release it to the Internet and invited volunteers to help implement his design. The resulting free software project became known as Freenet, and attracted significant attention from the mainstream and technology media.
1978 – The first computer bulletin board system is created (CBBS in Chicago).
The first public dial-up BBS was developed by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess. According to an early interview, when Chicago was snowed under during the Great Blizzard of 1978, the two began preliminary work on the Computerized Bulletin Board System, or CBBS. The system came into existence largely through a fortuitous combination of Christensen having a spare S-100 bus computer and an early Hayes internal modem, and Suess’s insistence that the machine be placed at his house in Chicago where it would be a local phone call to millions of users. Christensen patterned the system after the cork board his local computer club used to post information like “need a ride”. CBBS officially went online on 16 February 1978. CBBS, which kept a count of callers, reportedly connected 253,301 callers before it was finally retired.