The second season of the animated Star Trek series begins on NBC with the episode The Pirates Of Orion, written by Star Trek fan (and future Trek novelist) Howard Weinstein. The episode airs almost exactly eight years after the television premiere of the live-action Star Trek on NBC.
Forking over approximately $28,000,000 for the privelege of becoming a player in the video game industry, Warner Communication buys Atari, which had previously been privately owned by Nolan Bushnell and other investors. Though Bushnell remains on Atari’s board for a time, he is eventually removed and replaced by former Burlington Textiles vice president Ray Kassar. At this point, Atari’s most recent product is Atari Video Music, a device that connects to home stereo systems and television sets, producing psychedelic patterns synchronized to music; the company is spending the latter half of 1976 not releasing video game products in an attempt to sit out terms of a legal settlement with Magnavox.
ABC broadcasts the first episode of the animated Star Wars spinoff series Droids, featuring the voice of Anthony Daniels as C-3PO. The series chronicles the adventures of Threepio and R2-D2 in the years before the movie trilogy.
Filming for the two-hour pilot of the new Star Trek series, Star Trek: Voyager, begins on the Paramount Studios lot. On the second day of filming, actress Genevieve Bujold plays her first scenes as Captain Nicole Janeway, but filming does not go well. Bujold abruptly quits the series, sending the producers scrambling to cast a new Captain Janeway. Shooting is rescheduled so scenes without the captain can be filmed in her absence, but days later, production shuts down until one of the runners-up for the role, Kate Mulgrew, is cast in the role of Janeway. The delays put Voyager weeks behind schedule and badly over-budget, with a premiere date – also the first night of Paramount’s network – that can’t be moved.
Space Shuttle Endeavour lifts off on the 71st shuttle flight, an 11-day mission to conduct solar wind experiments and test out new spacewalking techniques and space suit revisions for future construction of the International Space Station. Aboard Endeavour for her ninth flight are Commander David Walker, Pilot Kenneth Cockrell, Payload Commander James Voss, and mission specialists James Newman and Michael Gernhardt.
The fourth episode of the Sci-Fi Channel original series Welcome To Paradox airs, a loosely-connected anthology of science fiction stories set in Betaville, a utopian future city whose incredible technology has frequently unintended side-effects. A Martinez stars in a story co-written by author Andrew Weiner.
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The creator and programmer of Lode Runner, Douglas E. Smith, dies at the age of 53. A spare-time creation that became an all-consuming passion for Smith, Lode Runner sparked a nearly unprecedented bidding war among major computer game publishers in 1983. At the time of Smith’s death, Lode Runner has been ported to most major game and computer systems over the past 31 years.