CBS airs the tenth episode of the TV adaptation of Logan’s Run. Mariette Hartley guest stars.
Atari releases Surround as a cartridge for the Atari 2600. Surround is “inspired” by the many 1970s arcade games which later, in turn, inspired the “light cycles” sequences in Tron.
Terry Nation, the television writer who created Doctor Who’s greatest foes, the Daleks, graces the world with another science fiction creation on the BBC, Blake’s 7. Set centuries in the future, the show depicts a government so corrupt that the audience is left with a band of terrorists, guerilla fighters and deeply flawed human beings with whom to sympathize (and luckily, they have the cathedralesque Liberator, the fastest ship in the galaxy, on their side too). The show’s only drawback? Delivering post-Star Wars sci-fi action on the budget it inherited from the cop show that previously held that Monday night timeslot.
The 470th episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1.
BBC1 premieres the second episode of Terry Nation’s science fiction series Blake’s 7. Leslie Schofield guest stars; this is the first episode featuring Paul Darrow as Avon.
The Soviet Union launches Soyuz 27 on a mission to the Salyut 6 space station – the first instance of three vehicles being docked together in space. Cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Oleg Makarov spend six days with the crew of Soyuz 26 board the station, although Dzhanibekov and Makarov swap capsules with the station crew, leaving the newer vehicle at the station for their eventual return. The crew of Soyuz 27 is in space for less than a week, but their spacecraft remains in orbit, connected to Salyut, for over two months.
Arista Records releases, just weeks after the movie’s premiere, John Williams’ soundtrack from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Sales are brisk, bolstered in no small part by the fact that Williams’ music is on the year’s second major science fiction blockbuster.
The 471st episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1.
BBC1 premieres the third episode of Terry Nation’s science fiction series Blake’s 7. Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon) guest stars.
CBS airs the 11th and final episode of the TV adaptation of Logan’s Run. Morgan Woodward guest stars. CBS cancels the series, leaving three episodes (Night Visitors, Turnabout and Stargate) unaired.
The first Soviet-made unmanned Progress resupply vehicle lifts off en route to the manned Salyut 6 space station. Looking more or less like a Soyuz vehicle, Progress is an automated freighter whose systems lock onto Salyut’s docking transponder, guiding the unmanned craft toward a smooth and completely automated docking (though ground controllers stand by to take manual control by remote). Since Progress is not required to return a crew to Earth, its engines and their fuel can help to boost Salyut 6 into a higher orbit when necessary. It carries over 5,000 pounds of food, clothes and other supplies, and can automatically refill the station’s air and fuel supplies. Progress vehicles become an integral part of the space program, remaining in service long enough to resupply the International Space Station in the 21st century.
The 472nd episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1.
The 11th episode of Wonder Woman airs on ABC, starring Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner. Nehemiah Persoff guest stars.
BBC1 premieres the fourth episode of Terry Nation’s science fiction series Blake’s 7. This is the first episode filmed; Jan Chappell joins the regular cast as Cally.
A joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency, the International Ultraviolet Explorer is launched atop a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral. The precursor of later space-based telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope, IUE produces no photographic images, instead concentrating on detecting ultraviolet emissions from distant objects. IUE adds significantly to the growing body of space science, and is the first satellite to give astronomers the chance to immediately aim its detectors at targets that yield unexpected results, allowing it to respond swiftly to such rapidly developing phenomena as Supernova 1987A. Designed to stay operational for three years, IUE will remain online for almost two decades.
The 473rd episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1.
With an incredibly tight lead time (rights were secured some weeks after Star Wars became a box-office hit), General Mills subsidiary Kenner Toys brings the first Star Wars action figures to market. A dozen characters are sold individually, with a colorful mixture of the film’s heroes (Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Ben Kenobi, R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca) and villains (Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, Death Squad Commander, Tusken Raider, Jawa). While Kenner brings the figures to market in both the industry-standard 12-inch scale and a smaller, cheaper 3 3/4″ scale, marketing focuses almost entirely on the smaller toys, which then redefine the industry-standard size of boys’ character toys (and make any future vehicles and playsets much more affordable). Ironically, prior to the movie’s release when no one expected Star Wars to take off, 20th Century Fox surrendered all toy and merchandising rights to George Lucas, meaning that the runaway success of the toy range is key to his fortune.
BBC1 premieres the fifth episode of Terry Nation’s science fiction series Blake’s 7. Richard Beale guest stars.
The second episode of Quark returns Buck Henry’s science fiction spoof to NBC, now re-energized by parodying Star Wars instead of Star Trek. Richard Kelton joins the regular cast as Ficus, and Henry Silva guest stars in the special hour-long episode; the series returns in March, in a half-hour format, after further minor retooling.
The 474th episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1. Milton Johns and John Arnatt guest star.
BBC1 premieres the sixth episode of Terry Nation’s science fiction series Blake’s 7. Stephen Grief (Travis) and Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan) make their first appearances as Blake’s arch-enemies in this episode.
Just before Valentine’s Day, RCA kills its Studio II home video game console, whose blocky black & white graphics and library of “edutainment” cartridges have proven to be no competition for the more game-oriented, full-color consoles from Fairchild and Atari over the previous two Christmas shopping seasons. 120 employees directly involved with developing for or assembling the Studio II and related products are laid off from RCA’s facility in Swannanoa, North Carolina as a result. The company makes no further attempts to break into the video game business.
The 475th episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1. Milton Johns and John Arnatt guest star.
BBC1 premieres the seventh episode of Terry Nation’s science fiction series Blake’s 7. John Leeson (Doctor Who) and Barry Jackson guest star.
Programmers Ward Christensen and Randy Suess put their brainchild, the CBBS or Computer Bulletin Board System, online for the first time. Accessible to anyone with a computer modem and a phone line, CBBS allows users to log in one at a time since the system is limited to a single phone line; messages both public and private can be posted. Christensen and Suess become the first SysOps, or System Operators, responsible for both technical maintenance and moderation of the system’s content. Similar bulletin board systems spring up across America and elsewhere (indeed, in the late 1980s, theLogBook itself will be launched as a series of text files on such a BBS).