Coleco Telstar

Coleco TelstarColeco, a toy company best known for its air hockey tables, releases its first video game console, the Coleco Telstar. A self-contained unit capable of playing three variants of video tennis, Telstar retails for roughly half the price of Atari’s Pong console, and Coleco sells over a million units of Telstar in various guises and case styles through the end of the decade. In the early 1980s, Coleco begins development of its own programmable, cartridge-based successor to Telstar, which will reach the market in 1982 as Colecovision.

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Fairchild VES: the first video game cartridges

Fairchild Channel FA major breakthrough in an industry that was previously dominated by expensive, bulky consoles that could only play a handful of games each, Fairchild introduces its Video Entertainment System, the first programmable video game system. Though it has several built-in games like its predecessors, the Fairchild system allows owners to add new games by purchasing “Videocarts” – roughly the size of 8-track tapes – containing additional games. Fairchild later renames its VES console Channel F to avoid market confusion with Atari’s VCS (Video Computer System), which doesn’t arrive on the scene until the following year.

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Vega 1 visits Venus

Vega 1The landing module of the Vega 1 unmanned space probe arrives at the planet Venus, though some of its on-board experiment packages activate during descent, rather than activating after contact with the surface, and little data is returned. Thanks to a gravity assist from a close flyby of Venus, the Vega 1 “mothership” continues past the planet toward a 1986 rendezvous with Halley’s Comet.

Perversions Of Science: The Exile

Perversions Of ScienceThe fourth episode of the adult-themed science fiction anthology series Perversions Of Science, based largely on stories published in Weird Science magazine, premieres on cable network HBO. Jeffrey Combs (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Enterprise, David Warner (Tron, Time Bandits), and Ron Perlman (Beauty & The Beast) guest star.

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DeForest Kelley, actor, dies

De KelleyActor DeForest Kelley, loved around the world for his portrayal of cranky-but-sympathetic Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy on Star Trek, dies at the age of 79 from cancer. A mainstay of western movies and TV guest roles since the 1940s, Kelley had first encountered Gene Roddenberry while auditioning for the lead role in his detective series pilot called Sam Benedict – a role which Kelley didn’t win, but he made enough of an impression that Roddenberry invited him to view the first two Star Trek pilots when recasting the Enterprise’s doctor for a third time. Kelley’s most recent appearance in the role had been in 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; he declined to take part in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations, though a role had been written for him. (He had already handed the baton off to The Next Generation in an unannounced cameo appearance in that series’ pilot.)

Shenzhou 10

Shenzhou 10The Chinese manned space mission Shenzhou 10 lifts off, carrying taikonauts Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping to the orbiting Tiangong-1 space laboratory module for a stay of over two weeks. This is the fifth manned flight in the history of the Chinese space program, and the second (and is expected to be the last) to visit Tiangong-1. A larger orbital station, Tiangong-2, is under development.