Weather Radio: all weather, all the time

Weather RadioThe U.S. Weather bureau signs on radio station KWO35, located at New York’s La Guardia Airport, broadcasting weather forecasts primarily for the benefit of pilots. Not targeted for public consumption, the experimental station broadcasts for several hours a day at a frequency of 162.55Mhz, outside of the spectrum reserved for FM radio. A similar station on the same frequency will later sign on at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in 1953, again mainly for the consumption of airline pilots. Marine forecasts are added later, and the system helps the Weather Bureau prevent its local forecasters from being overwhelmed by requests for “personalized” weather reports for pilots. These two stations are the precursor for the nationwide weather radio network operated by the Weather Bureau’s successor agency, the National Weather Service.

Ivy Mike

Ivy MikeThe United States conducts the first-ever successful test of a thermonuclear bomb at Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific Ocean as part of Operation Ivy. The explosion resulting from the first hydrogen bomb test has a yield equivalent to 10 megatons of TNT, with a three-mile blast radius, stripping vegetation from the ground in the surrounding area. There is significant radiological fallout from the event, and one pilot assigned to fly a jet fighter through the area an hour after the detonation loses control of his plane, crashes, and dies due to residual radiation interfering with his instruments and controls. Traces of the previously undiscovered (but theorized) elements einsteinium and fermium are found afterward.


AreciboNestled into a mountainous forest region of Puerto Rico, the Cornell University-funded Arecibo Radio Telescope officially begins operations. With a diameter of a thousand feet, this remains the world’s largest radio telescope until the 21st century. Studies of Earth’s ionosphere are high on the priority list, but radio astronomy isn’t far behind, and important discoveries are made at Arecibo within months of it opening.

Viking… to Mars!

Viking testbedNASA begins making detailed plans for a pair of orbiter/lander spacecraft, now named Viking, to be sent to Mars in the mid 1970s (possibly as early as 1973). With more recent Mariner missions having revealed a number of major challenges, including a thin atmosphere which won’t significantly slow a heavy object such as a landing vehicle, mission planners have to consider entirely new methods of reentry (as opposed to the Earthlike atmosphere that was expected as recently as 1964). The twin Viking spacecraft will not lift off until 1975.

Mouse Trap

Mouse TrapExidy’s colorful coin-op video game Mouse Trap arrives in arcades, challenging players to not only keep up with the action on screen, but to tap the right color-coded door button on the control panel at the right time, allowing the mouse to escape from hungry cats. In a very short time, Mouse Trap is deemed worthy of song on Buckner & Garcia’s upcoming album Pac-Man Fever.

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VectrexGeneral Consumer Electronics (GCE) introduces a self-contained vector graphics video game unit, Vectrex. Using its own monitor instead of connecting to a television, Vectrex is an attractive proposition for parents, but the high price tag makes it a luxury item. Toy maker Milton Bradley eventually buys out GCE and takes over manufacture and marketing of Vectrex, and plans add-ons such as a light pen and 3-D glasses.

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Misfits Of Science: Lost Link

Misfits Of ScienceThe fourth episode of James D. Parriott’s lighthearted sci-fi series, Misfits Of Science, airs on NBC, starring Dean Paul Martin, Kevin Peter Hall, and Courteney Cox. Jesse Dizon (Operation Petticoat) and Branscombe Richmond (Renegade) guest star.

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Super Force: Battle Cry

Super ForceThe second episode of the science fiction crime drama Super Force is broadcast in syndication in North America, starring Ken Olandt, Larry B. Scott, and Patrick Macnee (The Avengers). Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica) guest stars.

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Writing Episode I

Episode IAfter dropping his kids off at school, Star Wars creator George Lucas sits down with a box of pencils and a blank legal pad, and begins writing, in longhand, the script of what will become Star Wars Episode I (though at this point, the script draft is titled Star Wars: The Beginning). Having already amassed continuity notes on the original trilogy as well as story notes dating back to the early 1970s from the early “Journal of the Whills” drafts of the Star Wars storyline, Lucas knows only that the story will involve the early days of Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.

Michael Piller, Star Trek producer, dies

Michael PillerTelevision writer and producer Michael Piller, credited by many for the success of the revived Star Trek franchise (and co-creator of spinoff series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager) dies at the age of 57 after a prolonged battle with cancer. Piller, who had previously been a producer on Simon & Simon and the SF series Probe, joined Star Trek: The Next Generation as the head of the writing staff for the third season in 1990, replacing Maurice Hurley. Piller was generally credited with bringing a more friendly vibe to the show’s writing sessions and with finding new talent, such as fan writer Ronald D. Moore. Piller also wrote the popular two-part episode The Best Of Both Worlds and many others, and went on to create Deep Space Nine with Rick Berman and Voyager with Berman and fellow Next Generation veteran Jeri Taylor. Piller created the short-lived series Legend for UPN, starring Richard Dean Anderson (pre-SG-1) and John de Lancie, and later formed a production company with his son Shawn, where he developed the recent version of The Dead Zone for TV, as well as ABC Family Channel’s Wildfire, starring DS9 alumnus Nana Visitor.

For All Mankind (The Series)

For All MankindStreaming service Apple TV debuts episodes one, two and three of Ronald D. Moore’s fictional alternate history of the American space program, For All Mankind. Based on the premise of a rapid acceleration of the Apollo program after the Soviet Union places the first man on the moon, the series stars Joel Kinnaman (Altered Carbon, Robocop, Suicide Squad), Michael Dorman (Patriot), and Sarah Jones (Alcatraz, Damnation). Colm Feore (Chicago, Thor) guest stars. Though covering some of the same subject matter (Apollo missions to the moon), this series is unrelated to the well-regarded 1989 documentary movie of the same name.

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