The final episode of the animated Star Trek‘s second season, The Counter-Clock Incident, premieres on NBC. This is the only Star Trek television episode to mention Captain Robert April, the name originally envisioned by Gene Roddenberry for the captain of the Enterprise.
The sixth episode of the TV spinoff of Planet Of The Apes premieres on CBS. Roscoe Lee Browne guest stars.
The Soviet Union launches the unmanned space probe Luna 23 toward the moon, intended to gather surface samples from the Mare Imbrium region for return to Earth. The sample collection hardware is unable to complete its task after landing, and ground controllers are only able to receive partial scientific data from the lander, whose batteries run out within three days of landing. It won’t be until 2012, when NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photographs Luna 23’s landing site from orbit, that the truth will be learned: the lander tipped over on its side during a descent mishap, leaving it intact but unable to gather a soil sample.
ABC airs the fifth episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, based on the 1973 TV movie The Night Stalker and starring Darren McGavin. Eric Braeden guest stars.
The Soviet Union launches Soyuz 16, a six-day manned space mission to test modifications to the Soyuz vehicle design ahead of 1975‘s Apollo-Soyuz Test Project international flight. Cosmonauts Anatoly Filipchenko and Nikolai Rukavishnikov test the new Soyuz docking mechanism and solar panels, and new rendezvous/docking equipment intended to assist with the Apollo-Soyuz flight as well as to prevent “wasted” missions such as Soyuz 15.
“Kee Games” (a shell company created by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell) introduces a new arcade game, a video war between two artillery commanders called Tank. The first video game to require each player to man two joysticks, designed to mimic real tank controls, Tank is later immortalized in the first pack-in launch title for the Atari VCS console, under the title of Combat.
ABC airs the sixth episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, based on the 1973 TV movie The Night Stalker and starring Darren McGavin. Madlyn Rhue guest stars.
The ninth episode of the TV spinoff of Planet Of The Apes premieres on CBS. John Hoyt and Morgan Woodward guest star.
ABC airs the seventh episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, based on the 1973 TV movie The Night Stalker and starring Darren McGavin. Tom Skerritt and Stanley Adams guest star.
The tenth episode of the TV spinoff of Planet Of The Apes premieres on CBS. Beverly Garland guest stars.
The first transmission from Earth designed to be a message for interstellar listeners is broadcast from the newly-refurbished Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico. Weighing in at 210 bytes, the message is a binary transmission that, when properly assembled, provides a graphical representation of Earth’s solar system, a human being, the makeup of human DNA and the elements from which it is constructed, and the population of Earth. Though the Arecibo dish is pointed in the direction of the M13 globular cluster at the time of the message’s transmission, that cluster will have moved in the 25,000 years it takes for the message to reach that location (and, in any case, Earth and its entire solar system will have moved in the 25,000 additional years it would take to receive a reply), so the message is more of an interstellar technology demo than a message in a bottle.
Electric Light Orchestra‘s fourth album, Eldorado, is released, featuring the single “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head”. This is the first ELO album with a full orchestra (as opposed to previous albums’ practice of overdubbing three string players endlessly), and the first to be released in the US before its UK release date.
Charisma Records releases Genesis‘ epic-length double album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, a mythological concept album which proves to be Peter Gabriel’s last studio album with the band. The album will go on to be widely regarded as one of the creative peaks for the group.
ABC airs the eighth episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, based on the 1973 TV movie The Night Stalker and starring Darren McGavin. Richard Kiel guest stars.
The 12th episode of the TV spinoff of Planet Of The Apes premieres on CBS. Sondra Locke guest stars.
NASA’s Pioneer 11 space probe passes close to Jupiter, barely 27,000 miles above the giant planet’s cloudtops, again encountering radiation capable of frying spacecraft electronics. Pioneer 11 captures the first images of Jupiter’s polar cloud structure and pulls off a daring gravity assist maneuver: the planet’s gravity flings Pioneer 11 up and over the north polar region and across the solar system for a 1979 rendezvous with Saturn, the first spacecraft to visit that planet.
ABC airs the ninth episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, based on the 1973 TV movie The Night Stalker and starring Darren McGavin. Keenan Wynn and Richard Kiel guest star.
The 13th and final episode of the TV spinoff of Planet Of The Apes, Up Above The World So High, premieres on CBS. (The network passes on an earlier episode, The Liberator, as being too controversial.) This concludes the live-action TV run of Planet Of The Apes.
ABC airs the tenth episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, based on the 1973 TV movie The Night Stalker and starring Darren McGavin. John Alvin guest stars.
The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics Magazine goes on sale days before Christmas 1974, with its cover article heralding the arrival of the MITS Altair 8800 microcomputer. The first open-architecture microcomputer, the Altair is available in kit form or fully assembled, with 4K of RAM built around an Intel 8080 processor. Expecting to sell a few hundred kits, MITS founder Ed Roberts finds himself flooded with so many orders that he has to hire additional workers to start catching up with the backlog of purchases, with the time from order to delivery stretching into months. This is the beginning of the modern computer revolution, with companies other than MITS producing peripherals and software for the Altair. The most notable of these third-party vendors is a newly-formed company called Microsoft – a two-man operation founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen – which produces a working version of the BASIC language for the Altair.
ABC airs the 11th episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, based on the 1973 TV movie The Night Stalker and starring Darren McGavin. Phil Silvers (Sgt. Bilko) guest stars.
The Soviet Union launches its fourth orbital space station, Salyut 4. Much like Skylab, Salyut 4 is fitted with a solar telescope and X-ray astronomy equipment, which is trained on the X-ray source (and potential black hole) Cygnus X-1 during its flight. Three crews will go on to occupy Salyut 4 before it is deorbited in 1977; it is the first Soviet space station to successfully be occupied by multiple crews.
The 382nd episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1. Tom Baker makes his debut as the fourth Doctor in this first episode of the show’s 12th season. (The December 1974 premiere date also gives Baker his claim to being the Doctor for “seven years” by about three days.) Ian Marter makes his first appearance as the Doctor’s new companion, Naval Surgeon Lt. Harry Sullivan.