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This Week in Tech History: First Photo of Earth from Outer Space

The first picture of Earth is taken from outer space, the first computer link is made, and Hi-Definition TV launches in the US… It all happened This Week in Tech History.

1861 – The First Transcontinental Telegraph line across the United States was completed, spelling the end for the 18-month-old Pony Express, which ceased operations just two days later. The remaining assets of the Pony Express were sold to Wells Fargo for 1.5 million dollars.

1946 – A camera on board a V-2 rocket which was launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, took the first photograph of earth from outer space. The German V2 rocket had been captured by the Americans at the end of World War II. The explosive warhead was removed and replaced with a package of scientific instruments. These included a 35mm motion-picture camera set to snap one picture every second and a half.

1955 – The microwave oven was introduced in Mansfield, Ohio at the corporate headquarters of the Tappan Company. The new cooking device had a price tag of about $1,300, which would translate to over $11,000 today. No wonder they only manufactured 34 units that first year. The invention of the microwave oven, incidentally, was an accident. In the 1940’s, Percy Spencer was building magnetrons for use in radar sets. He had a chocolate bar in his pocket when he came too close to a running magnetron tube and the candy began to melt.

1969 – The first-ever computer-to-computer link was established on ARPANET, which was the precursor to what we know now as the Internet. The transmitted message was intended to be the word “login”. The letters L and O were transmitted, but the letter G crashed the system.

1998 – ATSC HDTV broadcasting in the United States is inaugurated with the launch of the STS-95 space shuttle mission. That mission also saw retired Astronaut John Glenn returning to space as the oldest person to do so. A record he held until 2021, when 82 year-old aviator and space tourist Wally Funk lifted off in a Blue Origin suborbital spaceflight. Funk’s record was broken three months later by 90 year-old William Shatner.

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Written by Chris Graveline

Chris has covered consumer technology for over 20 years. He is the host of This Week in Tech History as well as a regular co-host on "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline" and our Technical Director.

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