This year's '25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries'

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They make rockets, man; how cool is that? "Since its founding in 1982, the company has been among the space industry's most active developers and manufacturers of launch vehicles and space systems. Its operational accomplishments during the past quarter-century have involved selling, designing and building 772 rockets and space systems. This total includes 583 launch vehicles, missiles, satellites and other space systems completed and delivered to date, plus 189 satellites, rockets and related systems currently under firm contracts with customer deliveries scheduled from 2007 to 2012."

Did you know? ... Orbital completed its 500th mission in 2005.

19. Permanent artificial heart

From Wikipedia: "The first patented artificial heart was invented by Paul Winchell in 1963. Winchell subsequently assigned the patent to the University of Utah, where Robert Jarvik ultimately used it as the model for his Jarvik-7. Jarvik's designs improved the device, but his patients succumbed after brief trials. His first Jarvik-7 patient, 61-year-old retired dentist Barney Clark, survived for 112 days after it was implanted at the University of Utah on December 2, 1982. One of the innovations of the Jarvik-7 was the inner coating of rough material, developed by David Gernes. This coating helped the blood to clot and coat the inside of the device, enabling a more natural blood flow."

Did you know? ... Clark complained bitterly after his surgery that he wasn't being given enough pain medication, a contention Jarvik years later conceded was both true and an intentional gesture of retaliation in behalf of dental patients everywhere. (Of course, I made that up.)

20. Rec. ITU-R BT.601

Translation: digital TV. "In February 1982, 25 years ago, the CCIR Plenary Assembly approved this as Draft Rec. AA/11 'Encoding Parameters for Digital Television for Studios,' which became 'ITU-R Rec. 601.' ... Rec. 601 became the most quoted, most used, technical document in the history of the media. It is the basis for all television today, including not only conventional quality video, but also higher quality forms 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. Its application will stretch far into the future.

Did you know? ... It won an Emmy for "Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development."

21. Space Camp

It was a big year for space stuff. From the Space Camp site: Founded in 1982, SPACE CAMP and AVIATION CHALLENGE (1990), located in Huntsville, Alabama, use space and aviation as a platform to excite and educate children ages 7-18, in the fields of math, science and technology.

Did you know? ... Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, who attended as a high school freshman in 1989, was the first camp graduate to become an honest-to-goodness NASA astronaut, and Samantha Rice this June became camper number 500,000.

22. Sun Microsystems

Blogger/CEO Jonathan Schwartz writes: "For 25 years we've recognized that open, standards-based technologies create market opportunity for ourselves as well as our customers, partners and the communities in which we participate. For 25 years our actions and innovations foretold a world where the network is the computer. And I find it simply staggering how real that vision has become." Sun has assembled a list of "25 Fun Artifacts" (.pdf) from the company archives, including Scott McNealy's lucky tie.

Did you know? ... That Schwartz has been known to blog on the wrong side of midnight.

23. The Weather Channel

I've never understood the public's need to have oodles of weather information every hour or every day. But The Weather Channel has them covered: "In the past 25 years, The Weather Channel has also evolved by embracing new technologies, which has enabled it to expand on many different platforms. The Weather Channel Interactive, which includes weather.com, distributes weather software applications, podcasts, desktop applications, RSS feeds, toolbars, and screensavers. Weather.com, the network's Web site, launched in 1995, ranks among the top 15 most popular Web sites, reaching more than 30 million unique visitors per month. The Weather Channel Mobile, which produces text, graphical and video weather content for mobile devices in all formats and distributes to all top U.S. wireless carriers, is one of the top five most actively used mobile information services, reaching nearly four million mobile users monthly."

Did you know? ... You can watch The Weather Channel's very first minute on air here.

24. Tron (the movie)

I don't play video games (although that may have to change) so this is another one making the list on name recognition alone. Slashdot bails me out on this one: "I have an article in today's Summer Film Preview issue of Los Angeles CityBeat on Disney's sci-fi classic Tron, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The piece includes a discussion with Richard Taylor, one of Tron's visual effects supervisors on the film's groundbreaking effects, as well as director Steven Lisberger, on how the narrative incorporates the Jungian concept of individuation. Here's a sample: 'Visual Effects Society member Gene Kozicki, of the L.A.-based visual effects house Rhythm & Hues, believes Tron's legacy was in moving computer-generated visuals into the realm of storytelling. 'Research into this type of imagery had been going on for over 15 years, but it was more scientific in nature,' Kozicki says, 'Once artists began to share their ideas and treat the computer as a tool, it moved away from strict research and towards an art form.' "

Did you know? ... Yori's headgear changes to a male's helmet while on the Solar Sailer, and back to a female's covering when she is off the Sailer (from IMDB).

25. USA Today

Truth be told, I was one of those old-school journalists (albeit a 20-something one) who ridiculed USA Today in its formative years. We've both matured. From a New York Times profile commemorating McPaper's 25th: "USA Today's graphic approach, its relatively young audience and its habit of encouraging reader feedback presaged some aspects of the Internet, though it remains to be seen whether its status as a popular innovator will carry into the online future. Since its Web site was overhauled early this year, readers have been able to post comments on all articles, look up every comment by a particular reader and start conversations among themselves."

Did you know: ... USA Today circulates 2.3 million copies per day - most of any U.S. newspaper - and half of those are distributed in hotels.

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