20th Century: 1957 – The Race for Space

1957 started out like 2020 with a pandemic. The Asian Flu began in China and spread worldwide, killing an estimated 2 million people.

First digital computer acquisition of scanned photographs, by Russell Kirsch at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now NIST).

Russia launched the first artificial satellite, named Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. A modified R-7 two-stage ICBM launches the satellite Sputnik from Tyuratam. The Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States begins.

In response to Sputnik, the United States creates a new agency, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). This agency creates technology for the creation of the internet, military applications, and much more. The Sputnik launch also calls for the creation of NASA in 1958. This civilian agency is tasked with the peaceful exploration of space.

Digital Equipment Corporation was founded.

Nov. 3, 1957: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2 with the first living passenger, the dog Laika, aboard.

Laika became the first animal launched into Earth orbit, paving the way for human spaceflight during the upcoming years. This photograph shows her in a flight harness.

Dec. 6, 1957: A Vanguard TV-3 carrying a grapefruit-sized satellite explodes at launch; a failed response to the Sputnik launch by the United States.

The Bernstein Program is the earliest known chess game that implemented the complete ruleset. The game examines two levels of moves, but unlike earlier chess games doesn’t try out every possible move but only the seven most plausible moves. After determining what the most plausible moves are the game uses static factors and minimaxing to determine the best move. Running on the IBM 704 computer the program took about eight minutes to determine its move and never managed to defeat a human opponent.

Meanwhile, The Hackers of MIT “learn to hack” on the TX-O, an early fully transistorized computer that contained a then-huge 64KB of magnetic core memory.

News of Sputnik Oct 7, 1957:

The Race for Space:

Now Unclassified – NASA’s Origins and the Dawn of the Space Age: Sputnik’s response – World Opinion and the Soviet Satelight:  NASA_NTRS_Archive_20040045203

The top film of 1957:

© Columbia Pictures Corporation / Public Domain

Top Song of 1957: