16 April 1972

Apollo program: The launch of Apollo 16 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Apollo 16 was the tenth manned mission in the United States Apollo space program, the fifth to land on the Moon, and the first to land in the lunar highlands. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 16, 1972. It was crewed by John Young as the commander, Charles Duke as the lunar module pilot, and Ken Mattingly as the command module pilot.

The primary objectives of Apollo 16 were to explore the lunar surface in the Descartes Highlands region, to conduct surface science experiments, collect lunar samples, and deploy scientific instruments for various experiments. Significant scientific interest in the highlands stemmed from the expectation that they would be composed of material older than the maria (the dark, basaltic plains on the Moon’s surface).

Lunar Landing: Apollo 16 successfully landed in the Descartes region of the Moon. The crew explored the area using the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), the second time such a vehicle had been used on the Moon.

Scientific Experiments: The mission deployed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), which included various scientific instruments used to measure seismic activity, solar wind, and other data.

Rover Travels: John Young and Charles Duke traveled greater distances in the Lunar Roving Vehicle to collect geological samples and conduct experiments.

Lunar Samples: The crew collected approximately 96 kilograms of lunar rocks and soil to bring back to Earth for analysis. The samples included basalts and breccias, which provided insights into the Moon’s geological history.

In-flight Experiments: The command module conducted several experiments in lunar orbit, including photography of the Moon’s surface and measurements of the lunar environment.

Apollo 16 returned safely to Earth on April 27, 1972. The mission significantly contributed to the understanding of the Moon’s highlands and expanded the overall knowledge of lunar geology.

29 November 1972

Atari releases Pong, the first commercially successful video game

“Pong” is a classic arcade game that is considered one of the earliest video games. It was created by Atari and released in 1972. Pong is often regarded as the first commercially successful arcade video game, and it played a significant role in establishing the video game industry.

The game simulates table tennis or ping pong, where players control paddles on either side of the screen, with the objective of hitting a ball back and forth. The game is designed for two players, and each player uses a rotary controller or a joystick to move their paddle vertically.

The gameplay is straightforward: the ball moves horizontally across the screen, and players must use their paddles to hit the ball, preventing it from passing their side of the screen. If a player misses the ball, the opposing player scores a point. The game continues until one player reaches a predetermined score, typically 11 points.

Pong’s simplicity and intuitive gameplay contributed to its widespread popularity. The success of Pong helped establish Atari as a major player in the emerging video game industry. The game was so influential that it paved the way for the development and success of other arcade games and home gaming consoles.

Pong’s legacy extends beyond its initial release; it has become an iconic symbol of the early days of video gaming. The game has been reimagined and re-released on numerous platforms over the years, and its impact can still be seen in the design of modern video games. Pong is often remembered as a pioneering title that laid the foundation for the video game industry’s growth and development.

8 November 1972

American pay television network Home Box Office (HBO) launches.

HBO is one of the most prominent and influential cable and satellite television networks in the United States. Its history is marked by significant milestones in the evolution of the television and entertainment industry.

Early Years (1972-1980):
HBO was founded on November 8, 1972, by Charles Dolan and his company, Sterling Manhattan Cable. It was initially envisioned as a pay-TV service that would deliver movies and other programming to cable subscribers.
On November 8, 1972, HBO made its debut as a cable television service in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The service quickly expanded to other markets.

Technological Innovations:
In 1975, HBO became the first cable network to use satellite technology to deliver its programming, allowing it to reach a wider audience. This marked a significant step forward in the distribution of television content.

Original Programming:
In the late 1970s, HBO began to invest in original programming, including sports events and comedy specials. “On Location,” which showcased stand-up comedians, and “Inside the NFL” were among the network’s early original programs.

Growth and Expansion (1980s-1990s):
HBO continued to grow during the 1980s and 1990s, becoming a major player in the cable and satellite television industry. It introduced popular series like “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City,” and “The Wire.”
These original series helped redefine the television landscape and contributed to HBO’s reputation for high-quality, boundary-pushing programming.

Premium Cable Channel:
HBO positioned itself as a premium cable channel, meaning subscribers had to pay an additional fee on top of their regular cable subscription to access its content. This business model allowed HBO to invest heavily in original programming.

Awards and Critical Acclaim:
HBO’s commitment to producing quality content paid off with numerous awards and critical acclaim. Its original series and documentaries received numerous Emmy Awards and Golden Globes.

Digital Expansion:
In the 21st century, HBO adapted to changing viewer habits and technological advancements. It launched the streaming service HBO Go in 2010, followed by HBO Now in 2015, and eventually HBO Max in 2020.

Game of Thrones and Beyond:
“Game of Thrones,” based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, became a cultural phenomenon during its run on HBO from 2011 to 2019. It further solidified HBO’s status as a major player in the industry.

WarnerMedia Merger:
In 2018, HBO’s parent company, Time Warner, merged with AT&T, creating WarnerMedia. This merger led to changes in the company’s management and strategy.

HBO Max:
HBO Max, launched in May 2020, is an expanded streaming platform that includes HBO’s content as well as additional programming from WarnerMedia properties, making it a more comprehensive streaming service.

23 July 1972

The United States launches Landsat 1, the first Earth-resources satellite.

Landsat 1, officially known as the Earth Resources Technology Satellite 1 (ERTS-1), was the first satellite in the United States’ Landsat program and the world’s first Earth-resources satellite. It was launched on July 23, 1972, by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in cooperation with the USGS (United States Geological Survey). The primary purpose of Landsat 1 was to gather valuable data about the Earth’s land surfaces from space.

Payload: Landsat 1 was equipped with several sensors and cameras to collect data in different spectral bands, including the Return Beam Vidicon (RBV) camera and the Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS). These instruments allowed the satellite to capture images of the Earth’s surface with varying resolutions and spectral capabilities.

Orbit: The satellite operated in a sun-synchronous polar orbit, which means it circled the Earth at a fixed local solar time. This orbit allowed consistent lighting conditions during each pass over a given area, making it easier to compare images over time.

Mission Duration: Landsat 1 had a successful mission life and operated for about six years. Its mission concluded on January 6, 1978.

Image Resolution: The RBV camera provided high-resolution images with a ground resolution of about 80 meters, while the MSS instrument had a ground resolution of approximately 80 meters for bands 1-4 and 156 meters for band 5.

Data Collection: Landsat 1 played a crucial role in monitoring various Earth resources, including land use, agriculture, forestry, geology, water resources, and environmental changes. The data collected by Landsat 1 contributed significantly to the understanding of global land cover and land use changes.

Successors: Following the success of Landsat 1, several other Landsat missions were launched, each with improvements in technology and data collection capabilities. These subsequent missions, such as Landsat 2, Landsat 3, and so on, further advanced the understanding of Earth’s resources and environmental changes.

The Landsat program, with its series of satellites, has been pivotal in providing long-term, consistent, and valuable Earth observation data. The continuous data collection over several decades has been instrumental in monitoring changes in the Earth’s land surfaces, studying natural disasters, and supporting numerous scientific, environmental, and societal applications.

16 April 1972

Apollo program: The launch of Apollo 16 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Apollo 16 mission was the fifth manned mission to land on the moon and the tenth manned mission in the Apollo program. It was launched on April 16, 1972, and returned to Earth on April 27, 1972. The main objectives of the Apollo 16 mission were to conduct scientific experiments, explore the lunar surface, and collect samples of the moon’s rocks and soil for further analysis.

The Apollo 16 mission was commanded by John W. Young, who had previously flown on the Gemini 3 and Gemini 10 missions, and included lunar module pilot Charles M. Duke Jr. and command module pilot Thomas K. Mattingly II. The crew landed on the moon in the Descartes Highlands, which is a region that contains a variety of interesting geological features.

During their stay on the moon, the crew conducted a series of scientific experiments, such as seismic profiling, magnetometry, and heat flow measurements, to better understand the moon’s structure and geology. They also explored the lunar surface using the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), which was a type of moon buggy that allowed them to cover more distance than previous missions.

Overall, the Apollo 16 mission was a great success, achieving all of its scientific objectives and returning to Earth with over 200 pounds of lunar samples, which were studied extensively by scientists around the world.

5 September 1972

A Palestinian terrorist group called “Black September of 1972” attacks and takes hostage 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. Two die in the attack and nine are murdered the following day.

The Palestinian terrorist group known as “Black September” was not a separate entity but rather a faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Black September gained notoriety for its involvement in the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, which targeted Israeli athletes.

Formation: Black September emerged as a splinter group or faction within the PLO in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was named after the events of September 1970 when the PLO and the Jordanian government clashed in what is known as “Black September” in Jordan.

Munich Olympics Massacre: The most infamous and significant action associated with Black September occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany. On September 5, 1972, a group of eight Palestinian terrorists, believed to be affiliated with Black September, infiltrated the Olympic Village and took 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage. Tragically, the hostages were later killed during a botched rescue attempt by German authorities.

Motivation: Black September’s actions, including the Munich massacre, were primarily aimed at drawing international attention to the Palestinian cause and demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. They saw acts of violence as a means to raise awareness and achieve their political goals.

Response: The Munich Olympics massacre shocked the world and drew widespread condemnation. Israel launched Operation Wrath of God, a covert operation to track down and assassinate individuals believed to be involved with Black September. Several members of the group were targeted and killed in the years following the Munich attack.

Disintegration: Over time, Black September lost influence and eventually dissolved, as the PLO distanced itself from the group and its tactics. The PLO sought to pursue a more diplomatic approach to achieve Palestinian national goals, which culminated in the Oslo Accords in the 1990s.

Legacy: The Munich Olympics massacre and Black September remain as a significant and tragic chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The events of 1972 underscore the complex and violent nature of the struggle for Palestinian self-determination and the challenges involved in addressing the conflict.