1993 – The MV Braer runs aground in the Shetlands

Two days prior to the spill, the MV Braer had suffered contamination of its fuel by sea water after cracks in the fuel lines had former. In the early morning of January 5, the contamination became so great that the engine could no longer function. Dead in the water, the 242 metre long oil tanker, laden with 85,000 tonnes of Gulfaks crude oil, was at the mercy of the elements. And the elements were not feeling merciful.

The winds were blowing between Force 10 and 11 that night (a range from 89-117 kmh, or 55-73 mph), driving the now uncontrollable tanker towards the rocks of Sumbergh Heads. In the event, she ran aground at Garths Ness, and although a great amount of oil leaked out, the combination of the violence of the storm and the nature of the oil (Gulfaks is unusually biodegradable) dispersed the oil more quickly that might otherwise have been the case. The environmental toll was still vast and preventable, but it would only have been worse had the oil not been Gulfaks. A small mercy, perhaps, but a mercy just the same.

Referenced in:
The Islands — Fairport Convention

1993 – Dr David Gerlertner is injured by the Unabomber’s mail bomb

Gerlertner was a professor of computer science at Yale University who made important contributions to his discipline in the seventies and eighties. He is credited (along with Nicholas Carriero) as the inventor of tuple spaces, a programming concept originally created in the Linda programming language, which inspired similar ideas in several other languages, including Java, Lisp, Python, Ruby and .NET.

In June of 1993, he was the first person to receive a letter bomb from the newly active Unabomber, who had last bombed someone six years earlier. Gerlertner was badly injured by the bomb’s detonation, and although he later recovered, his right hand and eye sustained permanent damage. Gerlertner returned to studying and teaching after his convalesence, and the Unabomber was eventually caught a little under three years later. A violent anti-technologist, he had deliberately targetted Gerlertner and others.

Referenced in:

Unabomber — Macabre

1993 – Lorena Bobbit hacks off her husband John’s penis

The Bobbits – Lorena and John Wayne Bobbit – had been married for a little over five years of not terribly happy matrimony on June 23, 1993. That was the night when, finally provoked to action by the latest in a what was apparently a series of spousal abuse incidents, Lorena got out of bed, came back with a knife, and cut John’s penis off.

Lorena was arrested, but found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. John’s penis was surgically re-attached. The couple were divorced in 1995.

Lorena became a campaigner against domestic abuse. John went on to abuse his next fiance, and then his next wife (these were two separate women). As the possessor of what was, at that time, arguably the most notorious penis in the world, he also attempted to become a porn star (which only goes to illustrate that some insanities are more temporary than others). As of 2009, he apparently still sends Lorena Valentine’s Day cards.

Referenced in:

Headline News — Weird Al Yankovic

1993 – Albert Collins dies

Albert Collins was one of the truly great bluesmen. From the early days of his career, in 1952, through to his death 41 years later, he became so associated with his chosen guitar – the Fender Telecaster – that he was frequently known as the Master of the Telecaster.

He was 61 years old at the time of his death. He had been diagnosed in August of 1993 with lung cancer, and the prognosis was not good. The cancer had already metastasized at the time it was detected, and he was given four months to live. Collins’ last recordings date from September of that year, with portions of Live ’92/’93 recorded at his last concerts.

Referenced in:

Six Strings Down — Jimmie Vaughan

1993 – Intel releases the first Pentium chips

Intel’s first Pentium microprocessor was the Pentium P5. Released on March 22, 1993, it was an x86 compatible chip that was an instant hit. Intel promoted it – and subsequent releases in the Pentium series – heavily. For a while there, it seemed like you couldn’t turn around without seeing one those damned “CyberdyneIntel Inside” logos.

The Pentium remains, to this day, the single most well known brand of CPU on the planet – today’s song is certainly proof of that.

Referenced in:
It’s All About The Pentiums – Weird Al Yankovic

1993 — Encarta is first published by Microsoft

Of all the events I’ve classified as Dateless here – meaning that, for one reason or another, no way existed to date them accurately, this is the most peculiar. But the information does not seem to be anywhere on the web – even Microsoft’s own site does not record the release date of this, the earliest version of their cd-rom encyclopaedia, Microsoft Encarta.

Encarta is in many ways a bridge between traditional encyclopaedias such as the Britannica, and internet based encylopaedias such as Wikipedia. While its editing policies and hard-coded nature are in the tradition of the Britannica, its searchability represented a massive advance, as did its use of hyperlinking between articles and the inclusion of animations or archival footage to help illustrate articles.

Referenced in:

The Big Bang Theory — Barenaked Ladies

If anyone reading this owns any copy of Encarta, I’d be curious to know whether Encarta’s entry for itself lists its original release date.