Computer Nerd Event, Game Nerd Event

Garry Kasparov beats the Deep Blue supercomputer in chess on February 17, 1996

Deep Blue was a chess-playing computer developed by IBM. On May 11, 1997, the machine, with human intervention between games, won the second six-game match against world champion Garry Kasparov by two wins to one with three draws. Kasparov accused IBM of cheating and demanded a rematch, but IBM refused and dismantled Deep Blue. Kasparov had beaten a previous version of Deep Blue in 1996. On February 10, 1996, Deep Blue became the first machine to win a chess game against a reigning world champion (Garry Kasparov) under regular time controls. However, Kasparov won three and drew two of the following five games, beating Deep Blue by a score of 4–2 (wins count 1 point, draws count ½ point). The match concluded on February 17, 1996. Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded (unofficially nicknamed “Deeper Blue”) and played Kasparov again in May 1997, winning the six-game rematch 3½–2½, ending on May 11. Deep Blue won the deciding game six after Kasparov made a mistake in the opening, becoming the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls.

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Actor Nerd, Science Fiction Nerd, Television Nerd, Writer Nerd

LeVar Burton (American actor, director, producer and, author) was born on February 16, 1957

Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr., professionally known as LeVar Burton, is an American actor, director, producer and, author. Burton first came to prominence portraying Kunta Kinte in the 1977 award-winning ABC television miniseries Roots, based on the novel by Alex Haley. He is also well known for his role as Lt. Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as the host of the PBS children’s program Reading Rainbow. In 1986, Gene Roddenberry approached him with the role of the then Lieutenant Junior Grade Geordi La Forge in the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series. La Forge is blind, but is granted “sight” through the use of a prosthetic device called a VISOR, which is worn over his eyes. La Forge is the USS Enterprise’s helmsman, and as of the show’s second season, its Chief Engineer. At the time, Burton was considerably better known than Patrick Stewart in the United States, due to the fame he gained from starring in Roots. The Associated Press stated that Burton’s role was essentially the “new Spock.”

Animation Nerd, Artist Nerd, Comedy Nerd, Director Nerd

Matt Groening (American cartoonist and screenwriter) was born on February 15, 1954

Matthew Abram “Matt” Groening is an American cartoonist, screenwriter and producer. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell as well as two successful television series, The Simpsons and Futurama. Groening made his first professional cartoon sale of Life in Hell to the avant-garde Wet magazine in 1978. The cartoon is still carried in 250 weekly newspapers. Life in Hell caught the attention of James L. Brooks. In 1985, Brooks contacted Groening with the proposition of working in animation for the Fox variety show The Tracey Ullman Show. Originally, Brooks wanted Groening to adapt his Life in Hell characters for the show. Fearing the loss of ownership rights, Groening decided to create something new and came up with a cartoon family, The Simpsons, and named the members after his own parents and sisters — while Bart was an anagram of the word brat. The shorts would be spun off into their own series: The Simpsons, which has since aired over 450 episodes. In 1997, Groening, along with former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen, developed Futurama, an animated series about life in the year 3000, which premiered in 1999. After four years on the air, the show was canceled by Fox in 2003, but Comedy Central commissioned 16 new episodes from four direct-to-DVD movies in 2008. Then, in June 2009, Comedy Central ordered 26 new episodes of Futurama, to be aired over two seasons. Groening has won 11 Primetime Emmy Awards, ten for The Simpsons and one for Futurama as well as a British Comedy Award for “outstanding contribution to comedy” in 2004. In 2002, he won the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for his work on Life in Hell.

Actor Nerd, Comedy Nerd, Writer Nerd

Teller (American magician, illusionist, comedian, and writer) was born on February 14, 1948

Teller (born Raymond Joseph Teller) is an American magician, illusionist, comedian, writer, and the frequently silent half of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller, along with Penn Jillette. He legally changed his name from “Raymond Joseph Teller” to just “Teller”. He is an atheist, debunker, skeptic, and Fellow of the Cato Institute (a libertarian think-tank organization which also lists his partner Penn Jillette as a Fellow). The Cato Institute Association is featured prominently in the Penn and Teller Showtime TV series B*llsh*t!. Teller is a coauthor of the Nature Reviews Neuroscience paper “Attention and awareness in stage magic: turning tricks into research” from the November 2008 issue. In 2010, Teller wrote Play Dead, a “throwback to the spook shows of the 1930s and ’40s” that ran September 12–24 in Las Vegas before opening Off Broadway in New York. The show stars sideshow performer and magician Todd Robbins.

Actor Nerd, Comedy Nerd, Music Nerd, Writer Nerd

Henry Rollins (American musician, writer, actor, spoken word artist, and activist) was born on February 13, 1961

Henry Rollins is an American spoken word artist, musician, writer, journalist, comedian, publisher, actor, radio DJ, and activist. After performing for the short-lived Washington D.C.-based band State of Alert in 1980, Rollins fronted the California hardcore punk band Black Flag from August 1981 until mid-1986. Following the band’s breakup, Rollins established the record label and publishing company 2.13.61 to release his spoken word albums, as well as forming the Rollins Band, which toured with a number of lineups from 1987 until 2003, and during 2006. Since Black Flag disbanded, Rollins has hosted numerous radio shows, such as Harmony in My Head on Indie 103, and television shows such as The Henry Rollins Show, MTV’s 120 Minutes, and Jackass. He had a recurring dramatic role in the second season of Sons of Anarchy and has also had roles in several films. Rollins has also campaigned for various political causes in the United States, including promoting LGBT rights, World Hunger Relief, and an end to war in particular, and tours overseas with the United Service Organizations to entertain American troops.

Computer Nerd, Game Nerd

Cliff Bleszinski (game development design director) was born on February 12, 1975

Clifford Michael “The Real Cliff” Bleszinski is the design director for the game development company Epic Games in Cary, North Carolina. He is most famous for his continuing hand in the development of the Unreal franchise, especially 1999’s Unreal Tournament, and the Gears of War franchise. He cites Shigeru Miyamoto as his biggest influence. On his website, Bleszinski often shares his thoughts and feelings on the world, American culture, gaming, and life in general. He is occasionally cited for his charitable nature like helping fans get jobs in the industry. Bleszinski also lists his interests on his 1UP.com page, citing Donnie Darko and 21 Grams amongst his favorite films, with Choke and Stupid White Men as some of his favorite books. Bleszinski’s first game was The Palace of Deceit: Dragon’s Plight, a 1991 pixel-hunting adventure game for Windows. He is also known for the games Dare to Dream and Jazz Jackrabbit. In 2006, he served as lead game designer on the game Gears of War for the Xbox 360. Bleszinski will be an executive producer on the upcoming Gears of War movie.

Computer Nerd, Science Nerd, Technology Nerd

Richard Mastracchio (American engineer and NASA astronaut) was born on February 11, 1960

Richard Alan “Rick” Mastracchio is an American engineer and a NASA astronaut. He has flown on three NASA Space Shuttle missions as a mission specialist. Mastracchio is currently assigned as the Flight Engineer on the Soyuz TMA-11M/Expedition 38/Expedition 39 long duration spaceflight scheduled for 2013-2014. Richard Mastracchio was born in Waterbury, Connecticut and graduated from Crosby High School in 1978. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering/computer science from the University of Connecticut in 1982, a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1987, and a Master of Science degree in physical science from the University of Houston–Clear Lake in 1991. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Mastracchio worked for Hamilton Standard in Connecticut as an engineer in the system design group from 1982 until 1987. During that time, he participated in the development of high performance, inertial measurement units and flight control computers.