It’s not entirely clear to me that March 17 is the actual birthday of the so-called “Black Box”, but who am I to argue with Wired’s This Day in Tech? According to them, the idea for the flight data recorder was born in 1953 by an Australian named David Warren. The first prototype was complete in 1957, and within a couple of years became a standard feature on all commercial airplanes.
Wikipedia has more information, with details on Black Boxes, flight recorders, and flight data recorders. Wikipedia also cites a couple of Frenchmen, Messieurs François Hussenot and Paul Beaudouin, with the first flight data recorder almost two decades earlier. The French design used photographic recording of data, so that no special playback equipment was required.
I suspect you’re about to embark on the same wikiwalk as I’ve just completed. Enjoy wave-particle duality on your way to first-order logic and quasitransitive relations. I gave up at welfare economics. Maybe you’ll get farther!
Also, happy birthday to William Gibson!