April 20

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Podcast Episode

Day in Tech History: April 20th

1951

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrates its Whirlwind machine on the “See It Now” television show, hosted by Edward R. Murrow. Jay Forrester, the project director who oversaw the system’s developments, describes the Whirlwind as a “reliable operating system,” running thirty-five hours a week at ninety percent utility using an electrostatic tube memory that stores up to 2,048 sixteen-digit words. The machine uses 4,500 vacuum tubes and 14,800 diodes, taking up a total of 3,100 square feet.

1961

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approves FM stereo broadcasting.

1977

Bill Gates and Paul Allen write a letter to Henry Edward Roberts of Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) complaining about MITS’s failure to provide accurate and timely royalty payments on 8080 BASIC, failure to sub-license and promote the product to others, and failure to maintain the non-disclosure terms with third party licensees. Microsoft threatens to terminate their exclusive licensing agreement for 8080 BASIC in ten days if the situation isn’t remedied. The company will ultimately carry out their threat in November.

1982

IBM opens its first personal computer product center store in New York City.

Timex Computer and Sinclair Research announce an agreement for Timex to market a 2KB version of the ZX81 as the Timex/Sinclair 1000 in North America. The computer includes a keyboard and hooks up to a television set. Timex expects to ship the system in July for US$99.95. It is the first personal computer to sell for less than US$100. Weight: 12 ounces

1993

Version 0.8 of NetBSD, an open source version of the Unix-derivative BSD computer operating system, is released. NetBSD is developed to focus on multi-platform support.

1994

WebCrawler, the first full text search engine, is launched. The search engine was created by Brian Pinkerton while at the University of Washington. On June 1, 1995, it will be acquired by America Online (AOL), and on April 1, 1997, it will be sold to Excite.

1995

Commodore International sells its remaining assets to ESCOM, a German-based company for an amount between US$10 to US$12.5 million. Soon after ESCOM will fall into receivership.

1996

The developers of AdeptXBBS, an OS/2 bulletin board system (BBS), announce that they will release a sixteen node freeware version and discontinue online support for the software after determining that the BBS is no longer a viable commercial product.

1998

At COMDEX, Bill Gates gives a public demonstration of Windows 98, during which his assistant, Chris Capossela, crashes the operating system while connecting a scanner to the computer in an attempt to demonstrate the system’s support for Plug and Play devices. Gates’ response to the incident is to quip, “That must be why we’re not shipping Windows 98 yet.”

1999

The Iomega Corporation announces an agreement to integrate an Iomega Zip 100 Megabyte drive into the Sega Dreamcast video game system.

2000

Compaq announces an alliance with Sears Roebuck and Company to offer the Presario line of personal computers in 860 Sears stores in the US. The deal includes a number of models configured for exclusive distribution through Sears.

2001

Dell computers becomes the largest personal computer manufacturer. Visit the official Dell website.

Napster announces an agreement to license fingerprinting technology that may help thwart users’ ongoing attempts to distribute copyrighted material (usually mp3 formatted music) by renaming files.

2005

Version 4.0 of the Scientific Linux, also known as Beryllium, is released.

2006

An attempt to raise the orbit of the International Space Station is canceled when a rocket engine fails to reach its correct configuration.

Version 5 of MetaBB phpBB forum is released.

2009

Oracle anounces they will buy Sun in a $7.4 billion deal. That includes Sun common stock for $9.50 / share. Acquisition would be finalized on January 27, 2010 Oracle would acquire servers, storage, SPARC processors, the Solaris operating system, Java, and the MySQL database.

OLPC drops AMD Geode chips in choice of the C7-M

Pirate Bay files an appeal to the recent guilty verdict.

Symantec acquires Mi5, a Web security appliance in an all-cash transaction. They also announced 2 security suites. Symantec Protection Suite Small Business Edition and the Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition.

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