June 21

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Podcast Episode

Day in Tech History: June 21st

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June 21th is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.


The first stored-program computer, the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) runs its first program. Written by Professor Tom Kilburn, it takes fifty-two minutes to run. The tiny experimental computer has no keyboard or printer, but it successfully tests a memory system developed at Manchester University in England. The system, based on a cathode-ray tube, can store programs. Previous electronic computers had to be rewired to execute each new problem. The Manchester computer proves theories set forth by John von Neumann in a report that proposes modifications to ENIAC, the electronic computer built at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-forties- the same report that proposes the use of a binary rather than digital system.


The first practical plant for the conversion of seawater to drinking water is dedicated when President John Kennedy pressed a switch installed in his office in Washington D.C. It was built in less than a year at a cost of US$1.5 million in Freeport, Texas by the Dow Chemical Co. The plant is capable of producing about a million gallons of water a day, supplying fresh water to the city of Freeport at a cost of about US$1.25 per thousand gallons. The plant was opened 8 May 1961, by the US Department of the Interior’s Office of Saline Water. The large-scale evaporation method used will later be replaced by reverse osmosis as scientific advances produced special polymers suitable for use as filtering membranes.


IBM retires its last IBM 7030 “Stretch” mainframe, part of the 7000 series that were the company’s first transistorized computers. These top of the line of computers, all of which emerged significantly faster and more dependable than vacuum tube machines, featured a 64-bit word architecture and other innovations. In fact, L.R. Johnson first applied the term “architecture” to computers in describing the Stretch.


Microsoft representatives meet with Netscape Communications representatives, requesting that Netscape not compete with Microsoft in the Web browser market. Microsoft offers to invest in Netscape and in exchange for a seat on the board of directors. Jim Clark refuses, and calls lawyer Gary Reback, who then contacts Joel Klein, lawyer in the antitrust division of the Department of Justice.


Microsoft releases Microsoft Outlook 98.


Compaq Computer launches new Presario 5000 and 7000 desktop computers and Presario 1400 and 1700 portable computers, available with case insets in several colors including: amber orange, amethyst purple, emerald green, ruby red, sapphire blue, and smokey quartz.

StarOfficeSun Microsystems releases version 5.2 of the StarOffice free and open source office software suite for Windows, Linux, and Solaris. The suite includes: the StarWriter word processor, the StarCalc spreadsheet, the StarImpress presentation software, the StarDraw drawing tool, the StarBase database, and the Star Math formula generator.


Mac OS X version 10.0.4 is released.


SpaceShipOne becomes the first privately funded vessel to achieve spaceflight, and Mike Melvill becomes the first civilian to pilot a craft into space. By being carried to an altitude of 46,000 feet (13.8 km) by its launcher, the White Knight, SpaceShipOne is able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere in a sub-orbital space flight at an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles).


Cosmos 1, the world’s first solar sail spacecraft is launched into orbit aboard a Volna rocket fired from a Russian submarine submerged in the Barents Sea. A 825 km quasi-polar orbit was intended for the 112 kg Cosmos-1 spacecraft with an eight-petaled solar sail consisting of 650 square meters of a thin aluminum alloy coated film. The non-profit Planetary Society financed the four million dollar project, which constructed the spacecraft in Russia at the Lavochkin Association and the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy. It was designed for experiments in controlled flight while in orbit, achieved by rotating each sail to change its pitch, to test the feasibility of the propulsion provided by the impact of photons from the Sun. However, a rocket failure83 seconds after launch prevents it from reaching its intended orbit.


Congress calls for robot caucus to discuss how robots could be used in everyday tasks without getting all “Terminator” on us.

Nuance buys the T9 for $265 Million. T9 predictive-text input system that's installed in almost every cellphone.

Ralph Lauren unveils "touch-sensitive window shopping" in London


Apple released Final Cut Pro X to negative reviews. Since this is a 64 bit program that you purchase through the Mac App store, there were a lot of incompatibilities with the 32-bit FCP 7 version.


Nest - an acquired company by Google - acquired Dropcam for $555 million.

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