June 4

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Podcast Episode

Day in Tech History: June 4th

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780 BC

The first total solar eclipse reliably recorded by Chinese scholars is observed.


The first road test of the first Ford car is delayed an hour because the car is wider than the door of the shed in which Henry Ford built it. With an ax, he rips out the door frame. He then makes a successful first test run with his car on a nighttime drive through the streets of Detroit. This self-propelled vehicle, the Quadricycle, has four wire wheels that looked like heavy bicycle wheels and is steered with a tiller like a boat. It runs forward in two speeds but won’t run in reverse. Although Ford isn’t the first to build a self-propelled vehicle with a gasoline engine, he will become an important automotive pioneers when he conceives the assembly line.


The very first Pulitzer Prizes are awarded: Laura E. Richards, Maude H. Elliott, and Florence Hall receive the first Pulitzer for a biography for Julia Ward Howe. Jean Jules Jusserand receives the first Pulitzer for history for his work With Americans of Past and Present Days. Herbert B. Swope receives the first Pulitzer for journalism for his work, New York World.


George Eastman demonstrates the first Technicolor movie in Rochester, New York.


Robert Patch, age six, receives a US patent for a “Toy Truck.” (No. 3,091,888) The toy can be disassembled into axles, cargo cab, chassis, driver’s cab, and wheels, then reassembled into a van or dump truck. The axles attach the cab and body to the chassis and act as a hinge for the dump truck’s bed.


Dr. Robert Dennard of the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center is granted a patent for a one-transistor Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) cell and the basic idea behind the three-transistor cell. (US No. 3,387,286)


A patent for the first successful modern Automated teller machine (ATM) is granted to Don Wetzel, Tom Barnes, and George Chastain of Docutel. It took five million dollars to develop the ATM. The modern ATM was conceived in 1968 and a working prototype was developed in 1969. The first working ATM will be installed in a New York branch of Chemical Bank. Luther George Simjian patented the first-ever ATM in 1939, however, it was a commercial failure.


The VHS videocassette format is introduced to America under the name Vidstar at a press show the day before the Consumer Electronics Show starts in Chicago.


Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan Paramount Pictures releases the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (ST2:TWOK or TWOK), directed by Nicholas Meyer starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, and Walter Koenig, to 1,621 US theaters. This will widely be regarded by fans as the best film in the Star Trek film franchise, and it is the first in a three film story arc that will conclude with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The movie becomes known for Industrial Light and Magic’s (ILM) first completely computer-generated scene, in which the “Genesis sequence” brings life to Ceti Alpha VI. Produced on a budget of US$11 million, the film will gross US$14,347,221 in its opening weekend.


Virtusonics Corporation begins shipping Virtuoso multimedia software for the Atari 800 XL, 65 XE, and 130 XE computers. Price: US$49.95


Nintendo introduces the Game Boy, a portable hand-held video game system with a monochrome display. The system comes bundled with Tetris. Price: US$89.95

Atari introduces the Portable Entertainment System hand-held video game system with a color display. Price: US$149.95


US and Japanese officials announce a pact governing the the two nations’ microprocessor trade. The pact attempts to deal with intense competition between American and Japanese chip manufacturers by calling for sales of foreign semiconductors to reach twenty percent in the Japanese market within a year. US President Ronald Reagan formerly imposed sanctions on Japan in 1986 after finding that Japan had failed to allow an increase the United States’ share of the Japanese semiconductor market.


Packard Bell Electronics and NEC announce plans to merge their personal computer operations to form the world’s fourth largest personal computer manufacturer. The deal does not include NEC’s Japanese personal computer operations. The US$300 million package becomes known as Packard Bell NEC and will be directed by Beny Alagem, Packard Bell’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Analysts predict the new conglomerate will significantly increase efficiency by consolidating their operations. The acquisition is expected to be completed by July 1.


Electronic Arts Electronics Arts announces plans to acquire Maxis Software for US$125 million in stock.


Global Crossing announces plans for Africa ONE (Africa Optical NEtwork), a 39,000km fiber optic cable system, worth US$1.6 billion, encompassing Africa with fiber-optic lines with forty-one landing points in African countries in addition to Saudi Arabia, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. The latter landing points will be connected to the rest of the world via intercontinental cables. The network will be completed in 2002.

Loni Reeder, personal agent for Atari’s founder Nolan Bushnell, sends a brief e-mail to select recipients including show attendees, vendors, and members of the press: “Due to questionable actions on the part of one of the organizers of “Classic Gaming Expo 99,” Nolan Bushnell will no longer be participating in, nor endorsing this year’s event (scheduled to take place August 14th and 15th at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas).”


The domain name Internet.com is hijacked when someone illegally transfers ownership on several of its domain addresses. It is immediately unclear whether Internet.com or Network Solutions has been hacked.


NEC Corporation releases the MobilePro 790 handheld computer, featuring a 8.1-inch touch-screen display, a 168 MHz MIPS processor, 16MB flash memory, the Windows CE 3.0 operating system, a 56kbps v.90 modem, and a CompactFlash slot. Price: US$899 Weight: 1.8 pounds

Pitney Bowes, Inc. and HP announce that HP will pay US$400 million to Pitney Bowes to settle a patent infringement suit related to laser printer technology.


The Bugbear worm, an Internet worm with a Trojan horse that attempts to steal your passwords and credit card information, is released. The worm is disseminated via e-mail.

The boards of directors of Palm, Inc., a personal digital assistant manufacturer headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, and Handspring, Inc. announce that they have each unanimously approved a definitive agreement for Palm to acquire its rival, Handspring, in a stock deal. The transaction will grant Handspring stockholders 0.09 of a share of Palm and no shares of PalmSource for each share of Handspring common stock.


Streamcast Networks releases a completely redesigned version of the filesharing client Morpheus, version 5.0, in an attempt to regain its waning userbase. This version is able to connect to the Gnutella, Gnutella2, and NEO Networks. This version is also free of the numerous pieces of junkware that came bundled with earlier versions.


Apple announces that they will start shipping iPhones to Japan.

YouTube adds the Annotation tool


Intel acquires Wind River, an embedded chip software company, at $11.50 per share, or $884 million

Google debuts Chrome Browser for Mac and Linux OS.


IBM agrees to purchase cloud computing firm SoftLayer Technologies for $2 billion


Donald Sterling agrees to sell the LA Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

AMD released Kaveri APU mobile chips for thin and light laptops.

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