May 21

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Day in Tech History: May 21st

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Prev: May 20 - Next: May 22 - Full Catalog list at Day in Technology History Project

1952

IBM announces the IBM 701, also known as the Defense Calculator, in a move intended to emphasizes the company’s commitment to innovation in the field of electronic computing. The IBM 701 is the company’s first computer designed for scientific computations. It has an electrostatic storage tube memory and stores information on magnetic tape. The company will eventually sell nineteen of the machines to the government, large companies, and universities for complex research. Visit the official IBM website.

1956

In the Pacific Ocean, Bikini Atoll is all but obliterated by the first airborne detonation of a hydrogen bomb.

1961

US President John F. Kennedy commits the country to “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth before this decade is out.”

1962

A British patent application entitled “A Computer Arranged for the Automatic Solution of Linear Programming Problems” is filed. The invention is concerned with efficient memory management for the simplex algorithm with only software. It is one of the very earliest software patents.

1980

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, directed by Irvin Kershner and starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher, is released to 126 theaters. This sequel to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is set three years after the destruction of the Death Star. In it, Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance are being pursued by Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire. While Han and Leia are chased across space, Luke goes to study the way of the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. However, Vader is one step ahead of Solo, and secretly plotting a trap for Skywalker that will conclude in a one-on-one battle and a shocking revelation. Produced on a budget of US$18 million, it will gross US$4,910,483 domestically in its opening weekend. MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 2 hrs 9 mins

1984

Atari announces the Atari 7800 video game system. The system offers superior graphics and game play for new enhanced games. The system could handle virtually all existing Atari 2600-compatible games without an adapter. The new features are made possible by the 4K Maria chip. It gives the system power to move up to one hundred objects simultaneously on the screen and provide up to 256 color hues. Additional features promised by Atari include an optional US$100 keyboard, a high score cartridge and a modem cartridge. Price: US$149

Atari officially discontinues the Atari 5200 video game system. The 5200 was created to compete with the Mattel Intellivision, but ended up more directly competing with the Colecovision shortly after its release. A number of design flaws had a serious impact on usability, and the system is generally considered a failure.

1987

Atari Corporation announces a two-for-one stock split at the company’s annual meeting in Santa Clara, California. Jack Tramiel explains that the stock will be payable on June 19 to those who hold stock as of June 2.

1998

AOL completes the acquisition of MovieFone, Inc. in a US$525 million stock deal. Moviefone is the United States’ most popular movie listing and information service, where moviegoers can obtain advance tickets, film reviews, local showtimes, and theater information by dialing a local telephone number or visiting the Moviephone website. Visit the current official Moviefone website.

AOL and Eastman Kodak jointly announce plans to offer American Online subscribers the ability to have photograms delivered in digital form to their e-mail mailbox.

The United States Postal Service publicly refutes an email hoax spreading virally across the Internet that claims that a Congressman Schnell has introduced “Bill 602P,” which would allow the federal government to impose a five-cent surchange on email to defray the financial losses the the US Postal Service has suffered since the advent of the Internet. The Postal Service warns that the report is a hoax and there is no real Congressman Schnell. Read the original hoax email.

2001

Apple Computer, Inc. begins shipping computers equipped with its new operating system, OS X.

Apple Computer releases the Mac OS X Server, a version of their server operating system based on Mac OS X v10.0. The system is a Unix-like operating system based on technology that Apple acquired from NeXT Computer.

Attrition.org, an information security website updated by an all-volunteer staff, announces that it has ceased the process of tracking online vandalism because its staff simply cannot keep up with the number of incidents. The organization has been tracking the incidents of online graffiti for five years. Reportedly, over one hundred defacements occurred on each of several days in April. Each of those day’s vandalisms totaled more than three times the total number of recorded vandalisms in 1995 and 1996 combined.

Intel introduces the 600 and 800MHz mobile Celeron processors.

Intel announces the 600MHz mobile Pentium III processor. The 1.1-volt processor can step down to 300MHz at 0.975 volts when running on battery power.

Intel announces the 750MHz mobile Pentium III processor. The 1.35-volt processor can step down to 500MHz at 1.1 volts when running on battery power.

Intel introduces the Xeon i860 processors, designed to support dual Pentium 4 sets. The Xeon, available in 1.4, 1.5, 1.7GHz speeds, features a Level-2 cache, a System Bus Speed of 400MHz, and SSE2 SIMD Extensions.

2002

Max Butler, also known as “Max Vision” and “The Equalizer” is sentenced to eighteen months in prison for launching an Internet worm that crawled through hundreds of military and defense contractors’ computers over a few days in 1998. Max Butler also lived three lives for five years. As “Max Vision”, he was an incredibly skilled hacker and security expert who boasted that he’d never met a computer system he couldn’t crack. As “The Equalizer”, he was an FBI informant, reporting on the activities of other hackers. As Max Butler, he was a family man in Santa Clara, California who ran a Silicon Valley security firm. At Max Vision Network Security, he specialized in running “penetration tests,” attempting to break into corporate networks to test their security.

Two Kazakhstan citizens, Oleg Zezov and Igor Yarimaka, accused of breaking into the computer system of Bloomberg L.P. in Manhattan, New York from computers located in Almaty, Kazakhstan are extradited from England to the United States. The two hackers allegedly sent a number of emails to the company’s founder, Michael Bloomberg, using the alias “Alex,” demanding that Bloomberg pay US$200,000 in exchange for an explanation of how Alex was able to infiltrate Bloomberg’s computer system.

2003

Intel releases the 2.4, 2.6, and 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processors with 800MHz front-side buses. Price: US$180, US$228, and US$278 respectively

Software developer Caldera International officially changes its name to SCO in order to reflect the change in the focus of its business to UNIX development, following the acquisition of the Server Software and Services divisions of Santa Cruz Operation.

2004

The first release of the Minislack operating system, version 0.1, first becomes available to the public under a GPL license. Later known as Zenwalk Linux, the system is a Slackware-based Linux distribution founded by Jean-Philippe Guillemin. Minislack focuses on internet, multimedia, and programming applications. Visit the official Zenwalk website.

Virtual Battlespace One (VBS1) is refined and improved and released to the public release. VBS1 is an interactive, 3D training system. With it, team members may practice small unit tactics. Photo-realistic terrain, user-definable mission scenarios, customized vehicles and equipment, and variable environmental conditions enhance the team training experience. After using the system, a review assists the training facilitator in assessing the team’s performance and in aiding process improvement. Previously, the product was only released to military and law enforcement organizations. The release occurred primarily to increase awareness of the product and to foster a user community. Exclusive distribution rights for VBS1 are given to Coalescent Technologies in North America, while Bohemia Interactive Australia (BIA) distributes the software to the rest of the world via their website.

Version 1.41 of Z-Net is released. Z-Net is an mIRC script created by DarkAkuma that allows users to play SNES games online with others. Z-Net uses the immensely popular SNES emulator, ZSNES to run the games.

2009

The FBI and US Marshals Service were hit with a virus that forced them to shut down part of their systems.

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