October 19

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Podcast Episode

Day in Tech History: October 19th

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The first company to manufacture internal combustion engines is founded.


The National Bureau of Standards authorizes the construction of its Standards Western Automatic Computer (SWAC). The machine, which will be built at the Institute for Numerical Analysis in Los Angeles, and it will be one of the earliest electronic digital computers.


All US color television receiver production is halted and banned for the duration of the Korean War.


A US Federal Judge declares the ENIAC patent invalid and belatedly credits physicist John Atanasoff with developing the first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff- Berry Computer (ABC), following a lengthy court trial. Built at Iowa State University by Atanadoff and a graduate student, Clifford Berry, the ABC introduces the ideas of binary arithmetic, regenerative memory, and logic circuits. These ideas were then later used in the design of the better-known, more publicized ENIAC, which was built and patented several years later.


The Digital Equipment Corporation announces its entry into the personal computer field, with attachments for their VT-100 terminals, a card with an 8-bit microprocessor, two floppy disk drives, and 64KB RAM. The system will run the CP/M operating system and cost about US$2,400.


The first Blockbuster Video store opens in Dallas, Texas. The company is founded by David P. Cook, age 29.


Infocom releases the interactive fiction game Zork Zero for the Macintosh. It is a prequel to the Zork series of games, which began with Zork I. It is Infocom’s thirty-second game.


Quantum Link (Q-Link) for Commodore 64 and Commodore 128 personal computers becomes America Online for Apple II and Mac computers as a bulletin board system (BBS). The service includes online games, graphical chat rooms, and e-mails. The service’s graphical interface is superior to those of its competitors, Compuserve and The Source, and will rapidly increase in popularity.


The RSA Data Security RC5 56-bit encryption key is cracked by team “Bovine RC5 Effort”. The code, which the strongest encryption allowed by U.S. law for export without the use of key escrow or recovery schemes, is cracked as part of a challenge issued by the company to encourage the US federal government to approve the unrestricted export of 128-bit keys. The prize awarded to the winners in US$10,000. Over four thousand teams participated in the challenge, and the Bovine RC5 Effort succeeded only after 210 days of effort. The message contained in the encryption reads, “It is time to move to a longer key length.” The cracked key challenge is the fourth of thirteen challenges presented by the company since January. The first, a 40-bit key, was cracked in three hours for a US$1,000 prize. The second, a 48-bit key, was cracked in thirteen days for a US$5,000 prize. The third, a 56-bit key, was cracked in June. “Brute force” methodologies were used to crack the first four keys. In the case of 56-bit encryption, that amounts to more than 72 quadrillion, or 72,057,594,037,927,936, possibilities, forty-seven percent of which were tried before the correct key was found.


An antitrust suit filed by the United States Justice Department and the attorney generals of twenty states against the Microsoft Corporation alleging unfair monopolistic practices begins. Government lawyers spend three hours detailing acts that allegedly demonstrate that Microsoft has attempted to illegally maintain a desktop operating system monopoly using predatory tactics to create a new monopoly for web browser software.

Bristol Technology Inc., an eighty employee Conneticut-based software firm commences their antitrust case against Microsoft Corporation in federal court. Bristol executives claim that their company is at risk because they cannot obtain the source code for Windows NT 4.0 and 5.0 which is required to complete their own projects.

RealNetworks announces an agreement to integrate its multimedia software into browsers produced by Netscape Communications Corporation.

Version 4.5 of the Netscape Communicator is released.


IBM announces that it will be discontinuing the Aptiva line of personal computers in the United States in order to focus on selling consumer computers over the Internet.


ZoneAlarm discontinues the free version of the ZoneAlarm Wireless Security because its functions were included in all paid versions of ZoneAlarm from version 6 onwards.


Flickr adds Geotagging & Photo printing options

two executives from Village Voice Media were arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, for revealing "grand jury secrets". This is just days after the House of Representatives passed the Free Flow of Information Act.


Beijing begins Net Café ID checks. Users are required to scan ID to record internet usage and reduce illegal sharing.


The LA Times reports a bug in Twitter that says protected tweets show up in Google indexing service. Turned out, the tweets were public at one time.


Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is released

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