August 14

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Podcast Episode

Day in Tech History: August 14th

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The first wireless transmission of information using Morse code is demonstrated by Oliver Lodge during a meeting of the British Association at Oxford. A message is transmitted about 150 yards (50m) from the old Clarendon Laboratory to the University Museum. He will later write in Work of Hertz and Some of his Successors, the idea didn’t occur to Lodge at the time to develop the discovery into long-distance telegraphy. “Stupidly enough, no attempt was made to apply any but the feeblest power, so as to test how far the disturbance could really be detected.”


John Atanasoff finishes a paper describing the Atanasoff Berry Computer (ABC), the world’s first electronic digital computing device which he designed with Clifford Berry to solve simultaneous linear equations. Atanasoff will only able to claim credit for the paper and title of inventor of the electronic digital computer after a long court battle that will end in 1972. The case will be initiated by a charge made by Honeywell Inc. alleging that the Sperry Rand. Corp. had enforced a fraudulent patent. It will involve lengthy testimony by Atanasoff and ENIAC inventors Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, who held the patent under dispute. A judge will rule that Atanasoff is the true inventor, invalidating the ENIAC patent.


Atari files a lawsuit against Amiga, claiming graphics chips used by Amiga were developed under contract for Atari.

IBM announces the Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA), supporting up to 640×350 resolution in sixteen colors. With 64K, the card costs US$524. For 640×350x16 mode, a US$200 64kB RAM expander is required.

IBM announces its PC Network local area network, the PC/IX for the PC/AT, based on UNIX System III from AT&T. Code-name: Ringmaster (at IBM) and Octopus (at Microsoft) Price: US$695 per computer.

IBM announces the IBM PC/AT computer, featuring a 6MHz 80286 processor, the PC-DOS 3.0 operating system, a 5.25-inch 1.2 MB floppy drive, 256 or 512kB RAM, an optional 20MB hard drive, and either a monochrome or color monitor. The XENIX operating system from Microsoft is also available. Code-name: Bigtop (at IBM) and Salmon (at Microsoft) Price: US$4000 - US$6700 IBM announces the Professional Graphics Display Monitor. The fourteen inch monitor, priced at US$1300, features a total of 4,096 possible colors (256 at any one time) and a resolution of 640×480. The Professional Graphics Controller Card requires two adjacent expansion slots in a PC The US$3,000 card features an 8mhz 8088 chip and 384KB of RAM.

Microsoft releases MS-DOS 3.0 for PCs. It adds support for 1.2 MB floppy disks, and hard disks larger than 10MB.


Rod Brock, of Seattle Computer Products, writes to Microsoft president Jon Shirley, notifying the intent to sell SCP’s royalty-free DOS license, and seeking a Microsoft buyout of SCP for US$20 million.


Hewlett-Packard introduces the HP DeskWriter 300 dpi ink jet printer for Macintosh computers. Price: US$1195 Weight: 15 pounds


Swedish Code of Statutes SFS 1990:886 is published, establishing the rules for film and video censorship under the Examination and Control of Films and Videograms Act.


Nintendo releases the Virtual Boy video game console in North America. The system comes bundled with Mario’s Dream Tennis. Other games available for the system are Galactic Pinball, Panic Bomber (only in Japan), Red Alarm, and Teleroboxer. Due to poor sales, the Virtual Boy will be discontinued in 1996, with 3D Tetris being the last game to be released on March 22, 1996. In total, only twenty-two games will be released, and only fourteen of those will be released in North American. Price: US$179.95


AMD, Inc. AMD states that they have begun shipping its 1.1 GigaHertz (GHz) processors to their major customers. AMD predicts that it will ship nearly seven million processors of all types in its present business quarter.


The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Scotland Yard announce the arrest of a man, age 24, who is allegedly responsible for a computer virus known as the “Leaves worm,” which was discovered on July 9 to plague Windows-based computer systems. The arrest, which was made in the UK, was made on July 23 but kept secret to avoid compromising the international investigation. The suspect has since been charged with “designing and propagating malicious code, known as the W32-Leave.worm into Windows-based computer systems.” Windows XP Build 2542 is released. It is the first build to require testers to use product keys. It features no visible changes from the previous release but does address several bugs.


3DO sells off its video game assets. UbiSoft pays US$1.3 million for rights and properties of the Might and Magic and Heroes of Might and Magic franchise. Namco Hometek pays US$1.5 million for Street Racing Syndicate. Microsoft pays US$450,000 for High Heat Baseball. JoWooD pays US$90,000 for Jacked. Crave Entertainment pays US$750,000 for Army Men. Former CEO Trip Hawkins pays US$405,000 for Johnny Moseley Mad Trix, various Internet patents, and various pre-2001 game titles.


In a discussion at Microsoft Gamefest, security development engineer David Weinstein warns of active organized crime on MMORPG servers. Hackers steal account information and sell them off in “black markets” both within the game atmosphere and outside of it, such as on eBay.

MP3 Rocket, a Gnutella client based on the popular LimeWire P2P program, is released.

Sony and Dell admit to major flaws in several Sony batteries that could result in the battery overheating and catching fire or even exploding. As a result they recall over 4.1 million laptop batteries in the largest computer-related recall in history. The cost of this recall is being shared between Dell and Sony. Dell also confirms that one of its laptops caught fire in Illinois. This recall will prompt Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to order the companies to investigate the troubles with the batteries. The ministry orders the companies to report on their findings and draw up a plan to prevent future problems by the end of August or face fines under Japan’s consumer safety laws.


Microsoft is increasing the storage limit for Windows Live Hotmail to 5GB

Apple would offer the entire solo catalog of John Lennon on iTunes


Apple surpasses Google in the Stock Market. Apple closed at $179.30 (a 158 bn market capitalization), and Google was at $500.03 ($157 bn mc). Microsoft and IBM are still ahead of both.

AMD and Nvidia were not happy with the new USB 3.0 standard that Intel put out. They were talking about breaking off on their own venture until this day when the disputes were resolved. They claimed that Intel was not divulging the specifications to non-Intel companies, which forced AMD and NVidia to make the statement. 55 Netflix distribution centers go offline due to an “undisclosed error”.

Nancy Heinen – a former Lawyer for Apple – settles in a 2.2 million lawsuit in which she falsified corporate documents to cover up “Stock Option Backdating”. This is a practice where stocks are dated prior to the date that the company actually granted the option.

Frank Biondi and John ChApple get approved for seats at Yahoo – this was part of the agreement with Carl Icahn for averting the Yahoo proxy battle.

Google Street View launches in Japan. It arrives with controversial pictures of questionable nature.

AOL announced they will acquire Socialthing, a newer company that aggregates social feeds. The terms were undisclosed.  


Apple supply manager Paul Shin Devine was arrested for money laundering and wire fraud. FBI and IRS found that he was receiving kickbacks from six accessory suppliers in exchange for confidential information about other clients. That would, in turn, give Apple an unfair advantage in negotiating Apple contracts.

An Intel roadmap was leaked, showing details of the new Sndy Bridge CPU. It would expand the SSD lineup with the 25nm flash process.

George Lucas announced at the Celebration V event that the Star Wars series will officially be released on Blu-ray for the 35th anniversary release of Episode IV "A New Hope" (a.k.a the first movie).


FBI cracks Western Digital encrypted drives to lead to an arrest of child pornography

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