December 16

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Podcast Episode

Day in Tech History: Dec 16th

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Prev: December 15 - Next: December 17 - Full Catalog list at Day in Technology History Project .


Albert Einstein publishes the definitive form of the General Theory of Relativity.


The use of eye prints, the pattern of retina capillaries, photographed through the pupil with a Zeiss retinal camera for identification is published in an article in Time magazine by Dr. Carleton Simon, a psychiatrist and criminologist, upon the suggestion of Dr. Isadore Goldstein, an ophthalmologist at Mount Sinai Hospital. Simon and Goldstein published a paper on the method in the September 1935 issue of the New York State Journal of Medicine.


William B. Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain of Bell Laboratories patent the point-contact transistor, the first solid-state electronic transistor, and demonstrate it to a small audience.


The first synthetic diamonds are produced at General Electric Research Laboratories by Professor H. Tracy Hall.


The IBM Data Processing Division (DPD) announces MATLAN, a computer application to aid scientists and engineers in solving large matrix problems.


IMSAI 8080IMS Associates of San Leandro, California begins shipping IMSAI 8080 computer kits, one of the first consumer computers, to customers. Approximately twenty thousand units will be sold at a price of US$931 assembled or US$599 as a kit. The system features a 2.0 MHz Intel 8080A chipset, a maximum of 64K of RAM, and an optional cassette or floppy drive.


Microsoft agrees to buy back seven licensing agreements from Seattle Computer Products (SCP) for US $925,000, in an out-of-court settlement. SCP has sought US$60 million in damages.


Kevin Mitnick, age 25, is charged with stealing US$1 million in software from DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation), including VMS and XSafe source code, causing US$4 million in damages to the system, and gaining unauthorized access to MCI long-distance codes through university computers in Los Angeles and England. The Magistrate takes the unusual step of ordering Mitnic held without bail. The prosecutor says in a statement to the press that, This thing is so massive, we’re just running around trying to figure out what he did. [..] This person, we believe, is very, very dangerous, and he needs to be detained and kept away from a computer. Federal prosecutors also obtain a court order restricting Mitnick’s telephone calls from jail, fearing he might gain access to a computer over the phone. The case is the first in the nation to be prosecuted under a federal law that makes it a crime to gain access to an interstate computer network for criminal purposes.


CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) receives funding for the Large Hadron Collider and the CERN Council unanimously approves its construction. Due to budgetary constraints, CERN also decides to discontinue the development of the World Wide Web in favor of particle physics. CERN consequently transfers the WebCore project to the French organization INRIA (the Institut National pour la Recherche en Informatique et Automatique.)


Microsoft releases Visual FoxPro 3 for Windows.


Adobe Systems releases PageMaker 6.5 for Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0. Price: US$895 (New) or US$99 (Upgrade)

IBM and Motorola announce that they will cease the development and sales of Windows NT-based PowerPC systems.

Intel announces the development of a supercomputer that can attain computing speeds of up to one trillion operations per second with 9,624 integrated Pentium processors operating in parallel. Commissioned by the US Department of Energy at a cost of US$50 million, the supercomputer will be used at the Sandia National Laboratories to simulate nuclear weapons’ performance and to predict weather patterns and other natural phenomena. Department officials compare one trillion operations to the entire population of the United States working with hand held calculators non-stop for one hundred twenty five years.


Microsoft files an appeal of the preliminary injunction issued by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson on Thursday, December 11. The injunction requires the company to unbundle the Internet Explorer web browser from Windows operating systems.

US President Bill Clinton signs the No Electronic Theft Act into law (Public Law 105-147), making it a criminal act to trade a copyrighted work with a friend or to reproduce or distribute copyrighted works with a total retail value of more than US$1,000 inside any 180-day period. The statue of limitations for prosecuting copyright violations is extended to five years. Senator Orrin Hatch publicly declares that this bill plugs the ‘LaMacchia Loophole‘ in criminal copyright enforcement. The LaMacchia Loophole refers to the failed prosecution of MIT student David LaMacchia due to LaMacchia’s lack of commercial motive.

The website of the Huntington National Bank is hacked and defaced by so1o, helix, xFli , and modeX, who call themselves Team CodeZero.


Iomega begins shipping Clik removable storage drives.

The United States missile defense system, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), completes the first phase of extensive computer upgrades at the Cheyenne Mountain underground bunker. The improvements cost nearly two billion dollars, about twice the original budget of the system.


Pepper Computer, Inc. releases the Pepper Pad, a mobile computer with Internet capability that doubles as a handheld game console, in the US. It features a 533MHz AMD Geode LX800 CPU, 256MB RAM, a 20 or 30GB hard disk, a SD/MMC Flash memory slot, a WVGA 7 inch LCD touchscreen, and both Bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Version 0.5 of Desktop Light Linux (DeLi Linux) is released. DeLi is particularly optimized to run on older personal computers. DeLi Linux requires only a 386 processor with 8MB RAM. However, it works best with a 486 and 16MB RAM. A full installation with the full package installed requires nearly 400MB of hard disk space.


Apple sells its two hundred millionth song on the iTunes Music Store to Ryan Alekman of Belchertown, Massachusetts. The download is a part of The Complete U2 album.

Microsoft acquires GIANT Company Software, Inc., the developer of GIANT AntiSpyware.

Symantec and Veritas Software announce plans for a merger. The US$13.5 billion purchase of Veritas will be the largest acquisition in the software industry in history.


Google released a version of Gmail for mobile devices.


Conde Nast closes the teen site

The Palm Free App store is released. It is a store for all Palm phones running Windows Mobile and Palm OS.

Because of his health, Steve Jobs backs out of 2009 MacWorld, and also announces that after 2009, Apple will not returning to MacWorld for 2010.

Google Maps adds YouTube to it.

Legal Experts tell people that they could possibly get served via Facebook. They also warn people that if you say it on your Facebook message, it might get subpoenaed. This was mentioned after a court in Australia used Facebook to send out a court order.


Microsoft Hotmail updates to interact contents of HTML email. With the update, you could surf inside email.

Yahoo! announced it will be shutting down websites Yahoo! Buzz,, Yahoo! Picks, AltaVista, Delicious, MyBlogLog. A day after the announcement (and public outcry), Yahoo! amended this statement by saying Delicious was actually for sale. Yahoo! also announced a series of re-organizations of products such as Fire Eagle (geo-location service) and Upcoming (event listing).


Zynga (ZNGA) files their IPO. Trading started at $10 a share. It rose to $11.50 but dropped down to $9.50 a share.

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