4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

Computer / Digital / Internet Culture Timeline

Theme

1300 – 1400

Logical Machines for the Production of Knowledge 1305

A portrait of Ramon Llull. (View Larger)

Around 1305 Majorcan writer and philosopher Ramon Llull (Lull) published in his Ars generalis ultima or Ars magna  (the "The Ultimate General Art") a method of combining religious and philosophical attributes selected from a number of lists, which he invented about 1275. It is believed that Llull's inspiration for the Ars magna came from observing Arab astrologers using a mechanical device called a zairja to calculate ideas.

Llull's method

"was intended as a debating tool for winning Muslims to the Christian faith through logic and reason. Through his detailed analytical efforts, Llull built an in-depth theological reference by which a reader could enter in an argument or question about the Christian faith. The reader would then turn to the appropriate index and page to find the correct answer.

"Llull also invented numerous 'machines' for the purpose. One method is now called the Lullian Circle, each of which consisted of two or more paper discs inscribed with alphabetical letters or symbols that referred to lists of attributes. The discs could be rotated individually to generate a large number of combinations of ideas. A number of terms, or symbols relating to those terms, were laid around the full circumference of the circle. They were then repeated on an inner circle which could be rotated. These combinations were said to show all possible truth about the subject of the circle. Llull based this on the notion that there were a limited number of basic, undeniable truths in all fields of knowledge, and that we could understand everything about these fields of knowledge by studying combinations of these elemental truths.

"The method was an early attempt to use logical means to produce knowledge. Llull hoped to show that Christian doctrines could be obtained artificially from a fixed set of preliminary ideas. For example, one of the tables listed the attributes of God: goodness, greatness, eternity, power, wisdom, will , virtue, truth and glory. Llull knew that all believers in the monotheistic religions - whether Jews, Muslims or Christians - would agree with these attributes, giving him a firm platform from which to argue.

"The idea was developed further by Giordano Bruno in the 16th century, and by Gottfried Leibniz in the 17th century for investigations into the philosophy of science.

"Leibniz gave Llull's idea the name ars combinatoria, by which it is now often known. Some computer scientists have adopted Llull as a sort of founding father, claiming that his system of logic was the beginning of information science" (Wikipedia article on Ramon Llull, accessed 04-02-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1700 – 1750

Jonathan Swift Creates a Fictional Device that Resembles a Modern Computer 1726

In Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift describes a fictional device called The Engine, which generates permutations of word sets. It is possibly the earliest literary reference to a fictional device resembling aspects of a modern computer.  Though Swift does not reference the medieval Ars generalis ultima (Ars magna) of the Spanish philosopher Ramon Llull (Lull), called by Leibniz, the ars combinatoria in Leibnitz's De arte combinatoria, the passage is considered a parody of Llull's method.

Swift wrote:

“... Every one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study.” He then led me to the frame, about the sides, whereof all his pupils stood in ranks. It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of the room. The superfices was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language, in their several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order. The professor then desired me “to observe; for he was going to set his engine at work.” The pupils, at his command, took each of them hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole disposition of the words was entirely changed. He then commanded six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to the four remaining boys, who were scribes. This work was repeated three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square bits of wood moved upside down."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1800 – 1850

The First Published Computer Programs, Translated and Augmented by Lord Byron's Daughter October 1843

In October 1843, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, translated Menabrea’s paper, "Notions sur la machine analytique de M. Charles Babbage" (1842).  Her "Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage . . . with Notes by the Translator" published in Scientific Memoirs, Selected from the Transactions of Foreign Academies of Science and Learned Societies 3 (1843): 666-731 plus 1 folding chart, was the first edition in English of the the first published account of Babbage’s Analytical Engine, and, more significantly, of its logical design.

In 1840 Babbage traveled to Torino to present to a group of Italian scientists an account of the Engine. Babbage’s talk, complete with drawings, models and mechanical notations, emphasized the Engine’s signal feature: its ability to guide its own operations. It also included the first computer programs though Babbage did not use that word. In attendance at Babbage’s lecture was the young Italian mathematician Luigi Federico Menabrea (later Prime Minister of Italy), who prepared from his notes an account of the principles of the Analytical Engine, which he published in French in 1842.

In keeping with the more general nature and immaterial status of the Analytical Engine, Menabrea’s account dealt little with mechanical details. Instead he described the functional organization and mathematical operation of this more flexible and powerful invention. To illustrate its capabilities, he presented several charts or tables of the steps through which the machine would be directed to go in performing calculations and finding numerical solutions to algebraic equations. These steps were the instructions the engine’s operator would punch in coded form on cards to be fed into the machine; hence, the charts constituted the first computer programs. Menabrea’s charts were taken from those Babbage brought to Torino to illustrate his talks there (Stein, Ada: A Life and Legacy, 92).

Menabrea’s paper was translated into English by Babbage’s close friend Ada, Countess of Lovelace, daughter of the poet Byron and a talented mathematician in her own right. At Babbage’s suggestion, Lady Lovelace added seven explanatory notes to her translation, which run about three times the length of the original. Her annotated translation has been called “the most important paper in the history of digital computing before modern times” (Bromley, “Introduction” in Babbage, Henry Prevost, Babbage’s Calculating Engines, xv). As Babbage never published a detailed description of the Analytical Engine, Ada’s translation of Menabrea’s paper, with its lengthy explanatory notes, represents the most complete contemporary account in English of this much-misunderstood machine.

Babbage supplied Ada with algorithms for the solution of various problems, which she illustrated in her notes in the form of charts detailing the stepwise sequence of events as the machine progressed through a string of instructions input from punched cards (Swade, The Cogwheel Brain, 165). This was the first published example of a computer “program,” though neither Ada nor Babbage used this term. She also expanded upon Babbage’s general views of the Analytical Engine as a symbol-manipulating device rather than a mere processor of numbers, suggesting that it might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations. . . . Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent (p. 694) . . . Many persons who are not conversant with mathematical studies, imagine that because the business of the engine is to give its results in numerical notation, the nature of its processes must consequently be arithmetical and numerical, rather than algebraical and analytical. This is an error. The engine can arrange and combine its numerical quantities exactly as if they were letters or any other general symbols; and in fact it might bring out its results in algebraical notation, were provisions made accordingly (p. 713).

Much has been written concerning what mathematical abilities Ada may have possessed. Study of the published correspondence between her and Babbage (see Toole 1992) is not especially flattering either to her personality or mathematical talents: it shows that while Ada was personally enamored of her own mathematical prowess, she was in reality no more than a talented novice who at times required Babbage’s coaching. Their genuine friendship aside, Babbage’s motives for encouraging Ada’s involvement in his work are not hard to discern. As Lord Byron’s only legitimate daughter, Ada was an extraordinary celebrity, and as the wife of a prominent aristocrat she was in a position to act as patron to Babbage and his engines (though she never in fact did so).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1940 – 1950

Key Events in the Development of the First General Purpose Electronic Digital Computer, the ENIAC June 1941 – October 2, 1955

In June 1941 J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly met at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, now part of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science, and began discussions on electronic computing. In August 1942 Mauchly wrote a privately circulated confidential memorandum on “The Use of High Speed Vacuum Tube Devices for Calculating.” This was after he had visited John Atanasoff in Iowa.

With the goal of speeding up the calculation of artillery firing tables, on April 8, 1943  Eckert and Mauchly submitted a proposal to the Ballistic Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, near Aberdeen, Maryland. Their proposal was entitled Report on an Electronic Difference Analyzer. By calling their proposed device an electronic difference analyzer Eckert and Mauchly tried to make the distinction between the electromechanical analog differential analyzer that the United States Army was using and the new electronic digital machine that would be developed. The proposal was submitted to army ordnance in May.

When the first contracts were signed between the U. S. Army and the Moore School, the name of the machine was changed to Electronic Numerical Integrator. Because Mauchly stressed that the machine could be used for more general problems, the device was called an “Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC).” Eckert was appointed laboratory supervisor and chief engineer on the project. Mauchly, along with Eckert, was put in charge of engineering and testing. On May 31, 1943 construction of the ENIAC started at the Moore School. The actual contract between the Moore School and the army did not go into effect until July 1. For security reasons, the understandable rumor that the project was a “white elephant” was promoted rather than denied.

In July 1944 Eckert had two accumulators of the ENIAC operational.

About May 1945 the ENIAC was completed and tested at the Moore School. With eighteen thousand vacuum tubes and weighing thirty tons, the ENIAC was about one thousand times faster than the Harvard Mark I, and 10,000 times the speed of a human computer doing a calculation. Programming the ENIAC was accomplished by time-consuming plugging of patch cords from buses to panels for each individual problem.

On November 30, 1945 Eckert, Mauchly, John Brainerd, and Herman Goldstine issued the first confidential published report on the completed ENIAC, discussing how it operated and the methods by which it was programmed: Description of the ENIAC and Comments on Electronic Digital Computing Machines.The report was published under the auspices of theApplied Mathematics Panel, National Defense Research Committee. In the spring of 1945 the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) was becoming very interested in electronic computers, and mathematician Warren Weaver, head of the NDRC’s Applied Mathematics Panel, asked John von Neumann to write a report on the Moore School’s ENIAC and EDVAC projects. Von Neumann was unable to fulfill Weaver’s request, so Weaver assigned the task to John Grist Brainerd, director of the ENIAC project. Brainerd was eager to have the report appear under his name, but Eckert and Mauchly objected, since Brainerd was largely unfamiliar with the scientific aspects of the project. After some internal dispute, it was agreed that the report’s authors should be listed on the title as Eckert, Mauchly, Goldstine, and Brainerd. The report was issued with a “Restricted” classification and 91 copies were distributed to military, Office of Scientific Research and Development and NDRC personnel, as indicated by the distribution list on the inside front cover.

Although confidential progress reports on ENIAC had been issued in 1944, this report of November 30, 1945, was the first account of the completed machine. As stated in the title, the report contained a detailed description of ENIAC, the world’s first large-scale electronic general-purpose digital computer, as well as chapters on the need for high-speed computing machines, the advantages of electronic digital machines, design principles for high-speed computing machines, and reliability and checking. At the end are three appendices discussing ENIAC’s arithmetic operations, programming methods, and general construction data. This may have been the earliest published report on how the first electronic digital computer was programmed. Even though the ENIAC was not a stored-program computer its design and mode of operation involved numerous programming firsts The report also provided information on the planned stored-program EDVAC, which was then in an early design stage. For the three years between May 1945 and June 1948, ENIAC remained the only functioning electronic, general purpose digital computer in the world until the short-lived Manchester “Baby” prototype became operational in 1948.

 On February 14, 1946 the ENIAC was publicly unveiled in Philadelphia.

On July 15, 1946 Eckert lectured at the Moore School on “A preview of a digital computing machine.” He proposed replacing the three different kinds of memory used in the ENIAC (flip-flops in accumulators, function tables [read-only memory] and interconnecting cables with switches) with a single erasable high-speed memory—the mercury delay-line memory that he invented for this purpose. This was a key step in the development of a stored-program computer. In 1947 the ENIAC was converted into an elementary stored-program computer by the use of function tables. 

At 11:45 p.m. on October 2, 1955, after roughly ten years of continuous service, power to the ENIAC was disconnected for the last time at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, and the machine was retired. It was estimated that this single machine did more computation during the ten years of its operation than the entire human race had done up till the time of its invention.

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2002) No. 1107 and other entries.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Use of "Bug" in the Context of Computing September 9, 1945

On September 9, 1945 Grace Hopper, testing Aiken’s Harvard Mark II Relay Calculator, found that a large dead moth, trapped between points at Relay #70, Panel F,  caused the relay to fail. She removed the bug and entered the dead insect into a log book with the note, "First actual case of bug being found." This was first use of the term “bug” within the context of computing, and also perhaps the origin of the concept of “debugging” within the context of computing.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Norbert Wiener Issues "Cybernetics", the First Widely Distributed Book on Electronic Computing 1948

"Use the word 'cybernetics', Norbert, because nobody knows what it means. This will always put you at an advantage in arguments."

— Widely quoted: attributed to Claude Shannon in a letter to Norbert Wiener in the 1940s.

 In 1948 mathematician Norbert Wiener at MIT published Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, a widely circulated and influential book that applied theories of information and communication to both biological systems and machines. Computer-related words with the “cyber” prefix, including "cyberspace," originate from Wiener’s book. Cybernetics was also the first conventionally published book to discuss electronic digital computing. Writing as a mathematician rather than an engineer, Wiener’s discussion was theoretical rather than specific. Strangely the first edition of the book was published in English in Paris at the press of Hermann et Cie. The first American edition was printed offset from the French sheets and issued by John Wiley in New York, also in 1948. I have never seen an edition printed or published in England. 

Independently of Claude Shannon, Wiener conceived of communications engineering as a brand of statistical physics and applied this viewpoint to the concept of information. Wiener's chapter on "Time series, information, and communication" contained the first publication of Wiener's formula describing the probability density of continuous information. This was remarkably close to Shannon's formula dealing with discrete time published in A Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948). Cybernetics also contained a chapter on "Computing machines and the nervous system." This was a theoretical discussion, influenced by McCulloch and Pitts, of differences and similarities between information processing in the electronic computer and the human brain. It contained a discussion of the difference between human memory and the different computer memories then available. Tacked on at the end of Cybernetics were speculations by Wiener about building a chess-playing computer, predating Shannon's first paper on the topic.

Cybernetics is a peculiar, rambling blend of popular and highly technical writing, ranging from history to philosophy, to mathematics, to information and communication theory, to computer science, and to biology. Reflecting the amazingly wide range of the author's interests, it represented an interdisciplinary approach to information systems both in biology and machines. It influenced a generation of scientists working in a wide range of disciplines. In it were the roots of various elements of computer science, which by the mid-1950s had broken off from cybernetics to form their own specialties. Among these separate disciplines were information theory, computer learning, and artificial intelligence.

It is probable that Wiley had Hermann et Cie supervise the typesetting because they specialized in books on mathematics.  Hermann printed the first edition by letterpress; the American edition was printed offset from the French sheets. Perhaps because the typesetting was done in France Wiener did not have the opportunity to read proofs carefully, as the first edition contained many typographical errors which were repeated in the American edition, and which remained uncorrected through the various printings of the American edition until a second edition was finally published by John Wiley and MIT Press in 1961. 

Though the book contained a lot of technical mathematics, and was not written for a popular audience, the first American edition went through at least 5 printings during 1948,  and several later printings, most of which were probably not read in their entirety by purchasers. Sales of Wiener's book were helped by reviews in wide circulation journals such as the review in TIME Magazine on December 27, 1948, entitled "In Man's Image." The reviewer used the word calculator to describe the machines; at this time the word computer was reserved for humans.

"Some modern calculators 'remember' by means of electrical impulses circulating for long periods around closed circuits. One kind of human memory is believed to depend on a similar system: groups of neurons connected in rings. The memory impulses go round & round and are called upon when needed. Some calculators use 'scanning' as in television. So does the brain. In place of the beam of electrons which scans a television tube, many physiologists believe, the brain has 'alpha waves': electrical surges, ten per second, which question the circulating memories.

"By copying the human brain, says Professor Wiener, man is learning how to build better calculating machines. And the more he learns about calculators, the better he understands the brain. The cyberneticists are like explorers pushing into a new country and finding that nature, by constructing the human brain, pioneered there before them.

"Psychotic Calculators. If calculators are like human brains, do they ever go insane? Indeed they do, says Professor Wiener. Certain forms of insanity in the brain are believed to be caused by circulating memories which have got out of hand. Memory impulses (of worry or fear) go round & round, refusing to be suppressed. They invade other neuron circuits and eventually occupy so much nerve tissue that the brain, absorbed in its worry, can think of nothing else.

"The more complicated calculating machines, says Professor Wiener, do this too. An electrical impulse, instead of going to its proper destination and quieting down dutifully, starts circulating lawlessly. It invades distant parts of the mechanism and sets the whole mass of electronic neurons moving in wild oscillations" (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,886484-2,00.html, accessed 03-05-2009).

Presumably the commercial success of Cybernetics encouraged Wiley to publish Berkeley's Giant Brains, or Machines that Think in 1949.

♦ In October 2012 I offered for sale the copy of the first American printing of Cybernetics that Wiener inscribed to Jerry Wiesner, the head of the laboratory at MIT where Wiener conducted his research. This was the first inscribed copy of the first edition (either the French or American first) that I had ever seen on the market, though the occasional signed copy of the American edition did turn up. Having read our catalogue description of that item, my colleague Arthur Freeman emailed me this story pertinent to Wiener's habit of not inscribing books:

"Norbert, whom I grew up nearby (he visited our converted barn in Belmont, Mass., constantly to play frantic theoretical blackboard math with my father, an economist/statistician at MIT, which my mother, herself a bit better at pure math, would have to explain to him later), was a notorious cheapskate. His wife once persuaded him to invite some colleagues out for a beer at the Oxford Grill in Harvard Square, which he did, and after a fifteen-minute sipping session, he got up to go, and solemnly collected one dime each from each of his guests. So when *Cybernetics* appeared on the shelves of the Harvard Coop Bookstore, my father was surprised and flattered that Norbert wanted him to have an inscribed copy, and together they went to Coop, where Norbert duly picked one out, wrote in it, and carried it to the check-out counter--where he ceremoniously handed it over to my father to pay for. This was a great topic of family folklore. I wonder if Jerry Wiesner paid for his copy too?"

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Edmund Berkeley's "Giant Brains," the First Popular Book on Electronic Computers 1949

In 1949 mathematician and actuary Edmund Berkeley issued Giant Brains or Machines that Think, the first popular book on electronic computers, published years before the public heard much about the machines. The work was published by John Wiley & Sons who were enjoying surprising commercial success with Norbert Wiener's much more technical book, Cybernetics.

Among many interesting details, Giant Brains contained a discussion about a machine called Simon, which has been called the first personal computer. 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1950 – 1960

Probably the First Computer-Controlled Aesthetic System 1953 – 1957

Between 1953 and 1957 English cybernetician and psychologist Gordon Pask, in collaboration with Robin McKinnon-Wood, created Musicolour, a reactive system for theatre productions, or a computer-controlled aesthetic system, that "drove an array of lights that adapted to a musician's performance" (Mason, a computer in the art room. the origins of british computer arts 1950-1980 [2008] 6). This was one of the earliest examples of "computer art." The system's analog computer was transported from performance to performance.

Pask discussed and explained Musicolour in A comment, a case history and a plan (1968) written before the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition (1968) in which Musicolour was demonstrated. However the text was not published in the catalogue of that exhibition. It was first published in Reichardt ed., Cybernetics: Art and Ideas (1971) 76-99.

Pickering, The Cybernetic Brain. Sketches of Another Future (2010) 313-324.

(This entry was last revised on 08-14-2014.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Origins of The Term "Software" Within the Context of Computing 1956 – January 1958

The first published use of the term "software" in a computing context is often credited to American statistician John W. Tukey, who published the term in "The Teaching of Concrete Mathematics," American Mathematical Monthly, January 9, 1958. Tukey wrote:

"Today the 'software' comprising the carefully planned interpretive routines, compilers, and other aspects of automative programming are at least as important to the modern electronic calculator as its 'hardware' of tubes, transistors, wires, tapes and the like" (http://www.maa.org/mathland/mathtrek_7_31_00.html, accessed 02-02-2010).

Note that Tukey referred to computers as "calculators." Up to this time the word "computer" typically referred to people, and the use of the word computer for a machine was just coming into popular use.

On April 30, 2013 Paul Niquette informed me that Richard R. Carhart used the term in the  Proceedings of the Second National Symposium on Quality Control and Reliability in Electronics: Washington, D.C., January 9-10, 1956

In August 2014 William J. Rapaport of the Department of Computer Science at SUNY Buffalo emailed me the text of the paragraph in which Carhart used the word software. Carhart wrote:

"In short, we need a total systems approach to reliability. There are four aspects of such an approach which have an important bearing on how a reliablity program is shaped. First, the scope of the program should include the entire system. As an example a missile system includes the vehicle and warhead, the auxiliary ground or airborne equipment, the support and test equipment, and the operating personnel. In addition, the interactions between these various elements, hardware and software (people), must be recognized and included as the glue that holds the system together."

From this it is clear that Carhart did not use the term "software" within the specific context of programming, and priority for the term in that context may rest with Tukey. It is, of course, possible – even likely – that others used the word in spoken, rather than printed, context before either Carhart or Tukey. Paul Niquette stated that he used the term as early as 1953.

(This entry was last revised on 08-04-2014.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Movie "Desk Set", Satirizing the Role of Automation in Eliminating Jobs, and Librarians 1957

The romantic comedy film, Desk Set, brought to the silver screen in 1957, was the first film to dramatize and satirize the role of automation in eliminating traditional jobs. The name of the computer in the film, EMERAC, and its room-size installation, was an obvious take-off on UNIVAC, the best-known computer at the time. In the film, the computer was brought-in to replace the library of books, and its staff—an early foreshadowing of the physical information versus digital information issue.  Directed by Walter Lang and starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, and Dina Merrill, the screenplay was written by Phoebe Ephron and Henry Ephron from the play by William Marchant.

The film "takes place at the "Federal Broadcasting Network" (exterior shots are of Rockefeller Center, in New York City, headquarters of NBC). Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) is in charge of its reference library, which is responsible for researching and answering questions on all manner of topics, such as the names of Santa's reindeer. She has been involved for seven years with network executive Mike Cutler (Gig Young), with no marriage in sight.

"The network is negotiating a merger with another company, but is keeping it secret. To help the employees cope with the extra work that will result, the network head has ordered two computers (called "electronic brains" in the film). Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy), the inventor of EMERAC and an efficiency expert, is brought in to see how the library functions, to figure out how to ease the transition. Though extremely bright, as he gets to know Bunny, he is surprised to discover that she is every bit his match.

"When they find out the computers are coming, the employees jump to the conclusion the machines are going to replace them. Their fears seem to be confirmed when everyone on the staff receives a pink slip printed out by the new payroll computer. Fortunately, it turns out to be a mistake; the machine fired everybody in the company, including the president" Wikipedia article on Desk Set, accessed 12-23-2008).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Formal Definition of Hacker June 1959

In June 1959 Peter R. Samson, Public Relations Committee of the MIT Tech Model Railroad Club, defined the term "hack" in the Tech Model Railroad Club Dictionary as:

"1) an article or project without constructive end

"2) a project undertaken on bad self-advice

"3) an entropy booster

"4) to produce, or attempt to produce, a hack(3)."

Samson defined hacker as "one who hacks, or makes them."

Much of the Tech Model Railroad Club jargon was later incorporated into early computer culture. In 2005 Samson commented:

"I saw this as a term for an unconventional or unorthodox application of technology, typically deprecated for engineering reasons. There was no specific suggestion of malicious intent (or of benevolence, either). Indeed, the era of this dictionary saw some 'good hacks:' using a room-sized computer to play music, for instance; or, some would say, writing the dictionary itself" (http://www.gricer.com/tmrc/dictionary1959.html, accessed 06-01-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Highlights of the Digital Equipment Corporation PDP Series of Minicomputers December 1959 – 1975

In December 1959, at the Eastern Joint Computer Conference in Boston, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) of Maynard, Massachusetts, demonstrated the prototype of its first computer, the PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor-1), designed by a team headed by Ben Gurley.

"The launch of the PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor-1) computer in 1959 marked a radical shift in the philosophy of computer design: it was the first commercial computer that focused on interaction with the user rather than the efficient use of computer cycles" (http://www.computerhistory.org/collections/decpdp-1/, accessed 06-25-2009).

Selling for $120,000, the PDP-1 was a commercialization of the TX-O and TX-2 computers designed at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. On advice from the venture-capital firm that financed the company, DEC did not call it a “computer,” but instead called the machine a “programmed data processor.” The PDP-1 was credited as being the most important in the creation of hacker culture. 

In 1963 DEC introduced the PDP-5, it's first 12-bit computer. The PDP-5 was later called “the world’s first commercially produced minicomputer.” However, the PDP-8 introduced in 1965 was also given this designation.

Two years later, in 1965 DEC introduced the PDP-8, the first “production model minicomputer.” “Small in physical size, selling in minimum configuration for under $20,000.”

In 1970 DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) of Maynard, Massachusetts, introduced the PDP-11minicomputer, which popularized the notion of a “bus” (i.e.“Unibus”) onto which a variety of additional circuit boards or peripheral products could be placed. DEC sold 20,000 PDP-11s by 1975.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1960 – 1970

William Fetter Coins the Term "Computer Graphics" 1960

William A Fetter: while working for Boeing, made the first computer model of the human body ("Boeing Man"), and coined the term computer graphics.

In 1960 William A. Fetter, an art director at The Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington, coined the term “computer graphics.” With Walter Bernhardt, assistant professor of applied mechanics from Wichita State University, Kansas, Fetter outlined a new concept of perspective which Bernhardt converted to mathematics. The same year Boeing established a formal research program to determine how computing technology could be used for design.

See also the entry on "Boeing Man."

(This entry was last revised on 10-18-2014.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Technical Basis for the Development of Phreaking November 1960

In November 1960 C. Breen and D. A. Dahlbaum of Bell Labs in New York published "Signaling Systems for the Control of Telephone Switching," Bell System Technical Journal, 39 (1960) 1381-1444.

"Telephone signaling is basically a matter of transferring information between machines, and between humans and machines. The techniques developed to accomplish this have evolved over the years in step with advances in the total telephone art. The history of this evolution is traced, starting from the early simple manual switchboard days to the present Direct Distance Dialing era. The effect of the increasing sophistication in automatic switching and transmission systems and their influence on signaling principles are discussed. Emphasis is given to the signaling systems used between central offices of the nationwide telephone network and the influence on such systems of the characteristics of switching systems and their information requirements, the transmission media and the compatibility problem. A review is made of the forms and characteristics of some of the interoffice signaling systems presently in use. In addition, the problem of signaling between Bell System and overseas telephone systems is reviewed with reference to delivering information requirements, signaling techniques and new transmission media. Finally, some speculation is made on the future trends of telephone signaling systems" (abstract of the paper).

According to http://www.historyofphonephreaking.org/docs.php, the Breen and Dahlbaum paper is

"often cited as the article that gave away the keys to the kingdom," leading to the development of the underground "phreaker" culture.  Other papers that included the in-band trunk signaling tones which provided the technical information needed to build Blue Boxes are cited at http://www.lospadres.info/thorg/bstj.html, accessed 09-17-2009).

My thanks to Jeffrey Odel for this reference.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Arthur C. Clarke Publishes "Dial F for Frankenstein," an Inspiration for Tim Berners-Lee 1961

In 1961 British science fiction writer, inventor and futurist Arthur C. Clarke of Sri Lanka published a short story entitled "Dial F for Frankenstein."

". . . it foretold an ever-more-interconnected telephone network that spontaneously acts like a newborn baby and leads to global chaos as it takes over financial, transportation and military systems" (John Markoff, "The Coming Superbrain," New York Times, May 24, 2009).

"The father of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, credits Clarke's short story, Dial F for Frankenstein, as an inspiration" (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/arthur-c-clarke-science-fiction-turns-to-fact-799519.html, accessed 05-24-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

George Forsythe Coins the Term "Computer Science" 1961

In 1961 mathematician and founder of Stanford University's Computer Science department George E. Forsythe coined the term "computer science" in his paper "Engineering Students Must Learn both Computing and Mathematics", J. Eng. Educ. 52 (1961) 177-188, quotation from p. 177.

Of this Donald Knuth wrote, "In 1961 we find him using the term 'computer science' for the first time in his writing:

[Computers] are developing so rapidly that even computer scientists cannot keep up with them. It must be bewildering to most mathematicians and engineers...In spite of the diversity of the applications, the methods of attacking the difficult problems with computers show a great unity, and the name of Computer Sciences is being attached to the discipline as it emerges. It must be understood, however, that this is still a young field whose structure is still nebulous. The student will find a great many more problems than answers. 

"He [Forsythe] identified the "computer sciences" as the theory of programming, numerical analysis, data processing, and the design of computer systems, and observed that the latter three were better understood than the theory of programming, and more available in courses" (Knuth, "George Forsythe and the Development of Computer Science," Communications of the ACM, 15 (1972) 722).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The IBM 7094 is The First Computer to Sing 1961

A recording made at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey on an IBM 7094 mainframe computer in 1961 is the earliest known recording of a computer-synthesized voice singing a song— Daisy Bell, also known as "Bicycle Built for Two." The recording was programmed by physicist John L. Kelly Jr., and Carol Lockbaum, and featured musical accompaniment written by computer music pioneer Max  Mathews.

The science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke witnessed a demonstration of the piece while visiting his friend, the electric engineer and science fiction writer, John R. Pierce, who was a Bell Labs employee at the time. Clarke was so impressed that he incorporated the 7094's musical performance in the 1968 novel, and the script for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. One of the first things that Clarke’s fictional HAL 9000 computer had learned when it was originally programmed was the song "Daisy Bell". Near the end of the story, when the computer was being deactivated, or put to sleep by astronaut Dave Bowman, it lost its mind and degenerated to singing "Daisy Bell."

(This entry was last revised on 03-21-2015.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Spacewar, the First Computer Game for a Commercially Available Computer 1962

In 1962 Programmer and computer scientist Steve Russell, aka Steve "Slug" Russell, and his team at MIT, including members of the Tech Model Railroad Club, took about 200 hours to program the first computer game for a commercially available computer on a DEC PDP-1.

Inspired by the space battles in the Lensman serial of science fiction space opera by E. E. "Doc" Smith, the computer game, or videogame, was called Spacewar .

View Map + Bookmark Entry

First of the "Ten Greatest Software Bugs of All Time" July 28, 1962

On July 28, 1962 a bug in the flight software for the Mariner I space probe caused the rocket to divert from its intended path on launch. Mission control destroyed the rocket over the Atlantic Ocean.

"The investigation into the accident discovered that a formula written on paper in pencil was improperly transcribed into computer code, causing the computer to miscalculate the rocket's trajectory."

In 2005 Wired Magazine characterized this bug as the first of the "ten greatest software bugs of all time."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

First Use of the Term "Hacker" in the Context of Computing November 20, 1963

On November 20, 1963 the first use of the term "hacker" in the context of computing appeared in the MIT student newspaper, The Tech:

"Many telephone services have been curtailed because of so-called hackers, according to Prof. Carlton Tucker, administrator of the Institute phone system. . . .The hackers have accomplished such things as tying up all the tie-lines between Harvard and MIT, or making long-distance calls by charging them to a local radar installation. One method involved connecting the PDP-1 computer to the phone system to search the lines until a dial tone, indicating an outside line, was found. . . . Because of the 'hacking,' the majority of the MIT phones are 'trapped.' "

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Tom Van Vleck & Noel Morris Write One of the First Email Programs 1965

Though its exact history is murky, email (e-mail) began as a way for users on time-sharing mainframe computers to communicate. Among the first systems to have an email facility were System Development Corporation of Santa Monica's programming for the AN/FSQ-32  (Q32) built by IBM for the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC), and MIT's Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS). The authors of the first email program for CTSS were American software engineer Tom Van Vleck and American computer scientist Noel Morris. The two men created the program in the summer of 1965.

"A proposed CTSS MAIL command was described in an undated Programming Staff Note 39 by Louis Pouzin, Glenda Schroeder, and Pat Crisman. Numerical sequence places the note in either Dec 64 or Jan 65. PSN 39 proposed a facility that would allow any CTSS user to send a message to any other. The proposed uses were communication from "the system" to users informing them that files had been backed up, and communication to the authors of commands with criticisms, and communication from command authors to the CTSS manual editor.

"I was a new member of the MIT programming staff in spring 1965. When I read the PSN document about the proposed CTSS MAIL command, I asked "where is it?" and was told there was nobody available to write it. My colleague Noel Morris and I wrote a version of MAIL for CTSS in the summer of 1965. Noel was the one who saw how to use the features of the new CTSS file system to send the messages, and I wrote the actual code that interfaced with the user. The CTSS manual writeup and the source code of MAIL are available online. (We made a few changes from the proposal during the course of implementation: e.g. to read one's mail, users just used the PRINT command instead of a special argument to MAIL.)  

"The idea of sending "letters' using CTSS was resisted by management, as a waste of resources. However, CTSS Operations did need a faclility to inform users when a request to retrieve a file from tape had been completed, and we proposed MAIL as a solution for this need. (Users who had lost a file due to system or user error, or had it deleted for inactivity, had to submit a request form to Operations, who ran the RETRIEVE program to reload them from tape.) Since the blue 7094 installation in Building 26 had no CTSS terminal available for the operators, one proposal for sending such messages was to invoke MAIL from the 7094 console switches, inputting a code followed by the problem number and programmer number in BCD. I argued that this was much too complex and error prone, and that a facility that let any user send arbitrary messages to any other would have more general uses, which we would discover after it was implemented" (http://www.multicians.org/thvv/mail-history.html, accessed 06-20-2011).

♦ On June 19, 2011 writer and filmmaker Errol Morris published a series of five illustrated articles in The New York Times concerning the roles of his brother Noel and Tom Van Vleck in the invention of email. The first of these was entitled "Did My Brother Invent E-Mail with Tom Van Vleck? (Part One)". The articles, in an usual dialog form, captured some of the experience of programming time-sharing mainframes, and what it was like to send and receive emails at this early date.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Irving John Good Originates the Concept of the Technological Singularity 1965

In 1965 British mathematician Irving John Good, originally named Isidore Jacob Gudak, published "Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine," Advances in Computers, vol. 6 (1965) 31ff. This paper, published while Good held research positions at Trinity College, Oxford and at Atlas Computer Laboratory, originated the concept later known as "technological singularity," which anticipates the eventual existence of superhuman intelligence:

"Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an 'intelligence explosion,' and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make." 

Stanley Kubrick consulted Good regarding aspects of computing and artificial intelligence when filming 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), one of whose principal characters was the paranoid HAL 9000 supercomputer.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Amateur Computer Society, Possibly the First Personal Computer Club, is Founded 1966

IN 1966 Stephen B. Gray, computers editor for Electronics magazine, founded The Amateur Computer Society, possibly the first personal computer club.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke Create "2001: A Space Odyssey" 1968

In 1968 the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, written by American film director Stanley Kubrick in collaboration with science fiction writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke, captured imaginations with the idea of a computer that could see, speak, hear, and “think.” 

Perhaps the star of the film was the HAL 9000 computer. "HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer) is an artificial intelligence, the sentient on-board computer of the spaceship Discovery. HAL is usually represented only as his television camera "eyes" that can be seen throughout the Discovery spaceship.... HAL is depicted as being capable not only of speech recognition, facial recognition, and natural language processing, but also lip reading, art appreciation, interpreting emotions, expressing emotions, reasoning, and chess, in addition to maintaining all systems on an interplanetary voyage.

"HAL is never visualized as a single entity. He is, however, portrayed with a soft voice and a conversational manner. This is in contrast to the human astronauts, who speak in terse monotone, as do all other actors in the film" (Wikipedia article on HAL 9000, accessed 05-24-2009).

"Kubrick and Clarke had met in New York City in 1964 to discuss the possibility of a collaborative film project. As the idea developed, it was decided that the story for the film was to be loosely based on Clarke's short story "The Sentinel", written in 1948 as an entry in a BBC short story competition. Originally, Clarke was going to write the screenplay for the film, but Kubrick suggested during one of their brainstorming meetings that before beginning on the actual script, they should let their imaginations soar free by writing a novel first, which the film would be based on upon its completion. 'This is more or less the way it worked out, though toward the end, novel and screenplay were being written simultaneously, with feedback in both directions. Thus I rewrote some sections after seeing the movie rushes -- a rather expensive method of literary creation, which few other authors can have enjoyed.' The novel ended up being published a few months after the release of the movie" (Wikipedia article on Arthur C. Clarke, accessed 05-24-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Heinz von Foerster Issues the First Book on Computer Music to Include Recordings of Compositions 1969

In 1969 Austrian American physicist and philosopher Heinz von Foerster (born Heinz von Förster), director of the Biological Computer Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and James W. Beauchamp published Music by Computers.  This was probably the first book on computer music to include recordings of actual compositions. Four thin analog sound recordings (33-1/3 RPM) on thin flexible vinyl were included in a pocket in the inside back cover.

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2001) no. 608.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Charley Kline Sends the First Message Over the ARPANET October 29, 1969

The first message sent over the ARPANET was from Leonard Kleinrock’s UCLA computer by student programmer Charley Kline at 10:30 pm on October 29, 1969, to the second node at Stanford Research Institute’s computer in Menlo Park, California.

The message was simply “Lo" instead of the intended word,"login."

"The message text was the word login; the l and the o letters were transmitted, but the system then crashed. Hence, the literal first message over the ARPANET was lo. About an hour later, having recovered from the crash, the SDS Sigma 7 computer effected a full login" (Wikipedia article on Arpanet, accessed 12-26-2012).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1970 – 1980

Xerox PARC is Founded 1970

In 1970 Xerox opened the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). PARC became the incubator of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), the mouse, the WYSIWYG text editor, the laser printer, the desktop computer, the Smalltalk programming language and integrated development environment, Interpress (a resolution-independent graphical page description language and the precursor to PostScript), and Ethernet.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Phreaker Underground Telephone System Culture 1971

Steve "Woz" Wozniak and Steve Jobs read an article about phreaking by Ron Rosenbaum entitled "Secrets of the Little Blue Box" in the October 1971 issue of Esquire magazine, and became active in the phreaker culture, with its legendary character "Captain Crunch." 

Wozniak's "blue box" used for phreaking in 1972 is preserved in the Computer History Museum.

Though on a much smaller scale, the phreaker underground telephone system culture was an analogous precursor of the hacker culture that later evolved around computers and the Internet.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Creeper Worm, the First Computer Virus 1971

The Creeper worm,  an experimental self-replicating program written by Bob Thomas at BBN Technologies, Cambridge, Massachusetts (originally Bolt Beranek and Newman), is generally considered the first computer virus.

"Creeper infected DEC PDP-10 computers running the TENEX operating system. Creeper gained access via the ARPANET and copied itself to the remote system where the message, "I'm the creeper, catch me if you can!" was displayed. The Reaper program was created to delete Creeper" (Wikipedia article on Creeper virus, accessed 01-18-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Ray Tomlinson Selects the @ in Email March 1971

In March 1971 Ray Tomlinson at Bolt, Beranek and Newman developed email for ARPANET: SNDMSG and READMAIL, choosing the “@” sign as a key email address component.

According to an infographic on the history of email posted at http://8.mshcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/email.png in June 2011, Tomlinson no longer remembered the content of the original message.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Galaxy Game", the Earliest Coin-Operated Computer or Video Game September 1971

The earliest known coin-operated computer or video game, Galaxy Game, was installed at the Tresidder Union at Stanford University in September, 1971, two months before the release of Computer Space, the first mass-produced video game. Only one unit was built initially, although the game later included several consoles allowing users to play against each other.

"The game was programmed by Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck. Like Computer Space, it was a version of the existing Spacewar!, which had been created in the early 1960s on the PDP-1 and ported to a variety of platforms since then. The coin-operated game console incorporated a Digital PDP-11/20 with vector displays. The hardware cost around $20,000, and a game cost 10 cents or three games for 25 cents. In June 1972 the hardware was improved to allow the processor to power four to eight consoles. The game remained popular on campus, with wait times for players as much as one hour, until it was removed in May 1979 due to damaged screens.

"The unit was restored in 1997 and now resides in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California" (Wikipedia article on Computer Space, accessed 08-26-2009).

Lowood, "Videogames in Computer Space: The Complex History of Pong, " IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 31 (2009) #3, 5-19.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Computer Space," the First Commercially Sold Coin-Operated Video Game November 1971

In November 1971 Nutting Associates of Mountain View, California, released the video arcade game Computer Space, created by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. It was an adaptation of Spacewar (1962).

Computer Space was the first commercially sold coin-operated video game, predating the Magnavox Odyssey by six months, and Atari's Pong by one year.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

SPACEWAR: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums December 7, 1972

On December 7, 1972 Stewart Brand published "SPACEWAR: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums" in Rolling Stone magazine.

"The first 'Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics' will be held here, Wednesday 19 October, 2000 hours. First prize will be a year's subscription to 'Rolling Stone'. The gala event will be reported by Stone Sports reporter Stewart Brand & photographed by Annie Liebowitz. Free Beer!

"Ready or not, computers are coming to the people.  

"That’s good news, maybe the best since psychedelics. It’s way off the track of the “Computers — Threat or menace?” school of liberal criticism but surprisingly in line with the romantic fantasies of the forefathers of the science such as Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, J.C.R. Licklider, John von Neumann and Vannevar Bush. The trend owes its health to an odd array of influences: The youthful fervor and firm dis-Establishmentarianism of the freaks who design computer science; an astonishingly enlightened research program from the very top of the Defense Department; an unexpected market-Banking movement by the manufacturers of small calculating machines, and an irrepressible midnight phenomenon known as Spacewar.

"Reliably, at any nighttime moment (i.e. non-business hours) in North America hundreds of computer technicians are effectively out of their bodies, locked in life-or-Death space combat computer-projected onto cathode ray tube display screens, for hours at a time, ruining their eyes, numbing their fingers in frenzied mashing of control buttons, joyously slaying their friend and wasting their employers' valuable computer time. Something basic is going on.  

"Rudimentary Spacewar consists of two humans, two sets of control buttons or joysticks, one TV-like display and one computer. Two spaceships are displayed in motion on the screen, controllable for thrust, yaw, pitch and the firing of torpedoes. Whenever a spaceship and torpedo meet, they disappear in an attractive explosion. That’s the original version invented in 1962 at MIT by Steve Russell. (More on him in a moment.)  

"October, 1972, 8 PM, at Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory, moonlit and remote in the foothills above Palo Alto, California. Two dozen of us are jammed in a semi-dark console room just off the main hall containing AI’s PDP-10 computer. AI’s Head System Programmer and most avid Spacewar nut, Ralph Gorin, faces a display screen which says only:  

"THIS CONSOLE AVAILABLE. . . ."

(http://downlode.org/Etext/Spacewar/, accessed 02-25-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Plato IV System, Probably the World's First Online Community 1973

Probably the world's first online community began to emerge in 1973 through online forums, and the message board called PLATO Notes developed by David R. Woolley, in the PLATO IV system evolving at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Community Memory," the First Public Computerized Bulletin Board System 1973

In 1973 Efrem Lipkin, Mark Szpakowski, and Lee Felsenstein established the first public computerized bulletin board system (BBS) called Community Memory in Berkeley, California. Community Memory used hard-wired terminals in neighborhoods as distinct from the first public dial-up CBBS which was set up on February 16, 1978.

"Community Memory ran off an XDS-940 timesharing computer located in Resource One in San Francisco. The first terminal was an ASR-33 Teletype at the top of the stairs leading to Leopold's Records in Berkeley. You could leave messages and attach keywords to them. Other people could then find messages by those keywords.

"The line from San Francisco to Berkeley ran at 110 baud - 10 characters per second. The teletype was noisy, so it was encased in a cardboard box, with a transparent plastic top so you could see what was being printed out, and holes for your hands so you could type. It made for some magic moments with the Allman Brothers' "Blue Sky" playing in the record store. Musicians loved it - they ended up generating a monthly printout of fusion rock bassists seeking raga lead guitars. And out of it also emerged the first net personality - Benway, as he called himself."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Invention of the Word "Internet" Circa 1973

Around 1973 Vinton G. Cerf and Robert E. Kahn invented the word Internet as an abbreviation for the "inter-networking of networks" (Segaller, Nerds 2.0.1: A Brief History of the Internet [1998] 111).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Maze War, the First Networked 3D Multi-User First Person Shooter Game 1973 – 1974

Maze War (also known as The Maze Game, Maze Wars or simply Maze), developed in 1973-74, was the first networked, 3D multi-user first person shooter game.

"Maze first brought us the concept of online players as eyeball "avatars" chasing each other around in a maze). From its humble 1973-1974 origins on the Imlacs PDS-1 at the NASA Ames Research Center in California, to its life in project MAC at MIT, on Xerox Altos and "D* Machines" running on early ethernet, to versions ported to Mac, NeXT and PalmOS, Maze started it all. Today's massively multiuser 3D games owe a great debt to Maze and those who created and kept on porting it to new systems for the past 30 years. Maze is the reason why nobody can claim ownership of the rights to the invention of a multi-user 3D Cyberspace and is another of the major gifts to innovation made by early net pioneers" (Digibarn Computer Museum, accessed 04-15-2009)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

First Use of the Term "Mainframe" 1974

The term “mainframe” was first used in 1974 in a Scientific American article to distinguish the main computer in a laboratory from other computers.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Ted Nelson Publishes a Manifesto of the Microcomputer Revolution 1974

In 1974 Ted Nelson (Theodor Holm Nelson) self-published from South Bend, Indiana, the book, Computer Lib / Dream Machines, sub-titled You can and must understand computers NOW. Nelson issued this together with: Dream Machines: New freedoms through computer screens—a minority report. In his book Tools for Thought: The History and Future  of Mind-Expanding Technology Howard Rheingold called Computer Lib "the best-selling underground manifesto of the microcomputer revolution."

in 1987 Microsoft Press reissued Nelson's book with an introduction by Stewart Brand, of the Whole Earth Catalog

"Both the 1974 and 1987 editions have a highly unconventional layout, with two front covers (one for Computer Lib and the other for Dream Machines) and the division between the two books marked by text (for the other side) rotated 180°. The text itself is broken up into many sections, with simulated pull-quotes, comics, side bars, etc., similar to a magazine layout" (Wikipedia article on Computer Lib /Dream Machines, accessed 03-08-2012).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Cerf & Kahn Publish TCP: A Protocol for Packet Network Communication May 5, 1974

In May 1974 Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn published “A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication” in IEEE Transactions on Communications COM 22, no. 5, (5 May 1974) 637-648, in which they described the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).

In the early 1970s ARPANET and other data networks that were beginning to be constructed around the world each operated according to different hardware and software protocols, thus making it impossible for them to communicate with one another. ARPANET was using the Network Control Protocol or NCP. This problem was solved by Cerf and Kahn's invention of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP ) cross-network protocol that allowed the creation of an international network of computer networks; i.e., the Internet (a term Cerf and Kahn invented around 1973, as an abbrevation for "inter-networking of networks."  The authors laid out the architecture of such a network in their May 1974 paper:

"It describes gateways, which sit between networks to send and receive 'datagrams.' Datagrams, similar to envelopes, enclose messages and display destination addresses that are recognized by gateways. Datagrams can carry packets of various sizes. The messages within datagrams are called transmission control protocol (TCP) messages. TCP is the standard program, shared by each network, for loading and unloading datagrams; it is the only element of the international network that must be uniform among the small networks, and it is the crucial element that makes global networking possible" (Moschovitis, History of the Internet. A Chronology, 1843 to the Present [1999] 82.

In 1978 TCP was split into TCP and IP for Internet Protocol. In 1983 the Defense Communications Agency DCA and ARPA established the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), as the protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP for ARPANET. This led to one of the first definitions of an "internet" as a connected set of networks, specifically those using TCP/IP, and the "Internet" as connected TCP/IP internets. On January 1, 1983 ARPANET required that all connected machines use TCP/IP. On this date TCP/IP became the core Internet protocol and replaced NCP entirely.

Norman, From Gutenberg to the Internet (2005) reading 13.8, p. 871.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Byte Magazine, One of the First Personal Computer Magazines, Begins Publication 1975

In 1975 Byte, one of the first personal computer magazines, began publication in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Adventure," the First Computer Text Adventure Game 1975 – 1976

In 1975 and 1976 spelunker and programmer at Bolt Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, Massachusetts, William Crowther wrote the first computer text adventure game, Adventure.

Adventure was originally called ADVENT because a filename could only be six characters long in its operating system.  The game was renamed Colossal Cave Adventure, as it was based on part of the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky.

"Crowther had explored the Mammoth Cave in the early 1970s, and created a vector map based on surveys of parts of the real cave, but the text game is a completely separate entity, created during the 1975-76 academic year and featuring fantasy elements such as an axe-throwing dwarf and a magic bridge."

"Crowther's original game consisted of about 700 lines of Fortran code, with about another 700 lines of data, written for BBN's PDP-10. (See the original source code) The program required about 60K words (nearly 300KB) of core memory in order to run, which was a significant amount for PDP-10/KA systems running with only 128K words." (Wikipedia article on Colossal Cave Adventure, accessed 04-14-2009).

"In early 1977, Adventure spread across ARPAnet,  and has survived on the Internet to this day. The game has since been ported to many other operating systems, and was included with the floppy-disk distribution of Microsoft's MS-DOS 5.0 OS. The popularity of Adventure led to the wide success of interactive fiction during the late 1970s and the 1980s, when home computers had little, if any, graphics capability. Many elements of the original game have survived into the present, such as the command 'xyzzy', which is now included as an Easter Egg in games such as Minesweeper" (Wikipedia article on Interactive fiction, accessed 04-15-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Warez Scene Emerges Circa 1975

The Warez scene, often referred to as The Scene—a "community" specializing in the distribution of pirated content—started emerging around 1975. It was used by predecessors of software cracking and reverse engineering groups who made their work public on privately run BBS systems.

"The first BBSes were located in the USA, but similar boards started appearing in the UK, Australia and mainland Europe. At the time setting up a machine capable of distributing data was not a trivial matter and required a certain amount of technical skill. The reason it was usually done was for the technical challenge. The BBS systems typically hosted several megabytes of material. The best boards had multiple phone lines and up to one hundred megabytes of storage space, which was very expensive at the time. Releases were mostly games and later applications" (Wikipedia article on the Warez scene, accessed 07-20-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Frederick Brooks Writes "The Mythical Man-Month" 1975

In 1975 aoftware engineer and computer scientist Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., founder and chair of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, published The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, a book on software engineering and project management. Brooks's book described what became known in software development as Brooks's Law: "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later".

"According to Brooks himself, the law is an 'outrageous oversimplification', but it captures the general rule. Brooks points to two main factors that explain why it works this way:

"1. It takes some time for the people added to a project to become productive. Brooks calls this the "ramp up" time. Software projects are complex engineering endeavors, and new workers on the project must first become educated about the work that has preceded them; this education requires diverting resources already working on the project, temporarily diminishing their productivity while the new workers are not yet contributing meaningfully. Each new worker also needs to integrate with a team composed of multiple engineers who must educate the new worker in their area of expertise in the code base, day by day. In addition to reducing the contribution of experienced workers (because of the need to train), new workers may even have negative contributions – for example, if they introduce bugs that move the project further from completion. 

"2. Communication overheads increase as the number of people increase. The number of different communication channels increases along with the square of the number of people; doubling the number of people results in four times as many different conversations. Everyone working on the same task needs to keep in sync, so as more people are added they spend more time trying to find out what everyone else is doing."

"Compared with traditional software development, open source projects follow a different methodology. Large scale open source projects leverage the power of vast amount of participants which take care of coding and QA, using cheap communication channels (such as email) to coordinate the work. Such projects scale well, despite Brooks's Law, due to several reasons:

* Management concepts such as "manpower," "team size" and "delivery schedule" are not analogous in open source and internal corporate projects; applying Brooks's Law to both is thus misleading.

* Large scale open source projects have the ability to leverage the large number of testers to find bugs faster (also known as Linus's Law);

* Testers can read and analyze the source code, helping developers to track down bugs more efficiently;

* Efficient parallelization of work, reducing the communication overhead;

* A social context where the contributors are voluntary, associated with a leadership style that does not use coercion;

* Less reliance on traditional management methods to reduce duplication efforts.

* A more efficient allocation of labor to tasks . . .

"Some of these reasons, such as the parallelization of work could theoretically apply to both open source and closed projects" (Wikipedia article on Brooks's Law, accessed 08-08-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Home Pong" is Released 1975

In 1975 Atari of Sunnyvale, California, released the Home Pong video game console through the Sears catalogue. Home Pong used a television as a monitor. The success of this product resulted in a patent infringement lawsuit from the manufacturers of the Magnavox Odyssey video game console.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The "Utah Teapot" is Created 1975

In 1975 Martin Newell, computer graphics researcher at the University of Utah, created the Utah Teapot or Newell teapot, a mathematical model of an ordinary teapot of fairly simple shape which became a standard reference object, and something of an "in-joke", in the computer graphics community.

"Versions of the teapot model, or sample scenes containing it, are distributed with or freely available for nearly every current rendering and modelling program and even many graphic API, including AutoCAD, Houdini, Lightwave 3D, modo, POV-Ray, 3D Studio Max, and the APIs OpenGL and Direct3D. Some RenderMan-compliant renderers support the teapot as a built-in geometry by calling RiGeometry("teapot", RI_NULL). Along with the expected cubes and spheres, the GLUT library even provides the function glutSolidTeapot() as a graphics primitive, as does its Direct3D counterpart D3DX (D3DXCreateTeapot()). Mac OS X Tiger and Leopard also include the teapot as part of Quartz Composer, Leopard's teapot supports bump mapping. BeOS included a small demo of a rotating 3D teapot, intended to show off the platform's multimedia facilities. Teapot scenes are commonly used for renderer self-tests and benchmarks. In particular, the Teapot in a stadium benchmark and problem concern the difficulty of rendering a scene with drastically different geometrical density and scale of data in various parts of the scene.

"With the advent first of computer generated short films, and then of full length feature films, it has become something of an in-joke to hide a Utah teapot somewhere in one of the film's scenes. For example, in the movie Toy Story the Utah teapot appears in a short tea-party scene. The Utah teapot sometimes appears in the "Pipes" screensaver shipped with Microsoft Windows, but only in versions prior to Windows XP, and has been included in the "polyhedra" Xscreensaver hack since 2008. The teapot also appears in The Simpsons episode Treehouse of Horror VI in which Homer discovers the "third dimension".

"One famous ray-traced image (by Jim Arvo and Dave Kirk, from their 1987 SIGGRAPH paper "Fast Ray Tracing by Ray Classification") shows six stone columns, five of which are surmounted by the platonic solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron) – and the sixth column has a teapot[7]. The image is titled "The Six Platonic Solids" – which has led some people to call the teapot a "Teapotahedron". This image appeared on the covers of several books and journals. Jim Blinn (in one of his "Project Mathematics!" videos) proves an amusing (but trivial) version of the Pythagorean theorem: Construct a (2D) teapot on each side of a right triangle and the area of the teapot on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the areas of the teapots on the other two sides" (Wikipedia article on Utah teapot, accessed 01-07-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The MITS Altair, the First Personal Computer to Get "Wide Notice" Among Enthusiasts January 1975 – 1976

In January 1975 H. Edward Roberts, working in Albuquerque, New Mexico, announced the MITS (Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems) Altair personal computer kit in an article in Popular Electronics magazine. The MITS Altair was first personal computer based on the Intel 8080 general-purpose microprocessor, and the first personal computer to get "wide notice" among enthusiasts. It also had an open architecture. The basic Altair 8800 sold for $397.

In March 1976 the first (and only) World Altair Computer Convention, took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Organized by David Bunnell of MITS, it was the world's first personal computer conference, and was an overwhelming success, with 700 people from 46 states and seven countries attending.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Homebrew Computer Club Holds its First Meeting March 1975

The Homebrew Computer Club held its first meeting at a garage in Menlo Park, California. At this and other informal meetings of "tech-type" people Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak learned about computing. The first issue of the Homebrew Computer Club Newsletter was published on March 15, 1975. It continued through several designs, ending after 21 issues in December 1977. The newsletter was published from a variety of addresses in the early days, but later submissions went to a P.O. box address in Mountain View, California.

"The Apple I and II were designed strictly on a hobby, for-fun basis, not to be a product for a company. They were meant to bring down to the club and put on the table during the random access period and demonstrate: Look at this, it uses very few chips. It's got a video screen. You can type stuff on it. Personal computer keyboards and video screens were not well established then. There was a lot of showing off to other members of the club. Schematics of the Apple I were passed around freely, and I'd even go over to people's houses and help them build their own" (Wozniak).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Journal on Software for Personal Computers January 1976

In January 1976 the first issue of Dr. Dobbs' Journal of Tiny Basic Calisthenics and Orthodontia was first published by Dennis Allison and Bob Albrecht of the non-profit The People's Computer Company, associated with the Portola Institute on Menlo Park, California. It included the peculiar computing/orthodontic subtitle, "Running Light without Overbyte." Dobb's was a contraction of Dennis and Bob. As memory was initally very expensive, compact coding was important, and microcomputer hobbyists needed to avoid using too many bytes of memory — avoiding overbyte.

The journal began as a "short-term mimeographed forum for the newly written Tiny Basic language." Intially Allison and Albrecht planned on three issues.  However, finding a ready market, the informally produced magazine for programmers went into steady publication, with editorship assumed by Jim C. Warren as of the second issue in February 1976. Ten issues appeared in 1976. As the years passed, journal morphed through various forms of publication, including the slick-looking Dr. Dobb's Journal circa the year 2000. In June 2014 when I last revised this entry it was a website for programmers, drdobbs.com.  

The publishers viewed Dr. Dobbs more as a reference series than a throw-away periodical. Thus they kept back issues in print.  In 1977 the first year was reprinted in book form with an introduction by Jim Warren.

 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Foundation of Apple Computer and the Origin of the Name April 1, 1976 – December 13, 2011

On April 1, 1976 Steve JobsSteve "The Woz" Wozniak and Ronald G. Wayne signed the contract founding Apple Computer, then designated as Apple Computer Company.

Wayne relinquished his 10% stake in the company for $800, only 12 days later, on April 12, 1976.

In an interview done in the mid-1980s Steve Wozniak and the late Steve Jobs recalled how they named their upstart computer company some 35 years ago.

" 'I remember driving down Highway 85,' Wozniak says. 'We're on the freeway, and Steve mentions, 'I've got a name: Apple Computer.' We kept thinking of other alternatives to that name, and we couldn't think of anything better.'

"Adds Jobs: 'And also remember that I worked at Atari, and it got us ahead of Atari in the phonebook.' " (http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=52707, accessed 12-30-2011).

In November 1997 Stanford University acquired the historical archives for the early history of Apple Computer.

♦ On December 13, 2011 Sotheby's sold as lot 244 in their Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in New York Wayne's copy of the original contract document for $1,594,500, including buyer's premium, to Cisneros Corporation CEO Eduardo Cisneros. This was the highest price paid to date for anything related to the history of computing.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Apple I is Released July 1976

The first Apple Computer, designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, and known retrospectively as the Apple I (Apple 1) was demonstrated at the Homebrew Computer Club in Menlo Park, California in July 1976. Wozniak's friend Steve Jobs had the idea of manufacturing the computer for sale. Together they founded the Apple Computer Company, and to finance the production of their first product Jobs sold his only means of transportation, a VW van, and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500. They built the Apple I in the garage of Jobs's parents' house in Palo Alto.  

"The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 at a price of US$666.66, because Wozniak liked the repeating digits and because they originally sold it to a local shop for $500 for the one-third markup. About 200 units were produced. Unlike other hobbyist computers of its day, which were sold as kits, the Apple I was a fully assembled circuit board containing about 60+ chips. However, to make a working computer, users still had to add a case, power supply transformers, power switch, ASCII keyboard, and composite video display. An optional board providing a cassette interface for storage was later released at a cost of $75" (Wikipedia article on Apple I, accessed 11-26-2011).

♦ Of the approximately 200 Apple 1s built, 43 were thought to survive in 2012.  Of those six were then thought to be in working order. For sales of original examples beginning in 2010 see the related database entry.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Multi-Player Computer Games Evolve on the Plato IV-V System 1977

In 1977 the first multi-user or multi-player computer games, or MUDs began to evolve on the PLATO system at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The PLATO MUDs ran on a bulletin board system or Internet server and combined "elements of role-playing games, hack and slash style computer games, and social chat rooms."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Interactive Text Adventure Game "Zork" 1977 – 1979

In 1977 Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling at MIT wrote the interactive fiction text adventure game Zork in the MDL programming language on a DEC PDP-10. Zork was the first text adventure game to see widespread commercial release.

The word "Zork" was originally MIT hacker jargon for an unfinished program. The implementors named the completed game Dungeon, but by that time the name Zork had already stuck.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Intentional Spam May 1, 1977

On May 1, 1977 Gary Thuerk, a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) sales representative, attempted to send the first intentional commercial spam to every ARPANET address on the West Coast of the U.S. Thuerek thought that Arpanet users would find it cool that DEC had integrated ARPANET protocol support directly into the new DECSYSTEM-20 and TOPS-20 OS.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Dial-UP CBBS February 16, 1978

On February 16, 1978 Ward Christensen founded the Computerized Bulletin Board System (CBBS), the first dial-up bulletin board system (BBS) ever brought online, as a program to allow Christensen and other hobbyists in Chicago to exchange information. This was distinct from Community Memory, a BBS established in Berkeley in 1973, that used hard-wired terminals placed around the town.

"In January 1978, Chicago was hit by the Great Blizzard of 1978, which dumped record amounts of snow throughout the midwest. Among those caught in it were Christensen and Randy Suess, who were members of CACHE, the Chicago Area Computer Hobbyists' Exchange. They had met at that computer club in the mid 1970s and become friends.

"Christensen had created a file transfer protocol for sending binary computer files through modem connections, which was called, simply, MODEM. Later improvements to the program motivated a name change into the now familiar XMODEM. The success of this project encouraged further experiments. Christensen and Suess became enamored of the idea of creating a computerized answering machine and message center, which would allow members to call in with their then-new modems and leave announcements for upcoming meetings.

"However, they needed some quiet time to set aside for such a project, and the blizzard gave them that time. Christensen worked on the software and Suess cobbled together an S-100 computer to put the program on. They had a working version within two weeks, but claimed soon afterwards that it had taken four so that it wouldn't seem like a "rushed" project. Time and tradition have settled that date to be February 16, 1978.

"Because the Internet was still small and not available to most computer users, users had to dial CBBS directly using a modem. Also because the CBBS hardware and software supported only a single modem for most of its existence, users had to take turns accessing the system, each hanging up when done to let someone else have access. Despite these limitations, the system was seen as very useful, and ran for many years and inspired the creation of many other bulletin board systems.

"Ward & Randy would often watch the users while they were online and comment or go into chat if the subject warranted. Sometime online users wondered if Ward & Randy actually existed.

"The program had many forward thinking ideas, now accepted as canon in the creation of message bases or "forums" (Wikipedia article on CBBS, accessed 04-27-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Graphical Computer Adventure Game 1979 – 1980

In 1979 and 1980 Roberta and Ken Williams wrote Mystery House for the Apple II. Containing 70 simple two-dimensional drawings by Roberta Williams, Mystery House was the first computer adventure game with graphics.  The game was also eventually released into the public domain.

♦ Later it was converted into an ap. In December 2013 you could buy version 1.0.6 of the program in the iTunes Store at this link.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Origins of the Computer History Museum September 1979

In September 1979 Gordon and Gwen Bell, with the assistance Digital Equipment Corporation, founded the Digital Computer Museum in Boston. This evolved into the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1980 – 1990

Pac-Man is Introduced May 22, 1980

The arcade video game Pac-Man was first released in Japan by Namco on May 22, 1980.

"Originally launched in 1979 [sic], Namco's Pac-Man quickly became the most popular video game of all time. Pac-Man launched a global phenomenon, featuring the medium's biggest star character (and Mad Magazine's Man of the Year 1982). The title also gave birth to the 80's arcade culture while riding a wave of merchandising that reached Saturday Morning Cartoons, toys, pajamas and Pac-Man Fever, a beloved Top 40 record. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Pac-Man must have one hell of an ego -- the format was borrowed, evolved or outright stolen by dozens of imitators, and remains a staple of arcade collections and mobile time diversions today. Though its gameplay heritage doesn't influence many games anymore, it's hard to imagine another game ever having the global impact of Pac-Man" (Video-Pro.com, The 52 Most Important Video Games of All time, No. 6. accessed 04-15-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Computer Virus Spread by Floppy Disk 1982

A program called 'Elk Cloner' is credited with being the first computer virus to appear outside the single computer or lab where it was created. Written by Rich Skrenta, it attached itself to the Apple DOS 3.3 operating system and spread by floppy disk.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

William Gibson Coins the Word Cyberspace July 1982

In July 1982 American-Canadian writer William Gibson coined the word "cyberspace" in his story, Burning Chrome, published in Omni magazine.

"It tells the story of two hackers who hack systems for profit. The two main characters are Bobby Quine who specializes in software and Automatic Jack whose field is hardware. A third character in the story is Rikki, a girl with whom Bobby becomes infatuated and for whom he wants to hit it big. Automatic Jack acquires a piece of Russian hacking software that is very sophisticated and hard to trace. The rest of the story unfolds with Bobby deciding to break into the system of a notorious and vicious criminal called Chrome, who handles money transfers for organized crime, and Automatic Jack reluctantly agreeing to help. One line from this story — "...the street finds its own uses for things" — has become a widely-quoted aphorism for describing the sometimes unexpected uses to which users can put technologies (for example, hip-hop DJs' reinvention of the turntable, which transformed turntables from a medium of playback into one of production)" (Wikipedia article on Hackers (anthology), accessed 11-26-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Origins of the Smiley on the Internet September 19, 1982

On September 19, 1982 American computer scientist Scott E. Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, suggested on a bulletin board that the emoticons (emoticon)

:-) and :- (

be used to express emotion on the Internet. The text of his original proposal, posted to the Carnegie Mellon University computer science general board on 19 September 1982 (11:44), was thought to have been lost, but was recovered 20 years later by Jeff Baird from old backup tapes:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-) From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-)

Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use

:-(

Other notable computer scientists who participated in this thread include David Touretzky, Guy Steele, and Jaime Carbonell. Within a few months, it had spread to the ARPANET and Usenet.

♦ You can view the original message and bulletin board thread at this link: http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~sef/Orig-Smiley.htm, accessed 08-18-2013.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The GNU Free Software Project September 23, 1983

On September 23, 1983 Richard Stallman of MIT announced the GNU free software project on the net.unix-wizards and net.usoft newsgroups.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Cyberpunk Coined November 1983

In November 1983 Bruce Bethke coined the word "cyberpunk" in his story with that name that appeared in Amazing Stories published by Ziff-Davis in New York.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Coining the Term "Computer Virus" November 10, 1983

At Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on November 10, 1983 Frederick Cohen demonstrated a virus-like program on a VAX11/750 system. The program was able to install itself to, or infect, other system objects.

In 1984 Cohen used the phrase "computer virus" – as suggested by his teacher Leonard Adleman – to describe the operation of such programs in terms of "infection". He defined a 'virus' as "a program that can 'infect' other programs by modifying them to include a possibly evolved copy of itself.”

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Cyberspace" Popularized 1984

In 1984 American-Canadian writer William Gibson popularized the term “cyberspace” in his cyberpunk novel Neuromancer.

"The portion of Neuromancer cited in this respect is usually the following:

"Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.

" . . . . Gibson later commented on the origin of the term in the 2000 documentary No Maps for These Territories:

All I knew about the word "cyberspace" when I coined it, was that it seemed like an effective buzzword. It seemed evocative and essentially meaningless. It was suggestive of something, but had no real semantic meaning, even for me, as I saw it emerge on the page" (Wikipedia article on Cyberspace, accessed 11-26-2010).

Gibson coined the term cyberspace in his short story, Burning Chrome (1982).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

2600: The Hacker Quarterly 1984

In 1984 under the pen name of Emmanuel Goldstein (an Orwellian allusion to 1984), Eric Gordon Corley began publication of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly

"a quarterly American publication that specializes in publishing technical information on a variety of subjects including telephone switching systems, Internet protocols and services, as well as general news concerning the computer "underground" and left wing, and sometimes (but not recently), anarchist issues.

"The magazine's name comes from the phreaker discovery in the 1960s that the transmission of a 2600 hertz tone (which could be produced perfectly with a plastic toy whistle given away free with Cap'n Crunch cereal—discovered by friends of John Draper) over a long-distance trunk connection gained access to "operator mode" and allowed the user to explore aspects of the telephone system that were not otherwise accessible. The magazine was given its name by David Ruderman, who co-founded the magazine with his college friend and roommate, Eric Corley. It was first published in 1984, coinciding with the book of the same name and the break-up of AT&T. Ruderman ended his direct involvement with the magazine three years later.

"The magazine is published and edited by its co-founder Emmanuel Goldstein (a pen name of Eric Corley and allusion to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four) . . . .

"The magazine offers free advertising for subscribers. Many subscribers who have been imprisoned will take out personal ads seeking new friends and penpals" (Wikipedia article on 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, accessed 01-17-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Perhaps the first Underground "Ezine" June 1984

In June 1984 three BBS SysOps—"Grandmaster Ratte" (aka Swamp Ratte'), Franken Gibe, and Sid Vicious—founded the Cult of the Dead Cow, also known as cDc Communications, a computer hacker and DIY media organization. They published what may be the first underground ezine, also known as the Cult of the Dead Cow. In December 2013 continued to be published online.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Avatar in the Context of Online Representation of a User 1985

The Sanskrit word "avatar" was probably first used to denote the computer representation of a user as the name for the player character in the computer role-playing game, Avatar IV, Quest of the Avatar, developed for the Apple II in 1985 by Origin Systems, Austin, Texas.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. 1985

In 1985 Nintendo, Kyoto, Japan, introduced the Nintendo Entertainment System, and 8-bit game console. It was accompanied by Super Mario Bros., the best-selling video game as of 2008 with 40,000,000 copies sold.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The GNU Manifesto March 1985

In March 1985 Richard Stallman of MIT published the GNU Manifesto in Dr. Dobbs' Journal of Software Tools. This was an outgrowth of the GNU Project, the goal of which was to develop "a sufficient body of free software [...] to get along without any software that is not free."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Registered Internet Domain March 15, 1985

On March 15, 1985 Symbolics.com, owned by Symbolics, Inc., a computer manufacturer founded by Russel Noftsker in Cambridge, Massachusetts, became the first registered domain on the Internet.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

One of the First Online Communities April 1, 1985

On April 1, 1985 Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant founded The Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, one of the first online communities, in Sausalito, California. It later became  known as The WELL, and connected to the Internet in 1992.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Free Software Foundation October 4, 1985

On October 4, 1985 Richard Stallman of MIT founded the Free Software Foundation to support the free software movement.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Influential on the Development of Cyberpunk 1986

In 1986 the magazine High Frontiers renamed itself Reality Hackers to better reflect its drug culture and computer themes. In 1989 once again it changed its name to Mondo 2000. In this form it influenced the development of cyberpunk culture until its closure in 1998.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Brain", the First PC Virus Epidemic, Created in Lahore, Pakistan January 1986

The Brain boot sector virus (aka Pakistani flu), considered the first IBM PC compatible virus, and the program responsible for the first IBM PC compatible virus epidemic, was released in January 1986. Also known as Lahore, Pakistani, Pakistani Brain, the virus was created in Lahore, Pakistan by 19 year old Pakistani programmer, Basit Farooq Alvi, and his brother, Amjad Farooq Alvi. The virus which was not destructive, was spread by floppy disk.

In 2011 computer security expert Mikko Hyppönen produced and uploaded to YouTube a documentary interview of the Alvi brothers in Lahore, Pakistan

 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Hacker Manifesto January 8, 1986

After his arrest, on January 8, 1986 Loyd Blankenship, under his "handle" or pseudonym "The Mentor," published The Conscience of a Hacker in the underground hacker ezine  Phrack, Volume One, Issue 7, Phile 3 of 10. This was also known as The Hacker Manifesto.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Boing-Boing Begins as a Print Magazine 1988 – 2000

In 1988 Mark Frauenfelder and Carla Sinclair began publication on paper of the zine bOING bOING, "The World's Greatest Neurozine." The magazine became a founding influence in the development of cyberpunk. It became a website in 1995, and was relaunched as a blog—Boing Boing, "a directory of wonderful things," in 2000.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

An Internet-Based Hypertext System: Conceptual Origin of the World Wide Web March 1989

In March 1989 Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, issued Information Management: A Proposal, proposing an Internet-based hypertext system. In his words, this was a "an attempt to persuade CERN management that a global hypertext system was in CERN's interests. Note that the only name I had for it at this time was 'Mesh'." This document represents the conceptual origin of the World Wide Web.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1990 – 2000

Berners-Lee Plans the World Wide Web November 12, 1990

On November 12, 1990 Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, issued World Wide Web: Proposal for a Hypertext Project.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Web Page November 13, 1990

At CERN on November 13, 1990 Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first web page on a NeXT workstation.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Web Browser and Web Server December 25, 1990

During the Christmas holiday, 1990 Tim Berners-Lee wrote the software tools necessary for a working World Wide Web:

1. The first web browser called WorldWideWeb.

2. A WYSIWYG HTML editor

3. The first Web serverCERN httpd. It was operational on Christmas Day 1990.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Webcam 1991

In 1991 the first webcam, called the CoffeeCam, pointed at the Trojan room coffee pot in the computer science department of Cambridge University.

"The camera was installed on a local network in 1991 using a video capture card on an Acorn Archimedes computer. Employing the X Window System protocol, Quentin Stafford-Fraser wrote the client software and Paul Jardetzky wrote the server. When web browsers gained the ability to display images in March 1993, it was clear this would be an easier way to make the picture available. The camera was connected to the Internet in November 1993 by Daniel Gordon and Martyn Johnson. It therefore became visible to any Internet user and grew into a popular landmark of the early web." (quoted from the Trojan Room Coffee Machine article in Wikipedia, accessed 11-23-2008).

The camera was finally switched off on August 22, 2001. The final image captured by the camera could be viewed at its homepage in November 2008.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

First Release of the First Web Browser March 1991

In March 1991 Tim Berners-Lee released the first web browser, WorldWideWeb, to a number of people at CERN. This release introduced the web to the high energy physics community, and began the spread of the World Wide Web.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Gopher Protocol September 1991

In September 1991 Mark P. McCahill and team at the University of Minnesota developed the Gopher protocol, "a simple way to navigate distributed information resources on the Internet," but without hyperlinks. This was a significant disadvantage to the World Wide Web.

They announced the Internet Gopher on USENET. Its central goals were:

"* A file-like hierarchical arrangement that would be familiar to users

"* A simple syntax

"* A system that can be created quickly and inexpensively

"* Extending the file system metaphor to include things like searches

" The source of the name "Gopher" is claimed to be threefold:

"1. Users instruct it to 'go for' information

"2. It does so through a web of menu items analogous to gopher holes

"3. The sports teams of the University of Minnesota are the Golden Gophers (Wikipedia article on Gopher (protocol), accessed 06-04-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Web Server in North America December 12, 1991

Through the efforts of  physicist and software developer Paul Kunz and Terry Hung, the first web server in North America went live at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) on December 12, 1991.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Image Posted to the Web 1992

The first image posted to the web was a photograph of a CERN singing group called Les Horribles Cernettes posted in 1992.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Visions of a Metaverse June 1992

In 1992 American writer Neal Stephenson published the science fiction novel, Snow Crash. In it he coined the term Metaverse to describe "how a virtual reality-based Internet might evolve in the future."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Web's First and Longest Continuously Running Blog 1993

"In 1993, Dr. Glen Barry invented blogging, defined as web based commentary, linking to other articles. The "Forest Protection Blog" (originally entitled "Gaia's Forest Conservation Archives") at http://forests.org/blog/ was also the first political blog, as Dr. Barry campaigned there for forest protection and documented these efforts as his Ph.D. project. The first blog initially used the gopher protocol, and has been on the web continuously since Jan. 1995, making it the web's first and longest continuously running blog. Prior to this, Dr. Barry provided forest conservation materials via email and bulletin board since 1989. The work has since evolved into the world's largest environmental portals at http://www.ecoearth.info/" (Wikipedia article on History of blogging timeline, accessed 04-21-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Singularity January 1993

Mathematician, computer scientist and science fiction writer Vernor Vinge called the creation of the first ultraintelligent machine the Singularity in the January 1993 Omni magazine. Vinge's follow-up paper entitled "What is the Singularity?" presented at the VISION-21 Symposium sponsored by NASA Lewis Research Center( now NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field) and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, March 30-31, 1993, and  slightly changed in the Winter 1993 issue of Whole Earth Review, contained the oft-quoted statement,

"Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly thereafter, the human era will be ended."

"Vinge refines his estimate of the time scales involved, adding, 'I'll be surprised if this event occurs before 2005 or after 2030.

"Vinge continues by predicting that superhuman intelligences, however created, will be able to enhance their own minds faster than the humans that created them. 'When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress," Vinge writes, "that progress will be much more rapid.' This feedback loop of self-improving intelligence, he predicts, will cause large amounts of technological progress within a short period of time" (Wikipedia article on Technological singularity, accessed 05-24-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Wired 1.01 March 1993

The first issue of a magazine of cyberculture, Wired 1.01, was published in San Francisco under the editorship of Kevin Kelly in March 1993.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Commercial Website with the First Online Advertising May 1993

In May 1993 Tim O’Reilly, Sebastapol, California, launched the Global Network Navigator. This was the first web portal and the first true commercial website. According to a statement by Tim O'Reilly, it also contained the first online advertising. The Global Network Navigator was sold to America Online in 1995.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

FishCam: The Oldest Nearly Continuously Operational Webcam 1994

While working on the Netscape web browser in 1994, Louis J. "Lou" Montulli II built the Fishcam, one of the earliest live-image websites. Netscape hosted the Fishcam until long after they were no longer Netscape. After a short hiatus, in 2009 it found a new host.  When this note was written in May 2009 the Fishcam was operational and remained  one of the longest nearly continuously running live websites.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

One of the Earliest Blogs January 1994

In January 1994 Justin Hall, a student at Swarthmore College, started his web-based diary, Justin's Links from the Underground, Links.net, offering one of the earliest guided tours of the web. This is considered one of the earliest blogs.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Internet Cafe March 12 – March 13, 1994

Commissioned to develop an Internet event for "Towards the Aesthetics of the Future," an arts weekend at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, Ivan Pope wrote a proposal outlining the concept of a café with Internet access from the tables. Pope's Cybercafe, the first Internet cafe, operated during the weekend event, March 12-13, 1994.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Commercial Spaming Starts with the "Green Card Spam" April 12, 1994

Commercial spamming started when a pair of immigation lawyers from Phoenix, Arizona—Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel—used bulk Usenet postings to advertise immigration law services on April 12, 1994. This was called the "Green Card spam", after the subject line of the postings: "Green Card Lottery-Final One?"

"Canter and Siegel sent their advertisement, with the subject 'Green Card Lottery - Final One?', to at least 5,500 Usenet discussion groups, a huge number at the time. Rather than cross-posting a single copy of the message to multiple groups, so a reader would only see it once (considered a common courtesy when posting the same message to more than one group), they posted it as separate postings in each newsgroup, so a reader would see it in each group they read. Their internet service provider, Internet Direct, received so many complaints that its mail servers crashed repeatedly for the next two days; it promptly terminated their service. Despite the ire directed at the two lawyers, they posted another advertisement to 1,000 newsgroups in June 1994. This time, Arnt Gulbrandsen put together the first software "cancelbot" to trawl Usenet and kill their messages within minutes. The couple claimed in a December 1994 interview to have gained 1,000 new clients and 'made $100,000 off an ad that cost them only pennies' " (Wikipedia article on Lawrence Cantor and Martha Siegel, accessed 03-17-2012).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Whitehouse.gov Becomes Operational October 1994

In October 1994 the first public rendition of whitehouse.gov, "Welcome to the White House," went online.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"From Webspace to Cyberspace": A Pioneering Cultural and Historical Work December 1994

In December 1994 Kevin Hughes, then of Menlo Park, California, published privately version 1.0 of a pioneering cultural and historical work entitled From Webspace to Cyberspace.

"August 6, 1995 Announcing the release of "From Webspace to Cyberspace", a primer for the Age of the Internet. Originally released as an internal white paper at EIT in December 1994, it is now freely available. It is the sequel to "Entering the World-Wide Web: A Guide to Cyberspace".

It covers:

A brief history and overview of the World-Wide Web

An overview of today's online collaborative systems and descriptions of future work

An introduction to true cyberspace: what it means, media analyses, common myths, and applications of virtual environment technology

Future VRML issues, new tools, VRML browsers, world elements, and cyberspacial design guidelines

Descriptions of next generation VRML browsers and an analysis of navigation methods

Current and future trends in human-computer interface design, new environments, basic layouts, vision-related issues, and         input/output devices

Three-dimensional world design guidelines, with examples and never before seen 3D prototypes of collaborative spaces and universes developed at EIT

The future of the Internet: current problems with the World-Wide Web, new business models, new media, culture acceleration, and what cyberspace needs

It also includes the "History of Cyberspace", five
parallel timelines with almost 1,000 events that track:

Influential popular media and events of the last 500
years

The history of the Internet

The history of VR and VRML

The history of hypertext, hypermedia, and the World-Wide Web

The history of computers" (http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-talk/msg01457.html, accessed 12-04-2013).

In December 2013 version 1.1 of Hughes's paper, produced in July 1995, was available at this link.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

PlayStation is Launched December 3, 1994

On December 3, 1994 Sony launched its first PlayStation game console in Japan.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Wiki March 25, 1995

On March 25, 1995 Ward Cunningham of Portland, Oregon, established the first wiki—the WikiWikiWeb on the c2.com domain for Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc. Wiki "was named by Cunningham, who remembered a Honolulu International Airport counter employee telling him to take the 'Wiki Wiki' shuttle bus that runs between the airport's terminals. According to Cunningham, 'I chose wiki-wiki as an alliterative substitute for 'quick' and thereby avoided naming this stuff quick-web.' Cunningham was in part inspired by Apple's HyperCard. Apple had designed a system allowing users to create virtual 'card stacks' supporting links among the various cards. Cunningham developed Vannevar Bush's ideas by allowing users to 'comment on and change one another's text' (Wikipedia article on Wiki, accessed 12-29-2009).

♦ In December 2013 a video of a 2006 interview of Ward Cunningham with John Gage at the Computer History Museum was available at this link.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Johnny Mnemonic": The First Film to Portray a Graphic Vision of Cyberspace June 1995

The science fiction cyberpunk action film Johnny Mnemonic, released in June 1995, was the first major motion picture to portray a graphic vision of cyberspace or the Internet. Loosely based on the short story "Johnny Mnemonic" by William Gibson, it was directed by Robert Longo, and starred Keanu ReevesDolph LundgrenTakeshiIce-T and Dina Meyer. Its graphic sequences were the first full-frame 35mm effects to be completed using IBM-compatible hardware.

Regardless of the questionable acting and primitive computer graphics, Johnny Mnemonic introduced a compelling idea: the use of hand gestures or object manipulation to gain access to information. This we did not see again until the 2002 film Minority ReportThe main character must properly manipulate a segmented pyramidal shape in order to gain access to a certain file. He twists the segments in a certain order as one manipulates a Pyraminx (a triangular version of the Rubik's Cube) until the proper sequence is performed.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Beginning of the "Dot-Com Bubble" August 9, 1995

On August 9, 1995 Netscape Communications, Mountain View, California, had a very successful IPO. The stock, initially intended to be offered at $14 per share, was offered at double that for the IPO, and reached $75 on the first day of trading.

This was later considered the beginning of the "dot-com bubble."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

ABC's "World News Now" Becomes the First Television Show Broadcast over the Internet November 23, 1995

On Thanksgiving morning, November 23, 1995, ABC's World News Now became the first television show broadcast over the Internet, using the CU-SeeMe videoconferencing software. This was the beginning of Internet Protocol Television IPTV. The show was simulcast on the Internet daily for a six month trial period.

Between 1999 and 2001 World News Now was one of the first shows to webcast; the program was streamed live for free on the ABC News website. 

Also, on September 22, 2009, World News Now became the first network overnight newscast to begin broadcasting in high definition.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace 1996

In response to the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, John Perry Barlow wrote A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

First Recorded Use of the Term, Phishing January 2, 1996

The first recorded use of the term "phishing" (baits used to "catch financial information and passwords) occurred on January 2, 1996 on the "alt.online-service. America-online" Usenet newsgroup after AOL introduced measures to prevent using fake, algorithmically generated credit card numbers to open accounts. To obtain legitimate credit card information AOL crackers resorted to phishing.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Full-Time Online Webcam Girl April 1996 – 2003

In April 1996, during her junior year at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Internet personality and lifecaster Jennifer Ringley began the popular website, JenniCam. She was the first real full time online webcam girl.

"Previously, live webcams transmitted static shots from cameras aimed through windows or at coffee pots. Ringley's innovation was simply to allow others to view her daily activities.

"In June 2008, CNET hailed JenniCam as one of the greatest defunct websites in history.

"Regarded by some as a conceptual artist, Ringley viewed her site as a straight-forward document of her life. She did not wish to filter the events that were shown on her camera, so sometimes she was shown nude or engaging in sexual behavior, including sexual intercourse and masturbation. This was a new use of Internet technology in 1996 and viewers were stimulated both for its sociological implications and for sexual arousal. Surveillance became conceptual art, as noted by Mark Tribe in 'New Media Art':

In Web sites like JenniCAM, in which a young woman installed Web cameras in her home to expose her everyday actions to online viewers. . . surveillance became a source of voyeuristic and exhibitionistic excitement. . . Institutional surveillance and the invasion of privacy have been widely explored by New Media artists.'

"Ringley's genuine desires to maintain the purity of the cam-eye view of her life eventually created the need to establish that she was within her rights as an adult to broadcast such information, in the legal sense, and that it was not harmful to other adults. Unlike later for-profit webcam services, Ringley did not spend her day displaying her private parts, and she spent much more time discussing her romantic life than she did her sex life. Ringley maintained her webcam site for seven years" (Wikipedia article on Jennifer Ringley, accessed 05-08-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Kasparov Loses to Deep Blue: The First Time a Human Chess Player Loses to a Computer Under Tournament Conditions May 11, 1997

On May 11, 1997 Gary Kasparov, sometimes regarded as the greatest chess player of all time, resigned 19 moves into Game 6 against Deep Blue, an IBM RS/6000 SP supercomputer capable of calculating 200 million chess positions per second. This was the first time that a human world chess champion lost to a computer under tournament conditions.

The event, which took place at the Equitable Center in New York, was broadcast live from IBM's website via a Java viewer, and became the world's record "Net event" at the time.

"Since the emergence of artificial intelligence and the first computers in the late 1940s, computer scientists compared the performance of these 'giant brains' with human minds, and gravitated to chess as a way of testing the calculating abilities of computers. The game is a collection of challenging problems for minds and machines, but has simple rules, and so is perfect for such experiments.

"Over the years, many computers took on many chess masters, and the computers lost.

"IBM computer scientists had been interested in chess computing since the early 1950s. In 1985, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, Feng-hsiung Hsu, began working on his dissertation project: a chess playing machine he called ChipTest. A classmate of his, Murray Campbell, worked on the project, too, and in 1989, both were hired to work at IBM Research. There, they continued their work with the help of other computer scientists, including Joe Hoane, Jerry Brody and C. J. Tan. The team named the project Deep Blue. The human chess champion won in 1996 against an earlier version of Deep Blue; the 1997 match was billed as a 'rematch.'

"The champion and computer met at the Equitable Center in New York, with cameras running, press in attendance and millions watching the outcome. The odds of Deep Blue winning were not certain, but the science was solid. The IBMers knew their machine could explore up to 200 million possible chess positions per second. The chess grandmaster won the first game, Deep Blue took the next one, and the two players drew the three following games. Game 6 ended the match with a crushing defeat of the champion by Deep Blue." 

"The AI crowd, too, was pleased with the result and the attention, but dismayed by the fact that Deep Blue was hardly what their predecessors had imagined decades earlier when they dreamed of creating a machine to defeat the world chess champion. Instead of a computer that thought and played chess like a human, with human creativity and intuition, they got one that played like a machine, systematically evaluating 200 million possible moves on the chess board per second and winning with brute number-crunching force. As Igor Aleksander, a British AI and neural networks pioneer, explained in his 2000 book, How to Build a Mind:  

" 'By the mid-1990s the number of people with some experience of using computers was many orders of magnitude greater than in the 1960s. In the Kasparov defeat they recognized that here was a great triumph for programmers, but not one that may compete with the human intelligence that helps us to lead our lives.'

"It was an impressive achievement, of course, and a human achievement by the members of the IBM team, but Deep Blue was only intelligent the way your programmable alarm clock is intelligent. Not that losing to a $10 million alarm clock made me feel any better" (Gary Kasparov, "The Chess Master and the Computer," The New York Review of Books, 57, February 11, 2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Cluetrain Manifesto 1998

In 1998 Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searles and David Weinberger published the Cluetrain Manifesto containing 95 theses, presumably, and possibly grandiosely, in the tradition of Martin Luther.

The manifesto was first published online, followed in December 1999 by a printed book issued by Perseus Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“A powerful global conversation has begun.” “Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter--and getting smarter faster than most companies.” “Markets are conversations.”

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"You've Got Mail", a Movie about Love, Email, and the Book Trade 1998

You've Got Mail, an American romantic comedy film set in New York City starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, was released by Warner Brothers in 1998. The film dramatized a romantic relationship that develops over email, featuring AOL's "You've got mail" slogan in product placement. Paralleling this film about computers and society was the film's subplot of the forced closure of a small independent bookshop by competition from a big-box chain bookstore — thus You've Got Mail was not only a film about computers and romance, but also a commentary about the changing face of the book trade.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Matrix: Referencing Cyberpunk and Hacker Cultures 1999

The Matrix, a 1999 science fiction-martial arts-action film,

"describes a future in which reality perceived by humans is actually the Matrix: a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue the human population while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Upon learning this, computer programmer "Neo" is drawn into a rebellion against the machines. The film contains many references to the cyberpunk and hacker subcultures; philosophical and religious ideas; and homages to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Hong Kong action cinema, Spaghetti Westerns, and Japanese animation" (Wikipedia article on The Matrix, accessed 12-23-2008).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Nigerian Letter Scams Move to the Internet 1999

In 1999 the Better Business Bureau warned about Nigerian spams sent by email. These letter scams had previously operated for perhaps 100 years by mail sent on paper. 

"For Immediate Release

"June 10, 1999 - The wording is very familiar to Better Business Bureaus nationwide …only the method of contact, and country of origin have changed:

"* 'We respectfully invite your kind attention to the transfer of U.S. $25 million into your personal/company offshore account.'

"* 'you will receive 20% of the total sum, 10% for miscellaneous expenses and the remaining 70% is for me and my colleagues.'

"* 'It is our sincere conviction that you will handle this transaction with absolute confidentiality, maturity and utmost sense of purpose.'

"* 'such transaction to commence within 10 business days.'

"These statements are typical of the lures contained in what's commonly referred to as 'Nigerian Letter Scams.' The BBB warns that these scams have recently gone high-tech and are emanating from several countries throughout Africa, as well as New Zealand, Brazil and Great Britain. Members of the BBB nationwide report that such pitches now arrive unannounced and uninvited in their fax and email boxes.

"The letters are usually signed by someone who 'represents' the relevant country's Ministry of Commerce or Finance or the Department of Petroleum Resources. The writer claims that huge funds are left over from a deliberately inflated construction contract or purchase order and he's seeking to ship the funds offshore.

" 'Now that the Nigerian letter scam has gone high-tech and is being perpetrated via fax machines and e-mails, it's more critical than ever that we educate business owners and managers to this scam,' said James L. Bast, president of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., the umbrella organization for the nation's BBBs. 'If you receive an offer from a stranger who promises a large payoff in return for assisting in transferring millions of dollars out of Nigeria or any other country, ignore it.' Some letters request copies of business letterhead; others request the name and address of the company and details about its business activities. 'Any response to this fraudulent offer will bring the con artist one step closer to being able to plunder your bank account,' Bast said" (http://www.bbb.org/alerts/article.asp?ID=41. accessed 05-08-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"The World Wide Web is the only thing I know of whose shortened form takes three times longer to say than what it is short for." 1999

"The World Wide Web is the only thing I know of whose shortened
 form takes three times longer to say than what it's short for." --

This quote by English writer, humorist and dramatist Douglas Adams was penned in November of 1999 for his Sunday regular column in The Independent. On March 17, 2000 Adams posted the column on his website, h2g2.com., The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition at this link (accessed 03-14-2014). In May 2002, one year after Adams' early death at the age of 49, the column was published in print in The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time, a posthumous collection of Adams's writings.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Napster Sharing Service for MP3 Files is Launched June 1, 1999

On June 1, 1999 American computer programmer and entrepreneur Shawn Fanning released the Napster file sharing service for MP3 files from his headquarters in Hull, Massachusetts. After Napster's early explosive success Fanning moved the company to San Mateo, California. "The original company ran into legal difficulties over copyright infringement, ceased operations and was eventually acquired by Roxio. In its second incarnation Napster became an online music store until it merged with Rhapsody on 1 December 2011" (Wikipedia article on Napster, accessed 03-18-2012).

"It [Napster] was the first of the massively popular peer-to-peer file sharing systems, although it was not fully peer-to-peer since it used central servers to maintain lists of connected systems and the files they provided, while actual transactions were conducted directly between machines. Although there were already media which facilitated the sharing of files across the Internet, such as IRC, Hotline, and USENET, Napster specialized exclusively in music in the form of MP3 files and presented a friendly user-interface. The result was a system whose popularity generated an enormous selection of music to download."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act is Enacted November 29, 1999

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (also known as Truth in Domain Names Act), was enacted into U.S. law on November 29, 1999 as is part of A bill to amend the provisions of title 17, United States Code, and the Communications Act of 1934, relating to copyright licensing and carriage of broadcast signals by satellite (S. 1948). The act mades people who registered domain names that are either trademarks or individual's names with the sole intent of selling the rights of the domain name to the trademark holder or individual for a profit liable to civil action.

"In order for a trademark owner to bring a claim under the ACPA, the owner must establish

  • the trademark owner’s mark is distinctive or famous;
  • the domain name owner acted in bad faith to profit from the mark; and
  • the domain name and the trademark are either identical or confusingly similar (or dilutive for famous trademarks)" 

(Wikipedia article on Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, accessed 11-24-2008).


The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act was enacted in part because the domain whitehouse.com went online in 1997 as an "adult entertainment" site, leading to this letter from a Whitehouse consel:

"The following is a December letter from a White House counsel to the operator of the "whitehouse.com" adult site regarding the use of the domain and the names and images of the White House, President Clinton, and Hillary Clinton on the site:

"The White House

"Washington

"December 8, 1997

 

"Mr. Dan Parisi

"Secaucus, New Jersey

"Dear Mr. Parisi:

"It will come as no surprise to you that the White House Counsel's Office is aware of your Internet Web site, "www.whitehouse.com," and that we object to your use of the names and images of the White House, the President, and the First Lady on that Web site to sell memberships in an adult video club. We also recognize that you undoubtedly will use this letter as an object of humor and as an invitation to advance the claim that you are merely exercising your rights under the First Amendment.

"We too believe in the First Amendment--and in humor, although we see nothing humorous in your use of the White House domain name to draw children and other unwitting Internet users to your Web site. However distasteful your business may be, we do not challenge your right to pursue it or to exercise your First Amendment rights, but we do challenge your right to use the White House, the President, and the First Lady as a marketing device. For adult internet users, that device is, at the least, part of a deceptive scheme. For younger Internet users, it has more disturbing consequences. As your own online disclaimer implicitly acknowledges, the foreseeable result of your use of the White House domain name is that children will access your Web site inadvertently. Your customers will understand that such a result is unconscionable, and so, we submit, should you.

Sincerely,

Charles F.C. Ruff

Counsel to the President" (http://news.cnet.com/2009-1023-207800.html, accessed 06-15-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

2000 – 2005

An Injunction Against Napter to Prevent Trading of Copyrighted Music March 5, 2001

The Napster logo

On March 5, 2001 the Ninth Circuit Court, San Francisco, issued an injunction ordering Napster to prevent the trading of copyrighted music on its network.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Microsoft's Xbox is Launched November 15, 2001

The original Xbox

The coverart for Smartbomb

The Microsoft logo

On November 15, 2001 Microsoft launched the Xbox game console, its first entry into the gaming console market.

"According to the book Smartbomb, by Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby, the remarkable success of the upstart Sony PlayStation worried Microsoft in late 1990s. The growing video game market seemed to threaten the PC market which Microsoft had dominated and relied upon for most of its revenues. Additionally, a venture into the gaming console market would diversify Microsoft's product line, which up to that time had been heavily concentrated on software."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Minority Report": The Movie 2002

Steven Spielberg

The movie poster for Minority Report

The cover art for Minority Report by Philip Dick

Philip Dick

Steven Spielberg directed the science fiction 2002 film Minority Report, loosely based on the short story, "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick.

"It is set primarily in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia in the year 2054, where "Precrime", a specialized police department, apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called 'precogs'. The cast includes Tom Cruise as Precrime officer John Anderton, Colin Farrell as Department of Justice agent Danny Witwer, Samantha Morton as the senior precog Agatha, and Max von Sydow as Anderton's superior Lamar Burgess. The film has a distinctive look, featuring desaturated colors that make it almost resemble a black-and-white film, yet the blacks and shadows have a high contrast, resembling film noir."

"Some of the technologies depicted in the film were later developed in the real world – for example, multi-touch interfaces are similar to the glove-controlled interface used by Anderton. Conversely, while arguing against the lack of physical contact in touch screen phones, PC Magazine's Sascha Segan argued in February 2009, 'This is one of the reasons why we don't yet have the famous Minority Report information interface. In that movie, Tom Cruise donned special gloves to interact with an awesome PC interface where you literally grab windows and toss them around the screen. But that interface is impractical without the proper feedback—without actually being able to feel where the edges of the windows are' " (Wikipedia article on Minority Report [film] accessed 05-25-2009).

The two-disc special edition of the film issued on DVD in 2002 contained excellent supplementary material on the special digital effects.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Machinima is Founded 2002

Paul Marino

In 2002 Paul Marino founded the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences in New York.

"So, what is Machinima?

"Machinima (muh-sheen-eh-mah) is filmmaking within a real-time, 3D virtual environment, often using 3D video-game technologies. 

"In an expanded definition, it is the convergence of filmmaking, animation and game development. Machinima is real-world filmmaking techniques applied within an interactive virtual space where characters and events can be either controlled by humans, scripts or artificial intelligence. By combining the techniques of filmmaking, animation production and the technology of real-time 3D game engines, Machinima makes for a very cost- and time-efficient way to produce films, with a large amount of creative control" 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Second Life" is Launched 2003

Linden Lab logo

An image from the Second Life game by Linden Lab

In 2003 Linden Lab of San Francisco, California, made publicly available the privately owned, partly subscription-based, virtual world called Second Life.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Grand Text Auto" A Group Blog May 2003 – May 2009

Grand Text Auto logo

In May 2003 Mary Flanagan, Michael Mateas, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, Andrew Stern, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin founded the group blog Grand Text Auto. It was 

"about computer mediated and computer generated works of many forms: interactive fiction, net.art, electronic poetry, interactive drama, hypertext fiction, computer games of all sorts, shared virtual environments, and more."

In May 2009 GTxA became "an aggregator for a distributed group of blogs in which we participate. The authors of these blogs work as both theorists and developers, and are interested in authorship, design, and technology, as well as issues of interaction and reception."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

MySpace is Founded August 2003

Brad Greenspan

Tom Anderson, aka "Tom of Myspace"

In August 2003 Brad Greenspan and eUniverse founded MySpace in Santa Monica, California.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Facebook February 4, 2004

Mark Zuckerberg

The original homepage for Thefacebook

The current facebook logo

On February 4, 2004, while a student at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg founded Thefacebook.com.

The name of the site was later simplified to Facebook. Membership was initially limited to Harvard students. but then expanded to other colleges in the Ivy League. Facebook expanded further to include any university student, then high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over. 

♦ In August 2013, after Facebook had over one billion users, a timeline entitled The Evolution of Facebook was available from The New York Times.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

2005 – 2010

Sony's Playstation and PS1 Are the First Game Console to Sell 100 Million Units March 31, 2005

The PS1

On March 31, 2005 Sony's PlayStation and PS 1 reached "a combined total of 102.49 million units shipped", becoming the first video game console to reach the 100 million mark.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Video is Uploaded to YouTube April 23, 2005

A screen shot from the first video uploaded to YouTube

The first video uploaded to YouTube—on April 23, 2005— was shot by Yakov Lapitsky at the San Diego Zoo. It showed co-founder Jawed Karim in front of the elephant enclosure "going on about long trunks."

By Feburary 2011 this brief video had been viewed 4,282,497 times. 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

AOL Buys The Huffington Post May 9, 2005 – February 7, 2011

The Huffington Post homepage

Arianna Huffington

The AOL logo

The Huffington Post, which launched on May 9, 2005 with a meager $1 million investment, and grew into one of the most heavily visited news sites in the country, announced that it would be acquired by AOL for $315 million, $300 million of it in cash and the rest in stock. 

"Arianna Huffington, the cable talk show pundit, author and doyenne of the political left, will take control of all of AOL’s editorial content as president and editor in chief of a newly created Huffington Post Media Group. The arrangement will give her oversight not only of AOL’s national, local and financial news operations, but also of the company’s other media enterprises like MapQuest and Moviefonea' (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/business/media/07aol.html?_r=1&hp).

"The company that brought dial-up Internet to millions of people is dead. In its place is a massive media empire that refuses to be ignored.  

"With its blockbuster acquisition of The Huffington Post, AOL has catapulted itself back into relevancy. It has sent a clear signal to the rest of the world that it is a media company and it is in this game to win.  

"AOL has been on a content acquisition spree recently, not only acquiring the technology blog network TechCrunch, but also snagging up Thing Labs, Brizzly and most recently About.me in the past few months" (http://mashable.com/2011/02/07/aol-huffington-post/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+Mashable+(Mashable), accessed 02-07-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Wikimania!: The First International Wikimedia Conference Takes Place August 4 – August 8, 2005

The Wikimedia logo

A simulated Wikimania banner in Frankfurt

Wikimania 2005: The First International Wikimedia Conference was held in Frankfurt am Main from August 4-8, 2005.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Million Dollar Homepage August 25, 2005 – January 11, 2006

A screenshot of the Million Dollar Homepage

On August 25, 2005 Alex Tew, a student from Wiltshire, England, launched The Million Dollar Homepage to pay for his university education.

"The home page consists of a million pixels arranged in a 1000 × 1000 pixel grid; the image-based links on it were sold for $1 per pixel in 10 × 10 blocks. The purchasers of these pixel blocks provided tiny images to be displayed on them, a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to which the images were linked, and a slogan to be displayed when hovering a cursor over the link. The aim of the site was to sell all of the pixels in the image, thus generating a million dollars of income for the creator. The Wall Street Journal has commented that the site inspired other websites that sell pixels.

"Launched on 26 August 2005, the website became an Internet phenomenon. The Alexa ranking of web traffic peaked at around 127; as of 18 February 2009 (2009 -02-18)[update], it is 42,735. On 1 January 2006, the final 1,000 pixels were put up for auction on eBay. The auction closed on 11 January with a winning bid of $38,100 that brought the final tally to $1,037,100 in gross income" (Wikipedia article on The Million Dollar Homepage, accessed 05-08-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Highest Price Paid for a Domain Name January 16, 2006

Gary Kremen

Having initially registered the domain name for free, after which he temporarily lost it to a con man, Gary Kremen won a lawsuit and sold Sex.com for Boston-based Escom LLC $14,000,000 or  "$15 million in cash and stock." This was the highest price obtained for a domain name at the time. Maybe ever?

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"The Greatest 200 Videogames of Their Time" February 2, 2006

The cover of the 200th issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly

A screenshot from Super Mario Bros, listed at No. 1 in the list of "The Greatest 200 Videogames of Their Time"

In February 2006, as part of their celebration of their 200th issue, Electronic Gaming Monthly ranked, in ascending order of importance, "The Greatest 200 Videogames of their Time."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

World Wide Web History Center is Founded March 2006

The World Wide Web History Center logo

William B. Prickett

In March 2006 Marc Weber and William B. Pickett founded the World Wide Web History Center.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Most Viewed Video on YouTube as of 2009 April 2006 – May 9, 2009

Judson Laipply

American motivational speaker, inspirational comedian, and dancer Judson Laipply from Bucyrus, Ohio, posted the video clip Evolution of Dance on YouTube.

By May 9, 2009 the video had been viewed 119,378,381 times.  AT this date it was the Most Viewed (All Time) Video, the Most Favorited (All Time) Video, and the eighth Most Discussed (All Time) Video on YouTube.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Will it Blend?: Viral Marketing October 2006

The "Will It Blend?" campaign logo

In October 2006 Tom Dickson, the founder of Blendtec, a blender manufacturer in Orem, Utah, began the Will it Blend? viral marketing campaign on the Internet. Between downloads on YouTube and on the Will it Blend? website, the advertising program became one of the most successful Internet marketing campaigns, surpassing 100,000,000 hits by May 2009. Ads featured blending of many absurd items, such as blending an iPhone. Many of the bizarre ads were listed and linked-to in the Wikipedia article on Will it Blend?.

 

 

 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Anshe Chung Becomes First Virtual World Millionaire" November 26, 2006

Ailin Graef

Ailin Graef's character, Anshe Chung

Available virtual real estate for purchase from Anshe Chung

The cover of businessweek featuring Anshe Chung

On November 26, 2006 it was announced that "Anshe Chung [Real life: Ailin Graef] has become the first online personality to achieve a net worth exceeding one million US dollars from profits entirely earned inside a virtual world.

"Recently featured on the cover of Business Week Magazine, Anshe Chung is a resident in the virtual world Second Life. Inside Second Life, Anshe buys and develops virtual real-estate in an official currency, known as Linden Dollars, which is convertible to US Dollars. There is also a liquid market in virtual real estate, making it possible to assess the value of her total holdings using publicly available statistics. 

"The fortune Anshe Chung commands in Second Life includes virtual real estate that is equivalent to 36 square kilometers of land – this property is supported by 550 servers or land "simulators". In addition to her virtual real estate holdings, Anshe has 'cash' holdings of several million Linden Dollars, several virtual shopping malls, virtual store chains, and she has established several virtual brands in Second Life. She also has significant virtual stock market investments in Second Life companies.

"Anshe Chung's achievement is all the more remarkable because the fortune was developed over a period of two and a half years from an initial investment of $9.95 for a Second Life account by Anshe's creator, Ailin Graef. Anshe/Ailin achieved her fortune by beginning with small scale purchases of virtual real estate which she then subdivided and developed with landscaping and themed architectural builds for rental and resale. Her operations have since grown to include the development and sale of properties for large scale real world corporations, and have led to a real life "spin off" corporation called Anshe Chung Studios, which develops immersive 3D environments for applications ranging from education to business conferencing and product prototyping.

"Ailin Graef was born and raised in Hubei, China, but is currently a citizen of Germany. She runs Anshe Chung Studios with her husband Guntram Graef, who serves as CEO of the company. Anshe Chung Studios has offices in Wuhan, China and is currently seeking to expand its workforce from 25 to 50" (http://www.anshechung.com/include/press/press_release251106.html, accessed 01-27-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"An Uncensorable System for Mass Document Leaking" December 2006

Julian Assange

The Wikileaks logo

In December 2006 Julian Assange and others founded Wikileaks, a website, with no official headquarters, that published anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive governmental, corporate, or religious documents, while attempting to preserve the anonymity and untraceability of its contributors. Within one year of its foundation the site grew to 1,200,000 documents.

"The site states that it was 'founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa". The creators of Wikileaks were unidentified as of January 2007, although it has been represented in public since January 2007 by non-anonymous speakers such as Julian Assange, who had described himself as a member of Wikileaks' advisory board and was later referred to as the 'founder of Wikileaks.' "

"Wikileaks describes itself as 'an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking'. Wikileaks is hosted by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing 'highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services'. PRQ is said to have 'almost no information about its clientele and maintains few if any of its own logs'. PRQ is owned by Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij who, through their involvement in The Pirate Bay, have significant experience in withstanding legal challenges from authorities. Being hosted by PRQ makes it difficult to take Wikileaks offline. Furthermore, 'Wikileaks maintains its own servers at undisclosed locations, keeps no logs and uses military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information.' Such arrangements have been called 'bulletproof hosting' (Wikipedia article on Wikileaks, accessed 11-25-2009).

"WikiLeaks was originally launched as a user-editable wiki site, but has progressively moved towards a more traditional publication model, and no longer accepts either user comments or edits. The site is available on multiple online servers and different domain names following a number of denial-of-service attacks and its severance from different Domain Name System (DNS) providers" (Wikipedia article on Wikileaks, accessed 12-08-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Reported Case of ZZZ-Mailing December 15, 2008

"A WOMAN in a deep sleep sent emails to friends asking them over for wine and caviar in what doctors believe is the first reported case of 'zzz-mailing' - using the internet while asleep.

"The case of the 44-year-old woman is reported by researchers from the University of Toledo in the latest edition of the medical journal Sleep Medicine.

"They said the woman went to bed about 10pm but got up two hours later and walked to her computer in the next room, Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reports.

"She turned it on, connected to the internet, and logged on before composing and sending three emails.

"Each was in a random mix of upper and lower cases, not well formatted and written in strange language, the researchers said.

"One read: "Come tomorrow and sort this hell hole out. Dinner and drinks, 4pm,. Bring wine and caviar only."

"Another said simply, "What the…".

"The new variation of sleepwalking has been described as "zzz-mailing".

"We believe writing an email after turning the computer on, connecting to the internet and remembering the password displayed by our patient is novel," the researchers said.

"To our knowledge this type of complex behaviour requiring co-ordinated movements has not been reported before in sleepwalking" (http://www.news.com.au/technology/story/0,28348,24802639-5014239,00.html, accessed 12-30-2008)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Kickstarter.com is Launched April 28, 2009

On April 28, 2009 Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler launched Kickstarter.com, originally under the url of KickStartr.com. The company was based in New York City.

"One of a number of fundraising platforms dubbed 'crowd funding,' Kickstarter facilitates gathering monetary resources from the general public, a model which circumvents many traditional avenues of investment. Project creators choose a deadline and a goal minimum of funds to raise. If the chosen goal is not gathered by the deadline, no funds are collected (this is known as a provision point mechanism). Money pledged by donors is collected using Amazon Payments. The platform is open to backers from anywhere in the world and to creators from the US or the UK.

"Kickstarter takes 5% of the funds raised. Amazon charges an additional 3–5%. Unlike many forums for fundraising or investment, Kickstarter claims no ownership over the projects and the work they produce. However, projects launched on the site are permanently archived and accessible to the public. After funding is completed, projects and uploaded media cannot be edited or removed from the site" (Wikipedia article on Kickstarter, accessed 02-21-2013).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

2010 – 2012

The Sociology of Wikipedians March 2010

A joint study of the Wikipedia contributor population by the United Nations University and the Maastricht Economical and social Research and training centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) suggested on March 2010 that Wikipedians 9contributors to the Wikipedia) were over 85% male and in their mid-20s.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"The Data-Driven Life" April 20, 2010

On April 20,, 2010 writer Gary Wolf published "The Data-Driven Life" in The New York Times Magazine:

". . . . Another person I’m friendly with, Mark Carranza — he also makes his living with computers — has been keeping a detailed, searchable archive of all the ideas he has had since he was 21. That was in 1984. I realize that this seems impossible. But I have seen his archive, with its million plus entries, and observed him using it. He navigates smoothly between an interaction with somebody in the present moment and his digital record, bringing in associations to conversations that took place years earlier. Most thoughts are tagged with date, time and location. What for other people is an inchoate flow of mental life is broken up into elements and cross-referenced.  

"These men all know that their behavior is abnormal. They are outliers. Geeks. But why does what they are doing seem so strange? In other contexts, it is normal to seek data. A fetish for numbers is the defining trait of the modern manager. Corporate executives facing down hostile shareholders load their pockets full of numbers. So do politicians on the hustings, doctors counseling patients and fans abusing their local sports franchise on talk radio. Charles Dickens was already making fun of this obsession in 1854, with his sketch of the fact-mad schoolmaster Gradgrind, who blasted his students with memorized trivia. But Dickens’s great caricature only proved the durability of the type. For another century and a half, it got worse.

"Or, by another standard, you could say it got better. We tolerate the pathologies of quantification — a dry, abstract, mechanical type of knowledge — because the results are so powerful. Numbering things allows tests, comparisons, experiments. Numbers make problems less resonant emotionally but more tractable intellectually. In science, in business and in the more reasonable sectors of government, numbers have won fair and square. For a long time, only one area of human activity appeared to be immune. In the cozy confines of personal life, we rarely used the power of numbers. The techniques of analysis that had proved so effective were left behind at the office at the end of the day and picked up again the next morning. The imposition, on oneself or one’s family, of a regime of objective record keeping seemed ridiculous. A journal was respectable. A spreadsheet was creepy.  

"And yet, almost imperceptibly, numbers are infiltrating the last redoubts of the personal. Sleep, exercise, sex, food, mood, location, alertness, productivity, even spiritual well-being are being tracked and measured, shared and displayed. On MedHelp, one of the largest Internet forums for health information, more than 30,000 new personal tracking projects are started by users every month. Foursquare, a geo-tracking application with about one million users, keeps a running tally of how many times players “check in” at every locale, automatically building a detailed diary of movements and habits; many users publish these data widely. Nintendo’s Wii Fit, a device that allows players to stand on a platform, play physical games, measure their body weight and compare their stats, has sold more than 28 million units.  

"Two years ago, as I noticed that the daily habits of millions of people were starting to edge uncannily close to the experiments of the most extreme experimenters, I started a Web site called the Quantified Self with my colleague Kevin Kelly. We began holding regular meetings for people running interesting personal data projects. I had recently written a long article about a trend among Silicon Valley types who time their days in increments as small as two minutes, and I suspected that the self-tracking explosion was simply the logical outcome of this obsession with efficiency. We use numbers when we want to tune up a car, analyze a chemical reaction, predict the outcome of an election. We use numbers to optimize an assembly line. Why not use numbers on ourselves?  

"But I soon realized that an emphasis on efficiency missed something important. Efficiency implies rapid progress toward a known goal. For many self-trackers, the goal is unknown. Although they may take up tracking with a specific question in mind, they continue because they believe their numbers hold secrets that they can’t afford to ignore, including answers to questions they have not yet thought to ask.

"Ubiquitous self-tracking is a dream of engineers. For all their expertise at figuring out how things work, technical people are often painfully aware how much of human behavior is a mystery. People do things for unfathomable reasons. They are opaque even to themselves. A hundred years ago, a bold researcher fascinated by the riddle of human personality might have grabbed onto new psychoanalytic concepts like repression and the unconscious. These ideas were invented by people who loved language. Even as therapeutic concepts of the self spread widely in simplified, easily accessible form, they retained something of the prolix, literary humanism of their inventors. From the languor of the analyst’s couch to the chatty inquisitiveness of a self-help questionnaire, the dominant forms of self-exploration assume that the road to knowledge lies through words. Trackers are exploring an alternate route. Instead of interrogating their inner worlds through talking and writing, they are using numbers. They are constructing a quantified self.  

"UNTIL A FEW YEARS ago it would have been pointless to seek self-knowledge through numbers. Although sociologists could survey us in aggregate, and laboratory psychologists could do clever experiments with volunteer subjects, the real way we ate, played, talked and loved left only the faintest measurable trace. Our only method of tracking ourselves was to notice what we were doing and write it down. But even this written record couldn’t be analyzed objectively without laborious processing and analysis.  "Then four things changed. First, electronic sensors got smaller and better. Second, people started carrying powerful computing devices, typically disguised as mobile phones. Third, social media made it seem normal to share everything. And fourth, we began to get an inkling of the rise of a global superintelligence known as the cloud.

"Millions of us track ourselves all the time. We step on a scale and record our weight. We balance a checkbook. We count calories. But when the familiar pen-and-paper methods of self-analysis are enhanced by sensors that monitor our behavior automatically, the process of self-tracking becomes both more alluring and more meaningful. Automated sensors do more than give us facts; they also remind us that our ordinary behavior contains obscure quantitative signals that can be used to inform our behavior, once we learn to read them."

". . . . Adler’s idea that we can — and should — defend ourselves against the imposed generalities of official knowledge is typical of pioneering self-trackers, and it shows how closely the dream of a quantified self resembles therapeutic ideas of self-actualization, even as its methods are startlingly different. Trackers focused on their health want to ensure that their medical practitioners don’t miss the particulars of their condition; trackers who record their mental states are often trying to find their own way to personal fulfillment amid the seductions of marketing and the errors of common opinion; fitness trackers are trying to tune their training regimes to their own body types and competitive goals, but they are also looking to understand their strengths and weaknesses, to uncover potential they didn’t know they had. Self-tracking, in this way, is not really a tool of optimization but of discovery, and if tracking regimes that we would once have thought bizarre are becoming normal, one of the most interesting effects may be to make us re-evaluate what “normal” means" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/magazine/02self-measurement-t.html?pagewanted=7&ref=magazine, accessed 05-07-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Wikileaks Installs an "Insurance File" July 29, 2010

"On 29 July 2010 WikiLeaks added a 1.4 GB "Insurance File" to the Afghan War Diary page. The file is AES encrypted and has been speculated to serve as insurance in case the WikiLeaks website or its spokesman Julian Assange are incapacitated, upon which the passphrase could be published, similar to the concept of a dead man's switch. Following the first few days' release of the United States diplomatic cables starting 28 November 2010, the US television broadcaster CBS predicted that 'If anything happens to Assange or the website, a key will go out to unlock the files. There would then be no way to stop the information from spreading like wildfire because so many people already have copies.' CBS correspondent Declan McCullagh stated, 'What most folks are speculating is that the insurance file contains unreleased information that would be especially embarrassing to the US government if it were released' "(Wikipedia article on Wikileaks, accessed 12-08-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The 2010 Social Networking "World Map" August 5, 2010

Ethan Bloch, founder of Flowtown.com, created the 2010 Social Networking Map.

This was intended as a tribute to XKCD’s ‘Map of Online Communities’ published in 2007. The differences between the two maps, reflective of extremely rapid changing in the social network world, were dramatic!

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"The Social Network": The Origins of Facebook October 1, 2010

In October 2010 he drama film, The Social Network, based on the book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, by Ben Mezrich, was released by Columbia Pictures.

The book was adapted for the screen by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher. Jesse Eisenberg portrayed the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, to considerable critical acclaim.

Zuckerberg has been widely acknowledged as a programming prodigy. The film portrays him not only in that way, but as so focused on programming, and so insensitive to other people's feelings as to be almost autistic. One can hardly imagine that anyone as overly focused on programming as Zuckerberg is portrayed in the film could have understood the social nuances sufficiently to build it into the world's top social media site. The Wikipedia article on Zuckerberg indicates that he is more well-rounded than characterized in the film, having a strong background in classics and fond of quoting from Greek and Latin literature, especially epic poetry. 

♦ On January 30, 2010 Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Zuckerberg briefly appeared together on Saturday Night Live: 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Towards a New Digital Legal Information Environment November 9, 2010

On November 9, 2010 John G. Palfrey, Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law, Vice Dean, Library and Information Resources, Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, proposed a new digital legal information environment for the future.

In a lecture summary published in his blog Palfrey wrote: 

"I propose a path toward a new legal information environment that is predominantly digital in nature. This new era grows out of a long history of growth and change in the publishing of legal information over more than nine hundred years, from the early manuscripts at the roots of English common law in the reign of the Angevin King Henry II; through the early printed treatises of Littleton and Coke in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, (including those in the extraordinary collection of Henry N. Ess III); to the systemic improvements introduced by Blackstone in the late eighteenth century; to the modern period, ushered in by Langdell and West at the end of the nineteenth century. Now, we are embarking upon an equally ambitious venture to remake the legal information environment for the twenty-first century, in the digital era.  

"We should learn from advances in cloud computing, the digital naming systems, and youth media practices, as well as classical modes of librarianship, as we envision – and, together, build – a new system for recording, indexing, writing about, and teaching what we mean by the law. A new legal information environment, drawing comprehensively from contemporary technology, can improve access to justice by the traditionally disadvantaged, including persons with disabilities; enhance democracy; promote innovation and creativity in scholarship and teaching; and promote economic development. This new legal information architecture must be grounded in a reconceptualization of the public sector’s role and draw in private parties, such as Google, Amazon, Westlaw, and LexisNexis, as key intermediaries to legal information.  

"This new information environment will have unintended – and sometimes negative – consequences, too. This trajectory toward openness is likely to change the way that both professionals and the public view the law and the process of lawmaking. Hierarchies between those with specialized knowledge and power and those without will continue its erosion. Lawyers will have to rely upon an increasingly broad range of skills, rather than serving as gatekeepers to information, to command high wages, just as new gatekeepers emerge to play increasingly important roles in the legal process. The widespread availability of well-indexed digital copies of legal work-products will also affect the ways in which lawmakers of all types think and speak in ways that are hard to anticipate. One indirect effect of these changes, for instance, may be a greater receptivity on the part of lawmakers to calls for substantive information privacy rules for individuals in a digital age.  

"An effective new system will not emerge on its own; the digital environment, like the physical, is a built environment. As lawyers, teachers, researchers, and librarians, we share an interest in the way in which legal information is created, stored, accessed, manipulated, and preserved over the long term. We will have to work together to overcome several stumbling blocks, such as state-level assertions of copyright. As collaborators, we could design and develop it together over the next decade or so. The net result — if we get it right — will be improvements in the way we teach and learn about the law and how the system of justice functions" (http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/palfrey/2010/11/09/henry-n-ess-iii-chair-lecture-notes/, accessed 12-10-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Wikileaks U. S. Diplomatic Cables Leak November 28 – December 8, 2010

"The United States diplomatic cables leak began on 28 November 2010 when the website WikiLeaks and five major newspapers published confidential documents of detailed correspondences between the U.S. State Department and its diplomatic missions around the world. The publication of the U.S. embassy cables is the third in a series of U.S. classified document 'mega-leaks' distributed by WikiLeaks in 2010, following the Afghan War documents leak in July, and the Iraq War documents leak in October. The contents of the cables describe international affairs from 274 embassies dated from 1966–2010, containing diplomatic analysis of world leaders, an assessment of host countries, and a discussion about international and domestic issues.

"The first 291 of the 251,287 documents were published on 28 November, with simultaneous press coverage from El País (Spain), Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany), The Guardian (United Kingdom), and The New York Times (United States). Over 130,000 of the documents are unclassified; none are classified as 'top secret' on the classification scale; some 100,000 are labeled 'confidential'; and about 15,000 documents have the higher classification 'secret'. As of December 8, 2010 1060 individual cables had been released. WikiLeaks plans to release the entirety of the cables in phases over several months" (Wikipedia article on United States diplomatic cables leak, accessed 12-08-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Website of MasterCard is Hacked by Wikileaks Supporters December 8, 2010

"The website of MasterCard has been hacked and partially paralysed in apparent revenge for the international credit card's decision to cease taking donations to WikiLeaks. A group of online activists calling themselves Anonymous appear to have orchestrated a DDOS ('distributed denial of service') attack on the site, bringing its service at www.mastercard.com to a halt for many users. " 'Operation: Payback' is the latest salvo in the increasingly febrile technological war over WikiLeaks. MasterCard announced on Monday that it would no longer process donations to the whistleblowing site, claiming it was engaged in illegal activity.  

"The group, which has been linked to the influential internet messageboard 4Chan, has been targeting commercial sites which have cut their ties with WikiLeaks. The Swiss bank PostFinance has already been targeted by Anonymous after it froze payments to WikiLeaks, and the group has vowed to target Paypal, which has also ceased processing payments to the site. Other possible targets are EveryDNS.net, which suspended dealings on 3 December, Amazon, which removed WikiLeaks content from its EC2 cloud on 1 December, and Visa, which suspended its own dealings yesterday.  

"The action was confirmed on Twitter at 9.39am by user @Anon_Operation, who later tweeted: 'WE ARE GLAD TO TELL YOU THAT http://www.mastercard.com/ is DOWN AND IT'S CONFIRMED! #ddos #wikileaks Operation:Payback(is a bitch!) #PAYBACK'

"No one from MasterCard could be reached for immediate comment, but a spokesman, Chris Monteiro, has said the site suspended dealings with WikiLeaks because 'MasterCard rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal'.  

"DDOS attacks, which often involve flooding the target with requests so that it cannot cope with legitimate communication, are illegal" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/08/mastercard-hackers-wikileaks-revenge, accessed 12-08-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Facebook is the Most Searched for and Most Visited Website in America December 29, 2010

"Facebook was not only the most searched item of the year, but it passed Google as America’s most-visited website in 2010, according to a new report from Experian Hitwise.  

"For the second year in a row, 'facebook' was the top search term among U.S. Internet users. The search term accounted for 2.11% of all searches, according to Hitwise. Even more impressive is the fact that three other variations of Facebook made it into the top 10: “facebook login” at #2, 'facebook.com' at #6 and “www.facebook.com” at #9. Combined, they accounted for 3.48% of all searches, a 207% increase from Facebook’s position last year.  

"Rounding out the list of top search terms were YouTube, Craigslist, MySpace, eBay, Yahoo and Mapquest. Other companies that made big moves in terms of searches include Hulu, Netflix, Verizon and ESPN. The search term “games” also made its first appearance in the list of Hitwise’s top 50 search terms.  

"More interesting though is Facebook’s ascension to number one on Hitwise’s list of most-visited websites. The social network accounted for 8.93% of all U.S. visits in 2010 (January-November), beating Google (7.19%), Yahoo Mail (3.52%), Yahoo (3.30%) and YouTube (2.65%). However, Facebook didn’t beat the traffic garnered by all of Google’s properties combined (9.85%).  

"It’s only a matter of time until Facebook topples the entire Google empire, though. We’ve seen the trend develop for months: Facebook is getting bigger than Google. According to comScore, Facebook’s U.S. traffic grew by 55% in the last year and has shown no sign of slowing down" (http://mashable.com/2010/12/29/2010-the-year-facebook-dethroned-google-as-king-of-the-web-stats/, accessed 12-31-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Google's Track of its Own Development 2011

In 2011 Google published an interactive timeline of developments in its corporate history, including the introduction of new products.  The Google Timeline, or "interactive timeline of Google history," spanned from 1995 to January-February 2009. (Accessed 12-12-2012).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Smartphone Becomes the CPU of the Laptop January 2011

Motorola Mobility, headquartered in Libertyville, Illinois, introduced the Atrix 4G smartphone powered by Nvidia's Tegra 2 dual-core  processor and Android 2.2, with a 4-inch display, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of on-board storage, front- and rear-facing cameras, a 1930 mAh battery and a fingerprint reader. Motorola announced that it would also sell laptop and desktop docks that run a full version of Firefox, powered entirely by the phone.

What was significant about this smartphone was that the phone could do the information processing for the laptop or even the desktop interfaces.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Wikipedia Celebrates its Tenth Anniversary January 15, 2011

The Wikipedia celebrated its tenth anniversary with 448 events around the world.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Leading British Tabloid Closed Because of Cell Phone Hacking Scandal July 7 – July 17, 2011

News Corporation announced that the English tabloid and Britain's largest circulation newspaper, News of the World, founded in 1843, would close on July 10, 2011 in the wake of an unprecedented cell phone hacking scandal. 

Among the disclosures were that News of the World paid £100,000 in bribes to certain London Metropolitan Police officers to suppress allegations, and that after the scandal broke the Metropolitan Police were sifting through 11,000 pages of documents containing the names of 4,000 people whose phones may have been hacked.  The final blows to the tabloid were revelations by investigative reporters at The Guardian newspaper that the News of the World intercepted voicemails left on a phone belonging to murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the news that the paper targeted the phones of families of victims of the bombings in London on July 7, 2007 (7/7)

On July 7, 2011 ProPublica.org published "Our Reader's Guide to the Phone Hacking Scandal."

On July 7, 2011 Guardian.co.uk published an interactive timeline on the scandal from its origins in 2005 till the announcement of the closure today.

"How the saga unfolded – from suspicions that Prince William's messages were being listened to, to calls for a public inquiry, the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemail and James Murdoch's closure of the News of the World"

Sometimes nicknamed "News of the Screws" and "Screws of the World," for its coverage of scandals, News of the World was among the world's most popular print publications. According to the Wikipedia, print sales of the tabloid, which appeared weekly on Sundays, averaged 2,812,005 copies per week in October 2010.

The July 8, 2011 issue of The New York Times published an article entitled "Move to Close Newspaper Is Greeted With Suspicion," and as the scandal reached the office of the British Prime Minister David Cameron, The New York Times published "Cameron Orders Two Inquiries Into Hacking Scandal as Former Aide Is Arrested."

On July 12, 2011 former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused the Rupert Murdock media empire, News International, of hiring known criminals to to gather personal information on his bank account, legal files and tax affairs. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/world/europe/13hacking.html

On July 17, 2011, as the scandal continued to spread to higher eschelons of Murdoch's empire in Britain and the U.S. The New York Times updated its timeline on the scandal at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/09/01/magazine/05tabloid-timeline.html

On July 17, 2011 The New York Times also updated its graphic entitled Key Players in the Phone Hacking Scandal here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/07/08/world/europe/20110708-key-players-in-the-phone-hacking-scandal.html?hp

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Snapchat: Communication and Automatic Destruction of Information September 2011

In September 2011 Stanford University students Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy produced the initial release of the photo messaging application Snapchat, famously launching the program "from Spiegel's father's living room." Users of the app take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. Photographs and videos sent through the app are known as "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps, after which the photos or videos are hidden from the recipient's device and deleted from Snapchat's servers. In December 2013 the range was from 1 to 10 seconds. 

In November 2013 it was reported that Snapchat was sharing 400 million photos per day—more than Facebook.

"Founder Evan Spiegel explained that Snapchat is intended to counteract the trend of users being compelled to manage an idealized online identity of themselves, which he says has "taken all of the fun out of communicating". Snapchat can locate a user's friends through the user's smartphone contact list. Research conducted in the UK has shown that, as of June 2013, half of all 18 to 30-year-old respondents (47 percent) have received nude pictures, while 67 percent had received images of "inappropriate poses or gestures".

"Snapchat launched the "Snapchat Stories" feature in early October 2013 and released corresponding video advertisements with the tagline "It's about time." The feature allows users to create links of shared content that can be viewed an unlimited number of times over a 24-hour period. The "stories" are simultaneously shared with the user's friends and content remains for 24 hours before disappearing.

"Another controversy surrounding the rising popularity of Snapchat in the United States relates to a phenomenon known as sexting. This involves the sending and receiving of explicit images that often involve some degree of nudity. Because the application is commonly used by younger generations, often below the age of eighteen, the question has been raised whether or not certain users are technically distributing child pornography. For this reason, many adults disapprove of their children's use of the application. Snapchat's developers continue to insist that the application is not sexting-friendly and that they do not condone any kind of pornographic use.

"On November 14, 2013, police in LavalQuebec, Canada arrested 10 boys aged 13 to 15 on child pornography charges after the boys allegedly captured and shared explicit photos of teenage girls sent through Snapchat as screenshots.

"In February 2013, a study by market research firm Survata found that mobile phone users are more likely to "sext over SMS than over Snapchat" (Wikipedia article on Snapchat, accessed 12-12-2013).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Michael Hart, Father of eBooks & Founder of Project Gutenberg, Dies September 6, 2011

"AMONG the episodes in his life that didn’t last, that were over almost before they began, including a spell in the army and a try at marriage, Michael Hart was a street musician in San Francisco. He made no money at it, but then he never bought into the money system much—garage-sale T-shirts, canned beans for supper, were his sort of thing. He gave the music away for nothing because he believed it should be as freely available as the air you breathed, or as the wild blackberries and raspberries he used to gorge on, growing up, in the woods near Tacoma in Washington state. All good things should be abundant, and they should be free.  

"He came to apply that principle to books, too. Everyone should have access to the great works of the world, whether heavy (Shakespeare, 'Moby-Dick', pi to 1m places), or light (Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, the 'Kama Sutra'). Everyone should have a free library of their own, the whole Library of Congress if they wanted, or some esoteric little subset; he liked Romanian poetry himself, and Herman Hesse’s 'Siddhartha'. The joy of e-books, which he invented, was that anyone could read those books anywhere, free, on any device, and every text could be replicated millions of times over. He dreamed that by 2021 he would have provided a million e-books each, a petabyte of information that could probably be held in one hand, to a billion people all over the globe—a quadrillion books, just given away. As powerful as the Bomb, but beneficial.

"That dream had grown from small beginnings: from him, a student at the University of Illinois in Urbana, hanging round a huge old mainframe computer on the night of the Fourth of July in 1971, with the sound of fireworks still in his ears. The engineers had given him by his reckoning $100m-worth of computer time, in those infant days of the internet. Wondering what to do, ferreting in his bag, he found a copy of the Declaration of Independence he had been given at the grocery store, and a light-bulb pinged on in his head. Slowly, on a 50-year-old Teletype machine with punched-paper tape, he began to bang out 'When in the Course of human events…'  

"This was the first free e-text, and none better as a declaration of freedom from the old-boy network of publishing. What he typed could not even be sent as an e-mail, in case it crashed the ancient Arpanet system; he had to send a message to say that it could be downloaded. Six people did, of perhaps 100 on the network. It was followed over years by the Gettysburg Address, the Constitution and the King James Bible, all arduously hand-typed, full of errors, by Mr Hart. No one particularly noticed. He mended people’s hi-fis to get by. Then from 1981, with a growing band of volunteer helpers scanning, rather than typing, a flood of e-texts gathered. By 2011 there were 33,000, accumulating at a rate of 200 a month, with translations into 60 languages, all given away free. No wonder money-oriented rivals such as Google and Yahoo! sprang up all round as the new century dawned, claiming to have invented e-books before him. He called his enterprise Project Gutenberg. This was partly because Gutenberg with his printing press had put wagonloads of books within the reach of people who had never read before; and also because printing had torn down the wall between haves and have-nots, literate and illiterate, rich and poor, until whole power-structures toppled. Mr Hart, for all his burly, hippy affability, was a cyber-revolutionary, with a snappy list of the effects he expected e-books to have:

Books prices plummet.

Literacy rates soar.

Education rates soar.

Old structures crumble, as did the Church.

Scientific Revolution.

Industrial Revolution.

Humanitarian Revolution.

"If all these upheavals were tardier than he hoped, it was because of the Mickey Mouse copyright laws. Every time men found a speedier way to spread information to each other, government made it illegal. During the lifetime of Project Gutenberg alone, the average time a book stayed in copyright in America rose from 30 to almost 100 years. Mr Hart tried to keep out of trouble, posting works that were safely in the public domain, but chafed at being unable to give away books that were new, and fought all copyright extensions like a tiger. “Unlimited distribution” was his mantra. Give everyone everything! Break the bars of ignorance down!

"The power of plain words

"He lived without a mobile phone, in a chaos of books and wiring. The computer hardware in his basement, from where he kept an unbossy watch over the whole project, often not bothering to pick up his monthly salary, was ten years old, and the software 20. Simple crowdsourcing was his management style, where people scanned or keyed in works they loved and sent them to him. Project Gutenberg books had a frugal look, with their Plain Vanilla ASCII format, which might have been produced on an old typewriter; but then it was content, not form, that mattered to Mr Hart. These were great thoughts, and he was sending them to people everywhere, available to read at the speed of light, and free as the air they breathed." (http://www.economist.com/node/21530075, accessed 09-27-2011).

♦ For another obituary of Michael Hart, of Urbana, Illinois, I recommend that in Brewster Kahle's Blog, post of September 7, 2011.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Steve Jobs Dies October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs, one of the most influential and daring innovators in the history of media, and arguably the most innovative and influential figure in the computer industry since the development of the personal computer, died at the age of 55 after a well-publicized battle with pancreatic cancer. Responsible, as inspirational leader, for building the first commercially successful personal computer (Apple II), for developing and popularizing the graphical user interface (Macintosh) which made personal computers user friendly, for developing desktop publishing, for making music truly portable (iPod, iTunes), for bringing all the elements of the personal computer to cell phones (iPhone), for causing the widespread acceptance of tablet computers (iPad), Jobs not only rescued Apple Computer from near failure and made it for a time the most valuable company in the S&P 500, but also achieved great success through his ownership of Pixar Animation Studios, which he eventually sold to The Walt Disney Company. Characteristics of Jobs' style were exceptional boldness in the conception of products, high quality and ease of use, and elegance of industrial design.

"Mr. Jobs even failed well. NeXT, a computer company he founded during his years in exile from Apple, was never a commercial success. But it was a technology pioneer. The World Wide Web was created on a NeXT computer, and NeXT software is the core of Apple’s operating systems today" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/business/steve-jobs-and-the-power-of-taking-the-big-chance.html?hp).

An article published in The New York Times on October 8, 2011 compared and contrasted the lives and achievements of Steve Jobs with that earlier great American inventor and innovator, Thomas Alva Edison.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

2012 – 2016

The Anatomy of an Internet Attack by "Anonymous" 2012

In 2012 the Internet security company Imperva published "Imperva's Hacker Intelligence Summary Report. The Anatomy of an Anonymous Attack."

"During 2011, Imperva witnessed an assault by the hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’ that lasted 25 days. Our observations give insightful information on Anonymous, including a detailed analysis of hacking methods, as well as an examination of how social media provides a communications platform for recruitment and attack coordination. Hacktivism has grown dramatically in the past year and has become a priority for security organizations worldwide. Understanding Anonymous’ attack methods will help organizations prepare if they are ever a target.

"Our observation of an Anonymous campaign reveals:

"› The process used by Anonymous to pick victims as well as recruit and use needed hacking talent.

"› How Anonymous leverages social networks to recruit members and promotes hack campaigns.

"› The specific cyber reconnaissance and attack methods used by Anonymous’ hackers. We detail and sequence the steps Anonymous hackers deploy that cause data breaches and bring down websites.

"Finally, we recommend key mitigation steps that organizations need to help protect against attacks."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First YouTube Video to Reach a Billion Views December 12, 2012

Screen shot from first video to hit one billion views on youtube.com

Released in July 2012, "Gangnam Style" (Korean: 강남스타일, IPA: [kaŋnam sɯtʰail]), the 18th K-pop single by the South Korean musician Psy, became the first YouTube video to reach a billion views by December 2012. When I wrote this database entry on April 22, 2013 the music video had been viewed over 1.548 billion times on YouTube. As a measure of its social significance and commercial value the Wikipedia article on the video contained nearly 500 footnotes, and the video download on YouTube was preceded by three minutes of vido advertisements (which could be skipped).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

On the Twentieth Anniversary CERN Restores the First Website April 30, 2013

On April 30, 1993 CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, published documents which released the World Wide Web software into the public domain.

"To mark the [twentieth] anniversary of the publication of the document that made web technology free for everyone to use, CERN is starting a project to restore the first website and to preserve the digital assets that are associated with the birth of the web. To learn more about the project and the first website, visit http://first-website.web.cern.ch"

"This project aims to preserve some of the digital assets that are associated with the birth of the web. For a start we would like to restore the first URL - put back the files that were there at their earliest possible iterations. Then we will look at the first web servers at CERN and see what assets from them we can preserve and share. We will also sift through documentation and try to restore machine names and IP addresses to their original state. Beyond this we want to make http://info.cern.ch - the first web address - a destination that reflects the story of the beginnings of the web for the benefit of future generations."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Auction of Internet Domains by a Major Auction House November 1 – November 21, 2013

On October 24, 2013 Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas, announced their first auction of Domain Names and Intellectual Properties conducted by Aron Meystedt of Dallas, owner of the virtual real estate investment firm xf.com, who had been buying, selling, and developing Internet domains since 2009. As far as I was able to determine this was the first auction of Internet domains by a major auction house. The bidding period for the online auction was November 1 to 21, 2013.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Selfiecity.net. Analysis and Visualization of Thousands of Selfie Photos. . . . February 25, 2014

On February 25, 2014 I received this email from "new media" theorist Lev Manovich via the Humanist Discussion Group, announcing the launch of a cutting edge website analyzing the "Selfie" phenomenon: 

 "Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2014 21:00:30 +0000
        From: Lev Manovich <manovich@softwarestudies.com>
        Subject: Inntroducing selfiecity.net  - analysis and visualization of thousands of selfies photos from five global cities

"Welcome to Selfiecity!
http://selfiecity.net/

I'm excited to announce the launch of our new research project selfiecity.net. The website presents analysis and interactive visualizations of 3,200 Instagram selfie photos, taken between December 4 and 12, 2013, in Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York, and São Paulo.

The project explores how people represent themselves using mobile photography in social media by analyzing the subjects’ demographics, poses, and expressions.

Selfiecity (http://softwarestudies.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=67ffe3671ec85d3bb8a9319ca&id=edb72af8ec&e=8a08a35e11) investigates selfies using a mix of theoretic, artistic and quantitative methods:

* Rich media visualizations in the Imageplots section assemble thousands of photos to reveal interesting patterns.
* An interactive component of the website, a custom-made app Selfiexploratory invites visitors to filter and explore the photos themselves.
* Theory and Reflection section of the website contribute to the discussion of the findings of the research. The authors of the essays are art historians Alise Tifentale (The City University of New York, The Graduate Center) and Nadav Hochman (University of Pittsburgh) as well as media theorist Elizabeth Losh (University of California, San Diego).

The project is led by Dr. Lev Manovich, leading expert on digital art and culture; Professor of Computer Science, The Graduate Center, CUNY; Director, Software Studies Initiative."

Considering the phenomenon that selfies had become, I was not surprised when two days later reference was made, also via the Humanist Discussion Group, to  "a very active Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/664091916962292/ 'The Selfies Research Network'." When I looked at this page in February 2014 the group had 298 members, mostly from academia, but also including professionals in fields like social media, from many different countries.

View Map + Bookmark Entry