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

1970 to 1980 Timeline


Acquiring New Archival Material at the Rate of 1 Mile per Year Circa 1970

During the 1970s The National Archives of Great Britain in Kew, Richmond, Surrey, measured the extent of its holdings by shelf length. It held about 80 miles of physical information, and acquired new material at the rate of about 1 mile per year.

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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.

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Norman Abramson Builds the First Packet-Switched Wireless Data Network 1970

In 1970 American engineer and computer scientist Norman Abramson at the University of Hawaii built ALOHAnet, the first wireless packet-switched data network, using packet radio.

Unlike the ARPANET where each node could talk to a node on the other end, ALOHA used a shared medium for transmission and revealed the need for contention management schemes. ALOHA’s situation was similar to issues that were later faced by Ethernet (non-switched) and Wi-Fi networks.

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Corning Glass Introduces Optical Fibers Enabling the Internet Backbone 1970 – 1977

After physicist Charles K. Kao promoted the idea that attenuation in optical fibers was caused by removable impurities rather than optical scattering, and that attentuation could be reduced below 20 dB per kilometer, allowing fibers to be a practical medium for communication, members of the British Post Office came to Corning Glass Works seeking assistance in creating pure glass fiber optics. Their design required a single-mode fiber (100 micron diameter with a 0.75 micron core) having a total attenuation of about 20 dB/km. At the time, the very best bulk optical glass had attenuation of approximately 1,000 dB/km. This meant that Corning’s scientists had to produce an improvement in transparency of 1,098 in order to reach the goal of 20 dB/km.

In August 1970 industrial physicists at Corning, Robert D. Maurer, Peter C. Schultz, and Donald B. Keck, obtained the crucial attenuation level of 20 dB required for optical fiber telecommunications. Dr. Keck, who was in charge of measurement, first recorded this achievement in his laboratory notebook. The group demonstrated a fiber with 17 dB optic attenuation per kilometer by doping silica glass with titanium. In June 1972 the team produced a fiber with only 4 dB/km using germanium dioxide as the core dopant. Such low attenuations improved optical fiber telecommunications and enabled the Internet.

Corning produced the first optical cable in 1975. Two years later, in 1977 Corning manufactured the first optical fiber to carry commercial communication traffic. This was first used by GTE, Long Beach, California. Futjitsu/Furukawa recorded claims that they installed optical fiber prior to GTE, Long Beach. (Information regarding Corning achievements supplied by Corning Optical Communications, May 2015.)


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Negroponte's "The Architecture Machine" is Published 1970

In his book, The Architecture Machine, published in 1970 architect and computer scientist Nicholas Negroponte of MIT described early research on computer-aided design, and in so doing covered early work on human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and computer graphics. The book contained a large number of illustrations.

"Most of the machines that I will be discussing do not exist at this time. The chapters are primarily extrapolations into the future derived from experiences with various computer-aided design systems. . . .

"There are three possible ways in which machines can assist the design process: (1) current procedures can be automated, thus speeding up and reducing the cost of existing practices; (2) existing methods can be altered to fit within the specifications and constitution of a machine, where only those issues are considered that are supposedly machine-compatible; (3) the design process, considered as evolutionary, can be presented to a machine, also considered as evolutionary, and a mutal training, resilience, and growth can be developed" (From Negroponte's "Preface to a Preface," p. [6]).

Negroponte's book has been called the first book on the personal computer. On that I do not agree. The book contains only vague discussions of the possiblity of eventual personal computers. Most specifically it says, as caption to its second illustration, a cartoon relating to a home computer, "The computer at home is not a fanciful concept. As the cost of computation lowers, the computer utility will become a consumer item, and every child should have one." Instead The Architecture Machine may be the first book on human-computer interaction, and on the possibilities of computer-aided design.

(This entry was last revised on 04-20-2014.)

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DEC and Centronics Introduce the First Dot Matrix Printers 1970

In 1970 Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) introduced the LA30, a 30 character/second dot matrix printer.

"It printed 80 columns of uppercase-only 5x7 dot matrix characters across a unique-sized paper. The printhead was driven by a stepper motor and the paper was advanced by a somewhat-unreliable and definitely noisy solenoid ratchet drive. The LA30 was available with both a parallel interface and a serial interface; however, the serial LA30 required the use of fill characters during the carriage-return operation.

"The LA30 was followed in 1974 by the LA36, which achieved far greater commercial success, becoming for a time the standard dot matrix computer terminal. The LA36 used the same print head as the LA30 but could print on forms of any width up to 132 columns of mixed-case output on standard green bar fanfold paper. The carriage was moved by a much-more-capable servo drive using a dc motor and an optical encoder/tachometer. The paper was moved by a stepper motor. The LA36 was only available with a serial interface but unlike the earlier LA30, no fill characters were required. This was possible because, while the printer never communicated at faster than 30 characters per second, the mechanism was actually capable of printing at 60 characters per second. During the carriage return period, characters were buffered for subsequent printing at full speed during a catch-up period. The two-tone buzz produced by 60 character-per-second catch-up printing followed by 30 character-per-second ordinary printing was a distinctive feature of the LA36" (Wikipedia article on Dot matrix printer, accessed 12-16-2009).

Centronics Data Computer Corporation also introduced a dot matrix printer in 1970: the Centronics 101. This printer used a print head incorporating an innovative seven-wire solenoid impact system, and Centronics claimed that it was the first dot matrix impact printer.

Centronics concentrated on the low-end line printer market. In the process they designed the parallel electrical interface, or parallel port, that became standard on most most printers until it began to be replaced by the Universal Serial Bus (USB) in the late 1990s.

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Crutzen Proves that Nitrous Oxide Impacts the Stratospheric Ozone Layer 1970

In 1970 Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen published "The influence of nitrogen oxides on the atmospheric ozone content,"  Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 96, 320-325.

"Crutzen pointed out that emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a stable, long-lived gas produced by soil bacteria, from the Earth's surface could affect the amount of nitric oxide (NO) in the stratosphere. Crutzen showed that nitrous oxide lives long enough to reach the stratosphere, where it is converted into NO. Crutzen then noted that increasing use of fertilizers might have led to an increase in nitrous oxide emissions over the natural background, which would in turn result in an increase in the amount of NO in the stratosphere. Thus human activity could have an impact on the stratospheric ozone layer" (Wikipedia article on Ozone depletion, accessed 11-26-2010).

In 1995 Crutzen shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Mario J. Molina and Frank S. Rowland "for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone".

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The Kenback-1, the First Stored-Program "Personal Computer" 1970 – 1971

In 1970 John Blankenbaker of Kenback Corporation, Northridge, California, designed and produced the Kenbak-1.  The machines, of which only forty were ever built, were designed as educational tools and offered for sale in Scientific American and Computerworld for $750 in 1971.  The company folded in 1973.

Unlike many earlier machines and calculating engines, the Kenbak-1 was a true stored-program computer that offered 256 bytes of memory, a wide variety of operations and a speed equivalent to nearly 1MHz. It was thus the first stored-program personal computer.

"Since the Kenbak-1 was invented before the first microprocessor, the machine didn't have a one-chip CPU but instead was based purely on discrete TTL chips. The 8-bit machine offered 256 bytes of memory (=1/4096 megabyte). The instruction cycle time was 1 microsecond (equivalent to an instruction clock speed of 1 MHz), but actual execution speed averaged below 1000 instructions per second due to architectural constraints such as slow access to serial memory.

"To use the machine, one had to program it with a series of buttons and switches, using pure machine code. Output consisted of a series of lights" (Wikipedia article on Kenbak-1, accessed 09-19-2013).

In 2013 John Blankenbaker's detailed account of the design, production, and operation of the Kenbak-1 was available from his website, www.kenbak.-1.net.

Also in 2013, "Official Kenbak-1 Reproduction Kits" were available from www.kenbakkit.com.

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IBM Performs the First Test of Magnetic Stripe Transaction Card Technology January 1970 – May 1973

The first test of magnetic stripe transaction card technology developed by IBM occurred in January 1970 at the American Airlines terminal at Chicago's O'Hare Airport with the Automatic Ticket Vendor.

Reference: Computer History Museum, Jerome Svigals donation, "Automatic Ticket Vendor Press Kit", October 30, 1969. X3951.2007.

Though the test at O'Hare Airport was successful, the airline did not implement the technology because of a recession. IBM patented the technology, but did not announce its availability until 1973.

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Rand Issues the First Systematic Review of Computer Security Issues February 1970

In February 1970 The Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, California, published the classified report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Computer Security, Security Controls for Computer Systems.

Security Controls for Computer Systems was the first systematic review of computer security problems.

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ARPANET Spans the U.S. March 1970

In March 1970 ARPANET established a fifth node at Bolt Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, Massachusetts, thereby spanning the U.S.

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Edgar Codd Publishes the Definitive Model for Relational Database Management Systems June 1970

In June 1970 Edgar F. Codd of IBM published "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks," Communications of the ACM, 13 (6) 377–387.

Codd’s model became widely accepted as the definitive model for relational database management systems. Codd postulated that data should be stored independently from hardware and that a programmer should use a nonprocedural language for accessing data. The crux of Codd’s solution was that data, rather than being stored in a hierarchical structure, would be stored in simple tables composed of rows and columns in which columns of like data would relate tables to one another. A database user or application, in Codd’s way of thinking, would not need to know the structure of the data in order to query that data.

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The IBM System/370 Uses Semiconductor Memory June 30, 1970

On June 30, 1970 IBM announced the System/370, an upgrade for the 360, using semiconductor memory in place of magnetic cores.

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PBS is Founded October 5, 1970

On October 5, 1970 The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) was founded as the successor to National Educational Television (NET).

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UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970 November 14, 1970

On November 14, 1970 UNESCO, meeting in Paris, created the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

"The 1970 Convention requires its States Parties to take action in these main fields:  

"Preventive measures:

"Inventories, export certificates, monitoring trade, imposition of penal or administrative sanctions, educational campaigns, etc.

"Restitution provisions:

"Per Article 7 (b) (ii) of the Convention, States Parties undertake, at the request of the State Party "of origin", to take appropriate steps to recover and return any such cultural property imported after the entry into force of this Convention in both States concerned, provided, however, that the requesting State shall pay just compensation to an innocent purchaser or to a person who has valid title to that property. More indirectly and subject to domestic legislation, Article 13 of the Convention also provides provisions on restitution and cooperation.

"International cooperation framework:

"The idea of strengthening cooperation among and between States Parties is present throughout the Convention. In cases where cultural patrimony is in jeopardy from pillage, Article 9 provides a possibility for more specific undertakings such as a call for import and export controls" 

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Gilbert Hyatt Files the First General Patent on the Microprocessor, Later Invalidated December 1970

In December 1970 Gilbert Hyatt filed a patent application entitled Single Chip Integrated Circuit Computer Architecture based on work begun in 1968. This was the first patent application for a microprocessor. The patent was granted in 1990 but later invalidated.

"A patent on the microcontroller [microprocessor], predating the only two Intel patents related to the MCS-4, was granted to Gilbert Hyatt in 1990. This patent described the architecture and logic design of a microcontroller, claiming that it could be integrated into a single chip. This patent was later invalidated in a patent interference case brought forth by Texas Instruments, on account that the device it described was never implemented and was not implementable with the technology available at the time of the invention" (http://www.intel4004.com/hyatt.htm, accessed 12-02-2013). 

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IBM Introduces Speech Recognition Technology 1971

IBM’s first operational application of speech recognition enabled customer engineers servicing equipment to “talk” to and receive “spoken” answers from a computer that could recognize about 5,000 words.

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IBM Introduces the Floppy Disk 1971

in 1971 IBM introduced the first flexible magnetic storage diskette, or "floppy disk."

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Bell & Newell Publish "Computer Structures" 1971

While teaching computer science at Carnegie Mellon University C. Gordon Bell and Allen Newell of the Rand Corporation in Pittsburgh published Computer Structures: Readings and Examples, a systematized presentation of the principles governing the design of computer systems.

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The Arpanet has 15 Nodes 1971

In 1971 the ARPANET had 15 nodes (23 hosts).  They were: 


Stanford Research Institute

University of California, Santa Barbara

University of Utah

Bolt, Beranek and Newman (Cambridge, Mass)


The Rand Corporation (Santa Monica)

Software Development Corporation (Santa Monica)


Lincoln Laboratory (Lexington, MA)


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Case Western Reserve University

Carnegie Mellon University

NASA/Ames Research Laboratory.

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Dennis Ritchie Writes the C Programming Language 1971

In 1971 Dennis M. Ritchie of Bell Labs wrote the C programming language for use in the UNIX operating system.

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Filed under: Software

Godfrey Hounsfield Invents Computed Tomography (CT) 1971

In 1971 English electrical engineer Godfrey Hounsfield at EMI's Central Research Laboratories in Hayes, Middlesex, invented computed tomography (CT), the first application of computers to medical imaging.

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George Laurer of IBM Develops the Universal Product Code 1971

The Universal Product Code (UPC)—the familiar barcode—was accepted by a grocer’s trade association. It was developed by George J. Laurer of IBM.

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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.

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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).

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Franke Issues the First Comprehensive Treatise on Computer Graphics with the First History of Computer Art 1971

Cover of Computergraphik-Computerkunst, by H.W. Franke. Please click on image to see larger version of image.

Herbert W. Franke.

In 1971 Austrian scientist, science fiction writer, and computer graphics artist Herbert W. Franke published Computergraphik-Computerkunst in Munich at the press of F. Bruckmann.  Within the same year his book was also translated into English by Gustav Metzger and published by Phaidon in London and New York as Computer Graphics, Computer Art. In many respects Franke's extensively illustrated book was the first comprehensive treatise on computer graphics, representing the state of the art in 1971.  It also contained the first history of computer art in graphics, sculpture, film, music, architecture, theater and dance.

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Teletext: "The First Widely Used Implementation of the Information Revolution" 1971 – 1973

To provide UK homes with electronic hardware that could download pages of news, reports, facts and figures, in 1971 Philips lead design engineer for VDUs, John Adams, created a design and technical proposal that used the vertical blanking interval (VBI), since nothing sent during the VBI is displayed on the screen. Adams' proposed Teletext system included 24 text rows of 40 characters each, page selection, multiple screens of information and vertical blanking interval data transmission. 

"A major objective for Adams during the concept development stage was to make Teletext affordable to the home user. In reality, there was not the slightest chance of making an economical Teletext system with 1971 technology. However, as low cost was essential to the project's long term success, this obstacle had to be overcome.

"Adams built a fully functional Teletext prototype in 1971 and the first test transmissions were made by the BBC in 1973. His invention enabled the world's first widely used implementation of the information revolution. In the UK, his format and standards for Teletext were eventually adopted by the BBC as Ceefax and by the Independent Broadcasting Authority - IBA (Oracle). They also formed the basis of British Telecom Prestel and other similar telephone text services in many other organisations and countries. In addition, they were the basis of the British Teletext standards and of the "Broadcast Teletext Specification" which was published in September 1976 jointly by the IBA, the BBC and the British Radio Equipment Manufacturers' Association. The standards became international as the European Teletext standards and as the "World System Teletext" (WST) and formed the base of all Teletext systems built throughout the world for the rest of the century. The highly successful Philips Teletext chip sets, of which many millions were made, were also based on Adams' original design and concepts" (Wikipedia article on Teletext, accessed 12-11-2013).

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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.

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The Gouraud Shading Method for Polygon Smoothing is Developed June 1971

In June 1971 Henri Gouraud of the University of Utah published "Computer display of curved surfaces" in IEEE Transactions in Computers. This described the Gouraud shading method for polygon smoothing, a scheme for continuous shading in computer graphics, which makes a surface composed of discrete polygons appear to be continuous.

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Daniel Ellsberg Releases the Pentagon Papers June 13, 1971

On June 13, 1971 The New York Times began publication of the The Pentagon Papers. These documents, which were discovered and leaked to the press by U.S. military analyst and activist Daniel Ellsberg, were officially titled United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense. Twenty-five years later a June 23, 1996 article by R. W. Apple in The New York Times stated that the Pentagon Papers had demonstrated, among other things, that the [Lyndon] Johnson Administration "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress."

"More specifically, the papers revealed that the U.S. had secretly enlarged the scale of the Vietnam War with the bombings of nearby  Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks, none of which were reported in the mainstream media.

"For his disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was initially charged with conspiracy, espionage and theft of government property, but the charges were later dropped after prosecutors investigating the Watergate Scandal soon discovered that the staff members in the Nixon White House had ordered the so-called White House Plumbers to engage in unlawful efforts to discredit Ellsberg. . . .

"President Nixon's first reaction to the publication was that since the study embarrassed the Johnson and Kennedy administrations, not his, he should do nothing. However, Kissinger convinced the president that not opposing publication set a negative precedent for future secrets.[8] The administration argued Ellsberg and Russo were guilty of a felony under the Espionage Act of 1917, because they had no authority to publish classified documents.After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles. Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we're really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn't feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.

"The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

"On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers; Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that "[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know."The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case. Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

"On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

(Wikipedia article on Pentagon Papers, accessed 10-23-2014).

Publications of the Pentagon Papers that resulted from Ellsberg's leaks in 1971 were incomplete and suffered from many quality issues. In June 2011, the entire set of the Pentagon Papers  as originally presented to Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford on January 15, 1969 was declassified and publicly released on a website by the National Archives.

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Lawrence Roberts Writes the First Email Management Program July 1971

In July 1971 Lawrence G. Roberts of ARPA in Arlington, Virginia, wrote the first email management program, RD, to list incoming messages and support forwarding, filing, and responding to them.

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Invention of eBooks: The First Digital Library July 4, 1971

On July 4, 1971 Michael S. Hart sent the digitized text of the American Declaration of Independence to everyone on a computer network at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This was the beginning of Project Gutenbergthe first digital library. Michael Hart has also been called the inventor of the ebook (e-book):

"Hart was best known for his 1971 invention of electronic books, or eBooks. He founded Project Gutenberg, which is recognized as one of the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects. He often told this story of how he had the idea for eBooks. He had been granted access to significant computing power at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On July 4 1971, after being inspired by a free printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, he decided to type the text into a computer, and to transmit it to other users on the computer network. From this beginning, the digitization and distribution of literature was to be Hart's life's work, spanning over 40 years" (http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Michael_S._Hart, accessed 01-06-2012).

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Alden Library at Ohio University Becomes the First Library to do Online Cataloguing August 26, 1971

On August 26, 1971 Alden Library at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio became the first library to do online cataloging, using the OCLC system on a mainframe at Ohio State University in Columbus. That first day Alden Library catalogued 133 books online. 

The first year Ohio University used the OCLC shared cataloging system the university increased the number of books it catalogued by 33% while reducing its staff by 17 positions through attrition.

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"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.

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Medline is Operational October 1971

In October 1971 Medline (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online), a literature database of life sciences and biomedical information, was operational at the National Library of Medicine. It was initially a database version of the printed Index Medicus.

By 2008 Medline  ontained "more than 18 million" records from approximately 5,000 selected publications covering biomedicine and health from 1950 to the present.

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"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.

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The British Library is Established as a Separate Entity 1972

The British Library Act of 1972 separated The British Library from the British Museum.

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Filed under: Libraries , Museums

Marianne McDonald Introduces Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, a Digital Library of Greek Literature 1972

In 1972 Marianne McDonald, a graduate student in classics at the University of California, San Diego, proposed and initially funded the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, a digital library of Greek literature. Within 30 years the project was fully realized:

"The TLG® Digital Library now contains virtually all Greek texts surviving from the period between Homer (8th century B.C.) and A.D. 600 and the majority of surviving works up the fall of Byzantium in A.D. 1453. The center continues its efforts to include all extant Greek texts from the byzantine and post-byzantine period. TLG® texts have been disseminated in CD ROM format since 1985 and are now available online."

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Expensive Electronic Calculators Flood the Market 1972 – 1974

As a result of cheap integrated circuits, from 1972 to 1974 nexpensive electronic calculators flooded the market for the first time.

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One of the First Touchscreens Appears on the Plato IV System 1972

In 1972 one of the first touchscreens in a working computer application was in the terminal of the Plato IV system at the University of Illinois.

"In 1972 a new system named PLATO IV was ready for operation. The PLATO IV terminal was a major innovation. It included Bitzer's orange plasma display invention which incorporated both memory and bitmapped graphics into one display. This plasma display included fast vector line drawing capability and ran at 1260 baud, rendering 60 lines or 180 characters per second. The display was a 512x512 bitmap, with both character and vector plotting done by hardwired logic. Users could provide their own characters to support rudimentary bitmap graphics. Compressed air powered a piston-driven microfiche image selector that permitted colored images to be projected on the back of the screen under program control. The PLATO IV display also included a 16-by-16 grid infrared touch panel allowing students to answer questions by touching anywhere on the screen" (Wikipedia article on Plato (computer system), accessed 12-30-2009).

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The HP-35, the First Handheld Scientific Calculator 1972

In 1972 Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, California, introduced the HP-35, their first pocket calculator, and the first pocket scientific calculator with trigonometric and exponential functions. The unit, which fit in a shirt pocket, was priced $395.

"Before the HP-35, the only practical portable devices for performing trigonometric and exponential functions were slide rules. Existing pocket calculators at the time were only four-function, i.e., they could only do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It had been originally known simply as 'The Calculator', but Hewlett suggested that it be called the HP-35 because it had 35 keys" (Wikipedia article on HP-35, accessed 03-10-2012).

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The First 3D Rendered Movie 1972

Screen capture of Ed Catmull's left hand - from the world's first ever 3D rendered movie created in 1972 by Ed Catmull and Fred Park.

Screen capture showing polygons used to model the surface of the hand.

In 1972 Edwin Catmull and Frederic Parke, students of Ivan Sutherland at the University of Utah, created the world's first 3D rendered movie, a 6.5 minute clip featuring an animated version of Ed's left hand, and the first CG physically modelled human face created by Fred Parke. The film shows how a mold was made of Ed's hand, on which polygons were very precisely drawn and measured. Then the data was traced by an analog computer. Probably the same data entry method was used for the face.

In 1976 the film was incorporated in the feature film Futureworld.

This video was rediscovered and uploaded to YouTube in September 2011:

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The First Microcomputer Controlled Electric Industrial Robot 1972 – 1977

The ASEA IRB 6, designed and constructed by Björn WeichbrodtOve Kullborg, Bengt Nilsson and Herbert Kaufmann, and manufactured by ASEA in Västerås in central Sweden, was the first microcomputer controlled electric industrial robot, using Intel's first chipset. The robot allowed movement in 5 axes with a lift capacity of 6 kg

1900 copies of the IRB 6 were sold between 1975 and 1992. 

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PARRY: An Artificial Intelligence Program with "Attitude" 1972

PARRY, a computer program written in LISP in 1972 by American psychiatrist Kenneth Colby, then at Stanford University, attempted to simulate a paranoid schizophrenic. The program implemented a crude model of the behavior of a paranoid schizophrenic based on concepts, conceptualizations, and beliefs (judgments about conceptualizations: accept, reject, neutral). As it embodied a conversational strategy, it was more serious and advanced than Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA (1964-66). PARRY was described as "ELIZA with attitude".

"PARRY was tested in the early 1970s using a variation of the Turing Test. A group of experienced psychiatrists analysed a combination of real patients and computers running PARRY through teleprinters. Another group of 33 psychiatrists were shown transcripts of the conversations. The two groups were then asked to identify which of the 'patients; were human and which were computer programs. The psychiatrists were able to make the correct identification only 48 percent of the time — a figure consistent with random guessing.

"PARRY and ELIZA (also known as "the Doctor") 'met' several times.The most famous of these exchanges occurred at the ICCC 1972, where PARRY and ELIZA were hooked up over ARPANET and 'talked' to each other" (Wikipedia article on PARRY, accessed 06-15-2014).

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The First Patent for MRI March 17, 1972

On March 17, 1972 Armenian-American medical practitioner and inventor Raymond V. Damadian filed a patent for "An Apparatus and Method for Detecting Cancer in Tissue."

Damadian's patent 3,789,832 was granted on February 5, 1974. This was the first patent on the use of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance for scanning the human body, but it did not describe a method for generating pictures from such a scan, or precisely how such a scan might be achieved.

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Magnavox Odyssey, the First Home Video Game Console, Uses a TV Screen as a Display May 24, 1972

The first home video game console, the Magavox Odyssey, which used a television screen as a display, was first demonstrated on May 24, 1972 and released in August of that year, predating the Atari Pong home consoles by three years. The Odyssey was designed by Ralph Baer, who began development around 1966 and had a working prototype finished by 1968.

This prototype, known as the Brown Box, is preserved in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

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The Beginnings of the Landsat Program July 23, 1972

On July 23, 1972 NASA launched the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, later renamed Landsat, for the acquisition of satellite imagery of Earth.

"The most recent [satellite in the series], Landsat 8, was launched on February 11, 2013. The instruments on the Landsat satellites have acquired millions of images. The images, archived in the United States and at Landsat receiving stations around the world, are a unique resource for global change research and applications in agriculturecartographygeologyforestryregional planningsurveillance and education" (Wikipedia article on Landsat Program, accessed 10-20-2013).

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Pong: The First Commercially Successful Video Game September 1972

On June 27, 1972 Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded Atari in Sunnyvale, California, and hired Allan Alcorn to design the table tennis (ping-pong) game “PONG.” Pong was the first commercially successful video game (videogame).

Alcorn produced the prototype, and in September 1972 Bushnell and Alcorn placed the first prototype of the game in Andy Capp’s bar in Sunnyvale. Measured by the number of quarters in the coin box of the game, it was judged a remarkable success. Part of its success may have been its simplicity and intuitive nature, which made the game very easy to learn.

Based on this almost comically limited market research, the company announced the release of Pong on November 29, 1972. In keeping with the small-time nature of the business, management sought unskilled assembly workers at the local unemployment office, and was unable to keep up with demand. The first arcade cabinets produced were assembled very slowly— about ten machines a day— many of which failed quality testing. Atari eventually streamlined the process, and began producing the game in greater quantities. Production began in 1973.

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

(This entry was last revised on April 21, 2014.)

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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:  


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

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One of the Most Widely Distributed Photographic Images: The Blue Marble Photograph of the Earth December 7, 1972

On December 7, 1972 Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt on the Apollo 17 spacecraft took the the Blue Marble photograph of the earth from a distance of about 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles). The image is one of the first to show a fully illuminated Earth, as the astronauts had the Sun behind them when they took the image.  To the astronauts Earth had the appearance of a glass marble. The photograph became one of the most widely distributed of all photographic images.

Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned mission in the United States Apollo space program. In 2012 it remained the most recent manned Moon landing and the most recent manned flight beyond low Earth orbit.

In January 2012 NASA released its 2012 version of the Blue Marble image. Using a planet-pointing satellite, Suomi NPP, the space agency created an extremely high-resolution photograph of our watery world. The Suomi satellite compiled the image from small sections that it photographed over the course of January 4, 2012. The pictures were later stitched together.

In July 2012 many technical details regarding the origins of the 1972 Blue Marble photo were available from Eric Hartwell's InfoDabble website.

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Cohen & Boyer Demonstrate the First Practical Method for Cloning a Gene 1973

In 1973 Stanley Cohen, Annie Chang, Robert Helling, and Herbert Boyer demonstrated that if DNA is fragmented with restriction endonucleases and combined with similarly restricted plasmid DNA, the resulting recombinant DNA molecules are biologically active and can replicate in host bacterial cells. Plasmids can thus act as vectors for the propagation of foreign cloned genes.

This was the first practical method of cloning a gene, and a breakthrough in the development of recombinant DNA technologies and genetic engineering.

Cohen, Chang, Boyer and Helling, “Construction of Biologically Functional Bacterial Plasmids in Vitro,” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 70 (1973): 3240-3244

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The Xerox Alto: Conceptually, the First Personal Computer System 1973

In 1973 the Alto computer system was operational at Xerox PARC. Conceptually the first personal computer system, the Alto eventually featured the first WYSYWG (What You See is What You Get) editor, a graphic user interface (GUI), networking through Ethernet, and a mouse. The system was priced $32,000.

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The Lexis Online Information Service is Introduced 1973

In 1973 Mead Data Central of Miamisburg, Ohio, introduced the Lexis and NAARS services.

"LEXIS provides the full text of Ohio and New York codes and cases, the U.S. code, and some federal case law. NAARS is the National Automated Accounting Research Service, a tax database from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants."

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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.

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"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."

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The First International Connections to ARPANET 1973

In 1973 the first ARPANET international connections were established to University College, London and the independent geo-scientific research foundation, NORSAR in Kjeller, Norway.

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Harris Corporation Introduces Editing Terminals for Newspapers 1973

In 1973 Harris Corporation introduced editing terminals for newspapers, which were quickly followed by terminals from Raytheon, Atex, Digital Equipment Corporation and others. The terminals output strips of type on film from phototypesetters.

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The First Electronic Pagination System, Forerunner of Email and Instant Messaging 1973

Atex, founded in Massachusetts in 1973, worked with the Minneapolis Star newspaper to develop the first electronic pagination system that allowed the creation and output of full editorial pages, eliminating the need for manual paste-up of strips of film.

The Atex system featured "Atex Messaging" which is widely believed to be the forerunner of both email and instant messenger applications. Atex publishing systems were "based on highly modified Dec PDP-11 minicomputers, designed to produce news sections of newspapers. The systems included clustered CPUs, a distributed file system and dumb terminals that displayed memory-mapped video and featured keyboards with up to 140 keys: Distinctively, the cursor keys were on the left-hand side. A custom operating system tied everything together."

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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).

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The Beginnings of Magnetic Resonance Imaging 1973

In 1973 American chemist Paul Lauterbur, working at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, developed a way to generate the first Magnetic Resonance Images (MRI), in 2D and 3D, using gradients. Lauterbur described an imaging technique that removed the usual resolution limits due to the wavelength of the imaging field. He used

"two fields: one interacting with the object under investigation, the other restricting this interaction to a small region. Rotation of the fields relative to the object produces a series of one-dimensional projections of the interacting regions, from which two- or three-dimensional images of their spatial distribution can be reconstructed" (http://www.nature.com/physics/looking-back/lauterbur/index.html, accessed 11-23-2008).

This was the beginning of magnetic reasonance imaging.

"When Lauterbur first submitted his paper with his discoveries to Nature, the paper was rejected by the editors of the journal. Lauterbur persisted and requested them to review it again, upon which time it was published and is now acknowledged as a classic Nature paper.  The Nature editors pointed out that the pictures accompanying the paper were too fuzzy, although they were the first images to show the difference between heavy water and ordinary water. Lauterbur said of the initial rejection: 'You could write the entire history of science in the last 50 years in terms of papers rejected by Science or Nature' (Wikipedia article on Paul Lauterbur, accessed 03-08-2012).

Lauterbur, Image Formation by Induced Local Interactions: Examples Employing Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Nature 242 (1973), 190–191.

♦ Lauterbur's Nobel Lecture is available from the Nobel website. You can also watch a 65 minute video of Lauterbur delivering the lecture from this link.

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The First Major Film to Use 2D Digital Image Processing 1973

The science fiction /thriller film Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton, and produced by MGM Studios, Culver City, California in 1973 was the first major film to incorporate 2D digital image processing. It starred Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin.

"Westworld was the first feature film to use digital image processing. John Whitney, Jr. and Gary Demos at Information International, Inc. digitally processed motion picture photography to appear pixelized in order to portray the Gunslinger android's point of view. The approximately 2 minutes and 31 seconds worth of cinegraphic block portraiture was accomplished by color-separating (three basic color separations plus black mask) each frame of source 70 mm film images, scanning each of these elements to convert into rectangular blocks, then adding basic color according to the tone values developed. The resulting coarse pixel matrix was output back to film. The process was covered in the American Cinematographer article Behind the scenes of Westworld" (Wikipedia article on Westworld, accessed 03-08-2012).

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Discovery of Citation Mapping 1973

In 1973 American information scientist Henry G. Small of the Institute for Scientific Information published "Co-Citation in the Scientific Literature; A New Measure of the Relationship between Two Documents," Journal of the American Society for Information Science 24 (1973) 265-9. Small's paper first described what he called "citation mapping," which enabled the use of citation data to create maps visualizing the structure of scientific activity.

Citation mapping was co-discovered by Irina Marshakova in Moscow.

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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)

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Robert Ledley Develops the First Whole-Body CT Scanner 1973

In 1973 American dentist and biophysicist Robert S. Ledley of Georgetown University and colleagues developed the ACTA 0100 CT Scanner (Automatic Computerized Traverse Axial)— the first whole-body computed tomography scanner

"This machine had 30 photomultiplier tubes as detectors and completed a scan in only 9 translate/rotate cycles, much faster than the EMI-scanner. It used a DEC PDP11/34 minicomputer both to operate the servo-mechanisms and to acquire and process the images. The Pfizer drug company acquired the prototype from the university, along with rights to manufacture it. Pfizer then began making copies of the prototype, calling it the "200FS" (FS meaning Fast Scan), which were selling as fast as they could make them. This unit produced images in a 256x256 matrix, with much better definition than the EMI-Scanner's 80" (Wikipedia article on Computed Tomography, accessed 04-15-2009).

Ledley R. S., Di Chiro G, Luessenhop A. J., Twigg H. L. "Computerized transaxial x-ray tomography of the human body," Science 186, No. 4160 (1974) 207-212.

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Gary Kildall Develops the CP/M Operating System for Microcomputers 1973 – 1974

From 1973-74 American computer scientist and microcomputer entrepreneur Gary Kildall, one of the first people to view microprocessors as full-featured computers rather than equipment controllers, developed the operating system, CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers) through his company, Digital Research, in Pacific Grove, California.

". . .Kildall originally developed CP/M during 1973-74, as an operating system to run on an Intel Intellec-8 development system, equipped with an Shugart Associates 8-inch floppy disk drive interfaced via a custom floppy disk controller. It was written in Kildall's own PL/M (Programming Language for Microcomputers). Various aspects of CP/M were influenced by the TOPS-10 operating system of the DECsystem-10 [PDP-10] mainframe computer, which Kildall had used as a development environment" (Wikipedia article on CP/M, accessed 02-06-2010).

"By 1981, at the peak of its popularity, CP/M ran on 3,000 different computer models and DRI had $5.4 million in yearly revenues" (Wikipedia article on Gary Kildall, accessed 02-06-2010).

On October 1, 2014, marking the 40th anniversary of the introduction of CP/M, the Computer Museum in Mountainview, California made available, for non-commercial use, the source code of several early releases of CP/M.

"The museum is releasing scanned printer listings and/or machine-readable source code for four early versions of CP/M dating from 1975 to 1979. These include the earliest source code for CP/M we have been able to locate, dating from before there were official version numbers. It was used at Lawrence Livermore Labs for their Octopus network system. Version 1.3 in 1976 was the first release to include the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) code that made it easy to modify the software for different computers. This includes an amazing 48-page reverse-engineered source code listing with a hand-annotated disassembly of the object code. Versions 1.4 and 2.0 allowed compilation and assembly on personal computers and considerably expanded and generalized access to disks."


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The Tadiran Mastiff: The First Modern Surveillance UAV or Drone 1973

As a result of the 1973 Yom Kippur WarIsraeli Defence Forces wanted to give the field commanders the ability to look "over the hill". The first operational requirements called for a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that could carry a 10 kg payload to ranges of 30–50 km. To meet this requirement Tadiran Electronic Industries created the Tadiran Mastiff, which first flew in 1973, and is considered the first modern surveillance UAV or drone. It was 3.3 m (10 ft 10 in) long, with a wingspan of 4.25 m (13 ft 11 in). Before payload it weighed 72 kg (172 lb). It had a maximum speed of 185 km/h (304 lb), and could stay aloft for over 7 hours.

"It featured data-link system and miniaturized electronics that fed live and high-resolution video coverage of the targeted area to operators. It is thus seen as the first modern surveillance UAV. The combination of its long flight endurance of over 7 hours and real-time video streaming gave Israeli forces unprecedented depth of coverage, speed of information delivery and on-station surveillance time" (Wikipedia article on Tadiran Mastiff, accessed 12-09-2013).

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The Brain-Computer Interface 1973

In 1973 computer scientist Jacques J. Vidal of UCLA coined the term brain-computer interface (BCI) in his paper "Toward Direct Brain-Computer Communication," Annual Review of Biophysics and Bioengineering 2: 157–80. doi:10.1146/annurev.bb.02.060173.001105. PMID 4583653.

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The Politics of Nonviolent Action 1973

In 1973 American political scientist Gene Sharp of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth published The Politics of Nonviolent Action, in which he provided a pragmatic political analysis of nonviolent action as a method for applying power in a conflict. Sharp, whose work influenced resistance organizations all over the world, has been called the "Machiavelli of nonviolence," and the "Clausewitz of nonviolence."

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Book Burning and Personal Book Collecting by Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet 1973 – 1990

During the Chilean dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet numerous book burnings were conducted by the Junta Militar de Gobierno to destroy information they considered subversive. Burned books including leftist literature and other material that were incompatible with the junta's ideology, as part of a campaign to "extirpate the Marxist cancer" of the prior democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende.

"Following the coup, the military began raids to find potential opponents of the regimes, who were then held and some of them executed at the Estadio Nacional and other places. In addition to this, during the raids the military gathered and burned large numbers of books: not just Marxist literature, but also general sociological literature, newspapers and magazines.In addition to this, such books were withdrawn from the shelves of bookstores and libraries.

"The book burning attracted international protests: the American Library Association condemned them, arguing that it is "a despicable form of suppression" which "violates the fundamental rights of the people of Chile".

"Sporadic book burning occurred throughout the junta's regime which lasted until 1990. On November 28, 1986, the customs authorities seized almost 15,000 copies of Gabriel García Márquez's book Clandestine in Chile, which were later burned by military authorities in Valparaíso. Together with them, copies of a book of essays by Venezuelan presidential candidate Teodoro Petkoff were also burned" (Wikipedia article on Book burnings in Chile, accessed 01-12-2014).

What directed my attention to this was an article by Simon Romero published in The New York Times on January 9, 2014, entitled "A Chilean Dictator's Secret Book Collection: Heavy on Napoleon, Light on Fiction." This described the private library of around 50,000 volumes secretly collected by Augusto Pinochet during his dictatorship. It seems that the dictator, under whose regime 3,000 people disappeared and nearly 40,000 were tortured, collected one of the largest and most significant libraries in South America, using government funds. The story of Pinochet's library was told in La secreta vida literaria de Augusto Pinochet by Juan Cristóbal Peña published in 2013. Both the article and book present psychological speculations as to why the dictator, who was no scholar, collected such a large library.

An image of Chilean soldiers burning leftist literature during the Pinochet regime in 1973 is available at this link.

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John B. Smith's Early Attempts at "Computer Criticism" of Literature 1973 – 1978

In 1978 American computer scientist John B. Smith, then of the Pennsylvania State University, theorized how computers could be used to study literature in "Computer Criticism," STYLE XII.4 (1978) 326-56. In this paper Smith proposed that algorithms or manual encoding could be used to create layers that represent structures in texts. These layers would be like the layer of imagery that he extracted and discussed in his earlier paper, "Image and Imagery in Joyce's Portrait: A Computer-Assisted Analysis," published in Directions in Literary Criticism: Contemporary Approaches to Literature. Eds. Weintraub & Young (1973) 220-27. Smith did not call these models, but they may be viewed as a form of surrogate that can be studied and compared to other surrogates. In his 1978 paper, “Computer Criticism,” Smith provided some visualizations of extracted features that showed some of the pioneering ways he was modelling texts.

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Introduction of the MCM/70, the First Truly Portable Computer & the First Truly Usable Microcomputer System 1973

In December 1973 Microcomputer Computer Machines, Inc. ("MCM"), introduced the MCM/70 (MCM 70). MCM was started in 1971-1972 by Mers Kutt and associates in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, with the objective of designing, building, and marketing a state-of-the-art powerful, but portable, general-purpose microcomputer. One of the very first microcomputers, the MCM.70 was the first truly portable computer and arguably the first truly usable microcomputer system.

The MCM/70 included one or two digital tape drives in the single physical unit including the integral keyboard and display, with a total weight of about 20 pounds. To emphasize the MCM70's portability, MCM made an optional carrying case available so that the whole computer would fit under an airline seat. The MCM/70 and MCM/800, a more powerful model introduced in 1976, could be connected to any Diablo 630 compatible printer daisy wheel printer for printed output, but also for digitizing analog input. The MCM 800 was a desktop unit, with ribbon cables connecting the physically separate units. These could include a Diablo 630 compatible printer, a CRT display, additional digital cassette tape drives, a single or dual floppy disk unit, a 30 cps modem, and an 80-column card reader, as off-the-shelf units.

The MCM/70 used IBM-developed APL as its user language and was the first commercially available computer to make APL its primary or only user language. MCM continued APL as the user language on the MCM/700 and the later 800, but downplayed it in the MCM/1200, emphasizing instead the use of software packages writtin in APL. The MCM/70 provided the user with virtual storage as an automatic standard feature, as long as the computer was equipped with at least one tape drive or one disk drive. The MCM/70 was the first commercially available computer to do this. It gave the user the ability to do large data manipulation tasks, of the kind that would normally have required a mainframe, but,of course, more slowly on a very small and relatively in expensive computer. MCM continued providing automatic virtual storage to cover all of the computers in its line.

The MCM/70 was the first microcomputer that came bundled with its own operating system software: AVS. AVS managed the virtual storage transparently for the user, and provided the interface between APL and the hardware.The user accessed operating system facilities through APL, especially the enhanced "quad" functions. However, MCM provided an editor in AVS for use with APL which improved on the editor familiar to users of IBM'sAPL/360 implementations. MCM carried all of these features forward to the MCM700, 800, and 1200 models.

The MCM 70 provided a new level of comprehensiveness of hardware-software integration. It was the first clear instance of what is termed "co-design" where the computer software and hardware are designed at the same time, by people working together and deliberately seeking a common set of goals for the performance of the hardware when directed by the software. While the MCM700 preserved nearly all of this tight integration, the MCM/800 lost some in adding additional peripheral equipment, and the MCM/1200 lost more. For the MCM/70, more of the integration appears in the AVS operating system than in MCM's APL implementation, because of MCM's deliberate policy of keeping a very close compatibility withI BM's APL/360.

As advanced and sophisticated as were all of ACM’s hardware and software innovations, and as useful as the machines were to business customers before the PC revolution, MCM machines never achieved sufficiently high volume to allow lower unit cost, and their tightly integrated designs incorporated rigid hardware and software constraints. When the Apple II was introduced in April 1977, at a much lower price, and without the same constraints, it became an immediate success, taking sales away from MCM. Also, the Apple II's ability to run VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet, was so compelling that many people bought the Apple II for that purpose alone. The Apple II, and, of course, the open architecture IBM PC, introduced in 1981, and its clones, captured the market that MCM targeted. By 1981, as the PC revolution began, the company was in trouble, and by 1985 MCM folded.

Stachniak, Zbigniew, Inventing the PC. The MCM/70 Story (2011).

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The Earliest Commercial, Non-Kit Personal Computer Based on a Microprocessor February 1973

In February 1973 the French company Réalisation d'Études Électroniques (R2E), founded by Paul Magneron and André Truong Trong Thi, offered the Micral N personal computer for sale. The Micral N was the earliest commercial, non-kit personal computer or microcomputer based on a microprocessor, specifically the Intel 8008.

"The software was developed by Benchetrit, with Alain Lacombe and Jean-Claude Beckmann working on the electrical and mechanical aspects. [François] Gernelle invented the Micral N, which was much smaller than existing minicomputers. The January 1974 Users Manual called it "the first of a new generation of mini-computer whose principal feature is its very low cost'....

"The computer was to be delivered in December 1972, and Gernelle, Lacombe, Benchetrit and Beckmann had to work in a cellar in Châtenay-Malabry for 18 hours a day in order to deliver the computer in time. The software, the ROM-based MIC 01 monitor and the ASMIC 01 assembler, was written on an Intertechnique Multi-8 minicomputer using a cross assembler. The computer was based on an Intel 8008 microprocessor clocked at 500 kHz. It had a backplane bus, called the Pluribus with 74-pin connector. 14 boards could be plugged in a Pluribus. With two Pluribus, the Micral N could support up to 24 boards. The computer used MOS memory instead of core memory. The Micral N could support parallel and serial input/output. It had 8 levels of interrupt and a stack. The computer was programmed with punched tape, and used a teleprinter or modem for I/O. The front panel console was optional, offering customers the option of designing their own console to match a particular application. It was delivered to the INRA in January 1973, and commercialized in February 1973 for FF 8,500 (about $1,750) making it a cost-effective replacement for minicomputers which augured the era of the PC" (Wikipedia article on Micral N, accessed 12-02-2013). 

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2000 People Use the ARPANET March 1973

In March 1973 Stanford Research Institute Network Information Center (SRI-NIC) began publishing ARPANET News. At this time the number of ARPANET users was estimated at 2000.

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The Code of Fair Information Practice July 1973

In July 1973 Records, Computers, and the Rights of Citizens was published. This was the report of the Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems appointed by Elliot L. Richardson, secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The report explored the impact of computerized record keeping on individuals, and recommended a Code of Fair Information Prractice, consisting of five basic principles:

1."There must be no data record-keeping systems whose very existence is secret." 

2."There must be a way for an individual to find out what information about him is in a record and how it is used."

3."There must be a way for an individual to prevent information about him obtained for one purpose from being used or made available for other purposes without his consent." 

4. "There must be a way for an individual to correct or amend a record of identifiable information about him."

5. "Any organization creating, maintaining, using or disseminating records of identifiable personal data must assure the reliability of the data for their intended use and must take reasonable precautions to prevent misuse of the data."

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Coining of the Concept and Term "Datagram" November 1973

In November 1973 the first demonstration, using three hosts and one packet switch, occurred on CYCLADES, a French packet switching network designed and directed by Louis Pouzin. CYCLADES was developed to explore alternatives to the ARPANET design and to support network research generally. It was sponsored and coordinated by the French government, through the Institut de Recherche en lnformatique et en Automatique (IRIA), the national research laboratory for computer science in France (now known as INRIA). Several French computer manufacturers, research institutes and universities contributed to the effort. 

CYCLADES was the first network to make the hosts responsible for the reliable delivery of data, rather than the network itself, using unreliable datagrams and associated end-to-end protocol mechanisms. Within the CYCLADES project Pouzin coined the concept and term datagram, by combining the words data and telegram. 

In 1974 Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn adopted these concepts for the creation of TCP. They were later adopted for the creation of the Internet Protocol (IP).

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The Endangered Species Act of 1973 December 28, 1973

On December 28, 1973 President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act of 1973, designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern for conservation and the environment.

"The stated purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect species and also "the ecosystems upon which they depend." It encompasses plants and invertebrates as well as vertebrates. It does not expressly include fungi, which were widely considered to be plants in 1973, [but which are now considered more closely related to animals than plants.]

"ESA is administered by two federal agencies, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (which includes the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS). NOAA handles marine species, and the FWS has responsibility over freshwater fish and all other species. Species that occur in both habitats (e.g. sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon) are jointly managed."

"Few species have become extinct while listed under the Endangered Species Act, and 93% in the northeastern US have had their population sizes increase or remain stable since being listed as threatened or endangered. As of August, 28, 2008, there are 1,327 species on the threatened and endangered lists. However, many species have become extinct while on the candidate list or otherwise under consideration for listing" (Wikipedia article on Endangered Species Act, accessed 06-13-2009).

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The First of the Three Cohen-Boyer Recombinant DNA Cloning Patents is Granted 1974

In 1974 the first of the three Cohen-Boyer recombinant DNA cloning patents was granted, leading to the foundation of the biotechnology industry.

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Systems Network Architecture is Announced 1974

In 1974 IBM announced Systems Network Architecture (SNA), a networking protocol for computing systems. SNA was a uniform set of rules and procedures for computer communications to free computer users from the technical complexities of communicating through local, national, and international computer networks.

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SEQUEL (SQL) is Developed 1974

In 1974 Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce of IBM Research Laboratory, San Jose, California, developed a Structured English Query Language (“SEQUEL”) to apply Edgar F. Codd’s model of relational databases. SEQUEL later became SQL, presumably because trademark conflicts caused IBM to switch from the original name.

In December 2013 Chamberlin & Boyce's original paper on SEQUEL was available at this link

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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.

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The First Computer Employing RISC 1974

In 1974 IBM built the first prototype computer employing RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) architecture. Based on an invention by IBM researcher John Cocke, the RISC concept simplified the instructions given to run computers, making them faster and more powerful. It was implemented in the experimental IBM 801 minicomputer. The goal of the 801 was to execute one instruction per cycle.

In 1987 John Cocke received the A. M. Turing Award for significant contributions in the design and theory of compilers, the architecture of large systems and the development of reduced instruction set computers (RISC); for discovering and systematizing many fundamental transformations now used in optimizing compilers including reduction of operator strength, elimination of common subexpressions, register allocation, constant propagation, and dead code elimination.

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"A Sweeping and Controversial Program" of Combined Library Operations 1974

In 1974 the New York Public Library and libraries of Columbia, Harvard, and Yale universities founded RLG  (Research Libraries Group), based in Mountain View, California. The New York Times called this "a sweeping and controversial program of combined operations."

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Virtual Machines 1974

In 1974 American computer scientist Gerald J. Popek of UCLA and Robert P. Goldberg published Formal Requirements for Virtualizable Third Generation Architectures, a set of conditions sufficient to support system virtualization efficiently in computer architecure. 

"Even though the requirements are derived under simplifying assumptions, they still represent a convenient way of determining whether a computer architecture supports efficient virtualization and provide guidelines for the design of virtualized computer architectures."

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The First Computer Role-Playing Game: Dungeons & Dragons 1974 – 1975

From 1974 to 1975 Gary Whisenhunt and Ray Wood at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, wrote the first computer role-playing game in the TUTOR programming language for the PLATO system. It was called Dungeons & Dragons (dnd).

The name "dnd" was derived from the abbreviation "DND" (D&D) from the original tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, first released in 1974. The publication of D&D is widely regarded as the beginning of modern role-playing games and of the role-playing game industry.

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Raymond Kurzweil Introduces the First Omni-Font Optical Character Recognition System 1974

In 1974 Raymond Kurzweil founded Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc. and developed the first omni-font optical character recognition system— a computer program capable of recognizing text printed in any normal font.

"Before that time, scanners had only been able to read text written in a few fonts. He decided that the best application of this technology would be to create a reading machine, which would allow blind people to understand written text by having a computer read it to them aloud. However, this device required the invention of two enabling technologies—the CCD [charge-coupled device] flatbed scanner and the text-to-speech synthesizer. Development of these technologies was completed at other institutions such as Bell Labs, and on January 13, 1976, the finished product was unveiled during a news conference headed by him and the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind. Called the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the device covered an entire tabletop" (Wikipedia article on Ray Kurzweil, accessed 03-08-2012).

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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).

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SGML is Invented 1974

Working at IBM's Almaden Research Center, San Jose, California, in 1974 Charles F. Goldfarb developed the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).

SGML became an ISO accepted standard on October 15, 1986.  

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Rowland & Molina Suggest that CFCs Deplete the Ozone Layer 1974

In 1974 chemist Frank Sherwood Rowland of the University of California, Irvine and his post-doctoral student, Mario J. Molina, suggested that long-lived organic halogen compounds, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), could reach the stratosphere where they would be dissociated by UV light, releasing chlorine atoms.

"The Rowland-Molina hypothesis was strongly disputed by representatives of the aerosol and halocarbon industries. The Chair of the Board of DuPont was quoted as saying that ozone depletion theory is "a science fiction tale...a load of rubbish...utter nonsense". Robert Abplanalp, the President of Precision Valve Corporation (and inventor of the first practical aerosol spray can valve), wrote to the Chancellor of UC Irvine to complain about Rowland's public statements. Nevertheless, within three years most of the basic assumptions made by Rowland and Molina were confirmed by laboratory measurements and by direct observation in the stratosphere. The concentrations of the source gases (CFCs and related compounds) and the chlorine reservoir species (HCl and ClONO2) were measured throughout the stratosphere, and demonstrated that CFCs were indeed the major source of stratospheric chlorine, and that nearly all of the CFCs emitted would eventually reach the stratosphere. Even more convincing was the measurement, by James G. Anderson and collaborators, of chlorine monoxide (ClO) in the stratosphere. ClO is produced by the reaction of Cl with ozone — its observation thus demonstrated that Cl radicals not only were present in the stratosphere but also were actually involved in destroying ozone. McElroy and Wofsy extended the work of Rowland and Molina by showing that bromine atoms were even more effective catalysts for ozone loss than chlorine atoms and argued that the brominated organic compounds known as halons, widely used in fire extinguishers, were a potentially large source of stratospheric bromine. In 1976 the United States National Academy of Sciences released a report which concluded that the ozone depletion hypothesis was strongly supported by the scientific evidence. Scientists calculated that if CFC production continued to increase at the going rate of 10% per year until 1990 and then remain steady, CFCs would cause a global ozone loss of 5 to 7% by 1995, and a 30 to 50% loss by 2050. In response the United States, Canada and Norway banned the use of CFCs in aerosol spray cans in 1978" (Wikipedia article on Ozone depletion, accessed 11-26-2010).

In 1995 Rowland and Molina shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen for "for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone."

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Publication of Roberto Busa's Index Thomisticus: Forty Years of Data Processing 1974 – 1980

In 1974 Italian Jesuit priest Roberto Busa of Gallarate and Milan, Italy, published the first volume of his Index Thomisticus, a massive index verborum or concordance of the writings of Thomas Aquinas. The work was complete in 56 printed volumes in 1980. This concordance, which Busa began to conceptualize in 1946, and started developing in 1949, was the pioneering large scale humanities computing, or digital humanities project, though it began before electronic computers were available. Writing in 1951, Busa believed that electric punched card tabulating technology, the technology then available, would enable completion in four years of a work which would otherwise have taken "half a century." In spite of this optimism, the project required further computing advances and 40 years till completion.

"A purely mechanical concordance program, where words are alphabetized according to their graphic forms (sequences of letters), could have produced a result in much less time, but Busa would not be satisfied with this. He wanted to produce a "lemmatized" concordance where words are listed under their dictionary headings, not under their simple forms. His team attempted to write some computer software to deal with this and, eventually, the lemmatization of all 11 million words was completed in a semiautomatic way with human beings dealing with word forms that the program could not handle. Busa set very high standards for his work. His volumes are elegantly typeset and he would not compromise on any levels of scholarship in order to get the work done faster. He has continued to have a profound influence on humanities computing, with a vision and imagination that reach beyond the horizons of many of the current generation of practitioners who have been brought up with the Internet. A CD-ROM of the Aquinas material appeared in 1992 that incorporated some hypertextual features ("cum hypertextibus") and was accompanied by a user guide in Latin, English, and Italian. Father Busa himself was the first recipient of the Busa award in recognition of outstanding achievements in the application of information technology to humanistic research, and in his award lecture in Debrecen, Hungary, in 1998 he reflected on the potential of the World Wide Web to deliver multimedia scholarly material accompanied by sophisticated analysis tools" (Hockey, "The History of Humanities Computing," A Companion to Digital Humanities, Shreibman, Siemens, and Unsworth[eds.] [2004] 4).

In 2005 a web-based version of the Index Thomisticus made its debut, designed and programmed by E. Alarcón and E. Bernot, in collaboration with Busa. In 2006 the Index Thomisticus Treebank project (directed by Marco Passarotti) started the syntactic annotation of the entire corpus.

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The HP-65, the First Magnetic Card-Programmable Handheld Calculator 1974

In 1974 Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, California, introduced the HP-65, the  first magnetic card-programmable handheld calculator, featuring nine storage registers and room for 100 keystroke instructions. It also included a magnetic card reader/writer to save and load programs. The price was $795.

"Bill Hewlett's design requirement was that the calculator should fit in his shirt pocket. That is one reason for the tapered depth of the calculator. The magnetic program cards fed in at the thick end of the calculator under the LED display. The documentation for the programs in the calculator is very complete, including algorithms for hundreds of applications, including the solutions of differential equations, stock price estimation, statistics, and so forth" (Wikipedia article on HP-65, accessed 03-10-2012).

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Probably the First Advertised Personal Computer Sold in Kit Form March 1974

In March 1974 Computer Consulting of Milford, Connecticut advertised the SCELBI-8H (SCientific ELectronic BIological, pronounced "sell-bee") personal computer. Based on the first 8-bit microprocessor from Intel, the 8008, the 8H came with 1K of random-access memory and was available either fully assembled or in a kit (consisting of circuit boardspower supply, etc. that the purchaser assembled). The company placed ads in QSTRadio-Electronics and later in BYTE magazine. Though the 8H was preceded by the Micral N produced in France, some have called it the first personal computer advertised in kit form.

"No high-level programming language was available for the 8H in the beginning. Wadsworth wrote a book, Machine Language Programming for the 8008 and Similar Microcomputers, that taught the assembly language and machine language programming techniques needed to use the 8H. The book included a listing of a floating point package, making it one of the first examples of non-trivial personal-computer software distribution in the spirit of what would much later become known as open source. Because of the similarities between the 8008 and the 8080, this book was purchased by many owners of non-SCELBI hardware" (Wikipedia article on SCELBI, accessed 12-02-2013).

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The Privacy Act of 1974 May 1974

As a result of the Report of the Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems (July 1973), Congress passed the Privacy Act of 1974.

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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.

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An Antitrust Suit to Break up AT&T November 20, 1974

On November 20, 1974 the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit for the breakup of American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), alleging anticompetitive behavior.

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Mandelbrot's "The Fractal Geometry of Nature" 1975 – 1982

In 1975 French American mathematician, physicist, economist, and information theorist Benoit Mandelbrot, a researcher at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New York, first developed fractal geometry in his book, Les objets fractals, forme, hasard et dimension, building on the concept that seemingly irregular shapes can have identical structure at all scales. Mandelbrot expanded and translated his ideas in his book Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension (1977). He further expanded them in The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1982). In 1999 American Scientist magazine stated that these three books, taken together, comprise “one of the ten most influential scientific essays of the 20th century.” The impact of these books on the scientific community, and on the educated public, was significantly enhanced by mathematically accurate computer-drawn illustrations created by programmers working with Mandelbrot, primarily at IBM Research. Images for the 1977 and 1982 books were mainly by Richard F. Voss. The early graphics were low-resolution black and white; later drawings were higher resolution and in color as computer graphic technology evolved between 1975 and 1982.

Mandelbrot's new geometry made it possible to describe mathematically the kinds of irregularities existing in nature, and had applications in an enormously wide range of scientific and technological fields.

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Robert Metcalf Invents Ethernet 1975

In 1975 Robert Metcalfe of Xerox PARC invented Ethernet. Initially the speed of Ethernet was three megabits per second. Ethernet evolved "into the most widely implemented physical and link layer protocol."

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200,000 Computers are Operating in the U. S. 1975

It was estimated that 200,000 computers were operating in the United States in 1975. Nearly all of these were mainframes and minicomputers.

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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.

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The First Demonstrations of TCP/IP 1975 – November 1977

In 1975 the first two-network demonstration of the Internet Protocol Suite, TCP/IP was performed between Stanford and University College London (UCL).

In November 1977, a three-network TCP/IP test was conducted between sites in the US, UK, and Norway.

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Origins & Early Development of PostScript and Scalable Digital Type Fonts at Xerox PARC and Adobe Systems 1975 – 1989

At Evans & Sutherland in Salt Lake City, Utah, from 1975-78 computer scientists John Warnock and John Gaffney developed the "The Evans and Sutherland Design System" for producing 3-dimensional graphical databases both for the Evans & Sutherland CAD/CAM Picture System and for custom-built simulation machines. These graphics systems used a graphics model, developed by Ivan Sutherland and others, based on coordinate system transformations and line drawing.

After leaving Evans & Sutherland in 1978 John Warnock joined Xerox PARC to work for Charles "Chuck" Geschke. At "PARC" he teamed up with Martin Newell to producie an interpreted graphics system called JAM. "JAM" stood for "John And Martin".

"JAM had the same postfix execution semantics as Gaffney's Design System, and was based on the Evans and Sutherland imaging model, but augmented the E&S imaging model by providing a much more extensive set of graphics primitives. Like the later versions of the Design System, JAM was 'token based' rather than 'command line based', which means that the JAM interpreter reads a stream of input tokens and processes each token completely before moving to the next. Newell and Warnock implemented JAM on various Xerox workstations; by 1981 JAM was available at Stanford on the Xerox Alto computers, where I first saw it.  

"In the meantime, various people at Xerox were building a series of experimental raster printers. The first of these was called XGP, the Xerox Graphics Printer, and had a resolution of 192 dots to the inch. Xerox made XGP's available to certain universities, and by 1972 they were in use at Carnegie-Mellon, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, and the University of Toronto. Each of those organizations produced its own hardware and software interfaces. The XGP is historically interesting only because it is the first raster printer to gain substantial use by computer scientists, and was the arena in which a lot of mistakes were made and a lot of lessons learned.  

"To replace the XGP, Xerox PARC developed a new printer called EARS, and then another newer printer called Dover. After the agony of converting software from XGP to EARS, various Xerox people realized that applications programs generating files for the XGP or for EARS should not be tied to the device properties of the printer itself. Bob Sproull and William Newman, of Xerox PARC, developed a relatively device-independent page image description scheme, called "Press format", which was used to instruct raster printers what to print.  

"As part of an extensive grant program to selected universities, Xerox donated Dover printers and made documentation of the Press format available under a nondisclosure agreement. As far as I know, that nondisclosure agreement has never been lifted, though information about Press format has been widely enough distributed that by 1982 researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) at Lausanne had given conference papers about their own independent implementation of Press format.  

"Press format was a smashing success; it revolutionized laser printing technology in the academic and research communities, and stimulated a large number of people to think about issues of device-independent print graphics. Nevertheless, Press format had its limitations, and various people felt the need to revise the basic design.  

"Sproull left Xerox in 1978 to become a professor of computer science at CMU. Newman returned home to England to become an independent consultant. Martin Newell left Xerox to join Cadlinc Corp. Warnock and Geschke remained at Xerox.  

"While at CMU, Sproull began making plans for a new version of Press that would combine the graphics model of JAM with the page image description properties of Press. Sproull returned to Xerox for a sabbatical leave in 1982, and enlisted the help of Butler Lampson in the creation of the new page image description language that Warnock dubbed "Interpress". The name caught on.  

"While it is difficult to separate the contributions made by Sproull and Lampson, it is not incorrect to say that Lampson and Warnock produced the execution model of Interpress while Sproull and Warnock produced the imaging model. It is also approximately correct to characterize this first version of Interpress as being derived from the graphics model and execution model of JAM with additional protection and security mechanisms derived from experience with programming languages like Euclid and Cedar, and a careful silence on the issue of fonts. The trio worked under Geschke's direction, and Geschke was responsible for refereeing disagreements and for making certain that the resulting design was acceptable to the rest of Xerox" (Brian Reid, http://groups.google.com/group/fa.laser-lovers/msg/5d0df32a0e91f1fa?rnum=2&pli=1, accessed 01-07-2009).

In December 1982 Warnockand Chuck Gerschke founded Adobe Systems in San Jose, California. At Adobe Warnock developed the PostScript page description language — a simplified version of the InterPress language that he had developed at Xerox PARC.

Two years later, in 1984, Warnock and Geschke releasied PostScript Level 1, enabling scalable PostScript digital type fonts and desktop publishing.

In 1985 Cleo Huggins, graphic designer and typographer at Adobe Systems, San Jose, California, designed the Sonata PostScript type font. This font for musical notation was the first of the "Adobe Originals," and predated personal computer software for musical composition.

The following year Lynne Garell, a graphic designer typographer at Adobe Systems, designed Carta, a map font. This was the first alphabetic typefont created in PostScript and marketed by Adobe.

The first typeface families arrived at Adobe in 1989: Robert Slimbach's Utopia and Adobe Garamond. A reinterpretation of the Roman types of Claude Garamond and the italics of Robert Granjon.

(This entry was last revised on 01-18-2015.)

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Books on Tape is Founded 1975

In 1975 Olympic gold medalist Duvall Hecht founded Books on Tape, Inc. as a mail order rental service for unabridged audiobooks. The company expanded by selling their products to libraries.

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"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).

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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).

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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).

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"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.

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Barnes & Noble Becomes the First American Bookseller to Discount New Books 1975

In 1975 the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain, purchased by Leonard Riggio in 1971,  became the first bookseller in America to discount new books, by selling New York Times best-selling titles at 40% off the publishers’ list price.

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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).

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"Type Foundries of America," the First Book in the Graphic Arts Field Produced from Cold Type 1975

In 1975 Maurice Annenberg and Maran Printing Services of Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D. C. issued Type Foundries of America and their Catalogues in a numbered edition of 500 copies. This history of American type foundries and their specimens, written by Annenberg and produced by his own printing company, was believed to be the first book in the graphic arts field produced entirely from cold type rather than hot metal.  According to the dust jacket flap, all its text was composed on the Mergenthaler V-I-P, variable input phototypesetter. This machine, which produced reproduction proofs from punched paper tape, was arguably the first completely successful competitor to hot metal typesetting machines such as Monotype. Annenberg reproduced a photograph of the V-I-P on p. 2 of his book.

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Myron Krueger's Videoplace Pioneers "Artificial Reality" Circa 1975

In the 1970s American computer artist Myron W. Krueger, working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Connecticut, Storrs, Mansfield, Connecticut, developed Videoplace, which allowed users to interact with virtual objects for the first time. It created an artificial reality that surrounded its users, and responded to their movements and actions, without being encumbered by the use of goggles or gloves.

"The Videoplace used projectors, video cameras, special purpose hardware, and onscreen silhouettes of the users to place the users within an interactive environment. Users in separate rooms in the lab were able to interact with one another through this technology. The movements of the users recorded on video were analyzed and transferred to the silhouette representations of the users in the Artificial Reality environment. By the users being able to visually see the results of their actions on screen, through the use of the crude but effective colored silhouettes, the users had a sense of presence while interacting with onscreen objects and other users even though there was no direct tactile feedback available. The sense of presence was enough that users pulled away when their silhouettes intersected with those of other users.  The Videoplace is now on permanent display at the State Museum of Natural History located at the University of Connecticut" (Wikipedia article on Videoplace, accessed 10-22-2014).

In 1983 Krueger published a book entitled Artificial Reality, updated in a second edition in 1991. This work is one of the pioneering treatises on virtual or artificial reality.

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One of the First GPU's 1975

During the 1970s Fujitsu's MB14241 video shifter was used to accelerate the drawing of sprite graphics for various 1970s arcade games from Taito and Midway, such as Gun Fight (1975), Sea Wolf (1976), and Space Invaders (1978). The MB14241 may have been the earliest graphics processing unit (GPU).

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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.

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The Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA February 1975

In February 1975 the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules, organized by Paul Berg, Maxine Singer, and Richard Roblin occurred in Asilomar, California.

"In addition to an international group of 150 scientists, the participants included lawyers (including Daniel Singer, Maxine Singer's husband) to help consider legal and ethical issues, and 16 journalists to cover the four-day event. A primary aim of the group was to consider whether to lift the voluntary moratorium [on recombinant DNA (rDNA) research] and if so, under what conditions research could proceed safely. The participants concluded (though not unanimously) that rDNA research should proceed but under strict guidelines. Their recommendations went to a National Institutes of Health committee chaired by NIH director Donald Fredrickson and charged with formulating those guidelines, which were issued in July 1976" (http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/CD/Views/Exhibit/narrative/dna.html, accessed 07-25-2009).

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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).

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Landmarks in the Prehistory and Early History of Microsoft April 4, 1975 – November 20, 1985

In Seattle, Washington, from 1973-74 high school students Bill Gates and Paul Allen, and Paul Gilbert founded a partnership called Traf-O-Data. The objective was to read the raw data from roadway traffic counters and create reports for traffic engineers. Even though this initial project was not a success, the experience that Gates and Allen gained in writing software for a non-existent computer they applied shortly thereafter in writing software for the MITS Altair. 

"Bill Gates and Paul Allen were high school students at Lakeside School in Seattle. The Lakeside Programmers Group got free computer time on various computers in exchange for writing computer programs. Gates and Allen thought they could process the traffic data cheaper and faster than the local companies. They recruited classmates to manually read the hole-patterns in the paper tape and transcribe the data onto computer cards. Gates then used a computer at the University of Washington to produce the traffic flow charts. (Paul Allen's father was a librarian at UW.) This was the beginning of Traf-O-Data.

"The next step was to build a device to read the traffic tapes directly and eliminate the tedious manual work. The Intel 8008 microprocessor was announced in 1972 and they realized it could read the tapes and process the data. Allen had graduated and was enrolled at Washington State University. Since neither Gates nor Allen had any hardware design experience they were initially stumped. The computer community in Seattle at that time was relatively small. Gates and Allen had a friend, Paul Wennberg who like them had hung around CDC Corporation near the University of Washington cadging open time on the mainframe. Wennberg, founder of the Triakis Corporation, was then an electrical engineering student at the University of Washington. In the course of events Gates and Allen mentioned they were looking for somebody to build them a computer for free. They needed somebody good enough to build a computer from parts and the diagrams found in a computer magazine. It was Wennberg who came up with the man to do just that. After discussion with another friend, Wes Prichard, Prichard suggested to Wennberg that Gates and Allen head over UW Physics building to where Gilbert, another EE student worked in the high-energy tracking lab. It was there that Paul Gilbert was approached by the duo to become a partner in Traf-O-Data. That year Gilbert, piece by piece, wire wrapped, soldered and, assembled from electrical components the (world's first?) working microcomputer. Miles Gilbert, Paul Gilbert's brother, a graphic designer and draftsman, helped the fledgling company by designing the company's logo. Gates and Allen started writing the software. To test the software while the computer was being designed, Paul Allen wrote a computer program on WSU's IBM 360 that would emulate the 8008 microprocessor.

"The computer system was completed and Traf-O-Data produced a few thousand dollars of revenue. Later the State of Washington offered free traffic processing services to cities, ending the need for private contractors, and all three principals moved on to other projects. The real contribution of Traf-O-Data was the experience that Gates and Allen gained developing software for computer hardware that did not exist. Paul Gilbert, sometimes referred to as "the hardware guy", was the man who made Traf-O-Data work. Without his efforts in the construction of this computer, and the day-to-day running of this pioneering company, the rise of what became Microsoft might have been delayed" (Wikipedia article on Traf-O-Data, accessed 07-13-2011).

On April 4, 1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen officially founded Micro-Soft (Microsoft) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Gates as CEO. Allen invented the original  company name, "Micro-Soft."  The initial purpose of the company was to develop an implementation of the programming language BASIC for the MITS Altair personal computer. Revenues of the company totaled $16,005 by the end of 1976.

"Within a year, the hyphen was dropped, and on November 26, 1976, the trade name "Microsoft" was registered with the Office of the Secretary of the State of New Mexico." (Wikipedia article on Bill Gates, accessed 07-13-2011).

Early in 1975 Gates, Allen, and Monte Davidoff wrote a version of the Basic programming language that ran on the MITS Altair 8800.

"After reading the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics that demonstrated the Altair 8800, Gates contacted Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), the creators of the new microcomputer, to inform them that he and others were working on a BASIC interpreter for the platform. In reality, Gates and Allen did not have an Altair and had not written code for it; they merely wanted to gauge MITS's interest. MITS president Ed Roberts agreed to meet them for a demo, and over the course of a few weeks they developed an Altair emulator that ran on a minicomputer, and then the BASIC interpreter. The demonstration, held at MITS's offices in Albuquerque, was a success and resulted in a deal with MITS to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC." (Wikipedia article on Bill Gates, accessed 07-13-2011).

Called Altair Basic, or in its first iteration, MITS 4K Basic, the program was written without access to an Altair computer or even an 8080 CPU. Altair Basic was the first computer language written for a personal computer, and the first product of "Micro-Soft," which in 1976 was renamed Microsoft.

On February 3, 1976 Gates, in his role as "General Partner Micro-Soft", Albuquerque, New Mexico, wrote An Open Letter to Hobbyists, making the distinction between proprietary and open-source software.

Gates's one page letter was first pubished in Computer Notes1, #9 (February 1976). Computer Notes was the house journal of MITS, the company that developed the MITS Altair 8800 and licensed Micro-Soft's version of BASIC.

In December 1980 IBM hired Paul Allen and Bill Gates of Microsoft, then in Bellevue, Washington, to create an operating system (OS) for the new IBM personal computer under development.

Because Microsoft had no OS at the time, they purchased a non-exclusive license to sell a CP/M clone called QDOS ("Quick and Dirty Operating System") from Tim Patterson of Seattle Computer Products for $25,000.

In September 1983 Microsoft introduced Microsoft Word 1.0 for MS-DOS. This was the first word processor to make extensive use of the computer mouse.

On November 20, 1985 Microsoft introduced Windows 1.0 for the PC. Rather than a completely new operating system, Windows 1.0 was a graphical user interface (GUI) multi-tasking operating environment extension of MS-DOS.

My thanks to Chris Morgan for drawing my attention to Gates and Allen's early experience with Traf-O-Data.

(This entry was last revised on 01-18-2015.)

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The Antitrust Case, U.S. v. IBM, is Tried and Eventually Withdrawn May 19, 1975 – January 8, 1982

On May 19, 1975 the Federal Government’s antitrust suit against IBM went to trial. The complaint for the case U.S. v. IBM had been filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York on January 17, 1969 by the Justice Department. The suit alleged that IBM violated the Section 2 of the Sherman Act by monopolizing or attempting to monopolize the general purpose electronic digital computer system market, specifically computers designed primarily for business.

After thousands of hours of testimony (testimony of over 950 witnesses, 87 in court, the remainder by deposition), and the submission of tens of thousands of exhibits, on January 8, 1982 the anti-trust case U.S. v. IBM was withdrawn on the grounds that the case was "without merit."

30,000,000 pages of documents were generated in the course of this anti-trust case.

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Finding Additional Leaves of the Codex Sinaiticus May 26, 1975 – 2014

During restoration work on May 26, 1975 the monks of St. Catherine's monastery at Mount Sinai discovered a sealed room in the monastery that contained art treasures and 1148 manuscripts, in various languages, of which 305 were complete. Among the the fragments were 12 complete leaves, and some fragments, of the Codex Sinaiticus.

Bentley, Secrets of Mount Sinai. The Story of the World's Oldest Bible-Codex Sinaiticus (1986) 197-202.

On March 6, 2014 TheIndependent.co.uk reported that Nikolas Sarris, a British-based academic, chanced upon another leaf or a portion of a leaf of the Codex Sinaiticus while inspecting photographs of a series of book bindings that were made by two monks at St. Catherine's monastery during the 18th century.

"Over the centuries, antique parchment was often re-used by St Catherine's monks in book bindings because of its strength and the relative difficulty of finding fresh parchment in such a remote corner of the world.

"A Greek student conservator who is studying for his PhD in Britain, Mr Sarris had been involved in the British Library's project to digitise the Codex and quickly recognised the distinct Greek lettering when he saw it poking through a section of the book binding. Speaking from the Greek island of Patmos yesterday, Mr Sarris said: 'It was a really exciting moment. Although it is not my area of expertise, I had helped with the online project so the Codex had been heavily imprinted in my memory. I began checking the height of the letters and the columns and quickly realised we were looking at an unseen part of the Codex.'

"Mr Sarris later emailed Father Justin, the monastery's librarian, to suggest he take a closer look at the book binding. 'Even if there is a one-in-a-million possibility that it could be a Sinaiticus fragment that has escaped our attention, I thought it would be best to say it rather than dismiss it.'

'Only a quarter of the fragment is visible through the book binding but after closer inspection, Father Justin was able to confirm that a previously unseen section of the Codex had indeed been found. The fragment is believed to be the beginning of Joshua, Chapter 1, Verse 10, in which Joshua admonishes the children of Israel as they enter the promised land.

"Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Father Justin said the monastery would use scanners to look more closely at how much of the fragment existed under the newer book binding. 'Modern technology should allow us to examine the binding in a non-invasive manner,' he said.

"Mr Sarris said his find was particularly significant because there were at least 18 other book bindings in the monastery's library that were compiled by the same two monks that had re-used the Codex. 'We don't know whether we will find more of the Codex in those books but it would definitely be worth looking,' he said."

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IBM's First "Portable" Computer: $19,975 September 1975

In September 1975 IBM introduced the 5100 Portable Computer for corporate users. More luggable than portable, or perhaps portable only with a hand-cart, the machine weighed 50 pounds. The price, fully configured, was $19,975.

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Invention of the Digital Camera December 1975

In December 1975 American electrical engineer Stephen J. Sasson of the Eastman Kodak Company invented the digital camera using a charge-coupled device.

"He [Sasson] set about constructing the digital circuitry from scratch, using oscilloscope measurements as a guide. There were no images to look at until the entire prototype — an 8-pound (3.6-kilogram), toaster-size contraption — was assembled. In December 1975, Sasson and his chief technician persuaded a lab assistant to pose for them. The black-and-white image, captured at a resolution of .01 megapixels (10,000 pixels), took 23 seconds to record onto a digital cassette tape and another 23 seconds to read off a playback unit onto a television. Then it popped up on the screen.

" 'You could see the silhouette of her hair,' Sasson said. But her face was a blur of static. She was less than happy with the photograph and left, saying 'You need work,' he said. But Sasson already knew the solution: reversing a set of wires, the assistant's face was restored" (Wikipedia article on Stephen J. Sasson, accessed 04-22-2009).

In 1978, Sasson and his supervisor Gareth A. Lloyd were issued United States Patent 4,131,919 for their digital camera.

There is an image of Sasson's digital camera at this link.

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The First Commercially Available Laser Printer 1976

In 1976 IBM introduced the IBM 3800, the first commercially available laser printer for use with its mainframes. This "room-sized" machine was the first printer to combine laser technology and electrophotography. The technology speeded the printing of bank statements, premium notices, and other high-volume documents. Supplied only as a peripheral for IBM machines, the machine was not available separately.

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The First Word Processing Program for a Personal Computer 1976

In 1976 semi-retired filmmaker and Altair programmer Michael Shrayer wrote The Electric Pencil Word Processor, the first word processing program for a personal computer.

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First Print-to-Speech Reading Machine 1976

In 1976 Raymond Kurzweil introduced the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the first practical application of OCR technology. The Kurzweil Reading Machine combined omni-font OCR, a flat-bed scanner, and text-to-speech synthesis to create the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind. It was the first computer to transform random text into computer-spoken words, enabling blind and visually impaired people to read any printed materials. 

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The Compact Disc (CD) is Developed 1976 – 1983

In 1976 Phillips and Sony developed the compact disc (CD), an optical disc used to store and playback digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively. CDs can hold up to 700 megabytes. This equates to up to 80 minutes of uncompressed audio.  By 2007 200 billion CDs were sold worldwide.

"Philips publicly demonstrated a prototype of an optical digital audio disc at a press conference called "Philips Introduce Compact Disc" in Eindhoven, The Netherlands on March 8, 1979. Three years earlier, Sony first publicly demonstrated an optical digital audio disc in September 1976. In September 1978, they demonstrated an optical digital audio disc with a 150 minute playing time, and with specifications of 44,056 Hz sampling rate, 16-bit linear resolution, cross-interleaved error correction code, that were similar to those of the Compact Disc introduced in 1982. Technical details of Sony's digital audio disc were presented during the 62nd AES Convention, held on March 13-16, 1979 in Brussels.

"The first test CD was pressed in Hannover, Germany by the Polydor Pressing Operations plant in 1981. The disc contained a recording of Richard Strauss's Eine Alpensinfonie, played by the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted by Herbert von Karajan. The first public demonstration was on the BBC TV show Tomorrow's World when The Bee Gees' 1981 album Living Eyes was played. In August 1982 the real pressing was ready to begin in the new factory, not far from the place where Emil Berliner had produced his first gramophone record 93 years earlier. By now, Deutsche Grammophon, Berliner's company and the publisher of the Strauss recording, had become a part of PolyGram. The first CD to be manufactured at the new factory was The Visitors by ABBA. The first album to be released on CD was Billy Joel's 52nd Street, that reached the market alongside Sony's CD player CDP-101 on October 1, 1982 in Japan. Early the following year on March 2, 1983 CD players and discs (16 titles from CBS Records) were released in the United States and other markets. This event is often seen as the "Big Bang" of the digital audio revolution. The new audio disc was enthusiastically received, especially in the early-adopting classical music and audiophile communities and its handling quality received particular praise. As the price of players sank rapidly, the CD began to gain popularity in the larger popular and rock music markets. The first artist to sell a million copies on CD was Dire Straits, with its 1985 album Brothers in Arms. The first major artist to have his entire catalogue converted to CD was David Bowie, whose 15 studio albums were made available by RCA Records in February 1985, along with four Greatest Hits albums. In 1988, 400 million CDs were manufactured by 50 pressing plants around the world. To date, the biggest selling CD (as opposed to the biggest selling title) is Beatles "1", released in November 2000, with worldwide sales of 30 million discs" (Wikipedia article on Compact Disc, assessed 01-17-2010).

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Public Key Cryptography is Suggested 1976

In 1976 cryptologists Bailey Whitfield 'Whit' Diffie  and Martin E. Hellman published "New Directions in Cryptography," IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, IT-22, 6 (1976) 644–654.

This paper suggested public key cryptography and presented the Diffie-Hellman key exchange.

In March 2016 Diffie and Hellman received the A. M.Turing Awardpresented by the ACMfor the invention of public key cryptography.

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The First Major Film to Incorporate 3D Computer Generated Images 1976

The science fiction film Futureworld, a sequel to Westworld, produced by American International Pictures (AIP) in Los Angeles in 1976 was the first major feature film to incorporate 3D computer generated images (CGI).

Futureworld featured a computer-generated hand and face created by University of Utah graduate students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke. "The animated hand was a digitized version of Edwin Catmull's left hand. The movie also used 2D digital compositing to materialize characters over a background" (Wikipedia article on Futureworld, accessed 03-13-2009).

♦ In May 2013 the 50 second sequence of Futureworld incorporating the CG hand and face was available from YouTube at this link.

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Papermaking by Hand in England in 1976 1976

A short film, made by Anglia TV in 1976 describing all the processes in making handmade paper at Hayle Mill, on the Loose Stream in Ken, England. The Hayle Mill was built in 1808 and purchased by John Green in 1817. The Green family produced papers there continuously until the mill closed in 1987. Papers manufactured at Hayle were used by English and continental watercolor artists from J.M.W. Turner on.The mill remained in the Green family until 2002.

The mill burned down in 2003 and was rebuilt and converted to aparments. An excellent image of it in its current form was available at this link in January 2014.

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The World Event/Interaction Survey: A Pioneering Application of Systems Theory to International Relations 1976

Developed by American political scientist and systems analysist Charles A. McClelland, the World Event/Interaction Survey (WEIS) was a pioneering application of Systems Theory to international relations. It was a record of the flow of action and response between countries (as well as non-governmental actors, e.g., NATO) reflected in public events reported daily in The New York Times from January 1966 through December 1978. The unit of analysis in the dataset was the event/interaction, referring to words and deeds communicated between nations, such as threats of military force. Each event/interaction was a daily report of an international event. For each event the actor, target, date, action category, and arena were coded as well as a brief textual description. 98,043 events were included in the dataset.

Charles A. McClelland,  World Event/Interaction Survey Codebook (ICPSR 5211). Ann Arbor, Michigan: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, Ann Arbor, 1976.

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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.


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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.

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Genentech is Founded April 7, 1976

On April 7, 1976 venture capitalist Robert A. Swanson and biochemist Herbert W. Boyer founded the first genetic engineering company, Genentech, to use recombinant DNA methods to make medically important drugs.

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The First CRT Based Word Processor June 1976

In June 1976 Wang Laboratories, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, introduced the first CRT based word processor, the Wang WPS.

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The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) is Conceived June 1976

In June 1976, at a London conference jointly sponsored by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the British Library planning began for the "Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue." The aim of the original project was to create a machine-readable union catalogue of books, pamphlets and other ephemeral material printed in English-speaking countries from 1701 to 1800.

"An ESTC team was established at the British Library in 1977, under the direction of Robin Alston, and began work on the Library's extensive holdings of in-scope material. By 1978, when Robin Alston and Mervyn Jannetta published Bibliography, Machine-Readable Cataloguing and the ESTC, there were already more than fifty contributors to the file including Göttingen State & University Library (Germany). In 1978, Henry Snyder was appointed to direct the ESTC project in North America. An American cataloguing team was established in 1979, and the North American Imprints Project (NAIP) began at the American Antiquarian Society in 1980. The International Committee of the ESTC (IESTC) was established in 1980, with a membership drawn from the UK and the USA, chaired by the British Library. The ESTC file was soon available online, from 1980 via the British Library BLAISE system and from 1981 in the US Research Libraries Group RLIN system. The file was published on microfiche in 1983, and the first CD-ROM edition appeared in 1996.

"In 1987, with the agreement of the Bibliographical Society and the Modern Language Association of America, the International Committee approved the extension of the database to cover the period from the beginning of printing in the British Isles (ca. 1472) to 1700. The file changed its name to the 'English Short Title Catalogue', thereby keeping its well-known acronym. The USA team began cataloguing pre-1701 material in 1989, joined in the mid-1990s by the British Library team, and the resulting records were made available in the RLIN file from 1994. These records were also included in the CD-ROM 2nd edition (1998) and 3rd edition (2003).

"In 1992, IESTC approved a further extension of the file to include serial publications. The USA team began work in 1994 on the cataloguing of serials within the scope of ESTC."

In November 2013 the ESTC website stated that it contained records of over 460,000 items published between 1473 and 1800, mainly, but not exclusively in English, and published mainly in the British Isles and North America, from the collections of the British Library and over 2,000 other libraries.


In October 1978, early the development of the project the British Library published Bibliography, Machine Readable Cataloguing and the ESTC. A Summary History of the Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue: Working Metthods, Cataloguing Rules, A Catalogue of the Works of Alexander Pope Printed between 1711 and 1800 in the British Library by R. C. Alston & M. J. Jannetta. My copy of this work is cloth-bound and limited to 20 copies with a printed list of the recipients bound iin.

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The First Detailed Description of Ethernet July 1976

In July 1976 Robert Metcalf and David Boggs published the first detailed description of ethernet: Ethernet: Distributed Packet-Switching For Local Computer Networks.

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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.

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Prototype Cellular Telephone System 1977

In 1977 AT&T and Bell Labs constructed a prototype analog cellular telephone system. The following year the first public trials occurred in Chicago with 2000 users.

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Lawrence Ellison Founds Software Development Laboratories 1977

Inspired by Edgar F. Codd's 1970 paper on relational database systems called "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks," in 1977 Lawrence Ellison founded Software Development Laboratories, in Santa Clara, California. Renamed Relational Software in 1979, the company introduced its first Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), Oracle V2. To give the impression of reliability there was no version 1.

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Apple I: The First Personal Computer Sold as a Fully Assembled Product 1977

In 1977 Apple Computer introduced the Apple II, the first personal computer sold as a fully assembled product, and the first with color graphics. When the first spreadsheet program, Visicalc, was introduced for the Apple II in 1979 it greatly stimulated sales of the computer as people bought the Apple II just to run Visicalc.

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Gilbert & Maxam Develop a Technique for Sequencing DNA 1977

In 1977 American physicist, biochemist and molecular biologist Walter Gilbert and his student Allan M. Maxam devised a new technique for sequencing DNA. In 1980 Gilbert shared the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Frederick Sanger and Paul Berg. Paul Berg received half of the price "for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA". The other half was split between Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids"

“The Gilbert-Maxam method involved multiplying, dividing, and carefully fragmenting DNA. A stretch of DNA would be multiplied a millionfold in bacteria. Each strand was radioactively labeled at one end. Nested into four groups, chemical reagents were applied to selectively cleave the DNA strand along its bases--adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T). Carefully dosed, the reagents would break the DNA into a large number of smaller fragments of varying length. In gel electrophoresis, as a function of DNA’s negative charge, the strands would separate according to length, revealing, via the terminal points of breakage, the position of each base” (http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/resources/timeline/1977_Gilbert.php, accessed 11-20-2013).

Maxam, A M; Gilbert, W. "A new method for sequencing DNA", Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1977 Feb) 74 (2) 560–4.

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The Sanger Method of Rapid DNA Sequencing 1977

In 1977 English biochemist Frederick Sanger and colleagues at the University of Cambridge independently developed a method for the rapid sequencing of long sections of DNA molecules. Sanger’s method, and that developed by Gilbert and Maxam, made it possible to read the nucleotide sequence for entire genes that run from 1000 to 30,000 bases long. Sanger sequencing was the most widely used sequencing method for approximately 25 years. 

In 1980 Sanger shared the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Walter Gilbert and Paul Berg. Paul Berg received half of the price "for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA". The other half was split between Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids".  This was Sanger's second Nobel prize.

Sanger, F., Nicklen, S., and Coulson, A.R. "DNA Sequencing with Chain-Terminating Inhibitors," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (USA) 74 (1977) 546-67.

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Wang Inaugurates the Concept of Office Automation 1977

In 1977 Wang Laboratories, Lowell, Massachusetts, introduced its VS minicomputer system, which became, for a time, one of the most popular office systems, "inaugurating the concept of office automation."

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Atari Introduces the First Successful Video Game Console Using Plug-in Cartridges 1977

In 1977 Nolan Bushnell and Atari, Sunnyvale, California, introduced the Atari Video Computer System (VCS).

Later known as the Atari 2600, VCS was the first successful video game console to use plug-in cartridges instead of having one or more games built in. It was "typically bundled with two joystick constrollers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a cartridge game."

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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."

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Making MRI Feasible 1977

In 1977 British physicist Peter Mansfield developed a mathematical technique that would allow NMR scans to take seconds rather than hours and produce clearer images than the technique Paul Lauterbur developed in 1973.

Mansfield showed how gradients in the magnetic field could be mathematically analysed, which made it possible to develop a useful nuclear magnetic resonance imaging technique. Mansfield also showed how extremely fast imaging could be achievable. This became technically possible a decade later.

P. Mansfield and A. A .Maudsley, "Medical imaging by NMR", Brit. J. Radiol. 50 (1977) 188.
P Mansfield, "Multi-planar imaging formation using NMR spin echoes," J. Physics C. Solid State Phys. 10 (1977) L55–L58.

The references are from Mansfield's Nobel Lecture. In December 2013 a 64 minute video of Mansfield delivering his lecture was available at this link.

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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.

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The First Hand-Held Entirely Digital Electronic Game 1977

Mattel Auto Race was introduced in 1977 by Mattel of El Segundo, California.  It was the first handheld electronic game that was entirely digital, without moving mechanisms except controls and on/off switch.

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TEX and Metafont 1977 – 1979

Between 1977 and 1979 computer scientist Donald E. Knuth of Stanford University created the TeX page-formatting language and the Metafont character shape specification language, originally as a way of improving the typography of his own publications. These he described in four publications in 1979:

1. "Mathematical Typography," Bulletin (New Series) of the American Mathematical Society, March 1979, Vol. 1, No. 2, 337-72. Josiah Willard Gibbs Lecture, January 4, 1978.

2. TEX, a system for technical text.  A manual published by the American Mathematical Society, June, 1979.

3. Metafont, a system for alphabet design, September, 1979.

4. In December 1979 Digital Press in Bedford, Massachusetts, a division of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), together with the American Mathematical Society issued these three documents in book form as TEX and Metafont. New Directions in Typesetting, with a Foreword by C. Gordon Bell, then Vice President of Engineering at DEC, and a Preface by Knuth.

Preceding the development and wide-acceptance of PostScript (1984) and TrueType (1991), expectations for the impact of TeX and Metafont were appropriately great within the computer community. As a reflection of this, I quote Gordon Bell's 1979 introduction in full:

"Don Knuth's Tau Epison Chi (TeX) is potentially the most significant invention in typesetting in this century. It introduces a standard language for computer typography and in terms of importance could rank near the introduction of the Gutenberg press. The TeX system:

"•understands typography from individual charcters to page design;

"•permits any typewriter, word processing system, computer-based editor, or TeX system editor to be used as an input device with a standard language;

"•can typeset various formats and languages;

"•is structured to be user-extendable to virtually all applications.

"These improvements are benchmarks in typesetting and text creation. To date, computer-based typesetting systems have simply facilitated typesetting. Moreover, the proliferation of word processing systems makes possible the widespread direct transmission of text to typesetting without the intervening typesetting process—provided we use the standard language that TeX offers.

"A direct link between text input and typesetting will permit a drastic restructuring of the journal- and book-publishing industry, allowing it to be oriented substantially more toward the author. Unitl now, even authors with word processing equipment have been unable to participate in the representation of their message in print. Prior to Gutenberg's invention, manuscripts were conceived and designed simultaneously, and often the author's hand shaped the entire final product. The results were beautiful and varied, in contrast to the manufacture of most modern books, which vary only in cover design. With TeX, moreover not only can the author influence his own format and representation, but he also can produce more accurate material than can be rapidly mass-produced, shortening the time between idea and dissemination.

"TeX is significant as a standard language because of the way it understands typography using a framework of boxes and glue in a hierarchical fashion so that any font, page layout, or other typesetting parameter can be set. This is in striking contrast to most typesetting systems, which are built with no generality. Finally, the input form is user-defined by means of a macroprocessor so that virutally any text can be input and can control the typography part of the program. It is this generality and segmentation of function that makes TeX significant.

"This book is about much more than just the Tex system. The Gibbs Lecture presents the twin themes of how typography can help mathematics and how mathematics can help typography, and the material on METAFONT is intriguing and useful in its description of the use of mathematics in type design.

"While the emphasis of TeX is on mathematics, the system is equally applicable to and will no doubt be used in many other domains. Don Knuth, in fact, shows us precisely how the system can humanize basic communciations.

"At Digital, we hope to use TeX immediately, I urge others to adopt and use it so that the language standard can be established.

My copy of the first printing of TeX and Metafont was presented to the San Francisco book designer and book historian Adrian Wilson in February, 1980. Wilson worked in both letterpress and offset and designed many prize-winning books. On the first page of Bell's Foreword Wilson made pencil notes in the margin, taking issue with three points in the third paragraph. It is not clear that Wilson read past the Foreword; however, the points that Wilson made remain valid:

1. "Prior to Gutenberg's invention, manuscripts were conceived and designed simultaneously, and often the author's hand shaped the entire final product." Here Wilson commented, "Very rarely!"  I am unaware of any manuscripts prior to printing, except perhaps for author's manuscripts or the extremely few autograph manuscripts that survived, where it can be demonstrated that the author "shaped the final product" in the sense of its physical appearance on the page rather than in the textual sense. In addition, the process of manuscript copying by different scribes tended to make each manuscript copy different in subtle, or not so subtle ways, from each other.

2. "The results were beautiful and varied, in contrast to the manufacture of most modern books, which vary only in cover design." Here Wilson commented, "not so."  Bell's statement ignored, of course, the incredible diversity of all aspects of the design of "modern books" in addition to their covers.

3. "With TeX, moreover, not only can the author influence his own format and representation. . . ." Here Wilson commented, "author as designer! no." Before desktop publishing (1984-85) the ability of authors who were not programmers to design an acceptable looking book was, of course, highly limited. Even in 2012, when I wrote this database entry, few authors without expert knowledge of book design or graphic arts expertise could produce a genuinely attractively designed book.

Knuth continued his typographic work, issuing a second and larger volume entitled Digital Typography in 1999. This contains a remarkable collection of stories and technical papers concerning the continuation of his work in typography. In 2012 TeX and Metafont remained niche products for composing and scientific books and papers with the market dominated by PostScript and TrueType. As Richard Southall commented in Printer's type in the twentieth century. Manufacturing and design methods (2005) 224, footnote 6, "Donald Knuth's Metafont language, with its radically different approach to the specification of character image configurations, might have provided an alternative, and many ways a better, approach to typemaking if the interface it presented to designers had not been so forbidding."

On March 12, 2013 at a meeting of the Colophon Club in Berkeley, California I heard Knuth deliver a fascinating presentation on how and why he developed TeX and Metafont.  From this I gathered more general understanding of Knuth's system, which from the very beginning he placed in the public domain, and from which he never intended to profit. A more technical explanation of why TeX and Metafont remained niche products may be found in this posting from the Typophile.com website on December 15, 2004

"Metafont can only produce bitmap fonts which is a severe limitation. Nowadays, people usually create outline fonts since they are scalable and usable in different resolutions. There are tools that convert .mf to Type 1 or TrueType but this is done by autotracing which results in rather poor quality.

"There is a related product called Metapost, created by John Hobby, which allows parametric creation of PostScript graphics. This was later extended by Boguslaw Jackowski, Piotr Strzelczyk and Janusz Nowacki to MetaType1, an outline-based parametric font creation system. However, just like many other parametric font creation systems (e.g. Font Chameleon, Infinifont, LiveType), it never gained the necessary momentum. With no professional support and no solid user interface, the tools for creating these sorts of fonts were never able to reach a broad user base. Even Multiple Master fonts that had good user interface tools (Fontographer, FontLab) were dropped because handling them turned out to be too complicated and the revenues were too limited.

"Developing mature applications is a long and laborous effort. The commercial market is difficult, which is visible with the fact that numerous efforts such as Fontographer, FontStudio , TypeDesigner or RoboFog "died". The open source community is too weak to develop a good specialty tool of that sort (open source projects work well with mass products such as Mozilla or OpenOffice, with hundreds of engineers working in their spare time or on government/organizational funding).

"Today, with the exception of DTL FontMaster and FontForge (which is free), FontLab is the only font creation application that is actively being developed. First version of FontLab was created 12 years ago and in that process, we have learned that a good user interface is crucial to a success.

"Font creators are mostly designers, not engineers. They need visual tools. Also, type is often too subtle to rely on parametric creation. While it would be tempting to re-use the exactly same shape of a serif on n, m, i and l, often, subtle changes need to be made for best effect. The more subtle and refined the letterforms get, the less the parametric approach is useful. Donald Knuth's Computer Modern isn't a particularly well-designed typeface and frankly, I have never seen a good typeface made with Metafont.

"When people make a profession out of creating type, i.e. they make their living on type design, the issue of a tool being free becomes less relevant. Also, tools such as Metafont are only nominally free. There are no licensing costs but there are substantial costs of maintenance, support and learning. The learning curves are steep, the user communities are small and not integrated, there is no professional support. Therefore, if you work with tools such as Metafont, you're often left on your own. This is a fact often overlooked by those who advertise free or open source software.

"There is a good selection of links about parametric font creation at: http://www.myfonts.com/activity/parametric-fonts/" (accessed 03-13-2013).

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The Sayre Glove 1977

In 1977 Daniel J. Sandin and Thomas Defanti at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, a cross-disciplinary research lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, created the Sayre Glove, the first wired glove or data glove. The glove was based on an idea of a colleague at the laboratory, Richard Sayre.  An inexpensive, lightweight glove to monitor hand movements, the Sayre Glove provided an effective method for multidimensional control, such as mimicking a set of sliders.

"This device used light based sensors with flexible tubes with a light source at one end and a photocell at the other. As the fingers were bent, the amount of light that hit the photocells varied, thus providing a measure of finger flexion. It was mainly used to manipulate sliders, but was lightweight and inexpensive" (Wikipedia article on Daniel J. Sandin, accessed 10-03-2013).

This may the beginning of gesture recognition research in computer science. 

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The First GPS Satellite February 1977

In February 1977 The U.S. Department of Defence launched the first experimental Block-I GPS satellite. It became part of the NAVSTAR GPS (Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System)--the first GPS.

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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.

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The First Speech Synthesis Chip June 11, 1977

On June 11, 1977 Texas Instruments, Dallas, Texas, announced a speech synthesis monolithic integrated circuit. For the first time the human vocal tract was electronically duplicated on a single chip of silicon.

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Launching "Messages in a Bottle" into the Cosmic Ocean August 20, 1977 – September 5,

The Voyager Golden Records were included on the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft launched in on September 5, 1977 and August 20, 1977 respectively as a kind of time capsule intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. Each was a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk-shaped phonograph record containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Sagan and associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim.

Because it was believed that the Voyager spacecrafts would not encounter another solar system for 40,000 years, the production of these records seems to have involved a naive faith in the permanence of accessibility of analog data, and in the durability of such data to survive over extremely long periods of time. 

"Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played. The 115 images are encoded in analog form. The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per minute. It contains the spoken greetings, beginning with Akkadian, which was spoken in Sumer about six thousand years ago, and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect. Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ethnic music. Once the Voyager spacecraft leave the solar system (by 1990, both will be beyond the orbit of Pluto), they will find themselves in empty space. It will be forty thousand years before they make a close approach to any other planetary system. As Carl Sagan has noted, 'The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet' (http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html, accessed 02-27-2011).

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The First Manmade Object to Cross the Heliopause and Enter Interstellar Space September 5, 1977 – August 25, 2012

On September 5, 1977 NASA launched Voyager 1, a 722-kilogram (1,590 lb) space probe to study the outer Solar System. As part of the Voyager program, the spacecraft is on an extended mission to locate and study the regions and boundaries of the outer heliosphere, and finally to begin exploring the interstellar medium. Its primary mission ended on November 20, 1980, after encounters with the Jovian system in 1979 and the Saturnian system in 1980. It was the first probe to provide detailed images of the two planets and their moons.

"On September 12, 2013, NASA announced that Voyager 1 had crossed the heliopause and entered interstellar space on August 25, 2012, making it the first manmade object to do so. As of 2013, the probe was moving with a relative velocity to the Sun of about 17 km/s (38,000 mph; 61,000 km/h). The probe is expected to continue its mission until 2025 when it will be no longer supplied with power from its generators" (Wikipedia article on Voyager 1, accessed 09-16-2013).

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A Printed Book Entitled Toward Paperless Information Systems 1978

British American information scientist F[rederick] W[ilfrid] Lancaster, of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, published a book printed on paper entitled Toward Paperless Information Systems.  At the time, printing on paper was, of course, the only way to distribute a long document efficiently.

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The Network Nation 1978

In 1978 Starr Roxanne Hiltz, a sociologist at Upsala College, East Orange, New Jersey, and her husband, Murray Turoff, a professor of computer science, showed how "computer-mediated communication" could develop social networking in their book The Network Nation: Human Communication via Computer.

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dBase II, the First Best-Selling Database Program for the PC 1978 – 1980

In 1978 C. Wayne Ratliff, working as a contractor at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, wrote a database program he called "Vulcan" (after Mr. Spock of Star Trek) to help him win the office football pool.

Written for his kit-built IMSAI 8080 microcomputer running PTDOS, Ratliff based the program on JPLDIS (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Display Information System), a mainframe (Univac 1108) database product. 

In early 1980, Ratliff and George Tate entered into a marketing agreement.

"Ratliff had given up trying to sell copies of the software for $50 each. Tate thought the product would sell better at $695, so they made a deal and dBASE II was the result. The program was renamed dBASE II because of a belief that a product called "version one" wouldn't sell. The software originally ran on a CP/M computer and then was ported to the IBM PC. In mid-1983 Ashton-Tate purchased the dBASE II technology and copyright from Ratliff, and he joined Ashton-Tate as vice president of new technology."

dBase II became the first best-selling database program for the PC.

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The First Computer Worm 1978

In 1978 researchers at Xerox PARC wrote a computer worm program that searched out other computer hosts, then copied itself and self destructed after a programmed interval. This was the first computer worm.

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Filed under: Malware, Software

Early Interactive Computing and Virtual Reality 1978 – 1979

The term hypermedia is used as a logical extension of the term hypertext in which graphics, audio, video, plain text and hyperlinks intertwine to create a medium of information that is generally unlinear. Funded by ARPA, The Aspen Movie Map  was an early hypermedia project produced in 1978-79 by the Architecture Machine Group (ARC MAC) at MIT under the direction of Andrew Lippman. It allowed the user to take a virtual tour through the city of Aspen, Colorado

"ARPA funding during the late 1970s was subject to the military application requirements of the notorious Mansfield Amendment introduced by Mike Mansfield (which had severely limited funding for hypertext researchers like Douglas Engelbart).

"The Aspen Movie Map's military application was to solve the problem of quickly familiarizing soldiers with new territory. The Department of Defense had been deeply impressed by the success of Operation Entebbe in 1976, where the Israeli commandos had quickly built a crude replica of the airport and practiced in it before attacking the real thing. DOD hoped that the Movie Map would show the way to a future where computers could instantly create a three-dimensional simulation of a hostile environment at much lower cost and in less time (see virtual reality).

"While the Movie Map has been referred to as an early example of interactive video, it is perhaps more accurate to describe it as a pioneering example of interactive computing. Video, audio, still images, and metadata were retrieved from a database and assembled on the fly by the computer (an Interdata minicomputer running the MagicSix operating system) redirecting its actions based upon user input; video was the principle, but not sole affordance of the interaction" (Wikipedia article on Aspen Movie Map, accessed 04-16-2009).

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The Minitel 1978 – June 30, 2012

Rolled out experimentally in 1978 in Brittany, and throughout France in 1982 by PTT (Poste, Téléphone et Télécommunications), the Minitel was a Videotex online service accessible through telephone lines.  In 1991 PTT was divided into France Télécom and La Poste, with the Minitel operated by France Télécom. Users of the Minitel could make online purchases, make train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mail box, and chat in a way similar to the Internet.

"Millions of terminals were lent for free to telephone subscribers, resulting in a high penetration rate among businesses and the public. In exchange for the terminal, the possessors of Minitel would not be given free 'white page' printed directories (alphabetical list of residents and firms), but only the yellow pages (classified commercial listings, with advertisements); the white pages were accessible for free on Minitel, and they could be searched by a reasonably intelligent search engine; much faster than flipping through a paper directory.

"France Télécom estimates that almost 9 million terminals—including web-enabled personal computers (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux)—had access to the network at the end of 1999, and that it was used by 25 million people (of a total population of 60 million). Developed by 10,000 companies, in 1996, almost 26,000 different services were available" (Wikipedia article in Minitel, accessed 07-11-2012).

Though usage was concentrated in France, the Minitel had a significant level of usage primarily in other European countries. The service was introduced in the United States very late, in 1993, by which time it faced serious competition from early Internet providers such as AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe.  The Minitel service was finally shut down by France Télécom on June 30, 2012.

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Probably the First U. S. Legislation against Computer Crimes 1978

In 1978 the State of Florida passed Fla. Stat. 815.01, the "Florida Computer Crimes Act". This law, which included legislation against the unauthorized modification or deletion of data on a computer system, and against damage to computer hardware including networks, may be the earliest American statute specifically against computer crimes. The maximum penalty for a single offense classified as a Felony of the Third Degree was:

"Up to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000 or any higher amount equal to double the pecuniary gain derived from the offense by the offender or double the pecuniary loss suffered by the victim."

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Fictional Vision of the Electronic Book and the Internet 1978 – 1979

In March and April 1978 English writer Douglas Adams began a series for BBC Radio 4 entitled The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

This program, and the novel by Adams with the same name published in 1979, featured a fictional electronic reference book containing all knowledge in the galaxy, plus much more. As Adams conceived it, this vast amount of data could be fit into something the size of a large paperback book, with updates received over the "Sub-Etha"—possibly a play on ethernet, which in turn is a play on the concept of the aether. Adams's book and/or the radio series was adapted for television  broadcast in January and February 1981 on UK television station BBC Two:

"The Guide is described as resembling 'a small, thin, flexible lap computer' encased in a 'sturdy plastic cover' with the words 'Don't Panic' inscribed on it 'in large, friendly letters'. It is presumably of robust construction, making it able to withstand falling through time/space wormholes and being thrown into swamps, being rescued, and still operating. Arthur Dent's copy survived a spaceship crash which melted the ship into something unrecognizable yet the Guide (and on-board entertainment system) survived. Its entries are arranged alphabetically on the screen and accessed via typing entry codes on a keyboard; 'Earth' is on the same page as 'Eccentrica Gallumbits, the Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon 6.'

"In the film [2005] the Guide is depicted as a large metal book with a large screen instead of pages. Entries here are reached by voice activation (e.g. saying the word 'Vogon' will bring up the article on Vogons, etc.) The visual graphics of the guide entries here were animated by Shynola" (Wikipedia article on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (fictonal), accessed 11-08-2013).

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"Newsfront": Dramatizing the Transition from Newsreels to TV News 1978


Newsfront, a 1978 Australian drama film set between the years 1948 to 1956, staring Bill HunterWendy Hughes, and Bryan Brown and directed by Phillip Noyce, dramatized the lives and romances of makers of newsreels during the transition from newsreels to TV news. Written by David ElfickBob EllisPhilippe Mora, and Phillip Noyce, and incorporating much original newsreel footage, the film was shot on location in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. 

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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).

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Compuserve 1979 – 1980

In 1979 Compuserve, of Columbus, Ohio, became the first online service to offer personal computer users email communication and online technical support. The following year it offered real-time chat online with its CB simulator, first dedicated online chat service widely available to the public.

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The First Spreadsheet Program 1979

In 1979 Dan Bricklin, a student at Harvard Business School, and Bob Frankston wrote Visicalc, the first spreadsheet program, for the Apple II. It helped dispel the notion that the Apple II was only a toy for hobbyists. The PC version of Visicalc was called "the first killer app" for the PC.

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Making Small Portable Digital Telephones Possible 1979

In 1979 the first single-chip digital signal processor (DSP) was developed at Bell Labs, making small portable digital telephones possible.

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Robert Metcalf Founds 3Com 1979

In 1979 Robert Metcalf, inventor of Ethernet, founded 3Com. Metcalf convinced DEC, Intel, and Xerox

"to work together to promote Ethernet as a standard, the so-called 'DIX' standard, for 'Digital/Intel/Xerox'; it standardized the 10 megabits/second Ethernet, with 48-bit destination and source addresses and a global 16-bit type field. The standard was first published on September 30, 1980. It competed with two largely proprietary systems, token ring and ARCNET, but those soon found themselves buried under a tidal wave of Ethernet products."

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The First Widely Used Music Scheduling System 1979

In 1979 Andrew Economos founded Radio Computing Services. RCS's first product was Selector, a music scheduling system.

"The original Selector was developed on a PDP-11/03 under RT-11 and was programmed in Fortran and FMS-11. The goal of Selector is to help music directors of radio stations to handle day-to-day operations such as daily schedule generation, maintenance of music library and format hours" (Wikipedia article on Radio Computing Services).

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Filed under: Music , Radio, Software

The Printing Press as an Agent of Change 1979

In 1979 Elizabeth L. Eisenstein published The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe.

From the perspective of digital information and the Internet, I think it is appropriate to quote from an evaluation of the impact of this printed book on book history as it appears in the Wikipedia article on Elizabeth Eisenstein:

"In this work she [Eisenstein] focuses on the printing press's functions of dissemination, standardization, and preservation and the way these functions aided the progress of the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, and the Scientific Revolution. Eisenstein's work brought historical method, rigor, and clarity to earlier ideas of Marshall McLuhan and others, about the general social effects of such media transitions.

"This work provoked debate in the academic community from the moment it was published and is still inspiring conversation and new research today. Her work also influenced later thinking about the subsequent development of digital media. Her work on the transition from manuscript to print influenced thought about new transitions of print text to digital formats, including multimedia and new ideas about the definition of text" (accessed 12-03-2013).

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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.

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Foundation of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence 1979

In 1979 the American Association for Artificial Intelligence was founded in Menlo Park, California. In 2007 the organization changed its name to the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. By 2009 it had over 6,000 members worldwide.

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Probably the Smallest Set of Physical Books 1979 – 1980

In 1979 and 1980 Toppan Printing Company, Tokyo, Japan, published the Toppan Micro Trio in an edition of 500 sets. The set included: Birth Stone, Language of Flowers, and The Zodiacal Signs and Their Symbols. The three microbooks each consisted of 16 tiny pages measuring two by two millimeters, and were apparently in tiny leather bindings, red, dark blue, and black.

Louis Bondy, an antiquarian bookseller specializing in miniature books, described his experience viewing this set:

“I recently had the terrifying experience when breathing against the case to see one of the books take off like a speck of dust and it was nothing short of a miracle that I managed to find it again and replace it in its allotted space.”

Bondy speculated that with the production of this microset printers have now “plumbed the ultimate depths of book production”  (http://cabinetmagazine.org/issues/25/foer.php, accessed 02-21-2011).

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Bjarne Stroustrup Develops the C++ Programming Language 1979 – 1983

In 1979 Danish American computer scientist Bjarne Stroustrup at  the Computer Science Research Center of Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, began developing "C with Classes" as an enhancement to the C programming language developed by Dennis Ritchie for Unix. "C with Classes" was renamed C++ in 1983.

Stroustrup "invented C++, wrote its early definitions, and produced its first implementation. . . chose and formulated the design criteria for C++, designed all its major facilities, and was responsible for the processing of extension proposals in the C++ standards committee" (Stroustrup, The C++ Programming Language, 10).

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Filed under: Software

Vol Libre: The First Fractal CGI Movie 1979 – 1980

Having read Benoît Mandelbrot's 1977 book, Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension, which described geometry of natural rough rather than smooth shapes, Loren Carpenter created a two-minute color film called Vol Libre to showcase his software for rendering realistic mountains and landscapes using fractal geometry at a SIGGRAPH conference in 1980. This was the first application of fractals in a computer-generated imagery (CGI) film. Production of each frame of the film required about 20-40 minutes of computing time on a VAX-11/780 computer. Prior to this film realistic animation in films had to be done by hand, frame by frame.

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Using Laserdiscs to Allow Public Access to Electronic Information in a Museum 1979

In 1979 the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago opened their "Newspaper" exhibit using interactive Laserdiscs to allow visitors to search for the front page of any Chicago Tribune newspaper.

This was a very early example of public access to electronically stored information in a museum.

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Filed under: Museums

Introduction of the LINPACK Benchmarks for the Measurement of Floating Point Computing Power 1979

In 1979 American computer scientist Jack Dongarra (University of Tennesse, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN) together Jim Bunch, Cleve Moler and Pete Stewart developed the LINPACK Benchmark, a measure of a system's floating point computing power. The LINPACK benchmark measures how fast a computer solves a dense n by n system of linear equations Ax = b, which is a common task in engineering. It is the benchmark used in the twice-annual ranking of the world's supercomputers by Top500.org.

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The "Mead & Conway Revolution" in VLSI Integrated Circuit Education 1979

In 1979 professor of electrical engineering, computer science and applied physics at Caltech Carver Mead, and electrical engineer and computer scientist Lynn Conway, Manager of LSI systems at Xerox PARC, published Introduction to VLSI Systems. This textbook, intended for all electrical engineering and computer science students, was the first VLSI design textbook for non-technologists. It was responsible for what was called the "Mead & Conway revolution" in VLSI integrated circuit education. In January 2014 documentary information on the Xerox PARC-Caltech collaboration culminating in the textbook was available at this link.

"Until recently the design of integrated circuitry has been the province of circuit and logic designers working within semiconductor firms. Computer architects have traditionally composed systems from standard integrated circuits designed and manufactured by these firms but have seldom participated in the specification and design of these circuits. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EE/CS) curricula reflect this tradition, with courses in device physics and integrated circuit design aimed at a different group of students than those interested in digital system architecture and computer science.

"This text is written to fill a current gap in the literature and to introduce all EE/CS students to integrated system architecture and design. Combined with individual study in related research areas and participation in large system design projects, this text provides the basis for a graduate course-sequence in integrated courses on the subject. The material can also be used to augement courses on computer architecture. We assume the reader's background contains the equivalent of introductory courses in computer science, electronic circuits, and digital design" (Preface v-vi).

"An important milestone that followed was the Multi Project Chip (MPC) service for fabricating the students' design exercise chips and the researcher's prototype chips at a reasonable cost. The first successful run of it was demonstrated at Lynn Conway's 1978 VLSI design course at MIT. A few weeks after completion of their design the students had the fabricated prototype in their hands, available for testing. Lynn Conway's improved new Xerox PARC MPC VLSI implementation system and service was operated successfully for a dozen universities by in late 1979. Lynn Conway's MPC technology was transferred to USC-ISI, becoming the foundation for the MOSIS System, which was used and evolved since 1981 as a national infrastructure for fast-turnaround prototyping of VLSI chip designs by universities and researchers.

"In 1980 DARPA began the DoD's new VLSI research program to support extensions of this work, resulting in many university and industry researchers being involved in following up the Mead-Conway innovations. The Mead & Conway revolution rapidly spread around the world and many national Mead & Conway scenes were organized, like the German multi-university E.I.S. project " (Wikipedia article on Mead & Conway revolution, accessed 12-29-2013).

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The Invention of Online Shopping 1979

In 1979 English inventor and entrepreneur Michael Aldrich invented online shopping, or teleshopping, to enable online transaction processing between consumers and businesses, or from business to business. Aldrich's technique later became known as e-commerce; it did not become economically viable until the Internet. 

"His [Aldrich's] system connected a modified domestic TV to a real-time transaction processing computer via a domestic telephone line. He believed that videotex, the modified domestic TV technology with a simple menu-driven human–computer interface, was a 'new, universally applicable, participative communication medium — the first since the invention of the telephone. This enabled 'closed' corporate information systems to be opened to 'outside' correspondents not just for transaction processing but also for e-messaging and information retrieval and dissemination, later known as e-business. His definition of the new mass communications medium as 'participative' [interactive, many-to-many] was fundamentally different from the traditional definitions of mass communication and mass media and a precursor to the social networking on the Internet 25 years later" (Wikipedia article on online shopping, accessed 03-19-2014).

In March 2014 reminiscences from Aldrich, and an account of his difficulties in reconstructing the early history of online shopping, entitled "Finding Mrs. Snowball," were available from The Michael Aldrich Archive at this link. Also available at the same link was a video interview from the time with the first online shopper, Mrs. Jane Snowball. 

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The Neocognitron, Perhaps the Earliest Multilayered Artificial Neural Network 1979

The Neocognitron, a hierarchical multilayered artificial neural network which acquires the ability to recognize visual patterns through learning, may be one of the earliest examples of what was later called "deep learning." It was invented in 1979 by Kunihiko Fukushima while at NHK Science & Technical Research Laboratories (STRL, NHK放送技術研究所, NHK Hōsō Gijutsu Kenkyūjo), headquartered in Setagaya, Tokyo.  The Neocognitron was used for handwritten character recognition and other pattern recognition tasks.

"The extension of the neocognitron is still continuing. By the introduction of top-down connections and new learning methods, various kinds of neural networks have been developed. When two or more patterns are presented simultaneously, the "Selective Attention Model " can segment and recognize individual patterns in tern by switching its attention. Even if a pattern is partially occluded by other objects, we human beings can often recognize the occluded pattern. An extended neocognitron can now have such human-like ability and can, not only recognize occluded patterns, but also restore them by completing occluded contours" (http://personalpage.flsi.or.jp/fukushima/index-e.html.  accessed 11-10-2014).

K. Fukushima,"Neocognitron: A self-organizing neural network model for a mechanism of pattern recognition unaffected by shift in position," Biological Cybernetics, 36 (1980) 93-202.

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The First Silicon Compiler January 1979

In January 1979 the first Caltech Conference On Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) took place at Caltech in Pasadena. At this meeting
David L. Johannsen, a graduate student of Carver Mead, presented a paper entitled "Bristle Blocks: A Silicon Compiler," describing his research on silicon compilation. This was the first use of the term to describe a software system that takes a user's specifications and automatically generates an integrated circuit (IC), translating the electronic design of a chip into the layout of the logic gates, including the actual masking from one transistor to another. The process is sometimes referred to as hardware compilation. Silicon compilation eventually created a new business model for the semiconductor industry, called fabless manufacturing.

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The Basis for Cellular Telephone Technology May 1, 1979

"The concepts of frequency reuse and handoff as well as a number of other concepts that formed the basis of modern cell phone technology are first described in U.S. Patent 4,152,647, issued May 1, 1979 to Charles A. Gladden and Martin H. Parelman, both of Las Vegas, Nevada and assigned by them to the United States Government.

"This is the first embodiment of all the concepts that formed the basis of the next major step in mobile telephony, the Analog cellular telephone. Concepts covered in this patent (cited in at least 34 other patents) also were later extended to several satellite communication systems. Later updating of the cellular system to a digital system credits this patent" (Wikipedia article on Mobil phone, accessed 04-11-2009).

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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.

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