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

1980 to 1990 Timeline


Nexis is Introduced 1980

In 1980 Mead Data Central of Miamisburg, Ohio, introduced the NEXIS service, providing online texts of various print publications.

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USENET: One of the First Computer Network Communications Systems 1980

In 1980 Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis established USENET, one of the first computer network communications systems. Truscott and Ellis conceived USENET as a "poor man's ARPANET."

The first newsgroups seem to have been established virtually at the inception of USENET.

"The first newsgroups on Usenet, according to Truscott, were known as NET.xxxx and dept.xxxx. After Horton joined Usenet, he began feeding mailing lists from the ARPANET into Usenet. Mailing lists from the ARPANET fed into Usenet were identified as FA.xxxx newsgroups. Truscott notes that, "Only when ucbvax joined the net, did `fa' appear." Truscott explains that he didn't know about the ARPANET mailing lists until Horton joined Usenet.

" At first the Usenet community could only read these ARPANET mailing lists, but couldn't contribute to them. "It was a one-way gateway - ARPANET into Usenet only, done with recnews, as I recall," writes Horton. But at least it was possible for the Usenet community to follow the interesting discussions carried on via the ARPANET mailing lists during this early period of Usenet" (http://www.columbia.edu/~rh120/ch106.x10, accessed 01-16-2010).

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Bell Labs Develops Digital Cellular Telephone Technology 1980

In 1980 Bell Labs developed digital cellular telephone technology, offering better sound quality, greater channel capacity and lower cost than analog.

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Umberto Eco Publishes "The Name of the Rose" 1980 – 1983

In 1980 Italian medievalist, semiotician, philosopher, literary critic and novelist Umberto Eco published Il nome della rosa.  The English translation by William Weaver appeared in 1983 under the tile of The Name of the Rose. It is an intellectual murder mystery, combining semiotics, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory, set in an Italian monastery patterned after the abbey and library at Bobbio, Italy, in 1327. Just a few of the appealing aspects of the plot, without a "spoiler," include an unknown treatise by Aristotle, On Laughter, a mysterious labyrinthine library, a medieval monk detective patterned after Sherlock Holmes, narration by a "sidekick" patterned after Dr. Watson, and many other features of interest to readers of this database. The title of the novel alludes to the literary tradition of Le Roman de la Rose.

This novel clearly attracted numerous contributors to the Wikipedia, and their articles both on Eco and The Name of the Rose provide such detailed and insightful analysis that it would be pointless to summarize. Instead I recommend that you follow the links for further information, and read the book if it suits your taste.

In 1983 Eco published an informative small illustrated book explaining aspects of the novel entitled Positille a Il nome della rosa. This was also translated into English by William Weaver as Postscript to the Name of the Rose, and published in 1984. I found reading Eco's Postscript very worthwhile.

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Fujio Masuoka Invents Flash Memory Circa 1980

About 1980 Fujio Masuoka, working at Toshiba, invented flash memory.

"According to Toshiba, the name "flash" was suggested by Dr. Masuoka's colleague, Mr. Shoji Ariizumi, because the erasure process of the memory contents reminded him of a flash of a camera. Dr. Masuoka presented the invention at the IEEE 1984 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) held in San Francisco, California" (Wikipedia article on flash memory, accessed 04-01-2009).

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The First Flight Simulator Program for a Personal Computer January 1980

In January 1980 Bruce A. Artwick, an engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, released A2-FS1 Flight Simulator for the Apple II personal computer through his subLOGIC Corporation. This was the first flight simulator program for a personal computer. 

Artwick began the project by writing a series of articles on flight simulation using computer graphics during 1976. When a magazine editor told him that subscribers were interested in purchasing such a program Artwick founded subLOGIC Corporation to commercialize his ideas. At first the company sold simulators by mail order, but that changed with the related of Flight Simulator FS1, for the Apple II, followed by a release in March 1980 for the TRS-80 with lower quality graphics.

♦ In December 2013 a dynamic simulation of the original program was available from the Wikipedia at this link.

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Pac-Man is Introduced May 22, 1980

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

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

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Ted Turner Launches CNN, the First All-News Television Channel June 1, 1980

On June 1, 1980 Robert Edward "Ted" Turner III launched the Cable News Network (CNN) in Atlanta, Georgia. The husband and wife team of David Walker and Lois Hart anchored its first newscast. CNN was the first television channel to provide 24-hour news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States.

The impact of the 24-hour news cycle, pioneered by CNN, came to called the CNN effect.

(This entry was last revised on 11-10-2014.)

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The Xerox Star: The "Office of the Future" 1981

In 1981 Xerox introduced the 8010 Star Information System, the first commercial system to incorporate a bitmapped display, a windows-based graphical user interface, icons, folders, mouse, Ethernet networking, file servers, printer servers and e-mail.

Xerox's 8010 Star was developed at Xerox's Systems Development Department (SDD) in El Segundo, California. A section of SDD ("SDD North") was located in Palo Alto, California, and included some people borrowed from Xerox's PARC. SDD's mission was to design the "Office of the Future"—a system, easy to use, that would incorporate the best features of the Xerox Alto, and could automate many office tasks.

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There are 213 Hosts on the Arpanet 1981

In 1981 there were 213 hosts on ARPANET; a new host was added approximately every 20 days.

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CSNET, an Alternative to ARPANET 1981

In 1981 the U.S. National Science Foundation funded CSNET (the "Computer Science Network") with leadership by Larry Landweber and David J. Farber. CSNET was a computer network linking academic Computer Science departments nationwide—an alternative to ARPANET, to which many Computer Science departments did not have the privilege of access. CSNET connected with ARPANET using TCP/IP, and ran TCP/IP over X.25, but also supported departments without sophisticated network connections, using automated dial-up mail exchange.

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The First Dance Notation Software 1981

In 1981 American computer game and video game designer Eddie Dombrower created the DOM system, the first dance notation software, on an Apple II computer. DOM allowed choreographers to use a simple system of codes to enter their work. The resulting dance movements were then performed by a figure on screen.

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"Computer Gaming World," the First Magazine on Computer Games 1981

In 1981 Russell Sipe founded Computer Gaming World as a bi-monthly publication. Computer Gaming World was the first magazine specifically devoted to computer games. The magazine published 268 issues before being replaced with Games for Windows: The Official Magazine. This went to online-only publication on April 8, 2008

In December 2013 the first 100 issues of Computer Gaming World were available from the Computer Gaming World Museum.

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Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) 1981

D. C. Wells, E. W. Greisen, and R. H. Harten developed the open source FITS (Flexible Image Transport System), which was first standardized in 1981. It is

"a digital file format used to store, transmit, and manipulate scientific and other images. FITS is the most commonly used digital file format in astronomy. Unlike many image formats, FITS is designed specifically for scientific data and hence includes many provisions for describing photometric and spatial calibration information, together with image origin metadata.

"A major feature of the FITS format is that image metadata is stored in a human readable ASCII header, so that an interested user can examine the headers to investigate a file of unknown provenance. Each FITS file consists of one or more headers containing ASCII card images (80 character fixed-length strings) that carry keyword/value pairs, interleaved between data blocks. The keyword/value pairs provide information such as size, origin, coordinates, binary data format, free-form comments, history of the data, and anything else the creator desires: while many keywords are reserved for FITS use, the standard allows arbitrary use of the rest of the name-space" (Wikipedia article on FITS, accessed 03-24-2010).

Because of its special features FITS became a very useful format for the long term preservation of digital images. It was also adopted by NASA as a standard, and was also adopted by the Vatican Library.

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Discovery of Quantum Dots 1981

In 1981 Russian solid state physicist Alexey I. Ekimov, working at the Vavilov State Optical Institute in St. Petersburg. discovered the semiconductor nanocrystals known as quantum dots in a glass matrix.

Later, American chemist Louis E. Brus, while working at AT&T Bell Laboratories, discovered quantum dots in colloidal solutions.

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Filed under: Science

The Osborne 1: The First Commercially Successful "Portable" Computer April 1981

In April 1981 writer and computer entrepreneur Adam Osborne and Osborne Computer Corporation, Hayward, California, produced the first commercially successful "portable" computer, the Osborne 1. It weighed twenty-three pounds, ran the CP/M operating system, and sold for $1795, with $2000 worth of software included. Its main deficiencies were a tiny 5 inch (13 cm) display screen and use of single sided, single density floppy disk drives which could not contain sufficient data for practical business applications. Its 23 pound weight meant that the computer was more "luggable" than portable.

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Quick and Dirty Operating System Becomes MS-DOS July 1981

In July 1981 Microsoft bought all rights to 86-DOS, otherwise known as QDOS, for Quick and Dirty Operating System, from Seattle Computer Products for $50,000 or $75,000, depending on how the cost is calculated. They renamed it MS-DOS. 

"IBM PC-DOS (and the separately sold MS-DOS, which was licensed therefrom), and its predecessor, 86-DOS, were loosely inspired by CP/M (Control Program / [for] Microcomputers) from Digital Research, which was the dominant disk operating system for 8-bit Intel 8080 and Zilog Z80 based microcomputers. However, PC-DOS never ran on less than an 8088 (16-bit).

"When IBM introduced their first microcomputer in 1980, built with the Intel 8088 microprocessor, they needed an operating system. Seeking an 8088-compatible build of CP/M, IBM initially approached Microsoft CEO Bill Gates (possibly believing that Microsoft owned CP/M due to the Microsoft Z-80 SoftCard, which allowed CP/M to run on an Apple II. IBM was sent to Digital Research, and a meeting was set up. However, the initial negotiations for the use of CP/M broke down—Digital Research wished to sell CP/M on a royalty basis, while IBM sought a single license, and to change the name to 'PC DOS'. DR founder Gary Kildall refused, and IBM withdrew.

"IBM again approached Bill Gates. Gates in turn approached Seattle Computer Products. There, programmer Tim Paterson had developed a variant of CP/M-80, intended as an internal product for testing SCP's new 16-bit Intel 8086 CPU card for the S-100 bus. The system was initially named "QDOS" (Quick and Dirty Operating System), before being made commercially available as 86-DOS. Microsoft purchased 86-DOS, allegedly for $50,000. This became Microsoft Disk Operating System, MS-DOS, introduced in 1981.

"Microsoft also licensed their system to multiple computer companies, who supplied MS-DOS for their own hardware, sometimes under their own names. Microsoft later required the use of the MS-DOS name, with the exception of the IBM variant. IBM continued to develop their version, PC DOS, for the IBM PC. Digital Research became aware that an operating system similar to CP/M was being sold by IBM (under the same name that IBM insisted upon for CP/M), and threatened legal action. IBM responded by offering an agreement: they would give PC consumers a choice of PC DOS or CP/M-86, Kildall's 8086 version. Side-by-side, CP/M cost almost $200 more than PC DOS, and sales were low. CP/M faded, with MS-DOS and PC DOS becoming the marketed operating system for PCs and PC compatibles" (Wikipedia article on DOS, accessed 02-05-2010).

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The First Commercial Electronic Camera--Not Digital August 1981 – 1997

In August 1981 Sony announced the first commercial electronic camera, the Sony Mavica (Magnetic Video Camera). Not a digital camera, it was actually a video camera that took video freeze-frames.

Sony's first commercially marketed digital camera was the Sony Digital Mavica MVC-FD5 (1997).

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IBM Introduces the IBM 5150- The IBM PC August 12, 1981

On August 12, 1981 IBM introduced their open architecture personal computer (PC) based on the Intel 8088 processor. The IBM PC  ran PC-DOS, the IBM-branded version of the 16-bit operating system, MS-DOS, provided by Microsoft. The machine was originally designated as the IBM 5150, putting it in the "5100" series, though its architecture was not directly descended from the IBM 5100.

On August 1, 1981 a review of the IBM PC appeared on USENET (accessed 10-16-2009).

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Lotus Development Corporation is Founded 1982

In 1982 Mitchell Kapor, previously head of development at Visicorp, and Jonathan Sachs, with backing from Ben Rosen, founded Lotus Development Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Kapor, who had been a teacher of Transcendental Meditation, named the company after 'The Lotus Position' or "Padmasana.''

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"Blade Runner" 1982

The 1982 science fiction film Blade Runnerstarring Harrison Ford and directed by Ridley Scott, loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, depicted a dreary, rainy, and polluted Los Angeles in 2019. In the film genetically manufactured, bioengineered biorobots called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are used for dangerous and degrading work in Earth's "off-world colonies."  After a minor replicant uprising, replicants are banned on Earth; and specialist police units called "blade runners" are trained to hunt down and "retire" (kill) escaped replicants on Earth.

The film, which  became a cult classic for many reasons, including its unique sets, lighting, costumes and visual effects, is considered the last great science fiction film in which the special effects were produced entirely through analog, rather than digital or computer graphics methods, using elaborate model-making, multiple exposures, etc.

Scott's original director's cut of the film was first issued as a DVD in 1999. In 2007 the so-called "Final Cut" with a great deal of supplementary material, including three previous versions of the film, and a "definitive" documentary, even longer than the original film, was issued on DVD and Blu-ray. The documentary, and the collection of versions of the film, presented a superb opportunity to gain insight into way that Ridley Scott created a film.

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U.S. Newspaper Program Microfilms Newspapers 1982

In cooperation with the Library of Congress, in 1982 the National Endowment for the Humanities began funding the United States Newspaper Program—"a cooperative national effort among the states and the federal government to locate, catalog, and preserve on microfilm newspapers published in the United States from the eighteenth century to the present."

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The First "Clamshell" Laptop? 1982

The GRiD Compass 1100, introduced by Grid Systems Corporation in 1982, was probably the first commercial computer created in a "clamshell" laptop format, and one of the first truly portable machines.

The 1100 included a magnesium clamshell case with a screen that folded flat over the keyboard, a switching power supply, electro-luminescent display, non-volatile bubble memory, and a built-in modem.

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One of the First Films to Incorporate Computer Graphics 1982

Disney's 1982 movie Tron was one of the first films to incorporate computer graphics or computer animation, partly rendered on a Cray-1 Supercomputer, which also appeared in the film.

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IBM DB2 is Introduced 1982

In 1982 IBM introduced the IBM DB2 relational database management system for mainframe computers.

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TCP/IP is Established as the Basis for ARPANET 1982

In 1982 DCA (Defense Communications Agency) and ARPA established the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and IP (Internet Protocol), 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.

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The First Whole Genome Shotgun Sequence 1982

In 1982 British biochemist Frederick Sanger and colleagues sequenced the entire genome of bacteriophage lambda using a random shotgun technique. This was the first whole genome shotgun (WGS) sequence.

Sanger, et alNucleotide Sequence of Bacteriophage Lambda,” J. Mol. Biol. 162 (1982) 729-73.

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The First Computer Virus Spread by Floppy Disk 1982

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

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The First Formally Recognized Archival Description Standards in the U.S. 1982

In 1982 the National Information Systems Task Force (NISTF) of the Society of American Archivists developed the first two formally recognized archival description standards in the US: NISTF Data Elements Dictionary and USMARC AMC.

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Filed under: Archives

The First Completely Computer-Generated (CGI) Cinematic Image Sequence in a Feature Film 1982

in 1982 George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), San Rafael, California, created the first completely computer-generated cinematic image (CGI) sequence in a feature film in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The sequence lasted sixty seconds. Prior to this film all animation in films had to be done by hand, frame by frame. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan nearly all the special visual effects were done by photographing models, or other analog methods. Only the one minute sequence applied computer graphics.

"The Wrath of Khan was one of the first films to extensively use electronic images and computer graphics to speed production of shots. Computer graphics company Evans & Sutherland produced the vector graphics displays aboard the Enterprise and the fields of stars used in the opening credits. Among ILM's technical achievements was cinema's first entirely computer-generated sequence: the demonstration of the effects of the Genesis Device on a barren planet. The first concept for the shot took the form of a laboratory demonstration, where a rock would be placed in a chamber and turned into a flower. [Effects supervisor Jim] Veilleux suggested the sequence's scope be expanded to show the Genesis effect taking over a planet. While Paramount appreciated the more dramatic presentation, they also wanted the simulation to be more impressive than traditional animation. . . ." (Wikipedia article on Start Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, accessed 03-12-2012).

The "genesis effect" scene of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan featured an entire fractally-landscaped planet produced by Loren Carpenter. Prior to developing this fractally-landscaped planet Carpenter had created the first realistic computer-generated film using fractal geometry— the two-minute short, Vol Libri. The Director's Edition DVD version of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan issued in 2002 contained as part of its special features on disc 2 a discussion of the Visual Effects of the film.  In this the computer graphics aspect was only briefly mentioned; nearly all of the content concerned analog devices such as photographing models.

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Defining a General Framework for Studying Complex Biological Systems 1982

In 1982 Vision: A Computational Investigation into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information by the British neuroscientist David Marr, a professor at MIT, was published posthumously in New York. This work defined a general framework for studying complex biological systems.

"According to Marr, a complex biological system can be understood at three distinct levels. The first level ("computational level") describes the input and output to the system, which define the task the system is performing. In the case of the visual system, the input might be the image projected on our retina and the output might our brain's identification of the objects present in the image we had observed. The second level ("algorithmic level") describes the procedure by which an input is converted to an output, i.e. how the image on our retina can be processed to achieve the task described by the computational level. Finally, the third level ("implementation level") describes how our own biological hardware of cells implements the procedure described by the algorithmic level" (Yarden Katz, "Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong," Atlantic Monthly, 11-1-2012).

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The DataGlove, a Hand Gesture Interface Device 1982 – 1989

In 1982 Thomas G. Zimmerman of Redwood City, California filed a patent (US Patent 4542291) on an optical flex sensor mounted in a glove to measure finger bending. Continuing this research, Zimmerman worked with Jaron Lanier to incorporate ultrasonic and magnetic hand position tracking technology to create the Power Glove and the DataGlove, respectively (US Patent 4988981, filed 1989). The optical flex sensor used in the DataGlove was invented by Young L. Harvill (US Patent 5097252, filed 1989) who scratched the fiber near the finger joint to make it locally sensitive to bending. 

The DataGlove is considered one of the first commercially available wired gloves. The first wired glove available to home users in 1989 was the Nintendo Power Glove designed as a gaming glove for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It had a crude tracker and finger bend sensors, plus buttons on the back. The sensors in the Power Glove were also used by hobbyists to create their own datagloves.  Both the DataGlove and the Power Glove were based on Zimmerman's original instrumented glove or wired glove.

Zimmerman, Lanier et al."A Hand Gesture Interface Device" (1987).

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Sun Microsystems Announces its First Workstation February 24, 1982

In May 1982 SUN Microsystems announced its first UNIX workstation, the Sun 1. The company had been founded in Santa Clara, California only three months earlier, on February 24, 1982, by Vinod Khosla, Andy Bechtolsheim, Bill Joy, and Scott McNealy—students at Stanford who worked on the Stanford University Network

"The initial design for what became Sun's first Unix workstation,  was conceived by Andy Bechtolsheim when he was a graduate student at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He originally designed the SUN workstation for the Stanford University Network communications project as a personal CAD workstation. It was designed as a 3M computer: 1 MIPS, 1 Megabyte and 1 Megapixel. It was designed around the Motorola 68000 processor with an advanced Memory management unit (MMU) to support the Unix operating system with virtual memory support. He built the first ones from spare parts obtained from Stanford's Department of Computer Science and Silicon Valley supply houses" (Wikipedia article on Sun Microsystems, accessed 06-12-2009).

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The First IBM PC Compatible Computer June 1982

In June 1982 Columbia Data Products (CDP) of Columbia, Maryland, introduced the MPC 1600 "Multi Personal Computer," an exact functional copy of the IBM PC model 5150 except for the BIOS, which was developed by a "clean room" reverse engineering process, thus avoiding copyright infringement. IBM had published the bus and BIOS specifications, wrongly assuming that this would be enough to encourage the add-on market, and prevent unlicensed copying of the design.

"As the first IBM PC clone, the MPC was actually superior to the IBM original. It came with 128 KiB RAM standard, compared to the IBM's 64 KiB maximum. The MPC had eight PC expansion slots, with one filled by its video card. Its floppy disk drive interface was built into the motherboard. The IBM PC, in contrast, had only five expansion slots, with the video card and floppy disk controller taking two of them. The MPC also included two floppy disk drives, one parallel and two serial ports, which were all optional on the original IBM PC. The MPC was followed up with a portable PC, the 32 pound (15 kg) "luggable" Columbia VP in 1983" (Wikipedia article on Columbia Data Products, accessed 01-01-2013).

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William Gibson Coins the Word Cyberspace July 1982

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

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

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The First Cheap Home Computer, and the Best-Selling Computer of its Time August 1982

In August 1982 Commodore International, West Chester, Pennsylvania, issued the Commodore 64—"the first cheap home computer" at the price of $595. The Commodore 64 looked like a bulky keyboard, but included color graphics, and excelled at playing early video games. Between 1982 and 1984 30,000,000 units were sold, making it the best-selling personal computer model of this era. Roughly 10,000 commercial programs were produced for this computer.

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Origins of the Smiley on the Internet September 19, 1982

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

:-) and :- (

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

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

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

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


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

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

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The First Scanner? November 1982

In November 1982 IBM introduced the Scanmaster 1, a mainframe computer terminal designed to scan, transmit and store images of documents electronically.

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Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0 November 1982

Having obtained a license from subLOGIC Corporation to port Flight Simulator FS-1 to IBM PCs and compatibles, in November 1982 Microsoft released the program as Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0

♦ In December 2013 films on the history of subLOGIC/Microsoft Flight Simulator made in 2010 and 2006 were available from the Wikipedia article on the History of Microsoft Flight Simulator

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The First Cellular Telephone Service in the United Sates December 16, 1982

On December 16, 1982 the Federal Communications Commission authorized American Telephone and Telegraph to build a commercial cellular telephone service in Chicago. This was the beginning of commercial cellular service in the United States.

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The "Trash" 80: The First Notebook Computer? 1983

In 1983 the TRS-80, Model 100, made by Kyocera, Kyoto, Japan, and marketed in the U.S. in Radio Shack stores owned by Tandy Corporation of Fort Worth, Texas, introduced the concept of a "notebook" computer. More than 6,000,000 TRS-80s were sold; the introductory price was $1099.00.

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Oracle Corporation 1983

In 1983 Lawrence Ellison's Relational Software, Menlo Park, California, renamed itself Oracle Systems to align itself with its flagship relational database management system (DBMS), Oracle version 3. This was the first RDBMS with a portable codebase that allowed companies to run their DBMSs on a range of hardware and operating systems, including mainframes, mincomputers, workstations and personal computers.

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6,000,000 Personal Computers are Sold in the U.S. 1983

In 1983 six million personal computers were sold in the United States.

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ARPANET Splits into ARPANET and MILNET 1983

In 1983 ARPANET split into ARPANET and MILNET, removing the military component from ARPANET. MILNET, designed for unclassified U.S. Department of Defense traffic, was integrated into the Defense Data Network that had been created the previous year.

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"Dial-a-Game": the Earliest Origins of America Online (AOL) 1983

In 1983 Control Video Corporation founded by William van Miester, of the Washington D.C. area, offered video games "by telephone" for Atari VCS game machine owners through a service called GameLine. Using variable speed adaptive modem technology, GameLine planned other services for the millions of game machine owners who might upgrade their units with programmable adaptors. The company nearly went bankrupt. After revamping its product line, the company changed its name to Quantum Computer Services in 1985.

In 1991 the company was renamed America Online (AOL).

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Keyboarding over 350,000,000 Characters 1983 – 1989

In 1983 computerizing the text of the Oxford English Dictionary began. The OED then defined "414,825 words backed by five million quotations, of which some two million were actually printed in the dictionary text." the computerizing process required retyping the entire text into a database.

"And so the New Oxford English Dictionary (NOED) project began. More than 120 keyboarders of International Computaprint Corporation in Tampa, Florida, and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, USA, started keying in over 350,000,000 characters, their work checked by 55 proof-readers in England. Retyping the text alone was not sufficient; all the information represented by the complex typography of the original dictionary had to be retained, which was done by marking up the content in SGML. A specialized search engine and display software were also needed to access it. Under a 1985 agreement, some of this software work was done at the University of Waterloo, Canada, at the Centre for the New Oxford English Dictionary, led by F.W. Tompa and Gaston Gonnet; this search technology went on to become the basis for the Open Text Corporation. Computer hardware, database and other software, development managers, and programmers for the project were donated by the British subsidiary of IBM; the colour syntax-directed editor for the project, LEXX, was written by Mike Cowlishaw of IBM. The University of Waterloo, in Canada, volunteered to design the database."

The second edition of the OED was published on paper in 1989. 

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Early Form of Digital Rights Management 1983

In 1983 Japanese software engineer Ryoichi Mori invented a digital products distribution system called superdistribution, incorporating one of the earliest forms of digital rights management. Mori's  "Software Service System (SSS) took the form of a peer-to-peer-architecture with the following components:

◊"a cryptographic wrapper for digital products that cannot be removed and remains in place whenever the product is copied

◊"a digital rights management system for tracking usage of the product and assuring that any usage of the product or access to its code conforms to the terms set by the product's owner.

◊"an arrangement for secure payments from the product's users to its owner" (Wikipedia article on Superdistribution, accessed 01-03-2010).

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The Declining Role of Print in Total Information Flow 1983

In 1983 American political scientist Ithiel de Sola Pool of MIT published "Tracking the Flow of Information," Science 221 (1983) 609-19. This study, which estimated the growth trends of the “amount of words” transmitted by 17 major communications media in the United States from 1960 to 1977, was the first to show empirically the declining volume of print media relative to electronic media in terms of information flow.

"By using words transmitted and words attended to as common denominators, novel indexes were constructed of growth trends in seventeen major communications media from 1960 to 1977. There have been extraordinary rates of growth in the transmission of electronic communications, but much lower rates of growth in the material that peole actually consume, representing the phenomenon often labeled information overload. Growth in print media has sharply decelerated, a a close relationship is found between the cheapness of a medium and its rate of growth."

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One of the First Practical Data Compression Systems 1983

In 1983 Oscar Bonello, an acoustical engineer at the University of Buenos Aires and founder of Solydyne, began developing the one of the first practical data compression systems, in this case for audio compression in broadcast automation. His starting point was the psychoacoustic principle of the masking of critical bands first published by the German acoustics scientist Eberhard Zwicker in 1967 in his Das Ohr als Nachrichtenempfänger. (The Ear as Message Receiver). From that base, Bonello started developing a practical application based on the recently developed IBM PC. The problems that he faced were: 1) Create an audio PC card of good audio quality; 2) Create a bit compression algorithm; 3) Create the automation software to be run on the PC.

Bonello's broadcast automation system was launched in 1987 under the name Audicom. In 2013 Bonello's compression system was used in all the lossy audio bit compression systems, including MP3, and many radio stations were using similar technology manufactured by a number of companies.

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Possibly the Earliest Electronic Publication on Art 1983

National Gallery of Art, a laserdisc or videodisc issued by Videodisc Publishing in 1983, was one of the earliest electronic publications on art.  The disc contained 1,645 images of paintings, drawings and prints from the National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C., plus two films about the museum.

Thanks to John Waite for this reference.

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The First Commercially Available IBM PC Compatible ROM Bios 1983 – May 1984

During 1983 and the first part of 1984 Phoenix Technologies, then in Boston, Massachusetts, created the first commercially available IBM PC compatible ROM Bios. Licensability of this firmware interface, which would allow a computer to run the same operating system and the same applications as the IBM PC, enabled the rapid expansion of the IBM PC compatible computer industry. 

To defend against the inevitable copyright infringement suits expected to be brought by IBM, Phoenix engineers reverse-engineered the Bios using clean-room design, in which the software engineers had never read IBM's reference manuals: 

"Phoenix developed a 'clean room' technique that isolated the engineers who had been contaminated by reading the IBM source listings in the IBM Technical Reference Manuals. The contaminated engineers wrote specifications for the BIOS APIs and provided the specifications to 'clean' engineers who had not been exposed to IBM BIOS source code. Those 'clean' engineers developed code from scratch to mimic the BIOS APIs. This technique provided Phoenix with a defensibly non-infringing IBM PC-compatible ROM BIOS. Because the programmers who wrote the Phoenix code had never read IBM's reference manuals, nothing they wrote could have been copied from IBM's code, no matter how closely the two matched" (Wikipedia article on Phoenix Technologies, accessed 01-01-2013).

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A Computer's Operating System Can be Protected by Copyright 1983

In the 1983 decision Apple Computer, Inc. v. Franklin Computer Corp., 714 F.2d 1240 (3d Cir. 1983) an appellate level court in the United States held for the first time that a computer's operating system could be protected by copyright.

"Franklin Computer Corporation [Burlington, New Jersey] introduced the Franklin Ace 100, a clone of Apple Computer's Apple II, in 1982. Apple quickly determined that substantial portions of the Franklin ROM and operating system had been copied directly from Apple's versions, and on May 12, 1982, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It cited the presence of some of the same embedded strings, such as the name "James Huston" (an Apple programmer), and "Applesoft," on both the Apple and Franklin system disks.

"Franklin admitted that it had copied Apple's software but argued that it would have been impractical to independently write its own versions of the software and maintain compatibility, although it said it had written its own version of Apple's copy utility and was working on its own versions of other software. Franklin argued that because Apple's software existed only in machine-readable form, and not in printed form, and because some of the software did not contain copyright notices, it could be freely copied. The Apple II firmware was likened to a machine part whose form was dictated entirely by the requirements of compatibility (that is, an exact copy of Apple's ROM was the only part that would "fit" in an Apple-compatible computer and enable its intended function), and was therefore not copyrightable.

"The district court found in favor of Franklin. However, Apple appealed the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit which, in a separate case decided three days after Franklin won at the lower level, determined that both a program existing only in a written form unreadable to humans (e.g. object code) and one embedded on a ROM were protected by copyright. (See Williams Elec., Inc., v. Artic Int'l, Inc., 685 F.2d 870 (1982)). The Court of Appeals overturned the district court's ruling in Franklin by applying its holdings in Williams and going further to hold that operating systems were also copyrightable" (Wikipedia article on Apple Computer, Inc. v. Franklin Computer Corp., accessed 01-01-2013).

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Invention of Stereolithography or 3D Printing 1983 – 1986

In 1983 Charles W. Hull (Chuck Hull) invented stereolithography, or 3D printing. Hull coined the term stereolithography in his August 8, 1984 patent application for "Apparatus for production of three-dimensional objects by stereolithography." U.S. patent US4575330 A was granted on March 11, 1986. Hull defined stereolithography as a method and apparatus for making solid objects by successively printing thin layers of the ultraviolet curable material one on top of the other. It became widely used in rapid prototyping and direct manufacturing. Around 2010 3D printers became comparatively inexpensive comsumer products.

"In Hull’s patent, a concentrated beam of ultraviolet light is focused onto the surface of a vat filled with liquid photopolymer. The light beam, moving under computer control, draws each layer of the object onto the surface of the liquid. Wherever the beam strikes the surface, the photopolymer polymerizes/crosslinks and changes to a solid. An advanced CAD/CAM/CAE software mathematically slices the computer model of the object into a large number of thin layers. The process then builds the object layer by layer starting with the bottom layer, on an elevator that is lowered slightly after solidification of each layer" (Wikipedia article on Chuck Hull, accessed 12-22-2013).

In 1986 Hull co-founded 3D Systems to exploit the solid imaging technology. In 2013 the company was based in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

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The First "Killer App" for the PC January 1983

In January 1983 Mitch Kapor's Lotus Development Corporation of Cambridge, Massachusetts released Lotus 1-2-3. An integrated spreadsheet, graphics package, and database manager, it became the first "killer app" for the PC. In 1983 sales of 1-2-3 reached $54,000,000, making Lotus the largest independent software vendor in the world.

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The Earliest Fictional Treatment of Word Processing by a Prominent Literary Author January 1983

A short story by American novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, columnist, actor, television producer, film director Stephen King published in the January 1983 issue of Playboy Magazine, under the title of "The Word Processor", may be the earliest fictional treatment of word processing by a prominent literary author. This story, which King wrote on a Wang dedicated word processing microcomputer known as the Wang System 5, was later retitled "Word Processor of the Gods."

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The 1970 UNESCO Convention is Implemented in U.S. Law January 1983

"In 1972, the United States Senate gave its unanimous advice and consent to the 1970 UNESCO Convention. However, because the Convention did not have a basis in U.S. law, special legislation was required to allow the U.S. to implement it. In 1982, Congress passed the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (the "Act"), and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law in January 1983. The Act enables the U.S. government to implement Articles 7(b)(1) and 9 of the Convention. (See the Act as Public Law 97-446 (PDF); or as 19 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. (PDF))  

"Briefly, pursuant to Article 7(b)(1), States that are party to the Convention undertake to prohibit the importation of documented cultural property stolen from museums or religious or secular public monuments in another State Party to the Convention. Article 9 of the Convention allows any State Party whose cultural patrimony is in jeopardy from pillage to request assistance from other States Parties to carry out measures such as the control of exports, imports, and international commerce in the specific cultural materials concerned."

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ARPANET Requires TCP/IP January 1, 1983

On January 1, 1983 ARPANET required that all connected machines use TCP/IP. TCP/ IP became the core Internet protocol and replaced NCP (Network Control Program) entirely.

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Time Magazine's 1983 "Machine of the Year" is a Personal Computer January 3, 1983 – January 3, 2013

Time Magazine's January 3, 1983 issue, published in print at the end of 1982, featured the personal computer as "Machine of the Year", in distinction to its traditional feature known as "Man of the Year." The cover of the issue depicted a white plaster man by sculptor George Segal contemplating a concept persdonal computer which Time commissioned from a design firm. 

Thirty years later, on January 3, 2013, Time reissued the January 3, 1983 issue as a downloadable bonus for its iPad, Android, Kindle and Nook subscribers, with a new introduction by Henry McCracken. That the reissue was produced in electronic form, rather than print, summarized the enormous changes that occurred in the creation, distribution, and storage of information during those three decades. McCracken summarized his introduction to the reissue in his "Technologizer" column of January 4, 2013, from which I quote:

"When TIME put together the issue, the PC revolution was still young. (The vast majority of homes didn’t yet have one.) But it wasn’t that young: The MITS Altair 8800, the first PC that mattered, came out in 1975. In 1977, it was followed by the Apple II, Commodore’s PET 2001 and Radio Shack’s TRS-80, the first truly consumery, ready-to-use machines. And another half-decade of evolution occurred before TIME commemorated the PC’s arrival so memorably.

"In retrospect, what the 21-page Machine of the Year cover package captures isn’t the beginning of the PC so much as the end of the beginning. The industry still had room for a bevy of hobbyist-oriented, sometimes downright rudimentary computers from Apple, Atari, Commodore, Osborne, Radio Shack, Texas Instruments, Timex (!) and others. None of them had futuristic features like a graphical user interface and a mouse; most ran their own operating systems and weren’t compatible with anything else on the market.

"Here and there, though, the issue hints at the changes which would really get underway in 1983. It mentions the IBM PC, which had shipped in 1981, and says that it’s setting standards for the whole industry. But it doesn’t talk about the phenomenon which would dominate the business by the middle of the decade: IBM PC-compatible “clones” which could run the same software as Big Blue’s system. That’s because there was only one clone in existence. (The second, Compaq’s massively successful, sewing machine-sized 'portable,' showed up in March 1983.)....

"As I wrote in my introduction for the tablet reissue, much has changed about computers since 1983. But one of the striking things about the issue is that it’s jam-packed with reminders of what hasn’t changed. Most of the things we do with PCs, tablets and phones in 2013 are in there: e-mail, games, word processing, learning, personal finance, music and cloud services. (O.K., in the 1980s, they weren’t called cloud services — they were known as 'mainframes.')"

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The GNU Free Software Project September 23, 1983

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

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The First Commercial Analog Cellular Telephone Service October 13, 1983 – 1984

In October 1983 the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x became the first mobile phone approved by the FCC in the United States. It was also the first portable cell phone small enough to be easily carried.

"The first model, the 8000x, received FCC certification in 1983, and became the first cell phone to be offered commercially when it went on sale on 6 March 1983. It offered 30 minutes of talk time and 8 hours of standby, and a LED display for dialling or recall of one of 30 phone numbers. It was priced at $3,995 in 1983. DynaTAC was an abbreviation of Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage."

"On October 13, 1983, David D Meilahn placed the first commercial wireless call on a DynaTAC from his 1983 Mercedes 380SL to Bob Barnett, former president of Ameritech Mobile Communications, who then placed a call on a DynaTAC from inside a Chrysler convertible to the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell who was in Germany for the event. The call, made at Soldier Field in Chicago, is considered by many as a major turning point in communications. Later Richard H. Frenkiel, the head of system development at Bell Laboratories, said about the DynaTAC: 'It was a real triumph; a great breakthrough' " (Wikipedia article on Motorola DynaTAC, accessed 03-16-2013).

"In 1984, Bell Labs developed modern commercial cellular technology (based, to a large extent, on the Gladden, Parelman Patent), which employed multiple, centrally controlled base stations (cell sites), each providing service to a small area (a cell). The cell sites would be set up such that cells partially overlapped. In a cellular system, a signal between a base station (cell site) and a terminal (phone) only need be strong enough to reach between the two, so the same channel can be used simultaneously for separate conversations in different cells" (Wikipedia article on Mobil phone, accessed 04-11-2009).

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Domain Name System November 1983

In November 1983 Paul V. Mockapetris of the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) of the University of Southern California, designed and introduced the Domain Name System (DNS), for ARPANET.  The six original domains were .edu, .gov, .com, .mil, .org, .net, and .int.

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Cyberpunk Coined November 1983

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

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One of the First Commercially Available Touchscreen Computers November 1983

In 1983 Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, California, introduced the HP-150, one of the earliest commercially available touchscreen computers. 

"The screen is not a touch screen in the strict sense, but a 9" Sony CRT surrounded by infrared emitters and detectors which detect the position of any non-transparent object on the screen. In the original HP-150, these emitters & detectors were placed within small holes located in the inside of the monitor's bezel (which resulted in the bottom series of holes sometimes filling with dust and causing the touch screen to fail; until the dust was vacuumed from the holes)" (Wikipedia article on HP-150, accessed 12-30-2009).

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Coining the Term "Computer Virus" November 10, 1983

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

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

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"Cyberspace" Popularized 1984

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

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

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

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

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

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

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USENET Introduces Moderated Newsgroups 1984

In 1984 USENET introduced moderated newsgroups.

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There are Over 1000 Hosts on the Internet 1984

In 1984 the number of hosts connected to the Internet exceeded 1000.

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The First Desktop Publishing Program 1984

In 1984 American scientist and inventor Bob Doyle, his wife Holly, and son Rob introduced the first Desktop Publishing program, MacPublisher, for the Macintosh.  

"MacPublisher introduced WYSIWYG layout for multi-column text and graphics, but it would not have been possible without graphics primitives like QuickDraw that Bill Atkinson had originally developed for the Apple Lisa computer. QuickDraw was incorporated in the PASCAL toolbox for the new Macintosh and was the basis for MacPaint." (Wikipedia article on MacPublisher).

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The Digital Domesday Project--Doomed to Early Digital Obsolescence 1984 – 1986

From 1984 to 1986 Acorn Computers Ltd, Philips, Logica and the BBC (with some funding from the European Commission's ESPRIT program) marked the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book—an 11th century census of England—with the multimedia BBC Domesday Project. This publication is frequently cited as an example of digital obsolescence.

The Project "included a new 'survey' of the United Kingdom, in which people, mostly school children, wrote about geography, history or social issues in their local area or just about their daily lives. This was linked with maps, and many colour photos, statistical data, video and 'virtual walks'. Over 1 million people participated in the project. The project also incorporated professionally-prepared video footage, virtual reality tours of major landmarks and other prepared datasets such as the 1981 census.

"The project was stored on adapted laserdiscs in the LaserVision Read Only Memory (LV-ROM) format, which contained not only analog video and still pictures, but also digital data, with 300 MB of storage space on each side of the disc. The discs were mastered, produced, and tested by Philips at their Eindhoven headquarters factory. Viewing the discs required an Acorn BBC Master expanded with an SCSI controller and an additional coprocessor controlled a Philips VP415 "Domesday Player", a specially-produced laserdisc player. The user interface consisted of the BBC Master's keyboard and a trackball (known at the time as a trackerball). The software for the project was written in BCPL (a precursor to C), to make cross platform porting easier, although BCPL never attained the popularity that its early promise suggested it might.

In 2002, there were great fears that the discs would become unreadable as computers capable of reading the format had become rare (and drives capable of accessing the discs even more rare). Aside from the difficulty of emulating the original code, a major issue was that the still images had been stored on the laserdisc as single-frame analogue video, which were overlaid by the computer system's graphical interface. The project had begun years before JPEG image compression and before truecolour computer video cards had become widely available.

"However, the BBC later announced that the CAMiLEON project (a partnership between the University of Leeds and University of Michigan) had developed a system capable of accessing the discs using emulation techniques. CAMiLEON copied the video footage from one of the extant Domesday laserdiscs. Another team, working for the UK National Archives (who hold the original Domesday Book) tracked down the original 1-inch videotape masters of the project. These were digitised and archived to Digital Betacam.

"A version of one of the discs was created that runs on a Windows PC. This version was reverse-engineered from an original Domesday Community disc and incorporates images from the videotape masters. It was initially available only via a terminal at the National Archives headquarters in Kew, Surrey but has been available since July 2004 on the web.

"The head of the Domesday Project, Mike Tibbets, has criticized the bodies to which the archive material was originally entrusted" (Wikipedia article on BBC Domesday Project, accessed 12-21-2008).

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The Greatest PC Keyboard of All Time? 1984 – 2008

In 1984 IBM introduced the model M keyboard, considered by PC World in July 2008 to be the "greatest keyboard of all time." The PC World article contained a remarkable series of images showing how the keyboard was engineered with captions describing its many virtues.

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2600: The Hacker Quarterly 1984

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

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

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

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

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

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The First Book Written by a Computer Program 1984

Detail from cover of The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed, the first book written by a computer program.  Please click on image to see image of entire cover of book.

In 1984 American writer and programmer William Chamberlain of New York published The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed, a volume of prose and poetry that, except for Chamberlain's introduction, was entirely written by a computer program called RACTER that had been developed by Chamberlain with Thomas Etter. The program was given credit for authorship on the title page which read: The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed. Computer Prose and Poetry by Racter. Illustrations by Joan Hall. Introduction by William Chamberlain. The bright red cover of the paperback stated that this was "The First Book Ever Written by a Computer." It also called it "A Bizarre and Fantastic Journey into the Mind of a Machine." The blurb stated that the book contained:

"• Poetry and limericks

"• Imaginatige Dialogues

"• Aphorisms

"• Interviewss

"• The published short story , "Soft Ions" and more.

"You are about to enter a strange, deranged, and awesome world of images and fantasies– the 'thoughts' of the most advanced prose-creating computer program today."

The program, the name of which was an abbreviation for raconteur, could generate grammatically consistent sentences with the help of a pre-coded grammar template. Although certainly readable in the sense that each sentence displayed a competent grammar, any anxiety that the program could replace human authors would have been put to rest after a single glance at the computer-generated narrative:

"At all events my own essays and dissertations about love and its endless pain and perpetual pleasure will be known and understood by all of you who read this and talk or sing or chant about it to your worried friends or nervous enemies. Love is the question and the subject of this essay. We will commence with a question: does steak love lettuce? This question is implacably hard and inevitably difficult to answer. Here is a question: does an electron love a proton, or does it love a neutron? Here is a question: does a man love a woman or, to be specific and to be precise, does Bill love Diane? The interesting and critical response to this question is: no! He is obsessed and infatuated with her. He is loony and crazy about her. That is not the love of steak and lettuce, of electron and proton and neutron. This dissertation will show that the love of a man and a woman is not the love of steak and lettuce. Love is interesting to me and fascinating to you but it is painful to Bill and Diane. That is love!" 

According to Chamberlain's introduction to the book, RACTER ran on a CP/M machine. It was written in "compiled BASIC on a Z80 micro with 64K of RAM." 

The book was imaginatively published by Warner Books, extensively illustrated with black and white collages combining 19th century imagery with computer graphics by New York artist Joan Hall.

Describing the "author," the book stated on its first preliminary page:

"The Author: Racter (the name is short for raconteur) is the most highly developed artificial writer in the field of prose synthesis today. Fundamentally different from artifical intelligence programming, which tries to replicate human thinking, Racter can write original work without promptings from a human operator. And according to its programmer, 'Once it's running, Racter needs no input from the outside world. It's just cooking by itself.' Racter's work has appeared in OMNI magazine and in 1983 was the subject of a special exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York. Now at work on a first novel, Racter operates on an IMS computer in New York's Greenwich Village, where it shares an apartment with a human computer programmer."

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A Guide to All PC Software in One Volume 1984

In 1984 Stewart Brand issued The Whole Earth Software Catalog, to do for computing what the Whole Earth Catalog had done for the counterculture: identify and recommend the best tools as they emerged. Notably, at this early stage in the history of personal computing all available software could be well described in a single volume. A large glossy book published in Sausalito, California,  the Catalog was written in a glib, conversational style that took "most of the bugs out of microprocessing."

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The First Book on Neuromorphic Computing 1984

In 1984 professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Caltech Carver Mead published Analog VLSI and Neural SystemsThis was first book on neuromorphic engineering or neuromorphic computing—a concept developed by Mead, that involves 

"... the use of very-large-scale integration (VLSI) systems containing electronic analog circuits to mimic neuro-biological architectures present in the nervous system. In recent times the term neuromorphic has been used to describe analog, digital, and mixed-mode analog/digital VLSI and software systems that implement models of neural systems (for perceptionmotor control, or multisensory integration).

"A key aspect of neuromorphic engineering is understanding how the morphology of individual neurons, circuits and overall architectures creates desirable computations, affects how information is represented, influences robustness to damage, incorporates learning and development, adapts to local change (plasticity), and facilitates evolutionary change, " Wikipedia article on Neuromorphic engineering, accessed 01-01-2014.)

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"The Last Starfighter": One of the First Films to Make Extensive Use of Computer Graphic Imagery 1984

The Last Starfighter, a 1984 science fiction adventure film directed by Nick Castle, was one of the earliest films to make extensive use of computer graphics for its special effects. In place of physical models, 3D rendered models were used to depict space ships and many other objects. The Gunstar and other spaceships in the film were the design of artist Ron Cobb, who also worked on AlienStar Wars and Conan the Barbarian.

The computer graphics were rendered by Digital Productions on a Cray X-MP supercomputer. The company created 27 minutes of effects for the film— considered an enormous amount of computer generated imagery at the time. For the 300 scenes containing computer graphics each frame of animation contained an average of 250,000 polygons, with a resolution of 3000 × 5000 36-bit pixels. Digital Productions estimated that using computer animation required only half the time, and one-half to one-third the cost of traditional special effects. 

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Breakup of AT&T January 1, 1984

On January 1, 1984 American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), was officially broken up, ending a long-established monopoly on telephone service. AT&T's local operations were split into seven independent regional Bell operating companies, known as "Baby Bells." AT&T, reduced in value by about 70%, continued to run all its long distance services.

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Steve Jobs Introduces the "Mac" January 24, 1984

On January 24, 1984 Apple Computer introduced the Macintosh (Mac), with a graphical user interface (GUI) based on the Xerox Star system.

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Michael Dell Founds "PC's Limited" May 3, 1984

On May 3, 1984, at the age of 19, Michael Dell founded a company called "PC's Limited," building PC clones out of his dorm room at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1987 the company changed its name to Dell Computer Corporation.

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Perhaps the first Underground "Ezine" June 1984

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

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The First Music CDs Pressed in the United States September 1984

The first commercial music compact disc (CD) pressed in the U. S. was Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA, pressed at the opening of CBS Records CD production plant in Terre Haute, Indiana in September 1984. The album was recorded on analog master tapes, and initially issued on both LP and cassette on June 4, 1984.

Showing remarkable awareness of the historical aspects of this event, CBS also produced at the same the The Edison CD Sampler. Edison Historical Recordings Digitized on Compact Disc. For the cover of this disc, referencing the invention of the phonograph by Edison, they modified the famous photograph of Edison with his phonograph taken by Matthew Brady, to show Edison holding a CD in his right hand. On the upper cover of the disc CBS printed, "FOR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY – NOT FOR SALE."

"The catalog number is ECDS-1, which is shown on the disc at 2 o’clock. Stamped on the plastic ring is “Made in USA – Digital Audio Disc Corp.”, and the matrix code is “DIDX-135 11A2″. Beneath the catalog number is the DADC plant ‘D’ logo and the words “Manufactured by Digital Audio Disc Corp. Terre Haute, Indiana, USA”. Note the promotional statement and the copyright date of 1984 beneath the CD format logo" (http://www.keithhirsch.com/the-edison-cd-sampler, accessed 01-15-2012).  

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The First Study of Ancient DNA (aDNA) November 15, 1984

On November 15, 1984 Russell Higuchi, Barbara Bowman, and Mary Freiberger from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and Oliver A. Ryder & Allan C. Wilson, of the Research Department, San Diego Zoo, published "DNA sequences from the quagga, an extinct member of the horse family," Nature 312, 282-284; doi:10.1038/312282a0.  This was probably the first study of DNA isolated from ancient specimens, or ancient DNA (aDNA).

"To determine whether DNA survives and can be recovered from the remains of extinct creatures, we have examined dried muscle from a museum specimen of the quagga, a zebra-like species (Equus quagga) that became extinct in 1883. We report that DNA was extracted from this tissue in amounts approaching 1% of that expected from fresh muscle, and that the DNA was of relatively low molecular weight. Among the many clones obtained from the quagga DNA, two containing pieces of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) were sequenced. These sequences, comprising 229 nucleotide pairs, differ by 12 base substitutions from the corresponding sequences of mtDNA from a mountain zebra, an extant member of the genus Equus. The number, nature and locations of the substitutions imply that there has been little or no postmortem modification of the quagga DNA sequences, and that the two species had a common ancestor 3–4 Myr ago, consistent with fossil evidence concerning the age of the genus Equus."

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Cisco Systems is Founded December 1984

In December 1984 computer scientists Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner from Stanford University founded Cisco Systems. They named the company for San Francisco, gateway to the Pacific Rim. Beginning to experiment with connecting detached networks, Bosack and Lerner ran network cables between two different buildings on the Stanford campus, connecting them first with bridges, and then with routers.

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Origins of the Human Genome Project December 1984 – April 1987

In 1985, as Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Health and Environmental Research Programs, Charles DeLisi and his advisors proposed, planned and defended before the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Congress, the Human Genome Project. The proposal created a storm of controversy, but was included in President Ronald Reagan’s Fiscal Year 1987 budget submission to the Congress, and subsequently passed both the House and the Senate.

The beginning of the project may have occurred in a workshop known as the Alta Summit held in Alta, Utah, December 1984.

"Robert Sinsheimer, then Chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), thought about sequencing the human genome as the core of a fund-raising opportunity in late 1984. He and others convened a group of eminent scientists to discuss the idea in May 1985. This workshop planted the idea, although it did not succeed in attracting money for a genome research institute on the campus of UCSC. Without knowing about the Santa Cruz workshop, Renato Dulbecco of the Salk Institute conceived of sequencing the genome as a tool to understand the genetic origins of cancer. Dulbecco, a Nobel Prize winning molecular biologist, laid out his ideas on Columbus Day, 1985, and subsequently in other public lectures and in a commentary for Science. The commentary, published in March 1986, was the first widely public exposure of the idea and gave impetus to the idea's third independent origin, by then already gathering steam.

"Charles DeLisi, who did not initially know about either the Santa Cruz workshop or Dulbecco's public lectures, conceived of a concerted effort to sequence the human genome under the aegis of the Department of Energy (DOE). DeLisi had worked on mathematical biology at the National Cancer Institute, the largest component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). How to interpret DNA sequences was one of the problems he had studied, working with the T-10 group at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico (a group of mathematicians and others interested in applying mathematics and computational techniques to biological questions). In 1985, DeLisi took the reins of DOE's Office of Health and Environmental Research, the program that supported most biology in the Department. The origins of DOE's biology program traced to the Manhattan Project, the World War II program that produced the first atomic bombs with its concern about how radiation caused genetic damage.

"In the fall of 1985, DeLisi was reading a draft government report on technologies to detect inherited mutations, a nagging problem in the study of children to those exposed to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, when he came up with the idea of a concerted program to sequence the human genome.9 DeLisi was positioned to translate his idea into money and staff. While his was the third public airing of the idea, it was DeLisi's conception and his station in government science administration that launched the genome project" (Robert Mullan Cook-Deegan, Origins of the Human Genome Project, accessed 05-24-2009).

In March 1986 the Department of Energy, Office of Health and Environmental Research, sponsored a workshop at Los Alamos. This was edited by M. Bitensky and published as Sequencing the Human Genome. Summary Report of the  Santa Fe Workshop, March 3-4, 1986

The initial report on the Human Genome Project appeared in April 1987 as:

Report on the Human Genome Initiative for the Office of Health and Environmental Research, Prepared by the Subcommittee on Human Genome of the Health and Environmental Research Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Research Office of Health and Environmental Research.

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The Origins of Groupware December 7, 1984 – 1995

On December 7, 1984 Ray Ozzie left Lotus Development Corporation to found Iris Associates, Littleton, Massachusetts, for the purpose of developing an early groupware, or collaborative software program called "Notes."

The chief inspiration for "Notes" was PLATO Notes, created by David R. Woolley at the University of Illinois in 1973. PLATO Notes was a message board that was part of PLATO system supporting a thriving online community for more than twenty years. Ray Ozzie worked with PLATO while attending the University of Illinois in the 1970s. When PC network technology began to emerge, Ozzie made a deal with Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus, that resulted in the formation of Iris Associates to develop products that would combine the capabilities of PCs with the collaborative tools pioneered in PLATO. The agreement put control of product development under Ozzie and Iris, and sales and marketing under Lotus. Lotus Notes, as the product was called, was the first commercial network-based communications and collaboration, or groupware, product. In 1994, after the release and marketplace success of Notes R3, Lotus purchased Iris. In 1995 IBM purchased Lotus.

In 2004, nearing the 20th anniversary of the founding of Iris Associates, IBM reported that Notes had over 110 million users.

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The Perseus Digital Library Project at Tufts University Begins 1985

The Perseus Digital Library Project began at Tufts University, Medford/Somerville, Massachusetts in 1985. Though the project was ostensibly about Greek and Roman literature and culture, it evolved into an exploration of the ways that digital collections could enhance scholarship with new research tools that took libraries and scholarship beyond the physical book. The following quote came from their website around 2010:

"Since planning began in 1985, the Perseus Digital Library Project has explored what happens when libraries move online. Two decades later, as new forms of publication emerge and millions of books become digital, this question is more pressing than ever. Perseus is a practical experiment in which we explore possibilities and challenges of digital collections in a networked world.

"Our flagship collection, under development since 1987, covers the history, literature and culture of the Greco-Roman world. We are applying what we have learned from Classics to other subjects within the humanities and beyond. We have studied many problems over the past two decades, but our current research centers on personalization: organizing what you see to meet your needs.

"We collect texts, images, datasets and other primary materials. We assemble and carefully structure encyclopedias, maps, grammars, dictionaries and other reference works. At present, 1.1 million manually created and 30 million automatically generated links connect the 100 million words and 75,000 images in the core Perseus collections. 850,000 reference articles provide background on 450,000 people, places, organizations, dictionary definitions, grammatical functions and other topics."

In December 2013 I found this description of their activities on their website:

"Perseus has a particular focus upon the Greco-Roman world and upon classical Greek and Latin, but the larger mission provides the distant, but fixed star by which we have charted our path for over two decades. Early modern English, the American Civil War, the History and Topography of London, the History of Mechanics, automatic identification and glossing of technical language in scientific documents, customized reading support for Arabic language, and other projects that we have undertaken allow us to maintain a broader focus and to demonstrate the commonalities between Classics and other disciplines in the humanities and beyond. At a deeper level, collaborations with colleagues outside of classical studies make good on the claim that a classical education generally provides those critical skills and that intellectual adaptability that we claim to instill in our students. We offer the combination of classical and non-classical projects that we pursue as one answer to those who worry that a classical education will leave them or their children with narrow, idiosyncratic skills.

"Within this larger mission, we focus on three categories of access:

Human readable information: digitized images of objects, places, inscriptions, and printed pages, geographic information, and other digital representations of objects and spaces. This layer of functionality allows us to call up information relevant to a longitude and latitude coordinate or a library call number. In this stage digital representations provide direct access to the physical senses of actual people in particular places and times. In some cases (such as high resolution, multi-spectral imaging), digital sources already provide better physical access than has ever been feasible when human beings had direct contact with the physical artifact.

"Machine actionable knowledge: catalogue records, encyclopedia articles, lexicon entries, and other structured information sources. Physical access can serve our senses but provides no information about what we are encountering - in effect, physical access is like visiting a historical site about which we may know nothing and where any visible documentation is in a language that we cannot understand. Machine actionable knowledge allows us to retrieve information about what we are viewing. Thus, if we encounter a page from a Greek manuscript of Homer, we could at this stage find cleanly printed modern editions of the Greek, modern language translations, commentaries and other background information about the passage on that manuscript page. If we moved through a virtual Acropolis, we could retrieve background information about the buildings and the sculpture.

"Machine generated knowledge: By analyzing existing information automated systems can produce new knowledge. Machine actionable knowledge allows, for example, us to look up a dictionary entry (e.g., facio, "to do, make") in a dictionary or to find pre-existing translations for a passage in Latin or Greek. Machine generated knowledge allows a machine to recognize that fecisset is a pluperfect subjunctive form of facio and to provide reading support where there is no pre-existing human translation. Such reading support might include full machine translation but also finer grained services such as word and phrase translation (e.g., recognizing whetherorationes in a given context more likely corresponds to English "speeches," "prayers" or some other term), syntactic analysis (e.g., recognizing that orationes in a given passage is the object of a given verb), named entity identification (e.g., identifying Antonium in a given passage as a personal name and then as a reference to Antonius the triumvir)." 

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Among the Earliest Practical Digital Libraries 1985

In 1985 an IBM team began scanning the papers related to Columbus' discovery of the new world at El Archivo General de Indias de Sevilla (AGI), Seville, Spain.

"To coincide with the 500th anniversary of Columbus' landfall in the West Indies, the AGI project was to capture 10% of the collection estimated to consist of 86,000,000 pages. By 1992, it had indeed collected about 9,000,000 digital image pages onto optical disks, together with a set of finding aids." This was among the earliest practical digital libraries.

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Avatar in the Context of Online Representation of a User 1985

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

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Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. 1985

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

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The First Fully Computer-Generated Character in a Film 1985

In 1985 the film Young Sherlock Holmes, produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, directed by Barry Levinson and written by Chris Columbus, included the first fully computer-generated (CGI) character, a knight composed of elements from a stained glass window. The effect was created by John Lasseter at Lucasfilm Computer Graphics before George Lucas sold that division to Steve Jobs in 1986, and it became Pixar Animation Studios.

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George A. Miller Begins WordNet, a Lexical Database 1985

In 1985 psychologist and cognitive scientist George A. Miller and his team at Princeton began development of WordNet, a lexical database for the English language.


"groups English words into sets of synonyms called synsets, provides short, general definitions, and records the various semantic relations between these synonym sets. The purpose is twofold: to produce a combination of dictionary and thesaurus that is more intuitively usable, and to support automatic text analysis and artificial intelligence applications" (Wikipedia article on WordNet).

You can browse Wordnet at http://wordnet.princeton.edu/.

WordNet has been used for a number of different purposes in information systems, including word sense disambiguation, information retrieval, automatic text classification, automatic text summarization, and even automatic crossword puzzle generation.

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Kasparov Defeats 32 Different Chess Computers 1985

"In 1985, in Hamburg, I played against thirty-two different chess computers at the same time in what is known as a simultaneous exhibition. I walked from one machine to the next, making my moves over a period of more than five hours. The four leading chess computer manufacturers had sent their top models, including eight named after me from the electronics firm Saitek.  

"It illustrates the state of computer chess at the time that it didn't come as much of a surprise when I achieved a perfect 32–0 score, winning every game, although there was an uncomfortable moment. At one point I realized that I was drifting into trouble in a game against one of the "Kasparov" brand models. If this machine scored a win or even a draw, people would be quick to say that I had thrown the game to get PR for the company, so I had to intensify my efforts. Eventually I found a way to trick the machine with a sacrifice it should have refused. From the human perspective, or at least from my perspective, those were the good old days of man vs. machine chess" (Gary Kasparov, "The Chess Master and the Computer," The New York Review of Books 57 February 11, 2010.

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The CD-ROM is Introduced 1985

In 1985 Sony, Tokyo, Japan and Philips, Eindhoven, Netherlands, developed the "Yellow Book" standard, allowing the compact disc (CD) to hold any form of binary data.

This resulted in the creation of Compact Disc-Read Only Memory or pre-pressed compact discs containing data readable by a computer for data storage, but not writable to by the computer.  The CD-ROM format was compatable with the CD format introduced for music in 1982-83.

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Probably the First Electronic Encyclopedia 1985

In 1985 Grolier published the text-only New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia on CD-ROM. This was the first CD-ROM product aimed at the "school market." Based on the Academic American Encyclopedia, it comprised 30,000 entries and 9 million words. Editions were updated quarterly—faster than the print edition, and the CD-ROM edition became significantly different from the print edition. The work was published under several different titles: The Electronic Encyclopedia (1986), The Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (1987), The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (1988–91), The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1992). The 1990 edition was the first to feature pictures, and the 1992 edition was the first to deliver video and sound. The last edition published on CD-ROM was the 2003 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.

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First Description of a Universal Quantum Computer 1985

In 1995 David Deutsch, a British physicist at Oxford University, described the first universal quantum computer or quantum Turing machine, and specified an algorithm designed to run on a quantum computer. 

Deutsch,"Quantum theory, the Church-Turing principle and the universal quantum computer," Proceedings of the Royal Society A 400 (1818): pp. 97–117. Bibcode:1985RSPSA.400...97D. doi:10.1098/rspa.1985.0070.

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Rediscovery of Electronic Images Created by Andy Warhol on an Amiga Computer 1985

On April 25, 2014 The Andy Warhol Museum (The Warhol) in Pittsburgh announced the discovery of previously unknown artistic experiments created by Warhol on an Amiga Computer in 1985. The electronic images, perserved on floppy discs, were commissioned by Amiga to demonstrate the graphic capabilities of their personal computer. They were found along with the computer and manuals that Warhol used. When this story was published I thought it was the first instance in which electronic imagery by a major artist was restored from obsolete software and an obsolete computer.

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The First Laserprinter for a Microcomputer January 1985

In January 1985 Apple Computer introduced the LaserWriter laser printer. It cost $6,995. The Mac's ability to run PageMaker for "desktop publishing" in association with Apple's LaserWriter printer caused sales of the Mac to take off.

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The GNU Manifesto March 1985

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

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The First Registered Internet Domain March 15, 1985

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

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One of the First Online Communities April 1, 1985

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

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Quantum Computer Services, Precursor of AOL, Launches an Online Bulletin-Board Service May 1, 1985

On May 1, 1985 Quantum Computer ServicesVienna, Virginia, launched an online bulletin-board service, Quantum Link (Q-Link), for users of Commodore-64 and 128 personal computers. The company renamed itself America Online (AOL) in 1991.

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Discovery of the Antarctic Ozone Hole May 16, 1985

On May 16, 1985 British geophysicists Joseph Farman, Brian G. Gardiner, and Jonathan Shanklin of the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, England, discovered the Antarctic ozone hole:

Farman, Gardiner & Shanklin, "Large losses of total ozone in Antarctica reveal seasonal Cl0x/Nox interaction," Nature 315 (May 16, 1985) 207-210.

"The discovery of the Antarctic "ozone hole" by British Antarctic Survey scientists Farman, Gardiner and Shanklin . . . came as a shock to the scientific community, because the observed decline in polar ozone was far larger than anyone had anticipated. Satellite measurements showing massive depletion of ozone around the south pole were becoming available at the same time. However, these were initially rejected as unreasonable by data quality control algorithms (they were filtered out as errors since the values were unexpectedly low); the ozone hole was detected only in satellite data when the raw data was reprocessed following evidence of ozone depletion in in situ observations. When the software was rerun without the flags, the ozone hole was seen as far back as 1976" (Wikipedia article on Ozone depletion, accessed 11-26-2010).

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Aldus PageMaker: The First Widely-Used Desktop Publishing Program July 1985 – 1986

To exploit the capabilities of the new Adobe PostScript scalable typefonts, the graphical user interface of the Apple MacIntosh (MAC), and the new Apple Laserwriter, in July 1985 Paul Brainerd, founder of Aldus Corporation, Seattle, Washington, introduced PageMaker, the first widely-used WYZIWIG page layout program for personal computers. Initially PageMaker ran exclusively on the MAC, which had been introduced in 1984, but a PC version followed in 1986, running under Windows 1.0, which was introduced in November, 1985.

To assist in marketing the software Brainerd coined the term “desktop publishing.”

Aldus Corporation was purchased by Adobe Systems in 1994.

(This entry was last revised on 01-26-2015.)

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The First Hand-Held Graphing Calculator October 1985

The Casio FX-7000G, the first hand-held graphing calculator, was introduced by Casio, Tokyo, Japan in October 1985. The calculator offered 82 scientific functions, which could be graphed, and was capable of manual computation for basic arithmetic problems.

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The Free Software Foundation October 4, 1985

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

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There are Over 5000 Hosts on ARPANET 1986

In 1986 the number of hosts on the ARPANET/Internet exceeded five thousand.

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The First Hand-Held Electronic Book, or e-Book 1986

In 1986 Franklin Computer Corporation, Burlington, New Jersey, introduced Spelling Ace, an electronic spelling corrector. This may be considered the first handheld electronic book or e-book (eBook).

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The Internet Backbone is Funded and Created 1986 – 1987

In 1986 the National Science Foundation approved funding for the Internet backbone. 

"The first high speed backbone was created by the National Science Foundation in 1987. It was called the NSFNET, and was a T1 line that connected 170 smaller networks together. The following year, IBMMCI and Merit would create a T3 backbone. In the early days of the Internet, backbone providers exchanged their traffic at government-sponsored network access points (NAPs), until the government privatized the Internet, and then transferred the NAPs to commercial providers." (Wikipedia article on Internet Backbone, accessed 12-03-2013).

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The First Semi-Automatic DNA Sequencer 1986

In 1986 Leroy Hood and Lloyd Smith from the California Institute of Technology developed the first semi-automatic DNA sequencer, working with a laser that recognized fluorescing DNA markers.

"A biologist at the California Institute of Technology and a founder of API [Applied Biosystems, Inc.], Hood improved the existing Sanger method of enzymatic sequencing, which was becoming the laboratory standard. In this method, DNA to be sequenced is cut apart, and a single strand serves as a template for the synthesis of complementary strands. The nucleotides used to build these strands are randomly mixed with a radioactively labeled and modified nucleotide that terminates the synthesis. Fragments of all different lengths result. The resulting array, sent through a separation gel, reveals the order of the bases. Transferred to film, an "autoradiograph" provides a readable sequence from raw data. This data could be transferred to a computer by a human reader.

"In automating the process, Hood modified both the chemistry and the data-gathering processes. In the sequencing reaction itself, he sought to replace the use of radioactive labels, which were unstable, posed a health hazard, and required separate gels for each of the four DNA bases.

" • In place of radioisotopes, Hood developed chemistry that used fluorescent dyes of different colors—one for each of the four DNA bases. This system of "color-coding" eliminated the need to run several reactions in overlapping gels.

"The fluorescent labels were also aspects of the larger system that revolutionized the end stage of the process—the way in which sequence data was gathered. Hood integrated laser and computer technology, eliminating the tedious process of information-gathering by hand.

" • As the fragments of DNA percolated through the gel, a laser beam stimulated the fluorescent labels, causing them to glow. The light they emitted was picked up by a lens and photomultiplier, and transmitted as digital information directly into a computer" (Genome News Network, Genetics and Genomics Timeline 1989, accessed 05-25-2009).

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Influential on the Development of Cyberpunk 1986

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

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NSFNET Connects Five Supercomputer Centers 1986

In 1986 the National Science Foundation Network connected five new supercomputer centers and allowed access to these centers at no cost. The centers, which the NSF funded in 1985, were: the John von Neumann Center at Princeton, the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC, the Cornell Theory Center at Cornell, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

NSFNET used a TCP/IP-based protocol compatible with ARPANET, as a backbone to which regional and academic networks would connect. It experienced exponential growth in its network traffic.  As a result of a November 1987 NSF award to a consortium of universities in Michigan, the original 56- kbit/s links was upgraded to 1.5 Mbit/s by July 1988 and again to 45 Mbit/s in 1991.

"The NSFNET was the principal Internet backbone starting in approximately 1988, bridging between the rather restrictive US DoD creation of the Internet, and its broad commercialization in the mid-1990s. Basically, the NSFNET opened up the Internet to the world. Some critical Internet technologies, such as the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) are a direct result of that period in Internet history. BGP was specifically created to allow the NSFNET backbone to differentiate routes learned via multiple paths from originally the Arpanet, but also from the regional networks. This then turned the Internet into a meshed infrastructure, backing away from the single-core architecture which the Arpanet had been using before."

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Electronic Tax Filing Begins 1986

In 1986 the IRS began electronic tax filing (IRS e-file) to lower operating costs and paper usage, using the processing system developed in 1969 by the IRS.

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Probably the Best Book History and Library Film Set in the Middle Ages 1986

The Name of the Rose, a 1986 German-French-Italian film made in English based on the novel by Umberto Eco, was directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, and starred Sean Connery and Christian Slater. Exterior sets were built outside of Rome; most interior scenes were filmed in Eberbach Abbey, Eltville am Rhein, Germany. Production was by Constantin Film, Frankfurt, Germany.

Though the film enjoyed good sales in Europe, it was a financial flop in the U.S where interest in medieval culture is more limited. In my opinion this film is an excellent adaptation of the novel even though the inevitable simplication of the story line was necessary. It may be the best book history and library film set in the Middle Ages. It was later issued on DVD and Blu-ray with a fascinating commentary by the director.

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

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

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


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The Hacker Manifesto January 8, 1986

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

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SGML Standard is Accepted October 1986

In October 1986 the Standard Generalized Markup Language (ISO 8879:1986 SGML) was accepted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Geneva, Switzerland. SGML was:

"an ISO-standard technology for defining generalized markup languages for documents. ISO 8879 Annex A.1 defines generalized markup:

"Generalized markup is based on two novel postulates:

"Markup should describe a document's structure and other attributes, rather than specify the processing to be performed on it, as descriptive markup need be done only once, and will suffice for future processing. Markup should be rigorous so that the techniques available for processing rigorously-defined objects like programs and data bases, can be used for processing documents as well.

"SGML descended from IBM's Generalized Markup Language (GML) that Charles Goldfarb, Edward Mosher, and Raymond Lorie developed in the 1960s. Goldfarb, editor of the international standard, coined the 'GML' term using their surname initials. As a document markup language, SGML was originally designed to enable the sharing of machine-readable large-project documents in government, law, and industry. Many of these documents must remain readable for several decades — a long time in the information technology field. SGML also was extensively applied by the military, and the aerospace, technical reference, and industrial publishing businesses. The advent of the XML profile has made SGML suitable for widespread application for small-scale, general-purpose use" (Wikipedia article on Standard Generalized Markup Language. accessed 12-29-2009).

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The First Map of the Functioning Structure of an Entire Brain November 12, 1986

On November 12, 1986 J. G. White, E. Southgate, J. N. Thomson and S[idney] Brenner published "The Structure of the nervous System of the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans," Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences, 314 (1986) no. 1165, 1-340. The first map of the functioning structure of an entire brain at the cellular level, this paper has been called the beginning of connectomics.

"The structure and connectivity of the nervous system of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been deduced from reconstructions of electron micrographs of serial sections. The hermaphrodite nervous system has a total complement of 302 neurons, which are arranged in an essentially invariant structure. Neurons with similar morphologies and connectivities have been grouped together into classes; there are 118 such classes. Neurons have simple morphologies with few, if any, branches. Processes from neurons run in defined positions within bundles of parallel processes, synaptic connections being made en passant. Process bundles are arranged longitudinally and circumferentially and are often adjacent to ridges of hypodermis. Neurons are generally highly locally connected, making synaptic connections with many of their neighbours. Muscle cells have arms that run out to process bundles containing motoneuron axons. Here they receive their synaptic input in defined regions along the surface of the bundles, where motoneuron axons reside. Most of the morphologically identifiable synaptic connections in a typical animal are described. These consist of about 5000 chemical synapses, 2000 neuromuscular junctions and 600 gap junctions" (Abstract).

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The First DNA Sequencing Machine 1987

In 1987 Applied Biosystems, Foster City, California, marketed the first commercial DNA sequencing machine, based on Leroy Hood’s technology.

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Soy Ink is Introduced 1987

Having searched for an acceptable ink formulation to replace oil-based printer's inks since 1979, in 1987 The American Newspaper Publishers Association in Reston, Virginia approved the use of soy ink, based on soybean oil. This environmentally friendly substitute for petroleum-based ink became widely used throughout the printing industry.

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The First Digital Image Database of Cultural Materials 1987

To photograph, store, and organize the art work of the painter, Andrew Wyeth in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, in 1987 Fred Mintzer, Henry Gladney and colleagues at IBM developed a high resolution digital camera for photographing art works and a PC-based database system to store and index the images. The system was used by Wyeth's staff to photograph, store, and organize about 10,000 images. "Pictures were scanned at a spatial resolution of 2500 by 3000 pixels and a color depth of 24 bits-per-pixel, and were color calibrated." This was the first digital image database of cultural materials.

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There are Over 10,000 Hosts on the Internet 1987

In 1987 the number of hosts on the Internet exceeded ten thousand.

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25,000,000 PCs Have Been Sold in the U.S. 1987

By 1987 25,000,000 PC’s were sold in the United States.

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The Origins of Adobe Photoshop 1987 – February 1990

In 1987, American software engineer Thomas Knoll, a PhD student at the University of Michigan, began writing a program on his Macintosh Plus to display grayscale images on a monochrome display. This program, which he called Display, caught the attention of his brother John Knoll, an employee at Industrial Light & Magic, who urged Thomas to turn Display into a fully-fledged image editing program. Thomas took a six-month break from his studies in 1988 to collaborate with John on the program, after which Thomas renamed the program ImagePro. But since the name ImagePro was already taken, Thomas renamed the program Photoshop, and worked out a short-term deal with scanner manufacturer Barneyscan to distribute copies of the program with a slide scanner.  Roughly 200 copies were shipped under that arrangement.  

During this time, John Knoll gave a demonstration of the program to engineers at Apple in Cupertino, and to Russell Brown, art director at Adobe Systems in San Jose. In September 1988 Adobe decided to purchase the license to distribute. In February 1990 Adobe releated Photoshop 1.0 for the Macintosh. Adobe photograph became the de facto industry standard in raster graphics editing.

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"Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record" 1987

In 1987 American filmaker Terry Sanders, the American Film Foundation, and the Council on Library and Information Resources, issued Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record, a film narrated by Robert McNeil. The AFF characterized the film as:

"The unforgettable story of the deterioration and destruction of our world’s intellectual heritage and the global crisis in preserving library materials. . . .

"Millions of pages of paper in books, photographs, drawings and maps are disintegrating and turning to dust. This remarkable film provides a comprehensive assessment of the worldwide situation, demonstrates methods of restoration and preservation and suggests ways to prevent new documents from facing ultimate destruction".

In December 2013 the film could be purchased from the American Film Foundation's website on DVD, in 33 and 58 minute versions.

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GSM is Developed 1987

In 1987 Norwegian engineer Torleiv Maseng, project leader at SINTEFTrondheim, Norway, and Odd Trandem developed the technology that became accepted as the Global System for Mobil communications (GSM). Maseng's work "included the use of channel estimation and the combination of equalization, error correcting codes and modulation in which the Viterbi algorithm was used by all components" (Wikipedia article on Torleiv Maseng, accessed 12-29-2009).

" 'The most important reason we prevailed was that our system was the best in handling the interference created when radio signals are reflected by buildings and topography,' Mr. Maseng says.  

“ 'As the number of reflected signals increases, there is a greater chance that the radio transmitter or receiver gets confused and mixes up the signals. Norway has an abundance of those kinds of natural topographic challenges.'  

"A central concept in understanding how the system works is bandwidth. Bandwidth can be compared with the speed at which people talk. In this analogy, the faster you talk, the higher the bandwidth. But high bandwidth can be a problem in places with lots of reflected signals. The same problem explains why most hymns are sung slowly in church. If they are sung quickly, the acoustics of the church turn the hymn into an unintelligible mess.  

"This phenomenon also confounds radio signals. But Mr. Maseng and Mr. Trandem came up with a clever solution. The problem is that if the data speed is too high, the receiving equipment cannot deal with signals that ‘hang in the air’ at the same time, and the signal becomes chaotic. But if the bandwidth is too low, there is a greater chance that the signal will disappear because the receiving equipment cannot distinguish between different echoes.  

"Maseng and Trandem altered their bandwidth during testing; they could do this because they devised a way to see their results in real time. By doing this they were able to find the optimal bandwidth between the two extremes. Their competitors could not. The two researchers were clever, but they also had a powerful tool to help them: A Cray supercomputer, purchased by NTNU’s predecessor, NTH, in 1986. “The computing power of the Cray was a great help in finding the optimal bandwidth,” Odd Trandem says" (http://www.ntnu.no/gemini/2005-01e/gsm.htm, accessed 12-29-2009).

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Roy Harris Issues "The Language Machine," a Critique of Computational Linguistics 1987

In 1987 Integrational linguist Roy Harris published The Language Machine.

"This volume completes the trilogy which began with The Language-Makers (1980) and The Language Myth (1981). The Language Machine examines the impact of the electronic computer on modern conceptions of language and communication. When Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels the notion that a machine could handle language was an absurdity to be satirized. Descartes regarded it as foolish to suppose that a robot could ever be built that would answer questions. But today it is widely assumed that mechanical speech recognition and automatic translation will be commonplace in tomorrow’s technology. Underlying these assumptions is a subtle shift in popular and academic conceptions of what a language is. Understanding a sentence is treated as a computational process. This in turn contributes powerfully to accepting a mechanistic view of human intelligence, and to the insulation of language from moral values" (http://www.royharrisonline.com/linguistic_publications/The_Language-machine.html, accessed 07-23-2010).

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John Burrows Founds Computational Sylistics 1987

In 1987 John Burrows of the University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia, published Computation into Criticism: A Study of Jane Austen's Novels and an Experiment in Method. This work, which showed that a quantitative study of function word use can reveal subtle and powerful patterns in language, founded computational stylistics, and pioneered the application of principal component analysis (PCA) to language data.

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The First Hypertext Fiction: "Afternoon, a story" 1987 – 1990

In 1987 American author, critic, and professor of English and media studies at Vassar College Michael Joyce composed Afternoon, a story. This was first offered to the public as a demonstration of the hypertext authoring system Storyspace announced in 1987 at the first Association for Computing Machinery Hypertext conference in a paper by Michael Joyce and Jay David Bolter. In 1990, Afternoon, a story was published on diskette and distributed by Eastgate Systems, producers of Storyspace. 

Afternoon, a story is considered the first hypertext fiction (hyperfiction) a non-linear, interactive electronic literary form as compared to traditional linear fiction. Hypertext fiction was preceded by nonlinear printed narratives such as James Joyce's Ulysses (1922) in which a nonlinear narrative and interactive narrative was achieved through internal references within the printed text.

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Introduction of the GIF Image Format 1987

In 1987 Compuserve introduced the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), a bitmap image format widely used on the Internet.  

"The format supports up to 8 bits per pixel for each image, allowing a single image to reference its own palette of up to 256 different colors chosen from the 24-bit RGB color space. It also supports animations and allows a separate palette of up to 256 colors for each frame. These palette limitations make the GIF format unsuitable for reproducing color photographs and other images with continuous color, but it is well-suited for simpler images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of color" (Wikipedia article on Graphics Interchange Format, accessed 10-27-2013).

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Foundation of the First Commercial ISP May 12, 1987

In 1987 American computer scientist Richard L. Adams, Jr. founded in Northern Virginia UUNET Communications Services, the first commercial internet service provider. On May 12 UUNET passed its first traffic via the CompuServe Network using UUCP (Unix to Unix Copy Protocol).

"Although the ISP initially offered services only to research institutes and universities, it wasn't long before Adams began expanding operations. The launch of AlterNet in 1990 marked UUnet's first foray into commercial service, as well as its conversion to a for-profit company. The firm's new focus on the corporate sector paid off a few years later when it landed the contract to carry Internet traffic for the Microsoft Network, beating out competitors like AT&T Corp. and MCI Communications Corp. Adams took UUnet public in 1995, in one of the largest technology public offerings to date, and a year later agreed to a $2 billion buyout offer from MFS Communications, which was acquired by WorldCom shortly thereafter" (http://ecommerce.hostip.info/pages/2/Adams-Richard-L.html, accessed 02-28-2009).

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"Toward a National Research Telecommunications Network" November 1987

In 1987 C. Gordon Bell, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Computer Networking, Infrastructure and Digital Communications of the Federal Coordinating Council on Science, Engineering and Technology, published A Report to the Office of Technology Policy on Computer Networks to Support Research in the United States. A Study of Critical Problems and Future Options. The report states:

“Over the next 15 years, there will be a need for a 100,000 times increase in national network capacity to enable researchers to exploit computer capabilities for representing complex data in visual form, for manipulating and interacting with this complex data and for sharing large data bases with other researchers.”

“As the first step, the current Internet system developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the networks supported by agencies for researchers should be interconnected. These facilities, if coordinated and centrally managed, have the capability to interconnect many computer networks into a single virtual computer network. As the second step, the existing computer networks that support research programs should be expanded and upgraded to serve 200-400 research institutions with 1.5 million bits per second capabilities.

“As the third step, network service should be provided to every research institution in the U.S., with transmission speeds of three billion bits per second.” (p. 3)

Bell summarized the report in an article called Toward A National Research Telecommunications Network.

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OCLC Acquires the Publisher of the Dewey Classification System 1988

In 1987 OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) acquired Forest Press, publisher of the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

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The First Computer-Animated Film to Win an Academy Award 1988

In 1988 Tin Toy by Pixar, Emeryville, California, became the first computer-animated film to win an Academy Award, for the "best animated short film."

"Tin Toy marked the first time a character with life-like bendable arms and knees, surfaces and facial components was animated digitally. The challenge was balancing it's 'cartoony' look with a baby's real looks."

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The First Operational Online Antiquarian Bookselling Site 1988

In 1988 Larry Costello founded Antiquarian Databases International (ADI). A Bulletin Board System (BBS), ADI was the first operational online antiquarian bookselling site, and an extremely early venture in ecommerce, but it closed after only a few months.

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Boing-Boing Begins as a Print Magazine 1988 – 2000

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

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International Standard for Computer-to-Computer Information Retrieval 1988

In 1988 Z39.50 became the international standard defining a protocol for computer-to-computer information retrieval. Z39.50 made it possible for a user to search and retrieve information from other computer systems without knowing the search syntax used by those other systems.

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The First Computer Games Developers Conference 1988

In 1988 computer game designer Chris Crawford held the first meeting of the Computer Games Developers Conference in his San Jose, California living room. About 27 game designers attended.

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Mathematica 1.0 1988

In 1988 physicist and mathematician Stephen Wolfram and Wolfram Research, Champaign, Illinois, introduced Mathematica 1.0, "a computational software program used in scientific, engineering, and mathematical fields and other areas of technical computing" with powerful two dimensional and three dimensional visualization tools.

Mathematica evolved from Symbolic Manipulation Program, usually called SMP, "a computer algebra system designed by Chris A. Cole and Stephen Wolfram at Caltech circa 1979, and initially developed in the Caltech physics department under Wolfram's leadership .... SMP was essentially Version Zero of the more ambitious Mathematica system.

"SMP was influenced by the earlier computer algebra systems Macsyma (of which Wolfram was a user) and Schoonschip (whose code Wolfram studied)" (Wikipedia article on Symbolic Manipulation Program, accessed 05-16-2009).

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The First Analog Silicon Retina 1988

With his student Misha Mahowald, computer scientist Carver Mead at Caltech described the first analog silicon retina in "A Silicon Model of Early Visual Processing," Neural Networks 1 (1988) 91−97. The silicon retina used analog electrical circuits to mimic the biological functions of rod cellscone cells, and other non-photoreceptive cells in the retina of the eye. It was the first example of using continuously-operating floating gate (FG) programming/erasing techniques— in this case UV light— as the backbone of an adaptive circuit technology. The invention was not only potentially useful as a device for restoring sight to the blind, but it was also one of the most eclectic feats of electrical and biological engineering of the time.

"The approach to silicon models of certain neural computations expressed in this chip, and its successors, foreshadowed a totally new class of physically based computations inspired by the neural paradigm. More recent results demonstrated that a wide range of visual and auditory computations of enormous complexity can be carried out in minimal area and with minute energy dissipation compared with digital implementations" (http://www.cns.caltech.edu/people/faculty/mead/carver-contributions.pdf, accessed 12-23-2013).

In 1992 Mahowald received her Ph.D. under Mead at Caltech with her thesis, VLSI Analogs of Neuronal Visual Processing: A Synthesis of Form and Function. 

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Australia Issues the First Polymer Banknote ($10) January 1988

The world's first polymer banknote was the $10 commemorative note issued in January 1988 to commemorate the Australian Bicentenary. It was developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Commonwealth Scientific and Industreal Research Organisation (CSIRO), and The University of Melbourne.

Made from the polymer, biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP), these notes incorporate security features difficult to include in paper bank notes. They are also more durable, harder to tear, more resistant to folding, more resistant to soil, waterproof and washing machine proof, easier to process by machine, and are shreddable and recyclable at the end of their useful lives, which are 4-5 times longer than paper banknotes.

"The traditional printed security features applied on paper can also be applied on polymer. These features include intaglio, offset and letterpress printing, latent images, micro-printing, and intricate background patterns. Polymer notes can be different colours on the obverse and reverse sides. Like paper currency, polymer banknotes can incorporate a watermark (an optically variable 'shadow image') in the polymer substrate. Shadow images can be created by the application of Optically Variable Ink (OVI) enhancing its fidelity and colour shift characteristics. Security threads can also be embedded in the polymer note; they may be magnetic, fluorescent, phosphorescent, microprinted, clear text, as well as windowed. Like paper, the polymer can also be embossed.

"Polymer notes also enabled new security features unavailable at the time [1988] on paper, such as transparent windows, and diffraction grating. Since 2006 however the development of the paper transparent window technologies by De La Rue (Optiks) and G&D (Verify) have reduced that advantage" (Wikipedia article on polymer banknote, accessed 11-21-2011).

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Probably the Worst Library Fire in History February 14, 1988

On February 14, 1988 fire broke out in the newspaper room on the third floor of the Academy of Sciences Library in Leningrad.

"By the time it was extinguished the following afternoon, it had destroyed 400,000 books of the 12 million housed in the building; two to three million more were damaged by heat and smoke; and over one million were damp or wet from the firemen's hoses. The extent of the damage made it the worst library fire in history. (The Los Angeles Public Library fire by comparison, also destroyed 400,000 books, but damaged only a half million by heat and smoke.)

"Many of the lost volumes were part of the Baer Collection of foreign scientific works: an early estimate gives 300,000, a later one 190,000, as the number lost. The rest were Russian books, many of then early scientific and medical books from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries." (The Abbey Newsletter Volume XII, number 2 [1988].)

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The Unicode Universal Character Set is Introduced August 29, 1988

Joseph D. Becker of Xerox Corporation, Rochester, New York, Lee Collins (also at Xerox) and Mark Davis of Apple Computer developed a universal character set, the name for which Becker in his report, Unicode 88 issued on August 29, 1988:

"1.1. Abstract

"This document is a draft proposal for the design of an international/multilingual text character coding system, tentatively called Unicode.

"Unicode is intended to address the need for a workable, reliable world text encoding. Unicode could be roughly described as 'wide-body ASCII' that has been stretched to 16 bits to encompass the characters of all the world's living languages. In a properly engineered design, 16 bits per character are more than sufficient for this purpose.

"In the Unicode system, a simple unambiguous fixed-length character encoding is integrated into a coherent overall architecture of text processing. The design aims to be flexible enough to support many disparate (vendor-specific) implementations of text processing software.

"A general scheme for character code allocations is proposed (and materials for making specific individual character code assignments are well at hand), but specific code assignments are not proposed here. Rather, it is hoped that this document will evoke interest from many organizations, which could cooperate in perfecting the design and in determining the final character code assignments" (http://www.unicode.org/history/unicode88.pdf, accessed 01-29-2010).

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The First Computer Worm to Attract Wide Attention November 2, 1988

The first computer worm to attract wide attention, the Morris worm or Internet worm, quickly infected a great number of computers on the Internet on November 2, 1988. It was written by Robert Tappan Morris, a graduate student at Cornell

"It propagated through a number of bugs in BSD Unix and its derivatives. Morris himself was convicted under the US Computer Crime and Abuse Act and received three years probation, community service and a fine in excess of $10,000."

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The National Center for Biotechnology Information is Founded November 4, 1988

Recognizing the importance of computerized information processing methods for the conduct of biomedical research, on November 4, 1988 Senator and Representative Claude Pepper sponsored legislation that established the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) as a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), Bethesda, Maryland. NLM was chosen for its experience in creating and maintaining biomedical databases, and because as part of NIH, it could establish an intramural research program in computational molecular biology. 

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There are over 100,000 Hosts on the Internet 1989

In 1989 the number of hosts on the Internet exceeded 100,000.

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The First Gateways Between Private E-Mail Carriers and the Internet 1989

The first gateways between private e-mail carriers and the Internet were established in 1989. CompuServe was connected through Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, MCI in Auburn, Virginia, through the Corporation for National Research Initiatives.

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Digital HDTV is Developed at Bell Labs 1989

In 1989 digital high-definition TV (HDTV) software, based on video compression algorithms, was developed at Bell Labs.

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Invention of "Buffered Media," the Basis for Webcasting 1989

In 1989 Brian Raila of GTE Laboratories recognized that a viewer or listener did not need to download the entirety of a program to view or listen to a portion of it, as long as the receiving device ("client computer") could, over time, receive and present data more rapidly than the user could digest the data. At the InterTainment '89 conference held in New York City Raila used the term "buffered media" to describe this concept. It became the basis for "webcasting."

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The First Film to Win an Academy Award for Computer Generated Images 1989

In 1989 The Abyss, a science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, Santa Monica, California, featuring complex computer generated images (CGI)—most notably a seawater creature dubbed the pseudopod—became the first film to win the Academy Award for Visual Effects produced through CGI. The pseudopod was the first computer generated three-dimensional (3D) character.

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The First Holographic Video Display 1989

MIT's Media Lab developed the first holographic video display in 1989. The volume of the hologram was just 25 cubic millimeters, smaller than a thimble.

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Ingetraut Dahlberg Founds the International Society for Knowledge Organization 1989

In 1989 German information scientist and philosopher Ingetraut Dahlberg and colleagues founded the International Society for Knowledge Organization, (ISKO), the principal professional association for scholars of knowledge organization, knowledge structures, classification studies, and information organization and structure.

"ISKO's mission is to advance conceptual work in knowledge organization in all kinds of forms, and for all kinds of purposes, such as databases, libraries, dictionaries and the Internet.

"As an interdisciplinary society, ISKO brings together professionals from many different fields. ISKO counts about 600 members all over the world, from fields such as information science, philosophy, linguistics, computer science, as well as special domains such as medical informatics."

The Society publishes the quarterly academic journal Knowledge Organization, and holds biennial international conferences. It officially recognizes national chapters in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. ISKO cooperates with international and national organizations such as UNESCO, the European Commission, the International Organization for Standardization, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, the Association for Information Science and Technology, the Networked Knowledge Organization Systems/Services, and the International Information Centre for Terminology.

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

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

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The First Commercially Available Tablet Computer September 1989

In 1989 GRiD Systems, a subsidiary of Tandy Corporation, Fort Worth, Texas, introduced the first commercially available tablet computer: the GRiDPad, which used an operating system based on MS-DOS.

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