Tandy 5000MCApril 21, 1988

The Tandy Corporation holds a press conference to announce plans to build clones of IBM’s PS/2 system computers. The conference comes soon after IBM’s announcement that it would license patents on key PC technologies. IBM made this decision as they realized they were losing control of the “IBM-compatible” PC market and could make more money licensing the technologies. Within five years, IBM clones will become more popular than the original IBM machines themselves. Eventually IBM would leave the PC manufacturing business altogether, selling their PC division to Lenovo in 2005.

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Windows 98 BSODApril 20, 1998

During the COMDEX Spring ’98 and Windows World shows in Chicago, a public demonstration of the soon-to-be released Windows 98 goes awry when Bill Gates’ assistant causes the operating system to crash after plugging in a scanner. Instead of showing the plug-and-play capabilities they were trying to demonstrate, a “Blue Screen of Death” is visible by the entire audience which immediately erupts in laughter. After several seconds, Bill Gates famously responded, “That must be why we’re not shipping Windows 98 yet.”

Ironically, the assistant, Chris Capossela, has moved up the executive ranks at Microsoft, recently being promoted to the position of Senior Vice President, Consumer Channels and Central Marketing Group. For Microsoft’s sake, hopefully he’ll present a much better marketing image then he did that fateful day!

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Transistor Count and Moore's LawApril 19, 1965

Electronics magazine publishes an article by Gordon Moore, head of research and development for Fairchild Semiconductor and future co-founder of Intel, on the future of semiconductor components. In the article, Moore predicts that transistor density on integrated circuits will double every eighteen months for “at least” the next ten years. This theory will eventually come to be known as Moore’s law and it still holds true to this day. It is predicted that Moore’s Law will continue to be valid through 2020 or later.

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Osborne ExecutiveApril 18, 1983

The Osborne Computer Corporation officially announced the Osborne Executive portable computer, the follow-up to its extremely successful Osborne 1. This is the computer that according to lore, took down the company. Known as the Osborne Effect, the legend is that by leaking the announcement of  this computer earlier in the year, dealers cancelled all orders for the Osborne 1, effectively destroying the company’s cashflow and hindering operations going forward. This resulted in the cancellation of the company’s IPO and eventually to bankruptcy.

The reality may not be so simple, but my research shows that the Osborne Effect may have been a contributing cause to the company’s demise, along with the rise of competitors, the introduction of the IBM PC, and mismanagement by the company’s president, brought in by investors to provide “adult supervision”.

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Surveyor 3April 17, 1967

The spacecraft Surveyor 3 is launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. It is the second U.S. spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon (Surveyor 2 crash landed) where it will study the lunar surface and send more than 6,300 pictures back to Earth. In all, seven Surveyors will be sent to the Moon, five of them successfully completing soft landings.

 

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Apple II, Commodore PET, TRS-80April 16, 1977

On the same day at the first annual West Coast Computer Faire, both the Apple II and Commodore PET 2001 personal computers are introduced. Ironically, Commodore had previously rejected purchasing the Apple II from Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, deciding to build their own computers. Both computers used the same processor, the MOS 6502, but the companies had two different design strategies and it showed on this day. Apple wanted to build computers with more features at a higher price point. Commodore wanted to sell less feature-filled computers at a lower price point. The Apple II had color, graphics, and sound selling for $1298. The Commodore PET only had a monochrome display and was priced at $795.

Note, it was very difficult finding a picture with both an original Apple II (not IIe) and Commodore PET 2001. I could only find this picture that also includes the TRS-80, another PC introduced later in 1977.

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marcel-webApril 15, 2002

Budding entrepreneur Marcel Brown starts his first day as a full-time self-employed professional, after years of helping people and small businesses with their technology needs on the side. It was from this humble beginning that a technology empire of unprecedented scale was created, all built from the blood, sweat, and tears of Marcel and his wife Danelle.

Well, okay, maybe all of that’s not quite true yet, but with any luck, soon it will be!

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West Coast Computer FaireApril 15, 1977

The first annual West Coast Computer Faire is held over three days in San Francisco, California, attended by 12,750 people. The Faire features the debut of the Apple II computer, which features 16KB of memory, BASIC, a built-in keyboard, eight expansion slots, and built-in high-resolution color graphics. Many credit this event and the launch of the Apple II as giving birth to the personal computer industry.

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GE LogoApril 15, 1892

The General Electric Company (GE) is founded. It was formed by the merger of Edison General Electric (started by Thomas Edison in 1890) and the Thomson-Houston Electric Company. GE was one of the original 12 companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and in 2010 was ranked by Forbes as the world’s second largest company.

 

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Columbia, STS-1 LandingApril 14, 1981

The first test flight of the first operational space shuttle, the Columbia, ends successfully as the orbiter lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

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