Only two days after the Transcontinental Telegraph line opened, the Pony Express ceases operation. Prior to the opening of the cross-country telegraph line, the Pony Express was the fastest way to send communication between St. Jospeph, Missouri and San Franscisco, California.
Microsoft releases the operating system Windows XP, the successor to both Windows 2000 and Windows ME. Designed to unify the Windows NT line and Windows 95 line of operating systems, Windows XP was not replaced by Microsoft until January 2007 with Windows Vista. However, with a nearly six-year run and the public debacle surrounding the release of Windows Vista, Windows XP remained the world’s most popular operating system until August 2012.
Western Union completes the first transcontinental telegraph line across the United States, making nearly instantaneous cross-country communication possible for the first time. Previously, it took ten days for a letter to be sent from Missouri to California via the Pony Express. Not coincidentally, two days later the Pony Express shut down operations.
Using the slogan, “1000 Songs in Your Pocket,” Steve Jobs introduces the original iPod, featuring a 5 GB hard drive, Firewire connectivity, and synchronization to iTunes. By using a 1.8″ drive, the iPod was significantly smaller than competing MP3 players of the time. The Firewire port allowed simultaneous charging and high-speed music synchronization, innovative for its time. At the time, the original iPod only worked with Macintosh computers. However, the popularity of the iPod among Windows users – who had to hack together a solution to use it with their computers – prompted Apple to release a Windows compatible version in the second generation of iPods. With the introduction of the iTunes Music Store in June of 2003, the runaway success of the iPod completely changed the landscape of the music and computer industry.
In a makeshift lab on the second floor of a rental house, Chester Carlson and his assistant Otto Kornei successfully invent the process that would lead to the photocopier. Carlson had written “10.-22.-38 ASTORIA” on a piece of paper and these became the historic words that were the first photocopied. Ironically, Kornei had so little faith in the invention that within a year he quit working for Carlson and willingly gave up any claims he had on the process. However, Carlson would later gift Kornei 100 shares of the Xerox corporation that would eventually be worth $1 million.
At the COMDEX computer expo in Las Vegas, Apple introduces the first line of PowerBook notebook computers, the PowerBook 100, PowerBook 140, and PowerBook 170. The first truly portable Macintosh, the PowerBook line redefined portable computing and set the bar for future laptop designs. For example, the PowerBooks were the first laptop to have a trackball positioned in front of the keyboard. Most existing PC laptops of the time ran DOS and were therefore keyboard-oriented, requiring the use of external mice.
Thomas Edison perfects the first commercially practical incandescent light bulb. Using a filament of carbonized cotton thread, his first attempt at this design results in a bulb that lasts about 13.5 hours before burning out. He later extends the life of the bulb to 40 hours. Edison’s successful design came only after he had tested over 6,000 different vegetable fibers during a span of over 18 months running 1,200 experiments and spending $40,000.