March 31, 1999
The hugely successful motion picture, The Matrix, is released on this day. Many call it a classic (ok, that’s me), many call it influential (ok, me again), but no one can deny that the impact it had on many aspects of our society from the emerging tech culture, to the movie industry, to science-fiction, to political thinking. The Matrix won 4 Oscars, on a budget of $63 million grossed over $463 million, and was the first DVD to sell over 3 million copies. And who could forget some of the great quotes from this movie, including “Free … your … mind”, “Dodge this”, “There is no spoon”, “Don’t think you are – know you are”, “Welcome … to the real world”, “I know kung fu”, and “You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
March 31, 1995
Microsoft releases their epically ill-fated software package, “Bob“, whose name will forever live in infamy. Given the tide of popularity and visibility Microsoft was riding on the way to releasing Windows 95 later that year, Bob was the first highly visible flop from Microsoft. Future flops from Microsoft included Windows ME, the Zune, and Windows Vista to name a few. While Bob was “killed” only a year later, many of the ideas that went into Bob were salvaged by Microsoft, most notably the “Clippy” assistant, which was perhaps as equally as derided by computer users. Read this excellent write-up on the history of Bob.
March 31, 1880
Wabash, Indiana becomes the first city in the world to be completely illuminated by electric lighting. And the light was good.
March 29, 1983
Radio Shack introduces the TRS-80 Model 100, one of the first portable computers in a notebook-style form factor. The portability, simplicity, and built-in modem of the Model 100 made it very popular with journalists who could write stories in the field and transmit them back to their offices. Incidentally, in the early 90’s I acquired a Model 100 that had been used by a newspaper. I was able to use it to code simple programs, write papers, and use the modem to connect to bulletin board systems of the time. I recently found that I have 2 of these models among my tech junk – still in good working order! Good times, good times.
March 28, 1995
Kodak releases the DC40 camera, which is only the second digital camera for the consumer market. While introduced over a year after Apple’s QuickTake 100 camera, Kodak’s marketing was largely responsible for popularizing digital photography.
March 27, 1976
Bill Gates gives the opening address at the First Annual World Altair Computer Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Gates was still a student at Harvard but along with Paul Allen helped develop the version of the BASIC language sold with the Altair computer.
March 26, 1999
The first e-mail virus to cause widespread damage and one of the fastest spreading viruses in history, Melissa was released into the wild on an early Friday morning and within three days would infect between 100,000 and 250,000 computers around the world. While the virus did not directly cause any damage, the sheer volume of e-mail that it generated crashed many corporate *cough* Microsoft *cough* e-mail servers.
March 24, 2001
Mac OS X 10.0, the first public version of Mac OS X, is released. The code name for this release was Cheetah, although Apple did not start using the code names for marketing purposes until Mac OS X 10.3, Jaguar.