January 20, 1999
The Happy99 worm first appeared. It invisibly attached itself to emails, displayed fireworks to hide the changes being made, and wished the user a happy New Year. It was the first of a wave of malware that struck Microsoft Windows computers over the next several years, costing businesses and individuals untold amounts of money to resolve.
The “Friday the 13th” virus strikes hundreds of IBM computers in Britain. This is one of the most famous early examples of a computer virus making headlines. Over twenty years later, while other companies have systems that are practically immune to virues, Microsoft still hasn’t been able to develop a solution to prevent viruses from infecting their systems.
January 10, 2006
Seven months after announcing that Macintosh computers will transition from PowerPC to Intel, the first Apple computers to ship with Intel processors are released. The Intel-based iMac and MacBook Pro models will soon be followed by the rest of Apple’s Macintosh line in 2006. The importance of this transition can not be overlooked, as it enabled a level of compatibility with Windows computers never before possible. Through virtual machine software or Apple’s later introduced Boot Camp technology, people could run Windows software directly on their Macs at the same speed as a Windows based computer. This effectively removed a huge roadblock many people had to owning a Macintosh computer, even if it was more of a psychological security-blanket for many.
Steve Jobs introduces iTunes at Macworld. At the time, it only ran on Macintosh computers and there was no such thing as an iPod or an iTunes Store. I don’t think anyone at the time knew what a big deal iTunes was about to become. The graphic shows the evolution of the iTunes icon from top left to bottom right.
Steve Jobs unveils Mac OS X for the first time, declaring another computing revolution was on its way. It was certainly a revolution for Mac users at the time, and has lead the way for a resurgence of Apple in the marketplace. As Mac OS X is the basis for the iOS that runs the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, it certainly seems that Mac OS X has revolutionized computing even in ways Steve Jobs may have not fathomed at the time … or did he?
January 5, 1984
Richard Stallman begins work on the GNU operating system, intended to be a free UNIX-like OS. Combined with the Linux kernel, GNU/Linux is the most popular free and open-source operating system today. Believing that people should be able to freely modify the software they use, Stallman would later found the Free Software Foundation and write the GNU GPL, the most popularly used free software license.
January 2, 1979
Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, developers of the world’s first spreadsheet software, incorporate Software Arts to be the parent company for their product, VisiCalc. VisiCalc was introduced and then shipped later in the year and became the first “killer app” for the personal computer. By offering such a powerful business tool that anyone could run on their own computer, Bricklin and Frankston are credited with changing the perception of the personal computer from hobby into a business machine.
After years of hysteria regarding the Y2K bug, the world’s computers begin using the date 2000 with no major catastrophes. There is still debate whether the “Year 2000 Problem” was overblown by the technology industry or if the frantic updating done by armies of software developers leading up to Y2K averted disaster. I tend to lean towards the latter.
Unix epoch time begins at 00:00:00 UTC/GMT. Basically, UNIX operating systems count time in seconds starting from midnight January 1, 1970 Greenwich Mean Time. Yeah, this is beyond the threshold of geekiness for most of you, but don’t come crying to me when the Y2K38 problem bites you in the butt.