September 20, 1954
The first FORTRAN program is executed. FORTRAN was developed by IBM scientists who were looking for a better way to program the IBM 704 mainframe computer. It quickly became the dominant programming language for scientific and engineering applications and still is used today, especially in the area of high-performance computing.
September 18, 1989
NeXT Computer releases version 1.0 of NeXTSTEP, an object-oriented, multitasking operating system. Originally designed to run on NeXT’s brand of computers, it was later ported to other architectures such as the Intel x86.
Often considered years ahead of its time, NeXTSTEP brought to market many advanced features that were not seen together in any other operating system for nearly 10 years. Its powerful object-oriented development environment was also used for the creation of the word wide web.
In 1997 Apple acquired NeXT Computer to build their next-generation operating system upon the NeXTSTEP architecture, later named Mac OS X. Today’s iOS that runs on iPhone and iPads is descended from Mac OS X and NeXTSTEP.
I had the opportunity to use NeXTSTEP in 1992 for a computer science class at the University of Illinois. I immediately recognized how powerful it was, yet didn’t fully appreciate what I was experiencing until years later. It really wasn’t until the late 1990’s and early 2000’s that other operating systems brought together the power and reliability of NeXTSTEP.
September 15, 1986
Apple introduces the Apple IIgs, the last major product release in the Apple II series of personal computers. Blending the older Apple II series computers with aspects from the Macintosh computer, the advanced “graphics and sound” capabilities of the IIgs (hence the name) was ahead of other contemporary computers such as the Macintosh and IBM PC. However, as Apple chose to focus on the Macintosh line of computers, Apple eventually ceased development of the Apple II series. The last IIgs was produced in December of 1992.
September 9, 1945
Operators of the Harvard Mark II find a moth trapped in relay #70 in panel F. The bug is taped to their troubleshooting log where it was written, “First actual case of bug being found”. This was not the first use of the term “bug” for computer problems, but this was the first time the term “debug” was used.
September 5, 1980
The last IBM 7030 “Stretch” mainframe in active use is decommissioned at Brigham Young University. The first Stretch was was delivered to Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1961, giving the model almost 20 years of operational service. The Stretch was famous for many things, but perhaps most notably it was the first IBM computer to use transistors instead of vacuum tubes, it was the first computer to be designed with the help of an earlier computer, and it was the world’s fastest computer from 1961 to 1964.
September 4, 1956
The IBM 350 Disk Storage Unit Model 1 was announced, which was the first commercial storage unit to use magnetic disk storage, the technology behind hard disk drives. About the size of two refrigerators and weighing in at one ton, the 350 could store about 4 – 5 megabytes, depending on how it was calculated.
The 350 would be an integral part of the IBM RAMAC 305 computer, which would be introduced 9 days later on September 13th. The RAMAC 305 and 350 Disk Storage Unit were designed to replace the punch card “tub file” system that was the primary means of storing repeatedly accessed data.
August 31, 2004
Aldus, the company that created PageMaker – considered the world’s first desktop publishing application – merges with Adobe, the company that created PostScript – which was the page description language powering many early laser printers. The combination of Pagemaker running on Apple’s Macintosh and printing to the Apple’s PostScript-powered LaserWriter sparked the desktop publishing revolution in the 1980’s.
August 18, 1947
Hewlett-Packard is incorporated by William Hewlett and David Packard, nine years after they sold their first products from their garage in Palo Alto. Hewlett and Packard got their start in 1938 by producing oscillators used to test audio equipment. Since selling eight of their first oscillators to Disney for use in preparing movie theaters for the movie Fantasia, HP has grown to one of the largest technology companies in the world.