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 15, 1975
Issue number one of the Homebrew Computer Club’s newsletter is published. Only 21 issues are published through December 1977, but the newsletter is considered influential in the early culture of the personal computer industry.
March 14, 1955
AT&T Bell Laboratories announces the completion of the first fully transistorized computer, TRADIC. TRADIC, which stood for TRAnsistor DIgital Computer, contained nearly 800 transistors, which replaced the standard vacuum tube and allowed the machine to operate on fewer than 100 watts which was one-twentieth the power required by a comparable vacuum tube computer.
March 6, 1992
The Michelangelo virus, so-named because it activates on March 6, the birthday of Michelangelo, begins infecting computers. The virus will also make news in 1993. It was one of the earliest viruses to receive widespread media attention and also one of the first to prompt widespread hysteria. The irony of the name of the virus was that nothing in the virus’ code referenced Michelangelo. It is possible the virus author, who was never identified, did not know March 6th was Michelangelo’s birthday!
March 5, 1975
The Homebrew Computer Club holds its first meeting. Many people who played an important part in the early years of personal computing attended meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club during its history. Perhaps no meeting was more important than the one that took place almost exactly one year after the first: Steve Wozniak brought his design for what eventually becomes the Apple I computer.
March 4, 1977
The first Cray-1 supercomputer is shipped to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. This supercomputer, which costs nineteen million dollars, will be used to design sophisticated weapons systems. The system is a cylindrical tower seven feet tall, nine feet in diameter, and weighs about 5.5 tons. The machine produced so much heat that it required a built-in freon-based refrigeration system. It requires its own electrical substation to power it, at a cost of about US$35,000 a month.
March 3, 2004
Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computers, announces that he will step down from his his CEO role while retaining his position as Chairman of the Board. Dell president and COO, Kevin Rollins will assume his role. On January 31, 2007, (about 1 year after Dell fell behind Apple in market capitalization) Rollins will resign and Dell will resume his role as CEO due to the poor performance of the company.
March 1, 1976
Steve Wozniak completes the basic design for the circuit board of a (relatively) easy-to-use personal computer. The next day he shows it to the Homebrew Computer Club, which Steve Jobs attends. Jobs realizes the potential and convinces Wozniak not to give away the schematics but instead produce printed circuit boards to sell. The two Steves form a company, which they name Apple, and Wozniak’s design becomes the basis of the Apple I computer. The rest, as they say, is history.
February 27, 2001
US Robotics introduces the V.92 modem standard. Given that broadband Internet had begun to take significant hold and that supporting V.92 required ISPs to upgrade their infrastructure, V.92 never really made much of an impact in the marketplace.