The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes BackMay 21, 1980

The sequel to the the smash success Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back is released on this day, almost exactly 3 years after the release of the original film. The pioneering use of special effects technology in the Star Wars Trilogy transformed the movie industry.

IBM Announces the “Defense Calculator”, Model 701

IBM 701

May 21, 1952

The IBM 701 was the company’s first commercial scientific computer, but I guess they figured that calling it a “calculator” would help it sell better. Perhaps they were right, because only expecting to sell five, the company ended up selling nineteen to government, large companies, and universities.

First Female to Fly Solo Across Atlantic

Amelia EarhartMay 20, 1932

Five years to the day after Charles Lindbergh took off on his historic first solo flight across the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland. While her original destination was France, weather and mechanical problems force her to land in Ireland nearly 15 hours after she took off. She become the first woman and second person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

First Solo Flight Across the Atlantic

Spirit of St. LouisMay 20, 1927

Aboard the “Spirit of St. Louis” monoplane, Charles Lindbergh takes off from Roosevelt Field in New York on his historic first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. He will arrive in France 33.5 hours later.

Apple Cube Store Opens in NYC

Apple Cube StoreMay 19, 2006

Apple opens their second store in New York City, a 20,000 square-foot shop at the underground concourse of the General Motors building at 767 Fifth Avenue. Open 24-hours a day, the shop is visible at street level through a 32-foot glass cube. Designed by Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs at a cost of $9 million, people stood on line for hours prior to the store’s opening.

Apple Debuts Retail Stores

First Apple StoreMay 19, 2001

Apple Computer opens the first two locations of their new retail stores in McLean, Virginia and Washington, D.C. In the first weekend of opening, the stores will attract 7,700 shoppers and will sell a combined $599,000. While ridiculed by many technology “experts” at the time, the Apple Stores have been insanely successful and was one of the key reasons for Apple’s resurgence in the 2000’s.

Apple III Introduced

Apple IIIMay 19, 1980

At the National Computer Conference in Anaheim, California, Apple Computer introduces the Apple III. It is the company’s first attempt at a business computer, its first departure from the Apple II architecture, and it will also become Apple’s first real failure. Apple expects the Apple III to be released in July, but in one of the worst cases of delay in tech history, the system wouldn’t reach stores until January. Once released, the Apple III will be plagued by component failures that would ultimately lead to large recalls. The Apple III never recovered from it’s original negative reception and was discontinued by Apple in 1984

Antitrust Suit Filed Against Microsoft

Bill Gates TestifyingMay 18, 1998

The United States Justice Department and the Attorneys Generals of twenty states plus the District of Columbia file an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. The case focuses on Microsoft’s integration of the Internet Explorer web browser into its Windows 98 operating system. The trial becomes one of the most famous events in tech history, eventually resulting in a settlement between the DOJ and Microsoft. In fact, the sanctions levied against Microsoft only recently ended in May of 2011, almost exactly 13 years after the suit was filed.

World Wide Web Launched

The First Web ServerMay 17, 1991

The first server “web server” in history is set up by Tim Berners-Lee on a NeXTcube at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The launch of this first server is considered the public release of the World Wide Web.

First Laser Created

Ted Maiman Holding First LaserMay 16, 1960

Physicist Theodore Maiman creates the first laser light, using a synthetic-ruby crystal device. He was not the first to develop the theories behind lasers nor first to apply for patents, but he was the first to create an operating laser device. The light produced by this device was not a true beam as we think of most lasers today, but rather a pulse. Other researchers would create the first laser beam soon after.