September 25, 1973
Micro Computer Machines of Canada introduces their MCM/70 microcomputer at a programmer’s user conference in Toronto. Possibly the earliest commercially manufactured device that can now be considered a personal computer, the MCM/70 gained customers at companies such as Chevron, Mutual Life Insurance, NASA, and the US Army. The company worked closely with Intel on the design of their computer and made very early use of the Intel 8008 processor, of which the basic design was used for the future Intel 8086. However, failing to generate venture capital in the Canadian marketplace, the MCM/70 never gained significant market acceptance and by the time the Apple II and other early personal computers were being released, the MCM/70 was relegated to a footnote in history.
CompuServe launches the first consumer-oriented online information service, which they called MicroNET. This marked the first time a consumer had access to services such as e-mail. The service was not favored internally within the business-oriented CompuServe, but as the service became a hit, they renamed the service CompuServe Information Service, or CIS. By the mid-1980’s CompuServe was the largest consumer information service in the world and half their revenue came from CIS. In 1989 CompuServe connected its proprietary e-mail system to the Internet e-mail system, making it one of the first commercial Internet services. However, CompuServe did not compete well with America On-Line or independent Internet Service Providers in the 1990’s and lost its dominant market position.
September 23, 2008
Google and T-Mobile introduce the T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC Dream), the world’s first Android-based smartphone. By raw sales numbers, today Android is the world’s most popular smartphone platform.
September 22, 1986
The US District Court for the Northern District of California rules that computer code is protected under copyright law. The ruling stems from the case NEC Corp. v. Intel Corp, which was basically a battle over who had the right to produce x86 processors. The ruling, while finding that Intel had copyright protection for the code in their processors, also found that reverse-engineering code was also legal and therefore NEC did not violate Intel’s copyright in producing their own x86 processors. This ruling that code could be copyrighted changed the landscape, for better or worse, of software and computer development.
September 21, 2003
After fourteen years in space, eight of those as the first man-made object orbiting Jupiter, the unmanned NASA spacecraft Galileo is sent into the atmosphere of the giant planet. NASA decided to end Galileo’s mission in this manner in order to avoid any possibility of it colliding with one of Jupiter’s moons and potentially contaminating it with bacteria from Earth. How sanitary of them.
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 19, 1982
In a posting made to a Carnegie Mellon bulletin board, Professor Scott Fahlman proposes the first known use of emoticons (also known as smilicons or smileys). While the use of emoticons became widespread during the 80’s and 90’s, their origin remained unknown until September 10, 2002, when the original message was retrieved from backup tape, which is displayed below.
19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-) From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c> I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(
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.
NASA rolls out the first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, from its assembly facility to a waiting crowd. Included in the crowd was a delegation of actors from the Star Trek TV series. Originally to be named Constitution, a write-in campaign by Star Trek fans convinced President Gerald Ford and NASA to rename the Space Shuttle.
The Enterprise was a prototype shuttle, designed for the early testing phase of the Space Shuttle program. It was built without engines or a functional heat shield. While it performed various atmospheric test flights, and was originally intended to be retrofitted for spaceflight, it was determined that it would be less expensive to simply build new shuttles. Therefore the Enterprise never did actually fly into space.
September 16, 1997
Twelve years to the day after resigning from Apple, Steve Jobs is named Interim CEO of Apple. Only seven months earlier, Jobs’ company NeXT was purchased by Apple and just two months earlier Gil Amelio resigned as Apple CEO. Much of the technology acquired with the purchase of NeXT was used to build the Mac OS X operating system, which became the core of the iOS operating system that runs the iPhone and iPad.