Archive for 2023
GIF is Not Peanut Butter
May 28, 1987
CompuServe releases the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) standard as a new computer graphics file format. Due to color limitations, the GIF format is unsuitable for reproducing color photographs, but it is well-suited for more simple images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of color. This made it probably the most popular graphics format for the early Internet, until the famous “GIF licensing controversy” soured many designers to its use. The PNG format was developed in response as an alternative to GIF to get around the licensing issues. However, all relevant patents have since expired and the GIF format may now be freely used. Today it still sees widespread use, especially when simple animations are needed.
First Modern Color Movie
May 28, 1929
The Warner Brothers’ film On With the Show, the first talking movie that is all in color, debuts at New York City’s Winter Garden theater. The film uses two-color Technicolor and Vitaphone sound.
Windows Hits Version 2.1
May 27, 1988
Microsoft releases 2 versions of Windows 2.1 – One for 286 computers and one for 386 computers. Do you remember this version of Windows? No? Not many people do. It wasn’t until version 3 that Windows had any sort of appreciable user base.
Bill Gates’ Internet Tidal Wave
May 26, 1995
Realizing his company had missed the boat in estimating the impact and popularity of the Internet, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates issues a memo titled, “The Internet Tidal Wave,” which signaled the company’s focus on the global network. In the memo, Gates declared that the Internet was the “most important single development” since the IBM personal computer — a development that he was assigning “the highest level of importance.” Still, it is curious why it took someone who was regarded as a technology “innovator” so long to realize this.
Return of the Jedi
May 25, 1983
The third installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi, is released six years to the day after the first Star Wars movie. Return of the Jedi continued to raise the bar in special effects technology that its predecessors set. The film’s final space battle, for example, was of a size and scale unprecedented at the time.
A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away …
May 25, 1977
The motion picture Star Wars is released in thirty-two US theaters. The film will immediately break records unlike any before it, essentially becoming the first blockbuster in history. The film’s unprecedented use of special effects sparked a revolution of movies using technology-based visual effects. Perhaps the film’s greatest contribution to technology was the creation two years earlier of the company Industrial Light and Magic, which is still the leading special effects house in the industry.
First Night Baseball Game
May 24, 1935
The first night major league baseball game is played in Cincinnati. The hometown Reds defeated the visiting Philadelphia Phillies 2-1. Night baseball caught on around the league very quickly – except for the Chicago Cubs, who didn’t play a home night game until 1988. Why am I not surprised?
First Telegraph Service Launched
May 24, 1844
Samuel Morse sends the first telegraphic message over a line from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore. The message, “What hath God wrought!” was transmitted to his partner, Alfred Vail, who retransmitted the same message back to Morse. This formally opened America’s first telegraph line, launching America’s first form of instant communication in history. The biblical text was selected by Annie Ellsworth, the teenage daughter of the U.S. Commissioner of Patents.
The Old World Gets Connected
May 23, 1903
Paris, France and Rome, Italy are connected by telephone for first time. Feel free to congratulate me for finding this picture at any time.
Happy Birthday, Pac-Man!
May 22, 1980
Namco’s upcoming video game “Puck-Man” is location tested in a movie theater complex in Japan. After favorable initial testing, the game difficulty is slightly tweaked along with renaming the game to “Pac-Man”. Midway, Namco’s U.S. distributor, thought that vandals would alter the letter “P” to an “F”. While the game was not officially released in Japan until July of that year (October 10th in the US), the creators of the game consider May 22 to be Pac-Man’s birthday because it was the first time the game was shown to the general public.
One of the little known facts about Pac-Man is that it was specifically developed to be popular with women. Most video games of that time had a war or sports theme to them and women were generally not interested in those games. Pac-Mac would be the first game popular with both men and women and was the first video game to become a social phenomenon. Pac-Mac generated over $2.5 billion by the 1990’s, becoming one of the highest grossing video games of all time. I’m not sure how many of you remember “Pac-Mac Fever”, but Pac-Mac was the first video game to break into the mainstream, forever changing our culture and society.