Computers

Radio Shack Chooses Compaq

Radio Shack LogoJanuary 28, 1998

Radio Shack partners exclusively with Compaq rather than IBM to sell PCs throughout their 7,000 stores. Six years later, IBM sold its PC division to the Chinese company Lenovo. Compaq was the exclusive PC sold in Radio Shack stores for many years.

iPad Introduced

iPad IntroductionJanuary 27, 2010

Apple introduces the iPad. While still only a few years old, the introduction of the iPad triggered the close of the PC era and will certainly go down in history as one of the pivotal points in computing history.

Compaq Purchases DEC

DEC LogoJanuary 26, 1998

Compaq Computer purchases Digital Equipment Corporation for $9.6 billion. Digital, or DEC, was a pioneering company in the early history of computers from the 1960’s – 1980’s. Unfortunately, as was seen with many companies, they were slow to recognize the rise of the PC which ultimately led to the sell-off of all the company’s business units, cumulating with the final sale to Compaq. Compaq itself was eventually merged with HP.

Lotus 1-2-3 Goes on Sale

Lotus 1-2-3 for DOSJanuary 26, 1983

The Lotus Development Corporation releases Lotus 1-2-3 for IBM computers. While not the first spreadsheet program, Lotus was able to develop 1-2-3 because the creators of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet, did not patent their software. 1-2-3 outsold VisiCalc by the end of the year and 2 years later Lotus bought out the assets of VisiCalc and hired its main creator as a consultant.

Macintosh Launched

The Original Macintosh ComputerJanuary 24, 1984

Apple Computer, Inc. launches the Macintosh computer with a demonstration of the computer in front of 3,000 people. While the Apple Lisa was the first commercial computer with a graphical interface, the Macintosh would bring graphical computing, and computing in general, to “the rest of us”, as Apple’s early slogan for the Macintosh claimed. While not as commercially successful as Microsoft’s DOS and later Windows, there is no doubt that the innovations of the Macintosh pushed the entire computing industry ahead and continue to do so to this day.

The Happy99 Worm Appears

Happy99 WormJanuary 20, 1999

The Happy99 worm first appeared. It invisibly attached itself to emails, displayed fireworks to hide the changes being made, and wished the user a happy New Year. It was the first of a wave of malware that struck Microsoft Windows computers over the next several years, costing businesses and individuals untold amounts of money to resolve.

BlackBerry Introduced

The Original BlackberryJanuary 19, 1999

RIM introduces the BlackBerry. The original BlackBerry devices were not phones, but instead were the first mobile devices that could do real-time e-mail. They looked like big pagers. I should know. I had one on my hip for two years while working at Anheuser-Busch in the early 2000’s. In 2001, I visited the BlackBerry production facility in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. It was surprisingly small at the time. They way I heard it, the name “BlackBerry” came from the similarity that the buttons on the original device had to the surface of a blackberry fruit. Those crazy Canadians!

IBM Loses $5 Billion

IBMJanuary 19, 1993

IBM announces a nearly $5 billion loss for fiscal year 1992. Several years of losses in the early 1990’s were the result of sweeping changes to the computer industry in the 1980’s that IBM was slow to recognize. Ironically, the biggest catalyst to this change was the rise of the personal computer. IBM helped create the most popular personal computing platform, but lost control of the platform to Microsoft and “IBM-compatible” clones of their original design. The monster they created in the PC industry nearly caused their own collapse. One indicator of this shift was the phrase “no one ever got fired for buying IBM” was replaced with “no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft”. IBM eventually reorganized its business, focused on its core strengths, and has recovered.

Apple Lisa Introduced

Apple LisaJanuary 19, 1983

The Apple Lisa, the first commercial personal computer to have a graphical user interface and a computer mouse, is announced. At a cost of $9,995, the Lisa ended up being a commercial failure for Apple, but many of the technologies developed for the Lisa made its way into the Macintosh computer.

Friday the 13th Virus Gets Brits

January 13, 1989

The “Friday the 13th” virus strikes hundreds of IBM computers in Britain. This is one of the most famous early examples of a computer virus making headlines. Over twenty years later, while other companies have systems that are practically immune to virues, Microsoft still hasn’t been able to develop a solution to prevent viruses from infecting their systems.