February 12, 2001
Jan de Wit sends out an email stating that it is a picture of the famous tennis player Anna Kournikova. Rather than being a picture of the Russian known more for her looks than her play (although she was ranked as high as #8 in the world in singles and #1 in doubles), it was a malicious script that tried to send itself to every address in a user’s address book and e-mail inbox (Windows users only, of course). The malware was so efficient, it was known to be spreading twice as fast as the “Love Bug” virus that devastated corporate networks a year earlier. The moral of the story is that men are easily manipulated.
World chess champion Garry Kasparov loses a game to the computer Deep Blue during a match set up using standard championship rules. This was the first time a computer defeated a world chess champion using these rules (although chess computers had been kicking my butt since the 1980’s). Kasparov went on to defeat Deep Blue 4-2 during this match. However, he lost to Deep Blue a year later, marking the first time a computer defeated a world chess champion in a match.
February 8, 1945
A calculator patent is filed for the Automatic Sequence Control Calculator, commonly known as the Harvard Mark I, an early computer. The Mark I was a large electro-mechanical computer that could perform the four basic arithmetic functions and handle 23 decimal places. A multiplication took about five seconds.
February 6, 1998
The V.90 modem standard is announced and agreed upon. This ended a couple of years of customer confusion, as two competing 56k modem protocols (K56Flex and X2) were in common use at the time. The V.90 standard unified the protocols and was crafted specifically to allow both types of modems to be upgraded via firmware. V.90 was also called V.last by some, as it was expected to be the last possible upgrade to modem technology. It virtually was, because even though V.92 later supplanted V.90, it didn’t increase the top-end speed of modem bandwidth and by that time, broadband access was already eating away at dial-up marketshare.
February 3, 1986
The term “vaporware” is first used by Philip Elmer-DeWitt in a TIME magazine article. The term is now commonly used to describe software that has been long announced but hasn’t actually been released. At the time, many experts believed Microsoft was guilty of using vaporware announcements to keep customers from purchasing software from other companies (by convincing them that a Microsoft version was just around the corner).
February 2, 1977
The prototype of the TRS-80 computer is shown to Charles Tandy, the CEO of the Tandy Corporation, owner of the Radio Shack chain of stores. He agrees to begin production based on this demonstration and the computer goes on sale in August. “TRS” stood for Tandy Radio Shack. The relatively inexpensive TRS-80 helped to spur the acceptance of the personal computer in the home.
February 1, 1982
The Intel 80286 processor is introduced in 6 and 8 MHz versions. It was employed for the IBM PC/AT, introduced in 1984, and then widely used in most PC/AT compatible computers until the early 1990s. The “286”, as it was most commonly called, paved the way for the PC (and now Macintosh) as we know it today.
January 30, 2007
Six years after the launch of Windows XP, the infamous operating system, Windows Vista, was released to an unsuspecting public. For various reasons, the launch of Vista was marred by numerous incompatibility, stability, and otherwise onerous problems. While Microsoft actually made Vista much more palatable after 2 Service Pack upgrades, the damage was already done. Vista’s reputation never recovered. Many wonder if this is why Microsoft so quickly followed only two years later with Windows 7.