January 20

Marcus Thompson of Coney Island, New York is issued the first US patent for a roller coaster, the Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railway, which he had built at Coney Island in New York City in 1884. (US No. 332,762) For five cents a ride, passengers sit sideways in cars that travel a six hundred foot wooden railway, at a top speed of six miles per hour. Thompson, who will later be dubbed the father of gravity, will earn back his original US$1,600 investment within just three weeks.

The first episode of Lone Ranger is broadcast from radio station WXYZ-Detroit. The series will be enormously influential on future comic books.

Astronomers at the University of Arizona establish the first optical identification of a pulsar, which is located in the Crab Nebula.

NCR introduces the Decision Mate V computer, featuring a Zilog Z80 processor or an optional Intel 8088 processor. Price: US$2650 – US$3440.

The Handwell Corporation agrees to cease its copyright infringement of the IBM BIOS system.

Apple Computer first airs the Lemmings commercial for the Macintosh Office during Super Bowl XIX. The commercial features blind folded businessmen marching off the edge of a cliff. It will widely be regarded as an immense failure, insulting the customer that it is meant to be targeting.

The home of Robert and Carleen Thomas, the operators of the Amateur Action BBS, is raided at 7:30am by five armed San Jose police officers executing a warrant investigating the possible of possession or control of pictures of minors. The officers seize a great deal of material, including computers, electronics, photographs, video tapes, and number of Carleen’s personal effects, such as purses, shoes, and underwear. The affidavit supporting the warrant is sealed, so the exact justification behind the search will remain unknown. No charges will ever be brought against the Thomas’, however, a year later, they will be prosecuted in the Amateur Action BBS Case. Amateur Action BBS is a bulletin board service specializing in the distribution of amateur pornographic photos and video. As a result of the raid, the Thomas’ will later claim to have lost fifteen thousand dollars in business revenue and legal fees, as all of the equipment Robert used to run his home electronics business were seized.

The market value of Microsoft peaks at US$26.78 billion, surpassing IBM, which was valued at US$26.76 billion, for the first time. Microsoft will go on to become the highest valued company in the computer industry, as well as the fourteenth highest valued company on the US market.

The third and final court hearing on the Microsoft consent decree is held.

Olivetti S.p.A., the first Italian typewriter manufacturer, announces that it will sell its personal computer company to Piedmont International for about US$159-190 million.

The China News Service announces new government restrictions on Internet use at Internet cafes.

United States District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan issues a temporary injunction forbidding websites from providing access to DeCSS, a program that decrypts the contents of DVD-video discs.

Per Lidén releases version 0.5 of the CRUX operating system. CRUX is a lightweight Linux distribution optimized for i686 systems, specifically designed for experienced Linux users.

Activision announces that it has acquired Vicarious Visions, a developer of Game Boy games. Visit the official Vicarious Visions website.

The Nyxem worm is first discovered. Beginning on February 3, the worm disables filesharing and security software, then destroys all files of certain types, including Microsoft Office files, on the third of every month.

Logitech cuts 600 jobs in a restructuring effort

T-3 files antitrust complaint against IBM alleging that IBM is blocking competition by tying its operating system with mainframe hardware

QUALCOMM acquires certain graphics and multimedia technology assets from AMD in an acquisition worth $65 million.

Microsoft sells 150 million shares of Comcast. Microsoft has no more steak in Comcast

President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day was seen online via video streams through CNN and Facebook.

Yahoo continues its downward spiral by laying off over 1500 employees globally

Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt steps down. Larry Page would be named interim CEO until April when he took the reigns full time.