January 4

Through January 15th, Galileo Galilei uses his newly developed telescope to make a series of observation whose subjects will include the craters and mountains of the Moon, four of Jupiter’s moons, the phases of the planet Venus, and Sunspots for the first time.

Thomas Alva Edison films the electrocution of the elephant Topsy. The Elephant was being destroyed by her owners after killing three men. The event is held as a public spectacle for a paying audience of 1,500 people at Coney Island. Edison electrocuted many animals to show the dangers of Nikolai Tesla’s Alternating Current electricity to Edisons Direct Current.

RCA Victor announces that it will manufacture long-playing (LP) records. The announcement comes two years after the company’s chief competitor, Columbia Records, first debuted the “album”.

SputnikSputnik 1, the world’s first satellite, reenters the atmosphere and disintegrates after after ninety-two days in orbit. The 184 pound Sputnik (whose name means “companion” or “fellow traveler”) was launched from Kazakhstan on October 4, 1957. The craft circled the Earth every ninety-five minutes at almost 20,000 miles per hour five hundred miles above the Earth, transmitting a radio signal that had been picked up around the globe.

Luna 1, the first artificial satellite to leave Earth orbit, becomes the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon after passing within 6,000km of its surface.

The first automatic, unmanned subway train runs in New York City.

The IBM Data Processing Division introduces the IBM System/360 Model 25, a flexible system similar to the earlier IBM 1400 series, which features a multiprocessing system capable of linking two System/360 Model 65 computers together.

Hewlett-Packard HP introduces the HP-35, the first handheld scientific calculator. The device takes its name from its thirty-five buttons. It’s release marks the beginning of the end of the widespread use of slide rules. The precision of the algorithms of the HP-35 exceeds that of most contemporary mainframes. During the device’s development, the company attempted to use a Burroughs B5500 to validate its calculations, but the developers were ultimately forced to resort to manually comparing the results against mathematical tables. Despite testing, several bugs will remain, most notably a rounding error in exponential functions. By the time the company will discover the bug, HP will have already sold twenty-five thousand units. According to stories, when Dave Packard broached the topic of the bugs, one of the group present suggested not telling the public, to which Packard responded by snapping a pencil and saying, “Who said that? We’re going to tell everyone and offer them, a replacement. It would be better to never make a dime of profit than to have a product out there with a problem”. Less than a quarter of the defective units will ultimately be returned in the resulting recall. Visit an HP-35 emulator. Price: US$395 Weight: 9oz

Hewlett-Packard HP introduces the small HP-85A scientific desktop computer. It features 16KB RAM, a 32KB ROM, a 32-character wide 5-inch diameter CRT display, a built-in printer, a tape drive, and a keyboard. Code-name: Project Capricorn Price: US$3,250

Franklin Computer agrees to pay US$2.5 million in damages to Apple Computer for copyright infringement of the operating system used on Apple II computers and to cease selling their cloned operating system by April 1.

At the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, California, Motorola introduces the Marco Wireless Communicator, based on the Apple Newton. It features wireless communications for US$50-130 per month. Price: US$900 – 1,400 Weight: 1.8 pounds

Apple Computer announces that it has licensed its Macintosh operating system to Radius.

Bill Gates is quoted as saying “…an Internet browser is a trivial piece of software. There are at least 30 companies that have written very credible Internet browsers, so that’s nothing… ” in an article entitled The world according to Gates by Don Tennant in InfoWorld Electric magazine.

Intel announces the immediate availability of the 150MHz and 166MHz Pentium processors. They contain the equivalent of over 3.3 million transistors. Price: US$547 and US$749 respectively in quantities of 1,000

Ted Hoff meets with the press in a suite at the MGM hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. There, just hours before the opening of the Winter Consumer Electronics Show CES, Ted formally announces the launch of Atari Interactive, a new division created to develop, manufacture, and market video games for systems other than Atari’s own. The first game to be released by the division will be Tempest 2000 for personal computers. A demo of the game is made available on the Atari Interactive website.

The “Dancing baby“, a 3-D animation popularized by the Internet is featured on an episode of Ally McBeal in which Ally is distressed about the fact that her “biological clock” is ticking away. The episode marks the growing influence of the Internet on mainstream culture.

Intel introduces a new 366MHz and a 400MHz Celeron processor. Price: US$123 and US$158 respectively, in 1,000-unit quantities

Intel releases the 533MHz Celeron processor, with a 66MHz system bus. Price: US$167 in 1,000-unit quantities

Build 2410 of the Windows XP operating system is released to testers. The build features a number of new features, most of them superficial.

Intel unveils its fastest microprocessor to date for low-cost personal computers. The 1.3GHz Pentium 4 will cost US$409 in 1,000-unit quantities

Linus Torvalds releases version 2.4 of the Linux kernel source code. New features included better multiprocessor support for four or more processors, support for 36-bit memory addressing, and IEEE 1394 and USB support.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) offers amnesty to businesses using unauthorized copies of software. Business that come forward will only be required to pay the necessary licensing fees without additional penalties, which might otherwise run as high as US$150,000. The BSA offers the program through the end of January.

Intel releases the 1.3 GHz Celeron processor, featuring a 256kB level 2 cache, and 100 MHz system bus. The processor is manufactured using a 0.13-micron process. Price: US$118 in 1,000 unit quantities

Microsoft releases version 7 of Visual FoxPro for Windows.

The Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, lands successfully in the Gusev Crater on Mars at 04:35 UTC.

Stanford Wallace, widely dubbed the “Spam King,” reaches an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to refrain from sending unsolicited advertisements until the federal case brought against him by the agency is resolved. The case alleges that Wallace has used spyware to distribute spam and offered ineffective tools to users for disinfecting their computers. Under the terms of the agreement, Wallace’s companies will continue to send ads only to people who have actually visited one of the companies’ websites.

At the Consumer Electronics Show CES, Philips and Samsung introduce the first Blu-ray Disc players for the US market. The Philips model is the BDP-9000, and the Samsung model is the BD-P1000. Philips also announces the all-in-one TripleWriter Blu-ray Disc drive for personal computers.

Palm releases the Palm Treo 700w, the first Treo to feature the Windows Mobile operating system. It is the first mobile device to be produced in partnership with Microsoft and Verizon Wireless.

The RIAA ends relations with Media Sentry – the company tasked in gathering evidence for people that illegally share music

Yahoo! names Scott Thompson CEO of the company. Thompson was president of eBay’s e-payment service. He would continue in that role until May 13 when he resigned after it was discovered he lied on his resume (he did not have a Computer Science degree).

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