January 8

Hollerith Electrical Printing and Tabulating MachineHerman Hollerith is awarded the world’s first three computer patents for his tabulating machines (No. 395,781, -2, -3). His system is designed to record statistical data on punch cards. The information on these punch cards can be tallied by running the cards through electromagnetically-operated counters. The patents described the system’s potential use in the compilation of census statistics, for which it will be used in 1890.

The Bell Labs Complex Computer, a full-scale relay calculator designed by Bell Labs engineer Dr. George Stibitz, becomes operational. The machine is capable of performing the complex arithmetic calculations necessary for circuit design. In 1937, Stibitz used flashlight bulbs, surplus relays, tin-can strips, and other bric-a-brack items to construct the K-machine, a digital calculator built on a breadboard capable of adding two bits and displaying the result. By late 1938, Bell Labs had authorized the development of a full-scale relay calculator based on the K-machine to assist in the development of wide-area telephone networks, and, by April 1939, Stibitz’s had begun the construction on the Bell Labs Complex Computer. [1]

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) drops its antitrust case against IBM, which it filed thirteen years ago, in 1969.

CES, Atari introduces its line of IBM-PC clones. The US$699 model supports EGA, CGA, Hercules, and IBM monochrome graphics and includes the monochrome monitor. The US$499 model features similar specifications without EGA capabilities or a monitor. Both systems feature 512KB RAM (expandable to 640KB), a Centronics parallel port, a RS232 serial port, and the Intel 8088 CPU. The products are expected to be delivered in the spring.

CES, video game industry representatives begin drafting a common rating system for video games, following Senate hearings on video game violence precipitated by the game Night Trap. Sega announces that it will withdraw game Night Trap pending a re-edit, and they will re-release the game again once the industry has agreed on a common video game rating system.

Netgear, a manufacturer of computer networking equipment, is founded.

Intel releases the 166MHz and 200MHz Pentium processors, the first with MMX multimedia extension instructions for games and advanced multimedia. MMX was originally an acronym for “matrix-multiplication extensions”, which provide an expanded instruction and enhanced 64-bit support. However, very few applications exist to make use of the new functions. The AMD-K6-MMX contains a similar instruction set, and Intel will subsequently challenge their right to use the trademarked “MMX” name, though they will loose the challenge. Code-name: P55C

AOL reveals that it has named several firms in a suit to bar them from spamming AOL members. The firms named in the suit include: IMS of Knoxville, Tennessee, Gulf Coast Marketing of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, TSF Marketing and TSF Industries of Riverside, California. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is flooded with fake information requests, and is consequently shut down.

IT research firm Computer Economics releases a report that companies lost an estimated US$5.3 billion globally to lost productivity due to their employees recreational web surfing and US$12.1 billion as the result of viruses in 1999. Visit the official Computer Economics website.

AMD launches the 850MHz Duron processor. Price: US$149 in 1000 unit quantities

IBM announced that it will no longer manufacture desktop computers in most world markets and that it’s desktop facilities in Europe and the United States will be acquired by Sanmina-SCI.

Yahoo! Brasil acquires Cade?, a Brazilian search engine.

Dan Pulcrano of the Metro publishes an article entitled, “Triumph of the Robots – When Google tweaks its search rankings, whole economies tremble in fear.” In the article, Pulcrano writes that Google is, “Bigger Than Jesus.” The entire article can be read at Metroactive, the Metro’s online archive.

Yahoo! acquires the MyBlogLog blogger community.

The first iPhone Trojan turned out to be more of a joke than anything. Banks have officially been banned – In Second Life After accusations of name grabbing techniques, Network Solutions makes a statement. Name grabbing is when a registrar notices that someone is searching for a domain, then reserves it before that person can.

Palm officially announces the Palm Pre at CES.

A bogus CNN website launches, along with a phishing scheme and a Trojan on the site.

Amazon launches their web-based EC2 console

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