PC and Video Game History: On This Day in Computer History: August 24

This Day in Computer History


The printing of Gutenberg’s Bible is completed. While it’s not the first book Gutenberg printed with his movable type system, it is the work for he’ll be remembered and the work most widely distributed. It’s completion marks the beginning of the Information Age in the widest meaning of the term and the first time the cost of producing records begins to fall to level which those outside the ruling classes of a society can afford.


National Semiconductor withdraws from magnetic bubble memory manufacturing.


3DO announces that it plans to use the Motorola PowerPC processor in its upcoming expansion module for its Interactive Multiplayer video game system.


Microsoft doesn’t license Windows 95 to IBM until just fifteen minutes before the system’s midnight release, leaving IBM to sell machines without the newest OS, while its competitors sell their machines with Windows 95 bundled in from day one. IBM is also charged more per machine than its competitors, US$45.90 per copy. In the later case of United States v. Microsoft, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson will determine that Microsoft intended to punish IBM for marketing its Lotus SmartSuite in competition to its Microsoft Office “with higher prices, a late license for Windows 95, and the withholding of technical and marketing support.”

Microsoft launches the Windows 95 operating system two years to the day after winning the lawsuit brought by Apple for infringing on the Apple Lisa’s operating system. Windows features a completely new user interface centered around an innovative Start button. It includes dial-up networking, integrated TCP/IP, and support for long file names. It’s also the first Windows system that doesn’t depend on MS-DOS to function, though the system is included. With the largest product launch campaign in history, the system’s sales will go on to exceed all expectations. Microsoft spent an unprecedented US$250 million, including US$12 million for the rights to the Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up” – an investment equal to the amount spent in advertising by the entire video game industry in all of 1982.

To kick off the launch, a ceremony is held in a circus tent on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington and hosted by William Henry Gates III and Tonight Show host Jay Leno. Over 12,500 people are invited to attend the launch and live satellite broadcasts are made available in forty-two US cities and world capitals. In New York City, the Empire State Building glows in Microsoft colors, and in Toronto, Canada, a thirty story banner is draped across the 1,800 foot high Canadian National Tower. More than twenty thousand retail stores offer the software for sale. About three hundred thousand copies are sold on the first day for approximately US$30 million in retail sales, and more than a million copies will be sold within the first four days of its release alone. Within two months of the release, over seven million copies will be sold worldwide. In preparation for the support calls it anticipates, 1,600 people staff tech support lines. The software is composed of more than eleven million lines of code written by three hundred programmers and tested by more than fifty thousand individuals and companies before its release. Code-name: Chicago

Microsoft releases Windows 95 PLUS to augment its new Windows ‘95 operating system. The package includes the Internet Explorer 1.0 web browser, DriveSpace 3, the game Space Cadet Pinball, and twelve graphical system themes. The company also launches a major online service, MSN (Microsoft Network), as a direct competitor to AOL, and Microsoft Office 95, an office suite that integrates into Windows 95. Microsoft also


Microsoft releases the Windows NT 4.0 operating system, designed as a small-scale business server system with a graphical user interface almost identical to Windows 95. The “NT” stands for “New Technology,” according to CEO Bill Gates. Released to manufacturing on July 29, 1996, the software is comprised of 16.5 million lines of code. Code-name: Cairo


Gordon Spence discovers the 36th known Mersenne prime number using a 100MHz Pentium PC. The number, which can be expressed as 2^2976221 – 1, is the largest known prime number discovered to date. It took fifteen days of solid processing time for Spence to prove that the At 895,932 digit-number was, in fact, a prime.


Adobe Systems releases version 8.0 of Adobe Illustrator. Price: US$375 or US$129 (upgrade)

Kevin Warwick, a professor at Reading University, becomes the first man to be surgically implanted with an RFID device. The device is 3mm wide and 23mm long and is composed of a Multiple Micro Electrode Array (MMEA), a hundred electrodes, each capable of transmitting electrical signals throughout his nervous system via radio frequency (RF). The MMEA acts as a transponder, allowing Warwick’s presence to be detected by external systems that react automatically to his presence. As part of the experiment, his offices and home are equipped with doors that unbolt when walks up to them, lights that activate when he walks into a room, and recording equipment that keeps an exact record of where he is every minute of the day. Warwick will tell ABC News nearly a month later, “I feel mentally different.” In October he will be reported as telling Salon.com that, “After a few days I started to feel quite a closeness to the computer, which was very strange. When you are linking your brain up like that, you change who you are. You do become a ‘borg.’ You are not just a human linked with technology; you are something different and your values and judgment will change.” He further admits that, “It does make me feel that Orwell was probably right about the Big Brother issue.”

Intel releases the 450 MHz Pentium II processor. Code-name: Deschutes


Microsoft announces the release of Build 2600 of its Windows XP operating system, the highly anticipated next version of its Windows operating system, to computer manufacturers. A global release is scheduled for October 25th.


Apple Computer releases its Mac OS X v10.2 operating system, named “Jaguar.” It is the third major version of the OS, and the first Apple OS to use a development code-name as a formal title. The system features an address book, the Inkwell handwriting recognition application, the iChat instant messaging (IM) client, support for Microsoft Windows networks. The system is the first since the original Macintosh launch in January 1984 that does display the traditional “Happy Mac” icon during its start-up sequence. Code-name: Jaguar Price: US$129 (single user) or US$199 (five-user package)


After receiving nine highly-publicized reports of batteries catastrophically overheating, Apple Computer recalls 1.8 million Sony-built batteries ten days after Dell and Sony jointly admitted to major flaws in several Sony batteries that could result in the battery overheating and fires.

Dell announces the discontinuation of its DJ Ditty MP3 player in the face of competition from Apple, the manufacturer of the iPod. The announcement follows Dell’s February 6th announcement that the company will no longer produce players with hard drives in favor of flash-based DJ Ditty.

Release Candidate 1 (RC1) of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 is released for Windows XP SP2, Windows XP x64 Edition, and Windows Server 2003 SP1. It is the last pre-release of IE7 before its final, public release. 7.0 RC 1 features performance improvements in terms of stability, security, and application compatibility.


The popular bittorrent indexing website TorrentSpy blocks access to U.S. IP addresses in response to a May 29th court order directing site administrators to begin logging their users’ activities to turn over to the Motion Picture Association of America. Visit TorrentSpy.com.