This week in tech history

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  • A look back on the biggest things that happened this week throughout the history of tech.

    Apple and Commodore

    April 16, 1977

    On the same day at the first annual West Coast Computer Faire, both the Apple II and Commodore PET 2001 personal computers are introduced. Ironically, Commodore had previously rejected purchasing the Apple II from Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, deciding to build their own computers. Both computers used the same processor, the MOS 6502, but the companies had two different design strategies and it showed on this day. Apple wanted to build computers with more features at a higher price point. Commodore wanted to sell less feature-filled computers at a lower price point. The Apple II had color, graphics, and sound selling for $1298. The Commodore PET only had a monochrome display and was priced at $795.

    Note, it was very difficult finding a picture with both an original Apple II (not IIe) and Commodore PET 2001. I could only find this picture that also includes the TRS-80, another PC introduced later in 1977.

    Moore’s Law Published

    April 19, 1965

    Electronics magazine publishes an article by Gordon Moore, head of research and development for Fairchild Semiconductor and future co-founder of Intel, on the future of semiconductor components. In the article, Moore predicts that transistor density on integrated circuits will double every eighteen months for “at least” the next ten years. This theory will eventually come to be known as Moore’s law and it still holds true to this day. It is predicted that Moore’s Law will continue to be valid through 2020 or later.

    Windows 98 is Plug and … Whoa?

    April 20, 1998

    During the COMDEX Spring ’98 and Windows World shows in Chicago, a public demonstration of the soon-to-be released Windows 98 goes awry when Bill Gates’ assistant causes the operating system to crash after plugging in a scanner. Instead of showing the plug-and-play capabilities they were trying to demonstrate, a “Blue Screen of Death” is visible by the entire audience which immediately erupts in laughter. After several seconds, Bill Gates famously responded, “That must be why we’re not shipping Windows 98 yet.”

    Ironically, the assistant, Chris Capossela, has moved up the executive ranks at Microsoft, recently being promoted to the position of Senior Vice President, Consumer Channels and Central Marketing Group. For Microsoft’s sake, hopefully he’ll present a much better marketing image then he did that fateful day!

    IBM Licenses PC Patents

    April 21, 1988

    The Tandy Corporation holds a press conference to announce plans to build clones of IBM’s PS/2 system computers. The conference comes soon after IBM’s announcement that it would license patents on key PC technologies. IBM made this decision as they realized they were losing control of the “IBM-compatible” PC market and could make more money licensing the technologies. Within five years, IBM clones will become more popular than the original IBM machines themselves. Eventually IBM would leave the PC manufacturing business altogether, selling their PC division to Lenovo in 2005.

    Mosaic 1.0

    April 22, 1993

    Version 1.0 of the web browser Mosaic is released by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. It’s the first software to provide a graphical user interface for the emerging World Wide Web, including the ability to display inline graphics. The lead Mosaic developer is Marc Andreesen, one of the future founders of Netscape.

    My first experience with the World Wide Web was in 1993 using Mosaic on a Mac in my dorm’s computer lab. I had no idea what I had discovered until a few months later.

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