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.
    VHS Introduced to America

    June 4, 1977

    The VHS videocassette format is introduced as Vidstar in North America at a press conference before the Consumer Electronics Show starts in Chicago. VHS, or Video Home System, was based on an open standard developed by JVC in 1976. As compared to the Sony Betamax format it would compete against, VHS allowed longer playtime, faster rewinding, and fast-forwarding.

    The Apple II Enters the Market

    June 5, 1977

    The original Apple II computer goes on sale. The Apple II featured a 1MHz MOS 6502 processor, an integrated keyboard, a built-in BASIC programming environment, expandable memory (4K expandable to 48K), a monitor capable of colour graphics, a sound card, and eight expansion slots. To include all these features in one discrete unit was highly innovative and the reason it is considered the first practical personal computer. However, in the spirit of the original computer hacker, the Apple II was also available as a circuit-board only, without keyboard, power supply, or case. A couple of years later, the combination of the Apple II series and the first “killer app” of the business world, the VisiCalc spreadsheet program, popularizes personal computers among business users. This sudden success of the “home computer” in the business world surprises established technology companies and eventually leads IBM to scramble to develop their IBM PC.

    The Mac Gets Intel Inside

    June 6, 2005

    In a keynote address at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs announces that Macintosh computers will transition from PowerPC to Intel processors and demonstrates Mac OS X running on a computer with an Intel Pentium 4 processor. Jobs revealed at the time that Apple had been secretly preparing for a possible transition to Intel for many years. Unbeknownst to the public, for every version of Mac OS X released, Apple actually had prepared a version running on an Intel processor. By making the transition to Intel, Apple paved the way for the resurgence of the Macintosh computer by making it more compatible with software for Microsoft Windows.

    Palm Pre Released

    June 6, 2009

    Palm, Inc. releases the Palm Pre smartphone through Sprint in an attempt to regain market share, after their Treo line of smartphones is dwarfed by Apple’s iPhone. Featuring the Linux-based Palm webOS operating system, the Pre receives some praise from technical reviewers, but due to poor marketing and the rapid pace in which Apple dominates the New World of smartphones, Palm’s series of phones and the webOS never really have a chance to gain a foothold. Within the course of one year, Palm is purchased by HP for $1.2 billion. One year later, after just 2 months of abysmal sales of their TouchPad tablets, HP halts production of all webOS-based devices. HP has announced they will release the source code for webOS under an open-source license, but the future of this once-promising mobile operating system looks bleak.

    Crossing the Atlantic With Cable

    June 10, 1858

    Two ships head out to begin work on what will become the first operational Transatlantic cable. Previous attempts at laying a Transatlantic cable had failed. Designed for telegraph operation, the cable run is completed on August 5th and the first test message is sent on August 12th. However, the cable fails on September 18th and repair was not possible at the time.

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