by Daniel J. Horgan

This Date in IT History June

Jun 01, 20033 mins
Data Center

1 Boston-based inventor Thomas Edison (left, in 1878) receives his first patent on this day in 1869 for the electric voting machine. Edison’s original concept was intended solely for voting within Congress, but by 1892, his vision takes form publicly in a Lockport, N.Y., town meeting. Based on the same principles of Edison’s idea, automatic voting machines of today are more secure and some even offer touch-screen voting.

2 In 1993, Apple loses a lawsuit filed against Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard over the look and feel of Windows 3.0. Apple had claimed that the graphical user interface of Microsoft’s Windows 3.0 and licensee HP NewWave, with its drop-down menus, tiled windows and mouse support, too closely resembled that of the Mac. Judge Vaughn R. Walker decrees that Microsoft did not violate the parameters of an Apple license agreement written in 1985.

9 Retailing for $3,000, the Xerox 820 hits the market in 1981, becoming the first PC offered by an office products company. The 820 sports two disk drives and a 24-line, 80-character type monitor.

11 The first photograph sent across the Atlantic via radio facsimile occurs in 1922 between Rome and Bar Harbor, Maine. The photograph of Pope Pius XI takes 40 minutes to transmit and is published in the New York World newspaper the same day.

14 Engineer John Mauchly visits Dr. John Atanasoff at Iowa State University in 1941 to witness firsthand Atanasoff’s digital electronic computer. Using many of Atanasoff’s ideas, Mauchly goes on to coinvent the ENIAC computer, unveiled in 1946 and falsely regarded as the first contemporary computer. The dispute between the pioneers ends 31 years later in 1972, when a judge overturns Mauchly’s patents and declares Atanasoff to be the true inventor of the electronic computer.

Exactly 10 years after his visit to Iowa, in 1951, Mauchly and Prosper Eckart unveil the UNIVAC, the commercial version of the ENIAC.

17 The first commercial mobile telephone service kicks off in 1946. Southwestern Bell Telephone teams with AT&T and installs car phones for two customers in St. Louis. Initial models are plagued by interference, prompting Southwestern Bell to slim its six channel operation to three channels.

18 Prodigy announces in 1992 that it will become the first major online service to grant its users access to the Internet. By 1993, however, the advent of Web browsers leads to a membership exodus from Prodigy’s proprietary service. In 1996, the company converts itself to an Internet service provider and gives up its online service format.

26 The Supreme Court rejects the Communications Decency Act in 1997, citing its inherent violation of free speech protections of the First Amendment. The act, which called for two years’ prison time and a fine of $250,000 for transmitting indecent material to minors, is criticized by opponents for its vagueness and reliance on the subjectivity of those enforcing it.

Sources:, CNN, Duke University, Education to Go, Galaxy Phones, HF-FAX, History Channel, Monterey County Elections, Virginia Tech, Today in Science History