In 1998, Apple Computer opts to stop producing its much-anticipated-but-plagued-from-the-start Newton handheld computer. Since its 1993 debut, the Newton has been criticized for its sluggish handwriting-recognition feature. Apple’s abandonment of the Newton makes it now possible to say “Newton was hit by the falling apple, and Apple was hit by the failing Newton.”
Father of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell is born in 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Twenty-nine years and one week later in Boston, Bell commands, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you” through a crude telephone receiver for the world’s first telephone call. Bell files his telephone patent application just hours before competitor Elisha Gray files his. Three weeks later, Bell introduces a functional telephone using some ideas Gray proposed in his Notice of Invention.
AT&T says it will replace one-third of its telephone operators in 1992 with an automated operator system. Some 6,000 long-distance operators hang up their phones and give way to AT&T’s voice-recognition software. Callers must now press “0” to speak with a real person.
The Michelangelo computer virus awakes in 1992. Hysteria spreads when it is reported that the data deletion virus lies dormant in millions of computers but will activate on March 6, the birthday of the great Renaissance artist. Advice given to users: “If you don’t have a virus-checker, don’t turn on your computer that day.” Between 10,000 and 20,000 computers are affected, which is far less than the forecasted 5 million.
A Minnesota jury rules IBM is not responsible for repetitive stress injuries suffered by keyboard users in 1995. The sore-wristed accusers claim that IBM should have provided warning labels with its hazardous keypads. Apple had settled on an identical suit only nine days prior.
Microsoft’s initial public offering opens on the stock market in 1986. The asking price of the IPO is $21. A paltry $2,100 invested in 100 Microsoft shares that morning yields a $700 profit by day’s end. If untouched until 2003, that initial investment would be worth $1.5 million.
Albert Einstein is born on this day in 1879. Einstein’s groundbreaking theories changed the scope of science and his complex mind is still studied today?literally. A piece of Einstein’s brain is on display this month at the Seoul National Science Museum in South Korea.
The Secret Service is ruled in 1993 to have violated the Electronics Communications Privacy Act when it seized computer records and e-mail from a computer games company in 1990.
David Packard, computer hardware czar and one-time deputy defense secretary for Richard Nixon, dies in 1996. Packard met Bill Hewlett at Stanford University in 1930, and by 1939, the two were making electronic equipment together in Packard’s one-car garage in Palo Alto, Calif. Hewlett-Packard was incorporated in 1947. The Palo Alto garage is now a historical landmark for the “birthplace of Silicon Valley.”
Sources: The History Channel, CNET News, TelecomWriting.com, Virtualology, Time Magazine, Vmyths.com, The Risks Digest, Thomas Hyland, Korea Now, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute