by CIO Staff

This Date in IT History

Dec 01, 20023 mins
Operating Systems


The great race to produce a program that could divide the computer screen into separate “windows” and run multiple programs simultaneously culminates at the Comdex show in 1983. More than a dozen software companies demo their versions of this technology, most incorporating a point-and-click interface with a mouse but with zero integration between programs. Microsoft eventually beats the pack and wins the Windows War.


The first commercial carrier of electricity opens for business in 1922 in Utica, N.Y. Built by General Electric, the Utica Gas and Electric Co. plant houses transmitters, power lines and receivers.


Bill Gates announces in 1995 that Microsoft will shift its business strategy entirely to the Internet. The declaration came seven months after Gates issued his famous memo titled “The Internet Tidal Wave,” which said the Net was the most important single development since the IBM PC.


Due to a flaw in the Intel Pentium chip, IBM ceases shipments of Pentium-powered computers on this date in 1994. Intel aggravates the user community by admitting it knew about the bug?which miscalculated certain floating-point math equations?prior to shipping. Intel soon announced it would replace chips only if users proved that they engaged in the work that the bug impinged on. Later, following a public outcry, Intel concedes to replace any returned chip?no questions asked. After six months, only 3 percent of customers request replacement chips.


The Altair 8800 goes on sale for $397 in 1974 sparking the PC revolution. Harvard student Bill Gates, intrigued after reading about the Altair in an issue of Popular Electronics in 1975, travels to Albuquerque, N.M., with friend Paul Allen to demo their modified version of the Basic programming language for Altair maker Ed Roberts. The demo is a success and Gates drops out of school to cofound MicroSoft in Albuquerque.


Cancelmoose avenges the innocence of an advertising-free Internet in 1994. After writer Michael Wolff aggravates the Usenet public by peppering bulletin boards with 150 messages advertising his new book Net Chat, an unknown user calling himself “Cancelmoose” defends the chat rooms with his trusty “cancelbot” program, taking out Wolff’s messages one by one.


Using a 429-foot-high antenna and an alternator driven by a steam engine, professor Reginald Fessenden broadcasts the first radio program from Brant Rock, Mass., on Christmas Eve in 1906. Fessenden reads poetry and plays a violin rendition of “O Holy Night” during the broadcast, which he concludes by asking anyone listening to contact him and report the clarity of the signal. Radio operators tracking Morse code on ships hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic are flabbergasted by what they heard.

Sources: The History Channel, Creative Computing Magazine, Educause, BBC News, Strategic Advantage, National Museum of Broadcasting