by Daniel J. Horgan

The Month of April in IT History

Apr 01, 20033 mins
IT Leadership

3 IBM unveils its first laptop in 1986.The IBM 541, or PC Convertible, costs $2,000 and offers 256K memory, an Intel 8088 processor and dual 3.5-inch floppy drives. Naturally, the PC Convertible leaves its impression on the lap of many-a-user: It’s a 12-pound clunker the size of a briefcase.

4 Search engine Excite debuts on the Nasdaq stock market in 1996, opening at $17. If you had invested $1,700 in 100 shares of Excite at IPO time, it would yield zero dollars today. Excite, which reached $187 per share in 1999, would embark on a $6.7 billion merger to become Excite@Home in 1999 but then go bankrupt in 2001. AT&T would comb through the broken pieces, pocketing the remains of Excite@ Home for a measly $307 million.

6 Intelsat 1, a.k.a. Early Bird, rockets into space in 1965 becoming the first commercial communications satellite put into orbit. Today, 2,774 satellites, both commercial and government, orbit the Earth as well as countless amounts of stellar debris.

9 In 1997, Douglas Engelbart wins the Lemelson-MIT prize along with $500,000 for his invention of the mouse (his original, above) 29 years earlier. Engelbart had demo’d his inventions?the GUI and the mouse?in 1968. It wouldn’t be until 1984 with the point-and-click composition of the Macintosh that Engelbart’s visions are put into use.

12 Highly anticipated Yahoo stock opens on the market in 1996. The stock IPOs at $13, opens at $24.50 and closes the day at $33. If you had invested $2,450 in 100 shares of Yahoo at IPO, it would now be worth $22,800. Yahoo!

14 Twenty-one-year-old David Sarnoff (left), the future chairman of RCA and founder of NBC, picks up the distress call of the Titanic in 1912. Sarnoff stays his post and relays wireless messages for 72 hours, collecting names of survivors (mostly women and children) for frantic families.

15 Microsoft confirms in 1991 that the FTC has launched an antitrust investigation against it. Unfortunately, the Redmond juggernaut had not developed litigation-forecasting software to forewarn of the barrage of antitrust activity that would follow.

27 Portrait painter turned inventor Samuel Morse is born in Charlestown, Mass., in 1791. Morse would develop lightning wires and Morse code, an electronic alphabet. The first message was sent from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., in 1844. It read “What hath God wrought!” A coast-to-coast line was ready in 1861.

30 Geneva-based particle physics lab CERN releases a legendary document in 1992, declaring that the World Wide Web, developed by CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee, would be free to all, with no royalties due to the lab. Yahoo.

Sources: Brown University, CERN, Computer Closet, CNN, Great West Newspaper, NASA Library, National Inventors Hall of Fame, NBNet,, The History Channel, The Mission and Spacecraft Library,, Goldman Sachs’ Thomas Hyland,