What Happened Today, July 16th

Dan Bricklin
Dan Bricklin
 
VisiCalc Creator Born
VisiCalc creator Dan Bricklin was born in Philadelphia. Bricklin moved from his hometown to Boston to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and study computer science.

The background proved useful during a later turn at Harvard Business School, where Bricklin teamed with Robert Frankston to design the first business spreadsheet program. The result, in 1979, was a visible calculator that automated the recalculation of spreadsheets.

Bricklin and Frankston founded Software Arts Inc. and sold their program to Apple Computer and other companies, selling 100,000 copies in the first year.

What Happened This Week

Enigma
Enigma
 
Enigma Machine Encodes First Message
The ENIGMA machine encodes its first message. A simple German machine the size of a portable typewriter, ENIGMA allowed for security in communications by a process in which typed letters were replaced by a cipher text displayed on illuminated lamps. The cipher was symmetrical so entering the cipher text into another ENIGMA reproduced the original message. Security was provided by a set of rotor wheels and a series of patch cables whose arrangement was agreed upon previously.

ENIGMA was used extensively by the German military during World War II to transmit battle plans and other secret information. By December of 1941, however, British codebreakers managed to decipher the code, allowing them to routinely read most ENIGMA traffic.

An ENIGMA machine is on display at The Computer History Museum.

Dan Bricklin
Dan Bricklin
 
VisiCalc Creator Born
VisiCalc creator Dan Bricklin was born in Philadelphia. Bricklin moved from his hometown to Boston to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and study computer science.

The background proved useful during a later turn at Harvard Business School, where Bricklin teamed with Robert Frankston to design the first business spreadsheet program. The result, in 1979, was a visible calculator that automated the recalculation of spreadsheets.

Bricklin and Frankston founded Software Arts Inc. and sold their program to Apple Computer and other companies, selling 100,000 copies in the first year.

Berners-Lee diagram
Berners-Lee diagram
 
Major Disruption in Sending Most E-Mail Messages
A programming error temporarily threw the Internet into disarray in a preview of the difficulties that inevitably accompany a world dependent on e-mail, the World Wide Web, and other electronic communications.

At 2:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, a computer operator in Virginia ignored alarms on the computer that updated Internet address information, leading to problems at several other computers with similar responsibilities. The corruption meant most Internet addresses could not be accessed, resulting in millions of unsent e-mail messages.

Intel chip
Intel chip
 
Intel Founded
Robert Noyce, Andy Grove and Gordon Moore incorporated Intel, a company they built on production of the microprocessor. The component that has allowed computers to increase in speed and decrease in size, the microprocessor also built Intel, whose Pentium processors now power most IBM-compatible personal computers.

Moore is famous for Moore's Law, which dictates that every 18 months microprocessors double in speed and decrease in size by half.

 
The First Three-Dimensional Reconstruction of a Human Head via Computed Tomography (CT) is Published
On July 19, 1983, Michael W. Vannier (Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, St. Louis) and his co-workers J. Marsh (Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Deformities Institute, St. Louis Children's Hospital) and J. Warren (McDonnell Aircraft Company) published the first three-dimensional reconstruction of single computed tomography (CT) slices of the human head. Computer-aided aircraft design techniques were adapted to make the cranial imaging possible. Since then, CT imaging has become a cornerstone of the medical profession.
 
First Robot Viking I Lands on Mars
Viking I landed on Mars to explore the surface of the Red Planet. The first robots on Mars, Viking I and its successor gave scientists their first information about the planet's surface, including information they hoped would allow people to walk there. Although the Viking probes found no evidence of life on Mars, they returned detailed pictures of the planet and information about the soil's composition.
Xerox computer
Xerox computer
 
Xerox Withdraws from the Mainframe Computer Market
In 1969, Scientific Data Systems (SDS) merged with Xerox in a stock-swap deal worth approximately $930 million. The merger allowed Xerox to rebrand SDS's Sigma series of computers as Xerox Data Systems (XDS) machines, but they failed to have a market impact against competitors like IBM and sold the rights to build Sigma computers to Honeywell. Xerox lost $264 million over the five years they produced mainframes.