What Happened Today, September 23rd

 
Difference Engine Builder Scheutz Born
Georg Scheutz (1785-1873), who with his son built a commercially available calculator based on Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, is born in Stockholm. After reading about the Difference Engine in 1833, Scheutz and son Edvard worked on a version that could process 15-digit numbers and calculate using fourth-order differences. The result won the gold medal at the Paris Exhibition in 1855 and was used by the Dudley Observatory in New York to calculate a few tables. A second copy was used by the British Registrar General to calculate tables for the developing life insurance industry.

What Happened This Week

 
Difference Engine Builder Scheutz Born
Georg Scheutz (1785-1873), who with his son built a commercially available calculator based on Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, is born in Stockholm. After reading about the Difference Engine in 1833, Scheutz and son Edvard worked on a version that could process 15-digit numbers and calculate using fourth-order differences. The result won the gold medal at the Paris Exhibition in 1855 and was used by the Dudley Observatory in New York to calculate a few tables. A second copy was used by the British Registrar General to calculate tables for the developing life insurance industry.
 
Computer Maker Honeywell Seeks Partner
Honeywell, a company that joined the early foray into the computer industry but had faded from prominence by the mid-1980s, announced it was beginning discussions of a merger of its computer operations with the Japanese firm NEC and France's Groupe Bull. Analysts saw the move as part of a trend of consolidation in the industry prompted in part by IBM's control of more than half the market. Honeywell had experienced a 37-percent drop in its first half 1986 earnings.
 
IBM Announces "Micro Channel Architecture"
IBM announces plans to develop a new design for transmitting information within a computer, called Micro Channel Architecture, which it said could transfer data at 160 million bytes per second or eight times faster than the fastest speed at the time. Although IBM was hoping to make its system the industry standard, manufacturers of IBM-compatible computers largely chose other methods.
 
IC Pioneer Jean Hoerni Born
Jean Hoerni, a pioneer of the transistor, is born in Switzerland. A physicist, Hoerni in 1959 invented the planar process, which, combined with Robert Noyce's technique for placing a layer of silicon dioxide on a transistor, led to the creation of the modern integrated circuit. Hoerni's planar process allowed the placement of complex electronic circuits on a single chip.
 
Hacker Mitnick Indicted on Charges
Kevin Mitnick, 33, was indicted on charges resulting from a 2 ½-year hacking spree. Police accused the hacker, who called himself "Condor," of stealing software worth millions of dollars from major computer corporations. The maximum possible sentence for his crimes was 200 years.
 
Supercomputer Pioneer Seymour Cray Born
Seymour Cray is born. Cray began his engineering career building cryptographic machinery for the US government and went on to co-found Control Data Corporation (CDC) in the late 1950s. For over three decades, first with CDC then with his own companies, Cray consistently built the fastest computers in the world, leading the industry with innovative architectures and packaging and allowing the solution of hundreds of difficult scientific, engineering, and military problems. Many of Cray's supercomputers are on exhibit at the Computer History Museum. Cray died in an automobile accident in 1996.
 
HotJava Demonstrated at Sun Microsystems
Programmers first demonstrated the HotJava prototype to executives at Sun Microsystems, Inc. A browser making use of Java technology, HotJava attempted to transfer Sun's new programming platform for use on the World Wide Web. Java is based on the concept of being truly universal, allowing an application written in the language to be used on a computer with any type of operating system or on the web, televisions or telephones.
John Mauchly
John Mauchly
 
Mauchly Writes Atanasoff Suggesting Cooperative Work
During the trial to decide who would receive credit for designing the first electronic computer, John Atanasoff's lawyer, Mr. Halladay finally persuaded John Mauchly to confirm several key points.

One such point was that on September 30th, 1941, Mauchly had written to Dr. Atanasoff, co-designer of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, suggesting a cooperative effort. Mauchly was considering the development of a computer and had asked Atanasoff if he had any objection to the use of his concepts.

The judge would eventually rule in favor of Dr. Atanasoff.

IBM PS/2
IBM PS/2
 
IBM Announces Shipment of 3 Millionth PS/2 Personal Computer
The PS/2 was IBM's follow-on computer to its PC, PC/XT, and PC/AT machines. The PS/2 used the Micro Channel Architecture, a bus format incompatible with IBM's open ISA standard adopted by clone makers.

IBM had introduced its PS/2 machines just the year before, making the 3 1/2-inch floppy disk drive and video graphics array standard for IBM computers and compatibles. PS/2s were the first IBM computers to use Intel's 80386 chip and IBM released a new operating system, OS/2, at the same time, allowing the use of a mouse with IBM computers for the first time.