What Happened Today, February 17th

 
Thomas J. Watson Sr. Is born
Thomas J. Watson Sr. is born. A shrewd businessman, Watson started his career as a cash register salesman, eventually taking the helm of IBM and directing it to world leadership in punch card equipment sales. Watson died in 1956 and control of IBM passed on to his son, Thomas Watson, Jr. who brought IBM into the electronic age and, after several bold financial risks, to dominance in the computer industry.

What Happened This Week

 
Deep Blue Defeats Kasparov
In the first game of a six game match, IBM's Deep Blue chess computer defeated world champion Garry Kasparov. No computer had ever won a game against a world champion in chess. Kasparov would eventually win the series 4-2, but would lose to Deep Blue in a re-match a year later.
 
Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Aims IBM to Create the SSEC.
Enjoying a change of climate in Florida, IBM's Thomas Watson, Sr. sends a directive to IBM headquarters to begin planning "a machine of the same type as the Harvard Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC) to meet the requirements of the ordinary businesses we serve." The resulting machine, the Selective Sequence Controlled Calculator (SSEC) was completed on January 27, 1948, and contained 21,400 relays and 12,500 vacuum tubes.
JOSS' developer Cliff Shaw
JOSS' developer Cliff Shaw
 
The RAND Coporation Takes JOSS out of Service
The RAND Corporation takes the Johnniac Open Shop System (JOSS) out of service. JOSS was a conversational time-sharing service that eased the bottleneck experienced by programmers in the batch environment--typical of the time--in which long delays existed between sending information to the computer and getting results back. Timesharing aimed to bring the user back into contact with the machine for online debugging and program development.
 
Rotenberg Founds The Boston Computer Society
Young computing enthusiast Jonathan Rotenberg founds the Boston Computer Society. Four people attended the first meeting of this group, whose membership eventually reached several thousand. Early topics of discussion for the society included Community Use of Personal Computers and The Minicomputer Goes to the Racetrack.
 
Apollo Computer is Incorporated
Apollo Computer is incorporated in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Apollo helped create the original workstations, small but powerful computers mostly used for engineering. In 1989, Hewlett-Packard Company acquired Apollo in a $476 million deal.
ENIAC
ENIAC
 
John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert Unveil The ENIAC
John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert unveil the much-anticipated ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania. The ENIAC calculated 5,000 operations per second -- 1,000 times faster than its contemporaries. Impressive in size as well as strength, the machine occupied over 1,500 square feet of space, weighed 30 tons, and used 18,000 vacuum tubes.
Niklaus Wirth
Niklaus Wirth
 
Niklaus Wirth Born
Niklaus Wirth, the inventor of the programming language Pascal, is born in Winterhur, Switzerland. He received an MS from University Laval in 1960, and a PhD from University of California, Berkeley, in 1963. During 1963-1967 he taught at Stanford, and from 1967 to 1975 he was professor of computer science at the University of Zurich. From 1975 to 1999, Wirth was a professor of computer science at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. Originally Pascal was intended to serve only as a tool for teaching programming. Oberon, another Wirth project, is a combination of a programming language and operating system for single user personal workstations. His most recent project, CADtools for hardware design, aims to bridge the gap between software and hardware. Wirth has received ACM's A.M. Turing Award, and the IEEE Computer Society's Computer Pioneer Award.
Eckert and Mauchly with the ENIAC
Eckert and Mauchly with the ENIAC
 
The ENIAC is Dedicated.
The formal dedication ceremony served to demonstrate the Moore School’s leadership in the field of electronic digital computers and the Army’s foresight in funding the project.

Six weeks after the dedication ceremony, Eckert and Mauchly resigned from the Moore School. Since they were unwilling to relinquish their patent rights to the EDVAC, the Moore School felt that their association with the University had to be severed.

 
Thomas J. Watson Sr. Is born
Thomas J. Watson Sr. is born. A shrewd businessman, Watson started his career as a cash register salesman, eventually taking the helm of IBM and directing it to world leadership in punch card equipment sales. Watson died in 1956 and control of IBM passed on to his son, Thomas Watson, Jr. who brought IBM into the electronic age and, after several bold financial risks, to dominance in the computer industry.