What Happened Today, December 12th

 
Apple Computer's Initial Public Offering
Apple's initial public offering was the largest IPO since the Ford Motor went public in 1956. Nonetheless, it sold out in minutes. Originally priced to sell at $14 a share, the stock opened at $22 and all 4.6 million shares were sold almost immediately. The stock rose almost 32% that day to close at $29, giving the company a market evaluation of $1.778 billion. The three founders of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Mike Markkula weren’t only ones who did well that day. More than 40 of Apple’s 1,000 employees became instant millionaires thanks to the stock options.

What Happened This Week

USS Hopper
USS Hopper
 
Computer Pioneer Grace Hopper Born
Grace Murray Hopper, one of the first women to work on the computer, is born in New York City. Hopper, a rear admiral in US Navy, did significant work on the Harvard Mark II, where she discovered the first computer bug -- a moth -- and coined the term to mean a problem with a program. Hopper went on to develop the first compiler, A-0, and the programming language COBOL. She died on January 1, 1992.

Grace Hopper was honored by having an advanced US Navy warship named after her, the USS Hopper, launched in mid-1997.

Augusta Ada King, Lady Lovelace
Augusta Ada King, Lady Lovelace
 
Ada, Lady Lovelace, Born
Augusta Ada King, Lady Lovelace, is born. Her father was Lord Byron, the famous poet. She was educated by private tutors including advanced study in mathematics being provided by the famous mathematician Augustus De Morgan. Ada worked with Charles Babbage writing extensive comments on his Difference Engine and Analytical Engine, and programming for the last one. She died on November 27, 1852.

A century later, in the 1970s, the computer language ADA was developed and named after Ada, Lady Lovelace. Based on the language PASCAL, ADA is a general-purpose language designed to be readable and easily maintained.

The Williams tube
The Williams tube
 
Frederick Williams Receives Patent for Memory Device
A patent is issued for Sir Frederick Williams' device for random-access memory. The Williams tube was a modified cathode-ray tube that painted dots and dashes of phosphorescent electrical charge on a screen representing binary ones and zeros. It became the primary memory for vacuum tube machines such as the IBM 701. Williams developed his device at Manchester University.
 
Apple Computer's Initial Public Offering
Apple's initial public offering was the largest IPO since the Ford Motor went public in 1956. Nonetheless, it sold out in minutes. Originally priced to sell at $14 a share, the stock opened at $22 and all 4.6 million shares were sold almost immediately. The stock rose almost 32% that day to close at $29, giving the company a market evaluation of $1.778 billion. The three founders of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Mike Markkula weren’t only ones who did well that day. More than 40 of Apple’s 1,000 employees became instant millionaires thanks to the stock options.
 
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center Launches First Web Site outside Europe
The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) put up the first Web site outside Europe. It let physicists browse the full text of pre-publication scientific papers on SLAC's SPIRES database directly over the Web. This was a radical improvement over the old system, which involved submitting requests and waiting for fax or email versions to be sent back. As a vital service for the international physics community, the SLAC site became an important early step in helping the World Wide Web live up to its ambitious name
David Wheeler
David Wheeler
 
David Wheeler, Inventor of the Closed Subroutine, Dies
David Wheeler, born February 9, 1927, was Emeritus Professor of Computer Science at Cambridge University and a computer science pioneer. He worked on the original Cambridge EDSAC computer and wrote the first computer program to be stored in a computer’s memory. He pioneered the use of subroutines and data compression. He earned his PhD in 1951 from Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory. He spent time at the University of Illinois where he made contributions to the architecture of the ILLIAC system there. He later returned to the Cambridge Computer Laboratory and invented the Cambridge Ring and advanced methods of computer testing. He continued to work there until his death, a decade after he had officially retired.
Joe Thompson, one of the two first Whirlwind operators, in 1951
Joe Thompson, one of the two first Whirlwind operators, in 1951
 
US Navy Approaches MIT to Create Whirlwind
The US Navy issues a formal Letter of Intent to MIT for development of the Airplane Stability and Control Analyzer (ASCA) program, the beginning of the project Whirlwind. Constructed under the leadership of Jay W. Forrester, the Whirlwind was the first high-speed electronic digital computer that was able to operate in real time with electronic reliability. By December 1954, the computer comprised 12,500 vacuum tubes and 23,800 crystal diodes, occupying a two-story building. It operated until 1959.

Whirlwind served as an experimental prototype for the IBM AN/FSQ-7, the controlling computer for the SAGE continental air defense system.

Whirlwind, the first real-time, parallel-processing computer with core memory
Whirlwind, the first real-time, parallel-processing computer with core memory
 
Whirlwind Computer Appears on National TV
Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now program features the Whirlwind computer. Designed at MIT by Jay Forrester and a team of engineers, the computer was noted for its reliability: it had the capability to run 35 hours a week at 90-percent utility using an electrostatic tube memory (Williams Tube). The machine was started in 1945 and completed in 1951 and took up 3,100 square feet of floor space.
Hollerith Electrical Printing and Tabulating Machine
Hollerith Electrical Printing and Tabulating Machine
 
Hollerith Agrees to Supply Machines for Russian Census
Hollerith’s Census Machine was first employed by the US Census Bureau in 1890 as the result of a crisis in counting a rapidly-increasing US population. Methods based on Hollerith's machine served for almost 60 years until the Bureau adopted electron.