What Happened Today, June 6th

 
Vatican Library to Be on the Web

The Los Angeles Times reports on the merging of religion and technology in Vatican City, where Father Leonard Boyle was working to put the Vatican's library on the World Wide Web -- "bringing the computer to the Middle Ages and the Vatican library to the world." Boyle computerized the library's catalog and placed manuscripts and paintings on the website, which was in part funded by IBM. Today, thousands of manuscripts and incunabula have been digitized and are publicly available on the Vatican Library website. A number of other offerings are available, which include images and descriptions of the Vatican’s extensive numismatic collection that dates back to Roman times.

What Happened This Week

 
AT&T Announces Video Phone Call System

AT&T held a meeting to announce a system that would allow personal computers to make and receive video phone calls over standard telephone lines. In years of efforts by AT&T and others to find success in the technology, the AT&T system made use of Intel's Pentium processors and compression software to allow both video and audio information to share a phone line rather than a high-capacity ISDN, T-1, or T-3 line.

 
BASIC Language Co-Inventor Born

BASIC co-developer John Kemeny was born in Budapest, Hungary. In his 66-year life, Kemeny had a significant impact on the history of computers, particularly during his years at Dartmouth College, where he worked with Thomas Kurtz to create BASIC, an easy-to-use programming language for his computer students. Kemeny earlier had worked with John von Neumann in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during the Manhattan Project years of World War II.

 
Maxis Goes Public

Maxis, the company most famous for its SimCity video game, went public. Along with others in the series -- including SimEarth, SimAnt, and SimLife -- the SimCity simulator program built on Maxis co-founder Will Wright's childhood interest in model ships and airplanes. With Jeff Braun, he founded the company that allowed people to create virtual cities and protect them from various disasters on their home computers.

 
Netscape Creates Navio to Compete with Microsoft

The Washington Post ran an article speculating that Netscape Communications Corp. might one day challenge Microsoft Corp. in a story headlined, "Inside Netscape: The Software Start-Up Is Growing So Fast It May One Day Post a Threat to Microsoft." Two years later, the two companies are embroiled in a controversy related to the Justice Department's investigation of whether Microsoft has violated antitrust laws in bundling its Internet Explorer program with its Windows operating system. Netscape's Navigator and Communicator browsers for the World Wide Web are Internet Explorer's main competition.

 
Integrated Circuit Inventor Noyce Dies

Robert Noyce, co-founder of Intel Corp. and co-inventor of the semiconductor, dies of a heart attack at age 62. In 1959, Noyce and Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments, working separately, developed the integrated circuit, which allowed the power of computers to increase dramatically. Noyce went on to found Intel with Gordon Moore and Andy Grove, helping lead the company to dominance in the semiconductor industry. Born in Burlington, Iowa, Noyce earned degrees from Grinnell College and MIT before working at Philco Corp., the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, and Fairchild Semiconductor Corp., where he developed the integrated circuit.

 
Agreement on Microprocessor Trade Between US and Japan

US and Japanese officials announced an agreement on a pact governing the countries' microprocessor trade. The pact attempted to deal with intense competition between American and Japanese chipmakers by calling for sales of foreign semiconductors to reach 20 percent in the Japanese market within a year. US President Ronald Reagan had imposed sanctions on Japan in 1986 after finding that Japan had failed to increase the US share of the Japanese semiconductor market.

 
Lovelace Meets Babbage

Ada Byron, later to be Countess Lovelace, first meets Charles Babbage in England. Babbage was known for his designs of early calculating machines, including his "Difference Engine" (1823) and "Analytical Engine" (1834). Although he never completed the machines, Babbage became a father of computing after his close friend Ada published a description of his work. Although often referred to as Ada Byron, her real name was Ada Gordon (her father, always referred to by his title of Lord Byron, was actually named George Gordon). She later married Edward King (thus she became Ada King) and, when he was made the Earl of Lovelace, Ada became the Countess Lovelace.

 
Vatican Library to Be on the Web

The Los Angeles Times reports on the merging of religion and technology in Vatican City, where Father Leonard Boyle was working to put the Vatican's library on the World Wide Web -- "bringing the computer to the Middle Ages and the Vatican library to the world." Boyle computerized the library's catalog and placed manuscripts and paintings on the website, which was in part funded by IBM. Today, thousands of manuscripts and incunabula have been digitized and are publicly available on the Vatican Library website. A number of other offerings are available, which include images and descriptions of the Vatican’s extensive numismatic collection that dates back to Roman times.