What Happened Today, October 30th

 
Last Multics System Shut Down

Today the last remaining Multics installation is shut down at the Canadian Department of National Defense in Halifax. Although the time-sharing operating system was not a huge commercial success, it had a significant impact on the industry.

What Happened This Week

 
Microsoft Releases Windows XP

Windows XP is the family of 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers. The name "XP" stands for “Experience.” The successor to both Windows 2000 Professional and Windows ME, Windows XP was the first consumer-oriented operating system Microsoft built on the Windows NT kernel and architecture. Over 400 million copies were in use by January 2006, according to an International Data Corporation analyst. It was succeeded by Windows Vista, which was released to the general public in January 2007.

Harrison Dit Morse, one of the programmers, looks at a script being printed on the TX-0
Harrison Dit Morse, one of the programmers, looks at a script being printed on the TX-0
 
Saga, a Silent Shoot-Em-Up Western Playlet, Made on the TX-0 Computer with Help from Douglas Ross

MIT’s TX-0, a very early general purpose transistorized computer, is used to write the program for Saga, and was comprised of 4,096 words of magnetic core storage. The Western playlet was run on a CBS special for MIT's 100th anniversary, and in the film, 13,000 lines of code choreographed the movements of each object. A line of direction was written for each action, which were as granular as the movement of each actor’s hand, even if it went wrong. For example, at one point in the show, the sheriff put his gun in the holster of the robber which resulted in a never ending loop. Computers are commonplace in filmmaking today, but Saga was one of the earliest films to implement computer code in its production and writing.

Map of the ARPANET in March 1972
Map of the ARPANET in March 1972
 
The First Major Network Crash, the Four-Hour Collapse of the ARPANET, Occurred

The ARPANET, predecessor of the modern Internet, was set up by the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Initially it had linked four sites in California and Utah, and later was expanded to cover research centers across the country.

The network failure resulted from a redundant single-error detecting code that was used for transmission but not storage, and a garbage-collection algorithm for removing old messages that was not resistant to the simultaneous existence of one message with several different time stamps. The combination of the events took the network down for four hours.

Bill Gates' original BASIC 1.0 tape
Bill Gates' original BASIC 1.0 tape
 
Bill Gates, Co-Founder and CEO of Microsoft Corporation Born

Bill Gates developed a version of BASIC for the Altair 8800 while a student at Harvard. With the success of BASIC, he and co-developer Paul Allen founded Microsoft. The fledgling company delivered an operating system for the IBM PC, the Microsoft Word word processing program, the Windows operating system, and a multitude of other programs. Gates stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 1999 and was replaced by President Steve Ballmer. Although he remained closely tied to Microsoft’s vision and operations, Gates devoted more of his time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic entity that, among other goals, promotes worldwide health initiatives, educational opportunities, and a means to end poverty and hunger. Even after all of his charitable giving, Gates has been listed as the world’s richest person more than once by Forbes.

Marcian (Ted) Hoff
Marcian (Ted) Hoff
 
Microprocessor Co-Inventor Hoff Born

Dr. Marcian Edward (Ted) Hoff, Jr. is born October 28, 1937 at Rochester, New York. He received a BEE (1958) from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. During the summers away from college he worked for General Railway Signal Company in Rochester where he made developments that produced his first two patents. He attended Stanford as a National Science Foundation Fellow and received a MS (1959) and PhD (1962) in electrical engineering. He joined Intel in 1968. In 1980, he was named the first Intel Fellow, the highest technical position in the company. He spent a brief time as vice president for technology with Atari in the early 1980s and was vice president and chief technical officer with Teklicon, Inc., a patent and intellectual property advisory firm.

 
Willgodt T. Odhner Was Granted a Patent for a Calculating Machine That Performed Multiplications by Repeated Additions

The patent, a modified and compact version of Gottfried von Leibniz's stepped wheel, was acquired and embodied in Brunsviga calculators that sold into the 1950s.

 
Last Multics System Shut Down

Today the last remaining Multics installation is shut down at the Canadian Department of National Defense in Halifax. Although the time-sharing operating system was not a huge commercial success, it had a significant impact on the industry.

The Whirlwind team, R. Weiser, R. Everett, and J. Forrester, at Jay Forrester's retirement party in June 1956. (The MITRE Corporation Archives)
The Whirlwind team, R. Weiser, R. Everett, and J. Forrester, at Jay Forrester's retirement party in June 1956. (The MITRE Corporation Archives)
 
The First Conference on Digital Computer Technique Was Held at MIT

The conference was sponsored by the National Research Council, Subcommittee Z on Calculating Machines and Computation. Attended by the Whirlwind team, it influenced the direction of this computer.