What Happened Today, June 12th

 
3Com and US Robotics Merge

3Com Corp. and US Robotics Corp. completed their merger. In describing the largest business deal thus far in the networking industry, 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou said, "The combination of 3Com and US Robotics creates a networking powerhouse in the continuing development of enterprise and carrier networks, while helping usher in a new era of simple, fast network access for small businesses and consumers." US Robotics' work focused on remote access networking and modems, while 3Com had independently concentrated on network interface cards and network systems.

What Happened This Week

 
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.

Alan Turing
Alan Turing
 
World War II Enigma Buster Alan Turing Commits Suicide

Alan Turing, a computer science pioneer and one of the secret code breakers working at Britain’s Bletchley Park during the World War II, killed himself by eating an apple containing cyanide. Turing conceived of the idea to create a machine that would turn thought processes into binary numbers. The concept was that a series of ones and zeros read from a tape could describe the steps needed to solve a problem or task. Turing also helped Britain in World War II by deciphering encrypted German communications, giving the Allies critical information about enemy intentions throughout the rest of the war. Sadly, in 1952 Turing was taken to court because he was gay--at the time at legally-punishable offense. When Turing's relationship with a young Manchester man was discovered, he was threatened with jail. Instead, he agreed to estrogen injections for a year in an attempt to curb his libido. He was also denied work with GCHQ, the successor to Bletchley Park, because of his sexual orientation. Two years after his conviction he took his life.

Net Neutrality logo
Net Neutrality logo
 
US House of Representatives Vote down Net Neutrality Amendment

The amendment would have formalized Net neutrality policies, a move lobbied for and favored by a number of Silicon Valley tech companies. The vote was split closely down partisan lines, with most dissenting votes coming from the Republican side of the House, while the majority of Democrats were in favor of it. Net neutrality, which calls for an open Internet with no favoritism granted towards certain users, providers, or types of streaming services and data, has been an ongoing debate, especially in the US.

 
Supercomputer Center Supports Precursor to Internet

The Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center opened to support the precursor to the modern Internet, the National Science Foundation's NSFNET, which linked five supercomputer centers at Princeton University, Pittsburgh, University of California at San Diego, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Cornell University. Soon, several regional networks developed. Eventually, the government reassigned pieces of the ARPANET to the NSFNET. The NSF allowed commercial use of the Internet for the first time in 1991, and in 1995, it decommissioned the backbone, leaving the Internet a self-supporting industry.

 
Apple II Shipped Today

Apple Computer Inc. ships its Apple II computer. The first in a long line of related computers, the original model cost $1,298 and came with 4KB of RAM (upgradeable to 48KB), and had sound and color graphics. It also had the BASIC programming language built-in, which made programming easy. Apple II's sold particularly well in schools and, with the arrival of the VisiCalc spreadsheet program, in the small business market as well.

 
TI Announces "Speak & Spell"

Texas Instruments Inc. introduced Speak & Spell, a talking learning aid for ages 7 and up. Its debut marked the first electronic duplication of the human vocal tract on a single chip of silicon. Speak & Spell utilized linear predictive coding to formulate a mathematical model of the human vocal tract and predict a speech sample based on previous input. It transformed digital information processed through a filter into synthetic speech and could store more than 100 seconds of linguistic sounds.

 
3Com and US Robotics Merge

3Com Corp. and US Robotics Corp. completed their merger. In describing the largest business deal thus far in the networking industry, 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou said, "The combination of 3Com and US Robotics creates a networking powerhouse in the continuing development of enterprise and carrier networks, while helping usher in a new era of simple, fast network access for small businesses and consumers." US Robotics' work focused on remote access networking and modems, while 3Com had independently concentrated on network interface cards and network systems.