What Happened Today, August 19th

Bell and Kotok with DEC PDP-6
Bell and Kotok with DEC PDP-6
 
Computer Pioneer Gordon Bell Born
Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) innovator Gordon Bell is born. In his 23 years at DEC, Bell developed several of the company's most successful minicomputers as well as its well-known VAX machine.

One the world's top computer architects, Bell is considered by many to be the father of the minicomputer and is also an authority on supercomputing. The author of several books, Bell's awards include the National Medal of Technology and the IEEE Von Neumann Medal.

Gordon and Gwen Bell are co-founders of The Computer History Museum.

What Happened This Week

 
Hewlett-Packard Is Incorporated
Hewlett-Packard Co. is incorporated, nine years after William Hewlett and David Packard sold their first oscillators from a garage in Palo Alto, where they had set up shop with $538 in capital. They determined the order of their names in the company by a coin toss.

Moving from oscillators, the first of which they sold to Disney for the movie Fantasia, the Stanford graduates built one of the world's largest electronics companies.

Bell and Kotok with DEC PDP-6
Bell and Kotok with DEC PDP-6
 
Computer Pioneer Gordon Bell Born
Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) innovator Gordon Bell is born. In his 23 years at DEC, Bell developed several of the company's most successful minicomputers as well as its well-known VAX machine.

One the world's top computer architects, Bell is considered by many to be the father of the minicomputer and is also an authority on supercomputing. The author of several books, Bell's awards include the National Medal of Technology and the IEEE Von Neumann Medal.

Gordon and Gwen Bell are co-founders of The Computer History Museum.

 
NY Times Article on Need to Preserve Obsolete Hardware and Software
The New York Times' George Johnson reminisces about obsolete computer hardware and software in a column titled, "Let's Boot Up the Trash-80 and Play Some Oldies." Written just before the release of Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system, the article bemoaned the lack of a home - virtual or otherwise - for computer antiques. The fate of Windows 3.1 was obvious: "In digital bonfires across the country, millions of copies of the old software will be wiped from hard disks to make way for the new. One by one, all those carefully crafted bits -- the 1's and 0's that form the gears and pulleys of Microsoft's contraption -- will disappear in infinitesimal puffs of heat."

Software, however, is preserved by many individual collectors and computer enthusiasts and by The Computer History Museum.

 
Burroughs Receives Patent for Calculating Machine
William S. Burroughs receives a patent for his calculating machine and within a year had produced 50 machines. They proved to be difficult to use but he soon improved on them and went on to become a force in the developing calculator industry.
IBM Model 704
IBM Model 704
 
The First Computer User Group Is Founded
Following a Los Angeles symposium hosted by IBM, a group of representatives from seventeen groups that had ordered the IBM 704 mainframe computer met at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California. The outcome of the meeting was the first computer user's group, SHARE. The name was chosen to promote the idea of sharing information and programs between installations. The group grew quickly, eventually producing new software and documentation for their IBM computers.
 
Nintendo Agrees to Use Silicon Graphics Technology
Nintendo agreed to use Silicon Graphics Inc. technology in a video game player it was developing. The move came as SGI entered a struggle that would continue to sustain its business in designing machines and software for graphics-intensive computer work. Partnerships such as the one with Nintendo didn't stop SGI's decline as it struggled with decreasing revenues and leadership changes.
 
Microsoft Ships Windows 95
Thanks to possibly the largest product launch campaign in history, Windows 95's sales exceeded all predictions. Strangely, it was two years to the day that Apple lost its look and feel copyright infringement suit against Microsoft, a suit whose main arguments centered around many features now found on Windows 95.