What Happened Today, October 20th

 
The First Ubuntu Linux Distribution Released

Ubuntu is a free computer operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux. Its name loosely translated from the Zulu means "humanity," or "a person is a person only through other people." Ubuntu is intended to provide an up-to-date, stable operating system for the average user, with a strong focus on usability and ease of installation. Ubuntu has been rated the most popular Linux distribution for the desktop, claiming approximately 30 percent of desktop Linux installations, according to the 2007 Desktop Linux Market survey. Ubuntu is open source and free. It is sponsored by Canonical Ltd., which is owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.

What Happened This Week

 
The First Ubuntu Linux Distribution Released

Ubuntu is a free computer operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux. Its name loosely translated from the Zulu means "humanity," or "a person is a person only through other people." Ubuntu is intended to provide an up-to-date, stable operating system for the average user, with a strong focus on usability and ease of installation. Ubuntu has been rated the most popular Linux distribution for the desktop, claiming approximately 30 percent of desktop Linux installations, according to the 2007 Desktop Linux Market survey. Ubuntu is open source and free. It is sponsored by Canonical Ltd., which is owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.

An Wang
An Wang
 
An Wang Filed a Patent for a Magnetic Ferrite Core Memory

An Wang called his patent "pulse transfer controlling devices." Computer designers had been looking for a way to record and read magnetically stored information without mechanical motion, and Wang's concept of the magnetic core memory was central to later computer development. Two years later An Wang found Wang Laboratories.

Stanley Mazor
Stanley Mazor
 
Microprocessor Co-Inventor Mazor Born

Stanley Mazor was born in Chicago on October 22, 1941. He studied mathematics and programming at San Francisco State University. He joined Fairchild Semiconductor in 1964 as a programmer and then a computer designer in the digital research department where he developed portions of the Fairchild Symbol computer. In 1969, he joined Intel. In 1977, he began his teaching career in Intel's Technical Training group, and later taught classes at Stanford, University of Santa Clara, KTH in Stockholm and Stellenbosch, SA. In 1984 he was at Silicon Compiler Systems. He co-authored a book on chip design language while at Synopsys 1988-1994. He was invited to present The History of the Microcomputer at the 1995 IEEE Proceedings.

Original iPod prototype
Original iPod prototype
 
Apple Computer Releases the iPod

Apple ventures into the handheld and music entertainment markets with the introduction of the iPod. The original iPod was equipped with a miniature hard disk, but future iterations featured flash memory. Apple billed the iPod as letting users “put 1,000 songs in your pocket,” a dramatic increase over competing players. Although it was not the first handheld player for digital music, the iPod, in tandem with the iTunes music store, radically altered the way people bought, stored, shared, and listened to music.

 
Werner Buchholz Born

Werner Buchholz was a member of the teams that designed the IBM 701 and Stretch models. Buchholz used the term "byte" to describe a sequence of eight bits—although in the 1950s, when the term first was used, equipment used six-bit chunks of information, and a byte equaled six bits. Buchholz described a byte as the group of bits required to encode a character, or the numbers of bits transmitted in parallel in a communications channel.

 
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.