What Happened Today, August 9th

Marvin Minsky
Marvin Minsky
 
Computer Pioneer Marvin Minsky Born

Minsky has made many major contributions to computer science in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics. In 1987, Minsky wrote the landmark book The Society of Mind, which proposed that human consciousness and thought processes were decomposable into a series of mini-minds or agents, each of which performed specific functions. Minsky received a BA and PhD in mathematics at Harvard and Princeton. There he envisioned a “rat-in-a-maze” neural network simulator, which became the Stochastic Neural Analog Reinforcement Calculator (SNARC) built with assistance from Dean Edmonds. His other inventions include mechanical hands and other robotic devices, the confocal scanning microscope, the Muse synthesizer for musical variations (with Ed Fredkin), and the first LOGO turtle (with Seymour Papert). His later work focused on understanding the connections between computers and commonsense reasoning.

What Happened This Week

Marvin Minsky
Marvin Minsky
 
Computer Pioneer Marvin Minsky Born

Minsky has made many major contributions to computer science in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics. In 1987, Minsky wrote the landmark book The Society of Mind, which proposed that human consciousness and thought processes were decomposable into a series of mini-minds or agents, each of which performed specific functions. Minsky received a BA and PhD in mathematics at Harvard and Princeton. There he envisioned a “rat-in-a-maze” neural network simulator, which became the Stochastic Neural Analog Reinforcement Calculator (SNARC) built with assistance from Dean Edmonds. His other inventions include mechanical hands and other robotic devices, the confocal scanning microscope, the Muse synthesizer for musical variations (with Ed Fredkin), and the first LOGO turtle (with Seymour Papert). His later work focused on understanding the connections between computers and commonsense reasoning.

RCA Selectron memory tube
RCA Selectron memory tube
 
Computer Inventor Rajchman Born

Jan Rajchman, who made many important contributions to electronic computing hardware, is born in England. After earning a degree from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Rajchman took a job with RCA, where he began work with Vladimir Zworykin on an electron multiplier. He is probably the inventor of the scintillation counter, a device widely used in physics research, and consulted at the Moore School (University of Pennsylvania) working with ENIAC inventors Eckert and Mauchly while there. One of his most interesting (though commercially impractical) inventions was the "Selectron" tube memory shown here, a device he invented for John von Neumann's IAS computer project at Princeton and used, for a brief time, on the Johnniac machine at RAND.

Rajchman became director of RCA's Computer Laboratory until the company left the business, spent a year at UC Berkeley, and then became a private industry consultant.

Rajchman died April 1, 1989.

Apple I computer designed by Wozniak on display at The Computer Museum History Center
Apple I computer designed by Wozniak on display at The Computer Museum History Center
 
Apple Inventor Wozniak Born

Wozniak and Jobs entered into business after Wozniak designed a single-board personal computer known as the Apple I. In 1976, with specifications in hand and an order for 100 machines at $500 each from the Byte Shop, he and Jobs began assembling computers in the basement of Steve Jobs' parents' garage.

While still studying at the University of California-Berkeley in 1972, Wozniak had shown his electronics skill as well as his sense of humor in building his blue box, a tone generator used to make free phone calls, which he sold in dormitories.

The IBM Personal Computer (PC)
The IBM Personal Computer (PC)
 
IBM Introduces Personal Computer

IBM introduces its Personal Computer (PC) also known as the IBM Model 5150, lending legitimacy to microprocessor-based computers. IBM's first PC ran with a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 microprocessor and used Microsoft's MS-DOS operating system. In 1983, Compaq Computer Corp. released the first clone of the IBM PC, a machine embodying an identical copy of the PC architecture -- which IBM had made publicly available -- and begining the gradual decline of IBM's share of the personal computer market.

The PC architecture, based on Intel's x86 microprocessor family, continues to dominate desktop computing with over 85% of PCs using an x86-based CPU.

 
ICCP Is Founded

The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals was founded. The bearer of the standards for the computer industry, ICCP promoted high professional standards for the computer industry and offered a certification program in which engineers earned the designations of Certified Computing Professional or Associate Computing Professional.

The original ABC
The original ABC
 
Atanasoff Finishes Paper Describing the Atanasoff Berry Computer

John Atanasoff finishes a paper describing the Atanasoff Berry Computer, or ABC, the computer he designed with Clifford Berry to solve simultaneous linear equations. Atanasoff was only able to claim credit for this paper and title of inventor of the electronic digital computer after a long court battle that ended in 1972. The case - initiated on a charge by Honeywell Inc. that Sperry Rand. Corp. had enforced a fraudulent patent - involved lengthy testimony by Atanasoff and ENIAC inventors Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, who held the patent under review. A judge's ruling that Atanasoff was the true inventor led to invalidation of the ENIAC patent.

A working replica of the original ABC was completed in 1997 by staff and volunteers at Iowa State University at Ames.

Atanasoff died on June 15, 1995.

 
Programmer Suggests Bundling Internet Explorer in Windows 95

Microsoft Corp. decided to work to incorporate an Internet browser into its upcoming Windows 95 operating system in an effort to catch up to the Internet bandwagon it had missed. On August 15, Windows 95 programmer Benjamin Slivka sent an e-mail to his coworkers suggesting a World Wide Web browser as a feature for Windows 95. Microsoft has faced legal challenges for the way it bundled the result of the project - Internet Explorer - with Windows software.

Herman Hollerith
Herman Hollerith
 
Census Bureau Announces Results Using Herman Hollerith's Machine

The US Census Bureau announces the U.S. population of 62,622,250, determined for the first time by using an automated method, the Hollerith Census Machine. The Hollerith machine sorted returns by completing an electrical circuit wherever a hole existed in a punch card and could process almost 10 times the number of census data than a human clerk.

Census workers used the Punch Pantograph to enter data.

Hollerith formed the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896. This company merged with two others in 1924 to become the International Business Machines company or IBM.

Hollerith died November 17, 1929.