What Happened Today, September 26th

 
IC Pioneer Jean Hoerni Born

Jean Hoerni, a pioneer of the transistor, is born in Switzerland. A physicist, Hoerni in 1959 invented the planar process, which, combined with Robert Noyce's technique for placing a layer of silicon dioxide on a transistor, led to the creation of the modern integrated circuit. Hoerni's planar process allowed the placement of complex electronic circuits on a single chip.

What Happened This Week

 
IC Pioneer Jean Hoerni Born

Jean Hoerni, a pioneer of the transistor, is born in Switzerland. A physicist, Hoerni in 1959 invented the planar process, which, combined with Robert Noyce's technique for placing a layer of silicon dioxide on a transistor, led to the creation of the modern integrated circuit. Hoerni's planar process allowed the placement of complex electronic circuits on a single chip.

 
Hacker Mitnick Indicted on Charges

Kevin Mitnick, 33, was indicted on charges resulting from a 2 ½-year hacking spree. Police accused the hacker, who called himself "Condor," of stealing software worth millions of dollars from major computer corporations. The maximum possible sentence for his crimes was 200 years.

 
Supercomputer Pioneer Seymour Cray Born

Seymour Cray is born. Cray began his engineering career building cryptographic machinery for the US government and went on to co-found Control Data Corporation (CDC) in the late 1950s. For over three decades, first with CDC then with his own companies, Cray consistently built the fastest computers in the world, leading the industry with innovative architectures and packaging and allowing the solution of hundreds of difficult scientific, engineering, and military problems. Many of Cray's supercomputers are on exhibit at the Computer History Museum. Cray died in an automobile accident in 1996.

 
HotJava Demonstrated at Sun Microsystems

Programmers first demonstrated the HotJava prototype to executives at Sun Microsystems, Inc. A browser making use of Java technology, HotJava attempted to transfer Sun's new programming platform for use on the World Wide Web. Java is based on the concept of being truly universal, allowing an application written in the language to be used on a computer with any type of operating system or on the web, televisions or telephones.

John Mauchly
John Mauchly
 
Mauchly Writes Atanasoff Suggesting Cooperative Work

During the trial to decide who would receive credit for designing the first electronic computer, John Atanasoff's lawyer, Mr. Halladay finally persuaded John Mauchly to confirm several key points.

One such point was that on September 30th, 1941, Mauchly had written to Dr. Atanasoff, co-designer of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, suggesting a cooperative effort. Mauchly was considering the development of a computer and had asked Atanasoff if he had any objection to the use of his concepts.

The judge would eventually rule in favor of Dr. Atanasoff.

IBM PS/2
IBM PS/2
 
IBM Announces Shipment of 3 Millionth PS/2 Personal Computer

The PS/2 was IBM's follow-on computer to its PC, PC/XT, and PC/AT machines. The PS/2 used the Micro Channel Architecture, a bus format incompatible with IBM's open ISA standard adopted by clone makers.

IBM had introduced its PS/2 machines just the year before, making the 3 1/2-inch floppy disk drive and video graphics array standard for IBM computers and compatibles. PS/2s were the first IBM computers to use Intel's 80386 chip and IBM released a new operating system, OS/2, at the same time, allowing the use of a mouse with IBM computers for the first time.

Wreckage of the Metrolink commuter train
Wreckage of the Metrolink commuter train
 
Text Messaging Possible Factor in Fatal Train Wreck

A Metrolink engineer at the helm of a commuter train in Los Angeles, California, was found to have been text messaging seconds before colliding with a freight train. 25 people were killed in the accident and numerous others were injured. Many states have passed laws enforcing hands-free only cellular use that restricts drivers from the distracted driving inherent in hands-on texting and cellular phone calls.

 
ENIAC Computer Retired

After eleven years of calculating and processing programs, the ENIAC was retired. Designers John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert had unveiled the machine in February 1946, showing off its 1,000-time improvement in speed over its contemporaries. The ENIAC ran at 5,000 operations a second with a system of plug boards, switches, and punch cards. It occupied 1,000 square feet of floor space.

 
Transistor Inventors Receive Patent

The US Patent Office issued a patent to John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley for the transistor. The three AT&T Bell Laboratories researchers had successfully tested the first of their devices two years earlier. The transistor started a revolution in computer engineering that led to the development of the semiconductors, microprocessors, and integrated circuits common in modern computers.