What Happened Today, May 7th

 
Steiger Gets "Millionaire" Patent

Otto Steiger was issued a patent for his Millionaire calculating machine. For the next 40 years, Switzerland's Hans Egli manufactured 4,700 machines, which weighed 120 pounds each. The Millionaire was notable in its ability to perform direct multiplication, which meant a user could multiply a number by a single digit with a single rotation of the handle.

What Happened This Week

 
Microsoft Introduces 2-Button Mouse

Microsoft Corp. announced the two-button Microsoft Mouse, which it introduced to go along with its new Microsoft Word processor. Microsoft built about 100,000 of these fairly primitive units for use with IBM and IBM-compatible personal computers but sold only 5,000 before finding success in a 1985 version that featured, among other improvements, near-silent operation on all surfaces.

 
Earliest Known Case of Spam

Today, unsolicited bulk email--better known as spam--accounts for up to 90% of all email messages, but it wasn't until this date in 1978 that the first spam was sent. Gary Thuerk, a Digital Equipment Corporation marketer, composed a message promoting the DECSYSTEM-20 computer. The message promoted two upcoming product presentations of the DECSYSTEM-20 accessing the ARPANET. The reaction to the message was swift and highly negative, including one who claimed that the message shut down his system.

 
Commodore Bought by German Company

German electronics company Escom AG paid $10 million for the rights to the name, patents and intellectual property of Commodore Electronics Ltd. A pioneer in the personal computer industry, Commodore halted production in 1994 and declared bankruptcy. Escom AG planned to resume production of Commodore personal computers, including its most recent model, the Amiga. The company later sold its Amiga rights.

 
Dummer Proposes Integrated Circuit Concept

G. W. A. Dummer, an English electrical engineer, foresees the fabrication of all electronic components of a circuit or system in a single block of semiconductor material. Several special-function devices were developed at Bell Labs and RCA before Jack Kilby at TI demonstrated a general-purpose concept "integrated circuit" in 1958.

 
British Computer EDSAC Performs First Calculation

The EDSAC performed its first calculation. Maurice Wilkes had assembled the machine -- the first practical stored-program computer -- at Cambridge University (an earlier machine at the University of Manchester was too small for practical purposes). His ideas grew out of the Moore School lectures he had attended three years earlier at the University of Pennsylvania. For programming the EDSAC, Wilkes established a library of short programs called subroutines stored on punched paper tapes. It performed 714 operations per second.

 
Steiger Gets "Millionaire" Patent

Otto Steiger was issued a patent for his Millionaire calculating machine. For the next 40 years, Switzerland's Hans Egli manufactured 4,700 machines, which weighed 120 pounds each. The Millionaire was notable in its ability to perform direct multiplication, which meant a user could multiply a number by a single digit with a single rotation of the handle.

 
Newspapers Form New Century Network

The New York Times announced it would join eight other newspaper publishers in the New Century Network, with the goal of linking local online news services into a national network on the World Wide Web. The popularity of online news has grown along with the Web itself. Now, The New York Times and many other newspapers publish their entire content online every day.