This Day in Geek History: October 19
Samuel Morse will later cite this date as the day he first conceived on the electric telegraph system.
The first company to manufacture internal combustion engines is founded.
The United States National Bureau of Standards authorizes the construction of the Standards Western Automatic Computer (SWAC) by the Institute for Numerical Analysis in Los Angeles, California. It will be one of the first electronic digital computers.
All US color television receiver production is halted and banned for the duration of the Korean War.
The CBS television network stops broadcasting color television programs, which it had only begun June 25, due to the halt in color receiver production brought on by the Korean War.
US Federal Judge Earl R. Larson vacates the patent on the ENIAC and rules that the Atanasoff- Berry Computer (ABC) built by physicist John Atanasoff was in fact the first electronic digital computer. The ABC introduced binary arithmetic, logic circuits, and regenerative memory to the computer industry, all of which were used in the design of the ENIAC, which was built years later.
The Digital Equipment Corporation publicly announces plans to enter into the personal computer market with its VT-100 terminals, featuring an 8-bit microprocessor, two floppy disk drives, and 64KB RAM. The system will run the CP/M operating system. Price: US$2,400.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Last Outpost” first airs. (No. 105) In it, an unknown force immobilizes the Enterprise while encountering a new alien threat – the Ferengi. Memory Alpha entry
Quantum Link (Q-Link) for Commodore 64 and Commodore 128 personal computers becomes America Online for Apple II and Mac computers as a bulletin board system (BBS). The service includes online games, graphical chat rooms, and e-mails. The service’s graphical interface is superior to those of its competitors, CompuServe and The Source, and will rapidly increase in popularity.
Columbia Pictures releases the horror film Night of the Living Dead, directed by Tom Savini and starring Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles, and McKee Anderson, to 1,544 US theaters. It is a remake of George Romero’s classic 1968 horror film of the same title. In it, a group of embattled humans fend off hordes of walking dead in a secluded farmhouse in Western Pennsylvania. However, interpersonal feuding between the people in a house proves just as deadly as the zombie attack. Produced on a budget of US$4.2, the film will gross US$2,884,679 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: R) Running Time: 1 hr 28 mins
Apple Computer releases the Macintosh IIvx, featuring a 32MHz Motorola 68030 processor, a 40, 80, 160 or 400 MB hard drive, three NuBus slots, and a Processor Direct Slot. It’s the last of the Macintosh II series, and it’s the first Macintosh to feature a metal case. It’s also the first personal computer ever to feature an internal CD-ROM drive. Visit the official Macintosh IIvx website. Code-name: Brazil
The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Schisms” first airs. (No. 605) In it, Several members of the crew are abducted and experimented on by an alien race from another dimension while they sleep. Memory Alpha entry
The RSA Data Security RC5 56-bit encryption key is cracked by team “Bovine RC5 Effort.” The code, which the strongest encryption allowed by US law for export without the use of key escrow or recovery schemes, is cracked as part of a challenge issued by the company to encourage the US federal government to approve the unrestricted export of 128-bit keys. The prize awarded to the winners is ten thousand dollars. Over four thousand teams participated in the challenge, and the Bovine RC5 Effort succeeded only after 210 days of effort. The message contained in the encryption reads, “It is time to move to a longer key length.” The cracked key challenge is the fourth of thirteen challenges presented by the company since January. The first, a 40-bit key, was cracked in three hours for a US$1,000 prize. The second, a 48-bit key, was cracked in thirteen days for a US$5,000 prize. The third, a 56-bit key, was cracked in June. “Brute force” methodologies were used to crack the first four keys. In the case of 56-bit encryption, that amounts to more than 72 quadrillion, or 72,057,594,037,927,936, possibilities, forty-seven percent of which were tried before the correct key was found.
An antitrust suit filed by the United States Justice Department and the attorney generals of twenty states against the Microsoft Corporation alleging unfair monopolistic practices begins in Washington D.C. Government lawyers spend three hours detailing acts that allegedly demonstrate that Microsoft has attempted to illegally maintain a desktop operating system monopoly using predatory tactics to create a new monopoly for web browser software.
Bristol Technology Inc., an eighty employee Conneticut-based software firm files an antitrust case against the Microsoft Corporation in federal court. Bristol executives claim that their company is at risk because they cannot obtain the source code for Windows NT 4.0 and 5.0 which is required to complete their own projects.
Version 4.5 of the Netscape Communicator is released.
International Business Machines (IBM) announces that it will be discontinuing the Aptiva line of personal computers in the United States in order to focus on selling consumer computers over the Internet.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) releases the 2.6GHz Athlon FX-55 processor featuring a 1MB level-2 cache. Price: US$827 in 1,000 unit quantities
Apple Computer releases a minor revision to its iBook portable computers, featuring a 1.2 or 1.33GHz G4 processor, a DVD / CD SuperDrive, 12, 14, or 14.1-inch LCD screen, 256 MB DDR266 RAM, 133 MHz bus, ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 with 32MB DDR RAM, 30 or 60GB hard drive, AirPort Extreme wireless networking, two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400 port, 100BaseT Ethernet port, and a 56 Kbps v.92 modem. Price: US$999 – US$1,499
Apple Computer releases an update of its Power Mac G5 computer, featuring a 1.8GHz to dual 2.5GHz processors, a 600MHz front-side bus, 256MB DDR400 SDRAM, an 80 or 160GB hard drive, a Nvidia GeForce Fx 5200 Ultra card in an 8X AGP slot, an 8X SuperDrive, three 33MHz 64-bit PCI slots, an AirPort Extreme slot, two FireWire 400 ports, one FireWire 800 port, and three USB 2.0 ports.
SNK Playmore releases the versus fighting game Samurai Shodown V for the Neo Geo game system. It is the last game ever to be released for the system. SNK abandoned the system due to rampant game piracy, which SNK believed to be responsible for the company’s bankruptcy in 2000. SNK ceased to manufacture home consoles at the end of 1997 but continued to produce software.
ZoneAlarm discontinues the free version of the ZoneAlarm Wireless Security because its functions were included in all paid versions of ZoneAlarm from version 6 onwards.
Columbia Pictures releases the horror film 30 Days of Night, directed by David Slade and starring Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Junior, and Mark Rendall, to 2,855 US theaters. The film is based on the comic series of the same name. In it, a small village in Alaska is attacked by a group of vampires over the course of a month during which the sun doesn’t rise. Produced on a budget of US$30 million, it will gross US$15,951,902 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: R) Running Time: 1 hr 53 mins