This Day in Geek History: October 20
Apple Computer unveils the final model in its Newton line of personal digital assistants (PDAs), the Newton Message Pad 2100. It was the first Newton to support an ethernet card. The device also includes 4MB of RAM, a drastic improvement over the 1MB of previous models. Price: US$1,000
The United States Department of Justice announces that it has filed an injunction against Microsoft for violating the court’s 1995 consent decree by bundling of its browser into the Windows operating system. At the same time, it comes to light that the Department of Justice intends to file new antitrust charges against the company.
Spacetec IMC, a three dimensional input device maker, merges with audio specialist Labtec.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica launches a long-awaited free version of its publication online, which immediately crashes because of the enormous amount of traffic the site receives. Visit the Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
The U.S. government lays out new rules protecting children’s privacy on the Internet to shield them from commercial e-mail.
Jack Thompson files a US$246 million lawsuit on the behalf of the families of Aaron Hamel and Kimberly Bede, who were shot by teens William and Josh Buckner, against Rockstar Games, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Take-Two Interactive, and Wal-Mart following the release of a statement made to the police in which the shooters claimed that their shooting spree had been inspired by the game Grand Theft Auto III. On October 29, Rockstar and Take-Two will file for a dismissal of the lawsuit, arguing that the “ideas and concepts as well as the ‘purported psychological effects’ on the Buckners are protected by the First Amendment’s free-speech clause.”
The first version (4.10) of the Ubuntu Linux distribution is released. Based largely on the popular Debian Linux distribution, Ubuntu was developed to be easy to instal and highly user-friendly for users otherwise unfamiliar with Linux systems. It’s name is a Zulu word embodying the concept that “a person is a person only through other people.” The word can also loosely be translated as “humanity.” It’s both free and open source, but Canonical Ltd, the company that sponsors the system, finances Ubuntu’s development and distribution by selling system support. Code-name: Warty Warthog Visit the system’s official website.
Infineon Technologies pleads guilty to charges of fixing the price of dynamic random access memory (DRAM), resulting in a US$160 million fine, the third largest antitrust fine in U.S. history. Four executives from Infineon will each be sentenced to four to six months in jail, and fined US$250,000 several days earlier. After the four were sentenced, Scott D. Hammond, the Director of Criminal Enforcement for the Department of Justice (DoJ) Antitrust Division, will state that, “These four executives are the first to plead guilty to a charge of fixing prices in what is still a very active and far-reaching investigation into antitrust violations in the DRAM industry. We will continue in our efforts to bring to justice other domestic and foreign-based executives who were involved with fixing DRAM prices.” Hynix Semiconductor, Samsung, and Elpida will later plead guilty to the same charge.
Researchers with the Human Genome Project reports that it has estimated that humans have approximately twenty to twenty-five thousand.
Sharp Electronics discontinues development and sales of handheld computers in the U.S.
Touchstone Pictures releases the mystery film The Prestige, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine, to 2,281 U.S. theaters. The film follows the rivalry of two stage magicians as they vie to outperform each other. When the magicians turn to Nikola Tesla for assistance, their rivalry takes a lethal turn. Produced on a budget of US$40 million, it will gross US$14,801,808 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG-13) Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
The Open Content Alliance (OCA) announces its plan to digitize and lend orphan works in its first expansion of its services beyond public-domain books. The OCA is a consortium of organizations, including Internet Archive, the University of California, and the Yahoo! that formed in response to Google Book Search. Visit the Open Content Alliance Home.
Barnes & Noble announces its Android-based electronic-book reader, the Nook. The device features a six-inch (600 x 800 pixel) E Ink display, a color touchscreen interface, and Wi-Fi. The Nook is available to order immediately, but it won’t begin shipping until November 30, 2009. Visit the official Nook website. Price: US$259
In Cupertino, California, Apple introduces its new line of MacBook Air notebook, the iLife ’11 software suite, and Mac OS X “Lion”. During the initial presentation, CEO Steve Jobs that the company has “been inspired by the work done on the iPad, and to bring it back to the Mac.” The new MacBook Air features a 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB solid-state flash drive rather than a traditional hard drive and no optical drive (CD/DVD drive), an design first seen in the iPad. Flash memory is traditionally more expensive than hard drives, but it’s more durable if dropped or bumped. Jobs announced that Apple will launch an online application store for Macs, similar to the one for the iPhone and iPad in tandem with the Air line. The new systems will also offer a choice between an 11.6-inch screen with 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor or a 13.3-inch screen 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo processor. The new Air also features a significantly longer battery life than their predecessors. Jobs also reports that Apple sold 13.7 million Macintosh computers in the prior year, for US$22 billion in sales, and that nearly fifty million Macs are in use worldwide. Visit the official MacBook Air website. Price: US$999 to US$1,599 Weight: Less than 2.3lb or 2.9lb
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