Archive for the ‘Computer History’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Who Made That Emoticon?

From the New York Times:

“The first line of my obituary is going to mention the smiley face,” says Scott Fahlman, who would rather be remembered for his research into artificial intelligence. But like it or not, Fahlman has become famous for three keystrokes. In 1982, as a young professor at Carnegie Mellon University, he realized the need for a symbol to temper the bickering that plagued online forums. The Internet was just a baby then, and yet already flame wars raged. Fahlman decided that a smiley face could be useful as a “joke marker” (as he called it) to take the sting out of mocking statements or pranks. And so he hunted around the keyboard for a way to make the face. “But what do you use for eyes?” he wondered. Once he found the colon, the rest was easy. He dashed his suggestion off to friends. “I didn’t even proofread the message,” he says.

PostHeaderIcon Who Made That Escape Key?

The New York Times has a nice article about the Escape key:

“It’s the ‘Hey, you! Listen to me’ key,” says Jack Dennerlein of the Harvard School of Public Health. According to Dennerlein, an expert on how humans interact with computers, the escape key helped drive the computer revolution of the 1970s and ’80s. “It says to the computer: ‘Stop what you’re doing. I need to take control.’ ” In other words, it reminds the machine that it has a human master. If the astronauts in “2001: A Space Odyssey” had an ESC key, Dennerlein points out, they could have stopped the rogue computer Hal in an instant.

PostHeaderIcon Prices in 1999

I was going through some old files yesterday, and I came across the receipt for a monitor, a CD burner, and some CDs that I bout on May 26, 1999 at Costco. The 19″ monitor was $300. 20 burnable CDs were $32.99, and the burner was $389.99. Wow! That was an expensive burner. Now they are less than $50. And for $300, I could get a nice big flat screen.

Total bill $831.42. Crazy!

PostHeaderIcon The 25th Anniversary Of Apple’s “1984″

CNBC has a nice interview with Mike Murray, who was marketing manager of the Macintosh at the time of the “1984″ Super Bowl commercial. They also link to the video.

What that commercial did was it picked up on a particular vibe of a large segment of of American society. Young people, innovators, creative people, people who don’t want to feel like they’re just stuck in the masses. And we felt that way, but I think we also perhaps underestimated what a strong vibe that is.

PostHeaderIcon Old computer receipt

This isn’t really that old, but it is still interesting to see what my first computer cost me (I mean the first one I bought, not my parents) in 1999.