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This Day in Computer History: October 20

written by: Pipedreamergrey•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/23/2008

Today marks the anniversary of the first release of Ubuntu and the beginning of two of the steepest antitrust fines in history. Read more in "This Day in Computer History", a chronology of notable events in the computer, ecommerce, and software industries on this day in history.

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    This Day in Computer History


    Triode tube Dr. Lee DeForest demonstrated his invention of the three-element electrical vacuum tube that would later be known as the triode to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. DeForest's invention was based on his discovery that a wire mesh placed between the filament and collector “plate" of a diode tube produced a significant amplification of voltage. The amplification of weak signals made it possible to communicate wirelessly over great distances for the first time in history.


    Atari is granted a patent for its 400/800 gaming computer system. (US No. 4,296,476)


    Apple Newton Messagepad 2100 Apple Computer introduced the Newton Message Pad 2100, last model in the Newton line of personal digital assistants. It was the first in the Newton line and one of the earliest PDAs on the market to feature support for an ethernet card. Its release came following a failed attempt to spin the Newton division off into its own company and was an attempt by Apple to recoup the losses of the division before its discontinuation.

    The U.S. Justice Department asks a federal court to penalize Microsoft for violating the court's July 1994 consent decree by allegedly continuing to force manufacturers to distribute its own web browser with its Windows ‘95 operating system. The department also requests that the court impose a one million dollar a day fine until the company until it agrees to stop bundling Internet Explorer into the system. Microsoft holds its position that it has the right to integrate products into its system.


    The Encyclopaedia Britannica launches its much-anticipated free online version. The site immediately crashes due to the overwhelming amount of traffic it receives.


    Ubuntu Logo The first version of the free Ubuntu Linux operating system, based on the Debian GNU distribution, was released. Its name is the Zulu work for humanity. It was designed to provide a stable distribution suitable for the average computer user.

    Intel released the 2.1 GHz Pentium M 765 processor for notebook computers, featuring a 2,048 KB level-2 cache, a 400 MHz front-side bus. Price: $637 in 1000-unit quantities

    Semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies pleads guilty to charges of price fixing in the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) market and is subsequently fined one hundred sixty million dollars, which is only the third largest antitrust fine ever handed down in U.S. history. Four of the company's executive officers had been sentenced to up to a six month prison term a week prior.

    Sharp Electronics announced that it will discontinue the development and retail sale of handheld computers in the U.S.


    Intel holds a meeting for its three hundred top managers to announce its plans to drop its "Pentium" brand name, its "Intel Inside" logo, and the "e" in its corporate logo.