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This Day in Computer History
Walter Brattain and John Bardeen began the series of experiments that, upon completion on December 23, produced the world's first transistor, a solid-state amplifier constructed from germanium, plastic, and gold.
In Morris, Illinois a test trial of the the world's first electronically operated telephone central office began.
American inventor Douglas Engelbart was granted a patent on the “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System," the world's first prototype computer mouse. (US No. 3,541,541) The design is a wooden block with a single button attached.
IBM released its IBM 3250 graphics display system.
Craig Neidorf, better known by the handle "Knight Lightning" and Randy Tischler, better known by the handle "Taran King" publish the first issue of the text-based ezine PHRACK Magazine, which, for twenty years to come, will be one of the principal sources of news and instruction for hackers. Its early issues were distributed through bulletin board systems, but it would later be migrated to the web.
The University of Nevada released Veronica (“Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index to Computer Archives"), one of the earliest search engines for the Gopher protocol. It provided a database of nearly every menu item on nearly every active Gopher server. Its name was chosen to match the still-popular Archie FTP search service in reference to Archie Comics.
Apple Computer and author Carl Sagan settle a lawsuit brought by Carl Sagan alleging defamation of character after Apple engineers code-named a system in honor of the famed astronomer.
Amazon.com began offering videos among its other products and expanded to become a virtual gift shop as well as an ecommerce book store.
One of the first manufacturers of removable hard disk technologies, SyQuest Technology, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Slashdot made its first mention of Napster. It reports, “There is a cool new tool out there called Napster that allows anyone to become a publicly accessible FTP site - tapping in to that huge resource of personal MP3 collections that everyone has, but have not been able to share… RIAA should be scared out of their minds because users are not logged on permanently, so it’s hard to track them down to take legal action."
Britannica.com, the ecommerce site of one of the world's most prestigious and popular reference publications, announced plans to layoff seventeen percent of its workforce, about seventy-five employees. The Chicago-based company employed about 450 people at the time.
The first warnings that the applications provided by Sony to repair the security vulnerabilities introduced to computers infected by the rootkit the company had tried using as a DRM system on some of its compact discs in fact created additional security vulnerabilities first begin to surface. The news protracts the Sony rootkit scandal and proves to be yet another embarrassment for the company.