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This Day in Computer History: December 14

written by: Pipedreamergrey•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/15/2008

Today marks the anniversary of the conception of the first high-speed electronic digital computer capable of operating in real time. 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


    The United States Navy first contacted the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) regarding the possible development of a flight simulator for training bomber crews. The letter marked the beginning of project Whirlwind, which would eventually grow into the ground-breaking Airplane Stability and Control Analyzer (ASCA) program and the first high-speed electronic digital computer capable of operating in real time. Though the Navy initially requested a simple system that would update a simulated instrument panel and respond to pilot inputs, it would eventually implement a highly realistic and adaptable system capable of accurately modeling a range of areodynamic models.


    Whirlwind Two years to the day after the conception of the project that eventually lead to its development, the Whirlwind computer would be featured on Edward R. Murrow’s extremely popular television news program See It Now. The story was possibly the earliest news story ever to report on a computer.


    The IBM Data Processing Division (DPD) released the IBM 2319 disk storage unit for its popular IBM System/370 and IBM System/360 mainframes.


    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology held the first meeting of the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C), founded by Tim Berners-Lee and Albert Vezza in order to develop and maintain standards for the World Wide Web, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


    The management of memory manufacturer Kingston Technology informed the company's 523 employees that they would share one hundred million dollars in bonuses between them, at an average of seventy-five thousand dollars a piece. For some, their share of the bonus would amount to as much as three time their annual salary. The bonuses were the result of the company's acquisition of Softbank Corporation of Japan for $1.5 billion.

    Microsoft released the Service Pack 2 for its Windows NT 4.0 operating system.


    Three websites, including Diversified Data Systems and Sarah Lawrence College, were hacked and defaced by a hacker known for only leaving a tribute to actress Claire Danes as a signature.


    Mattel announced the acquisition of the education software firm The Learning Company, Inc. in a deal valued at roughly $3.8 billion.

    Oracle and Sun Microsystems announced a new collaboration under which they would develop a line of computer systems that wouldn't require an operating system.


    Monica Gilmore announced that Free-PC had merged with PC manufacturer eMachines. Follow the merger, Free-PC would no long offer free computers to consumers. Instead the new company would continue its business model of manufacturing and selling low-cost computers.

    Yahoo! launched its Yahoo! Pets service.


    Crux Linux Version 1.0 of the CRUX Linux operating system was released. CRUX was a Linux distribution i686-optimized designed for experienced Linux users.


    The Free Software Foundation announced that it would make a $60,000 donation to the Free Ryzom Campaign, which had been established in the hope of purchasing the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Ryzom from its defunct developer, Nevrax, to release it into the public domain. Ryzom was a pay to play MMORPG that had gained notoriety as an excellent game, even earning the Best Story award at MMORPG.COM's 2005 Reader's Choice Awards. However, on November 20, 2006, Nevrax announced that it would enter receivership in December and that it would cease to exist within weeks. The Free Ryzom Campaign was launched November 14, 2006 to rescue the game.