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This Day in Computer History: October 4

written by: Pipedreamergrey•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/8/2008

Today marks the anniversary of the first results of Hollerith's Tabulating machine and the first release of Debian Linux. Read about these events and 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


    Sputnik With the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik I, the Space Race begins. Russia's success in launching the first artificial satellite caused a perceived technology gap between the world's two superpowers that led President John F. Kennedy to publicly pledge that the United States would be the first nation to put a man on the Moon. The rapid technological development necessary to achieve that goal would become one of the driving forces behind the computer industry for decades to come.


    Science magazine ran an ad from Hewlett-Packard introducing the first programmable scientific desktop calculator to the world, “the new Hewlett-Packard 911A personal computer.”


    The Free Software Foundation was founded by Richard Stallman to support the GNU Project.


    Netscape Navigator 3.04 was released.


    Advanced Micro Devices released the 700 MHz AMD Athlon processor, the world’s fastest x86 processor. Price: $849 in 1,000-unit quantities

    AmigaActive Magazine included HydraBBS 1.05 with the software included in its October issue. While its inclusion was an acknowledgment of the continuing popularity of BBS communities on the Internet, the fact that the software is six revisions behind the most recent release raises eyebrows throughout those BBS communities.

    Intel Corporation announced that they have chosen "Itanium" as the brand name for its upcoming line of processors.

    Red Hat released version 6.1 of its Red Hat operating system, “Cartman.” This version featured the Star Office 5.1a office suite.


    Maxtor announced the acquisition of hard drive manufacturer Quantum for about one billion dollars in stock.


    Microsoft unveiled the Pocket PC 2002 operating system, powered by Windows CE 3.0. Code-name: Merlin


    Twenty-seven year old Vasily Gorshkov of Chelyabinsk, Russia, received a three year prison sentence and seven hundred thousand dollars in fines for twenty counts of conspiracy, fraud, and computer crimes after hacking into PayPal and the Speakeasy ISP of Seattle.


    Version 2 of the R programming language was released. This version features “Lazy loading”, which is the ability to quickly load data with a minimal expenditure of memory.


    Dell announced the availability of a line of its Dimension E510n desktop computers shipped with a blank harddrive and a copy of FreeDOS. The system is designed for customers who want to install their own open source operating system. The E510n featured a Pentium 4 processor; 512 MB of DDR memory, a 128 MB ATI Radeon X300SE HyperMemory video card, and an 80 GB hard drive. Price: $849

    Yahoo! acquires the online calendar service


    A jury determined Jammie Thomas to be liable for infringing on the copyright of twenty-four songs in the first music piracy case to ever make it to trial in the United States. The jury ordered the single mother of two to pay $9,250 for each violation, significantly more than the $750 minimum required by law. The case is highly controversial because the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which brought the suit, was not required to prove that Thomas had at any point installed filesharing software on her computer or had, in fact, been using the computer at the time of the alleged infringement. The RIAA's case was entirely predicated on the strength of the defendant’s Internet protocol (IP) address being associated with 1,702 songs on Kazaa. Because Judge Michael J. Davis gave the jury the instruction that making songs available constituted copyright infringement, he will be forced to declare a mistrial, bringing the issue to the center of Thomas' re-trial.