This Day in Computer History: September 4

Written by:  Pipedreamergrey • Edited by: Christian Cawley
Updated Sep 14, 2008
• Related Guides: IBM | Computer History

Today marks the anniversary of the launch of the first computer with magnetic disk storage and first internet demo site. 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.

This Day in Computer History


In New York City, Thomas Alva Edison's Edison Electrical Illuminating Company begins supplying electricity to the company's first customers. The event is marked by an event on Wall Street at which Edison pulls a giant switch.


IBM releases the RAMAC 305, the first commercial computer to use a magnetic disk storage. RAMAC is an acronym for “Random Access Method of Accounting and Control.” The system was designed to replace the traditional punch card tub file system common in most contemporary systems. It stores a whopping 4.4MB, with five million 7-bit (6-bits plus 1 odd parity bit) characters, using fifty 24-inch diameter disks spinning at 1200RPM. It can transfer data at 8,800 characters per second. The system will lease for US$3,200 a month, complete with 350 storage disks.


Gary Boone receives a patent for the first single-chip microprocessor, which he describes as a “Computing Systems CPU.” (U.S. No. 3,757,306)


Thom Henderson, chairman of the International FidoNet Association (IFNA), announces that a network-wide referendum will be held in which FidoNet sysops will be asked to vote on the issue of whether or not to relinquish administration of FidoNet to the IFNA.


Sun Microsystems announces the development of a version of its Unix-based operating system Solaris for Intel-based personal computers.


The first major demo archive on the web, the "Internet Demo Site" is launched as an FTP on the servers of the University of Wisconsin Parkside. Unlike the BBS archives which pepper the internet, the Hornet Archive will only host demos, multimedia presentations that showcase 3D modeling, art, music, and programming, skills of Demogroups. These demos, which are usually composed of 3D animation and 2D effects, are at the heart of a thriving computer subculture that strives to produce art on home computers, beginning with the 8-bit computers of the late eighties. In the early days, this subculture, which dubbed itself the "demoscene," was closely linked with software cracking and piracy due to the exorbitant cost of the multimedia software required to produce demos. As software became more widely available an affordable, the demoscene came into its own and the Internet Demo Site will be at the center of it all. Following a move to servers at the University of Florida in 1994, the site will be renamed the "Hornet Archive" for the University's mascot. By 1998, the site's will have collected over sixteen thousand files, occupying seven gigabytes of disk space. Most of the files on the site will be created between 1987 and 1998 and designed to run on DOS.


The Klu Klux Klan (KKK) website is anonymously hacked, and its visitors are redirected to, the website of a prominent anti-bigotry organization, for the better part of a week. Hatewatch had recently made news for criticizing just such “hacktivism.” Thus, the resulting publicity resulting from the hack embarrasses Hatewatch as much as the KKK. The organization's founder, David Goldman, will later release a statement in which he states, “Hatewatch has not nor ever will condone such behavior. Not only is this type of action illegal but it has the effect of calling into question the legitimacy of the online civil rights movement as a whole.” The incident’ will become the subject of an article entitled, “Ku Klux Klan Korrected” in Wired Magazine on September 10.


In Los Angeles, Microsoft releases version 9.0 of the Windows Media player.


At the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) trade show in Berlin, local police raid the booth of SanDisk, seizing every MP3 players on display in response to a court injunction protecting Sisvel's patent on the MP3 file format. By September 8, the injunction will be overturned and the booth will be re-opened.

The ShareReactor eDonkey index website is relaunched by new administrators follow a 2004 raid by Swiss, during which the site was shut down. The site features a new design and more accurate source statistics for the eDonkey network.

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