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This Day in Computer History: October 19

written by: Pipedreamergrey•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/21/2008

Today marks the anniversary of the emergence of AOL and the beginning of the Microsoft antitrust case. 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


    Samuel Morse later noted this day as being the first time he conceived of his electric telegraph system.


    The National Bureau of Standards authorized development of the SWAC (Standards Western Automatic Computer), one of the earliest electronic digital computers, noted later for its use in the discovery of five Mersenne primes.


    A federal court rules that the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) built by physicist John Atanasoff was the first electronic digital computer, invalidating what would have been immensely lucrative patents filed on the ENIAC. The ABC, which preceded the ENIAC by years, introduced the concepts of binary arithmetic, logic circuits, and regenerative memory, all of which were used in the ENIAC.


    VT100 The Digital Equipment Corporation entered the personal computer market with the release of the VT-100 video terminal, featuring an 8-bit processor, 64KB RAM, two floppy drives, and the CP/M operating system. Price: $2,400.


    The Quantum Link service, or "Q-Link" for short, for Commodore 64 and Commodore 128 personal computers becomes America Online. The interactive internet service provides access to chat rooms, e-mail service, and games. It would soon beat out its competitors, CompuServe and The Source, in terms of popularity and grow into an international service.


    Apple Computer discontinued production of its its PowerBook 170.


    Apple Computer discontinued production of its its Macintosh IIvx.


    After 210 days of work, the “Bovine RC5 Effort” cracks a RSA Data Security RC5 56-bit encryption key, the strongest encryption allowed to be exported by U.S. law at the time, as part of an organized challenge conducted by RSA in an attempt to encourage the government to approve the export of 128-bit keys. The cracked message read, “It was time to move to a longer key length.” The prize for being the first of over four thousand teams to crack the key was ten thousand dollars. That challenge was the fourth to be offered by the company in 1997. The first challenge was a 40-bit key that was cracked in three hours for a thousand dollar award. The second challenge was a 48-bit key that was cracked in thirteen days for a five thousand dollar prize. The third challenge was the first of four 56-bit keys the challenge would offer. The keys were cracked using brute force methods that, in the case of this fourth challenge, required the Bovine team to attempt over forty-seven percent of the 72,057,594,037,927,936 possible keys.


    The Microsoft antitrust case brought by the United States Justice Department and the attorney generals of twenty states begins. The government's lawyers spend more than three hours detailing the acts that Microsoft is alleged to have committed in order to gain monopolistic control of the desktop operating system monopoly market.

    Version 4.5 of the Netscape Communicator was released.


    IBM discontinued its Aptiva line of computers to focus on marketing computers direct to consumers online.


    Apple Computer released an update on its iBook portable computer line. The new systems are released in three price brackets to reach a wider number of consumers. They featured either a 1.2 or 1.33 GHz G4 processor, a 133 MHz bus, 256 MB DDR266 RAM, a SuperDrive, a 12, 14, or 14.1-inch LCD screen, ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 with 32 MB DDR RAM, 30 or 60 GB hard drive, AirPort Extreme wireless networking, two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400 port, 100BaseT Ethernet port, and a 56 Kbps v.92 modem. Price: $999 - $1,499.

    Power Mac G5 Apple Computer released an update on the popular Power Mac G5 desktop. It featured processor options running from 1.8 GHz to dual 2.5 GHz processors with a 600 MHz front-side bus, 256 MB DDR400 SDRAM, a SuperDrive, an 80 or 160 GB hard drive, a Nvidia GeForce Fx 5200 Ultra card in an 8X AGP slot, three 33 MHz 64-bit PCI slots, AirPort Extreme slot, two FireWire 400 ports, one FireWire 800 port, and three USB 2.0 ports.


    Apple Computer discontinued production of its its Power Macintosh G5 FX.