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This Day in Computer History: October 21

written by: Pipedreamergrey•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/22/2008

Today marks the anniversary of one of the largest hacks in history, which affected over half of the nation's root servers. 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


    B. Webb of AT&T transmits the first transatlantic radio telephone message in cooperation with Western Electric from Arlington, Virginia to French Lieutenant Colonal Ferries at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The demonstration of the cutting edge radio telephony technology represented an important advance in the development of vacuum-tube receivers and transmitters. This marks the earliest beginning of wireless telephony that will, eighty-five years later, become not only ubiquitous but a cornerstone of the computer market.


    A world typing record is set by Margaret Owen of New York City at 170 words per minute on a manual typewriter.


    Chinese American computer engineer Dr. An Wang filed a patent for a magnetic ferrite core memory entitled “pulse transfer controlling devices.” An Wang went on to found industry giant Wang Laboratories in 1951. Magnetic ferrite core memory was one of earliest forms of random access memory for computers.


    The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was signed. Once in effect, the act effectively extended previous wiretap protections that only protected telephone systems to also include electronic mail. However, in the months to come, it was made clear that the act would also extend to BBS communities. The new laws leave community sysops scrabbling to understand their new responsibilities and liabilities.


    Apple Computer introduced the Color Classic II, marketed in the U.S. as the Performa 275, and the Mac LC III+, marketed in the U.S. as the Performa 460, Performa 466, and Performa 467, depending on RAM.

    Apple Computer also introduced the Macintosh Quadra 605, with a 25 MHz Motorola 68LC040 processor, up to 132 MB RAM, a 160 or 230 MB hard drive, and a SuperDrive. The systems are housed in the company's thinnest "pizza box" style case, which stood just under three-inches in height. It was the first model in the Quadra line to sell for less than $1,000.

    John Sculley made headlines when he announced that he would take million dollar a year position as CEO of Spectrum Information Technologies.


    In San Jose, California, the Microprocessor Forum was held over four days. At the event, Exponential Technology introduced the 533MHz X704 Power PC compatible processor for the Macintosh and Windows NT computers. IBM and Motorola also announced the 240 MHz PowerPC 603e processor.


    At the Networld / Interop trade show, Microsoft released Service Pack 4 for its Windows NT 4.0 operating system.


    Six thousand computers are coordinated and directed in a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on thirteen of the root servers responsible for regulating Internet traffic in what may well have been the largest single attack in history. The targeted servers were flooded by thirty-to-forty times their typical traffic load, and seven of the thirteen fail, giving zero-responses. An eighth server suffers a severely diminish capacity for hours. Staples of the internet, such as, eBay, and Yahoo! were hard hit, losing millions upon millions of hits during the failures.


    SIM-IM developers released the first version of the Simple Instant Messenger (SIM), version, for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows systems. SIM was a free multi-protocol instant messaging application built with the Qt library. It supports five protocols, including: Oscar (for AIM and ICQ), Jabber, LiveJournal, MSN, and Yahoo!