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This Day in Computer History: November 16

written by: Pipedreamergrey•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 11/17/2008

Today marks the invention of the vacuum tube and the beginning of Apple's quest to license the Macintosh trademark. 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


    English electrical engineer John Ambrose Fleming invented the thermionic valve or vacuum tube. Vacuum tubes would be used to amplify or switch a electrical signal by controlling the direction in which electrons moved in a vacuum. The device would become and remain the foundation of electronic technology for decades to come.


    IBM introduced the IBM 1062 teller terminal and the IBM 7710 data communication system.


    Steve Jobs sent a request to the president of the British audio hardware manufacturer McIntosh Labs seeking permission use "Macintosh" as the name of its upcoming computer system. Jobs explained in the letter, “We have become very attached to the name Macintosh. Much like one’s own child, our product has developed a very definite personality.” On the advice of a lawyer, McIntosh Labs would reject the request. Two years later, Apple Computer would acquire the McIntosh trademark for “substantially” more than one hundred thousand dollars.


    USA Today launched one of the first syndicated electronic news services, which it called USA Today Update. The service provided summaries of business news articles through the Datatimes, GEnie, Minitel, The Source, and Trintex data services.


    The COMDEX trade show was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Event attendance was the highest in history. It featured two thousand corporate booths and was attended by one hundred forty-five thousand people. Advanced Micro Devices demonstrated its line of 50 MHz 80486 processors. IBM demonstrated its line of 100 MHz “Blue Lightning” 80486 processors.

    Microsoft released its Microsoft Access 1.0 database application for Windows. Price: $99.


    Advanced Micro Devices released 366, 380, and 400 MHz versions of the AMD K6-2 processor, featuring bus speeds of 66, 95, and 100 MHz respectively. Price: $187, $213, and $283.

    At the COMDEX trade show, Iomega unveiled its Zip 250 drive, featuring an external parallel port and SCSI connection. It was capable of writing to 100 MB and 250 MB cartridges. The transfer rate of the drive was up to 1.7MBps. Price: $199.


    ICANN announced that it would launch seven new top level domains (TLD) for the internet in an attempt to defray demand for the popular .com: .pro, .name, .museum, .info, .coop, .biz, and .aero.


    United States Customs Agents seize one hundred million dollars worth of pirated computer software in the course of Operation White Horse. It was the largest such seizure in U.S. history.


    Aurora SPARC released Aurora SPARC Linux Build 2.0 Beta 2.

    ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) was granted the right to retain control of the Internet despite international opposition which felt the United States and its policies was no longer a reliable manager.