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This Day in Computer History: November 18

written by: Pipedreamergrey•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 11/19/2008

Today marks the anniversary of the beginning of Bill Gates' career as a computer programmer, the founding of Lakeside Programmers' Group. 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


    IBM released the IBM 1231 optical mark page reader.


    Bill Gates began his career as a computer programmer in the computer labs of the Lakeside High School in Seattle, Washington. He and his friends formed the Lakeside Programmers Group. Together, they designed a payroll program for the local Information Sciences Inc. in exchange for what was very expensive time on the company's PDP-10 system.


    A federal court rules that Microsoft had been within its rights to market its BASIC programming language and compilers to companies other than IBM, for which Microsoft had developed the software. Only months later, Microsoft would license BASIC to Commodore for its PET and TRS-80 computers.


    Arguments began in the case of US vs. David LaMacchia, in which David LaMacchia stood accused of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud for allegedly operating the “Cynosure” bulletin board system (BBS) to host pirated software on Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) servers for six weeks. The prosecution doesn’t accuse LaMacchia of violating copyright or computer fraud statutes, choosing to charge him under a federal wire fraud statute that had been enacted in 1952 to prevent the use of telephone systems for interstate fraud. The case raised serious concerns over the government's ability to prosecute computer crimes and issues regarding how the first amendment would apply to the internet. The case would spur legislators to close gaps in existing laws after it was later dismissed on December 29th.


    The COMDEX trade show was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the event, Microsoft announced its Windows CE 1.0 operating system for handheld computers. At the event Intel's Andrew Grove predicted that by 2011, its processors would integrate one billion transistors to operate at 10 GHz.

    Hewlett-Packard announced that it had received government approval for the International Cryptography Framework (ICF), an encryption framework it had developed to secure data passed across the Internet. Its adjustable levels of encryption would allow manufacturers to export the strongest encryption system approved by the US government to date.


    America Online (AOL) users experienced a third major service brownout in under a month. The service was down for five hours.


    A US District Judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering Microsoft to update Windows 98 and Internet Explorer to conform to Java programming language standards within ninety days and to discontinue its practice of labeling its products containing Java technology as “official” Java implementations.

    At a press conference in New York City, Macy’s Department Store launches the largest ecommerce store ever created by an established brick-and-mortar retailer.


    Dell Computer introduced the Dell Axim X5 handheld computer at the COMDEX trade show. It featured a 300MHz Intel XScale processor, 32 MB SDRAM, a CompactFlash slot, and the Pocket PC 2002 operating system. Price: $249 - $349.


    Apple Computer introduced an iMac model with a twenty inch LCD display.

    Apple Computer released updated Power Mac G5 systems. They featured processor sets ranging from a single 1.66 GHz to dual 2 GHz G5 processors and a choice of a 80 or 160 GB hard drive.


    Cray, Inc. released The Cray XT4 supercomputer.