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This Day in Computer History: November 28

written by: Pipedreamergrey•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 11/29/2008

Today marks the anniversary of the announcement of a method of using a PlayStation 3 to crack encryption and the launch of the EXEC-PC BBS. 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


    Herbert Bright, the developer of one of the earliest FORTRAN applications and creator of the first error message, died at the age of 67. Bright, who had been a research engineer at AT&T Laboratories, was an outspoken proponent of the use of data encryption for security.


    Texas Instruments, Inc. reduced the price of its TI-99/4 home computer to $650 from $950 in an attempt to remain competitive.


    At the COMDEX trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Radio Shack introduced the Tandy TRS-80 Model 2000 computer. The system featured an 8 MHz Intel 80186 processor, an optional 10 MB hard drive, 128 KB RAM (expandable to 256 KB), an optional graphics card, either one or two 720 KB disk drives, and MS-DOS 2.0.


    The EXEC-PC bulletin board systems (BBS) is launched. At 2 A.M., the board took its first call on its only phone line. By the mid-nineties, the board would become one of the largest and most popular in North America with as many as two hundred and fifty phone lines and a then-staggering three hundred gigabytes of data storage.


    Opera released version 3.0 of its Opera Mini web browser for mobile phones with features to enable blogger and social networkers easy access to popular Web 2.0 web services, such as Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, and Wikipedia.

    Wal-mart began testing a service through which its customers could download films directly to portable devices for $1.97, to a computer for $2.97, or for both for $3.97. The first film released through the service was "Superman Returns."

    Xandros Incorporated released version 4.1 of the Xandros operating system, a Linux distribution well known for its focus on business users.


    Senior security consultant Nick Breese of the Auckland, New Zealand-based site, invents a method of cracking passwords by using a PlayStation 3 console to implement common ciphers and hash functions using vector computing. The project, which Breese dubbed the "CrackStation," uses the console's six Synergistic Processing Unit to perform twenty-four calculations simultaneously at a rate of 1.4 billion calculations a second, a dramatic increase over the 10 - 15 million calculations per second of then-current Intel-based architecture. Breese made the discovery while seeking a way to optimize MD5 (Message-Digest algorithm 5) processing. The announcement of the innovation raised serious concerns over the validity of some encryption algorithms.