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This Day in Computer History: December 26

written by: Pipedreamergrey•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/27/2008

Today marks the anniversary of the Time Magazine awarding the personal computer its "Man of the Year" award. 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


    Future mathematician and mechanical engineer Charles Babbage was born in Walworth, Surrey, England. Babbage would go on to conceive of the notion of a programmable computer and propose the construction of a Difference Engine in a paper submitted to the Royal Astronomical Society. He would also partially complete the design of the Analytical Engine, which, had it been constructed, would have been the first device to be Turing-complete. He would long be honored as the great grandfather of computing.


    In Chicago, Illinois, the National Machine Accountants Association (NMAA) was founded in order for information technology professionals to exchange support. It would be the forerunner of the Data Processing Management Association (DPMA), as well as the later modern Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP).


    The popular publication Time Magazine names the personal computer "The Man of the Year," a title it awarded annually, but this was the first year in which it had bestowed the title upon a non-human. It explained that the personal computer was 1982’s “greatest influence for good or evil.” According to the magazine, “by itself, the personal computer was a machine with formidable capabilities for tabulating, modeling or recording. Those capabilities can be multiplied almost indefinitely by plugging it into a network of other computers. This was generally done by attaching a desk-top model to a telephone line (two-way cables and earth satellites are coming increasingly into use). One can then dial an electronic data base, which not only provides all manner of information but also collects and transmits messages: electronic mail.”


    Canadian search technology firm Copernic Technologies Inc., best know for developing AOL’s Desktop Search application, was acquired by, the oldest metasearch engine on the web, for a combination of cash and stock estimated to be worth over twenty-two million dollars. The two companies had jointly announced plans to merge in the year prior, but those plans had been repeatedly delay due to an SEC investigation concerning’s stock. In a press release, Mamma CEO Guy Fauré reported that, "With the addition of Copernic's award winning desktop search (CDS) product, we now have a formidable portfolio to satisfy the growing need for integrated search of both web-based and desk-top based users."

    Google, operator of the popular Google Earth mapping service, agrees to limit the resolution of its satellite coverage of sensitive military installations and vulnerable sites in Israel to two meters.


    IBM released its annual “Next Five in Five” list, in which it predicts coming technological advancements. Chief on the list was the prediction that a “wave of connectivity” between vehicles and roadways coordinated by “intelligent” traffic systems would make driving safer, keep traffic patterns flowing smoothly, and minimize pollution. According to the company's predictions, consumers would know far more about the origins of their food. “You will know everything from the climate and soil the food was grown in, to the pesticides and pollution it was exposed to, to the energy consumed to create the product, to the temperature and air quality of the shipping containers it traveled through on the way to your dinner table,” the company's article stated.