This Day in Computer History: August 25th

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This Day in Computer History


Microsoft announces the release of the Xenix Version 7 Unix operating system for the 16-bit microcomputer market


A second year computer science student from the University of Helsinki, Linus Torvalds posts a message to Usenet group comp.os.minix with the subject line “What would you like to see most in minix?” The system he’s talking about will be the Linux operating system. The post reads, in part: “Hello everybody out there using minix - I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since April, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).” In response to the post, Torvalds will receive several suggestions and a few offers to help test the software. The operating system’s first version will be released on the Finnish server as free source code (version 0.01) in mid-September. The system will receive the name “Linux” from the server’s administrator, Ari Lemmke. Linus had chosen the name “Freix” for his system, the result of a combination of “freak” and “Unix,” but he won’t mention the name publicly before Lemmke labels it with Linux, in honor of its creator.


Apple Computer releases the PowerBook 5300 series of laptops, the first generation of PowerBook laptops to use the PowerPC processor. It features a 100MHz PowerPC 603e processor, 8MB of RAM, a 640x480 greyscale LCD screen, and the System 7.5.2 OS. It’s historically the first system to feature hot-swappable expansion modules for infrared communication ports, PC card slots, and ZIP drives. Unfortunately, the system is overshadowed by the fanfare of the release of Windows 95 operating system a day prior, issues with the two preproduction units - triggering a recall, and system performance hobbled by the lack of a level-2 cache. Price: US$2,300 - US$6,800


Netscape announces the creation of the Navio company in order to cooperatively develop software with IBM, Oracle, and four Japanese electronics manufacturers in an attempt to compete with Microsoft software.


Novell, Inc. releases the first version of the BorderManager multi purpose network security application. BorderManager is a proxy server, firewall, and VPN access point. Visit Novell’s official website.


At the Dell DirectConnect conference, Bill Gates publicly states that the recently aired made-for-tv movie Pirates of Silicon Valley was not historically correct. The movie is a dramatization of the rise of the computer industry with a special focus on the rivalry between Microsoft’s Gates and Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs. “They didn’t get the facts quite right,” Gates insists.


Walter Wiggs, age 44, is arrested by special FBI agents in Douglasville, Georgia on charges of gaining unauthorized access to a protected government system in California. Wiggs disrupted the Los Angeles County Child Protection Hotline from July 1 - 4, 2003 by deleting critical configuration files from the system. The hotline is used by citizens, police, hospitals, and mental health workers to report cases of child abuse or neglect requiring immediate response. During the disruption, callers were either unable to speak to reach an official or the calls were greatly delayed. Wiggs was formerly employed as a technician at the Technology for Business Corporation (TFBC), a Manhattan Beach-based technology corporation specializing in the development of custom software, such as interactive voice response systems for telephone call centers.

Version 4.3.3 of the PHP 4.3.3 programming language is released.


Version 6.0 SP2 of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is released with Windows XP SP2. The upgrade includes a vulnerability patch, a popup/ActiveX blocker, and an integrated add-on manager.


A sixteen year-old Tom Wood of Melbourne, Australia makes global headlines when he cracks the US$84 million federally distributed internet porn filter, NetAlert, in less than thirty minutes on Tuesday August 21st. Not only did Wood crack the filter hub a demonstration for the Herald Sun, one of the nation’s largest newspapers, he did so without altering the status bar icon that indicates that the software is active. In response to the story, the Government released a second filter, but Wood cracked the second system within forty minutes.