This Day in Computer History: September 7

Written by:  Pipedreamergrey • Edited by: Christian Cawley
Published Sep 8, 2008
• Related Guides: Apple Computer | Google | Computer History

Today marks the anniversary of the release of the iPod Nano and the launch of Google. 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.

This Day in Computer History


Philo Taylor Farnsworth, age 21, successfully transmits the first image on the first fully electronic television system in history, which he invented. The image he produces is of a straight line painted on the surface of a piece of glass. Farnsworth was born in a log cabin with no electricity, but he first conceived of the idea of television at only fourteen years of age, while plowing his uncle's field. He imagines that an image could be broken into rows and reassembled into as a series of individual lights, just as the field was broken into rows before planting.


ILLIAC IV, one of the first and by far the most famous large parallel processing computer is decommissioned after nearly a decade of use at the University of Illinois. DARPA commissioned the University of Illinois to build the ILLIAC IV in 1966, but it didn't go into operation until 1972 at the NASA Ames Research Center. It achieved a computational speed of about two hundred million instructions per second, three hundred million operations per second, and one billion bits per second of I/O transfer.


Computer manufacturer Victory Computer Systems is incorporated.


The world’s first conference on the topic of artificial life is held over two weeks at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.


The Soviet spacecraft Soyuz TM-5 returns to Earth after its crew completes their nine day mission aboard the Mir space station. However, the return is riddled with computer errors, as the Soyuz attempted to run a re-entry sequence stored in its systems from a Soviet-Bulgarian mission in June. Initially, the computer failed to start the deorbit burn on schedule because its horizon sensor couldn’t confirm the craft’s altitude. Seven minutes later, the main engine fired but had to be shut down by the crew. When they attempted to manually deorbit the craft, the computer shut its engines down. In an attempt to continue on manual, pilot Vladimir Lyakhov then instructed the computer to ignore the first burn shutdown, inadvertently triggering the next stage in the re-entry checklist, which would have been to jettison the Equipment Module, including the primary propulsion system. The program was disabled less than a minute from a fatal misstep, and the pair were forced to remain in orbit for a full day longer than expected, waiting for another re-entry window in a Descent Module with little water and no sanitary facilities. The situation, sometimes referred to as the Soviet Apollo 13.


Apple Computer announces its intention to license its Macintosh operating system out in 1995. The company also announces a new Mac OS logo.


Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin begin to collaborate on a search engine called BackRub, named so for its unique technique of analyzing a websites “back links.” The service will later become the Google search engine.


Google is co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The company is based in a Silicon Valley garage. Its name is a play on the word “googol,” coined by Milton Sirotta to refer to a number represented by a one followed by one hundred zeros, and it is intended to reflect the company’s mission to organize the seemingly infinite information available on the internet.


After nine months of beta testing, GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG) version 1.0.0, a successor to the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) suite of cryptographic software, is released under the GNU General Public License for Linux. It will rapidly grow in popularity after the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology funds its documentation and the creation of a Windows port in 2000.


The Wikimedia Commons, a repository of unprotected images and other multimedia files, is launched to compliment the Wikipedia website.


Apple Computer introduces the iPod Nano and discontinues the iPod mini, which was introduced on February 20, 2004. It combines the flash memory of the iPod shuffle with the controls and interface of the iPod. It's sixty-two percent smaller than its predecessor and features a 65,536 color display capable of displaying photographs. It will sell one million units inside seventeen days.

Gnoppix 2.12, a Linux distribution intended to offer the GNOME desktop environment, is released on a Live CD.

Yahoo! turns over a user's personal information to the government of the People’s Republic of China. The user, a reporter named Shi Tao, is sentenced to ten years in prison as a direct result of the information, igniting an uproar in the U.S. media.

2006 launches the Amazon Unbox video on-demand service, offering television programs and films for rent or purchase from eight studios. Films cost anywhere from US$0.99 to US$3.99, and television episodes cost US$1.99 with discounts for seasons and full series.


The Facebook social networking site passes the two hundred million users mark.

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