On This Day in Tech History
Posted 1 April 2016 by Kelvin Papp
We love a bit of tech trivia here at Blue Chip, and it seems that these days not a day goes by without some amazing technological breakthrough occurring. It can be easy to forget that there was a time when our favourite internet, gadget and computing giants weren’t the household names that they are today. And in fact, some of the most memorable dates marked in our calendars were also momentous occasions in the history of technology. Read on to discover what happened in the world of technology on these notable holidays…
What better way to mark the day more commonly known as April Fool’s Day with a double-whammy? Not just about jokes, 1st April was actually a highly significant date for two of the biggest names in tech today. Google launched an invitation-only beta to Gmail back in 2004, with many assuming it was simply an April Fool’s joke. Gmail subsequently went on to flourish, having an estimated 1 billion active users to date! Even more noteworthy for one technology company was the fact that it was actually founded on this day; Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple in 1976 which, if you’ve been counting, makes Apple 40 today. Happy birthday, Apple! Who would have predicted four decades ago that they would be named in the 2014 edition of the Interbrand Best Global Brands report as the world's most valuable brand, with a valuation of $118.9 billion?
Extra Fun Fact: Today's iconic Apple logo looks very different from its 1976 style. Look to the left, where you’ll see the original logo featuring Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree.
23rd April 2005
An under-celebrated day, not everyone even realises that April 23rd is St. George’s Day! In technological circles, it won’t be remembered as the day of England’s Patron Saint, but rather the day of the first ever YouTube video. And no, it wasn’t a cat video…but it did involve animals. Entitled “Me at the zoo”, the 19 second clip was uploaded to the video-streaming website by YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, and starred some elephants at the San Diego Zoo. Whilst not the most engaging of content, as of December 2015 the video had received more than 29 million views and over 200,000 comments. Despite its humble beginnings, Google went on to acquire YouTube for $1.65 billion in November 2006.
Extra Fun Fact: YouTube is an original prankster, tricking its millions of users every April Fool’s Day since 2008. Japes have included adding a “Darude – Sandstorm” button in 2015 and turning the site upside-down in 2009.
5th November 2007
Android will always remember, remember the 5th of November, but not because of Guy Fawkes and his Gunpowder Plot. In fact, this was the day that the mobile device platform was revealed to the world. Built on the Linux kernel, the first commercially-available phone to run this system – the HTC Dream - wasn’t released until almost a year later, on October 22, 2008. Android went on to be the most popular mobile operating system, dominating smartphone sales in 2015 with a whopping 80.7% market share.
Extra Fun Fact: Android names all of its versions since 1.1 after sweet treats, in alphabetical order. So far they’ve unveiled Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop and Marshmallow.
25th December 1987
In the excitement of what is inarguably the biggest and most anticipated day of the calendar year, many will have forgotten that in the late 1980s the Christmas Tree EXEC virus spread across multiple computer networks, causing widespread disruption. One of the first computer worms - a standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers – it drew a Christmas tree as a text graphic and then forwarded itself to all of the user’s email contacts, freezing networks as it circulated.
Extra Fun Fact: The 1999 Melissa virus - one of the fastest-spreading viruses ever - was named after a stripper who its creator David Smith met in Florida.
14th February 1946
Although loved-up couples more commonly celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th, something else happened in 1946 which changed the face of modern computing as we know it. ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) was the first electronic general-purpose computer ever made, under the code name "Project PX". ENIAC could calculate 5,000 operations per second — 1,000 times faster than its contemporaries – as well as occupying over 1,500 square feet of space, weighing 30 tons, and using 18,000 vacuum tubes.
Extra Fun Fact: Although IT is currently a male-dominated industry, in fact the six individuals who did the majority of the programming for ENIAC were women. Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman were all inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 1997.
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