by Alan Zisman
(c) 2001. First
published in Vancouver Computes,
This year, we can celebrate several significant
anniversaries in computing.
For instance, May 17th was, according to some
accounts, the tenth anniversary
of the World Wide Web.
Yes most of us know that the Internet had been around
for quite a while
by then, and Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the Web, had been kicking
concept around since 1989. But May 17th, 1991 saw the first public
of Berners-Lee?s Web server and client software.
His presentation, first shown at the Swiss CERN
physics research establishment,
can still be viewed on the Web, at: http://www.w3.org/Talks/C5_17_May_91.html.
bulk of the site consists of PS postscript-formatted
files, making it hard for most of us to actually read it, but the
?You should remember the philosophy that academic
information is for
all, and it is our duty to make information available?.
The Web was born as a forum for making information
As we hear about the difficulties of companies to make a fortune from
Web, it?s important to remember that the Web was not created as a
venture. Tim Berners-Lee, in creating the Web, never became a dot-com
Two of our other anniversaries, however, turned into
August marks the twentieth anniversary of the IBM
Yes, there had been personal computers before that
first IBM-PC; some
people consider the first personal computer the MITS Altair, whose 1975
debut is perhaps best documented in Paul Freiberger and Michael
classic book, ?Fire in the Valley?. And the years between the Altair
IBM?s entry into the market saw an explosion of personal computers,
companies ranging from Commodore and Apple to little firms that are
Nevertheless, computer-giant IBM?s entry into the
market changed everything, giving the concept a new respectability and
entry into the halls of big business. In fact, ever since, the term
has been used to refer to the large number of products, under an
number of brand names, that can be seen to descend from that original
PC. You can find a summary of the IBM PC?s release online at: http://www.dg.com/about/html/ibm_pc.html.
The unprecedented demand for that first IBM PC made
more money for IBM
than it had imagined. It also established Microsoft, providers of the
operating system, DOS. Microsoft had been one of the first
software companies, with Bill Gates and Paul Allen getting their start
providing the BASIC programming language for the pioneering Altair and
other first-generation micro-computers. And a whole hardware and
industry followed on the heels of IBM and Microsoft.
We?re not done, yet. Tenth anniversary, twentieth
It?s also the thirtieth anniversary of two biggies:
1971 gave us the
invention, by Intel?s Ted Hoff of the first microprocessor. By today?s
standards, it wasn?t much?the original Intel 4004 was a 4-bit chip with
2300 transistors and was marketed for electronic calculators. Still,
made it as powerful as the original ENIAC which used 18,000 vacuum
and took up a whole room. By the end of the year, Intel was advertising
it as ?a micro-programmable computer on a chip?.
Just for comparison, the Pentium 4 packs in some 42
And the 4004 ran at 108 khz, some 15,000 times slower than a 1.7 GHz.
the 4004 was enough to spur the development, by Gary Kildall, of the
programming language and CP/M operating systems which, along with
next generation 8008 CPU formed much of the software basis for that
generation of micro-computers. And its descendant, Intel?s 8088
powered that first IBM PC.
And 1971 also saw the sending of the first e-mail
message, by Ray Tomlinson,
credited with also being the first to use the ?@? sign to separate the
user?s name from the computer?s name. For more on Tomlinson and his
According to the Rose Floral Company?s Wedding
Anniversary Symbols Web
anniversary is traditionally symbolized by tin, the 20th by china,
and the 30th by pearls. The site, however, points out that modern
centers around platinum for 20, and diamonds for both 10 and 30.
Out of our four anniversaries, we might imagine that
two, IBM and Intel,
can afford to celebrate with their choice of platinum or diamonds.
Neither Tim Berners-Lee not Ray Tomlinson, however,
made a fortune from