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Confessions ...and software agony
This is page one of a new series of webpages
for nerds, “Software Agony” - Confessions of an
accident-prone software user... wisdom or otherwise from a
strange attractor for Murphy's Law phenomena.
as you travel.
This page updated 30 December 2004
A software agony column...
This software agony column may interest a few fellow
sufferers from software, though it presents mostly my own
preoccupations with computing. And I'm restless. Restless.
And, this is not a blog. It's simply an extensible HTML
webpage with its tongue in its cheek. Some topics treated here
may depend on how many software accidents I feel like
confessing/reporting here! This feeling could well vary from day
to day on a you-know-how-it-is sort of basis.
But anyway, some other restless souls may be interested?
Recently, (December 2004), I finished a six-months technical
collage course on website programming. I was warned, and it was
correct, I'll never be a programmer. Right on! It's very
frustrating, too, with wanting to do a spot of programming, and
not being able to. I have to bow and kneel to gurus. My knees get
Whatever, I remain restless about questions of using software.
Halfway through this course I did, someone suggested my basic
problem is that I'm accident-prone with software. Oh, really?
True, some people do have a peculiar number of car accidents,
while others have no accidents at all. I have never been
accident-prone with cars. Maybe I really am accident-prone with
software? Why didn't I think of this?
This gives me a role in life. With computer-using, I'm a
strange attractor for Murphy's Law phenomena, and I can tell you
all about it! Here goes... hard disk failures, repeated.
Trying to keep back-up systems going. Fooling around with various
sorts of software, a sin, apparently. Mea culpa... (That's
in italics as it's Latin, folks, and not because some
webpage guru failed to tell us why italics
are useful to use sometimes, without explaining why!)
Still, I am not a complete software dolt. I once put on the
Net what I called a website book. It was not long before
someone in the US e-mailed me wanting to link to it for what they
were promoting as a collection of " surfable books".
What a good idea, I thought. A surfable book! Very likeable!
Yes, "the Net" can be a very creative place,
chock-full of good ideas. I think it would be great if the
software worked well all the time! But it doesn't, does
And in general, please feel quite free to email on any topics
you find treated on these pages for nerds.
Dan Byrnes Word Factory: On the Net since late 1996!
Other websites here
History of Technology of Music
and Bankers Listings
What should go here do you think by way of page design? Or
should it just be left blank? I really can't make up my mind.
And another question for readers here... In all fairness,
should some reports be provided from people who are PERFECTLY
contented with their softwares? What do you think?
computer behaving itself? If not, why not? If not, maybe check
out some of the files in the:
Beach Links Garden
There you will find
some sets of linkspages on "Using computers more
effectively", software in general, gadgets (electronic), and
writing better webpages (in general).
Enjoy! (If your
software agonies permit you!)
for fun, these web pages will carry old-style graphics and other
evidence of the rapid changes made in website style and
presentation since 1996. Enjoy!
The material you find below will be
placed on this set of pages in forward chrnological order - from
the oldest itemson this page to the the most recent in following
figures to this domain are given on the what's
You can find
popularity rankings of these webpages at:
Check out all sorts of
fascinating musical questions at HOTM - History of Technology of
Music - HoTM
I began my computer course with a head full of ideas which
had arisen some time previous, some of which were not so good, which
for weeks gave me quite a lot of head-static as we delved into the
With finishing, I'm in the opposite state of mind; I have a head
full of new approaches to throw into the mix from late 2004. Am
looking forward to exploring all this in practice. With fingers
My e-mail from around the world has indicated for years now that
my websites really do get across to people, and I find from the young
students I lately mixed with, they really have not yet met
situations where they know what it feels like to be actually
communicating, internationally, and entertainingly, and regularly,
via the medium of a website – somewhat apart from the
use of e-mail itself.
Still, despite my long time now in cyberspace, I personally know
only three people in Australia who do comment on their experiences by
way of communicating via websites; one in Sydney, one in
Melbourne, one on the coast north of Sydney. I also know one fellow
in the UK who maintains a lively web presence and gets good
feedback from his website, but only one.
With this course, I was the oldest student - the grey-bearded one
in the corner. I noticed one day that one thing we did NOT study was
"The Browser". Now you remember "the browser wars
between Microsoft and Netscape"? Which Microsoft won! And since
Microsoft won, people seem to have backed off from asking, "What's
in the browser?" And I find this amusing. These days, whatever's
"in the browser" might have a remarkable effect on your
webpages. But what effects? Why? If there is pre-programming in the
browser, what will that mean when this programming is updated in the
future? I can tell you now what it will mean... more software agony,
Oh, really? Well, I do know one fellow who has a website. He keeps
keeps his software sanity by turning off his browser's capacity to
display graphics. All those wonderful graphics he misses out on, but
no, he's happy. He's okay, he says. So, ok, how is this fellow coping
with his software agonies? By turning bits of it OFF, that's how. And
still we don't know - what's "in the browser?"
I have finally worked out what's in the browser, that no one wants
to talk about. This facet of things is maybe something I ought to
properly write up? After all, in the final analysis, the
technical aspects of a website are merely in the service of enabling
a website to communicate more effectively. There is nothing about
being a good programmer which necessarily means one will be a good
communicator via websites and the use of programming. But why
Here is what is in the browser...
What is in your browser? The Ghost In The Machine is what
you have in your browser. It's there while you are pre-testing your
webpages before you upload them. It's there when a netsurfer happens
on one of your webpages. It's there, and it's a shape-changer. It can
turn into a panther, if it wants do. It can do what it likes, and it
often does. Microsoft thinks it owns "the browser", but it
doesn't really - no one owns it. And what is the ghost-in-the-browser
there for? Well, one purpose it has is to frustrate people getting
interested in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Frustrate them to death.
Another purpose of the ghost-in-the-browser is to promote XML, but
let's not get into that, since if we do, my machine will start
talking to your machine, and if too much of this happens, cyberspace
could become unbearable! As it often is, already!
But apart from the mysteries of What's In The Browser?,
software, despite what computer programmers tend to say, is just a
matter of horses for courses? Years ago, some people liked Word
Perfect and hated MS Word, and/or vice versa. Why get
passionate about any of it? You like Fords and I like Holdens, years
ago grown men in Australian pubs used to come to blows over Ford
versus Holden. Why? They're only cars, used to move
people about. Well, some people like tight clothes and other
people prefer loose. I prefer tight clothes, myself, and I prefer
tight layout. As to browsers, which you might allow to pester
you, and I don't, they are merely these days, "the ghost in the
For computer nerds, The Browser is The Ghost In The Machine For
Modern Lifestyles. Why? This is very simple. Because everyone has to
have one. But The browser itself - everyone avoids talking about
it/them, no one tries to analyse it/them, or educate on it/them; and
how close can a browser be, or should it be or not be, to an
operating system? Is there a perfect browser? No. (Is there such
a thing as a perfect ghost? Of course there's not!) All these are
questions avoided, or questions pointless. Some websites work on some
browsers and others don't - get used to it, my friends, just get used
to it. Perfectionism in any department in life is only a road to
Maybe the single best line I've ever come across on the Net was
the guy in an argument with one other fellow about CSS... I read this
line on a forum just about a year ago. One guy finally bursts out and
roars, "I'll listen to reason when it comes out on CD! How do
you solve the fucking problem?!"
Well, there's no such CD, is there? So
welcome to Software Agony
Computers and The Net
chronology of some milestones in the history of computerisation and
the development of the Internet and multimedia. There is little
consideration of technological development for radio/TV, nor of
software for desktop publishing. (Page numbers given are from a book
1801: The French Jacquard loom may have been the first
programmable device. A sequence of punched cards defined a pattern to
1843: Countess of Lovelace, Ada Byron, translates an Italian paper
on Babbages Engines, writing with such clarity and insight that her
work becomes a premier text explaining the process now known as
computer programming. Babbage called her his "Enchantress of
Englishman Charles Babbage develops detailed plans for table-making
Difference Engines and Analytical Engines, controlled by punch-carded
calculators embodying many features of the modern stored-program
computer. Although Babbage never completes his engines, he shows the
potential of a programmable calculating device. Note that he had an
assistant, a woman credited with actually writing the first computer
program, though perhaps she nevber actualy finished testing it, Ada
Lovelace, a daughter of the poet Byron (who was bad, mad and
dangerous to know).
actuarial purposes, the invention of punch cards, and the origins of
IBM, destined to become a world leader in the development and
manufacture of machines aiding more efficient business activity and
compilation/processing of data for accountants? use.
equipment is developed for the US Census by Herman Holerith. The
company formed developed into IBM and a UK spin-off led fianlly to
Poulson invents tape recording of sound, the technology is not
refined until the 1940s.
Zealander George Julius invents the Automatic Totalisator, a complex
electro-mechanical calculator which is the earliest, one-line,
real-time, data-processing and computation system.
abandons its old name of Computing-Tabulating Recording Co., p. 165.
of a "computer" better refined in the UK. Some of the
mathematical work came from British-Polish intelligence efforts to
crack the codes used by "the ENIGMA machine" used to
transmit coded German military orders. Polish intelligence officers
had been aware of the existence of ENIGMA before Poland was invaded
by Germany and brought their knowledge to Britain.
1943: A UK
contender for the first computer, Bletchley Park's "Colossus"
machine is designed by Alan Turing to break the German Lorenz cipher
code. His machine is programmed with switches and cables but has no
Vannevar Bush, viewed by many as the father of hypertext, writes a
ground-breaking article describing a device called a memex, which
seeks to extend human memory by organising information by
association. He idea is never built, but the concepts he outlines
later inspire many visionaries.
1945, The term
"bug" is invented to describe something in hardware (later
in software) which might interfere with efficient computer operation
(a live moth had become stuck in a relay of the Harvard Mark II
computer, a literal bug). The term was coined by Grace Hopper, later
a US admiral. A website overview on her work is available from a US
Britain and the US were placed in the awkward position of not being
able to act on some knowledge of likely German military moves, for
fear of risking that the Germans would become aware that the Allies
had cracked some ENIGMA codes.
Matchematician John von Neumann theorises that on the architecture of
a practical computer, identifying the key concepts of arithmetic
logic, memory, control unit, and interface with a human operator. His
architecture provides the foundation for future computing
Development of computer, ENIAC. Another contender for the first
computer is the US Army's ENIAC, a huge, high-speed calculator
programmed with cables and switches which is modified in 1948 to add
memory, giving it full computer status.
Invention of the transistor: Two Bell Lab scientists invent the
transistor, an item about as tall as the face of a wristwatch. By
2001, organic nano-transistors are being worked on.
1948: UK: The
first modern computer is the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM -
also known as Baby), a valve computer built by Freddie Williams and
Tom Kilburn at the University of Manchester.
1950, In US,
the era of "the Seven Dwarfs", small companies interested
in developing computers.
first computers are released for a commercial market. The first
commercial computer is the Sperry-Rand UNIVAC 1. The first (1950)
Personal Computer Kit called "Simon", goes on sale in the
US. Edmund Berkeley had first described Simon in his 1949 book,
"Giant Brains, or Machines That Think", and he went on to
publish plans to build Simon in a series of issues of Radio
Electronics in 1950-1951.
Australia's first working computer, the CSIR Mark I (later CSIRAC) is
officially launched in 1951, although its first operations were run
in 1949. A valve computer built by Dr Trevor Pearcey and Maston
Beard, CSIR Mark I processed projects for CSIRO, the Snowy Mountains
Authority and weather bureau. Over a five-year period it was steadily
improved, and was mvoed in 1955 to Melbourne University. Today CSIRAC
is displayed at Museum of Victoria.
CSIR Mark I was also arguably
the (first?) computer to play music. Software developer Geoff Hill
programmed it to play "Colonel Bogey" at is launch in 1951.
Once in Melbourne, Prof. Thomas Cherry developed a program so that
anyone who understood standard musical notation could create a
punched paper data tape for CSIRAC to perform that music.
Simon and Allen Newell pioneer information-processing (IP)
psychology, showing how cognitive processes in problem solving and
understanding can be explained in IP terms and modelled with computer
programs, leading to modern artificial intelligence.
a valve computer, is built by Brian Swire at Sydney University. The
project is funded by Sydney jeweller Adolph Basser after a win on the
Melbourne Cup. John Bennett comes from Ferranti UK to manage the
software and teaching of same. In UK, UTECOM, a valve computer
produced by English Electric, based on Alan Turing's ACE prototype.
It is installed at University of NSW. It filled 12 cubic metres and
operated at 8,000 instructions per second.
a modified Elliott 401, is installed at the Weapon Research
Establishment in Salisbury, South Australia. This computer processes
missile telemetry recorded at the Woomera testing range. It had very
sophisticated analog to digital equipment to handle the input and
very early graphical output, possibly a world first, using modified
programming is possible using FORTRAN language. Later on appears
COBOL, PASCAL, etc. Bill Gates is born birthday 28th October 1956.
Also born in 1956 is Kuzohiki Nishi, of Kobe, Japan, who introduced
Microsoft products to Japan from 1977.
of Sputnik-1, the world's first satellite, by Russia, ushering in a
new age of technology and communciations.
use of the word software to describe aspects of "automative
"programming" by mathematician and statistician John Tukey,
in an article in American Mathematical Monthly. Tukey also
invented the term "bit" as short for binary digit. The
earlier first use of the term "software" was thought to be
the first mainstream commercial programming language is developed.
1959: At the
instigation of John Bennett, seven groups involved in early
applications of computing worked together to establish the Australian
National Committee on Computation and Automatic Control (ANNCCAC) to
advance the design, development and application of computing through
conferences and knowledge exchange. They were the Institute of
Engineers (Australia), Australian Institute of Management, Actuarial
Socieity of Australasia, Royal Australian Chemical Institute,
Australasian Institute of Cost Accountants, Institute of Physics and
Statistical Society of NSW.
appears from Bell Laboratories as a data-handling system. Later, in
the 1990s, the Internet still relies heavily on UNIX due to its
first ANNCCAC Conference held in Sydney, attracting 650 delegates.
Later conferences attract over 900 registrations as interest in
computing grows. Australia's first computer society is The Computer
Society of South Australia, formed in November 1960 with Ren Potts as
president and Don Overhu as vice-president. Also in 1960: Australia's
first transistor computer, SNOCOM, is developed by David Wong and
Murray Allen at CSIRO/Sydney University, for the Snowy Mountains
Hydroelectric Authority's (SMHA) Snowy Mountains Scheme. Use of
transistors means SNOCOM is one-tenth the size of its vacuum-tubed
predecessors and uses much less power. The Weapons Research
Establishment needs to predict where items land on earth, which
requires high-speed real-time processing of various telemetry data
streams, so Hinckfuss, Keith and Macauley invent remote digital
communications and use the UK's TREAC design to build ATROPOS, a
Digital Impact Predictor (DIP) at Woomera. Also in 1960, the
high-speed, bargain-basement ARCTURUS computer is installed at Sydney
University. IBM unveils its first transistorised mainframe, the IBM
7090. In 1960, Digital Equipment Corporation releases the DEC PDP-1,
the world's first transistor minicomputer, the first commercial
computer equipped with a keybaord and monitor, which cost US$120,000.
(Yes, one hundred and twenty thousand!)
Development of first computer video game.
Victorian Computer Society is established and becomes a member of
ANCCAC. Prof. Tom Cherry of University of Melbourne is founding
president, with his University of Melbourne associate Trevor Pearcey
as vice-president. ANCCAC is accepted as 16th full member of
International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), the
global society representing computing professionals.
Establishment of R. J. Kingsmiths, believed to be first Australian
Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute invents the mouse
pointing device for computers.
Queensland Computer Society is established, with founding chairman
Prof. Hugh Webster and Don Overhu as deputy-chair. In Australia,
first steps are taken to forming a national computer society at a
meeting between Victorian Computer Society and ANCCAC.
CSIROnet, Australia's first computer network, is built at CSIRO using
a CDC 3600 in Canberra, and two CDC 3200s in Sydney and Melbourne.
The "network" initially relied on overnight airfreight of
magnetic tapes. In 1963, Trevor Pearcey and Murray Allen start a game
to design "the perfect computer", which they christen
CIRRUS. By the early 1960s, they have a paper design for hardware
plus compilers and a multi-user operating system, and it seems a
waste to fail to build it all. They obtain funding and work at
University of Adelaide.
Australia's first mini-computer the DEC PDP-5 is delivered to
University of NSW. Control Data Corporation delivers the world's
first supercomputer, the CDC 6600. Dartmouth College in UK develops
the BASIC programming language. IBM releases its general purpose
System/360 range of computers.
releases its 360 computer which took 70 per cent of the market. (See
Sinclair, p. 218, re use of a Russian computer, the Ural II, with 4K
of memory, in Hungary by Charles Simyoni, later a programmer for
Microsoft, a developer of the mouse.) Development of BASIC at
Dartmouth College, USA, (Beginners All Purpose Instruction Code). The
American Standard Association adopts ASCII as the standard code for
birth-pangs in the US of a market for mini-computers. In Japan,
Kuzuhiko Nishi at age nine is using a Wang computer (the existence of
which is not explained).
first commercial mini-computer sells for less than $10,000, the DEC
PDP-8 as released by Digital Equipment Corporation.
University of NSW installs an IBM 360/50 general purpose computer
with 24-bit addressing capable of processing data items of 32 bits,
64 bits or 15 decimal digits, and it seems possible that a graphics
display might be provided. Texas Instruments makes available the
first generation of medium-scale integrated circuits allowing a team
being Gordon Rose, Murray Allen and Trevor Pearcey to develop the
programmable, multi-user INTERGRAPHIC.
Engelbart demonstrates his system of keyboard, numeric keypad, mouse
and windows at the Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco. He
demonstrates use of a word processor, hypertext system and remote
collaborative work with colleagues.
1969: UNIX is
developed at Bell Laboratories by Thompson and Ritchie.
The birth of email, as Roy Tomlinson, the father of @, sent the first
message between two computers in October 1971. Mr. Tomlinson can?t
remember what he actually wrote. He then worked for a company called
BBN Technologies, working on a project to link computers called
ARPAnet, the precursor of the Internet. Mr. Tomlinson used @ as he
wanted to send message directly to people, not to a numbered mailbox.
A decade later a permanent email connection was created between USA
and Australia and ARPAnet was established for a group of researchers
including Professor Bob Kummerfield (Sydney University) and Piers
Invention of micro-processor, and Texas Instruments works on a math
Sinclair, pp. 174ff): From 1972, Gary Kildall using a new Intel 8008
microprocessor chip, writing a programming language for it, having
earlier worked on Intel?s 4004 chip. Kildall and a friend, John
Torode, developed a disk drive system which could store information,
by 1974. Kildall and his wife began Digital Research and sold
software and a CP/M operating system. Gates at this time was wanting
to make CP/M an industry standard. (By late 1978, Gates was
considering a merger with Kildall?s Digital. The Gates/Kildall
friendship untangled in 1979, when Kildall used a BASIC program to
compete with Microsoft?s BASIC. So Gates then became interested in
first email message is sent by computer engineer Ray Tomlinson across
the ARPANET network. This is the precursor to the Internet, the
application that launches the digital information revolution.
Tomlinson is also responsible for choosing the @ sign as the locator
symbol in electronic addresses. Tomlinson has said about his first
message: "I have no idea what the first one was. It might have
been the first line from Lincoln's Gettysburg address for all I know.
The only thing I know was it was all in upper case."
Alto produces the first bit-mapped graphics, the first mouse, and the
Ethernet network protocol which later dominates networking. In 1973:
Work begins on the protocol later called TCP/IP, developed by a group
headed by Vinton Cerf from Stanford University and Bob Kahn from
DARPA. This new protocol allows diverse computer networks to
interconnect and communicate with each other.
1974, (see p.
175), re Kildall, and an agreement with Gates. See p. 183 re Tim
Paterson as "father of DOS", at Seattle Computers,
developer of the 8086 CPU board, which Digital Research wanted to
apply for 16-bit CP/M work. See also, QDOS release by Tim Paterson,
(Quick and Dirty Operating System).
"father/designer of the first personal computer", Ed
Roberts of Albuquerque, New Mexico, designed the Altair computer with
an 8080 Intel chip, using a BASIC program. US computer hobbyists go
wild to buy a unit. Within five years, 200 different brands of
microcomputers were available.
Gates and his friend Paul Allen deal with Ed Roberts, regarding
BASIC, and new Intel 8080 chip, and the Altair computer. Gates writes
a BASIC program for a microcomputer (the Altair), thus the origins of
use of the term, Internet, by Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn in a paper on
Transmission Control Protocol. In 1974: Jim Rowe at Electronics
Australia develops the world's first commercial electronic computer
1975: After seeing an article in Popular Electronics magazine,
Bill Gates and Paul Allen develop a computer language for the Altair
1975: UNIX is
released to universities world-wide for free. Half-inch reel tapes
are supplied as source code for the PDP-11. The University of NSW is
the first site in Australia running UNIX (Level 6) for Operating
Systems studies with Australia's first UNIX guru, John Lions.
Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft. They dealt with MITS (Ed
Roberts, Micro Instrumentations and Telemetry Systems) and talk BASIC
programming, operating systems and software licensing, etc. MITS
releases a floppy disk data storage system, Gates works on a DISK
BASIC. Appearance of first software piracy to Gates? annoyance.
Computer enthusiasts tend to move to live/work in Silicon Valley,
California. 1977, see p. 111, p. 120, Commodore releases the Pet
computer, and Tandy considers the Radio Shack TRS-80. Apple also
rises. With their TRS-80 computer, Tandy looked to Microsoft with
interest. Silicon Valley spawns the semi-conductor industry - and
1975, increases in microprocessor speed have doubled every 24 months.
(Sun Microsystems chairman Scott McNealy, quoted in The Weekend
Australian, 14-15 April 2001)
first real personal computer to run Microsoft software, the Mits
Altair 8800 is released, based on Intel's 8080 processor. In 1975,
public release of a conventional Encryption Algorithm (Data
Encryption Standard) which becomes the widely-used symmetric
encryption algorithm during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1975, the State
Bank of Victoria introduces on-line teller systems for savings
accounts, the world's first large-scale system.
Sinclair, pp. 122-123, Microsoft considers moving into the Japanese
market after Gates meets Japanese Kuzuhiko Nishi in 1977.
1977: Year the
first e-mail is sent.
(Sinclair, p. 1), Electronics companies, mostly Japanese, gather to
consider standards for encoding sound digitally, with Sony and
Phillips leading, resulting in the CD (Sinclair notes p. 14 that part
of the effort was the need to find a way to make video disks as an
alternative to video cassettes. The use of the laser beam as
suggested by Phillips won the technical battle. An early computer CD
disc drive was developed by Mitsumi. The Soundblaster Card later
became an industry standard for multimedia computers.
1978, see p.
135, A Microsoft agent with links to NEC in Japan, decide to build a
personal computer for Japanese market.
Australian Owen Hill teams with an electronic components company,
Applied Technology, to build the Microbee computer. Based on a Zilog
Z80, the Microbee sells in hundreds of thousands to export markets
and Australian schools before being overtaken by "the PC
avalanche" in the late 1980s.
1979, see p.
139, Gates meets IBM and industry talk is of new Intel 8086 chip. See
p. 143 re a CPU.
Appearance of first VISICALC electronic spreadsheet, also WordStar
word processor, beginning of "the applications market".
PASCAL appears as a programming language. 1979, see p. 154,
Appearance of a CP/M DOS.
Appearance of TC/IP protocols. See p. 157, Gates and Allen
brainstormed an idea to make a hardware card to fit to Apple
computers so they could run Microsoft programs; the Softcard, origins
of cross-platforming for the most popular makes of computers.
Australia scores another technical first with the Fairlight Computer
Musical Instrument which sells to music makers around the world
including Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder. The CMI was first featured
in Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey".
1980, Gates found IBM wanted to use CP/M, so Gates had to contact
Kildall. IBM actually tried to visit Kildall, who was unavailable,
with the result that Gates got the chance to provide IBM with an
operating system (which became known as DOS). Just then, in 1980,
Gates found that Tim Paterson at Seattle Computer Products had
developed an operating system for a 16-bit Intel chip.
Microsoft explores use of UNIX. Microsoft licences DOS to IBM which
now enters the desktop computer market.
1980, p. 168,
Due to a policy rethink by IBM, beginning of "the open
architecture revolution" in the use of software applications for
the personal computer market.
Speakers now appear fitted to computers for sound usages, (Sinclair
December, Apple Computers is worth approx $1.8 billion. Appearance of
Softcard, p. 158. See p. 164, re Gates developing a BASIC program for
Atari computers run by Ray Kassar, to assist with developing video
games. Atari computers taking advantage of inattention by Fairlight,
an Australian company, later became popular with musicians using
MIDI, taking much of the market.
1981: MS-DOS operating system is integrated into the IBM PC.
after p. 218, Xerox, PARC and GUI, a development Xerox later
Microsoft became licensed for $25,000 to use Seattle Computer
Products? 86-DOS (for 16-bit work), the first version of "DOS",
with their suppliers unaware that Microsoft was programming for IBM,
and prepared to sub-licence the use of DOS to IBM for $15,000.
Microsoft was still unsure it could get 86-DOS to run on the
prototype IBM machines. See p. 195. See p 202, in 1981, Microsoft
paid only $50,000 for all DOS rights from Seattle Computers, which it
then relicenced back to Seattle Computers for their use. Gates could
soon say DOS will be the foundation of the PC industry, that DOS is
now already on 60 million personal computers.
Development of first hard disk, re IBM XT computer, for 1983 release.
1981, p. 251,
Development of Apple?s Macintosh computer. GUI, Gates by 1982 decides
to compete on a GUI basis.
1981, p. 215,
Development of technology enabling users to write data to both sides
of a floppy disk.
Internet becomes a reality when the ARPANET is split into military
and civilian sections.
first laptop computer, the Tandy TRS-80 Model 100, is produced in the
1981: 12 August, IBM releases its new personal computer (PC), with no
software developed by IBM. The computer market is never the same. In
1981, the first portable computer is released by Osborne.
1982, Lotus introduces spreadsheet, 1-2-3.
development of GSM begins when the Conference of European Posts and
Telegraphs (CEPT) forms a study group called Groupe Special Mobile
(the initial meaning of GSM). Their charter is to develop a
pan-European public cellular system in the range 900 MHz.
Microsoft establishes Microsoft Press. Journalists cynical about
Gates? non-appearing products coin term, "vaporware".
Appearance of Lisa computer. First IBM "clones" begin to
appear. Concept of "IBM compatibility" a triumph for the
applications industry. Some views on the concept of the laptop
1983, p. 238,
Microsoft releases multi-screen Microsoft Word, which has
cross-platform GUI features, developed by Charles Simyoni, who also
developed the mouse. Simyoni had earlier worked at Xerox PARC, the
operation which developed GUI, then ignored it, and left it to Apple
to work on. Simyoni?s work helped usher in the next-generation of
software, in a pre-Windows environment. Appearance of laser printer
technology, then Microsoft moves to Windows, two years? work. Windows
will have a promotional budget of $3.5 million, p. 238.
1984, p. 257,
Macintosh computer released, pp. 257-268, with some features, eg., a
calculator actually developed by Microsoft.
1984, Gates is
seen as "the new Steve Jobs", Jobs being one of the
garage-creators of Apple. Appearance of Turbo-Pascal. By mid-1984,
Apple/Macintosh works on ideas for more "seamless" forms of
application, "the integrated software package".
1985: Microsoft's first release of the Windows graphical user
November, 1985: Microsoft releases Windows and receives The Golden
Vaporware Award from journalists. The software is not good until
Windows 3.0. There are claims that Windows had unfairly utilised some
Macintosh ideas. Legal action follows, the claims are true enough.
Microsoft goes public on New York Stock Exchange. Gates becomes
youngest-ever US billionaire. Late 1986, Development of OS/2, which
the industry later does not like.
sets up Claris Corporation. Autumn, Microsoft releases OS/2 to mixed
reviews. 1988, OS/2 is shipped by Microsoft, seen as too expensive,
DOS retains user loyalty.
Apple sues Microsoft, p. 352. Apple about now is, p. 353, the world?s
second largest computer company. Leader of Apple is Sculley, who took
over from Steve Jobs.
the world's first Software Quality Management Standard, is developed
in Australia and adopted by the IEEE.
p. 385, LAN Manager (for local area networks) is introduced by 3COM,
to compete with Netware.
Australia enters the information age with the nation's first Internet
connection through MUNARRI at Melbourne University.
May 1989: The
Internet reaches Australia via a 56K satellite link. From the
University of Hawaii to University of Melbourne. Other universities
and the CSIRO were soon linked. The Australian Academic and Research
Network (AARNet) was set up in early 1990. In 1999, "The
Internet" turned 30. Instrumental in its birth in 1990 was
Tim-Berners-Lee: See book by Robert H. Reid, Architects of the Web.
Check Website: http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee
term multimedia appears (although long-known in a variety of artistic
circles) Multimedia required the "bundling" of the software
and of course when the Internet Revolution hit, an Internet browser
tended to become bundled with other software. (We do not yet have
dates for the rise of Netscape products).
1990: Microsoft's Windows 3.0 released to the market.
Berners-Lee designs the World Wide Web (www) with URLs, HTTP and HTML
1990: US FTC
examines claims that Microsoft is monopolistic in its industry.
Microsoft releases personal finance product, Quicken. Also, Microsoft
Money. 1990-1991, Microsoft deliberately tries to damage Adobe.
1990, 22 May
1990: Microsoft multimedia production leadership re release of
Windows 3.0, the most expensive software introduction budget ever and
now, the industry is driven by software, not hardware.
By 1990, Gates
has implicitly committed Microsoft to developing multimedia.
(Sinclair preface, the minimum needed for multimedia is a 25 MHz
80386X machine, with enough memory to run Windows 3.1. with SVGA
monitor for Win3.1.) Preferably using DOS6.2 to run the Smartdrive
software providing memory cache for CD-ROM usage.
Commercial operation of the first GSM networks started in European
countries. By early , over 60 countries have an operational or a
planned GSM network, including Australia.
By 1991: Gates
is buying rights to use contents of major art collections for use in
his forthcoming multimedia packages, eg., Encarta Encyclopedia.
Microsoft releases MS-DOS 5.0, Novell beats Microsoft regarding
1991: In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee, a young man working at CERN in
Switzerland posts the first computer code of the World Wide Web in a
relatively innocuous newsgroup, "alt.hypertext". The
ability to combine words, pictures and sounds on Web pages excites
many programmers who see a potential for publishing information on
the Internet in a way that can be as easy as using a word processor.
This post was the first release of HTML to the public.
Around the same time, Marc Andreesen and a group of student
programmers at NCSA (The National Centre for Supercomputing
Applications located on the campus of The University of Illinois at
Urbana Champaign) will eventually develop a graphical browser for the
World Wuide Web called Mosaic. Which became available in 1993, around
which time, traffic on the Internet expands at 341,634 per cent,
annual growth rate. The rest is history...
releases OS/2, a disaster followed by first-ever IBM deficit. Apple
and IBM discuss possibility of joining forces to create a new
operating system and also a multimedia computer to compete with
Microsoft. There are other ideas for major industry re-alliances to
move against Microsoft. Microsoft launches MS-DOS 5.0. Bill Gates by
now is aged 35, already second-richest man in USA.
1993: Use of the Internet begins to take off, taking internet use
out of the university sector.
1993: Microsoft releases Windows NT.
Gates/Microsoft move to 32.bit technology/applications. Release of
Windows NT. Microsoft releases MS-DOS 6.0. Windows is now the
biggest-selling application of all time. IBM by now has lost about
Development of the Intel Pentium processor marks a new era in PC
power, while the first Web brwosers, NCSA MOsaic, is developed and
released in 1993.
First release of the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Protocol for Web
browsers. An updated version of SSL is later used to secure
transactions over the Internet.
1995: A 1995
survey by a Middlesex University professor found that of all the
words searched for at a particular search engine, eight of the top
ten were related to pornography.
Reported in The Australian,
12 February 1999.
1995, With the
most expensive product launch budget in history, $3 billion,
Microsoft launches Windows 95, which is a revolution assisting the
Internet Revolution. Associated software such as Microsoft Office 95
fulfils the dream of integrated software packages for use in
use of Pentium chip to enhance speed of IBM clones. Eg., Pentium 133.
It becomes possible for users to download software straight from the
Internet. This also made the distribution of shareware and freeware
easier. World-wide, the Internet is becoming available to low-budget
computers users/website developers.
1995: Windows 95 released and sells a million copies in four days.
early in the year, the popularisation of the Internet world-wide as
the use of Net facilities spreads out from universities. By about
August, 1997, it could be said that internationally, the number of
websites available was doubling every six weeks.
Internet Revolution picks up great speed, prompting new print
magazines, products, a ferment of ideas, notions such as push-pull
technology for driving information to consumers. In Australia, the
rise of Sausage Software, provider of a web authoring kit; one
product among many for the purpose. Hype develops over the ability of
smaller transactors to use e-commerce packages.
most participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the Internet
deserves the highest protection from governmental intrusion."
Judge Stewart Dalzell, United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania - 12 June 1996.
Ovum researchers said by the year 2000 there would probably be 50
telephone service providers as a result of deregulation planned for
1997, instead of just Telstra and Optus.
Australian Internet users formed a local chapter of the US-based
Internet Society, known as the Internet Society of Australia
OzEmail, then Australia's largest Internet service provider,
completed the acquisition of Access One, previously Australia's
number three ISP, from Solution 6 Holdings.
MSN's Sydney Sidewalk directory site hit the Web, with predictions it
would be two to three years before it becomes profitable.
1996: ISP OzEmail and Rupert Murdoch's pay TV giant British Sky
Broadcasting Group (BSkyB) teamed up in an online advertising venture
called Web Wide Media.
1996: Users of Melbourne IT's commercial domain name registration
service, which had been previously performed for free, called for
competition to be introduced as soon as possible.
December: Long before the extraordinary dot.com burnouts of 2000, US
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned of "irrational
exuberance" in the telecommunications and technology stock
markets. He was more than correct.
of the World Wide Web "disappeared" and millions of e-mails
bounce back to senders last Thursday because of a mistake by the US
company (Network Solutions) which maintains a registry of Internet
addresses. Many sites ending in .com or .net ceased to exist as far
as root servers were concerned. The original problem was more human
than technical in origin. Reported in The Weekend Australian,
19 July 1997.
Australian Internet commentator (and print author) Dale Spender by
August 1997 coins the word "printist" for someone
excessively devoted to print media and disapproving of The Net.
1997: Microsoft releases Microsoft Office 97.
That big lie about
computers not having moods
I ( -Ed) think that if it's true that some computers do not actually
like people, there should be a law enacted which obliges those
computers to display a sign on their monitor screen as follows: "I
do not like people. If people approach me with ideas of using me, I
will malfunction. My software will go haywire. Or my hardware might
turn to jelly, it depends on what mood I am in. You have been warned.
Now go away!"
programmers of course will deny that computers get into moods. They
say, a machine can't have a mood, it's not possible. This of course,
is incorrect. Everyone who uses machines knows that machines can get
cantankerous when they want to. Why not computers? Which are only
computers and such, are you? If so, get sceptical, stay sceptical,
get good at being sceptical and staying sceptical. It's not hard, and
you'll always feel much better in the mornings!
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