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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.

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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. 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 sore.

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 it?

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

HoTM History of Technology of Music

Lost Worlds

The Blackheath Connection

Merchants 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?

Is your computer behaving itself? If not, why not? If not, maybe check out some of the files in the:

Bondi 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!)

Just 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 pages...

Latest hits figures to this domain are given on the what's new page

You can find popularity rankings of these webpages at:
Pages Popularity Report

Check out all sorts of fascinating musical questions at HOTM - History of Technology of Music - HoTM

Software Agony

  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 course.

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 crossed.

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, that's what.

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 waffle?

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 machine".

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 further disappointment.

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

Chronology of Computers and The Net

Follows a 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 by Sinclair.)

1801: The French Jacquard loom may have been the first programmable device. A sequence of punched cards defined a pattern to be woven.

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 Numbers".

1822-1870: 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).

1890s, for 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.
Punched card equipment is developed for the US Census by Herman Holerith. The company formed developed into IBM and a UK spin-off led fianlly to ICI.

1898, Valdemar Poulson invents tape recording of sound, the technology is not refined until the 1940s.

1913: New 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.

1924, IBM abandons its old name of Computing-Tabulating Recording Co., p. 165.

1940, Concept 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 memory.

1945: American 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 naval vessel.

To 1945, 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.

1945: 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 developments.

1946, 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.

1947, 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.

1950s, The 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.

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.

1954: Herbert 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.

1956: SILLIAC, 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.

1956: WREDAC, 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 weather recorders.

1956: Computer 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.

1957: Launch of Sputnik-1, the world's first satellite, by Russia, ushering in a new age of technology and communciations.

1958, First 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 from 1960.

1959: COBOL, 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.

1960s: UNIX appears from Bell Laboratories as a data-handling system. Later, in the 1990s, the Internet still relies heavily on UNIX due to its cross-platforming capabilities.

1960: The 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!)

1961: Development of first computer video game.

1961: The 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.

1961: Establishment of R. J. Kingsmiths, believed to be first Australian software company.

1962: Douglas Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute invents the mouse pointing device for computers.

1962: 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.

1963: 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.

1964: 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.

1964: IBM 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 data transfer.

1965: First 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).

1965: The first commercial mini-computer sells for less than $10,000, the DEC PDP-8 as released by Digital Equipment Corporation.

1966: 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.

1968: Douglas 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.

October 1971: 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 Lauder.

1971: Invention of micro-processor, and Texas Instruments works on a math calculator.

1972, (See 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 Unix.

1972: The 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."

1973: Xerox 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).

1974, The "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.

1974, Bill 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 Microsoft Basic.

1974: First 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 kit.

1975: After seeing an article in Popular Electronics magazine, Bill Gates and Paul Allen develop a computer language for the Altair 8800 computer.

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.

1975: Bill 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 Apple Computers.

1975: Since 1975, increases in microprocessor speed have doubled every 24 months. (Sun Microsystems chairman Scott McNealy, quoted in The Weekend Australian, 14-15 April 2001)

1975: The 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.

1977: (See 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.

1978, (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.

1978: 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.

1979, 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.

1979, 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.

1979: 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".

Later, in 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.

1980, 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.

1980s, Speakers now appear fitted to computers for sound usages, (Sinclair p. 1).

1980, 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.

1981, see after p. 218, Xerox, PARC and GUI, a development Xerox later dropped/ignored.

1981, 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.

1981, 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.

1982-1983: The Internet becomes a reality when the ARPANET is split into military and civilian sections.

1982: The first laptop computer, the Tandy TRS-80 Model 100, is produced in the US.

12 August 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, November 1982, Lotus introduces spreadsheet, 1-2-3.

1982: The 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.

1983, 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 computer.

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 interface.

1985, 21 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.

1986: March. 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.

1987: Apple 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.

1988 March: 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.

1988: AS3563, the world's first Software Quality Management Standard, is developed in Australia and adopted by the IEEE.

1989, October, p. 385, LAN Manager (for local area networks) is introduced by 3COM, to compete with Netware.

1989: 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:

1990s: the 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.

1990: Tim Berners-Lee designs the World Wide Web (www) with URLs, HTTP and HTML &c.

1990: US FTC examines claims that Microsoft is monopolistic in its industry.

1990: 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.

1991: 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.

1991: Microsoft releases MS-DOS 5.0, Novell beats Microsoft regarding networking capability.

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...

1991: IBM 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.

1993: 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 $77 billion.

1993: 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.

1993-1995: 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 IBM-clone machines.

1995, Further 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.

1996: From 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.

1996, The 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.

"As the 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.

October 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.

November 1996: Australian Internet users formed a local chapter of the US-based Internet Society, known as the Internet Society of Australia (ISOC-AU).

November 1997: OzEmail, then Australia's largest Internet service provider, completed the acquisition of Access One, previously Australia's number three ISP, from Solution 6 Holdings.

November 1997: MSN's Sydney Sidewalk directory site hit the Web, with predictions it would be two to three years before it becomes profitable.

11 November 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.

2 December 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.

1996: December: Long before the extraordinary 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.

Large sections 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.

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

Personally, 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!"

Computer 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 glorified machines?

Considering 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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