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September 9, 2014 AT 6:00 am

Time travel Tuesday #timetravel a look back at the Adafruit, maker, science, technology and engineering world

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Time is the wisest counselor of all. ~Pericles


1940 – George Stibitz pioneers the first remote operation of a computer.

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George Robert Stibitz is internationally recognized as one of the fathers of the modern first digital computer. He was a Bell Labs researcher known for his work in the 1930s and 1940s on the realization of Boolean logic digital circuits using electromechanical relays as the switching element.

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1941 – Dennis Ritchie, American computer scientist, created the C programming language is born.

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Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie was an American computer scientist. He created the C programming language and, with long-time colleague Ken Thompson, the Unix operating system. Ritchie and Thompson received the Turing Award from the ACM in 1983, the Hamming Medal from the IEEE in 1990 and the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton in 1999. Ritchie was the head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007. He was the “R” in K&R C and commonly known by his username dmr.

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1947 – First case of a computer bug being found: a moth lodges in a relay of a Harvard Mark II computer at Harvard University.

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The term “bug” was used in an account by computer pioneer Grace Hopper, who publicized the cause of a malfunction in an early electromechanical computer. A typical version of the story is given by this quote:

In 1946, when Hopper was released from active duty, she joined the Harvard Faculty at the Computation Laboratory where she continued her work on the Mark II and Mark III. Operators traced an error in the Mark II to a moth trapped in a relay, coining the term bug. This bug was carefully removed and taped to the log book. Stemming from the first bug, today we call errors or glitches in a program a bug.

Hopper was not actually the one who found the insect, as she readily acknowledged. The date in the log book was September 9, 1947, although sometimes erroneously reported as 1945. The operators who did find it, including William “Bill” Burke, later of the Naval Weapons Laboratory, Dahlgren, Virginia, were familiar with the engineering term and, amused, kept the insect with the notation “First actual case of bug being found.” Hopper loved to recount the story. This log book, complete with attached moth, is part of the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, though it is not currently on display.

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1999 – Sega releases the first 128 bit video game console the Dreamcast.

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The Dreamcast is a video game console that was released by Sega in November 1998 in Japan and later in 1999 in other territories. It was the first entry in the sixth generation of video game consoles, preceding its rivals, the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube. The Dreamcast was Sega’s last home console to date.

Sega tried to launch the console as part of a comeback after its previous efforts with the Sega Saturn failed. With a strong marketing campaign and reformed studios to develop new creative content, the Dreamcast was initially well received with a very successful launch and strong sales. However when Sony announced the PlayStation 2, sales of the Dreamcast quickly plummeted, due in no small part to the console’s inability to support movies on the new DVD format. Sega later came to the realization that it did not have the financial resources to compete. The company discontinued the Dreamcast in North America early in March 2001,[3] withdrawing from the console hardware business altogether and restructuring itself as a third-party developer. Support of the system continued in Europe and Oceania until the end of 2002, while in Japan, new licensed games continued to be released. 10.6 million units were sold worldwide.

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2001 – At exactly 01:46:40 UTC, the Unix billenium is reached, marking the beginning of the use of 10-digit decimal Unix timestamps.

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At 01:46:40 UTC on 9 September 2001, the Unix billennium (Unix time number 1,000,000,000) was celebrated. Some programs which stored timestamps using a text representation encountered sorting errors, as in a text sort times after the turnover, starting with a “1” digit, erroneously sorted before earlier times starting with a “9” digit. Affected programs included the popular usenet reader KNode and e-mail client KMail, part of the KDE desktop environment. Such bugs were generally cosmetic in nature and quickly fixed once problems became apparent. The problem also affected many ‘Filtrix’ document-format filters provided with Linux versions of WordPerfect; a patch was created by the user community to solve this problem, since Corel no longer sold or supported that version of the program. The name “billennium” is a portmanteau of “billion” and “millennium”.


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