This Day in History (10-Feb-1996) – The IBM supercomputer Deep Blue defeats chess champion Garry Kasparov for the first time

Feng-hsiung Hsu & Murray Campbell, graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University initiated a chess playing machine called Chiptest. IBM hired them in 1989  and the first version of such computer named Deep Thought was released in 1994 to play against Kosporov. In a two game match Kosporov easily defeated the computer. Scientist further upgraded the computer as Deep Blue which  was an IBM RISC System/6000 Scalable Power Parallel System. It had 32 processors dedicated to calculation, each processor connected to 6 chess specific processors. It could calculate 100 million chess positions per second.

In February 1996, Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue met for the first time in a best of six-games match. The match was organized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to mark the 50th birthday of the first computer. The hardware was installed at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, New York, with a connection to Philadelphia via the Internet. After only the first game played on 10 February 1996, Deep Blue made history by defeating Kasparov. Deep Blue’s victory marked the first time that a current world champion had ever been beaten by a computer opponent under regular tournament conditions. But Kasparov would not go down so easily. The world champion, known for his tenacity and his ferocious will to win, took the game two. Games three and four, although tightly contested, ended up in draws. Then, in game five, Kasparov again changed tactics mid-game to defeat Deep Blue. Kasparov won the final game totally outplaying the computer and took the match by a score of 4 – 2.

Deep Blue was further upgraded to 8 chess specific processors and capacity to calculate 2 million moves per second. In 1997 the rematch was organized at Equitable Center in New York.  The chess grandmaster won the first game, Deep Blue took the next one, and the two players drew the three following games. Game 6 ended the match with a crushing defeat of the champion by Deep Blue. The match’s outcome made headlines worldwide, and helped a broad audience better understand high-powered computing. In the second game which Deep Blue won, it seems a software bug led to a move which Kosparov could not interpret and lost the game.



This Day in History (4-Feb-2004) – Facebook is founded by Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg, 23, founded Facebook while studying psychology at Harvard University. A keen computer programmer, Mr Zuckerberg had already developed a number of social-networking websites for fellow students, including Coursematch, which allowed users to view people taking their degree, and Facemash, where you could rate people’s attractiveness. In February 2004, Zuckerberg launched “The facebook”, as it was originally known; the name taken from the sheets of paper distributed to freshmen, profiling students and staff. Within 24 hours, 1,200 Harvard students had signed up, and after one month, over half of the undergraduate population had a profile.

The network was promptly extended to other Boston universities, the Ivy League and eventually all US universities. It became in August 2005 after the address was purchased for $200,000. Just a week later after Zuckerberg launched his website he was accused of hacking the idea from three Harvard seniors and that soon escalated to a lawsuit. Later in February 2008 the lawsuit was settled with $65 million. US high schools could sign up from September 2005, then it began to spread worldwide, reaching UK universities the following month. As of September 2006, the network was extended beyond educational institutions to anyone with a registered email address. Yahoo and Google are among companies which had expressed interest then in a buy-out, with rumoured figures of around $2bn being discussed.

2009 onwards, Facebook acquired other social media products like real-time news aggregator FriendFeed,  Malaysian contact-importing startup Octazen Solutions, photo-sharing service called Divvyshot, photo sharing service Instagram, and the famous WhatsApp Inc., a smartphone instant messaging application for $19 billion  in a mix of stock and cash, the most ever paid for a venture-capital backed startup.

In September 2014, Facebook valuation crossed $200 billion, making it largest social media company. At the end of 2014, active users on facebook were 1.4 billion. Facebook warehouse stores upwards of 300 PB of data, with an incoming daily rate of about 600 TB.



This Day in History (15-Jan-2001) – Wikipedia Goes Online

Advances in information technology in the late 20th century led to changes in the form of encyclopedias. The development of the World Wide Web led to many attempts to develop internet encyclopedia projects. An early proposal for a web-based encyclopedia was Interpedia in 1993 by Rick Gates; this project died before generating any encyclopedic content. Free software proponent Richard Stallman described the usefulness of a “Free Universal Encyclopedia and Learning Resource” in 1999.

Wikipedia was initially conceived as a feeder project for the Jimmy Wales founded Nupedia, an earlier project to produce a free online encyclopedia. Wales hired a full-time editor-in-chief, Larry Sanger, a graduate philosophy student. Wales and Sanger discussed various ways to create content more rapidly. The idea of a wiki-based complement originated from a conversation between Larry Sanger and Ben Kovitz, a computer programmer and regular on Ward Cunningham’s revolutionary wiki “the WikiWikiWeb”. He explained to Sanger what wikis were, at that time a difficult concept to understand.  Sanger thought a wiki would be a good platform to use, and proposed on the Nupedia mailing list that a wiki based upon UseModWiki be set up as a “feeder” project for Nupedia. Wales set one up and put it online on 10 January 2001. There was considerable resistance on the part of Nupedia’s editors and reviewers to the idea of associating Nupedia with a wiki-style website. Sanger suggested giving the new project its own name, Wikipedia, and Wikipedia was soon launched on its own domain,, on 15 January. The oldest article still preserved is the article UuU, created on Tuesday 16 January 2001, at 21:08 UTC. The existence of the project was formally announced and an appeal for volunteers for content creation was made to the Nupedia mailing list on 17 January.

As of December 2014, Wikipedia includes over 34 million freely usable articles in 288 languages that have been written by over 50 million registered users and numerous anonymous contributors worldwide. According to Alexa Internet, Wikipedia is the world’s seventh-most-popular website in terms of overall visitor traffic. Wikipedia’s total worldwide monthly readership is approximately 495 million.


This Day in History (9-Jan-2007) – Steve Jobs debuts the iPhone

In April 2003 at the “All Things Digital” executive conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs expressed his belief that tablet PCs and traditional PDAs were not good choices as high-demand markets for Apple to enter, despite many requests made to him that Apple create another PDA. He did believe that cell phones were going to become important devices for portable information access, and that what cell phones needed to have was excellent synchronization software. At the time, instead of focusing on a follow-up to their Newton PDA, Jobs had Apple put its energies into the iPod, and the iTunes software (which can be used to synchronize content with iPod devices). On September 7, 2005, Apple and Motorola released the ROKR E1, the first mobile phone to use iTunes. Jobs was unhappy with the ROKR, feeling that having to compromise with a non-Apple designer (Motorola) prevented Apple from designing the phone they wanted to make. In September 2006, Apple discontinued support for the ROKR and released a version of iTunes that included references to an as-yet unknown mobile phone that could display pictures and video.

On 9th Jan 2007, At the Macworld convention in San Francisco Steve Jobs offered public the first glimpse of what he introduced as three devices in one: a touchscreen iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. As he spoke, “Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone…are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone. Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” The device was launched six months later.

In November 2007—by which point more than 1.4 million iPhones had been sold—Time magazine named the sleek, 4.8-ounce device, originally available in a 4GB, $499 model and an 8GB, $599 model, its invention of the year. The iPhone went on sale in parts of Europe in late 2007, and in parts of Asia in 2008. In July 2008, Apple launched its online App Store, enabling people to download software applications that let them use their iPhones for games, social networking, travel planning and an every growing laundry list of other activities.


This Day in History (3-Dec-1992) – Sema Group engineer Neil Papworth sends the world’s first SMS message from a computer to phone

The bespectacled Mr. Papworth was a 22-year-old engineer on the job, when he was assigned to do something novel: Send a text message. And so Mr. Papworth, then an employee at a software company in England, typed out the words “Merry Christmas.” that would launch a trillion thumbs. On Dec. 3, 1992, Mr. Papworth was seated before a computer terminal in a machinery room for the Sema company in Newbury, west of London, about to test a new messaging system for the Vodafone network. Vodafone was having a Christmas party in a separate building, and Mr. Papworth, surrounded by colleagues, got down to work. He typed out the 14-character yuletide greeting to a company official at the party and hit “send.”

“I was a little bit nervous. I just wanted everything to work,” Mr. Papworth recalls. Word came back from the Christmas party: The text had landed. Mr. Papworth, said no one realized its potential right away. “Back then, it was just intended to be used like an executive pager, to get a hold of people on the road,” he said. “No one knew it would evolve into such a monster.” It would take another year before phone-to-phone texting began, and since then, texting has exploded.

Text messaging is used as a political and fundraising tool; relief agencies collected funds through text donations after the Haiti earthquake and the Japan tsunami. Texting has empowered activists and grassroots movements and helped mobilize street protests around the globe. Yet for all its power, or maybe because of it, text messaging also has unintended consequences. U.S. congressmen have resigned for sending sexually explicit texts to under-aged pages. British Prime Minister David Cameron was in hot water for embarrassing text messages sent to former newspaper executive Rebekah Brooks, a central figure in Britain’s telephone-hacking scandal. (Equally embarrassing, Mr. Cameron sometimes signed his text messages “LOL” believing it meant “lots of love;” in fact, it is common text shorthand for “laugh out loud.”) In one study of 269 U.S. college students, 91 per cent said they texted during class.


This Day in History (20-Nov-1985) – Microsoft ships Windows 1.0

In 1975, two young computer enthusiasts, Bill Gates and Paul Allen formed a partnership called Microsoft. Like most start-ups, Microsoft began small, but had a huge vision—a computer on every desktop and in every home. In June 1980, they hired Gates’ former Harvard classmate Steve Ballmer to help run the company. The next month, IBM approached Microsoft about a project code-named “Chess.” In response, Microsoft focused on a new operating system—the software that manages, or runs, the computer hardware and also serves to bridge the gap between the computer hardware and programs, such as a word processor. They named their new operating system “MS‑DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System).” When the IBM PC running MS‑DOS shiped in 1981, it introduced a whole new language to the general public. Typing “C:” and various cryptic commands gradually became part of daily work. People discovered the backslash (\) key.

MS‑DOS was effective, but also proved difficult to understand for many people. Microsoft worked on the first version of a new operating system. Interface Manager was the code name and was considered as the final name, but Windows prevailed because it best described the boxes or computing “windows” that were fundamental to the new system. Windows was announced in 1983, but it took a while to develop. On November 20, 1985, two years after the initial announcement, Microsoft shiped Windows 1.0. Now, rather than typing MS‑DOS commands, one just moved a mouse to point and clicked your way through screens, or “windows.” Bill Gates said, “It is unique software designed for the serious PC user.” There were drop-down menus, scroll bars, icons, and dialog boxes that made programs easier to learn and use. One was able to switch among several programs without having to quit and restart each one. Windows 1.0 shiped with several programs, including MS‑DOS file management, Paint, Windows Writer, Notepad, Calculator, and a calendar, card file, and clock to  manage day-to-day activities. There was even a game—Reversi.

Windows 1.0 was a flop comapred to Macintosh, as described by many critics. But it also was the embodiment of a technology vision which created a tech empire.


This Day in History (16-Jun-1911) – IBM founded as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in Endicott, New York

In the 1880s, various technologies came into existence that would form part of IBM’s predecessor company. Julius E. Pitrat patented the computing scale in 1885; Alexander Dey invented the dial recorder in 1889, Herman Hollerith patented the Electric Tabulating Machine and Willard Bundy invented a time clock to record a worker’s arrival and departure time on a paper tape. On June 16, 1911, these technologies and their respective companies were merged by Charles Ranlett Flint to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R). The New York City-based company had 1,300 employees. It manufactured and sold machinery ranging from commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers, along with tabulators and punched cards.

Eventually The company focused on providing large-scale, custom-built tabulating solutions for businesses, leaving the market for small office products to others and expanded to Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. In 1924, C-T-R was renamed the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), citing the need to align its name with the “growth and extension of its activities”. IBM is also known as “Big Blue” after the color of its logo. The company has made everything from mainframes to personal computers and has been immensely successful selling business computers.

In 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the No. 2 largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees (435,000 worldwide), the No. 4 largest in terms of market capitalization. Notable inventions by IBM include the automated teller machine (ATM), the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, the magnetic stripe card, the relational database, the Universal Product Code (UPC), the financial swap, the RDBMS and SQL, SABRE airline reservation system, DRAM, and Watson artificial intelligence.