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 (3-Mar-78) – Shaliwahan Shaka Hindu Calender started

The two calendars most widely used in India today are the Vikrama calendar followed in Western and Northern India, and the Shalivahana or Saka calendar which is followed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa.

In the year 56 BCE, Vikrama Samvat era was founded by the emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain following his victory over the Sakas. Later, in a similar fashion, Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni initiated the Saka era to celebrate his victory against the Sakas in the year 78 CE.

The Vikrama calendar begins with the month of Baiśākha or Vaiśākha (April). The Shalivahana calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March) and the Ugadi/Gudi Padwa festivals mark the new year. Each month in the Shalivahana calendar begins with the ‘shukla paksha’ and is followed by the ‘krishna paksha’, the opposite obtains in the Vikrama calendar.

Both these calendars are based on the concept of lunar year. The lunar year is divided into 12 months and make up the six seasons. Since the calendar is based on the phases of the moon, the twelve months take 354 days, 8 hours and 34.28 seconds. This creates a difference of 10 days, 21 hours and 35.16 seconds from the actual solar year (365 days, 6 hours, 9.54 seconds). When the accumulated difference exceeds 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.865 seconds, an adjustment is made with an extra month (Adhika Maas), which carries the name of the previous or the next month, depending on the proximity of the month. Normally, seven extra months occur in 19 years. This calendar is mentioned in Anuwalk 6, Sookta 25 and mantra 8 of Rigvedah Sanhita. And thus has been in practice for at least 6000 years before Buddha. The mantra also mentions Adhika Maas.