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 (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 (10-Oct-1978) – Rohini Khadilkar became the first woman to win the national chess championship

Rohini Khadilkar was the youngest of the three Khadilkar sisters (Vasanti and Jayshree the other two). All of them dominated Indian Women’s chess championship for a decade. Khadilkar became National Women’s Chess in 1976 at the age of 13 and was the first to win that championship in three consecutive years. She has held the title on five occasions.

Khadilkar became the first female to compete in the Indian Men’s Championship when she participated in 1976. Her involvement in a male competition caused a furore that necessitated a successful appeal to the High Court and caused the World Chess Federation president, Max Euwe, to rule that women cannot be barred from national and international championships. She beat three state champions – Gaurang Mehta of Gujarat, Abdul Jabbar of Maharashtra and A. K. Ghosh of West Bengal – in the competition.

In 1981, Khadilkar also became the Asian Women’s Chess Championship when the competition was held at Hyderabad. She was unbeaten in that competition and scored 11.5 out of a possible 12 points, which also made her International Woman Master (IWM).  In the same year, she became an International Chess Masterand in November 1983 she again won the Asian Women’s title when the competition was held at Kualalumpur, Malaysia.

In 1977, Rohini won the Chhatrapati Award for outstanding performance in chess. Subsequently, she has been awarded India’s highest honour in sports, the Arjuna award. She has also been declared Maharashtra Kanya for her chess exploits.

In 1993, Rohini retired from chess and enrolled as a student at the Printing Technology Institute. She came first in her cohort, earning a Gold Medal. Presently, she is the assistant editor of a leading Marathi newspaper of Mumbai ‘Nava Kaal’, and editor of another Marathi newspaper ‘Sandhyakal’.