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 (14-Nov-1967) – Theodore Maiman, an American physicist, receives a patent for the first laser

Theodore Harold Maiman’s knowledge of electronics and electricity, which he acquired in his father’s laboratory at the age of 12, was more than sufficient to repair everything. At 17, he passed the examination for a first class commercial radio–telephone licence as the youngest person in USA to hold it. He completed PhD in Physics from Stanford University.

In January 1956, Maiman started work at Hughes Atomic Physics Department (Culver City , California), where he headed the ruby maser (microwave amplification) project for the US Army Signal Corps. He dramatically improved the performance and design of the maser (reducing its weight from the original 5,000 lbs to 25 lbs) and delivered it on time. He further refined the maser design, so that the final version worked with liquid nitrogen cooling (previous versions required lower temperatures and worked with liquid helium), and weighed only 4 pounds. He completed the maser project in the summer of 1959 and in August he was finally able to divert his attention to the laser concept, despite of lack of support from Hughes. The “race” to build the laser was in full speed.

Thanks to his independent attitude, he won the “race”. In May 1960, he demonstrated the laser in action, from a ruby crystal in his laboratory at Hughes in Malibu, where the company had recently moved. It is important to note that Hughes’ total expenditures in the period of laser development amounted to about $50,000, while other research groups spent millions of dollars in their unsuccessful struggles to obtain the coherent light. He sent a short version of his paper to the British journal “Nature”. Consequently, the first scientific report about the first laser appeared on August 6, 1960.

In 1962, Maiman founded Korad Corporation to develop and manufacture a line of high-powered laser equipment. Korad became the market leader in its field. He also co-founded Laser Video, Inc., where he developed unique large-screen, laser driven color video displays. He is the author of the basic patent on the ruby laser (the world’s first laser), and has authored patents on masers, lasers, laser displays, optical scanning, and modulation.