Today in Computing History

Welcome to "Today in Computing History," where ACM celebrates pivotal moments that have shaped technology and highlight key milestones, from early inventions to today's advancements. Join us as we honor the visionaries and transformative events that continue to inspire the world of computing, one milestone at a time.

January 3, 2009


Bitcoin is created

 

#OnThisDay in 2009, the pseudonymous programmer Satoshi Nakamoto mines the first Bitcoin block--the Genesis Block--and launches the world's first feasible decentralized cryptocurrency and payment system. Unlike traditional money, Bitcoin is created, distributed, traded, and stored using a decentralized ledger system known as a blockchain.

January 23, 1996


Java is released

 

#OnThisDay in 1996, the first version of Java, a programming language, was released. Originally designed for interactive television, its "write once, run anywhere" feature made it ideal for Internet programming. Initially called "Greentalk" and later "Oak," it was named "Java" after an island in Indonesia where the first coffee was produced, hence the logo.

January 30, 1982


The first PC virus is written

 

#OnThisDay in 1982, a 15-year-old named Richard Skrenta writes the first large-scale, self-spreading PC virus code, which is 400 lines long and disguised as an Apple II boot program called "Elk Cloner."

February 8, 2005


 Google Maps is launched

 

In 2004, Google acquired Where 2 Technologies and Keyhole, and the new team of 50 people set out building a digital map that was searchable, scrollable, and zoomable. Google Maps launched #OnThisDay a year later, revolutionizing the way we navigate our world.

February 10, 1996


Deep Blue VS Garry Kasparov

 

#OnThisDay in 1996, IBM's Deep Blue premieres at the ACM Chess Challenge in a six-game match with world champion Garry Kasparov. Although Kasparov won by 4-2, he would be defeated in a rematch in 1997, which marked the first defeat of a reigning world chess champion by a computer.

February 14, 1946


ENIAC is unveiled

 

ENIAC, the first fully electronic computer, is unveiled by its creators, J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, at the University of Pennsylvania. Occupying over 1,5000 square feet and weighing 30 tons, it calculated 5,000 operations per second, 1,000 times faster than its contemporaries.

Six women were selected to configure and interconnect ENIAC's components according to required computational functionality, handle punch-card input, troubleshooting, and even replace vacuum tubes. Their contribution to the program wasn't acknowledged until the mid 1980s.

February 25, 1959


APT is demonstrated

 

#OnThisDay in 1959, the Automatically Programmed Tool (APT) is demonstrated at MIT. APT is a computer programming language used to generate instructions for numerically controlled machine tools. This early language was used widely through the 1970s and is still a standard internationally.

March 4, 1956


An Wang sells core memory patent to IBM

 

Consisting of "tiny donuts" of magnetic material strung on wires into an array, Magnetic Core Memory became the principal method of random access storage from the 50s until the 70s, when it was replaced by semiconductor memory chips. #OnThisDay in 1956, its inventor An Wang sold his patent to IBM. Later it was perfected by Jay Forrester and used in MIT's Whirlwind.

March 5, 1975


Homebrew Computer Club meets for the first time

 

#OnThisDay in 1975, the Homebrew Computer Club held its first meeting in its co-founder Gordon French's garage in Menlo Park, California. A forum for trading electronic parts and ideas, it attracted a group of computer hobbyists, including Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and several future leaders in personal computers.

March 14, 1988


First Pi Day is celebrated

 

Happy Pi Day! Created by the Greek mathematician Archimedes in 250 B.C., the constant–the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter–gave its name to March 14 at San Francisco's Exploratorium in 1988. To this day scientists are still trying to learn more digits of pi. How many can you memorize?

March 25, 1992


Excel 4.0 is released

 

Happy birthday to Excel 4.0, released #OnThisDay in 1992! Compared to its predecessors, its new features included AutoFill and a large number of functions and shortcuts. Along with other practical applications developed by Microsoft and other companies, it made personal computers more appealing to home and office users and shaped the way we work.

March 30, 1951


UNIVAC I is received by the US Census Bureau

 

The first commercial general-use computer, UNIVAC I was developed for the US Census Bureau and is delivered #OnThisDay in 1951. Later next year it would be used to predict the result of the 1952 Presidential election.