History

  • This is why text messages are 160 characters in length

    This is why text messages are 160 characters in length

    Fact: the average post card contains less than 150 characters. That little nugget of information is partially why today's text messages have a 160 character limit. For this, we have a nice German fellow to thank. Read More

  • United Nations' World Digital Library: Pretty damn great

    United Nations' World Digital Library: Pretty damn great

    The United Nations has launched the World Digital Library, a tremendous Web site that currently has about 1,200 documents for your afternoon perusal. I'm right now looking at an old map of Portugal, because I'm a huge nerd. It should be a good partner site for those of you who like to do the Wikipedia Shuffle every now and then Read More

  • Amazing mechanical watches from history

    Amazing mechanical watches from history

    I'm a watch fan but I'm mostly ignorant of how progress was made from, say, the Antikythera mechanism to TokyoFlash. As one might expect, there are a ton of one-offs, ingenious ideas, and mechanical indulgences which signalized the advancement of the art of the timepiece. There's a great list here of some of the most influential watches and watchmakers in history. Read More

  • Enormous collection of ancient computers in guy's home

    Enormous collection of ancient computers in guy's home

    This man in suburban Syndey has turned his home into a veritable Museum of Computing History. I get the feeling he’s a little bonkers, but he has the right because he’s old and Australian. His house is chock full of tape drives, ancient IBMs, PDP-8s, a Lisa, and so on. There’s a great slideshow; see if you can spot anything from your own computing history (I want my Mac Classic… Read More

  • Mellotron: Eezer Goode even in the 60s

    BBG found this great video the Mellotron, a tape-based synthesizer that was all the rage with besuited musicians who probably finished this commercial and sat down for a drink or two and thought fondly of their days fighting Jerry. Read More

  • Today in History: Steve Jobs returns to Apple

    Today in History: Steve Jobs returns to Apple

    It was 1997 and Apple was in dire straits. The company, under the leadership of Gil Amelio was looking like an also-ran. In a failed attempt to gain market share, the company began licensing the hardware and OS to third parties, creating a line of PowerPC-based models that were cheaper and, in a way, better than the machines Apple was producing. Windows PCs were king. Windows 95 became the de… Read More

  • Atari: The History

    Atari: The History

    GamaSutra has a 20 page article on Atari from 1978 until 1981 – the golden age of the console. Those were heady days, friends. Imagination was king and because the graphics were so bad you could make a game do anything – you weren’t held down by expectations of realistic boob effects or blood splatters on the camera lens. We open with a sad scene: Atari was also hobbled with… Read More

  • Old watch-like navigation gadget from 1920

    Old watch-like navigation gadget from 1920

    Way, way, way, way, way before the days of the Global Positioning System, people had to navigate using devices like the Plus Fours Routefinder, shown above. It’s from back in 1920 and consisted of a collection of small scrolling maps that you’d “load” into the watch-like device before your trip. As you progressed along your route, you’d scroll the map forward to… Read More

  • Screw the Smart Car: The Polish Fiat 126p aka Maluch is 35 years old

    Screw the Smart Car: The Polish Fiat 126p aka Maluch is 35 years old

    Rush hour, Warsaw I’m in Warsaw right now with the fam and I just discovered that the original smart city car, the Fiat 126p or Maluch (“Little One” or “Little Kid”) is 35 years old. The first ones were introduced in 1972 but they took off in Poland in 1973. These amazingly tiny cars – manufactured until 2000 – weren’t just city scramblers. For years… Read More

  • 14 classic (some still-running) tech rivalries

    14 classic (some still-running) tech rivalries

    In case you forgot that Macs and PCs aren’t the best of pals, or that Nintendo and Sega used to send letter bombs to each other, this article should refresh your memory. I like reliving the old conflicts, like Netscape vs. IE and SNES vs. Genesis. You can vote too, so everyone knows which side your bread is buttered on. Some of their “classic” rivalries seem a little arbitrary… Read More

 
  • Quarter-century-old BSD bug identified, squashed

    Quarter-century-old BSD bug identified, squashed

    So an OpenBSD developer got an email the other day saying SAMBA was having trouble talking to a DOS file system. The developer thought it was a problem with SAMBA until he found that there was a workaround in place to fix issues with some BSD code. He did a little digging and found that the code had been in place since 1983 — meaning that pretty much every BSD system out there, including OSX… Read More

  • May 1 is BASIC day

    May 1 is BASIC day

    On this day in 1964 John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz ran the first BASIC program. Designed to be an easy-to-use programming language for students, BASIC has stood the test of time and is probably the first language many of us mastered in our early geek years. The two also created the Dartmouth Time Sharing System, which is pretty much the basis for every multi-user operating system in existence. Thank… Read More

  • Here's the first sound ever recorded, circa 1860

    Here's the first sound ever recorded, circa 1860

    The year was 1860. Abraham Lincoln was taking the political world by storm, South Carolina had decided it needed a break from the rest of the Union, and the first ever audio recording was made in France by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville on his latest invention; the phonautograph (left). The device worked by “scratching sound waves onto a sheet of paper blackened by the smoke of an oil… Read More

  • Great gadgets through history

    Great gadgets through history

    Break out your astrolabes and charge up your Leyden jars, fellow scienceographers! Wired has a nice round-up of some of the greatest gadgets from antiquity including the Antikythera Computer — yes, it was a 1st century B.C. computer — and the seamless globe. These gadgets helped our ancestors explore the earth and engineer great marvels. What did your iPod do for you so far? Read More

  • We made pR0n better

    We made pR0n better

    I never thought about it this way, but it seems we — us bunch of nerds — have slowly changed the porn landscape. Regina Lynn at Wired points out sites like AbbyWinters.com and Kink.com [feel free to cut and paste but rest assured NSFW] feature models who are a far cry from the pneumo-bots of yore or even the charming ladies of mainstream lad mags. The industry of image has diverged… Read More

  • Pleo and kids

    Pleo and kids

    Yeah, I know it’s an annoying GIF, right? I never got into the whole Aibo/Pleo/Robosapien thing but TC headquarters just sent me a Pleo to talk about for the Crunchies and I turned it on for my 2-year-old son. He was immediately entranced. To my jaded eyes, Pleo looks like another attempt at creating a “life form” that can convince you to love it and care for it. Furby was like… Read More

  • Amazing article explores iPhone's history, development: totally worth the read

    [photopress:wiredmagiphone.jpg,full,center] Wired easily has the best article on the iPhone you’re ever going to read on this day or any other. It’s about the history and development of the device, from Steve Jobs sensing that his iPod business wasn’t as secure as his stockholders would like (wireless providers and their MP3-playing cellphones were a big concern) to the… Read More

  • Amazing history of Atari

    Amazing history of Atari

    Bored this afternoon? Boss out of the office? Grab some coffee and read through this fascinating history of Atari from 1971 to 1977. This is a 20-pager, so rock some emulators to get you in the mood before digging in. The History of Atari: 1971-1977 [GamaSutra] Read More

  • A History Of The Compact Disc

    A History Of The Compact Disc

    SiliconUser has a great piece on the history of the Compact Disc. The most popular music medium to date, the CD actually has quite a complex history that makes for a great read. Turns out the idea for the Compact Disc was born in the 1960s and eventually evolved into a combination of emerging technologies. By 1979, a working prototype was shown off in both Europe and Japan with Sony and Philips… Read More

  • The ATM Turns 40 Today

    The ATM Turns 40 Today

    Today, we must pay homage to a device we take for granted on a daily basis. The Automatic Teller Machine turns 40 years old today and did you know that it started out across the pond before making its way to the US? Creator Shepherd Barron got the idea while sitting in a bathtub, idly pondering how he could get his own cash anywhere in the world or UK. He got the idea of the ATM from a chocolate… Read More