computer science

Dan Bricklin and VisiCalc

Dan Bricklin and VisiCalc

VisiCalc On July 16, 1951, computer scientist Dan Bricklin was born. Together with Bob Frankston he created VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet computer program (1979) which created a market beyond hobbyists for the emerging personal computers. Today, everybody knows spreadsheet programs, no matter if you choose a desktop application or a web based application, spreadsheets are everywhere. And sometimes, we don’t have any idea, how we could possibly get along without…
The Antikythera Mechanism – an Ancient Analog Computer

The Antikythera Mechanism – an Ancient Analog Computer

The Antikythera mechanism On May 17, 1902, Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovers the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer, designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. The famous mechanism was discovered in a shipwreck near the Greekisland of Antikythera. In October 1900, a group of sponge divers discovered the wreck and retrieved a great number of artifacts dating back to the end of the second century BC, which included…
Rudy Rucker – Infinity and the Mind

Rudy Rucker – Infinity and the Mind

Rudy Rucker, Fall 2004, photo by Georgia Rucker On March 22, 1946, American mathematician, computer scientist, science fiction author, and philosopher Rudolph von Bitter Rucker, better known as Rudy Rucker, was born. He is also one of the founders of the cyberpunk literary movement. Rucker was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where his father Embry Cobb Rucker, Sr., a descended from Flemish Huguenots, ran a small furniture-manufacturing company. Later…
J.C.R. Licklider and Interactive Computing

J.C.R. Licklider and Interactive Computing

A SAGE operator’s terminalImage: Joi Ito On March 11, 1915, American psychologist and computer scientist J.C.R. Licklider, known simply as J.C.R. or “Lick“, was born. He is particularly remembered for being one of the first to foresee modern-style interactive computing and was one of the most distinguished Internet pioneers. Licklider was born in St. Louis, Missouri and his engineering talents became clear pretty early, when he built model airplanes as…
Who remembers Apple’s Lisa?

Who remembers Apple’s Lisa?

The Apple Lisa (2) On January 19, 1983, the Apple Lisa was introduced, the first personal computer to offer a graphical user interface in an inexpensive machine aimed at individual business users. Although a commercial failure, the Lisa paved the way for the famous Apple MacIntosh released in 1984. I don’t know if you are old enough to remember the early 1980s. But the era of personal computers had just…
The Birth of the Internet

The Birth of the Internet

On October 29, 1969, the very first message between two distant computer nodes, from the Network Measurement Center at the UCLA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and SRI International (SRI) was sent. This is to be considered the birth of the ARPANET, which should become the Internet. What was the reason for the development of the Internet? Especially in the 1960s, when computers were absolutely not widespread or ubiquitous…
The Last Lecture of Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture of Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch(1960 – 2008) On October 23, 1960, professor of computer science and human-computer interaction Randy Pausch was born. He is best known for a lecture titled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” he gave after he had learned that he had pancreatic cancer, which became rather popular on youtube. Randy Pausch studied at Brown University and received his Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in…
FORTRAN – The First Programming Language for Numeric Calculations

FORTRAN – The First Programming Language for Numeric Calculations

Cover of The Fortran Automatic Coding System, the first book about FORTRAN On October 15, 1956, the Reference Manual for the Programming Language FORTRAN – The IBM Mathematical Formula Translating System – was published. It is considered the very first high-level programming language. FORTRAN was developed at IBM under the guidance of John W. Backus to develop a more practical alternative to assembly language for programming their IBM 704 mainframe…
John Atanasoff and the first Electronic Digital Computer

John Atanasoff and the first Electronic Digital Computer

John Vincent Atanasoff (1903-1995) On October 4, 1903, American physicist and inventor John Vincent Atanasoff was born. He is best known for being considered as one of the inventors of the electronic digital computer. Even computer scientists most probably haven’t heard anything of this computer pioneer. Of course you will have heard about Alan Turing or John von Neumann, who are traditionally referenced as being the fathers of the computer.…
GNU’s not Unix

GNU’s not Unix

On September 27, 1983, American software freedom activist and computer programmer Richard Stallman announced the GNU project. Its aim is to give computer users freedom and control in their use of their computers and computing devices, by collaboratively developing and providing software. You’ve probably never heard of GNU, unless you are a computer scientist or some kind of software developer. But, GNU denotes the starting point of a development that…
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