In the grand scheme of things, one could argue that we are still in the infancy of the information age. Many of the breakthroughs and discoveries that have been made since the advent of the transistor were simply unimaginable a century ago. Although we are a relative newcomer, we have had a lifetime of successes to marvel at.
What makes tech especially interesting to some is that it is full of anecdotes and fun facts that add substance to a story and make it even more compelling. Here are some of our favorites that you might not have known about.
The computer bug was named after a verbatim bug found in a computer.
Image: Command for Maritime History and Heritage
In 1947, computer pioneer Grace Hopper was working on a Mark II computer at Harvard University. At that point, her staff discovered that a moth was trapped in one of the computer's relays, causing an error. The operators removed the moth and taped it in their logbook. They identified it as the "first actual case where a bug was found".
It was revealed that the team had "debugged" the computer, which led to the use of the term in computer and pop culture. Hopper willingly admitted she wasn't there when the incident occurred, but that didn't stop him from becoming one of her favorite stories. Hopper died of natural causes on January 1, 1992 at the age of 85.
For those interested, the remains of the offending moth, along with the original logbook, can be seen at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
The creator of Bitcoin remains a mystery.
Bitcoin, the decentralized digital currency that has topped the headlines in finance and technology for years, was launched in early 2009. The first known commercial transaction took place the following year, when programmer Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas.
In the more than 10 years that has passed since then, Bitcoin's value has risen from practically nothing to well over $ 50,000 per coin, with enough peaks and valleys to give even the scariest roller coaster in the world a run for its money. Remarkably, however, the creator of the cryptocurrency has remained anonymous.
There are many theories about Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the person or individuals who created Bitcoin. Some even went to great lengths to uncover Nakamoto's identity, but as it stands today, there is no definitive evidence in the public domain to suggest the Creator's identity. We may never know who actually created Bitcoin, and maybe that's not a bad thing.
CarMax was founded by Circuit City.
Image: Jonathan Weiss
CarMax is the largest used car dealer in the United States and one of the best places to work in the country. Some might be surprised to learn that the Fortune 500 company has been around for nearly three decades, but perhaps even more intriguing is the business unit behind the dealer.
American consumer electronics retailer Circuit City hired a consultant named Ronald L. Moore in the early 1990s to evaluate potential business opportunities outside of consumer electronics. One idea in particular, a car dealer, caught the attention of then CEO Richard L. Sharp. The concept was codenamed "Project X" for almost a year before the first CarMax store opened 1.7 miles from Circuit City's corporate headquarters in Richmond, Virginia.
CarMax was spun off from Circuit City at the end of 2002. Today CarMax has a market capitalization of over $ 21 billion. Circuit City filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Sharp, the former Circuit City CEO who led the CarMax project, later became a founding investor and board member of the Crocs shoe company before his death in 2014.
Some AMD processors could be overclocked with a pencil.
AMD found itself in a special position in the early 2000s. The company's first generation Athlon CPUs dominated competing Pentium processors and developed on the way to a reputation with overclockers. In fact, they were so good that unscrupulous resellers took slower chips, overclocked them, and sold them to unsuspecting consumers for a premium.
While this wasn't unique to AMD, the problem of noting CPUs became such an issue that the chip maker addressed it by physically modifying their second generation Athlon processors (codenamed Thunderbird) to prevent tampering by multipliers .
It wasn't long before entrepreneurial enthusiasts realized that bridging the gap between the cut L1 bridges on the processor could enable multiplier adjustments. The contraption of choice for many was a simple pencil since the graphite was conductive enough to get the job done, but others opted for tried and tested tools like conductive pens.
The process was not for the faint of heart as one wrong move could ruin your CPU. Ask me how do I know.
Super Mario Bros. 2 in the US is very different from Nintendo's original.
The North American video game industry was in dire straits in the early 1980s. After the video game crash in 1983, the outlook was not very promising. But Nintendo changed that trend forever with the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the flagship game Super Mario Bros. a few years later.
Japan was ahead of the curve after launching the Family Computer (the Japanese version of the NES) in 1983. Locals requested a sequel to Mario, and Nintendo delivered in 1986. When Nintendo of America got their hands on the title, however, they found the high level of difficulty off-putting. Agent Howard Phillips was suspicious of the consumers they had just won back and insisted on a more player-friendly version for the West. Instead of starting a new project from scratch, Nintendo simply took an existing title for the Famicom and turned it into a Mario game.
With a few arguments, Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic became Super Mario Bros. 2 and was shipped internationally in October 1988. It was so successful that Nintendo brought it back to Japan a few years later as Super Mario USA.
The original Super Mario Bros. 2, which was released in Japan, eventually found its way into the US as part of the Super Mario All-Stars compilation for the SNES in 1993 as "The Lost Levels".
The first Apple logo is not what you want.
The Apple logo, which depicts a literal apple with a bite removed, is one of the most recognizable in the United States. It was created by graphic designer Rob Janoff in 1977 and has existed in a variety of iterations since then. But did you know that it wasn't the first logo used by the company?
Ronald Wayne, co-founder of the Apple Computer Company alongside Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, designed the company's first logo. The black and white sketch shows Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree, along with a quote from the English poet that reads: "Newton … a spirit who travels forever through strange seas of thought … alone."
Jobs wasn't entirely happy with the logo, however, and wanted something that was easier to reproduce in small sizes. He also reportedly wanted the company name and logo "merged into one". At the beginning of 1977 he commissioned the marketing company Regis McKenna – and especially Janoff – to design a new logo. In April of the same year, the now iconic rainbow Apple logo made its debut alongside the Apple II computer.
Redbox kiosks were designed by McDonald & # 39; s.
Image: Jonathan Weiss
Redbox was a force to be reckoned with in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The video rental kiosks played a major role in Blockbuster's bankruptcy, and the streaming future of Netflix was far from a guarantee.
By the end of 2012, there were more than 42,000 video rental kiosks in operation in the United States and Canada, serving nearly two million rental devices every day. Redbox even ranked 15th on Fortune's list of fastest growing companies in 2012. But did you know that Redbox was created by McDonald's?
In 2002, McDonald's business development arm realized that consumers preferred to interact with a machine in some transactions. "Consumers want control over their transactions," said Gregg Kaplan, part of the original McDonald & # 39; s development team. "When you interact with someone, you give up control."
McDonald & # 39; s used the kiosks to sell convenience store products, but the project was short-lived. Kaplan still believed the machines had potential and began testing them as DVD rental kiosks. The concept caught on, and in 2005 Coinstar bought 47 percent of the spun off company for $ 32 million. In 2009, the rest of the company was consumed for over $ 169 million.
Egghead and Newegg are not related.
Image: Sharaf Maksumov
Egghead Software was founded in 1984 by Victor D. Alhadeff as a sole proprietorship in Bellevue, Washington. In the mid-1990s, Egghead employed 2,500 people with retail stores in 30 states across the country. Egghead looked doomed as the next few years weren't good for the company, but then the dot-com bubble happened and stock prices rose.
It would be short-lived, however, as a hacking scandal just before Christmas in 2000 ultimately led the company to file for bankruptcy. Frys Electronics tried to secure Egghead but went out of business. Ultimately, Amazon walked away with the Egghead domain name, which is now redirecting to Amazon.
Newegg was founded in 2001 and grew steadily over the next decade. They founded component maker Rosewill in 2004 and a year later they became one of the top 10 retailers on the internet according to Internet Retailer Magazine. Sales in 2004 reached nearly $ 1 billion. In fact, Egghead Software and Newegg never really crossed. And who knew Newegg created Rosewill?
Apple products are photographed on the watch at the same time for a reason.
Astute observers may have noticed that for many years all Apple products have been photographed with the same time shown on the watch. It turns out there is a reason for the consistency.
During a press event for the first iPad, Australian iOS developer Jon Manning met Scott Forstall, the former Apple executive who led iOS development in the early days. According to Forstall, Apple keynotes were scheduled so that the grand unveiling would take place around 40 minutes after the presentation. And in the late 2000s, there was no greater reveal than that of the original iPhone.
When Steve Jobs showed the world's first iPhone during the Macworld Convention on January 9, 2007, it did so at exactly 9:41 am local time. Hence, Apple's continued use of this time in its advertising is a throwback to this moment.
The only notable exception in Apple's current range of products is the Apple Watch, which is photographed at 10:09 a.m. This is in line with longstanding timepiece advertising practices, as 10:10 or so was considered aesthetically pleasing given the location of the hour and minute hands on a traditional dial.
Credit card chip technology has been around for decades.
Chip- and PIN-based payment cards are still relatively new in the USA. It wasn't until the end of 2015 that Visa and Mastercard began implementing the technology in the United States. But did you know that such smart cards had been used in other parts of the world decades before?
In the mid-1970s, a French inventor named Roland Moreno patented the first smart card. According to reports, two German engineers came up with a similar idea in the late 1960s, but it was Moreno who first got it through a patent office.
It would be about a decade before the concept became widespread in the financial services industry, and much longer before it became commonplace around the world. Although he never gained much notoriety for his invention, he made a lot of money with it. According to a 2012 article by The Guardian, Moreno's company had collected royalties of around € 150 million. In 2006 he told France Soir that the idea came to him during a dream.
Some PlayStation 1 games come with scented labels.
Image: A nihilist abroad
In retrospect, Sony released quite specific promotional material to promote the PlayStation in the mid and late 1990s. From catchy slogans and coded messages to high octane commercials, the marketing department shot at all cylinders.
Once, Sony even experimented with scratch and sniff labels.
Gran Turismo 2 was delivered in late 1999. As a continuation of the original, dubbed “the real driving simulator”, developer Polyphony Digital pulled out all the stops this time by packing nearly 650 cars and nearly 30 tracks to keep racing. Some versions of the game even came with a special label that gave off an "authentic pit stop smell" when rubbed.
EA did a similar thing with FIFA 2001 by embedding the scent of a soccer field in PAL versions of the game CD. While the idea was neat, it never really caught fire as these were the only two games that tested scratch and sniff labels.
Email spam was named after canned meat.
Pictured: Steve Cukrov
Email spam is an unfortunate by-product of the digital age. It's the modern day equivalent of junk mail delivered to your physical mailbox and nobody – except the people who benefit from it – likes it. What many people may not know, however, is that spam emails are named after canned meat.
As you may know, Spam is a canned pork brand that has been manufactured by Hormel Foods Corporation since 1937. During World War II, spam became an important part of soldiers' diets due to its versatility and durability. After the war, the canned meat product became increasingly popular around the world.
Fast forward to 1970 when a Monty Python sketch focused on spam. In the bit, the word "spam" was repeated over and over, no doubt in relation to its perceived ubiquity. In the early 1990s, when the first unsolicited messages were being sent in bulk, it reminded a Usenet newsgroup user of Monty Python's spam sketch.
The name was retained, and now the word "spam" is often used to refer to unsolicited communication or to perform an action repeatedly.
Domain name registration used to be free.
In 1991, the Defense Communications Agency was renamed Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). A few months later, the agency hired a company called Network Solutions, Inc. to run the Domain Name System (DNS) registration.
Network Solutions received a 1992 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop the registration service for the Internet. In the following year, the company became the sole registrar of domain names for top-level domains (TLDs) from .com, .net and .org).
What many people may not realize is that domain names were given for free until 1995. That changed when Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) bought Network Solutions for $ 4.7 million. After the takeover, NSF gave the new owner the power to charge fees for registering domain names.
This eventually led to the formation of Internet Assigned Names and Numbers Corporation (ICANN), which paved the way for competition in the domain name industry – but that's another story for another time.
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out !! because the NES contains still undiscovered secrets.
In 1987, Nintendo launched what was to become one of the greatest video games of all time. But at the time, nobody really knew the potential of Mike Tyson's punch-out !! possessed … or the secrets it held. In fact, some of them remain undetected to this day.
At its core, punch-out was a solid, fun, and challenging game that almost anyone could learn and enjoy. Over the years, however, players learned the many intricacies of the title, especially those in the speed running community who were constantly looking for new techniques and strategies.
In 2009, during a roundtable discussion with some of the game's developers, it was revealed that while playing Bald Bull there is a visual cue – a camera flash – that occurs in the background when the opponent attacks. Time one stroke perfectly with the lightning bolt and you can get a knockdown.
Players had known exactly when to strike to drop Bald Bull, but the visual display was far darker.
Makoto Wada, who revealed the tip during the round table, said he had held the tip for more than two decades and went on to note that there are "many hidden elements in the NES version." Another was found in 2016, but how many more remain undetected?
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