This is always an exciting time of year for technology. With CES in the rear-view mirror, we saw some of the latest and greatest tech gadgets on display. But did you know that the month of February brought us Java, integrated circuits and one of the first big showcases for AI? Let’s take a look back at this month in IT history:
February 1, 1991 – Sun Begins Work on Java
In February 1991, Sun Microsystems began developing what would ultimately become the Java programming language. At the time, C++ was the dominant programming language. Java’s creators wanted to improve on C++ and create a language that would help drive the next wave in computing. Today Java is used to power billions of devices including cable boxes, web cameras, automobiles, point-of-sale terminals and PCs.
February 6, 1959 – Jack Kilby Files a Patent for an Integrated Circuit
In 1958 Jack Kilby was working for Texas Instruments when he created an integrated circuit – an electronic circuit built on a single small piece of semiconductive material. Until Kilby’s invention, electronic circuits consisted of multiple separate components, meaning machines that relied on the circuits were relatively large. Today, integrated circuits are used in almost all our electronic devices.
February 10, 1996 – Deep Blue Begins Series of Chess Matches Against Garry Kasparov
Deep Blue, an IBM computer designed specifically to play chess, began a series of matches against reigning world champion Garry Kasparov in 1996. Deep Blue won the initial game, becoming the first computer to win a game against a world champion. Kasparov ultimately won the first six-game match, but Deep Blue got its revenge in a 1997 rematch, defeating Kasparov and becoming the first computer to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess time controls.
February 15, 1946 – ENIAC Makes its Debut
The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was unveiled at the University of Pennsylvania on this day in 1946. ENIAC is recognized as the first programmable general purpose electronic digital computer, although it was built specifically to calculate artillery firing tables for the U.S. military. By today’s standards the machine was massive, occupying a 50-by-30 foot basement and consisting of approximately 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors and 10,000 capacitors.
February 27, 1998 – Apple Discontinues Newton
Apple is best known for its iPhones, iPads and Macintosh computers. But well before the iPhone and iPad arrived, Apple created Newton, a series of personal digital assistants. The first Newton shipped in 1993 and featured handwriting recognition. While the device was considered revolutionary for its time, it was relatively expensive. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, one of his first actions was to discontinue the Newton line.