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The Industrial Era


The pentium, a long waited new processor from INTEL. This is the year were many internet providers open for the public.


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Intel Pentium 60Mhz(1)

Intel introduces the Pentium chip. (in fact it's Intel's 586) An increase of 200% in power of the processor, as is announced by the manufacturers can not be realized.

Tests showed that even a 20% increase is not possible with the standard (386/486 or 64020/30/40) available software. The Pentium is plagued with problems. For example a cooling is mandatory because of problems with over heating.
The pentium is the first cpu for micro computers with a kind of parallel processing.

The Pentium contains more than 1.5 million transistors. The production technology makes it possible that the connection between the transistors are of 0.8 micron width. There are developments ongoing to reduce this to 0.6 micron. This will lead to less heat production and a lower energy consumption.
The dramatically falling prices of CPU's based on the 80486 processors are conquering the market and replaces almost all PCs based on the older CPU. The standard become a bigger hard disc (minimal 250 Mbit) and a quicker S(uper) VGA video card with video accelerator chips and minimal 8 Mb RAM.

Motorola and IBM introduce the PowerPC 601.

A joint effort by Motorola, DEC and Apple.
However the processor can not deliver the promised increase of speed with 200% in power, as is announced by the manufacturers. Tests showed that even a 20% increase is not possible with the standard (386/486 or 64020/30/40) available software. The 601 contains over 2.8 million transistors and runs at 50 MHz, with a 0.6um between the transistors.

is founded by the National Science Foundation to provide registration and directory services. (6)

The White House (USA presidential residence) goes online.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore get email addresses at the White House. This is the first time the White House has been online. Clinton and Gore used email extensively in their 1992 presidential campaign. (6)

Mosaic released.

University of Illinois undergraduate Marc Andreesen and a team of programmers release a free Web browser called Mosaic. One of the first browsers available to the general public.

World Wide Web usage grows at a phenomenal rate. In 1994, Andreesen will team up with Silicon Graphics founder James Clark to launch Netscape. (6)


formal first issue cover (5) first experimental cover (4)


January; Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe launch the first issue of Wired magazine. The magazine features jarring colors and graphic design, and a hip, irreverent style that soon comes to be identified with cyber-culture. (6)

April 16, the New York times unveils plans of the U.S. government who proposes a virtually unbreakable technique of encryption inplemented with a chip they have named "The Clipper Chip". The catch - the US government would have the key to unlock any information encrypted with the Clipper chip.

clipper chip (6)

This chip enables the secret agencies and other official or less official agencies to eavesdrop on your mobile conversation or data communication.

Here is how it works:

F = Family key (common to all Clipper Chips) - 80 bits
N = serial Number of chip - 30 bits
U = secret key for chip - 80 bits
K = Key specific to particular conversation - 80 bits
M = the Message

Law enforcement officers who have a court order permitting them to intercept a phone conversation can decrypt the conversation using the following procedure:

  • use F to decrypt outer layer of LEAF revealing N and K encrypted by U
  • obtain escrowed key halves for chip with serial number N
  • put key halves together (with XOR) to reveal U
  • use U to decrypt K
  • use K to decrypt M (the message)

courtesy: http://lorrie.cranor.org/

A fierce debate has erupted around the implementation of the Clipper chip. The government maintains that they must be able to read any transmission to prevent crime. Privacy groups vehemently oppose the proposal, asserting the government is trying to get one step closer to an Orwellian "Big Brother" control on all information in the U.S. (7)

June; Adobe ships Acrobat, an electronic document system designed to make it easier to distribute identical copies of electronic documents.

At first Adobe asked a steep price for its software but a year later Adobe drops the 50 USD for its reader soon after that the software will become immensely popular.(2)
In 1995, IBM and Netscape both agree to support Adobe Acrobat, making it a widely accepted format for viewing documents.(6)

September; Stephen King releases a story from his upcoming Nightmares and Dreamscapes short story collection on the Internet. (6)

Apple is markets a DOS compatible computer.

Still the high tech Apple remains very expensive. The advantage of Apple's is that almost always as first the newest technology is included. Apple chooses this year for another marketing strategy by lowering the prices drastically and in addition produce a "cheaper" version (amongst them the "classic") which recuperated some of the lost market share. This marketing strategy will be followed by all: "A brand manufactured like IBM and Compaq.

A new trend in Personal Computing is to market PDA appliances: the so-called  Personal Digital Assistant. Because of the size of these computers this family is called: Palmtop, or handheld.

Apple Newton Messagepad

Important examples of these are: the Newton of Apple at a price of $700 (discontinued in 1998), and the Zoomer of Casio/Tandy.


PDA's are characterized that they do not have a keyboard but that they work with a well developed graphical interface in which handwriting recognition has a key function. For this developers create a different operating system: Pen-OS (Psion). With a special pen one can write on or press the touch sensitive screen. Icons are touched to start a function. Short notes can be written on the surface of the screen. The software will recognize the handwriting and convert this to machine writing. In this period handwriting recognition does not work too well at all.

A PDA provides users with an electronic notepad, to-do list, calendar, telephone log and address list applications. Some of the Newton's innovations have become standard PDA features, including a pressure-sensitive display with stylus, handwriting recognition capabilities, an infrared port and an expansion slot.

HP omnibook 100

Small is beautiful is now the credo of computer manufacturers. More and more sub-notebooks (IBM's Thinkpad(8), HP's Omni-book) and hand held/hip held portables are marketed. Some of them work on penlight (AA batteries) for at least 8 hours. Built-in software covers in addition to the standard software (word processing, spreadsheets and databases) also an address list, calculator and diary.

Endurance and processing power is not high on the list. But consumers start to demand the same processing power as on desk top models and want to work with the same or compatible software. Operating hours on one set of batteries of less than 4 hours is no longer accepted.

Because of the the consumer demands: more powerful computers, longer operating hours and more expansion possibilities like the PCMCIA technology is boosted. Machines at the size of a credit card ten or more millimeters thick have all kind of functions: fax/modem, network, memory, or hard disk. The cards can be used without any problems in the specific slots of the new note books.

After many years Word Perfect appears on the market with a new version of its text processor (version 6.0) and drawing program (version 2.0).

Surprisingly both are still DOS versions and aimed at multi media use and for the non-window's user. Both versions are mouse supported and completely graphically. The word processor has many bugs varying from non readable WPG files till crashing the computer when the fax is used. WP only replaces the software when the user is complaining by sending a free upgrade. But this strategy is not going to help the WP company to survive.

The new version of MS-DOS (6.0) appears on the market and is not very well received. Partly because there are not many new additions to the DOS operating system.

In addition, the majority of the supporting programs are bought from others: usually old versions.  In comparison with the other programs on the market the functional use is meager and causes problems with many users. Within 2 months MS was forced to market a new version. The promised network support is and remains weak.

Novell (networks) buys DR-DOS and soon it marketed a new version. Understandable the network support is perfectly organized.

IBM breaks its ties with Microsoft and starts to go in competition by marketing new versions of PC-DOS.

The CP/M operating system is slowly turning into a niche product.

The expansion of UNIX is threatened by a copyright conflict.

However, the OSF (Open Software Foundation) prevents this, hence all versions of UNIX could be reasonable compatible. Unix is used more and more in the administrative sector. Partly this is because the more powerful PCs (memory, hard disk, CPU) and to its use of a graphic interface with the so called X-window GUI. UNIX is becoming a bigger competitor of the Novell/DOS environments because the system is more open for improvements made by other parties (read: anyone) and many utilities can be bought or obtained for free from various sources.

Another trend in the software development is the merging of complete versions of existing programs in one big program: called Office "..." or Smart "..." or Open Office .

None of the programs brings large improvements but the user can buy the software for a relative low price, at least compared to the earlier pricing strategies. The only guarantee is that every single module in the so called suite can read the data from the other ones, mainly by using the technology that is part of the Windows environment.

Both IBM (OS/2 2.1) and Microsoft (Windows NT 3.1) are bringing their new Windows program on the market.

os2 v 211 mswindow nt 31
pictures courtesy Wikipedia

Neither versions are completely error free. When a computer has anything less than a Motorola 68040 or an Intel 486 central processor (CPU) both are extremely slow as well.

IBM replaces MS Windows code with that of its own.

This liberates IBM from paying license fees to Microsoft. MS Windows programs can be used for OS/2 with minor alterations.

The Microsoft Windows NT environment has embedded the DOS operating system, there is no need for a separate DOS system anymore.

HP introduced the full fledged  "super portable" palm top alike computer: the HP OmniBook 300.

hp omnibook 300

HP omnibook 300 (5)

The computer still weighs 1450 grams. A big advantage is that the computer works several hours on one set of penlight batteries.


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Last Updated on October 22, 2006 For suggestions please mail the editor in chief 

Footnotes & References