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The Industrial Era

1991 - 1992

Trend setting are Multi Media machines. Sound, picture, video and TV features are becoming highly in demand. New OS technologies are being developed.


pre history | antiquity | pre industrial era | industrial era

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pre history
pre-industrial era
Industrial era

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internet timeline

time flash 1991


October 5, 1991 05:41:06 GMT: The young student Linus Torvalds from Finland releases Linux version 0.02 which is the first official release.

Linus Torvalds (5)

Linux is a UNIX like OS based on POSIX which is distributed with free source code.
Linus Torvalds wrote in the announcement:

"I've enjoyed doing it, and somebody might enjoy looking at it and even modifying it for their own needs"

This will be the best candidate for the understatement of the decade to come!

It is the picture of a penguinLinuxthat will become the logo for the Linux community.

CERN seminar on WWW

CERN holds a seminar on the newly developed World Wide Web. With input gathered at conferences and online discussion, the Web continues to evolve. (6)

The first website on the World Wide Web went live in August. The site explained the concept and history of the Web, provided links to all "the world's online information" and outlined the process by which people could improve and expand the Web. It was created by Tim Berners-Lee, then a computer scientist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva.(10)

first website
screenshot: w3.org/history (9)

E*trade founded.

E*trade, an online investment company, starts offering electronic trading through online services. The company launches its Web site in 1996 and goes public in 1997 as the Web's first online public offering.(6)

After, in fact the failure of MS-DOS 4.0, Microsoft introduces MS-DOS 5.0 to the market.

This version can only be used optimally on machines with a CPU of 80386 or higher. The new version has a limited task swapping, a GUI users surface and does use completely an expanded and extended memory. In principle, all drivers -xx386 and higher- can be stored in the higher part of the memory (high mem). Tools which were acquired by other manufacturers (such as recover, unformat etc.) are now an integrated part of the new DOS version, however in a more simple form.
Microsoft did not want to run any risk and has tested the new system thoroughly during an extended Beta test at a scale which was never done before. This was a part  why this version was good received by the end-users. Despite this there are still some minor mistakes in the OS.

After a long wait for the users, Apple launches OS7.

A big leap forward is made. Similar to MS-DOS many optionals which had to bought separately before, are now included.

IBM and Apple are collaborating in the field of GUI to improve the OS/2 concept and to compete with Microsoft's Windows.

Toshiba micro computers increases the capacity of the 3.5" floppy disk to 2.88 Mb., which gives a doubling of the amount of data that can be stored.

The surface of the flop is made of Barium Ferrite, a mixture which has excellent magnetic characteristics. IBM is the first manufacturer to include these drives in its computers during the coming years. Trough this development the disc drives developed in 1989 for 5.25" become obsolete. And the commercial development of 51/4" diskettes of 10 and 20 Mb is stalled for the moment.

The former Fairchild Semiconductor Laboratory in the USA, the place where the IC originated (1957-58), becomes a historical monument (East Charleston rd. 844 in Palo Alto ("Silicon Valley").

picture: ComputerWorld

W.H. Bill Inmon publishes: "Building the Data Warehouse".

By Chuck Kelley (7):
Data warehousing takes data from transaction systems (e.g. hotel databases eds.) and stores it in a new environment for strategic (and some tactical) analysis. This alleviates the transaction systems of major queries (if not: cause of a considerable slowing down of operations eds.), allowing them do what they were designed to do and the data warehouse to do what it was designed to do. (...) Organizations will want to analyze their data to gain knowledge on how to provide value to their internal and external customers.

pinkIBM and Apple are designing a new operating system - code name PINK from the project that started in 1988 and renamed to Tallingent - which should become the competitor of Microsoft's duo: MS-DOS and Windows.

The built-up and coherence of the PINK OS is modular and object oriented.

The developers are expecting from this that by changing a certain module the coherence and working of the system does not get lost. The big advantage will be that changes can be made per object. Contrarily,  Microsoft is in favor for a layered structure with NT. Analysts comment that if one remove or change one of the layers, the coherence of the system will not be sufficiently stable. For this reason a total revision of the system will be needed when changing or removing one of the layers. Not a very efficient way of software maintenance analysts state.

microsoft NTMicrosoft announced, as an answer on the IBM-Apple PINK operating system, the development of  NT - for New Technology.

Hard disc drives with a diameter of 1.8" (45.72 mm) and a capacity of 20 and 40 Mb are coming on the market this year, these are primarily meant for pen-books and palmtops.

The sub-mini hard disc of Integral weighs 3.3 ounces and is 2 inch wide.

It has a normal IDE interface and is faster than 20 ms. The energy use is in the "save" mode around half a watt and in the sleep mode 16 mwatt. (3).

HP is the first to manufacturer of a palmtop computer (HP 95LX) with standard software available in ROM (4).

This computer weighs 11 oz. ( 400 gr.) and has besides extensive computation also communication possibilities.

Carbon nanotubes are discovered by Dr. Sumio Iijima's research group at NEC Corporation in Tokyo.

nanotube principal features

The minute structures (thickness 1/100 of a human hair) combine enormous strength with low weight and flexibility, making them ideal materials for use in space, micro electronics, construction, and textiles. Development into practical use of nanotubes will need another 10 years to get into the shops.

Sony shocks the photographic world by launching MAVICA, the first MAgnetic VIdeo CAmera, a "stills" camera which does not use any film.

Still here means only one frame makes a picture contrary to television where 25-30 frames make a picture. In stead of film, Mavica records still video images (one frame at a time) on a two inch floppy disk - looking just like a miniature computer disk - which is mounted in the camera. Mavica showed not only that a system of electronic video stills photography was viable but also practicable. Most importantly, it made film manufacturers realize that the future world of imaging would not be coated with silver.(2)


Some of these famous citations

  • Brad Silverberg, Microsoft vice president: "DOS will be with us forever. We've learned how passionate people are about DOS."
  • Lee Reiswig, IBM: "We will be enhancing OS/2 until the late 1990s."
  • Mark Stahlman Alex, Brown & Sons analyst: "(Commodore) is likely to be one of the big success stories of the early 1990s."(8)




Apple corp. which some years ago started a case against Microsoft concerning the graphical interface has lost the case in court.

If Apple had won this case, the results would have been disastrous for all developers. Nobody would have been allowed to use the icon technology. The case was dismissed for two reasons. Firstly, MS had a licensing contract  with Apple and secondly the real inventor of the icon technology was Rank Xerox (Palo Alto Research Center). The latter even had sold the technology to Apple under license!


The first graphical browser is developed Marc Andreessen in Champaign, Illinois, USA.

Marc Andreessen is a 21 year-old undergraduate and part-time assistant at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois when he conceives the idea that a graphical browser was what was needed to make the internet more useful. He recruited his co-worker Eric Bina and together working day and night they produce the Mosaic browser. Marc Andreessen goes on to found Netscape and becomes one of the earliest and youngest internet billionaires.

CERN says it will not charge fees for the Web.

CERN announces it will not charge fees for Web use. The move helps shape the future of the Web as an open and free communication area(6)

windows 3.1Microsoft ships Windows 3.1 (March)

windows 31

Microsoft ships Windows 3.1, and shortly after 3.11 (workgroups) which will become the most popular version of Windows until the release of Windows 95. Windows 3.1 is viewed as a major improvement over earlier versions of Windows, originally released in 1985. (6)


AOL goes public (March)
On March 19, 1992, AOL goes public on NASDAQ, offering two million shares for $11.50. By mid-1999, the stock is trading at $175. (6)

After a much publicized campaign finally IBM introduced PS/2, the second version.

This version has to compete with the this year introduced version of Windows 3.1 and New Wave 4.0 from HP. All three programs together are forming a milestone product in the development of the windows technology for the PC.

Apple realizes that it won't make it with their technology and start to market products in the field of inter-connectivity.

Apple printers can now be used together with PCs and their computers can read and write DOS (disc) formats.

HP brings a hard disc on the market with a diameter of 1.3" and a capacity of 20Mb; the Kittyhawk.

The measurements of this disc is not much bigger than a match box. The specialty of this disc is that the platens (the lower layer or carrier on which the magnetic layer is brought on) is not anymore made from metal but from glass. This is the smallest hard disk in the world and it will take a few years to surpass this record.

On May 4, Hewlett-Packard unveiled a new fax machine that printed on plain paper instead of the special fax paper used by most fax machines at the time.

On the same day, the company introduced a high-end color ink-jet printer called the Paintjet XL300 that could print nearly photographic images. HP's lower-end ink-jet printers, introduced several years earlier, had quickly replaced rival dot-matrix printers.(1)

The ever more powerful CPUs (Intel's 486DX 50 MHz Motorola's 68040 25Mhz) causes a trend to smaller systems.

Keywords for this development are: down sizing and client server. This encompasses that big main frames are replaced by very powerful minicomputers. These minicomputers are coupled to a local network with very powerful network servers.

The first DEC's Alpha microprocessor that runs at 150 MHz can address 16 GB memory and support up to 8-Mb secondary cache.

The market for computers, mainly for PCs is getting saturated and is causing decreasing prices.

At one side due to the trend of down sizing and at the other side due to the trend of more powerful PC network environments, the market is volatile and several manufacturers have to market "new" types of PCs. Manufacturers of "brand name" computers are having financial problems due to overproduction. These manufacturers have just as the others to aim for a high turnover but with smaller profit margins.  This leads to that the expensive brands (Compaq, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Toshiba) are marketing a less expensive version and the cheap brands are marketing a more expansive version. This means in practice that in many ways an improvement in quality is taken place and the cheap models of the same brand also are becoming within (financial) reach of the (professional) user with smaller wallets

The lowest segment of computers (mainly using 8088 and 8086 CPU's) is disappearing because of aggressive prize cutting.

Palmtop and pen computers are still using  these cheap and relatively energy saving chips  .

De palmtop and laptop computers are supplied standard with PCMCIA (Personal Computer Micro Computer Interface Adapter) cards which are not bigger in size than a credit card. They are cards on which RAM and ROM memory and other electronic devices are mounted. The memories run from 1 - 20 Mb. There are also now PCMCIA's with a built-in fax modem, with serial/parallel interfaces or models with complete programs and memory. The aim is to have a card of 120 Mb or more in such a way that they can be used as removable hard discs.

The software industry is starting to catch up and begins to roll out Windows based programs on the market  also as an effect to the change to faster processors at a higher speed.

The window technique makes it possible that data from other appliances can be transferred almost without any problems via a clipboard or another utility. More and more there are appearing programs with multi-medial data bases (word processing, pictures, sound, speak) with program languages which connect with the already existing programs.

The "feature" war is almost finished as meant in cramming more functions in a program.

The developers are looking more for a foursome characteristics:


Integration: how easy fits a program in the standard user environment with DOS and Window applications and if data can be easy exchanged between programs. 

Speed: due to the still increasing amount of possibilities the programs became slower and crashed time on time due its complexity. The programs become optimized and quicker.

Intelligence: the trend is towards "problem solving", many automatism's are built-in, to click on an icon is sufficient to do a complicated computation in one time.

Service: more and more users are feeling left alone by the soft ware producers, a decrease in the market share is the result. Manufacturers are aware that their client not wanting so much more possibilities but want assistance with solving their most occurring soft ware problems.

adobe pdfAdobe brings out the PDF or portable document format.

It will be one of the dominant standards in information technology and the vast majority of large companies rely on it to send and receive documents between computer systems.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2012 For suggestions please mail the editor in chief 


Footnotes & References