Feature: 1983 Technology Flashback

Apple Computer introduces the Lisa, a PC with a graphical user interface. The machine doesn't sell, however, and becomes an infamous commercial flop. One likely reason is that it costs $US10,000. Apple also releases the Apple IIe, which runs Apple Basic and sells for $1400. This is also the year Apple enters the Fortune 500, at No. 411.

Danny Hillis and Sheryl Handler found Thinking Machines. The quirky Hillis, famous for driving a fire truck to work, designed an early massively parallel machine while at MIT.

Completion of the switchover from Network Control Protocol to TCP/IP marks the beginning of the global Internet.

Microsoft introduces the Windows operating system, but it won't ship for two years. Microsoft also introduces the Microsoft mouse, for use with the IBM and any other MS DOS-based PC.

Tom Jennings creates the bulletin board system Fido as well as FidoNet, which links Fido bulletin boards worldwide. Jennings eventually will offer the software for free online - allowing for a low-cost public e-mail system.

Apple brings in John Sculley as president and CEO. Sculley, formerly president of PepsiCo, is reported to have been brought in to provide marketing savvy. Jean-Louis Gassee, who ran Apple's product development before leaving the company in 1990, said about Sculley, "John convinced corporate America that Apple was not run by a bunch of renegades in blue jeans and ponytails."

RadioShack introduces the TRS-80 Model 100 "book-size" computer. It weighs 4 lb and has built-in word processing and communications software.

Osborne Computer, which introduced one of the first portable computers in 1981, declares bankruptcy and goes out of business.

Chemical Bank in New York launches the Pronto service, the first large-scale home banking system. Customers can check balances, transfer funds and pay bills.

MGM/United Artists releases War Games, starring Matthew Broderick as a young hacker who taps into North American Aerospace Defense Command systems and accidentally causes a countdown to nuclear war.

Texas Instruments leaves the home computer market, ending production of the TI 99/4A microcomputer.

Arpanet is split into Arpanet and MILnet. The latter is integrated with the Defense Data Network.

Phillipe Kahn founds Borland. Kahn, a former saxophone player, described his company's philosophy to Computerworld: "[John] Coltrane once said, 'Damn the rules. Any way you play it, it's the same 12 notes.' ... We sell useful software at rock-bottom prices."

Novell introduces NetWare, a file-server LAN operating system.

The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is introduced at the first North American Music Manufacturers show in Los Angeles. MIDI is an industry-standard electronic interface that links music synthesizers. The MIDI information tells a synthesizer when to start and stop playing a specific note, what sound that note should have, how loud it should be and other information.

Ovation Technologies announces an integrated software package for DOS. The product is never delivered, and the term vaporware is used to describe it.

George Stickles and Debbie Fuhrman are electronically wed, with more than 70 online guests watching and throwing "rice" - commas and other punctuation marks. The two met via the CompuServe network.

(Compiled by Computerworld corporate librarian Laura Hunt.)

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