20th Century: 1976

On February 3, 1976, David Bunnell published an article by Bill Gates about software piracy in his Computer Notes Altair newsletter.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak demonstrate the first Apple computer at the Home Brew Computer Club in April 1976. The Apple I had a 6502 MOS 1 MHz processor, 8 kB of onboard memory, and 1 kB of VRAM for $666.66.

Apple I Board – ArnoldReinhold, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons.

The 8086 (also called iAPX 86) is a 16-bit microprocessor chip designed by Intel between early 1976 and June 8, 1978, when it was released. The Intel 8088, released July 1, 1979,[4], is a slightly modified chip with an external 8-bit data bus (allowing cheaper and fewer supporting ICs). It is notable as the processor used in the original IBM PC design. The 8086 gave rise to the x86 architecture, which eventually became Intel’s most successful processor line. On June 5, 2018, Intel released a limited-edition CPU celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Intel 8086, called the Intel Core i7-8086K.

USR was founded in 1976 in Chicago, Illinois (and later moved to Skokie, Illinois) by a group of entrepreneurs, including Casey Cowell, who served as CEO for most of the company’s history, and Paul Collard, who designed modems into the mid-1980s. The company name is a reference to the fictional company U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, which featured prominently in the works of Isaac Asimov.

The Fairchild Channel F, short for “Channel Fun”, was the first video game console to use ROM cartridges, instead of having games built-in, and the first console to use a microprocessor. It was released by Fairchild Camera and Instrument in November 1976 across North America at a retail price of US$169.95 (equivalent to $763.58 in 2019). It was launched as the “Video Entertainment System”, but when Atari, Inc. released its Video Computer System the next year, Fairchild rebranded their machine as “Channel F” while keeping the Video Entertainment System descriptor. The Fairchild Channel F achieved only about 350,000 units before Fairchild sold the technology to Zircon International in 1979, trailing well behind the VCS. The system was discontinued in 1983.

    Fairchild Channel F – Evan-Amos

XMODEM is a simple file transfer protocol developed as a quick hack by Ward Christensen for use in his 1977 MODEM.ASM terminal program. It allowed users to transmit files between their computers when both sides used MODEM. Keith Petersen made a minor update to always turn on “quiet mode”, and called the result XMODEM.

XMODEM, like most file transfer protocols, breaks up the original data into a series of “packets” that are sent to the receiver, along with additional information allowing the receiver to determine whether that packet was correctly received. If an error is detected, the receiver requests that the packet be re-sent. A string of bad packets causes the transfer to abort.

XMODEM became extremely popular in the early bulletin board system (BBS) market, largely because it was simple to implement. It was also fairly inefficient, and as modem speeds increased, this problem led to the development of a number of modified versions of XMODEM to improve performance or address other problems with the protocol. Christensen believed his original XMODEM to be “the single most modified program in computing history”

Microsoft officially dropped the hyphen in Micro-soft and trademarks the Microsoft name on November 26, 1976.

In 1976 the first broadcast of The Muppet Show, I, Austin City Limits, Charlie’s Angels, Family Feud, The Gong Show, Laverne, and Shirley.

1976 in Software:

Mesa is a programming language developed in the late 1970s at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in Palo Alto, California, United States. The language name was a pun based upon the programming language catchphrases because Mesa is a “high-level” programming language.

Smalltalk is an object-oriented, dynamically typed reflective programming language. Smalltalk was created as the language underpinning the “new world” of computing exemplified by human-computer symbiosis. It was designed and created in part for educational use, specifically for constructionist learning, at the Learning Research Group (LRG) of Xerox PARC.

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