2009: The 40th Anniversary of …

For technology, 2009 turns out to be the anniversary of at least 4 significant events:

  • September 2, 1969 marks the day the foundation for the Internet was first created; by enabling two computers to exchange information over a network [1]. Shortly thereafter, packet switching was developed by the same pioneers.
  • Also in 2009, the first version of the Unix operating system was developed at Bell Labs. While the history and variations of Unix deserve a book by themselves, suffice it to say that Unix led directly to BSD which has more recently served as the basis for Mac OS X. Unix also inspired several other operating systems, most notably Linux. [3]
  • ESRI, a (the?) leading provider of GIS software was founded 40 years ago as well. [4] Geographic Information Systems have become an important part of the software infrastructure in use at many government organizations as well as corporations. It’s about more than mapping; it’s about visualizing the big picture.
    (Note: the Sorrell College of Business used to have ESRI ArcMap licenses, but they were transferred to the new Geography computer lab last winter.)
  • July 21, 1969: Apollo 11 moon landing. The Apollo program was the driving force behind many technology innovations, including the integrated circuit – predecessor to the microchip.

While these events were remarkable in their day, they all cumulated in today’s technology-heavy society. Both the first data exchange over a computer network and the development of smaller, lighter technology for Apollo resulted in technology being pervasive today.

[1]: ComputerWorld story on the Internet at 40: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9137453/The_Internet_at_40_Net_pioneer_still_surprised_by_online_world_

[2]: NASA Apollo 40th Anniversary page: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/40th/

[3]: ComputerWorld article and related materials on Unix’ 40th: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9133570/Unix_turns_40_The_past_present_and_future_of_a_revolutionary_OS

[4]: ComputerWorld interview with Jack Dangermond, founder of ESRI: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/print/340572/Jack_Dangermond?taxonomyName=Software&taxonomyId=18

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