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This Week in Tech History: First Spam E-mail

A new form of lighting is used for the first time, the framework is set for a future tech giant, and the first unsolicited e-mail is sent… It all happened This Week in Tech History.

This week in 1879 – Electric arc lights were used for the first time — in Cleveland, OH. These lights were actually very dangerous, as they produced harmful UV rays, carbon monoxide and were a major fire hazard. Many theaters that used them burned down as a result of excessive heat or sparks from the lights. Also, the exposed lamp could easily burn or electrocute technicians. They were eventually replaced by mercury vapor, sodium and fluorescent lights.

1961 – Robert Noyce received a patent for an integrated circuit – or microchip, that he developed alongside Jack Kilby. Seven years later, Noyce would team up with Gordon Moore to form a company called NM Electronics, ultimately becoming Intel.

1964 – TV sets would be drastically different after a ruling by the FCC stating that all TV receivers must be equipped to receive both “Very High Frequency” channels (2-13) and the new “Ultra High Frequency” channels (channels 14-83). As a result, TV dealers scrambled to unload their VHF-only models as fast as possible. Antenna manufacturers were kept busy, as the new UHF receivers required new antennas too.

In 1978, the very first unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail was sent by a Digital Equipment Corporation marketing executive to every ARPANET address on the west coast of the US to promote their mainframe computer system. The reaction to the message was not surprisingly negative. Unsolicited e-mail was first referred to as “Spam” in 1993 and today, over 14 and a half billion Spam messages are sent out every day.

And this week in 1981 – Xerox introduced the Star workstation. officially named Xerox 8010 Information System, it was the first commercial system to integrate several technologies that eventually became standard on personal computers. These technologies included a two-button mouse, ethernet networking, file and print servers and e-mail. These workstations were just one part of the larger Xerox Information system, with a starting price of over $16,000 – equivalent to over $45,000 today.

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Written by Chris Graveline

Chris has covered consumer technology for over 20 years. He is the host of This Week in Tech History as well as a regular co-host on "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline" and our Technical Director.

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