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This Week in Tech History: Improved Artificial Leg and First Computer Worm

Among the items Chris brings us in this edition of "This Week in Tech History", he talks about Microsoft having too much power, the first Internet worm, and he starts us off nearly 170 years ago, with a patent that was issued for a device that improved the lives of amputees.

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Palmer's Patent
Benjamin Palmer’s Patent for an Artificial Leg

This week in 1846 – An artificial leg was patented by Benjamin Palmer of Meredith, NH who “got a leg up” on all other competition, according to the U.S. Patent office.

In 1892 – The first successful automatic telephone system was introduced in Laporte, Indiana. Almon Strowger, an undertaker, came up with the idea because the non-automatic system made it possible for his customers’ calls to be intercepted by his competitor.

Robert Tappan Morris
Robert Tappan Morris, creator of the Morris Worm

1988 – The Morris worm, the first Internet-distributed computer worm to gain significant media attention, was launched by Cornell University graduate student, Robert Morris. It resulted in the first conviction in the US under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. A floppy disk, containing the original source code for the worm is housed at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

And this week in 1999 – A federal judge declared that Microsoft possessed monopoly power in the market for PC operating systems and that it harmed consumers through its anti-competitive behavior. The judge also stated that Microsoft demonstrated that it will use its power to harm any firm that pursued initiatives that could compete with their core products. This was a major victory for the US government in their long-running antitrust trial against Microsoft.

Microsoft has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could intensify competition against one of Microsoft’s core products.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson


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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