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This Week in Tech History: iPhone Goes on Sale

One of the most popular music players in history is released, former space rivals come together and Apple effectively creates the smartphone industry… It all happened This Week in Tech History.

This week in 1925 – A patent for the frosted electric light bulb was filed by Marvin Pipkin. Clear incandescent lamps gave off very sharp light, which was unpleasant to many people and also made it difficult to see items close to the bulb. Every earlier attempt to create a frosted bulb resulted in a weaker bulb that would often shatter. So Pipkin’s employer, General Electric sent him on a seemingly impossible mission of creating a strong frosted light bulb. Pipkin’s new frosted bulb revolutionized the industry, allowing the manufacture of frosted bulbs that diffused the light without losing much intensity, and were strong enough to be commercially viable.

1975 – Steve Wozniak tested his first prototype of Apple I computer, that he co-developed with friend and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. To finance its creation, Jobs sold his only motorized means of transportation, a VW Microbus, for a few hundred dollars, and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500. The Apple I went on sale in July of 1976.


1979 – Sony introduced the Walkman, a portable cassette player that allowed people to listen to music of their choice anywhere, while they were on the move. Its popularity made “Walkman” an unofficial term for personal stereos of any producer or brand. The Walkman was arguably the most popular music player up until the release of the Apple iPod in 2001.  By the time production stopped in 2010, Sony had built about 200 million cassette-based Walkmans. Or would that be WalkMEN?

1995 – The U.S. space shuttle Atlantis docked with the Russian space station Mir. This was also the 100th human space mission in American history. The combined mission between former rival space programs created the largest man-made satellite ever to orbit the Earth. The joined craft were visible from earth as a fast-moving, shiny, star and carried a record 10 people – 6 Americans and 4 Russians.

2005 – Internet search leader Google unveiled its free 3-D satellite mapping technology, Google Earth. Google Earth actually began life in 1999 as software called “Keyhole EarthViewer”, It was sold on CDs for use in fields such as real estate, urban planning, defense, and intelligence, with users paying a yearly fee for the service. As with many other technologies, it caught the eye of Google, who acquired Keyhole in 2004, rebranding the software as Google Earth and launching it as a free product.

And this week in 2007 – The Apple iPhone went on sale across the U.S. It rapidly revolutionized worldwide communications. Apple created the device during a secretive and unprecedented collaboration with Cingular Wireless, now AT&T. Apple’s Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone as a combination of three devices: a “widescreen iPod with touch controls”; a “revolutionary mobile phone”; and a “breakthrough Internet communicator.”

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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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