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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Apple's original computer's first public appearance

July 4, 2011
by Mark Ollig

“Byte into an Apple.”

This was the catchphrase used on one of the first Apple I computer advertisements printed in October 1976.

The Apple I was officially released to the public on April 11, 1976 at a cost of $666.66.

It was Steve Wozniak who designed and built the Apple I computer (and came up with that attention-grabbing price).

About 200 Apple I computers were made.

This past week, I found myself listening to an interesting audio from a 2006 National Public Radio interview with Steve Wozniak.

He talked about his early involvement with Apple Computer, and his creation of what I consider to be the first real personal computer, the Apple I.

Wozniak, or “The Woz” as he is called, states he had an early reputation for being an electronic genius, with an exclusivity in math and science, which, according to The Woz, kept him from wanting to be in “the other normal parts of the world.”

During fifth and sixth grade, The Woz said he was building “computer projects and ham radios.”

In high school, he had designed “hundreds and hundreds of computers, over and over” which developed his skills. He made a game out of designing a new computer on paper using fewer computing chips than he had used during the previous month.

Wozniak said he did this as a game, not thinking at the time he would take these skills and make a job out of it.

Back in 1975, Wozniak, along with his friend Steve Jobs, were members of an organization of computing hobbyists called the Homebrew Computer Club, which was located in today’s Silicon Valley in CA.

The Homebrew Computer Club met every two weeks.

It was during one of these meetings in 1975, when Wozniak gave a presentation of a computer he had designed and built.

What made this particular computer unique and different, was that it had features incorporated into it not found on the other hobbyist computers available at the time.

Back then, most hobby computers were put together from kits obtained via mail order from publications such as Popular Electronics, and similar hobbyist’s magazines.

The Apple I made use of a keyboard which allowed the user to type program information into the computer, instead of physically flipping selected toggle switches like one would do when using say, the Altair 8800 computer, which was a popular hobbyist computer in 1975.

The coded information entered into the computer, along with the computer’s character output, was viewable on the screen of an attached television set.

During the interview, Wozniak spoke in a broken sentence while saying, “When I built this Apple I . . . sort of the first keyboard . . . the first computer to say a computer should look like a typewriter. It should have a keyboard. And the output device is a TV set.”

Wozniak told of how he really didn’t have any money back then.

He had brought his own Sears color TV from home to the Homebrew Computer Club meeting to connect to his computer circuitry board.

Wozniak made his own wiring connections on a cable he ran inside the TV (there was no video-in connector back then).

The Woz then hooked up the other cable end to the circuit chips on his component circuitry board (breadboard) and to the small keyboard he had devised.

Wozniak admitted in the interview that he wanted to impress the other people who were watching him give the demonstration.

“I want to take credit for having done some very, very good things, some very good designs, some software that was like art like Mozart would do,” Wozniak said.

The Apple I even looked different, Wozniak explained how every computer before the Apple 1 had a front panel on it that looked like a piece of bland network switching equipment.

He noted from the time when the Apple I came out, every new computer since then has had a keyboard, and Wozniak takes credit for it too.

“. . . yeah, my idea-so I started passing out the schematics and the code listings for that computer, telling everyone here it is. It’s small, it’s simple, it’s inexpensive; build your own,” Wozniak explained.

He had no thoughts about starting a company until Jobs said, “You know, people are interested; why don’t we start a company?”

When speaking of Jobs, Wozniak said, “He had more of the future vision. We can bring this to everyone; we can start a company; we can sell it.”

Wozniak went on to co-found Apple Computer, along with Jobs, and the birth of the first truly “personal” computer company was born.

Jobs was more involved with company issues, while Wozniak worked on computer design and invention, which included the Apple I, Apple II, and Apple III computer.

Wozniak was also involved with the newly-formed Macintosh computer group inside Apple Computer during the early 1980s.

The October 1976 printed ad copy used for the first Apple computer can be seen at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saving the past inside an Internet archived library

June 27, 2011
by Mark Ollig

“Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.”

This quote, by Jimmy Wales, who founded Wikipedia in 2001, has stayed tucked away in the back of my mind ever since I first read it.

While Wikipedia continues to evolve as the Internet’s ever-growing online encyclopedia, there is another online information depository we should consider.

This one was started five years before Wikipedia.

Every day it collects, organizes, catalogs, and preserves the informational content people contribute to it.

This online Internet storage library is called the Internet Archive.

One could think of the Internet Archive as a sort of digital time capsule a person can open up at any time.

The Internet Archive began in 1996 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supported by donations.

San Francisco is the physical location of the data storage servers, which hold and maintain all the archived digital information.

The Internet Archive has already collected – and is preserving – an incredible wealth of information.

The amount of informational data stored in the Internet Archive’s fourth generation Petabox storage system as of December 2010 is a mind-bogglingly 5.8 petabytes.

It is accumulating new data at a rate of about 20 terabytes per month.

Working to preserve and store digital records for future generations, the Internet Archive offers historians, scholars, academic students, researchers, and, more or less, anyone, access to thousands of digitally-saved historical collections.

These collections contain videos, photographs, books and assorted text files, music and supplementary audio files, software collections, educational references, and numerous archived Internet web pages.

As a child during the 1960s, if you watched the cartoon program called “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” you will no doubt recall the short segment with Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

These two cartoon characters would use a time machine to personally experience and participate in famous historical events.

This fictional time machine was called the WABAC Machine, spoken as, “Wayback Machine.”

The show’s creator chose WABAC in a depiction to the then powerful UNIVAC number crunching mainframe computer.

This cartoon program was a clever way to entertainingly teach children some history.

To watch the memorable Mr. Peabody and Sherman episode where they set the WABAC machine to the year 1519, and go to meet the famous navigator, Ferdinand Magellan, visit

The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine contains more than 150 billion archived web pages it has collected and stored since 1996.

To use the Wayback Machine, just type in the desired http web address (URL), press the “Take Me Back” button and select the archive date you wish to view the web page from.

Using the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine,” I viewed the website as it appeared on Dec. 27, 1996.

While viewing various websites from the 1990s, I was reminded how orderly, easy-to-read, and uncluttered a web page looked back then.

No pop-up ads or convoluted and overcrowding graphics.

I also viewed some CNN web pages from September 11, 2001.

The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine offered seven CNN web pages from that historic day.

The 4 p.m. EDT archived CNN web page from Sept. 11, 2001, displays the bold headline “AMERICA UNDER ATTACK.” Above this headline was a dramatic photo of the two World Trade Center towers on fire.

I saved this CNN page on a Photobucket file. To view it, go to

Another Internet Archive collection contains video of major world news television stations reporting live, while events unfolded during the attacks on September 11, 2001. They can be viewed at

The Moving Images video collection of the Internet Archive contains an assortment of television’s early years, including local city programming, national news programs, educational shows and documentaries, popular western series, commercials, and cartoons.

Many mid-20th century black-and-white public instructional films from the US Civil Defense Administration are preserved, including the famous video made during the age of Soviet Union nuclear testing called “Duck and Cover.”

The Internet Archive sub-collections also hold many computer-themed television programs from the 1980s, including popular shows yours truly watched like "Computer Chronicle’s" and “Net CafĂ©.”

The Internet Archive is preserving these and many other historical videos for future generations.

Another sub-collection called Community Video is available to the public for viewing and uploading videos.

Currently, there are almost 153,000 individually uploaded videos here, including the one I uploaded showing Eugene McCarthy visiting Minnesota State University Mankato (Mankato State College), during a presidential campaign stop Dec. 2, 1971.

This video shows a CBS news reporter interviewing my brother, who attended this college and had seen McCarthy speak.

I am using the Internet Archive site in order to preserve this video for present (and future) family members to view.

The Internet Archive states “The Internet Archive is working to prevent the Internet - a new medium with major historical significance - and other “born-digital” materials from disappearing into the past.”

Start your exploration of history (and contribute some of yours) at the Internet Archive by going to

Friday, June 17, 2011

Facebook still dominates – but sees its user traffic dropping

June 20, 2011

by Mark Ollig

When talking about social networking sites, the first one to come into most people’s minds is Facebook.

The question is: “Has Facebook’s days of reigning as king of the social networking mountain peaked?”

Granted, the latest numbers do show an overall monthly growth in Facebook users, but this growth is noticeably not as strong as it once was.

Make no mistake; Facebook still remains alone on the top rung of the social networking ladder, even though it has seen its user traffic dropping off in some countries.

In addition, Facebook will soon reach the 700 million registered users worldwide mark.

This is an imposing number for any Internet website, let alone an online social networking site.

While this number is remarkable, the long-term analysis shows the last two months’ growth at a lower-than-normal trend.

According to Inside Facebook, one of the leading online sources of information about Facebook, some disturbing user traffic numbers for May were found.

The numbers come from Facebook’s own internal tracking data.

These numbers show the United States began the month of May with 155.2 million Facebook users, and finished with 149.4 million users – a surprising loss of almost six million Facebook users in one month.

Of course, when you consider the population of this country is 300 million, and half of us are signed up as Facebook users . . . well, that suggests to me Facebook is still pretty popular with the online users here.

This past May’s numbers showed our Canadian social networking neighbors starting off the month at 18.1 million Facebook users, and ending lower with16.6 million users.

Digging further into these newly released numbers we find Russia, Norway, and the United Kingdom, all dropping more than 100,000 Facebook users.

During this last year, Facebook has been gaining an average of 20 million new users each month; however, the data shows this average falling.

Only 13.9 million new users were gained in April, and just 11.8 million in May. While this is still growth, it is lower-than-expected growth, which is why some are wondering if this is an indication of a decline in Facebook’s popularity.

This reduced growth could also be an indication Facebook may have reached the saturation point in countries where it has been available for a while.

Reasons for the change in Facebook’s user traffic has also been attributed to the number of students dropping off of Facebook who are graduating from college, seasonal work changes, and other factors which might cause reduced user traffic numbers.

One very impressive number is the 687.1 million registered users Facebook had as of June 1.

When Facebook reaches the 700 million user mark (which it will), we will no doubt be informed via an official announcement by Facebook – and by every other tweeted and re-tweeted message we see scrolling down on Twitter.

Here is the breakdown of the top 10 countries which make up over half of the current 687.1 million Facebook users:

• United States . . . 149.4 million.

• Indonesia . . . 37.9 million

• United Kingdom . . . 29.5 million

• Turkey . . . 28.9 million

• India . . . 26.6 million

• Mexico . . . 25.6 million

• Philippines . . . 24.5 million

• France . . . 22.5 million

• Italy . . . 19.6 million

• Brazil . . . 19.0 million

If you are wondering where China is, they currently use the Chinese government’s social-networking site called the Renren Network, which, in English means “everyone’s network.”

Information from the China Internet Network Information Center shows a total 457 million people in China using the Internet. They also reported Renren had 117 million users as of March 31.

Renren’s website is in Chinese, and is located at

Using a somewhat reliable Google translator, the welcome banner on Renren in English translates to “All networks, the most real and most effective social networking platform, adding all network and find old friends, make new friends.”

The question of “when” Facebook will reach the one billion users milestone has been changed to “can” Facebook reach the one billion users milestone – in my humble opinion.

If Facebook gains access to China’s online Internet users, it will then probably find enough new growth to reach this milestone.

I didn’t want to leave out Twitter, the number-two online social networking site, which some prefer to call a “microblogging site.”

Its total user numbers have been soaring – currently boasting over 200 million registered users tweeting out some 2,200 messages per second.

I was also somewhat surprised last week when I learned Apple would be incorporating Twitter, and not Facebook, into its new iOS 5 mobile operating system, which will be used soon in Apple’s iPads, iPods, and iPhones.

We will have to wait and see how this one plays out.

Remaining king of the social networking mountain for a long period of time is something that cannot be taken for granted anymore – especially in this highly competitive and technologically evolving online social networking world.

Just ask the folks running the MySpace social networking site.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Apple parts the iCloud, reveals the sunshine

June 13, 2011
by Mark Ollig

Thunderous applause greeted Apple CEO Steve Jobs, as he took the stage during last Monday’s opening of Apple Computer’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Jobs returned from being on medical leave to speak during the keynote presentation at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Physically, Jobs was looking thin – but acted enthusiastically, as he walked back and forth on stage while gesturing with his hands when talking about Apple’s new iCloud.

“Now some people think the cloud is just a hard disk in the sky,” Jobs declared.

He continued, “We think it’s way more than that, and we call it iCloud.”

Apple’s newest data center complex (iCloud) is nearing completion in Maiden, NC.

Job’s described this new iCloud data center, saying, “It’s a large place and it’s full of stuff. Full of expensive stuff. We are ready, we think, for customers to start using iCloud, and we can’t wait to get it in their hands.”

It is said every cloud has a silver lining.

At a price tag of about $1 billion, this cloud’s lining must be made of gold.

Jobs presented a photo tour of the new data center on the huge screen behind him.

The aerial photo of the 500,000 square-foot data center was impressive.

Jobs pointed out the two small dots circled on the roof of the huge facility.

He smiled as he told the 5,200 in attendance the two dots were actually two men standing on the roof.

Laughter was heard from the audience.

Jobs expressed determination when he said, “If you don’t think we’re serious about this, you’re wrong. This is our third data center that we just completed.”

One source reported this data center alone has a capacity for 95,000 to 120,000 data servers.

This complex is also known as Apple’s Eastern United States Data Center, and iDataCenter.

This iCloud will be used initially for storing user iTunes music libraries, shifting the file storage role from the user’s own computer onto Apple’s iCloud.

This iCloud will eventually begin storing user’s photos, apps, calendars, documents, and other data.

Apple’s iTunes in the cloud means users no longer need be tethered to their personal computer or Mac in order to sync their iPods, iPads, and iPhones with the iTunes program. They will now be able to sync their devices with iTunes inside the Apple iCloud via Wi-Fi – from wherever they are.

It should be noted, Apple will not be storing each individual user’s song file, (which would mean having millions of copies of the same song stored in the iCloud) rather; Apple will store copies of a vast variety of songs and sync particular songs to a user’s device based on their purchases.

A person will be able to listen to the songs they have purchased on more than one device, since all of their devices will be synced with the iCloud.

It will become more cost efficient, convenient, and safer, to store and retrieve our computing content online from the new data center clouds which are being built all over the country.

Google and Amazon are examples of other companies using cloud computing.

The action will be taking place in the cloud.

Apple is working to make cloud computing something we will all, sooner or later, take for granted.

“About 10 years ago we had one of our most important insights, and that was that the PC was going to become the digital hub for your digital life,” Jobs said.

He explained this meant the PC is where we would put our digital photos, digital video, our music, and other data.

“Where else were you going to put them?” said Jobs.

Jobs explained it was “driving us crazy,” continuously backing up and synching new data between iPhones, iPods, and iPads, which required plugging these devices into a Mac or Windows PC every time they needed to be updated with the latest songs and most recent photos.

This led Apple to what Jobs described as Apple’s “next big insight.”

“We’re going to demote the PC and Mac to just be a device, just like an iPhone an iPad, or an iPodtouch, and we’re going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud. Because all these new devices have communications built into them, they can all talk to the cloud whenever they want,” he said.

An example Jobs gave is, when a person takes pictures with their iPhone; those pictures would be immediately sent up into the cloud. The pictures are then “pushed down” (delivered) from the cloud to the users other devices automatically and wirelessly, everything is in sync – no user intervention is necessary.

“Everything happens automatically and there’s nothing new to learn. It just all works,” Jobs explained.

Apple services available through the iCloud will include MobileMe, App Store and iBookstore, iCloud Backup, iCloud Storage, Photo Stream, and iTunes.

Other services will follow.

Users will have access to these iCloud services via Apple’s new mobile iOS 5 platform, which is scheduled for release this fall.

For more information, go to

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference opens this week

June 6, 2011
by Mark Ollig

The conference keynote address begins with a roar, as Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs presents the next major software release for the Mac OS X.

The X is the Roman numeral for 10, which is the current OS (operating system) version level used for the Mac computer.

The current Mac OS X software release is codenamed Snow Leopard.

Apple’s latest codename for their eighth Mac OS X software release is a real animal.

At the start this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple presenting – drum roll please – the Mac OS X Lion.

The new Mac OS X Lion software release will become available to Mac users this summer.

There are noticeable improved features when upgrading to the new Mac OS X Lion.

The new Auto Save feature eliminates having to manual save when creating or working with documents. Lion does not create additional copies, but saves changes within the working document itself, which, according to Apple, makes the best use of available disk space.

The lock feature in Auto Save will avoid unintentional changes from occurring, and automatically locks the document after two weeks.

Auto Save’s revert feature will return the user to the condition a document was in the last time it was opened, which, Apple says, will allow one to “experiment with confidence.”

FileVault’s update includes XTS–AEX 128 full disk data encryption for Mac files stored in its internal and external storage drives. FileVault operates in the background while the Mac user is working.

FileVault also provides the capability for immediate wiping (removal) of all data from the Mac computer.

The Lion Server feature allows configuring of a Mac to be used as a computer server.

Lion Server updated Wiki Server 3 with a new page editor. The Wiki Server 3 allows users to pool collective resources, along with file sharing and exchanging capabilities.

The Lion Server with WebDAV enabled, allows access, copy, and delivery of file documentation to an iPad – wirelessly.

Another wireless feature with the new Mac OS X Lion is called AirDrop.

AirDrop knows which wireless devices around you are also using the AirDrop application.

AirDrop allows you to deliver files from your Mac to these other devices wirelessly as well.

When opening AirDrop, you will see the wireless devices near you. Just drag the file to that device (or person’s name if cross-referenced from your Mac address book) for a file transfer from your Mac to their computing device.

Mail 5 on the Mac OS X Lion presents a new widescreen layout.

A Lion user will now be able to see full-height previews of any message selected. One-click access to favorite folders and a more powerful new search, compliments Mail 5.

Lion allows an iPad-like experience using full-screen apps.

A Mac’s desktop can now use one click to make an application go full-screen, and by swiping the computer’s tracpad, a user can quickly switch to another application without having to exit the full screen. Apple states this will better utilize the full-screen technology, allowing a user to concentrate more on whatever application they are using.

Apple seems to be taking many of the popular features from the iPad and incorporating them into the Mac OS X Lion.

Mission Control is a new feature of the Mac OS X Lion which provides a birdseye view of what is operating on your Mac. This feature allows a user to see Dashboard, and the full-screen applications in one location.

The Mac OS X Lion improves swipe, pinch, and scrolling recognition, similar to the Multi-Touch gestures used on the iPad. Apple says these gestures, used with the Mac, will become more fluid, realistic, and lifelike.

Launchpad, available on the new Mac OS X Lion, provides instant access to applications similar to the iPad.

By clicking the Lanchpad icon, the current open window slowly disappears, being replaced with a full-screen presentation of the applications currently installed on your Mac computer.

Any new apps downloaded from the Mac App Store, will automatically appear in Launchpad.

During this week’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, more than 1,000 Apple engineers will be showcasing Apple’s latest and greatest technologies, including, of course, the Mac OS X Lion.

One of the reasons this conference is so popular, is that it allows promising Apple application developers to share their ideas, and participate during Apple’s hands-on lab sessions with Apple engineers.

Discussions this week will also include details about Apple’s new mobile OS; called iOS 5, which will be the new operating system inside iPads, iPhones, and iPods.

Apple will also discuss its own cloud service, which, to no one’s surprise, is called the iCloud.

The website for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is

Live-streaming of this conference (and past Apple presentations) can be seen at

Which animal will be codenamed for the next Mac OS X software release?

Well, I learned Tiger was the codename for release number four in 2005, and Kodiak (which is a bear), was released back in 2000 as the codename for the Mac OS X public beta version.

And now we have the Mac OS X Lion.

So, it seems there will be no more lions, tigers, and bears.

Oh, my!