1978: TV-like machines replace secretaries
Described as "gigantic brains," computers were once so big they filled entire rooms. It all started with ENIAC, the world's first computer, that cracked and buzzed and weighed 27 tonnes. By the 1960s, ordinary Canadians were fascinated with these new high tech devices: IBMs could set up blind dates, select Christmas presents and mysteriously dispense money. A novel idea until computer technology replaced real people on the job. These days computers continue to revolutionize — this time changing the way people communicate by way of the Internet.
• The PC's first word processing program, written by programmer Michael Shrayer in 1976, was called the Electric Pencil.
• In 1642, France's Blaise Pascal created an outline for an early computer called a "digital calculating machine."
• Computers were used in the Second World War by the German, British and American armies to crack secret codes.
• In 1965, an American computer system called the National Data Center created anxiety about privacy loss and civil liberties infringement. People worried it would create a dystopian state abusing personal information.
• Computers accelerated the sharing of information, especially by way of the Internet, which in some cases has contributed to stock market uncertainty, such as the 1998 Asian Crisis.
• Scelbi (SCientific, ELectronic and BIological), the first advertised personal computer, was created in Milford, Connecticut in 1974 and contained one kilobyte of memory.
• In 2002, a powerful home PC had one gigabyte (1 million kilobytes) of RAM (random access memory.)
Also on August 26:
• 1875: English novelist John Buchan is born. As Baron Tweedsmuir, Buchan would become Canada's 15th governor general in 1935. He institutes the Governor General's Awards for literature in 1936.
• 1958: The Board of Broadcast Governors is established to independently regulate broadcasting in Canada, after the passing of the Broadcast Act. Up to this point, the CBC had regulated the industry.
• 1991: Canada extends full diplomatic recognition to the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Canada never recognized the 1940 Soviet annexation of the Baltic states and had not retained diplomatic ties because of the overwhelming control exercised by the Soviet Union.
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Aug. 26, 1978
Guest(s): Caroline Lai, Stan Lewis, Bill Mackenzie
Reporter: Robert Fisher
Last updated: February 3, 2012
Page consulted on March 21, 2013
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