Wow! I Was There for All 50 Years!

I was right in the middle of all this history as it happened! (This is a long article, but worth reading!)

50 years of technology breakthroughs: 1968-2018

This is a very cool list of inovations each year for fifty years! I was there, personally, for all of them! Check out the link to the original ZDNet article, because the “Runner’s Up” entries, which I do not list here, are just as exciting as the one’s that made the list!

ZDNet – “Technology can transform us, in good ways and bad. Do you recall the single most influential tech innovation from the year you graduated high school? We do.

1968: The launch of Apollo 8
In 1968, Apollo 8 was originally designed to perform Lunar Module testing in low Earth orbit, but production failures were found. Instead, given that the Command/Service Module was ready for flight, engineers proposed flying a human around the moon — and history was made.

1969: Smoke detectors for home use
In 1969, the Atomic Energy Commission, now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, granted the first license for manufacturers to sell smoke detectors for home use. You may not realize it, but each smoke detector contains a very small amount of radioactive material, and thus it wasn’t until the AEC approved home use that smoke detectors could be used to keep families safe.

According to the National Fire Protection Administration, the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.

1970: Canon Pocketronic Calculator
The Pocketronic shares billing with the Sanyo ICC-0081 and the Sharp QT-8B for bringing pocket calculators to students, engineers, and scientists the world over. The innovation then, as it is still today in our portable devices, was the ability to produce low-powered chips and reliable rechargeable batteries in a form-factor that allowed for portability.

1971: Intel 4004 Microprocessor
The 4004 ran at a tenth of a megahertz, but it was huge in terms of its impact. The 4004 was the first true microprocessor, and like much of modern technology, it didn’t begin that way.

Intel (who was just another company back then) was contracted by Japanese calculator maker Busicom to build a chip to reduce the costs of their calculator. Instead of merely developing a chip set specifically for use in one machine, the 4004 turned out to be a very early general purpose programmable chip, capable of much more than mere basic math. And the rest, as they say, is history.

1972: Pong
In 1972, interactive games with vastly more primitive graphics only existed in laboratories, attached to giant computers. That is, until Pong. Pong was the first commercially successful video game, paving the way for an industry that’s bigger than movies and music combined.

1973: The first cell phone call
1973 was the year the Xerox Alto, the first cell phone call, TCP, Ethernet, and fiber optics were created. Together, all of those technologies have, in combination, informed the world we’re in today. That makes 1973 a tough choice.

The year award could go to the Alto, because it demonstrated the graphical UI we all know so well. But what about cell phones? Smartphones have beaten out the PC and Mac for digital dominance, going well beyond the Alto’s UI innovations. TCP, Ethernet, and fiber optics are what make the Internet possible, and without the Internet, where would we be?

Maybe writing this ten years ago the answer would be different. But today, the mobile smartphone is the dominant technology, bar none. And it all started in 1973.

1974: First commercial barcode scan
Although barcodes were patented back in 1952, the same year that Alan Turing defined his Turing test, commercial use didn’t take place until 1974. That’s because laser technology necessary to do the barcode scanning didn’t exist until the 1970s.

The big day was June 26, 1974. It was about 8am on a drizzly, foggy Wednesday in Troy, Ohio when Marsh supermarket cashier Sharon Buchanan took a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Gum from Clyde Dawson and ran it through her newly installed barcode scanner. For the first time anywhere, a barcode had been scanned to determine a product price, and retailing and supply chains the world over would never be the same.

1975: The Altair 8800
In some ways, the Altair 8800 was just another kit offered to geeky hobbyists. But it changed the world. The Altair 8800 was promoted on the cover of Popular Electronics and became the first commercially successful microprocessor-based computer.

If that were all, though, we might give the award to Betamax. After all, home video is a big business today. But the Altair didn’t just usher in the personal computer business, it gave birth to Microsoft. It was Bill Gates and Paul Allen who wrote the original BASIC interpreter for the 8800, and then went off to create Microsoft. You know that story. We all know that story. And the Altair 8800 was the first chapter.

1976: Apple computer company
For 1976, we’re giving the award to a company, not a technology. It could be argued that a business is really code, its DNA driven by the personalities, values, and innovative insights of its founders.

That’s certainly the case with Apple, which was founded by the late Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and a rather unfortunate Ronald Wayne, who sold his founder’s equity stake in the world’s most valuable company for $800.

1977: Apple II
Now, it’s time for an Apple computer to make our list. The Apple II not only changed the face of personal computing, it ushered in other key transformations, like Visicalc, the first commercial spreadsheet program.

1978: First BBS
While computerized mailing lists had existed for years on the Arpanet, it wasn’t until 1978 that the precursor of our modern day forums and BBSs was created. It was during the Great Blizzard of 1978 that Ward Christensen and Randy Suess were stuck at home. Christensen had already created the canonical MODEM protocol for file transfer (you may know it today as XMODEM).

Bored, with nothing better to do, Christensen and Suess created CBBS, a dial-in forum system that became the first BBS. There was only one phone line, so each participant had to wait until a previous user hung up to gain access.

The importance of BBSs can both be mocked and celebrated. Without BBSs, we probably wouldn’t have as many trolls as we do online. But BBSs were also the first social networks, a way for consumers and interested parties to gather together, magnify their influence, and share information.

1979: Sony Walkman
It’s hard to believe now, but the idea of private, personal music didn’t exist before 1979. Either you played albums on your home stereo or blared the music from cassette tapes to the entire neighborhood on your boombox.

But in 1979, when Sony introduced the Walkman, you could finally listen to your choice of music, in private. This reduced family bickering, made it possible for workers to listen to their own music on the job (when appropriate, of course), and gave a lift to the entire music business.

1980: Tim Berners-Lee’s Enquire early web prototype
I’m giving the nod for 1980’s innovation of the year to a failed project. ENQUIRE was a project developed in 1980 by Tim Berners-Lee while he was at CERN, and, in many ways, can be considered a concept prototype for the Web.

ENQUIRE was a bit more like a cross between HyperCard and a wiki, and required central maintenance. Even so, it was Berners-Lee’s first run at the use of hypertext for group communication and information organization. Because of the centralized maintenance required, ENQUIRE wasn’t really accessible to other users. The original ENQUIRE software disk has been lost to time.

If it weren’t for how totally the web has transformed our world, we wouldn’t have given 1980 to ENQUIRE. But even as an early prototype, if it moved the needle that would knit the web, it had amazing impact.

1981: IBM PC and MS-DOS
Which had the most impact on society: Two decades of MS-DOS compatible computing, or the first truly portable personal computer? Go ahead and argue that down in the comments.

Both the original IBM PC and MS-DOS were chosen as a pair, because those two products together created the incredibly vibrant desktop PC market that dominated computing well into the late 1990s — and then spawned Windows, which dominated until the early 2010s.

1982: Commodore 64
What happens when you introduce a product that’s way cheaper and outperforms the market leaders? If you back it with good marketing and a smart production process, it takes the world by storm. That was the story of the Commodore 64, introduced to the world at $595, about a third of the cost of an Apple II at the time, and well less than an IBM PC.

At one point, the Guinness Book of World Records listed the C64 as the best-selling computer of all time. Key to the machine’s success was better-than-expected graphics capability and a sound chip that made electronic music production possible for home computer buyers.

1983: Lotus 1-2-3
Earlier, we spoke about how the pairing of MS-DOS and the IBM PC created a dynasty. But it was two years later, when Lotus 1-2-3 was introduced, that what became known, simply as “the PC” became unassailable.

Lotus 1-2-3 was the PC’s killer app. It was much faster than VisiCalc, had better graphics, macros, and combined features that previously required users to leave one program, swap floppies, and launch another. VisiCalc was often touted as the reason businesses bought Apple IIs. But when Lotus 1-2-3 was introduced by Lotus, it knocked VisiCalc off its business use pedestal, and the Apple II along with it.

Floppies were a pain, and when IBM introduced the PC XT, with a built-in hard drive, some of that pain went away. As you might imagine with an IBM machine, there were a lot of configuration options.

That was a huge expense for business, but the combination of Lotus 1-2-3 and the hard drive-based XT was so compelling, businesses by the thousands bought both. That’s a killer app.

1984: Macintosh
It was, for many years, a failed product. Built under a cloud of strife and abuse under Steve Jobs’ sharp tongue and biting ridicule,the Macintosh held but a fraction of the exploding PC market.

But it changed everything. It took more than a decade, but the dominant computing UI, which we still use at work to this day, was the windows and mouse model created by Xerox and pioneered by Apple. Users of the 1984 Macintosh would identify and be able to use the 2018 Macintosh, for the basics defined as far back as 1984 are still in use today.

Further, the UI pioneering and Jobs’ brutal attention to detail gave birth to the modern smartphone, and that, too, changed everything.

1985: Nintendo Entertainment System
It was the year of PageMaker and the laser printer. It was the year of 2400 baud modems and the Amiga 1000. It was the year of the Sony Discman and the first CDs. All these products had their impact on the future. But if there’s one product we all identify with, and to this day seek to add to our retro collections, it’s the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

The NES rescued the videogame industry. It introduced us to Mario. It brought console gaming back into our homes to stay, for good.

1986: Automated LISTSERV
In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded. Voyager 2 made it to the planet Uranus. The Soviet Union (still a thing back then) launched the Mir space station. All of these were technological milestones. But did they change us?

Not nearly as much as LISTSERV, the automated first email list management system. LISTSERV allowed bulk email sends, allowed users to subscribe and unsubscribe, and vastly extended the reach of conversations online. Eric Thomas took the original LISTSERV concept and automated its functions, thereby giving legs to the early dial-up forum concept of the BBS. LISTSERV made the world just a little bit smaller and brought us all a little bit closer.

1987: HyperCard
It’s hard to overstate the level of buzzApple’s HyperCard caused when it was first announced and demonstrated. For the first time, ordinary users were able to create astonishingly deep graphics-based applications. I started my first company around HyperCard, and for the time, before a new set of Apple managers forgot why it was created and relegated it to the tomb that was Claris, the power of user-created content took off.

HyperCard, though, was the seed for so much. It was the seed for the first wiki and, eventually, a more complete web prototype from Tim Berners-Lee. It was the seed for deeper multimedia apps on CD-ROM, and HyperCard stacks were the forerunners of today’s smartphone apps. HyperCard ultimately failed, hung out to dry by an Apple that didn’t then value user-created content. Even though HyperCard lived a life cut short, it changed the world.

1988: Photoshop
Photoshop was not the first image manipulation tool, but it was the first to have the right combination of capabilities, extensibility, and marketing push. There are so many things Photoshop does and has made possible over the years that we could devote an entire series to it.

Photoshop, though, is our winner for 1988, because even now, 30 years after its introduction, most graphics professionals — including your writer — could not imagine a workflow that does not include Photoshop.

1989: Launch of first GPS satellite
Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. Even so, we’re giving this year’s nod to the launch of the first GPS satellite, and saving the web for 1990, when the first web browser was created.

GPS is transformative, and impacts millions of peoples’ lives every day. When my wife and I evacuated Hurricane Irma, we didn’t turn to maps. Instead, we turned on our GPS and safely followed its comforting instructions from Florida all the way to Oregon. GPS keeps people on track, helps manage and track goods and services, and gets us all home safely. It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have eyes in the sky, guiding us all.

1990: WorldWideWeb, the first web browser
Of all the technologies that changed our lives, perhaps the most profound of the last 50 years has been the web. But it wasn’t the ability to hyperlink documents that made the most impact. Instead, it was the application that presented all that information to users, the browser.

The browser, in combination with the various web protocols, allowed access to the web from a wide variety of operating systems and devices. It allowed untrained users to click and browse from website to website. But even before there were public websites, there needed to be a browser.

That browser was initially called WorldWideWeb. It’s name was later changed to Nexus to avoid confusion with the entity we now call the web, but back then was the World Wide Web or WWW. The web changed the world, but it was the browser that delivered those changes worldwide.

1991: Linux
We’re now into the 1990s and technology change is accelerating. The first website went online at CERN. In fact, so much happened that we have a few articles devoted to 1991 alone. But of all the innovations, of all the products launched, one stands out: Linux.

But it was the message sent out on August 25, 1991 to the Minix Usenet newsgroup that changed everything. Linus Torvalds typed, “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional…” Ah, Linus. You got so much right, but you got the scale of Linux’ eventual impact so very wrong.

Linux took UNIX and blasted it out of existence. Instead of a very expensive-to-license operating system, Linux was free. It fired up open source. And today, Linux runs in everything, from light bulbs to cars, to almost all TVs and phones on the market.

1992: The first SMS text message
Who would have thought that people would prefer typing over talking on their phones? While the SMS concept had existed for quite some time, it wasn’t until December 3, 1992 that engineer Neil Papworth sent a message to Richard Jarvis’ Vodafone Orbitel 901 handset. The message that precipitated billions of very sore thumbs was a simple “MERRY CHRISTMAS”.

At the top of its usage curve, US cell phone customers sent 2.3 trillion SMS messages. But as this chart from Statistica shows, SMS volume has been going down steadily as users migrate to app-based message from Apple, WhatsApp, and Facebook. Even so, SMS changed how we talk, or rather, not talk to each other.

1993: Mosaic web browser
By 1993, things were heating up for the World Wide Web, which was quickly becoming actually worldwide. While Mosaic wasn’t the first browser, it was the first that could display images. For the time, it was very fast, and it quickly became popular.

Mosaic, created by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina, grad students at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) located at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Mosaic eventually became Netscape, which dominated the web (for a while, at least).

1994: Amazon founded
At the time of its founding back in 1994, no one could have know that Amazon would become one of the world’s most innovative companies. Then, it was a source for books.

Today, it’s at the core of the cloud movement, has played a primary role in killing off retail (or at least beating retailers who weren’t on their best game), has revolutionized digital books, transformed product availability and delivery, created an AI that lives in our homes, and has become a prime producer of top-tier original video content.

1995: Windows 95 and IE 1.0
By 1995, Windows had been around for a full decade. But it was in 1995 that what became the dominant desktop environment for the next two decades would be introduced. While a new Windows 10 user or Mac OS user might not know how to use Windows 3.1 on sight, every modern desktop computing user would know how to use Windows 95.

Windows 95 was the first version of Windows to include IE, which would become the dominant browser for more than a decade. While network configuration in Windows 95 was still uncomfortable, with Windows 95, Microsoft finally had the foundation for what would become the modern desktop experience.

1996: Pilot handheld (first palm handheld)
At the time, it was hard to believe a modem company would introduce the first successful handheld PDA. Now, of course, with handheld smartphones dominant, it’s impossible to separate communications from personal devices.

1996 also gave birth to the USB and CSS. These have had their impact on technology, but it was the small, portable, relatively inexpensive Pilot handheld that replaced personal organizers and was the first device, since the watch, that came with us everywhere.

1997: Steve Jobs returns to Apple
A lot went on in 1997, but the single biggest event, arguably the one that changed all of technology, was the return of Steve Jobs to Apple.

You have to remember that in 1997, Apple was dying. It was always described as “the beleaguered Apple Computer” or “the troubled Apple Computer.” No one would have expected Apple to utterly transform music and telephones, not to mention lead the digital mobile transformation we’re experiencing now.

One more thing: It could be argued that other companies would have created mobile devices, but it was the force of Jobs’ personality and his steadfastness of purpose that overcame the impenetrable blocades and old style of business practiced by mobile operators. Sure, we would have had smartphones. But smartphones would not be what they are, the dominant technology worldwide.

1998: Google founded
If you’re not sure about the impact of Google on modern times, Google it. For the early years of the web, search engine wars dominated the news. Then came the Google algorithm, famous for surfacing much more relevant information.

Somehow, a page that was simple and barebones eclipsed all other advertising, determined what was relevant to… everything, and became the dominant information verb in our lives. Founded with the motto “Don’t be evil,” it’s not at all clear whether Google will be our constant assistant and friend, or our ultimate undoing.

1999: Apple airport (and iBook)
Apple has a habit of taking existing technologies and molding them into something irresistible to consumers. Along the way, Apple has often set the pace, effectively giving other companies “permission” to enter similar markets.

While neither the 1999 Airport Wi-Fi access point nor the easy-to-mock clamshell design of the Apple iBook were barnburners, they showcased one feature that has changed computing. Before the AirPort (and Wi-Fi), computers were always tethered. If you wanted to access a network, you had to plug in. But with the advent of Wi-Fi, we could take our machines anywhere in the home or office, without wires.

The AirPort showed it was possible, and the entire world followed.

2000: Google AdWords
It’s not hard to see the impact AdWords had on the online advertising industry, but one thing is for sure: nothing has been the same. AdWords took the risk out of advertising, at least mostly.

Instead of buying an ad for a period of time and paying the fee, advertisers could buy a certain level of performance in terms of click-throughs. But it was also up to the advertiser to properly construct their ads, with better-performing ads rising to the top. This is a huge business. By 2017, Google’s ad revenue was nearly $100 billion.

2001: Apple iPod
We continue to look at products that laid the foundation for the modern world. Windows XP and OS X (now macOS) 10.0 were both released in 2001, and served as the foundation for our current desktop operating systems.

But it was the iPod that continued the tech world’s inexorable move to a mobile-first environment. There had been many MP3 players before the iPad, and, in fact, Apple promoted its own music format. But the iPod was introduced with, for then, was such shocking capacity that, for the first time, music lovers could carry their entire music collection with them wherever they went.

2002: The Tor project
Tor, based originally on an onion router project developed for the US Navy, is designed to keep communications secure, even at a level that may surpass VPNs. The idea of an onion router is that there are layers of security (like layers in an onion) that would have to be peeled away to find out a user’s identity. Since Tor transmits through a series of IP addresses, the destination IP address will never know that of the originating IP.

In a world where privacy is becoming ever more difficult to secure, where governments, terrorists, and criminals are actively spying on users everywhere, a tool to protect privacy becomes ever more important. Unfortunately, like many technologies, privacy provided to the innocent can also be used by bad guys. Even so, the non-profit Tor project exists to preserve and protect identities the world over.

Tor, itself, may not have changed the world as much as something like Android did. But Tor enabled the world changers to work safely and freely to change the world, and that’s its ultimate contribution.

2003: Android founded
Most people think of the Android operating system as something Google developed, but that’s not the whole story. Android was founded as a company, initially intended to build a operating system for digital cameras. At one point, the company was so close to closing down, it couldn’t pay its rent.

That was then. This is now. Today, Android is the most successful (in terms of the number of users) operating system in history. It is, unfortunately, fragmented almost beyond recognition, and suffers from many security concerns and forks. Even so, Android is dominant numerically, and will likely remain so for years.

2004: Facebook founded
n addition to Facebook, the company Mark Zuckerberg founded in 2004 as TheFacebook owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Together this juggernaut dominates messaging and social media to a degree never before seen.

Not only has Facebook transformed how people connect and communicate, it’s also created its own vast walled garden, filled with details about nearly every human on the planet. How it uses that data, how it manipulates that data, and how it protects that data will be a problem for all of us for years to come.

2005: YouTube founded
In 2005, it was very difficult and expensive to distribute video. I did some videos for clients and the challenges and costs were enormous. All that changed when YouTube made internet video free for everyone.

According to, consumers are 27 times (not percent, times!) more likely to click through a video ad than through a standard banner. That, alone, should rock you back and get your attention.

According to Google (who owns YouTube), more 18 to 49 year olds watch YouTube video on mobile than any broadcast network. Google also says that same demographic group dropped TV watching by 4 percent, but in 2015, increased YouTube watch time by 74 percent.

2006: Twitter
What can you say about Twitter in 140 characters? #TurnsOut #YouCanSayALot.

Although Twitter upped its character count to 280 last year, the micro-blogging service created a new way to reach a tremendous number of people, instantly. Perhaps nothing showcases Twitter’s power more than Donald Trump’s unexpected and improbable rise to President of the United States. By using Twitter, #TheDonald bypassed all the gatekeepers and built his own audience of dedicated fans.

Whether or not you think a direct connection to the brain of a president is a good idea for the republic, @realDonaldTrump disintermediates all the norms of presidential communication, and connects #MAGA fans to their leader.

2008: Airbnb
The techie in me would like to give this year to Google Chrome, Windows Server 2008, or Hyper-V, because all were impressive, influential products. But the charter for this list is technologies that changed us, andAirbnb is impacting housing, hotels, towns, and cities the world over.

What seemed like a simple sharing economy way of letting folks let rooms in their houses has become a worldwide phenomenon, causing civil governments all over the planet to rethink their approach to zoning and land use. It’s not all good, with Airbnb blamed for rising rents and the reduction in the availability of rental properties. Even so, Airbnb gets our nod, because it’s like nothing that has come before.

2009: Fitbit Tracker
As our list of runners up for 2009 show, a lot of innovation happened in 2009. But we’re giving our nod to the first Fitbit because it helped kick off the quantified self movement with a device with no subscription fees and a full week of battery life.

Although Fitbit has a raft of competitors today, most notably the Apple Watch, the idea of gathering data on personal activity to help drive health and fitness has been gaining traction ever since that first Fitbit. With the graying of the population, the increased cost of healthcare, and the need for us all to get healthy, the quantified self may be a way for us to manage our way to better health.

2010: iPad
The idea of a handheld, gesture-based tablet computer had been around for years. It wasn’t until Apple, a company normally associated with high-ticket items, introduced the iPad that the consumer tablet market took off.

The original iPad came to market at an affordable $499 base price. It was simple, understandable, reliable, and — for the time — fast and responsive. Although the tablet market has mostly been consumed by larger form-factor phones and attacked by the no-setup-required Chromebooks, it’s clear that the iPad and tablet computing helped break the dominance of the desktop PC, particularly among consumers.

2011: Chromebook
In giving the nod to Chromebook, two trends have to be considered for 2011: IoT and smart homes, and the breaking of the Microsoft and Windows hegemony. 2011 marked the release of the first Nest Thermostat along with a lot of other smart home devices. Smart homes are growing as a trend, but they’re not yet transformative.

On the other hand, Microsoft and Windows had a stranglehold on computing for more than two decades. The rise of the smartphone changed all that, but so did the Chromebook. Initially considered little more than an amusement because all it ran was the Chrome browser, the Chromebook has taken education by storm. Because of the growth of the cloud, the Chromebook is demonstrating that, really, you can do almost anything you need to do with a powerful browser and no native apps.

2012: Raspberry Pi
Ever since humanity discovered how to make tools, there have been makers. But the ability to add advanced computing power to projects was limited by the cost of entry. TheRaspberry Pi changed all that. Here was a $25 device that could run Linux and be at the heart of a vast array of projects.

Since then, the Raspberry Pi has sparked a legion of clones, along with its own models, increasing in power up to the $35 Raspberry Pi 3+ and down in power and cost to the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero.

2013: Playstation 4 and Xbox One
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the latest console generation was introduced. That said, games for the Xbox One and the PS4 have eclipsed those of previous generations, providing what has become almost a new golden age of video games.

This is also the first game generation to fully embrace 4K TVs and, in the more advanced models, better HDR image quality. Nintendo, which earlier made a big splash with the Wii, would skip most of this generation with the subsequent failure of the Wii U. Nintendo stays off the field until 2017, when it launched the Switch.

2014: Satya Nadella and Windows 10
By late 2013, Microsoft was rapidly becoming a has-been in the minds of many users and analysts. Windows 8 was a total failure. Microsoft was late to the smartphone party and Windows Phone was a dismal failure. The acquisition of Nokia was insanely expensive and ultimately fruitless. Microsoft had lost all its luster.

But then came two events: Satya Nadella took over Microsoft from Steve Ballmer on February 4, 2014, and Windows 10 was announced on September 30, 2014. Prior to Nadella, Microsoft only had two leaders, Bill Gates from 1975 to 1999 and Steve Ballmer from 2000 to 2014. The computer industry of 2014 was a very, very different beast from that of 2000, and Ballmer seemed mired in old school thinking.

Since then, Microsoft has been firing on all cylinders. It has opened up with apps on competing devices. It has launched its own line of competitive computers. It has planted its flag in the cloud space with the hugely successful Office 365 and Azure offerings. It has even embraced Linux alongside of Windows. And, finally, Windows 10 is a clear success.

2015: Amazon Echo and the Alexa Ecosystem
When you first looked at the Echo, it seemed kind of useless, but interesting. Since then, so many have incorporated six Alexa devices into my life.

It’s important to understand that Alexa is what Siri should have been. Alexa is smart, fast, personable — and has a huge library of apps, called Skills. Amazon has been smart, allowing other vendors to license and embed the Alexa technology in their products.

As a result, the voice-based personal assistant, which is also the core of a home-based IoT hub, is now a practical aspect of everyday life.

2016: Pokemon Go
So, that happened. You may have heard Microsoft talking about the HoloLens. You may have seen Apple’s keynote, where they talked about the potential for AR (augmented reality). But for millions of people, AR is already here… in the form of a ridiculous computer game/experience.

This odd little game, where you chase after animated monsters you view in meatspace through your phone’s screen, has been downloaded more than 750 million times as of last year and has generated more than $1.2 billion in revenue. More to the point, however, is that it has exposed a vast range of the technology-using planet to the concept of augmented reality.

2017: Nintendo Switch
Nope, we’re not going to give the iPhone X the nod for 2017. Sure, it changed up the iPhone formula a bit, but the jury is still out whether it’s a winner or a flop.

Instead, we’re going to award 2017 to an unlikely player, Nintendo. Like Microsoft, Nintendo has shown us that it’s possible for previous leaders who’ve lost their mojo to find their way back to the top. The Nintendo Switch is a surprising combination of home console and portable machine, with Nintendo’s exceptional game design and the right price.

2018 and beyond
We haven’t showcased a lot of technology that’s still got enormous potential, but hasn’t yet rocked the entire world. Stay tuned for vastly improved drone technology, along with a fight over whether or not drones are intruding on our privacy. Look for VR and ARto take hold, as price, performance, and the ever-present nausea are conquered by developers. AI and intelligent assistants, along with commercial and personal IoT will be growing at a tremendous pace. Enterprise computing, the cloud, and the distributed office will be a trend that keeps on giving.

But there’s also a dark side. Privacy will continue to be assaulted, both by criminals and our own governments. Hackers and identity thieves will be rampant. Social networks will sacrifice our safety for their own reasons, possibly changing the outcome of world governments. And the proliferation of real fake news, scandals around every corner, and politician on politician battles will keep us all cranky and stressed out.

As you have seen, over the last 50 years, technology has empowered us, but it has also come with a price. As we look towards our next 50 years, we need to keep in mind both the benefits of rapidly improving and advancing technology as well as the increasingly troubling behaviors of those producing them, legislating their use, and using them.

Stay tuned to CNET and ZDNet. We’ll be covering the world of technological change, every day, and in every way. It’ll be a heck of a ride, but we’ll be there, right along with you.”

Geek Project: Installing Linux on Your Chromebook with Crostini!

New Chromebook FlipHere’s Geek Project for you, if you have the right version of Chromebook! Our buddy, Stephen J. Vaughn-Nichols has some fun! (By the way, it works on my newer version Chromebook Flip.)

How to add Linux to your Chromebook

ZDNet – By: Stephen J. Vaughn-Nichols – “It’s long been possible to run Linux on a Chromebook. That’s no surprise. After all, Chrome OS is a Linux variant. But, doing it by using either Crouton in a chroot container or Gallium OS, a Xubuntu Chromebook-specific Linux variant, wasn’t easy. Then, Google announced it was bringing a completely integrated Linux desktop to the Chromebook.

Today, with a properly-equipped Chromebook and the bravery to run canary code, you can run Debian Linux on your Chromebook. Here’s how to do it.

This new Chromebook Linux feature is Crostini, the umbrella technology for getting Linux running with Chrome OS. Crostini gets enough Linux running to run KVM, Linux’s built-in virtual machine (VM). On top of this, Crostini starts and runs LXC containers. You won’t see it, unless you look closely, but it’s in those containers that your Debian Linux instances are running.

Eventually, anyone with a newer Chromebook will be able to run Linux. Specifically, if your Chromebook’s operating system is based on the Linux 4.4 kernel, you’ll be supported. But we’re not there yet. It’s also possible that older Chromebooks, running Linux 4.14, will be retrofitted with Crostini support.

Officially, you need a Pixelbook, Google’s top-of-the-line Chromebook, to run Linux. But, users have found a dozen other models can run Crostini with half-a-dozen others expected to be supported soon. Chromebooks that can already use Crostini include newer Intel-powered Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung. Dell models will start getting supported later this year.

I used my best-of-breed Pixelbook with its 1.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor, 512GB SSD, with 16GBs of RAM for my tests. This is the fastest Chromebook on the market. It’s not cheap, at a list price of $1,399, but it’s worth it if you want to push Linux on the Chromebook’s limits.

Once you have the hardware you need, you must switch your Chromebook from the stable update channel to the dev channel. This is alpha software and it updates about once a week. Let me make this absolutely clear: This is not stable software. It will blow up at times. But, faint heart never won fair technology discoveries.

This is a bigger decision than it looks at first. You’ll lose all your local data if you try to go back to the stable, or even beta, channels. With a Chromebook that’s not much of a problem since most of your data and settings are kept on the Google Cloud, it’s still worth keeping in mind.

If you want to wait and be safe, Crostini support is expected to enter the stable channel with Chrome OS 69 in mid-September.

To make the switch to dev, take the following steps:

1) Sign in to your Chromebook with the owner account.

2) Click your account photo.

3) Click Settings.

4) At the top left, click Menu.

5) Scroll down and click About Chrome OS.

6) Click Detailed build information.

7) Next to “Channel” click Change channel.

8) Pick a channel.

9) Click Change Channel.

10) Your Chromebook will download the dev channel update. It will then ask you to restart your Chromebook.

Once that’s done, if you’re not using a Pixelbook you may need to set a Chrome flag to access Linux. You do this by entering: chrome://flags on the Chrome browser’s address line. This command displays all of Chrome’s experimental features. Scroll down the list until you find:


Activate this, and your system may be ready to go. I say ‘may’ because to run Crostini your Chromebook must not only be on the dev channel, but Google must also have enabled the Linux VM for your hardware.

The easiest way to confirm that a particular Chromebook works with Linux is to follow the above steps and then open Chrome OS’s built-in shell, crosh, and run the shell command:

vmc start termina

If you get a message such as ‘ERROR: command ‘vmc’ is not available’, you’re out of luck. But, if you see a terminal, congrats, you’ve just found a new Chromebook that’s Linux-ready.

Next, head to Chrome OS settings (chrome://settings), scroll down to to ‘Linux (Beta)’ and activate it.

Now, open the app switcher by pressing the Search/Launcher key and type ‘Terminal’. This launches the Termina VM, which will start running a Debian 9.0 Stretch Linux container.

Congratulations! You’re now running Debian Linux on your Chromebook.

From here you can install and run programs using Debian’s normal software commands. For example, to update my new Linux system and install the lynx web browser, I’d run:

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get upgrade

$ sudo apt install lynx

While you could install pretty much any program on your new Linux instance, I gave a shell-based program example because accelerated graphics and audio aren’t working yet. So, while you could install Cinnamon, my favorite Linux interface, or Steam for games, it’s not fast enough even on a maxed out Pixelbook to be that enjoyable. Not yet anyway.

In addition, many graphics-based programs, such as the photo-editor Gimp, won’t run yet on Crostini. Give it time to mature before trying to get too fancy with heavy graphics software.

Soon, though, Linux and Chrome will be a matched pair. Come that day, I see high-end Chromebooks becoming the laptops of choice for developers.

In the meantime, if you want to do more with Linux and Chromebook, check out the excellent Reddit Crostini Wiki. For up-to-the-minute hands-on information about Crostini, its parent Reddit forum is the best resource on the web.


New Email Scam Alert!

Email Scam Attack!I got an email today that clued me into a new scam that I wanted to report on. Sorry in advance for the long article, but it will be worth it to read this all the way through!

Here’s a question for you. Have you ever been notified that one of your passwords and, say, your email address, have been compromised in some of the recent break-ins to corporate sites? There have been all kinds of these announced in the news over the past year.

Chances are good that your email, and possibly an old password that you used to use have been compromised! In most cases, the companies in question did let you know that you need to change your password on their website; and as long as no credit card information was stolen, you feel like you’ve come out okay.

Well, if you have been a victim of one of these compromised sites, there is a new methodology attempting to extort money from you… even If they have only a small amount of your personal information. Now, keep in mind, this information, once a break-in has occurred, is readily available for sale on the “Dark Web” and anyone can get lists that show a username, a password, and an email address, at minimum. You would think that there is a not lot they can do with that, given that you changed your password long before these lists have gone out.

However, I got an email today that demonstrates that people that buy these lists can come up with VERY interesting methods to attempt to extort money from folks that have had some information exposed in the past.

For instance, I was told some time back that the Linux Mint website had been compromised, and that my email address, my name, and my old password on the site had been derived from the hack. I then, of course, immediately changed my password on the Linux Mint website. And, I thought that all was well!

Until I got the email today. This is a really innovative scam! I have to give them some credit for their attempt. The problem is: A) I am technology savvy, B) I am security savvy, C) I am a tech blogger (bad for them!) and, D) I know what I have, and have not, done online!

Let’s look at the contents of the email that I received today:

“I know ********* (Correct password replaced by asterisks) is your passphrase. Lets get
right to purpose. No one has compensated me to check about you. You may not know me
and you’re probably thinking why you’re getting this mail?

In fact, I setup a malware on the 18+ streaming (sexually graphic) web site and
there’s more, you visited this website to have fun (you know what I mean). When you
were watching video clips, your browser initiated functioning as a RDP with a
keylogger which provided me accessibility to your display and cam. Right after that,
my software collected all your contacts from your Messenger, FB, and email . And
then I created a double video. 1st part shows the video you were watching (you’ve
got a nice taste omg), and next part displays the view of your cam, & its u.

You actually have two different options. We are going to go through these choices in

1st choice is to just ignore this e mail. In that case, I am going to send your very
own recorded material to all your your personal contacts and also visualize
concerning the shame you will get. And as a consequence if you happen to be in a
romantic relationship, precisely how it is going to affect?

In the second place choice should be to give me 3000 USD. Lets call it a donation.
In this scenario, I most certainly will without delay discard your video. You could
keep going everyday life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back
again from me.

You will make the payment through Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, search for “how
to buy bitcoin” in Google search engine).

BTC Address: ********************** (Again, replaced with asterisks)
[case-sensitive, copy & paste it]

If you may be thinking of going to the cop, okay, this email cannot be traced back
to me. I have covered my moves. I am also not looking to ask you for money very
much, I wish to be paid for. I have a special pixel in this e mail, and right now I
know that you have read through this email message. You now have one day to pay. If
I don’t get the BitCoins, I will send out your video to all of your contacts
including friends and family, colleagues, and many others. However, if I receive the
payment, I will erase the recording right away. This is the non-negotiable offer
therefore please don’t waste mine time & yours by replying to this email message. If
you want evidence, reply Yup! & I definitely will send out your video recording to
your 5 contacts.”

Now, here’s what’s interesting! (Other than the “Engrish!”) People that know me, know that I don’t visit porn sites. I also don’t have a Messenger account. And, I have never had an open WebCam without doing a recording to do a web video for my Dr. Bill.TV show. I just don’t use WebCams! I keep them turned off, or I cover them, on any machine I have. So, even if I had visited a porn site, which of course I didn’t, then there wouldn’t have been a video of me to use!

Also, I use a mail client that is on-line, and does NOT automatically display graphics, so there is no way, he could register a display of a single bit pixel, even if he had embedded one in the original message!

Now, you might say, “Yeah, but Dr. Bill, aren’t you afraid that somebody could take some video footage from one your shows and splice it together with some porn footage, thereby making it look like you’re watching videos?” Well, yes, I suppose they could, but, they could do that with ANY online personality, or YouTuber! But, think about it, if you fall for the extortion, then you keep the scam going because the person will make money! If you reply to the email, they know that they have a “live one” and might actually make the video! Think these kinds of scams through!

I DO think it is interesting that they don’t demand an extremely large amount of money; an amount that no one could possibly raise, even if they thought they had to, to protect their reputation! When you get right down to it, if you were freaking out about your reputation, then you MIGHT actually scramble around and try to get together $3000 to send to this guy’s Bitcoin account. But if you just think through the process, you’ll see that all they really have is your email address, your name, and an old password. And, the potential victim, in this case me; already knows that this information has been made readily available. Think, folks!

Now the sad thing is, I’m sure a lot of people WILL fall for this, and send the money! And then they will sit around and sweat thinking, “Oh, no, will they release the information anyway?”

I’m sending this out as a lesson not to allow the scam to catch you, and make you panic! Remember, if we feed these guys by trying to “pay them off” then we perpetuate the scam. If enough people will see through this logically and see that there’s nothing to fear, then we can nip this kind of thing in the bud!

So, Internet user, be aware of this new scam, and whatever you do, don’t fall for it! (And, oh by the way, contrary to popular opinion, and what’s propagated by some TV shows… Bitcoin transactions CAN be traced! You’d be better off demanding cold, hard cash as opposed to Bitcoin, because any electronic transaction can be traced! So, how do you know that I’m not after you!?! (GRIN!)

Dr. Bill.TV #440 – Video – “The Old Tech Giveaway Edition!”

Dr. Bill owns up to a BIG ‘oopsy!’ The new Dr. Bill Roku Channel is finally out! Roku’s new wireless speakers, GSotW: Cloudberry Remote Assistant! Amazon Prime Day on Monday came off OK, with issues! Our first ‘Old Tech Giveaway!’ at time stamp 29:02.

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

Cloudberry Remote Assistant

Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)

Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)

You may also watch the Dr. Bill.TV Show on these services!


Dr. Bill.TV on YouTube Dr. Bill.TV on Vimeo


Dr. Bill.TV #440 – Audio – “The Old Tech Giveaway Edition!”

Dr. Bill owns up to a BIG ‘oopsy!’ The new Dr. Bill Roku Channel is finally out! Roku’s new wireless speakers, GSotW: Cloudberry Remote Assistant! Amazon Prime Day on Monday came off OK, with issues! Our first ‘Old Tech Giveaway!’ at time stamp 29:02.

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

Cloudberry Remote Assistant

Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)

Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)

You may also watch the Dr. Bill.TV Show on these services!


Dr. Bill.TV on YouTube Dr. Bill.TV on Vimeo


Amazon’s Prime Day Had Issues This Year

Amazon Prime DayAmazon Prime Day on Monday came off okay, but with issues. Apparently, there were points when people couldn’t access the site, and were getting 404 errors! Several people posted the images of their 404 page with the dog looking cute, but embarrassed. And C|NET posted an article saying they got off to a “ruff start!” Cute!

“Prime Day sales in the U.S. so far are bigger than ever – in fact, in the first 10 hours Prime Day grew even faster, year-over-year, than the first 10 hours last year,” the company said early Tuesday in an emailed statement.

Either way, I suspect, overall it was a success for the company. I did notice that a lot of other companies online were getting into the act by having their own sales at the same time as Amazon Prime Day. It’s like having a Black Friday in the middle of July for no other reason than Amazon was doing Prime Day!

At this point, the Internet will start having its own holidays based around sales that giant vendors like Amazon are having!

Most of the Amazon products that were on sale were interesting, and good prices, but nothing grabbed my attention, mainly because I already have most of the products that were on sale that I would of been interested in.

For instance, the Amazon Dot was on sale, and it was a good sale… but already have my quota of those devices!

Geek Software of the Week: Cloudberry Remote Assistant!

Cloudberry Remote AssistantFinally! A Remote Desktop Assistant that is totally FREE! It is Windows only for now, but they have plans to support MacOS and Linux soon!

I have used remote access software the past, only to have the companies that produced it bought out, or management change, and then they became really ugly about pushing their charges to use it. I don’t mind people asking you to pay for their labor, but having been free to then change over to a paid model and then push it really hard is just ugly. Given that, I had dropped back to using VNC software which is okay, but doesn’t have a lot of the features that I liked about the old remote access software. As you know, I really like Cloudberry Labs products, and I’ve mentioned them before here on the blog, and the show. This looks really good! I was kind of jazzed to get word of it today via email!

Cloudberry Remote Assistant

Supported OS:
Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016
Windows Server 2008/2012 R2
Windows 7/8/10

System requirements:
Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.1,
1.4 GHz 64-bit processor,
512 MB RAM, 100 MB minimum disk space,
Gigabit (10/100/1000baseT) Ethernet adapter

Main Features

Unattended Access
Control trusted PC’s all over the world any time

Remote desktop access
Access and control a remote desktop or server computer over Internet

Encrypted connection
All communications with remote desktop and our servers used for license activation and sendings diagnostics go through the SSL-encrypted connection

Text and voice chat
Use CloudBerry software for Windows remote desktop assistance as a free tool for text and voice communication over the Internet

Multi-regional authentication server
Some of our users in several locations were experiencing performance issues, this update is introduced to make sure every connection is as fast and reliable as possible.

File Transfer
Share files during the session, send them seamlessly to the remote PC anywhere in the world.

Roku Introduces New Audio Hardware!

Roku Wireless SpeakersThis actually seems pretty cool!

Roku’s New Wireless Speakers Automatically Turn Loud Commercials Down, Turn Show Audio Up

Slashdot – Posted by BeauHD – ‘Roku announced today that it’s getting into the audio business with the launch of its in-house Roku TV Wireless Speakers. The two HomePod-esque speakers work exclusively (and wirelessly) with Roku TVs, and feature software that will optimize audio from anything connected to the pair Roku TV, including cable boxes, antennas, and Bluetooth devices. The company also announced a new Roku Touch tabletop remote that’s similar to Amazon’s Alexa. Ars Technica reports:

‘Optimized’ in this sense refers to the software-improved audio quality: automatic volume leveling will boost lower audio in quiet scenes and lower audio in loud scenes (and in booming commercials), and dialogue enhancement will improve speech intelligibility. Accompanying the Wireless Speakers is the Roku Touch remote, a unique addition to Roku’s remote family. The company has a standard remote that controls its set-top boxes and smart TVs, and it also has a voice remote that processes voice commands to search for and play specific types of content. The Touch remote is most like the voice remote, but it can be used almost anywhere in your home because it’s wireless and runs on batteries. It has a number of buttons on its top that can play, pause, and skip content playing from your Roku TV, and some of those buttons are customizable so you can program your favorite presets to them. There’s also a press-and-hold talk button that lets you speak commands to your TV, even if you’re not in front of it. Roku’s Wireless Speakers and Touch remote will begin shipping this October, and the company is running a deal leading up to the release. For the first week of presales (July 16 through July 23), a bundle consisting of two Wireless Speakers, a Touch remote, and a Roku voice remote will be available for $149. From the end of that week until October, the price will be $179. When the new devices finally come out, the bundle price will be $199.’

The Roku Channel has Finally Been Updated!

RokuWell, on a happier note, Roku has finally gotten around to approving the new code that I wrote for our Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts Roku channel! It took them long enough, but they finally put in production!

I thought I would do an overview in the show this week on the Roku channel and its features. So, stay tuned for that! The Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts Roku channel is your source for all the video shows that I do, as well as the audio programs that I do. It covers my interests in a lot of areas.

If you have a Roku device, and are looking for a source for my content, then go to the Roku channel store and do a search, and you can locate the Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts Roku channel! Be sure to subscribe, and if you would, give the channel five stars! This will help raise the level of interest in the Roku channel store for the Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts Roku channel, and help spread the silliness of the Dr. Bill show to the world!

Here’s a direct link to help you subscribe to our channel! Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts

A Cautionary Tale

Evil HackWell folks, today I’ve got a story I’d rather not tell. I report on a lot of security issues, that have to do with computers and the web, but I haven’t been the subject of a report until now! You say, “Say it ain’t so Dr. Bill!” Sorry, but it’s true, it just goes to show that anybody can be caught up in a security issue if you’re not careful.

Let’s look at what happened, and I’ll explain the situation. I was minding my own business a few days ago checking out things on Facebook, when a friend of mine sent me a Facebook message they told me that they had seen an article in a computer blog that seem to reference one of my websites. I thought to myself, “What’s this about?” I checked out the article, and sure enough, there for all to see was the web address of one of my old websites! The problem with being a webmaster, particularly being one as long as I have been one, is that you can have old sites that are not properly cleaned up, and disposed of.

It’s not enough to decommission a website by simply getting rid of the domain name link and not deleting the old files, the old references, etc. as a webmaster you have to do a more thorough job cleaning up after yourself. And this is where my “mea culpa” comes in. I had a website many years ago and though I cleaned it up to a certain extent, I left the directory, which was actually a subdirectory on another site available to the web. Big mistake!

The article that my friend pointed me to was from a blog called “Bleeping Computer” in which they discussed the hack of the popular VSDC website. Now, VSDC is the video editor that I use for my video programs, and they do a great job of producing the software… which is very popular with a lot of folks around the web. It appears that their site had been hacked such that folks that downloaded the files off of the VSDC website were then infected by means of files that actually came off one of my old websites that had been hacked!

I found myself in the unenviable position of having to own up to the fact that I had allowed one of my old sites to be hacked and used for this exploit. Which I did in a comment on the “Bleeping Computer” article. I have to admit it was hard to swallow my pride and own up to the fact that one of my web old sites had been hacked and used for this exploit.

I’ve since cleaned up the site properly and VSDC has cleaned up their site and they are no longer propagating this exploit from their site downloads as well. The author of the article did point out, and I agree, that VSDC did a great job of just owning up to the fact that they had been hacked, and then took care of the issue quickly. This doesn’t happen very often; most of the time organizations will ignore, or deny, the fact that they been a victim of a hack.

I have much respect for the fact that VSDC did own up to the issue and fixed it. I trust that folks that read the article, and my comment, will also understand that I was a victim as well, and in no way related to any of the knuckleheads that actually perpetrated the attack on VSDC and the folks that downloaded files from that site.

Now, pardon me, as I slink off to lick my wounds and vow to be more careful about the future disposition of all my old websites! By the way, if you are a webmaster, and have old sites that could be commandeered and used as mine was, please take a moment to go clean up your sites as I did mine!

Here’s the article in question: Popular Software Site Hacked to Redirect Users to Keylogger, Infostealer, More

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