Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.
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Recent Posts

Tech Time Warp: The First Case of Ransomware

Posted by Kate Johanns on May 19, 2017 11:30:00 AM

The WannaCry ransomware attack once again brings the need for backup and security solutions into focus, but ransomware is nothing new. The first case of ransomware, chock-full of “truth is stranger than fiction” details, occurred in 1989.

The PC Cyborg Trojan, aka the AIDS Trojan, was created by Dr. Joseph Popp. Whether his motive was Robin Hood-style fundraising for AIDS research (his story) or revenge for a rejected job application at the World Health Organization (per news reports), he wreaked havoc.

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Topics: Tech Time Warp

Tech Time Warp: First Public Demonstration of VisiCalc

Posted by Kate Johanns on May 12, 2017 12:01:00 PM

The next time you use Excel to analyze data on the fly, remember the “father” of the spreadsheet: Dan Bricklin.

On May 11, 1979, during the West Coast Computer Faire, the Harvard MBA candidate and his co-creator, programmer Robert Frankston, gave the first public demonstration of a new electronic spreadsheet software called VisiCalc. Journalists were intrigued—suddenly microcomputers could perform the computations once possible only on a mainframe. People (and, more importantly, businesses) began taking microcomputers seriously. Thanks to VisiCalc, the “First Killer App of the Computer Era,” microcomputers were no longer a plaything.

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Topics: Tech Time Warp

Tech Time Warp: Did you get bitten by the ILOVEYOU virus?

Posted by Kate Johanns on May 5, 2017 12:00:00 PM

One might say more than 3 million computer users had a bad date on May 4, 2000. That’s the day they downloaded the ILOVEYOU virus, a Visual Basic script that overwrote JPEG and MP3 files, added new files to registry keys, and even executed an application that stole passwords and emailed them to the hacker.

And if that doesn’t sound bad enough, ILOVEYOU automatically sent itself to an infected user’s Outlook contacts.

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Tech Time Warp: World Wide Web Becomes Public Domain

Posted by Kate Johanns on Apr 28, 2017 11:24:00 AM

This weekend, before you pay bills online, order grocery delivery, and stream your latest binge-watch, raise a glass to Tim Berners-Lee and CERN, who made the World Wide Web software public domain on April 30, 1993.

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Tech Time Warp: The Osborne Effect

Posted by Kate Johanns on Apr 21, 2017 11:30:00 AM

Next time you watch a meticulously planned product launch, remember one of the most infamous—the April 18, 1983, announcement of the successor to the Osborne 1, the first commercially successful portable computer.

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Topics: Tech Time Warp

Tech Time Warp: Microsoft says farewell to Clippy

Posted by Kate Johanns on Apr 14, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Before the dawn of the new millennium, you never felt lonely when you opened a Word doc, thanks to a pesky little character named Clippy. Remember him? You couldn’t describe him any better than Microsoft: “the little paperclip with the soulful eyes and the Groucho eyebrows.” Love him or hate him, Clippy was always popping up to say, “It looks like you’re writing a letter. Do you need help?”

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Topics: Tech Time Warp

Tech Time Warp: IBM System/360 Pioneers Compatibility

Posted by Kate Johanns on Apr 7, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Let’s face it: We’re spoiled by our plug-and-play world. We expect peripherals to work on any device—Mac or PC—and if the newest smartphone isn’t compatible with our old charger, then you’re going to hear about it. We can thank IBM for this life of ease. On April 7, 1964, IBM President Thomas Watson Jr. announced the creation of the IBM System/360, the first mainframe computing system designed for hardware and software compatibility.

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Topics: Tech Time Warp

Tech Time Warp: Google, King of April Fools’ Day

Posted by Kate Johanns on Mar 31, 2017 12:00:00 PM

No doubt those Google tricksters are planning extra-special surprises this year, so consider this fair warning not to believe anything online April 1. In honor of April Fools’ Day, here’s a look at some of Google’s most memorable pranks.

2000: Mentalplex

Google’s first April Fools’ joke was Mentalplex, the “only search engine that accurately returns results without requiring you to enter a query,” designed to be “safer than traditional searching because it eliminates the need for typing.” (The Mentalplex FAQs are worth a read.)

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Topics: Tech Time Warp

Tech Time Warp: Happy Birthday, Jean Sammet, developer of FORMAC!

Posted by Kate Johanns on Mar 24, 2017 10:44:25 AM

A very happy birthday to Jean Sammet, born March 23, 1928, in New York City. Although not a household name, Sammet’s work paved the way for the technological innovations we all enjoy today—she originated and developed FORMAC, the first widely used programming language for manipulating nonnumeric algebraic expressions.

(The name FORMAC came from FOrmula MAnipulation Compiler. The language is a cousin to FORTRAN, which you might know from Hidden Figures; it’s the language Dorothy Vaughan, portrayed by Octavia Spencer, teaches herself from a library book.)

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Topics: Tech Time Warp

Tech Time Warp: First domain name registered in 1985

Posted by Kate Johanns on Mar 17, 2017 12:00:00 PM

File this away for your next pub quiz: The first domain name ever registered was Symbolics.com, registered on March 15, 1985, by Symbolics Computer Corporation, a company that specialized in single-user machines running the Lisp programming language.

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Topics: Tech Time Warp

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