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mcherm : history   329

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The worst sales promotion in history: Hoover's free flight fiasco
Don't offer a prize or rebate worth several times the gross sales price of your produce because people will utilize your offer and it will cost.
history  marketing  via:HackerNews 
5 weeks ago by mcherm
When Pepsi Had a Navy | Hidden History
They wanted to sell in the USSR but the ruble was worthless. So they bartered Pepsi for vodka, then later for obsolete naval ships. That's how Pepsi became owner of the sixth largest navy in the world.
history  via:HackerNews 
12 weeks ago by mcherm
Graphing Calculator Story
The story of a couple of developers who built an entire product for Apple by sneaking into the building.
history  apple  via:reddit  hacking  culture  startup  security 
may 2019 by mcherm
A Conspiracy To Kill IE6
How a couple of Google programmers working on YouTube decided on their own (without permission) to deprecate IE6 for the good of web developers around the world.
history  easteregg  browsers  web  via:HackerNews  security  google 
may 2019 by mcherm
21 Compilers and 3 Orders of Magnitude [PDF]
Does a great job of covering the history and scope of compilers. Also great callouts to leading early (female) computer pioneers.
programming  history  compiler  womenintech  via:HackerNews 
april 2019 by mcherm
The general was female? | ASU Now: Access, Excellence, Impact
Claims there is clear evidence that an American revolutionary war general was secretly female.
gender  transgender  history  via:HackerNews 
april 2019 by mcherm
The Cloud and Open Source Powder Keg – tecosystems
Observation: cloud providers are packaging open source tools (eg: Elasticsearch). This leaves no role for the companies that have grown up around creating and supporting the tools. Some are fighting back with restrictive licenses and similar tools. The conflict seems inevitable.
aws  cloudcomputing  opensource  via:slashdot  history 
march 2019 by mcherm
How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America | History | Smithsonian
Part of the cause for not treating the 1918 flu well was that the government was punishing people for saying things that harmed morale. So people lied about the flu.
freespeech  via:HackerNews  smithsonian  history 
february 2019 by mcherm
The Titanic Was On Fire For Days Before The Iceberg Hit
There was a coal fire burning from before the ship set sail (can't put it out... have to just shovel the burning stuff into the engines) which had visibly damaged the ship in the exact spot where the iceberg struck.
history  via:HackerNews 
december 2018 by mcherm
Why Kodak Died and Fujifilm Thrived: A Tale of Two Film Companies
Kodak didn't die because they ignored digital cameras, they died because they focused on printing digital photos not sharing them online and because phones killed the digital camera. Fuji used film expertise to get into LCD manufacture.
business  history  via:HackerNews  photography 
december 2018 by mcherm
The Love Story that Upended the Texas Prison System – Texas Monthly
An incredible story about the elderly female civil rights lawyer who took on the Texas state prison system, and by some miracle managed to succeed. Includes the first ever US Supreme Court case to be written on toilet paper.
law  prison  history  via:HackerNews 
october 2018 by mcherm
PyPy Status Blog: The First 15 Years of PyPy — a Personal Retrospective
The story (so far!) of the PyPy project, including both organizational issues and major design decisions.
opensource  python  pypy  history 
september 2018 by mcherm
The Story of the American Inventor Denied a Patent Because He Was a Slave
Dread Scott was interpreted to prohibit a slave from patenting an invention. (Slaveholders couldn't patent it either, as they hadn't invented it.) So no patent ever for the boat propeller.
racism  law  via:HackerNews  history 
august 2018 by mcherm
What Did Ada Lovelace's Program Actually Do?
A close look at the first program ever (by Ada Lovelace) including a bug (which might have been hers or the typesetter's). It calculated Bernoulli numbers.
history  AdaLovelace  programming  bug  via:HackerNews  math 
august 2018 by mcherm
How Europe Learnt to Swim | History Today
How Europe forgot how to swim, then learned it again.
history  via:HackerNews  BenjaminFranklin 
august 2018 by mcherm
Jobs, Wozniak -- and Wayne? What happened to the third co-founder of Apple - CBS News
The man who initially owned 10% of Apple dropped out on the enterprise and gave back his ownership share.
apple  history  startup  via:HackerNews 
august 2018 by mcherm
Letter from Jourdon Anderson: A Freedman Writes His Former Master | Facing History and Ourselves
A brilliantly written letter from a former slave to his former master using sarcasm to get his points across.
history  via:reddit  racism 
july 2018 by mcherm
McMoon: How the Earliest Images of the Moon Were so Much Better than we Realised – World of Indie
They used satellite spy cameras to take really good pictures of the moon in order to select a landing place, but then the pictures they released to the public were much lower in resolution in order to hide the capabilities of the spy cameras.
history  space  via:HackerNews  surveillance 
june 2018 by mcherm
I Now Pronounce You Legally Null and Void | Lapham’s Quarterly
Early feminists and their objections to the highly unfair marriage laws of the times.
history  feminism  via:HackerNews 
june 2018 by mcherm
War of 1812 and D-Day: the Trump’s team’s twin history gaffes - Vox
Stupid foreign policy blunders that Trump has done recently that have real and serious implications for deep, old alliances. We're declaring that there's a serious national security threat from Canada and blaming it on them burning the white house 20 years ago (which they didn't do)!
DonaldTrump  vox  via:vox  history 
june 2018 by mcherm
The 'Pedestrian' Who Became One of America's First Black Sports Stars - Atlas Obscura
Sport "pedestrian" (walking) predated baseball as America's favorite sport and this black athlete was the champion.
via:HackerNews  history 
may 2018 by mcherm
Why did banning alcohol require a Constitutional Amendment, but banning other drugs just needed an Act of Congress? - AskHistorians
Court packing and the history of how the Commerce Clause of the Constitution became all-powerful only recently.
law  history  via:reddit 
may 2018 by mcherm
Boston U. Panel Finds Plagiarism by Dr. King - The New York Times
It turns out Martin Luther King Jr cheated in school (he plagiarized part of this doctoral dissertation). His degree was not posthumously withdrawn.
plagiarism  ethics  MartinLutherKing  history  teaching  via:reddit 
may 2018 by mcherm
The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile | The New Yorker
Taking inspiration from things like cross-stitch, she designed the first Macintosh icons.
history  design  apple  via:HackerNews 
april 2018 by mcherm
Statistician Proves Gaussian Correlation Inequality | Quanta Magazine
Older amateur mathematician proves well studied conjecture; simple tools with different approach; article summarizes the math.
math  via:HackerNews  history 
april 2018 by mcherm
Mythology about security… | jg's Ramblings
He claims poor security in early computer systems was due to US export controls, not a willing failure to build secure systems (and he built X-Windows and sat by the guy who built Kerberos).
security  history  via:HackerNews  law 
april 2018 by mcherm
World War II was not realistic
A rant about how the "plot" of world war 2 is just not plausible. Oh, and it was written by "Scott Alexander".
history  via:reddit  ScottAlexander 
april 2018 by mcherm
The Stack Overflow Age – Joel on Software
Joel says he wanted a decent forum for programming Q&A and that's how he came to build StackOverflow.
history  stackoverflow  JoelSpolsky  via:HackerNews 
april 2018 by mcherm
The Forgotten Drink That Caffeinated North America for Centuries - Gastro Obscura
Not coffee, not tea, but a variety of holly that grows wild in the south-east US.
history  via:HackerNews 
march 2018 by mcherm
25 Notable Cryptocurrencies [OC] - dataisbeautiful
Beautiful visualization that illustrates the state of the cryptocurrency market today.
cryptocurrency  bitcoin  history  datavisualization  via:reddit 
march 2018 by mcherm
Modern CSS Explained For Dinosaurs – Actualize – Medium
A *really good* history of CSS policies and practices explaining what is going on today.
css  webdev  webdevelopment  html  history  via:reddit 
february 2018 by mcherm
Nefertiti, Confucius, Genghis Khan, and Charlemagne Are Almost Certainly on Your Family Tree
Simple models say a common ancestor of everyone exists just about 600 years ago. Models that include conservative assumptions about isolation and inbreeding say EVERYONE 3600 years ago either had no descendants or is an ancestor of all living humans.
math  history  via:HackerNews  genetics 
january 2018 by mcherm
Why everything might have taken so long | Meteuphoric
Some theories about why it might be that it took so long from when hominoids first emerged to the explosion of inventions like agriculture or the industrial revolution (but especially agriculture).
invention  history  via:HackerNews 
january 2018 by mcherm
Pubs replaced banks in Ireland in 1970 and the economy was fine - Business Insider
The banks in Ireland closed. People just sent checks to the local pub or politician.
banking  history 
january 2018 by mcherm
Why People Walked Differently in Medieval Times | Mental Floss
People put their toes down first because they didn't have strong soled shoes to protect their feet. Also note: not fully true. Our genus walks heel-first in general, but with significant cultural variation among human societies.
history  via:HackerNews 
january 2018 by mcherm
Civil War Vet's Pension Still Remains on Government's Payroll 152 Years After Last Shot Fired | National News | US News
As of 2017, the US is still paying veterans benefits to one person (surviving daughter) from the civil war.
history  via:reddit  interesting 
december 2017 by mcherm
How Doug Jones beat Roy Moore: Maps of Alabama in 1860 and 2017 offer a startling comparison — Quartz
Modern voting patterns look like ancient slave-owning patterns (probably because both correlate to race).
history  via:reddit  voting  datavisualization 
december 2017 by mcherm
Infographic: Visualizing the Most Valuable Companies of All-Time
The East India trade company was (this claims) 10X the size of Apple today.
via:reddit  history  economics  datavisualization 
december 2017 by mcherm
The Last of the Iron Lungs
There are still a few (3 in the US) polio victims surviving on iron lungs. They are alive only because they have found mechanically inclined friends.
medicine  history  gizmodo  via:SlateStarCodex 
november 2017 by mcherm
The story (part of it) of why TeX may be the greatest program ever written.
DonaldKnuth  history  programming  TeX  blogworthy 
november 2017 by mcherm
How Human Beings Almost Vanished From Earth In 70,000 B.C. : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR
A megavolcano 70,000 years ago reduced the human population to about a thousand breeding pairs.
personal_net  biology  history  npr 
november 2017 by mcherm
The world's first cyber-attack (1834)
The mechanical telegraph was reserved for government use only, but some enterprising bankers bribed an operator to send messages (disguised as errors) so they could get a financial advantage.
history  security  hacking 
october 2017 by mcherm
The Joy of Sexagesimal Floating-Point Arithmetic - Scientific American Blog Network
The reason the Babylonians used base 60 is that they did division by multiplying by something conjugate and then correcting the order of magnitude (which they didn't write down).
math  via:HackerNews  history 
september 2017 by mcherm
When Junk Science About Sex Offenders Infects the Supreme Court -
All of the draconian restrictions on sex offenders are permitted by a Supreme Court case which turned on the scientific fact that 80% of sex offenders reoffend. It was a lie. The real rate is 15% (article says 3-year rate is 3.5%).
law  history  sexoffenders  nytimes  via:reddit 
september 2017 by mcherm
the entire edifice of Western civilization can be traced back to a stupid loophole in Roman inheritance law
With some skepticism: "The default human setup for ownership is tribalism. But western civ has individual ownership. Why? Church pushed it because they got income from wealthy widows."
via:SlateStarCodex  history 
september 2017 by mcherm
The Blind Traveler: How James Holman Felt His Way Around the World to Become History's Most Prolific Explorer | Mental Floss
An early British traveler and travel writer (in his time the most traveled person in the world) who was also completely blind.
via:HackerNews  disabilities  history 
september 2017 by mcherm
The HERE IS key | Dave Cheney
The keyboard that created many of our modern conventions.
history  via:HackerNews 
august 2017 by mcherm
The world in which IPv6 was a good design
A very good explanation of some of the details of ethernet and internet networking explained via historical context.
internet  networking  ipv6  history  via:HackerNews 
august 2017 by mcherm
The Kolmogorov option
Scott Aaronson on why Kolmogorov was an amazing mathematician, and why ethical people may wish to remain silent and take no actions about injustices they perceive.
ethics  ScottAaronson  philosophy  history  math  via:HackerNews 
august 2017 by mcherm
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