Today in TIME Tech History: Warm-Blooded Robot (1945), $500 Cloud Computer (1996), Apple’s PowerBook G4 (2001) and More

Let’s hop in the TIME Wayback Machine to see which notable tech-related stories were published on January 22 between 1923 and today.

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Let’s hop in the TIME Wayback Machine to see which notable tech-related stories were published on January 22 between 1923 and today.

If you’re a TIME subscriber, you can click each headline to read the entire story.

Science: Warm-Blooded Robot (Jan. 22, 1945)

To find out how long a flying suit will keep an aviator from freezing, human models often have to sit hour after hour in a cold chamber at 60° below zero. Candidates for this sort of work are naturally somewhat hard to find. And, because human models vary in resistance to cold, they are not very satisfactory anyway.

Last week, at a Manhattan show, General Electric showed how to supply the demand: a ”Copper Man” so cunningly contrived that it gets hot & cold just like a human being.

Science: Snowflakes Electrified? (Jan. 22, 1945)

It was snowing—a dry, cold, tiny-flaked snow. In his country house near Greenwich, Conn., which is cluttered with a variety of electronic gadgets, Dr. Orestes H. Caldwell, editor of Electronic Industries, was fiddling with his short-wave radio. It seemed to be afflicted with a peculiar kind of staccato static. He turned on his television set, found it similarly affected, the interference appearing as a series of rapid black & white flashes on the screen.

Dr. Caldwell went out into the snowstorm, began to tinker with the television antenna. He made a discovery which so electrified him that last week he announced it in a press release: ELECTRIFIED SNOW FALLS IN CONNECTICUT.

Nuclear Energy: Destruction on Jackass Flats (Jan. 22, 1965)

One continuing nightmare of the atomic age is the possibility that somewhere, some time, a nuclear reactor may go out of control and blow itself to bits like an overheated steam-age boiler with its safety valve tied down. Builders and promoters of reactors insist that this is highly improbable, but the Atomic Energy Commission wants more facts — just in case. So last week it loosed the controls of a reactor and let her blow.

Zoology: Nature’s Counter-Sonar (Jan. 22, 1965)

Modern bomber-plane crews know just what to do when their receivers pick up the pings of an enemy radar. They transmit pings of their own designed to confuse an oncoming fighter or trick an attacking missile into veering toward empty air. Such sophisticated electronic countermeasures may be the latest thing in aerial warfare, say Entomologists Dorothy C. Dunning and Kenneth D. Roeder of Tufts University, but the idea is not at all new to non-human flyers. For millions of years, shifty moths have been using similar sound-pulsing stunts to protect them selves from marauding bats.

Why Sun’s Java Is Hot (Jan. 22, 1996)

Java is the hottest thing in cyberspace. More than 100,000 copies have been downloaded by software developers eager to try out the new language, which promises to make sending programs across a computer network as easy as sending E-mail or pictures. Hundreds of little Java applications (dubbed “applets”) have started to pop up on the World Wide Web, the multimedia portion of the Internet. One site lists more than 700 working Java applets–each only a mouse click away–that generate everything from small dancing cartoon figures and steaming cups of coffee to knock-offs of such games as Pac-Man and Missile Command. Several leading venues on the Internet, including c|net and Time Warner’s Pathfinder, now use Java applets with links to the wire services to display live news tickers running across the screen.

How Cheap Can Computers Get? (Jan. 22, 1996)

The idea is straightforward. Instead of buying bigger and bigger hard drives to store programs that seem to grow more monstrous with every upgrade, why not let the Internet be your hard drive? The World Wide Web contains more data than you’ll ever use. Java, in theory, can retrieve all the software you need when you need it. All your computer really has to have is a fast processor, a good Internet connection and a few built-in programs to handle E-mail and word processing. If the price is right, predicts Larry Ellison, chairman of software giant Oracle and one of the idea’s chief promoters, “everyone will have one of these things.”

To test his theory, Ellison has commissioned Acorn, a British computer maker, to help design a “networked computer” to his specifications, with a keyboard, a processor, some random-access memory, a communications link and not much else. Meanwhile, nearly every other major computer maker, from Apple to IBM, claims to have something similar in the works. Sun has teamed up with Japan’s Fujitsu on a machine they are calling (not surprisingly) the “Java terminal.”

How much would one of these babies cost? That depends on whom you ask. The price heard most often, from Ellison and others, is $500. Sun is less optimistic; company officials imagine their hot little Java boxes selling for somewhere between $500 and $1,000.

Books: Why Microsoft Crashed (Jan. 22, 2001)

When I was covering the Microsoft antitrust trial, the company invited me to have breakfast with its legal team. We covered all the basics: whether Microsoft was a monopoly, whether its actions had caused “consumer harm.” But what stuck with me was a remark by a high-level Microsoft executive. He had heard I once worked for a federal judge he knew. The more I tried to focus on the antitrust issues, the more I kept wondering how this man I’d never met summoned up this nugget from my past.

That little mystery is solved in Ken Auletta’s absorbing new book, World War 3.0: Microsoft and its Enemies (Random House; 436 pages; $27.95). Microsoft kept dossiers on reporters who covered the trial, including former jobs, friends and perceived biases. All things considered, it probably wasn’t a great idea. In the middle of a lawsuit accusing Microsoft of being controlling and intimidating, it just made the company look, well, controlling and intimidating.

The Waiting Game (Jan. 22, 2001)

You’ve got to hand it to Steve Jobs. Age has not withered the Apple CEO’s famous flash and showmanship. P.T. Barnum himself could not have done a better job at the Macworld convention in San Francisco last week. Barnum, of course, could only offer dancing elephants; Jobs has some of the most sublimely sexy high-tech products of our age. And he was able to pull these latest tricks out of his hat at a time when Apple’s profits are turning to deficits and Macs are selling at fire-sale prices. Whatever his flaws, the man knows a thing or two about timing.

Take the showstopping titanium-covered G4 PowerBook, which Jobs left for his now traditional “one more thing” finale. This is pretty much what Mac lovers like myself have been fantasizing about for a long time: it’s 1 in. thick and weighs less than 5 lbs., with a gorgeous 15-in. screen and slot-loading DVD drive. No Windows laptop offers all those features combined…

Although the G4 laptop ($2,599 to $3,997, comparable to Vaio prices) will be officially released at the end of this month, there will probably be quite a bit of pent-up demand, and Apple has a long history of not delivering enough product on time. “We’ll be making them just as fast as we can,” Jobs told me. But when I asked if there would be a shortage, he smiled and said, “I hope so.” Lines of would-be buyers clamoring for his products would, after all, make for an irresistible spectacle. Memo to Mac loyalists: time to test your patience again.

More tech history here…

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