David Sarnoff David Sarnoff is the father of broadcasting. Sarnoff was a Jewish immigrant who became his family’s breadwinner at age 15. He worked as a Morse Code operator, rising up the ranks to become a supervisor. Eventually, he transitioned to radio to transmit messages over long distances. Early radio technology was for point-to-point communications, […]

Computer Game

Background Early computers used punch cards to load programs and data into computers. The software was a stack of cards, each card one line of a program. Data input were cards on the top of the stack. Eventually, then the entire thing fed into a card reader. The reader read the stack, processed the data, […]

Machine Translation

Background In 1933, Soviet scientist Peter Troyanskii presented “the machine for the selection and printing of words when translating from one language to another” to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Soviet aparchnicks during the Stalin era declared the invention “useless” but allowed Troyanskii to continue his work. He died of natural causes in […]

Speech Recognition

Speech recognition is the ability of a computer to recognize the spoken word. “Alexa: read me something interesting from Innowiki.” “Duh human, everything on Innowiki is interesting or it wouldn’t be there.” Today, inexpensive pocket-sized phones connect to centralized servers and understand the spoken word in countless languages. Not so long ago, that was science […]

Social Network

When they’re not rigging elections, sowing discord, or amplifying hate social networks are a fun, simple, and convenient way to stay in touch. However, they suffer serious privacy issues under current implementations. Electronic social networks, in various forms, are older than Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. The first online bulletin-board enabling people to chat and hang […]

Peer-To-Peer File Sharing (Napster)

File sharing allows one computer to connect anonymously with others, sending and receiving files. Most files were single-track MP3s of copyright music. Background The original theory was that because mixtapes were legal then noncommercial “sharing” of any music was legal. The legality of mixtapes, a collection of songs from other tapes, stems from a US […]

Digital Video Recorder (DVR)

Digital Video Recorders (DVR’s) record digitally, to disk or flash memory, rather than analog recording to tape. This allows end-users to quickly fast-forward, rewind, and jump to a section of a recording rather than slowly searching. Tivo and ReplayTV both launched DVR’s at the 1999 Consumer Electronics Show. As they did with videotapes, broadcasters and […]


In 1941, Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr devised a system and submitted a patent for radio signals that changed frequencies. Background Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler (Heidi Lamar) was born in Vienna. She is most famous as the first woman to appear nude in a mainstream film. In the same movie, she was also the first woman […]

Web Search Engine

Noteworthy early search engines include Archie, from 1990, that searched filenames, and Gopher, from 1991, that organized files. Early Search Engines In March 1994, Stanford students David Filo and Jerry Yang created “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” Their website contained lists arranged by category of the burgeoning World Wide Web. Sites […]