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Thursday, August 24, 2017

August 24, 1995

This week on the Throwback Thursday post, we are going to take a look at a product that revolutionized the way we did business, the way we formatted documents, and the way we first started to get connected with each other.  Well, at least it was revolutionary for three calendar years anyway.

Getting to that in a moment, it's also time to see what was happening in the world on August 24.

1456 - The printing of the Gutenberg Bible is completed

1682 - William Penn receives an area of land that will later become the state of Delaware - for the moment, he adds it to his colony of Pennsylvania

1814 - British troops invade Washington D.C. - Several buildings - including the Capitol and the White House are set on fire

1816 - The Treaty of St. Louis is signed

1875 - Matthew Webb becomes the first person in the world to swim the English Channel

1891 - Thomas Edison patents the motion picture camera

1909 - The first concrete is poured for the construction of the Panama Canal

1917 - Game show host Dennis James (d. 1997) is born in Jersey City, New Jersey

1929 - The second day of the Hebron Massacre during the Palestine Riots of 1929 - at least 65 Jews are killed

1932 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly non-stop across the United States (from California to New Jersey)

1942 - Singer Jimmy Soul (d. 1988) is born in Weldon, North Carolina

1943 - Actor Kenny Baker (d. 2016) is born in Birmingham, England - the actor is best known for playing R2-D2 in "Star Wars"

1944 - Allied troops begin the attack on Paris during World War II

1949 - Actor Charles Rocket (d. 2005) is born in Bangor, Maine

1967 - The New York Stock Exchange is temporarily disrupted as the Youth International Party led by Abbie Hoffman throws dollar bills onto the trading floor

1970 - The University of Madison-Wisconsin's Sterling Hall is bombed by Vietnam War protestors

1978 - Singer/actor Louis Prima dies at the age of 67

1981 - Mark David Chapman - the man who shot and killed John Lennon - is sentenced to 20 years to life in prison

1989 - Pete Rose receives a permanent ban from baseball due to gambling

1999 - Actress Mary Jane Croft passes away, aged 83

2004 - Two suicide bombers blow up two airplanes flying out of Moscow, killing 89 passengers

2006 - The International Astronomical Union declares Pluto to be a "Dwarf Planet"

2013 - Actress Julie Harris passes away at the age of 87

2016 - Central Italy is devastated by a 6.2 earthquake, causing damage to the town of Accumoli and killing nearly 300 people

And celebrating a birthday today are the following people; Susan Sheehan, David Freiberg, Mason Williams, Ronee Blakley, Ken Hensley, Vince McMahon, Anne Archer, Mike Shanahan, Alain Daigle, Jeffrey Daniel, Stephen Fry, Steve Guttenberg, Cal Ripken, Jr., Jared Harris, Marlee Matlin, Rich Beem, Jean-Luc Brassard, Ava DuVernay, Dave Chappelle, Chad Michael Murray, Brett Gardner, and Rupert Grint.

All what's the date we'll be throwing back to this week?

How about August 24, 1995?  I mean, it's a date that I was actually alive for.  And I remember the date extremely well!

It was a couple of weeks before I was set to begin high school.  At that time, I was really looking forward to it (and on that token, I couldn't believe how naive and optimistic I was back in the summer of '95).  I was looking forward to learning about the history and geography of Canada.  I was looking forward to having a locker to put all of my stuff in.  I was even excited to take any and all computer classes that were offered because anything would have been better than those Unisys Icon computers from 1982 that we were forced to use all throughout elementary school.

Yet, imagine my surprise when my grade nine keyboarding class used those same computers.  Oh, goody, we could play "Type Away" in high school as well and make snails using d's, f's, j's, and k's.

It was a bummer to me...especially since when I started high school there were all of these commercials advertising a new way of computing.  It was the newest software designed by Microsoft that revolutionized the way we looked at computers.

The advertising campaign for this product was certainly well thought out.  Bill Gates used the Rolling Stones single "Start Me Up" as the main theme for the product - which enjoyed a brief resurgence of popularity fourteen years after it was originally released). 

"Friends" stars Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry filmed a video guide on how to use the new computer software.

And, let's face it.  Although the technology is way outdated by today's "Windows 10" standards, it set the groundwork for how we use computers now.

Because it was twenty-two years ago today that Windows 95 first hit the market.  And life as we knew it would never be the same.

Well, at least it wasn't for me.

When I first started using computers, I think all of them were the original Windows operating system that was used when the program became readily available in the mid-1980s.  The first time I even used a computer, I was probably four years old.  The newspaper took a picture of me and put in on the second page or something.  I wish I had a copy of that article.  If anyone has any old newspapers from 1985, have a look and see if I'm in there.

Then I moved on to version 3.1, I think?  It was the version that was released just before Windows 95.  It was nice, but very limiting on what you could do.

It wouldn't be until I was in the eleventh grade before I got to use Windows 95 for the first time - in 1997.  Yeah, despite the fact that I went to a school that had mostly students from rich families attending, it still took my school two years to get new computers in our lab.  Once they arrived, we all agreed that Windows 95 was brilliant.

The speed in which we could access programs was a huge improvement.  I know when I was using Windows 3.1 it sometimes took forever to open up a word processing document or to create a spreadsheet. 

And I think that for anybody who is my age or older, I think it is a fair bet to say that most of us used the Internet for the first time using Windows 95 as our operating device.  Mind you, this was back in the day when the only online company seemed to be America Online, and it took five and a half minutes to log into the system with the screeching and humming of the modem entertaining you while you waited.  Still, it was really cool to join the World Wide Web.  I sent my very first e-mail on Windows 95.  I built my first basic HTML page on Windows 95.  I think I might have even found a way to play Tetris when I should have been doing my computer studies homework assignments on Windows 95! 

So, in a way, even though the program is outdated and hasn't had any support since 2001 - it's still fondly remembered by many as the program that helped them connect to people in ways we never really dreamed of.

Happy birthday, Windows 95!  You may be obsolete, but never forgotten.

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