10 Amazing Little Known Facts About Technology
Updated: Mar 26
Human beings have done wonders with the progress of technology in the last century. Technology has put spectacular tools and resources in our hands to make our lives ever so convenient. New findings in the technical field are so frequent that it has become hard for many to catch up with the pace of inventions.
As fascinating as these technical wonders seem today, the stories behind them are even more interesting. Here are ten such amazing little-known facts about the technology we all use almost every day.
1. QWERTY keyboard was designed to slow down the typing speed
People boast about their writing speed on a typewriter or keyboard. It is even a competitive advantage for some jobs to have faster and more accurate typing skills. But do you know the current layout of the QWERTY keyboards is the outcome of a solution designed to slow down the typing speed?
The initial versions of typewriters made in the 1870s had few technical issues. The metal arms, which hold the characters, used to clash and jam if the keys were pressed in rapid succession or if a typist pressed the adjacent keys simultaneously.
To avoid the problem and have a better typing experience, Christopher Latham Sholes made many design alterations to the keyboard layout. The current layout of the QWERTY keyboards was finally designed by E. Remington and Sons, which solved the problem of jammed type bars.
2. Water Integrator — a computer that ran on water
Vladimir Sergeevich Lukyanov built the world’s first computer in 1936 that solved differential equations in partial derivatives. The amazing fact is that the machine was driven by water.
The construction company that Lukyanov worked with was unable to find a solution for the cracks that used to happen in concretes during winter’s sub-zero temperature. To understand the thermal process better, Lukyanov researched the temperature conditions in concrete masonry.
Finally, he built the water integrator machine that could plot graphs and help visualize the thermal process.
Manufacturing plants, research organizations, and educational institutes used water computers well into the 1970s. The use of these hydraulic integrators diminished once the digital computers became more powerful and convenient to use.
3. The first computer mouse was called ‘X-Y Position Indicator for Display Systems’
The world’s first computer mouse was invented at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the 1960s. The equipment was called “X-Y position indicator for displays”.
Douglas Engelbart and Bill English are credited with the invention of the mouse. The story that Xerox APAC invented the mouse is a myth. Engelbart demoed the mouse first time in 1968 using the Xerox Alto computer. He termed the demo as ‘Mother of all demos”.
The name ‘Mouse' was coined for the instrument as the cable sticking out of it reminded Engelbart of a rodent’s tail.
4. Wikipedia is maintained by thousands of bots
Most of today’s internet users are aware of what Wikipedia is. It is a vast collection of crowd-sourced information available online. It is common knowledge that the online encyclopedia is created and edited by volunteers.
But do you know that thousands of bots (automated programs) currently maintain the Wikipedia pages? Today, there are 2468 bot tasks approved to carry out maintenance jobs on more than 52 million English Wikipedia pages.
Wikipedia bots perform operations such as new page creation, spelling correction, style correction, etc. Bots can also revert the pages to the original version when edits are made due to vandalism.
Anyone with programming knowledge can easily create bots for Wikipedia. However, these programs need to be approved by the Bot Approval Group before they can maintain Wikipedia pages.
5. You can visit the world’s first webpage even today
Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist working at CERN, invented the World Wide Web in 1989. It took another two years for the world’s first website to make its appearance. The first webpage went live in 1991 and was hosted on a NeXT system at CERN.
The amazing fact is that the first website is still available for you to visit. It serves as a historical archive for everything available online about the World Wide Web. Click here to check it out.
6. Apple once forayed into the apparel business
Today Apple has made its distinguished name in everything they do. Take it the Mac OS, Macbook, iPod, or iPhone. The company always wants to create an isolated echo system and has successfully maintained it that way.
However, do you know Apple also had a clothing line in 1986? The collection was called ‘The Apple Collection’.It is unimaginable today that Apple was once into the apparel business. The company launched its catalog one year after Steve Jobs had left the company.
7. Google was up for sale in 1999
Larry Page wanted to sell Google to Excite in 1999. The deal was stuck around $750,000 and 1% of Excite. But then the deal fell apart. Today Google’s Market cap is over $700 billion.
There are two versions of the story around why Excite did not buy Google at that time.
As per the then Excite CEO George Bell, he rejected the deal because Larry Page insisted that Excite replace all its search technology with Google’s search technology.
However, as per the details given by Steven Levy in his book ‘In The Plex’ George Bell was not very happy with Google’s search algorithm’s excellent performance. Bell thought Google’s relevant search results might take the users away to other websites, making it harder to retain the users on their own Excite webpages.
If Excite were to host a search engine that instantly gave people information they sought, he explained, the users would leave the site instantly. Since his ad revenue came from people staying on the site — “stickiness” was the most desired metric in websites at the time — using BackRub’s technology would be counterproductive. —Steven Levy
8. Amazon.com is not the original name of the website
Jeff Bezos tried several different names for his business before he finalized on Amazon. The very first name he registered was Cadabra Inc. After some feedback about the name being too obscure, the entrepreneur decided to change the name to something different.
Bezos registered his website with many other names before arriving at the current version — amazon.com — recognized worldwide.
Some of the earlier domain names were aard.com, awake.com, browse.com, bookmall.com, and relentless.com. Among all these names, he still owns the name relentless.com. The site relentless.com however, redirects to amazon.com today.
9. Smoking can void your Apple product warranties
Do you know your Apple product can lose its warranty if you smoke near them? Apple has a policy to safeguard its technicians from any toxic work environment.
Tobacco tars settled on the systems are considered harmful. Hence, Apple can deny servicing your product even if they are in warranty if they believe that it has come into contact with tobacco smoke.
There is no warranty void clause written in the product documents. But there are numerous instances where the company has refused to honor the warranty on a product that has been exposed to smoke.
People have detailed their experiences with not being able to claim warranty repair on their Apple products due to findings of tobacco tars settled on the parts. If you want to stay safe and have a valid warranty on your Apple products, don’t let people smoke near any of them.
10. You can code programs using just whitespaces
Do you know that you can code using just whitespace?
The programming language that makes it possible is called ‘Whitespace’. All it takes to write a program in this language is to use the spaces, tabs, and linefeeds. The interpreter ignores any non-whitespace characters.
Copy the whole code from my gist file and execute it to check for yourself. It is as easy as copying the lines from #3 to #70, going to this site, pasting it in the ‘code’ block, and hitting Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Cmd +Enter (Mac) on your keyboard to find the output.
It is super cool, right! You can use this to write programs that no one can read or understand unless they know that there is something written on a seemingly blank notepad.
That's all for now, folks.
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