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Did You Know? 26 Technology Facts

digital media

This article was originally written and posted by Lauren Drell from Mashable on November 26, 2012.

Technology is a wonderful thing, and those who have access to it often take it for granted. We snap photos and share JPEGs with friends family, not caring how JPEGs work or what it stands for, so long as it gets to the recipient. We marvel at spankin' new websites, often not understanding how HTML5 drives it. We use Siri, without appreciating that voice command was an evolution of Alexander Graham Bell's dictaphone. We type on QWERTY laptops and smartphones all day long, but why are the letters arranged like that?

Not one to take tech for granted, Mashable partnered with to bring readers a comprehensive guide to everyday technology. Below, we highlight one thing you probably didn't know, and there's more where that came from.

  • 1. Designer Jonathan Gay's 1996 product, FutureSplash Animator, later became Adobe Flash, currently a platform that supports the next generation of interactive web tools, including HTML5.

  • 2. JavaScript was first created by Brendan Eich at Netscape in 1995; it was nicknamed Mocha during development, and ultimately named JavaScript to piggyback on the popularity of Java (another programming language).

  • 3. In 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto released the first Bitcoin client and issued the first Bitcoins.

  • 4. Broadband is defined by various standards as being capable of transmitting data at 1.5 or 2 Megabits (Mbits) per second — this type of speed is necessary for streaming high definition video, playing online games and sending and receiving large amounts of data.

  • 5. Siri, do you know the history of voice command? Back in the 1870s, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, and Alexander Graham Bell and two associates worked on a “dictaphone.”

  • 6. Web HyperText Application Technology Working Group (WHAT) member Ian Hickson wrote and released the first draft of HTML5 in 2008.

  • 7. The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978, and the full constellation of 24 became operational in 1995.

  • 8. Steve Wilhite of Compuserve debuted the GIFs in June 1987. Bet he didn't foresee this.

  • 9. Phillip Katz invented the ZIP file in 1986, and it was first implemented with the PKZip program for Katz’s company, PKWare, Inc.

  • 10. Emoticons were reportedly first used on September 19, 1982, by Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University. He created a happy face and a sad face with a colon, a hyphen and parentheses.

  • 11. QWERTY Keyboards were designed by Christopher Sholes, who invented the typewriter in 1868. However, alternative keyboard layouts, like the Dvorak and the Capewell, abound.

  • 12. When it comes to Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGS), World of Warcraft is top dog. The game has more than 10 million active players and has generated billions of dollars in revenue for owner Activision Blizzard since it launched in late 2004.

  • 13. The IBM Simon was the first phone with a touchscreen, released in 1992. It’s referred to as the first “smartphone,” though the term was not yet coined.

  • 14. Style sheet languages have existed since the 1980s, but the standardization and implementation of Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS in 1996 solidified it as one of the go-to languages for web development.

  • 15. Bluetooth was named for a Danish king who united disparate territories.

  • 16. TCP/IP — which allows computers to connect to one another and for applications to send data back and forth — was originally developed by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, while under contract at the U.S. Department of Defense.

  • 17. Comic Sans was designed by former Microsoft font designer Vincent Connare, who also created other notable fonts, such as Trebuchet and some of the Wingdings.

  • 18. Theodore George Paraskevakos patented the basic smartphone concept in 1974.

  • 19. The potential of MP3 was realized when the a capella song “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega [Spotify link] could be coded, compressed and replayed without distorting Vega’s voice, says audio engineer Karlheinz Brandenberg.

  • 20. Wi-Fi isn't short for anything — it was one of 10 brand name options from consultancy Interbrand.

  • 21. More than 3 billion USB products are shipped every year.

  • 22. The first computer mouse was wooden.

  • 23. JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the professional group that developed the JPEG standard.

  • 24. Text Messaging, or SMS, was developed in the Franco-German GSM cooperation in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert.

  • 25. Morton Heilig, the “Father of Virtual reality,” patented the Sensorama Stimulator on Aug. 28, 1962. This evolved into augmented reality.

  • 26. In 1910, Nathaniel Baldwin invented headphones in the kitchen of his Utah home.

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