This year's '25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries'

Having written about three of them already - the CD, the emoticon, and CTIA - I couldn't resist compiling this list of 2007's geekiest silver anniversaries. In alphabetical order:

1. Adobe

As this PC World writer puts it: "Imagine a world without Photoshop or PDF. Heck, without digital fonts and desktop publishing and the ability to print graphics on a desktop printer. Imagine a world without Adobe." ... Hard to imagine, though I'm pretty sure John Lennon did a song about PDF.

Did you know? ... That Adobe Flash features hidden games you can access by clicking "help," then "About Flash Professional," at which point you'll see "Macromedia Flash Professional 8" and need to hit the letter "i" on the word Macromedia a few times. One of our art guys says you'll get Breakthrough, Gold Rush, Asteroid Blaster, Lunar Lander, Gary's Bike Jump, and Flash Blox for your troubles.

2. Bladerunner

Must admit right up front that I've never seen this movie, but that doesn't prevent me from knowing it belongs on this list. From IMDB: "In a cyberpunk vision of the future, man has developed the technology to create replicants, human clones used to serve in the colonies outside Earth but with fixed life spans. In Los Angeles, 2019, Deckard is a Blade Runner, a cop who specializes in terminating replicants. Originally in retirement, he is forced to re-enter the force when five replicants escape from an offworld colony to Earth." I hate it when that happens. ... Maybe I'll carve out the 117 minutes before the movie's golden anniversary in 2032.

Did you know? .... Dustin Hoffman was the first choice to play Harrison Ford's Deckard.

3. Casio G-shock watches

From the company's press release: "Casio America, Inc., announced the release of their 25th Anniversary G-Shock - DW5025B-7. Based on the original G-Shock design and updated with a stylish white band and bezel with gold accents and a 25th anniversary logo engraved backcase, this model is the first to be released within G-Shock's 25th Anniversary series." Described as "virtually shock proof," the watch was supposed to be able to withstand a three-story drop, which begs the question: Why would anyone drop their watch from a three-story building?

Did you know? ... Casio has an official corporate "Philosophy," "Charter of Creativity" and "Code of Conduct." Wonder if anyone's ever read all three?

4. Commodore C-64

Wikipedia says: "The Commodore 64 is the best-selling single personal computer model of all time.[1] A pre-production Commodore 64 was first introduced at the winter Consumer Electronics Show in January 1982 by the manufacturer, Commodore International. It was later released in August 1982 at a price of $595. The Commodore 64 is commonly referred to as the C64 (sometimes written C= 64 to mimic the Commodore company logo) and occasionally known as CBM 64 (Commodore Business Machines Model number 64), or VIC-64[2]. It has also been affectionately nicknamed the ‘breadbox' and ‘bullnose' due to its shape." ... If those are the affectionate nicknames I'd hate to hear the mean ones.

Did you know? ... A C-64 screen is seen in the intro movie for the video game "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City."

5. Compact discs

This one received widespread media attention back in August, including right here at Buzzblog. The headline I wrote on that item pretty much summed up my reaction to the anniversary: "The CD turns 25 and I'm getting old."

Did you know? ... More than 200 billion CDs have been sold over the past 25 years despite the fact I haven't bought one since the first Clinton Administration.

6. CompTIA

To mark the organization's 25th anniversary, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) conducted a survey to determine the "most influential" product of the past quarter century. The winner - Internet Explorer - was not exactly met with rousing applause from the readership of this blog. As for CompTIA, here's what the organization has to say for itself in this its silvery year: "Just as the information technology (IT) industry it serves has grown, CompTIA has also enjoyed remarkable growth over the past 25 years. The organization was founded by representatives of five micro-computer dealerships working together to find better ways to do business. Today, CompTIA has more than 22,000 member companies in over 100 countries around the world; and serves as the voice of the world's $1 trillion-plus IT industry."

Did you know? ... That of the Top 5 "most influential" products in that CompTIA survey, only one was not made by Microsoft: That would be Apple's iPod.

7. Computer virus

Perhaps the most controversial of 2007's Geekiest 25th Anniversaries, newspapers worldwide ran with this Associated Press story a few weeks ago: "What began as a ninth-grade prank, a way to trick already-suspicious friends who had fallen for his earlier practical jokes, has earned Rich Skrenta notoriety as the first person ever to let loose a personal computer virus. ... Although during the next 25 years, Skrenta started the online news business Topix, helped launch a collaborative Web directory now owned by Time Warner Inc.'s Netscape and wrote countless other computer programs, he is still remembered most for unleashing the 'Elk Cloner' virus on the world. 'It was some dumb little practical joke,' Skrenta, now 40, said in an interview." ... Moreover, not everyone is willing to grant Skrenta pioneer status here.

Did you know? ... "Elk Cloner" displayed a poem that read:

Elk Cloner: The program with a personality

It will get on all your disks

It will infiltrate your chips

Yes it's Cloner!

It will stick to you like glue

It will modify RAM too.

Send in the Cloner!

8. Deore XT mountain bike

"Much has happened since 1982, but Deore XT is still regarded as the benchmark of mountain bike technology. With an extensive product range, Deore XT still excels in innovation, quality and performance." Or so says Canadian Cyclist Daily News; what do I know from mountain bikes? I asked our resident cycling expert, Senior Editor John Fontana, whether he agreed with the above assessment. His reply: "Gear heads will always argue, but I would say this is generally accepted. Shimano has been the top mountain bike component set for some time. The new top of the line is the Deore XTR. ... Gonna hit the dirt and donate some skin to the trail gods?" Uh, not in this lifetime, John.

Did you know? ... Shimano may be best known for bike gear, but the company derives a full quarter of its revenue from peddling fishing tackle.

9. Diet Coke

You say there's no geek angle to Diet Coke? ... I've got four words for you: Diet Coke and Mentos.

Did you know? ... From the beginning, Diet Coke has had a confident, sophisticated voice that epitomizes adult style and a life well lived. ... Really, it says so right here in the press release, which may well be the single most saccharine piece of puffery I've ever read.

10. Emoticons

Carnegie Mellon computer science professor Scott Fahlman - the Father of the Emoticon - told me in July that "it's a weird thing to be famous for, but it's nice to be famous for something." In that interview, Fahlman talked about the venom that Penn Jillette has spewed over his creation, as well as the conversion of author Neal Stephenson from a critic to a fan. Our unscientific online survey showed surprisingly strong support for use of emoticons - as in 75% approval.

Did you know? ... Fahlman's original smiley-related message can be read here.

11. EPCOT

From the good folks at Disney: "Epcot, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, opened in Orlando, Florida on Oct. 1, 1982. This park was designed to 'entertain, inform and inspire.' This showplace of technology and cultural diversity, is a blend of the educational as well as the entertaining. In planning the development of Epcot, Walt Disney said that Epcot would never be completed and would 'always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems.' " ... My wife and I argue periodically about whether we someday will be taking our children, 6-year-old triplets, to Disney World or not. She's hates all things Disney, but I'm presuming that she'll eventually come around on this point.

Did you know? ... The original Epcot site had to be moved "300 feet to avoid the nesting grounds of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker."

12. Lawnchair Larry's famous flight

Lawrence Richard Walters, a.k.a. "Lawnchair Larry," who died in 1993, earned his way onto this list 11 years before his passing. Wikipedia reports: "He took flight on July 2, 1982 in a homemade aircraft, dubbed Inspiration I, that he had fashioned out of a Sears patio chair and 45 helium-filled weather balloons. He rose to an altitude of 16,000 feet (3 miles) and floated from his point of origin in San Pedro, California into federal airspace near Long Beach airport. The account of his flight was widely reported in newspapers."

Did you know? ... Lawnchair Larry was arrested and fined $4,000 for his little stunt ... and I'll bet he went to his grave considering it money well spent.

13. Microsoft Hardware

Don't shoot the messenger. Microsoft's marketing machine reports: "What began in 1982 with a Microsoft Mouse designed to easily navigate Microsoft Corp.'s first version of Microsoft Word has grown to an extensive lineup of innovative, indispensable products for today's computer-centered lifestyle. Microsoft Hardware is celebrating its 25th anniversary of staying ahead of the computing curve by delivering groundbreaking peripherals that make the software and services experience better and easier. In recent years, Microsoft tapped the Microsoft Hardware Group's rich heritage of hardware innovation as it developed the Xbox(R) video game system, Zune(TM) digital media player and the new multi-touch technology breakthrough, Microsoft Surface(TM)."

Did you know? ... The first Microsoft Mouse was nicknamed "green-eyed mouse" because it had two ... guess what color buttons?

14. MIT pops Harvard-Yale balloon

My personal favorite on this list. From MIT's Technology Review: "During the second quarter of the Harvard-Yale football game on November 20, 1982, a big black balloon with 'MIT' written all over it suddenly emerged from the Harvard Stadium field. 'The two teams were lined up when suddenly our attention shifted toward the sideline,' remembers MIT Museum science and technology curator Deborah Douglas, who was there. 'That's when we saw it. Everyone was trying to make out what was written on the balloon. Some of the Harvard police seemed to draw their guns. And then suddenly it exploded.' " ... Not even a bunch of MIT frat boys would dare pull a stunt like that today. Sad.

Did you know? ... Harvard on that day went on to kick the elitism out of Yale, 45-7.

15. Ms. PAC-MAN

Namco marketing lets us know the true meaning of a 25th anniversary: "In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Ms. PAC-MAN([R]), Namco Networks, a leading publisher and developer of wireless games and content, today announced the availability of Ms. PAC-MAN on the iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) for fans to purchase and download for play on the fifth generation iPod. She joins PAC-MAN, which launched last September on iTunes, and is expected to be another must-have for iPod owners. Ms. PAC-MAN is available for purchase for $4.99 on the iTunes Store."

Did you know? ... That PAC-MAN and Ms. PAC-MAN can't stand to be in the same room with each other?

16. New Horizons Computer Learning Centers

Says of itself: "New Horizons was founded as a one-classroom facility in 1982 and now exceeds 280 training centers in 56 countries. In 1982, New Horizons offered desktop applications training via traditional classroom training. Today, New Horizons has evolved its training offering to include Information Technology, Professional Skills, Healthcare, English Language as well as applications courses through multiple formats and delivery methods including traditional Classroom Learning, On-Site Learning, Online LIVE Learning, Online ANYTIME Learning and our newest delivery method, Mentored Learning."

Did you know? ... New Horizons is like McDonald's in that you can actually buy a franchise.

17. Nike Air Force Ones

And you thought sneakers were just sneakers. A site called "Nice Kicks" sets us straight: "Bruce Kilgore designed the Nike Air Force Ones back in the early 80s and the first model released publicly in 1982. At the time, the Air Force Ones were groundbreaking - they were the first basketball shoe to have the Nike Air cushioning. Though an EAU (encapsulated air unit) the size of a quarter doesn't mean much today, it was such a breakthrough for its time. ... Ground breaking technology is something that Bruce Kilgore is known for around the office in Oregon. He is in fact the Director of Advanced Research and Development at Nike and was behind not only the Air Force Ones, but also the Air Jordan 2, the Nike Dunks, and the Shox - a project which lasted 16 years!"

Did you know? ... That my sneaker of choice in high school was the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star, white canvas, high-top, primarily because my high school had given me a free pair upon making the basketball team. At the time (1973), getting free sneakers seemed like just about the best thing imaginable.

18. Orbital Sciences Corp.

They make rockets, man; how cool is that? "Since its founding in 1982, the company has been among the space industry's most active developers and manufacturers of launch vehicles and space systems. Its operational accomplishments during the past quarter-century have involved selling, designing and building 772 rockets and space systems. This total includes 583 launch vehicles, missiles, satellites and other space systems completed and delivered to date, plus 189 satellites, rockets and related systems currently under firm contracts with customer deliveries scheduled from 2007 to 2012."

Did you know? ... Orbital completed its 500th mission in 2005.

19. Permanent artificial heart

From Wikipedia: "The first patented artificial heart was invented by Paul Winchell in 1963. Winchell subsequently assigned the patent to the University of Utah, where Robert Jarvik ultimately used it as the model for his Jarvik-7. Jarvik's designs improved the device, but his patients succumbed after brief trials. His first Jarvik-7 patient, 61-year-old retired dentist Barney Clark, survived for 112 days after it was implanted at the University of Utah on December 2, 1982. One of the innovations of the Jarvik-7 was the inner coating of rough material, developed by David Gernes. This coating helped the blood to clot and coat the inside of the device, enabling a more natural blood flow."

Did you know? ... Clark complained bitterly after his surgery that he wasn't being given enough pain medication, a contention Jarvik years later conceded was both true and an intentional gesture of retaliation in behalf of dental patients everywhere. (Of course, I made that up.)

20. Rec. ITU-R BT.601

Translation: digital TV. "In February 1982, 25 years ago, the CCIR Plenary Assembly approved this as Draft Rec. AA/11 'Encoding Parameters for Digital Television for Studios,' which became 'ITU-R Rec. 601.' ... Rec. 601 became the most quoted, most used, technical document in the history of the media. It is the basis for all television today, including not only conventional quality video, but also higher quality forms 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. Its application will stretch far into the future.

Did you know? ... It won an Emmy for "Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development."

21. Space Camp

It was a big year for space stuff. From the Space Camp site: Founded in 1982, SPACE CAMP and AVIATION CHALLENGE (1990), located in Huntsville, Alabama, use space and aviation as a platform to excite and educate children ages 7-18, in the fields of math, science and technology.

Did you know? ... Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, who attended as a high school freshman in 1989, was the first camp graduate to become an honest-to-goodness NASA astronaut, and Samantha Rice this June became camper number 500,000.

22. Sun Microsystems

Blogger/CEO Jonathan Schwartz writes: "For 25 years we've recognized that open, standards-based technologies create market opportunity for ourselves as well as our customers, partners and the communities in which we participate. For 25 years our actions and innovations foretold a world where the network is the computer. And I find it simply staggering how real that vision has become." Sun has assembled a list of "25 Fun Artifacts" (.pdf) from the company archives, including Scott McNealy's lucky tie.

Did you know? ... That Schwartz has been known to blog on the wrong side of midnight.

23. The Weather Channel

I've never understood the public's need to have oodles of weather information every hour or every day. But The Weather Channel has them covered: "In the past 25 years, The Weather Channel has also evolved by embracing new technologies, which has enabled it to expand on many different platforms. The Weather Channel Interactive, which includes weather.com, distributes weather software applications, podcasts, desktop applications, RSS feeds, toolbars, and screensavers. Weather.com, the network's Web site, launched in 1995, ranks among the top 15 most popular Web sites, reaching more than 30 million unique visitors per month. The Weather Channel Mobile, which produces text, graphical and video weather content for mobile devices in all formats and distributes to all top U.S. wireless carriers, is one of the top five most actively used mobile information services, reaching nearly four million mobile users monthly."

Did you know? ... You can watch The Weather Channel's very first minute on air here.

24. Tron (the movie)

I don't play video games (although that may have to change) so this is another one making the list on name recognition alone. Slashdot bails me out on this one: "I have an article in today's Summer Film Preview issue of Los Angeles CityBeat on Disney's sci-fi classic Tron, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The piece includes a discussion with Richard Taylor, one of Tron's visual effects supervisors on the film's groundbreaking effects, as well as director Steven Lisberger, on how the narrative incorporates the Jungian concept of individuation. Here's a sample: 'Visual Effects Society member Gene Kozicki, of the L.A.-based visual effects house Rhythm & Hues, believes Tron's legacy was in moving computer-generated visuals into the realm of storytelling. 'Research into this type of imagery had been going on for over 15 years, but it was more scientific in nature,' Kozicki says, 'Once artists began to share their ideas and treat the computer as a tool, it moved away from strict research and towards an art form.' "

Did you know? ... Yori's headgear changes to a male's helmet while on the Solar Sailer, and back to a female's covering when she is off the Sailer (from IMDB).

25. USA Today

Truth be told, I was one of those old-school journalists (albeit a 20-something one) who ridiculed USA Today in its formative years. We've both matured. From a New York Times profile commemorating McPaper's 25th: "USA Today's graphic approach, its relatively young audience and its habit of encouraging reader feedback presaged some aspects of the Internet, though it remains to be seen whether its status as a popular innovator will carry into the online future. Since its Web site was overhauled early this year, readers have been able to post comments on all articles, look up every comment by a particular reader and start conversations among themselves."

Did you know: ... USA Today circulates 2.3 million copies per day - most of any U.S. newspaper - and half of those are distributed in hotels.

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