from the echoes dept
Five Years Ago
Hactivism was a big topic this week in 2011, especially after infamous group LulzSec announced that it would be disbanding. Australian telco giant Telstra was reconsidering its censorship plan due to hactivist fears, while the RIAA was unsurprisingly using hactivism as another reason to promote the PROTECT IP bill. Governments were struggling to address the issue, though some people were smart enough to point out that the best approach would be to examine their own policies. And, hot of the heels of the major Sony hack, the company was claiming it was targeted due to the fact that it enforces its intellectual property. As for the other high-profile Sony hacker, George Hotz, well — he was busy getting hired by Facebook.
Last week we talked about turntable.fm, the exciting new music service that we knew wasn't long for this world, and indeed this week it was blocked to all non-US users in the first step towards its demise. This was also the week that Prince made his bizarre statements about how digital music supposedly has a different effect on the brain. And, in ruling that was predictable but highly important, the Supreme Court struck down California's anti-violent-videogame law for violating the First Amendment.
Ten Years Ago
Before Sony was the victim of hackers, it was the hacker — or at least the hacker's friend — thanks to its horrible rootkit, and it was this week in 2006 that the authors of a virus leveraging that rootkit were arrested. At the same time, Microsoft was rolling out "Windows Genuine Advantage" and some were wondering if it would become the next such fiasco. And before the question of violent video games made it to the Supreme Court, the New York DA's office was pulling out all the stops in a desperate effort to find something to bring down Grand Theft Auto.
The net neutrality fight was raging too, but with a severe dearth of actual honest discussion. Cory Doctorow was suggesting a P2P-driven shaming system for bad broadband providers, while Senators were strutting their hypocrisy by opposing net neutrality regulation and supporting broadcast flag regulation in the same bill.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2001, before the days of WGA, Microsoft was trying out more mundane copy protection schemes and pissing off serious users of Microsoft Office. Rumors were beginning to spread about a Google IPO, though it wouldn't materialize for another three years. Amazon unveiled free shipping, but coupled with some quiet price hikes that mitigated the impact. And advertisers were scrambling to figure out how to make money off the instant messaging craze.
But no doubt the biggest tech news this week in 2001 was the fact that a federal appeals court reversed the antitrust decision that said Microsoft must be broken up. Of course, absolutely everyone had something to say about this fact, and we've still got a few more years left to fact-check Steward Alsop's prediction that Microsoft will fail in 2020 or 2021.
Forty-Two Years Ago
Today, barcodes are ubiquitous. They were conceived in the late 1940s, patented in the early 50s, and shopped around for some time after that before the critical development of the Universal Product Code that dominates the retail world. It was on June 26th, 1974 that the first UPC barcode was scanned at a retail checkout, ringing up the price of a 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum in Troy, Ohio.