This week in tech, 20 years ago: March 24, 1998

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As a person who covers everyday technology news, I often wonder how it might affect someone in the future, and if someone will read it. I can not answer those questions, but I can do the following: look back at what other people wrote 20 years ago.
Here are five stories, large and small, that science and technology enthusiasts could have reviewed during the week before March 24, 1998.
"Internet Murder"
Vermont teenager Chris Marquis, according to media reports, was a high school dropout who lived with his mother. It was also an offensive and offensive CB radio troll that sold online radio equipment and cheated its customers. When their furious victims began to exchange reports, they fantasized in the talks about showing up at the door of their house and getting revenge. Unlike the vast majority of online threats, a person who hated Marquis turned out to be very serious about hurting him.
In March 1998, someone sent Marquis a package containing a pipe bomb. He shot himself when he opened it, killing him and seriously injuring his mother. The alleged culprit was a truck driver named Chris Dean, who had sent Marquis $ 800 worth of equipment for what turned out to be a cheap and broken radio. (Dean pleaded not guilty, but was sentenced to life in prison without parole.) Several months after Marquis's death, Scott Kirsner wrote a detailed story about the case, tracking down the forces that united Marquis and Dean.
The men who sold Mars
Long before Elon Musk began making jokes about colonizing space to build "Mars bars," three men from Yemen called themselves Martian real estate moguls. The men cited the mythology to claim that they were the historical owners of the planet, and after NASA got the rover Sojourner, they sued the agency for "invading Mars" in 1997.
As expected, NASA was not so worried. The agency said dryly to reporters that "Mars is a planet in the solar system that is owned by all mankind, not two or three types in Yemen." But the guys in question remained immovable, even after losing the case. In March of 1998, they began to "sell" Martian land for $ 2 per square meter, resurrecting their bizarre plan. Did someone really take the bait? Two decades later, we can only hope that it does not.
Goodbye, AOL Hub
March 24 was a sad day for the AOL Hub media site, which closed 20 years ago today. Founded in 1996, the Hub was designed for men of college age and was described as "nervous and not full of crap". He published material with titles like "Arousal Guide" and "Luscious Lists", although perhaps blessedly, I have not. he found what they really were.) He was even supposed to release a recording tag called "Hub Music," which allows him, in Wired's words, "to send singles through the network."
But in 1998, AOL was tired of making original material, and began to change associations. According to CNET, he also discovered that many college students did not even use AOL; They could reach the Internet through their schools. AOL merged with Time Warner just a couple of years later, and the battle to earn money through online media continues to this day.
"Joy on the information superhighway"
If you're nostalgic for the era when computer criminals were teenagers with cool names like "Jester" and "The Analyzer," instead of neo-Nazis or faceless state-sponsored social media agencies, it's worth noting that this week saw the first federal accusations for computer crimes against a minor. The unnamed hacker (who used the mentioned Jester handle) was accused of colliding a Bell Atlantic computer network and of knocking out an airport's telephone service in Massachusetts, along with service to 600 nearby homes.
The teenager reportedly obtained a plea agreement for probation and community service. But according to The New York Times, the case was a warning shot against children who were "mounted on the information superhighway."
At about the same time, Israeli police arrested Ehud Tenenbaum, an 18-year-old man accused of hacking networks belonging to the Pentagon, NASA and the US Air Force. UU., Among other objectives. Tenenbaum became an instant popular hero in Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described him as "dangerous" but also "damn good". A decade later, it came to light with another arrest, this time for a lucrative bank fraud operation.
Does anyone remember the OROM discs?
I do not remember anything of having heard about the Memory Storage Optical Read Only (OROM) discs, but people were very enthusiastic about them at least a week ago 20 years ago. According to CNET, startup Ioptics boasted that it could put "up to 128MB of information on a data card the size of a business card," at a cost of $ 2 to $ 3 per card, compared to $ 50 or more for a card. 4MB flash memory card. Ioptics was founded by the pioneer of CD-ROM technology James Russell, and was supported by Microsoft, among other investors. Unfortunately, discs the size of a business card were too big for the emerging mobile computing market, and the company disbanded almost exactly one year after the technology debuted.
I'm not sure if OROM tech turned it into some other storage system. But its news coverage reminds me of all the other articles I've seen (and written) about new products that silently hang and burn, but end up being commemorated in optimistic stories about their unlimited potential. It is one of the most distinctive elements of journalism focused on technology, and one of the things that makes it interesting to read decades later.


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