Tech History

February 3, 1986

First use of “Vaporware”

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The term “vaporware” is first used by Philip Elmer-DeWitt in a TIME magazine article.

In the computer industry, vaporware or vapourware is a product, typically computer hardware or software, that is announced to the general public but is never actually manufactured nor officially cancelled. Use of the word has broadened to include products such as automobiles.

Vaporware is often announced months or years before its purported release, with development details lacking. Developers have been accused of intentionally promoting vaporware to keep customers from switching to competing products that offer more features.Network World magazine called vaporware an “epidemic” in 1989, and blamed the press for not investigating whether developers’ claims were true. Seven major companies issued a report in 1990 saying they felt vaporware had hurt the industry’s credibility.

Time History

December 26, 1982

Man of the Year

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Time Magazine awards its “Man of the Year” award to the personal computer, calling it “Machine of the Year,” the first non-human to receive the award since its creation in 1927. Describing the personal computer as 1982’s “greatest influence for good or evil,” the article titled “The Computer Moves In,” recognizes that the capabilities of the personal computer can be multiplied almost indefinitely by connecting it to a network of other computers, which can be used to access electronic databases or send electronic mail.Time stated, “There are some occasions, though, when the most significant force in a year’s news is not a single individual but a process, and a widespread recognition by a whole society that this process is changing the course of all other processes. That is why, after weighing the ebb and flow of events around the world, TIME has decided that 1982 is the year of the computer.”