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How the Clapper Came to Define Modern Home Automation

The Clapper was in the same category—and owned by the same guy—as the Chia Pet. Nonetheless, the somewhat primitive device introduced millions of people to the idea of simple home automation. Would we have Alexa without it?
Ernie Smith
5.21.18
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Tedium

The Art of Soldering

The story of solder, the unsung hero of the digital revolution that benefits from a low melting point. It’s what keeps the circuits attached to the silicon.
Ernie Smith
4.13.18
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Tedium

The Real Industry Behind Fake Electronics

The history of the fake electronics that you sometimes see in furniture stores or in houses for sale. No, that 60-inch flat-screen TV doesn’t turn on.
Ernie Smith
4.11.18
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Tedium

How Did Our Default Ringtones Become So Grating?

The evolution of the modern cell phone ringtone—and the Ukrainian guy who wants to give Apple’s default noises a refresh.
Ernie Smith
3.15.18
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Tedium

The Military-Industrial Complex Roots of GPS

The evolution of the global positioning system, the greatest non-internet idea to come out of the Space Race, and why the military initially hobbled it.
Ernie Smith
3.13.18
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Tedium

Why the PDF Is Secretly the World's Most Important File Format

The story of the PDF, the file format that’s become one of the internet’s defining information tools. It’ll be with us after we’re long gone.
Ernie Smith
3.5.18
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Tedium

3Dfx Brought the GPU Industry to Life But Didn't Live to See It Thrive

In a few short years, the graphics card company 3Dfx Interactive provided a polygon-laden shock to the PC world—then fell apart, fast. What happened?
Ernie Smith
2.16.18
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Tedium

Why Did Slack Win Out Over IRC, Anyway?

Internet Relay Chat beat Slack to real-time chat by decades and helped define much of our early online culture, yet way more people use Slack. Why is that?
Ernie Smith
2.13.18
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Tedium

How File Sharing Broke the Internet’s First Forum

Usenet—a formative online protocol intended for conversations—was forever changed once the public figured out you could transfer binary files through it.
Ernie Smith
2.6.18
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Tedium

Google’s Forgotten Service: How FeedBurner Became a Zombie

Why FeedBurner, a service that Google once bought for $100 million, has become the one service it literally can’t kill.
Ernie Smith
2.5.18
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Tedium

The Tale of the Free-Net, the Cheap Way Dial-Up Users Got Online

In the 80s, a defining online phenomenon—being able to use the internet for free—came from (of all places) Cleveland. Here’s the story of the Free-Net.
Ernie Smith
1.20.18
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Tedium

The Story of the Trackball, Canada's Earliest Gift to Computing

The evolution of the trackball, which is more than an upside-down mouse. It's the Royal Canadian Navy’s greatest contribution to modern-day computing. Really.
Ernie Smith
1.17.18