The world is full of urban legends, and the technological world is no exception. While device or software rumors usually make up the largest portion of these, they are temporary as any rumors are proven correct or incorrect whenever official announcements are made or when the device/software is actually released.
However, there are always a few tech myths which are much more complex, and the truths about them are hidden deep inside the Internet.
640K Is Enough Memory!
The first urban legend of the tech world is that Bill Gates supposedly said that 640K was more memory that anyone would ever need. Gates never actually said this, and was even quoted saying, “I’ve said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time.” Instead, the phrase came about when a Wired column offered free software to anyone who supposedly “remembered” Gates saying it. Either way, we all know by now that 640K is far from enough, and there’s no better way to fill up your memory with some of the best Windows software!
Microsoft Stole Apple’s UI
Continuing on another Bill Gates myth, many people have claimed that Gates stole user interface elements from Apple for use in Microsoft’s Windows. Many of the user interface elements, such as resizeable, overlapping windows with title bars, were actually licensed from Apple to be used in Microsoft’s Windows 1.0. However, Microsoft continued to use these user interface elements in future releases of Windows, and Apple complained saying that the license agreement lasted for only one release of Windows. During the following lawsuit, Gates claimed, “We’re saying that these graphic interface techniques, the ideas, are not copyrightable.” The judge eventually sided with Microsoft, so as far as the legal system is concerned, Microsoft stole nothing.
“Software Bug” Was First Used After Finding A Moth
Unlike what most people believe, the first use of the term “software bug” did not happen in 1947 by Grace Hopper. Not only was she not the person who actually found the moth stuck in the Harvard computer, but the first use of “bug” as related to algorithmic issues dated to as early as 1878 by Thomas Edison with the quote “It has been just so in all of my inventions. The first step is an intuition, and comes with a burst, then difficulties arise — this thing gives out and [it is] then that “Bugs” — as such little faults and difficulties are called — show themselves and months of intense watching, study and labor are requisite before commercial success or failure is certainly reached.” Mentions of the same idea as a software bug came as early as 1848 as Ada Lovelace was quoted saying, “an analyzing process must equally have been performed in order to furnish the Analytical Engine with the necessary operative data; and that herein may also lie a possible source of error. Granted that the actual mechanism is unerring in its processes, the cards may give it wrong orders.”
Android Is Completely Open Source
Sadly, another common misconception is that Android is an entirely open source project. While it is certainly more open than iOS with plenty of great Android apps and Android games, there are a number of things which make Android less open source than we may believe. For example, phone manufacturers usually load their own custom user interface modifications to Android, which tend to be closed-source. Additionally, drivers need to be loaded onto the devices to support hardware such as the camera, and these are usually closed-source as well. Finally, just because the core operating system is open source, that doesn’t mean that any free applications are automatically open source as well.
Linus Torvalds Created The Linux Operating System
Last but not least, Linus Torvalds is commonly credited for the creation of the Linux operating system. However, this tech myth isn’t necessarily true. Torvalds is actually the creator of the Linux kernel — the package of software which take cares of core functions and communicates with the hardware. Linux operating systems are more properly called GNU/Linux, as all the software except for the kernel are collectively called GNU software — the desktop environment and any additional software installed on your computer are all GNU software. While GNU software is developed by the open source community, the founder of the GNU project is Richard Stallman. However, although it can be more properly called GNU/Linux, most people keep it short and simply call it Linux. There are also plenty of different Linux distributions, so it’s not just a single Linux operating system.
There are plenty of tech myths out in the world, and the only thing we can do is bust them one by one. Hopefully you have learned a little more about these urban legends so can correct your friends next time they mention any of these and look smart while doing so.
What other technological urban legends exist, and what’s the truth about them? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to provide sources to prove that you’re correct!