Computer history - 1996

Updated: 11/12/2023 by Computer Hope

Major computer events in 1996

Notification for new e-mail.

For the first time, more e-mail was sent than postal mail in the USA.

The first CSS (cascading style sheets) specification, CSS 1, was published by the W3C in December 1996.

The first commercial USB (universal serial bus) cable and port were released in January 1996.

Other computer events in 1996

The CDA (Communication Decency Act) amendment to the U.S. 1996 Telecommunications Act went into effect on February 8, 1996, more commonly known as "Black Thursday." The law was created to protect children from Internet obscenity, but many Internet users argued that its language was too vague and violated free speech rights. Protesters against the law turned their web pages black and displayed blue ribbon icons downloaded from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The first NetDay was held on March 9, 1996.

In April 1996, Jennifer Kaye Ringley installed her first webcam, which became part of the website known as JenniCam. The site contained several webcams throughout her house, allowing anyone to log in to her web page and view updated images every three minutes. The site was later closed in 2003.

WebTV was introduced on July 10, 1996, allowing users to browse the web from their TV.

Sierra Semiconductor Corporation announced its intention to exit from the modem business to focus on its existing networking and infrastructure semiconductor business on August 28, 1996.

In September 1996, UsRobotics (3COM) submitted the first V.90 56k proposal to ITU (International Telecommunication Union).

K56Flex was announced in November 1996 by Lucent and Rockwell.

Beginning November 1, 1996, all FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) records must be available online.

The United States patent 5,579,430 was granted on November 26, 1996, for the digital encoding process of an MP3.

The ATSC approved HDTV (high-definition television) on December 24, 1996.

The OCaml programming language was introduced in 1996.

IPv6 was introduced in 1996.

The Telecom Act deregulated data networks in 1996. was created by Garrett Gruener and David Warthen and introduced in 1996.

Laptop computers started featuring ZV (zoomed video) ports in 1996.

The first commercial microbrowser, NetHopper, was released in 1996.

The U.S. Postal Services released a new stamp commemorating the 50th birthday of the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) in 1996.

MSNBC (Microsoft NBC) made its debut in 1996.

Craig Newmark moved his Craigslist to a website in 1996.

Sony entered the PC (personal computer) market with the release of VAIO in 1996.

ATA-2 was approved by ANSI in 1996.

Dr. Thomas Pabst started the Tom's Hardware website in 1996.

A domestic sheep named Dolly was born and became the first mammal to be cloned.

Li-polymer batteries began being used in 1996.

Yahooligans! that became Yahoo! Kids, was introduced in 1996.

HTTP/1.0 was specified in RFC 1945 and introduced in 1996.

What started as a Usenet, IMDb (Internet Movie Database) became incorporated as the Internet Movie Database, Ltd. in 1996.

Google was introduced by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1996.

KDE (K Desktop Environment) started to be developed by Matthias Ettrich in 1996.

AT&T introduced Worldnet in 1996.

Chess master Garry Kasparov defeated IBM computer Deep Blue in a six-game match, where it lost four games to two. It would later be improved and defeat Garry in 1997.

The Mining Company, now known as, was founded in 1996.

Creative Labs introduced the 3D Blaster card, its first graphics card to be released to the computer market.

U.S. Robotics PalmPilot with Palm OS (operating system) was announced in 1996.

Tandy announced in 1996 that it was either selling or closing all 17 Incredible Universe stores and 19 of its Computer City stores.

DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random-access memory) began being sold in 1996.

Acer America Corporation introduced its designer home PCs in 1996.

The Scunthorpe problem was first encountered in 1996 when an AOL (America Online) swearword filter blocked users living in Scunthorpe from creating accounts because of the obscene keyword in that town's name.

Netscape engineer Jarrett Ridlinghafer was the first to offer a financial incentive (bug bounty) to any employee who could find undiscovered bugs in the Netscape web browser.

The social networking website was created in 1996 by Jane Mount and Dan Pelson and is considered the first semi-social network.

A group of cDc (Cult of the Dead Cow) members created Ninja Strike Force in 1996.

Tux the Linux penguin.

The Tux penguin was introduced by Larry Ewing in 1996.

ReactOS began development in 1996.

SCSI-3 was approved in 1996 as ANSI (American National Standards Institute) X3.270-1996.

New computer products and services introduced in 1996

The first Java Development Kit (JDK 1.0) code-named oak was released on January 23, 1996.

The game Duke Nukem 3D was released on January 29, 1996.

AMD introduced the K5 processor on March 27, 1996, with speeds of 75 MHz to 133 MHz and bus speeds of 50 MHz, 60 MHz, or 66 MHz. The K5 was the first processor developed completely in-house by AMD.

The ABUSE game was released in March 1996.

Alexa was introduced in April 1996.

The gzip file format was first specified in Internet RFC 1952 in May 1996.

Microsoft released DirectX 2.0a ( that introduced Direct3D on June 5, 1996.

Microsoft released DirectX 3.0 ( on June 5, 1996.

Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 was released on July 29, 1996.

The first official release of OpenBSD was version 1.2 in July 1996.

IBM announces the Aptiva S Series, the first home computer that lets people place the monitor and media drives on the desk and tuck the tower out of the way

Microsoft released Internet Explorer 3.0 on August 13, 1996.

Microsoft Windows 95 (4.00.950B), aka OSR2 with FAT32 and MMX (MultiMedia eXtension) support was released on August 24, 1996.

The first Tomb Raider game was released on October 25, 1996, by Eidos. The main character, Lara Croft, was inducted into the Walk of Game and recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Successful Human Virtual Game Heroine." The Tomb Raider game series was popular enough to influence the release of two movies that grossed over $430 million worldwide.

Adobe Photoshop 4.0 was released in November 1996.

The messaging program ICQ was released on November 15, 1996.

Blizzard released the original Diablo game on December 27, 1996.

AROS (AROS research operating system) was released in 1996.

Microsoft Windows CE 1.0 was released as a portable operating system solution on November 16, 1996.

The image tool IrfanView was released.

IBM became the first major company to introduce a network computer, the IBM Network Station, a desktop providing access to networked applications and processing power while reducing costs.

Sun Microsystems released its line of network computers in 1996.

The Internet Archive was founded in 1996.

Microsoft introduced the website Expedia.

The Gearheads game was released in 1996.

Hitachi released the first IPS (in-panel switching or intrusion prevention system) display in 1996.

The program httpget was released in 1996, the program would later be renamed to urlget and then cURL.

Intel released the 200 MHz P6 in 1996.

Microsoft released ActiveSync for desktop computers and mobile devices in 1996.

Microsoft introduced the IntelliMouse, also known as a wheel mouse in 1996.

Microsoft VBScript was introduced in 1996.

The file format PNG (portable network graphics) was introduced on January 10, 1996.

The NewsPad project was started in 1994 by the European Union, to develop a device to deliver news electronically to users. Acorn Computers developed a touch screen tablet device named the NewsPad, for the project. The NewsPad was released in Spain in 1996 as a pilot program, but ended the program in 1997.

ReactOS began development in 1996.

Seagate introduced the first 10,000 RPM (revolutions per minute) hard drive in 1996.

Texas Instruments released the TI-83, which became a popular graphing calculator.

Windows Sysinternals was introduced in 1996.

The web browser Hotjava became the first web browser capable of supporting Java applets in 1996.

Dell released the XPS H series in 1996.

Internet domains that came online in 1996

The domain came online on January 5, 1996.

The domain came online on February 22, 1996.

Discontinued products and services in 1996

After purchasing Paradise, Western Digital announced it would discontinue all product support on January 1, 1996.

CREN (Corporation for Research and Educational Networking) ended its support in 1996, and since then, the network has ceased to exist.

Most gopher servers began being converted to the World Wide Web or taken offline in 1996.

Computer companies founded in 1996

Netgear was founded on January 8, 1996.

Juniper Networks was founded on February 6, 1996.

DAVICOM was founded in May 1996.

ACARD was founded in 1996.

Angelfire was founded in 1996.

AOpen was established in 1996.

Arescom was founded in 1996.

Aus.Linx was founded in 1996.

CyberLink was founded in 1996.

Deepcool was founded in 1996.

Doctor Byte was founded in 1996.

DreamHost was founded in 1996 by Dallas Bethune, Josh Jones, Michael Rodriguez, and Sage Weil.

Extreme Networks was founded in 1996 by Stephen Haddock, Herb Schneider, and Gordon Stitt.

Fujitsu PC Corporation was founded in 1996.

Frontier Design was founded in 1996.

Good Technology was founded in 1996.

Intex Technologies was founded in 1996.

Javasoft, a division of Sun Microsystems, was founded in 1996.

Lexar was founded in 1996 by Paul Wenz, John Reimer, Mike Liccardo, and Petro Estakhri.

Qwest was founded in 1996.

Soltek was founded in 1996.

Techlogic was founded in 1996.

TP-Link was founded in 1996 by Zhao Jianjun and Zhao Jiaxing.

Computer company events in 1996

On January 16, 1996, AMD acquired NexGen, a company founded by Thampy Thomas, who, with the help of other former Intel employees who helped create the 80486, created the Nx586.

Microsoft purchased Vermeer Technologies Inc. for $133 million on January 16, 1996. The company is a developer of the website development tool FrontPage that Microsoft later released as its own program.

Seagate completed the merger of Conner Peripherals on February 5, 1996.

3M spun off its data storage business and created the Imation company in 1996.

Betrieve Technologies Inc. changed its name to Pervasive Software Inc. on July 1, 1996.

Hewlett-Packard announced it would no longer be manufacture hard drives on July 10, 1996.

Caldera acquired all DRI (Digital Research, Inc.) assets from Novell on July 23, 1996.

On July 24, 1996, Caldera filed a lawsuit against Microsoft for its alleged illegal activities and unfair practices in making MS-DOS and its successors, which it claimed used CP/M at their core.

Paradyne was sold to Texas Pacific Group in August 1996.

Macromedia purchased FutureWave and later released Macromedia Flash 1.0.

AT&T spun off the system and technology unit, which later renamed itself Lucent Technologies.

NEC merged its PC operations outside Japan with Packard Bell.

Apple stock sunk to a 10-year low of less than $18.00 a share.

On October 9, 1996, SBS Technologies, Inc. announced it had signed an agreement to acquire Bit 3 Computer Corporation for $24 million and became SBS Bit 3.

Alienware was founded in 1996 by Alex Aguila and Nelson Gonzalez.

Apple announced it would purchase NeXT and NeXTSTEP for $429 million and 1.5 million shares of Apple stock on December 20, 1996, and acquire Steve Jobs.

After suffering several financial losses, AST Research was acquired by Samsung on August 11, 1996.

Bit 3 became part of SBS Technologies in 1996.

Cray Research merged with SGI in 1996.

Corel acquired WordPerfect and Quattro Pro from Novell for $180 million.

IBM and Edmark Corporation, a developer and publisher of consumer and education software, completed its merger.

In 1996, Memorex filed for bankruptcy.

Phoenix acquired Virtual Chips Inc. in 1996.

Softkey changed its name to The Learning Company in 1996.

Weitek went out of business in 1996. After the bankruptcy, Weitek moved into the Brooktree division of Rockwell Semiconductor.

ZDS merged with Packard Bell/NEC in 1996.

Computer-related TV shows and movies released in 1996

The movie Twister became the first featured film put on DVD (digital versatile disc) on March 25, 1996.

Triumph of the Nerds was released on June 12, 1996.

The Site TV show was released on July 15, 1996, on MSNBC. The show was devoted to the Internet revolution and was hosted by Soledad O'Brien and an animated co-host Dev Null (voiced by Leo Laporte).

Computer pioneers born in 1996

Lee Sang-hyeok was born on May 7, 1996.

Jeffrey Lee Parson was born in 1996.

Computer pioneer deaths in 1996

Harlan Mills

Harlan Mills passed away on January 8, 1996 (Age: 77).

David Packard passed away on March 26, 1996 (Age: 83).

Gordon Brown passed away on August 23, 1996 (Age: 89).

Seymour Cray passed away on October 5, 1996 (Age: 71).

Helmut Hoelzer passed away on October 12, 1996 (Age: 84).

Paul Rand passed away on November 26, 1996 (Age: 82).

Charles Molnar passed away on December 13, 1996 (Age: 61).

Carl Sagan passed away on December 20, 1996 (Age: 62).

Gertrude Blanch passed away in 1996.

Cuthbert Hurd passed away in 1996.

« 1995 - Computer History - 1997 »