On Dec. 17, 1903, Orville Wright took a short flight for a man, but a giant leap for mankind — as his strange-looking flying machine took off at Kitty Hawk, N.C. As brother Wilbur watched, Orville stayed aloft for 12 seconds, traveling a little more than 120 feet.
Wilbur and Orville made four flights that day, the longest one measuring 852 feet and lasting a full minute. They marked mankind’s first flights in a heavier-than-air machine — something that previously had been considered impossible.
And speaking of doing the impossible, less than a century later, Intel announced another kind of record. On Dec. 17, 1996, the company revealed that a computer it had assembled, using more than 9,000 Pentium processors (and costing $55 million), could perform more than 1 trillion calculations per second. That was two-and-a-half times faster than any computer that existed at the time.
To put it another way, it would take the entire population of the U.S., using hand calculators, 125 years to perform as many calculations as Intel’s computer could do in a second.
Today that machine would be considered slow.