Test Your Nerd Knowledge: Aug. 25, 2022

Here’s a review of this week’s questions:

  1. What networking tool is defined as “a modular 8-position, 8-contact interface deployed for Ethernet over copper networking cable”?
  2. What product became the first commercial e-reader device in 1997?
  3. What is the name of the digital audio workstation, developed by UC Berkeley students, that is used for music creation, production, editing and recording?


And here are the answers:

  1. Answer: RJ45. The “Registered Jack,” or RJ connector, as it became known, was created in 1976 to allow an 8-wire interface, primarily between telephones and computer hardware. These connectors eventually evolved to include specific pin assignments, which helped transmit Ethernet over twisted pair, which was plugged into a port originally referred to as 8P8C. There are over 40 official recognized types of registered jacks currently in use across countless tech formats. 
  2. Answer: Rocket eBook. Legend has it that the first iteration of the Rocket eBook, or Rocketbook, as it was sometimes called, was pitched to Jeff Bezos at Amazon, who passed. Undiscouraged, creators Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, founders of NuvoMedia, took a meeting a few days later with executives from Barnes & Noble, who did not pass on the device. A deal was reached that gave Barnes & Noble 50% ownership of the company, and eventually, over 20,000 units were sold that first year. Rocketbook has the distinction of being the first e-reader, but the misfortune of having dozens of other competitors jump into the fray  around the same time. By 2003, the Rocketbook was extinct. Barnes & Noble eventually rolled out the NOOK, and Amazon introduced the Kindle. In the late 90s, however, Eberhard and Tarpenning sat alone atop the pinnacle of the eBook universe.
  3. Answer: Pro Tools. Now a ubiquitous fixture in the music industry, Pro Tools, owned by Avid Technology, started with two friends and a drum machine in 1983. Peter Gotcher and Evan Brooks were studying the memory mapping of the E-mu Drumulator while students at UC Berkeley. They took their idea for sound replacement chips, morphed it into an editing system called Sound Designer, and released it in 1985 at a retail price of $995.00. This led to Pro Tools, launched in 1990, which combined an editor and a mixer and was available as a software application that sold more than 8,000 units that year. The product was continuously reinvented and refined throughout the years, culminating with today’s version, Pro Tools 2021.12, which can mix and record as many as 2048 voices and 2048 music tracks. Classic albums like Beck’s “Odelay” and Radiohead’s “Kid A” are among the most well-known musical works recorded on Pro Tools.