Konrad Zuse earned the semi-official title of “inventor of the modern computer”.
Earlier he had invented a series of automatic calculators, to help him with his lengthy engineering calculations.
He wanted to overcome the difficulty of large calculation and started with the three basic elements he would need to make this Z1 computer: a control, a memory, and a calculator for arithmetic.
It was made in 1936, and he used it to explore several groundbreaking technologies in calculator development: floating-point arithmetic, high-capacity memory and modules or relays operating on the yes/no principle.
With each Z prototype, he succeeded more into it.
Z2 was completed in 1939, and was the first fully functioning electro-mechanical computer.
Z3 in 1941 was the world’s first electronic, fully programmable digital computer based on a binary floating-point number and switching system. He used old movie film to store his programs and data for the Z3. Paper was in short supply in Germany during the war.
The Universal Automatic Computer or UNIVAC was a computer milestone achieved by Dr. Presper Eckert and Dr. John Mauchly.
They started a computer business after leaving The Moore School of Engineering, and their first client was the United State Census Bureau.
The Bureau had needed a new computer to deal with the exploding population going on (Aka Baby Boomers).
April 1946, a $300,000 deposit was given to Eckert and Mauchly for the research into a new computer called UNIVAC.
The research has proceeded badly until 1948 that the actual design and contract was finalized.
On March 31, 1951, the Census Bureau accepted delivery of the first UNIVAC computer. Final constructing on it was close to 1 million dollars.
46 computers were built for both government and business uses.
The UNIVAC was a direct competitor with IBM’s computing equipment for the business market. The speed with which UNIVAC’s magnetic tape could input data faster than IBM’s punch card technology, but it was not until the presidential election of 1952 that the public accepted the UNIVAC’s abilities.
In a publicity stunt, the UNIVAC computer was used to predict the results of the Eisenhower-Stevenson presidential race. The computer correctly predicted that Eisenhower would win, but the news media decided to blackout the computer’s prediction and declared that the UNIVAC had been stumped. When the truth was revealed, it was considered amazing that a computer could do what political forecasters could not, and the UNIVAC became a household name.
(Picture in background is the chip in Germanium, which was Kilby's. Royce had his in silicon.)
Royce and Kilby were two scientists working on the same thing, yet not knowing what the other was doing.
These were made in 1958. In 1959, both parties applied for patents.
Jack Kilby and Texas Instruments received U.S. patents #3, 183,743 for miniaturized electronic circuits. Robert Noyce and the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation received U.S. patent #2,981, 877 for a silicon based integrated circuit.
The two companies wisely decided to cross license their technologies after several years of legal battles, creating a global market now worth about $1 trillion a year.
In 1961 the first commercially available integrated circuits came from the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation. Texas Instruments first used the chips in Air Force computers and the Minuteman missile in 1962. They later used the chips to produce the first electronic protable calculators.
Fun Fact: Noyce founded Intel and Kilby the inventor of the portable calculator.
It was in 1962 when a young computer programmer from MIT, Steve Russell fueled with inspirations from E.E. “Doc” Smith, led the team that created the first computer game, Spacewars.
It took the team about 200-man hours to write the first version of Spacewars.
Russell sadly never profited from Spacewars when it became a diagnostic program that regularly occurs on DEC comps.
Spacewars is a two-player game involving warring spaceships firing photon torpedoes. Each player can maneuver a spaceship and score by firing missiles at his opponent while avoiding the gravitational pull of the sun.
On November 10, 1983, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Microsoft Corporation formally announced Microsoft Windows, a next-generation operating system that would provide a graphical user interface (GUI) and a multi-tasking environment for IBM computers.
Windows might have been released under the original name of Interface Manager if marketing whiz, Rowland Hanson had not convinced Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates that Windows was a far better name.
Microsoft finally shipped Windows 1.0 on November 20, 1985, almost two years past the initially promised release date. I was considered buggy, crude, and slow. Before the date, Apple lawyers were already trying to sue them on the fact Windows 1.0 infringed on Apple’s copyrights and patents, and that the corporation stole Apple’s trade secrets. It had similar drop-down menus, tiled windows and mouse support.
Microsoft wrote the licensing agreement to include the use of Apple features in Microsoft Windows 1.0 and all future Microsoft software programs.
Windows 1.0 floundered on the market until January of 1987, when a Windows-compatible program called Aldus-PageMaker 1.0 was released. Later that year, Microsoft released a Windows-compatible spreadsheet called Excel. Other popular and useful software like Microsoft Word and Corel Draw helped promote Windows, however, Microsoft realized that Windows needed further development.
On December 9, 1987, Microsoft released a much-improved Windows 2.0 that made Windows-based computers look more like a Mac.
On May 22, 1990, the critically accepted Windows 3.0 was released. Three million copies were sold in the first year.
August 24, 1995, Windows 95 was released in a buying fever so great that even consumers without home computers bought copies of the program.
June 25, 1998, Microsoft released Windows 98. It was the last version based on the MS-DOS kernel.
Windows 2000 in 2000, Windows XP on October 2001, and Windows Vista on January 30, 2007.
In 1969, work began on the ARPAnet, grandfather to the internet.
Designed as a computer version of the nuclear bomb shelter, ARPAnet protected the flow of information between military by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol called NCP (Network Control Protocol).
The first data exchange over this new network occurred between computers at UCLA and Stanford Research Institute. On their first attempt to log into Stanford’s computer by typing “log win”, UCLA researchers crashed their computer when they typed the letter “g”.
Under ARPAnet several major innovations occurred: email, the ability to send simple messages to another person across the network, telnet, a remote connection service for controlling a computer, and file transfer protocol (FTP), which allows information to be sent from one computer to another in bulk.
After non-military uses for the network increased, more and more people had access, and so MILnet was started in 1983. Internet Protocol software was soon being placed on every type of computer, and universities and research groups also began using in-house networks known as Local Area Networks aka LAN.
In 1986, one LAN branched out to form a new competing network, called NSFnet (National Science Foundation network).
In 1970, the newly formed Intel company publicly released the 1103, the first DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) chip, and by 1972 it was the best selling semiconductor memory chip in the world, defeating magnetic core type memory. The first commercially available computer using the 1103 was the HP 9800 series.
Dr. Robert H. Dennard, a Fellow at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center created the one-transistor DRAM in 1966.
RAM stands for random access memory, memory that can be accessed or written to randomly—any byte or piece of memory can be used without accessing the other bytes and pieces of memory.
In November, 1981, a company called Intel publicly introduced the world’s first single chip microprocessor, the Intel 4004, invented by Intel engineers Federico Faggin, Ted Hoff, and Stan Mazor.
The Intel 4004 chip took the integrated circuit down one step further by placing all parts that made the computer think (i.e. central processing unit, memory, input and output controls) on one small chip. Programming intelligence into inanimate objects had now become possible.
In 1971, IBM introduced the first “memory disk”, as it was called then, or the “floppy disk” as it is known today.
The first floppy was an 8-inch flexible plastic disk coated with magnetic iron oxide; computer data was written to and read from the disks’ surface.
The “floppy” was invented by IBM engineers led by Alan Shugart. The first disks were designed for loading microbes into the controller of the Merlin (IBM 3330) disk pack file (a 100 MB storage device). So, in effect, the first floppies were used to fill another type of data storage device.
In 1976, the 5 ¼” flexible disk drive and diskette was developed by Alan Shugart for Wang Laboratories. Wang wanted a smaller floppy disk and drive to use with their desktop computers. By 1978, more than 10 manufacturers were producing 5 ¼” floppy drives that stored up to 1.2MB of data.
In 1981, Sony introduced the first 3 ½” floppy disks and diskettes. These floppies were encased in hard plastic, however, the name stayed the same. They stored 400 KB of data, and later 720K (double-density) and 1.44MB.
On August 21, 1981, IBM introduced its new revolution in a box, the “personal computer” complete with a new brand operating system from Microsoft with a 16-bit computer operating system called MS-DOS 1.0.
In 1980, IBM first approached Bill Gates and Microsoft, to discuss the state of home computers and Microsoft products. Gates gave IBM a few ideas on what would make a great home computer, among them to have Basic written into the ROM chip.
As for an operating system for the new computers, and OS called CP/M was needed. IBM soon returned to Bill Gates and gave Microsoft the contract to write the new operating system, one that would eventually wipe Kildall’s CP/M out of common use.
The “Microsoft Disk Operating System” or MS-DOS was based on QDOS, the “Quick and Dirty Operating System” written by Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products, for their prototype Intel 8086 based computer.
Microsoft bought the rights to QDOS for $50,000, keeping the IBM deal a secret from Seattle Computer Products.
Gates the talked IBM into letting Microsoft retain the rights, to market MS-DOS separate from the IBM PC project, Gates proceeded to make a fortune from the licensing of MS-DOS.
In 1981, Tim Paterson quit SCP, and found employment at Microsoft.
1936: Konrad Zuse created the first freely programmable computer a.k.a. the Z1 computer.
1942: John Atanasoff & Clifford Berry make the ABC computer.
1944: Howard Aiken & Grace Hopper invented the Harvard Mark 1 computer.
1946: John Presper Eckert & John W. Mauchly invent the ENIAC 1 computer.
1948: Frederic Williams & Tom Kilburn create the Manchester Baby Computer & The Williams Tube.
1947/48: John Bardeen, Walter Brattain & William Shockley invent The Transistor. Wasn’t generally a computer, but it greatly affected the history of computers.
1951: John Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly: UNIVAC Computer, which was the first commercial computer & able to pick up presidential winners.
1953: International Business Machines creates the IBM 701 EDPM Computer.
1954: John Backus & IBM create the FORTRAN Computer.
1955 (In use 1959) : Stanford Research Institute, Bank of America, and General Electric invent the ERMA and MICR; the first bank industry computer and also MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) for reading checks.
1958: Jack Kilby & Robert Noyce create The Integrated Circuit aka Chip.
1962: Steve Russell and MIT create the first computer game, Spacewars.
1964: Douglas Engelbert creates the computer mouse and program Windows. He nicknamed it the mouse because the cord came out the end like a mouse tail.