‘ Imagine a modern personal computer. It has a direct-manipulation, WYSIWYG user interface, and programs for drawing, painting, writing, and other tasks. It is connected to a LAN with email, database, print, and other services. The LAN may be connected to other LANs, forming an internet, and it may be connected to a wide-area network like the Internet.
That also describes the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) nearly 20 years ago’
Larry Press, Before the Altair -- The History of Personal Computing Communications of the ACM, September, 1993, vol 36, no 9, pp 27-33.
Abacus emerged 5, 000 years ago in Asia Minor (still in use today)
Pascaline, invented by Blaise Pascal in 1642, used eight movable dials to add up sums eight figures long.
1694 Gottfried Wilhem von Leibniz improved the Pascaline so it could do multiplication.
Arithometer invented in 1820 could perform four basic arithmetic calculations, add, divide, multiply and subtract.
1822 Charles Babbage devised the Difference Engine to perform differential calculations, in 1830 Babbage started work on the Analytical Engine which would have been the first general-purpose computer. The analytical engine was never built.
1889 Herman Hollerith devised a punch card tabulating machine to help compile the US Census results, reduced time from 10 years to 6 weeks. Foundered the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896, later to become International Business Machines (IBM) in 1924.
1941 German engineer devised the Z3 computer to design airplanes and missiles.
1943 British designed the Collossus to decode German messages.
1944 the Harvard-IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (Mark 1) all electric calculator developed to create ballistic charts for the US Navy.
1944 Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) produced by a partnership between US government and the University of Pennsylvania.
Consisted of 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, and 5 million soldered joints. Consumed 160 kilowatts of electricity. Operated at 1,000 times the speed of the Mark 1.
1945 John von Newman developed the EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer), first to have a stored memory. Also introduced the idea of a single central processing unit (CPU), through which all computer functions are coordinated through a single source.
1951 Remington Rand manufactured the UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer) the first commercial computer, to have a CPU and stored memory.
A number of commercially successful second generation computers introduced in business, universities and government from manufacturers such as Burroughs, Control Data, Honeywell, IBM, Sperry-Rand.
1952 the IBM 701 introduced as a business computer. It consisted of several units that could be shipped to customers, rather than the massive units that had to be assembled on-site.
1959 the IBM 7090 was the first mass produced solid state computer
the stored program meant that instructions to run a computer for a specific function (program) were held inside a computers memory, rather than on punch cards or tape, and could quickly be replaced by a set of different instructions for a different function.
Higher level programming languages such as COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) and FORTRAN (Formula Translator) replaces binary machine code to make programming easier.
1947 Three scientists at Bell Telephone Laboratories, William Shockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen demonstrate their new invention of the point-contact transistor amplifier.
1948 John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Schockley of Bell Labs file for a patent on the first transistor.
1952 G. W. Dummer, a radar expert from Britain's Royal Radar Establishment presents a paper proposing that a solid block of materials be used to connect electronic components, with no connecting wires.
1954 Texas Instruments announces the start of commercial production on silicon transistors.
1955 William Shockley founds Shockley Semiconductor in Palo Alto, California.
1956 The first transistorized computer is completed, the TX-O (Transistorized Experimental computer), at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
1958 At Texas Instruments, Jack St. Clair Kilby comes up with the idea of creating a monolithic device (integrated circuit) on a single piece of silicon.
At Texas Instruments, Jack Kilby completes building the first integrated circuit, containing five components on a piece of germanium half an inch long and thinner than a toothpick.
1960 IBM develops the first automatic mass-production facility for transistors, in New York.
1961 Fairchild Semiconductor releases the first commercial integrated circuit.
1962 Teletype ships its Model 33 keyboard and punched-tape terminal, used for input and output on many early microcomputers.
Ivan Sutherland creates a graphics system called Sketchpad.
1963 Douglas Engelbart receives a patent on the mouse pointing device for computers. [651.79]
Digital Equipment sells its first minicomputer, to Atomic Energy of Canada. [615.69]
1964 John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz develop the BASIC programming language at Dartmouth College.
Texas Instruments receives a patent on the integrated circuit.
1966 Steven Gray founds the Amateur Computer Society, and begins publishing the ACS Newsletter. Some consider this to be the birthday of personal computing. [208.64]
IBM introduces the first disk storage system, the IBM RAMAC 305. It holds 5 MB of data on 50 2-foot wide platters.
1967 IBM builds the first floppy disk. [444.80]
1968 Douglas C. Engelbart, of the Stanford Research Institute, demonstrates his system of keyboard, keypad, mouse, and windows at the Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco's Civic Centre. He demonstrates use of a word processor, a hypertext system, and remote collaborative work with colleagues.
1969 Intel's Marcian (Ted) Hoff designs an integrated circuit chip that could receive instructions, and perform simple functions on data. The design becomes the 4004 microprocessor.
Intel announces a 1 KB RAM chip, which has a significantly larger capacity than any previously produced memory chip.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen, calling themselves the "Lakeside Programming Group" sign an agreement with Computer Center Corporation to report bugs in PDP-10 software, in exchange for computer time.
Unix is developed at AT&T's Bell Laboratories.
Xerox opens the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).
Gilbert Hyatt files a patent application entitled "Single Chip Integrated Circuit Computer Architecture", the first basic patent on the microprocessor., (spring) Work begins at Intel on the layout of the circuit for what would be the 4004 microprocessor. Intel creates the first 4004 microprocessor.
Douglas Engelbart’s Work Station circa 1965 Engelbart’s mouse 1964
1982 the first IBM-compatible PC introduced by COMPAC
1983 Apple introduced the LISA, the first PC to have a Graphical User Interface (GUI), the LISA was too expensive (over £15,000).
1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh, with a GUI and a mouse - the first ‘user friendly’ PC. In 1985 Apple LaserWriter based on Adobe Systems PostScript page description language introduced. The start of What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) desk-top publishing born.
Microsoft developed the Windows operating system for IBM-compatible PCs to compete with the Apple Mac.
The decision to allow companies access to their computer architecture meant that IBM-compatible PCs exceeded Apple Mac sales to become the standard in personal computing.
Main factors that contribute to the universal acceptance of PCs
The development of software that is useful to business and home users - Wordstar, VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Office etc.