1944 Harvard Mark-1 is completed. The first Colossus is operational at Bletchley Park.
1945 John von Neumann wrote "First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC" On September 9th, Grace Hopper recorded the first actual computer "bug"
Software & Languages Konrad Zuse began work on Plankalkul (Plan Calculus), the first algorithmic programming language, with an aim of creating the theoretical preconditions for the formulation of problems of a general nature. Seven years earlier, Zuse had developed and built the world´s first binary digital computer, the Z1. He completed the first fully functional program-controlled electromechanical digital computer, the Z3, in 1941. Only the Z4 — the most sophisticated of his creations — survived World War II.
1946 In February, the public got its first glimpse of the ENIAC An inspiring summer school on computing at the University of Pennsylvania´s Moore School of Electrical Engineering stimulated construction of stored-program computers at universities and research institutions.
1947 The Williams tube won the race for a practical random-access memory. On December 23, William Shockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen successfully tested this point-contact transistor, setting off the semiconductor revolution.
Companies Computer pioneers Presper Eckert and John Mauchly founded the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. to construct machines based on their experience with ENIAC and EDVAC. The only machine the company built was BINAC. Before completing the UNIVAC, the company became a division of Remington Rand.
1948 IBM´s Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator computed scientific data in public display near the company´s Manhattan headquarters. Norbert Wiener published "Cybernetics," a major influence on later research into artificial intelligence.
Claude Shannon´s "The Mathematical Theory of Communication" showed engineers how to code data so they could check for accuracy after transmission between computers. Shannon identified the bit as the fundamental unit of data and, coincidentally, the basic unit of computation .
1949 Maurice Wilkes assembled the EDSAC, the first practical stored-program computer. The Manchester Mark I computer functioned as a complete system using the Williams tube for memory.
1950 Engineering Research Associates of Minneapolis built the ERA 1101, the first commercially produced computer. The National Bureau of Standards constructed the SEAC (Standards Eastern Automatic Computer) in Washington as a laboratory for testing components and systems for setting computer standards.
The National Bureau of Standards completed its SWAC (Standards Western Automatic Computer) at the Institute for Numerical Analysis in Los Angeles. Alan Turing´s philosophy directed design of Britain´s Pilot ACE at the National Physical Laboratory.
1951 MIT Whirlwind England´s first commercial computer, the Lyons Electronic Office, solved clerical problems.
UNIVAC I The UNIVAC I delivered to the U.S. Census Bureau was the first commercial computer to attract widespread public attention. Although manufactured by Remington Rand, the machine often was mistakenly referred to as the "IBM UNIVAC." Remington Rand eventually sold 46 machines at more than $1 million each F.O.B. factory $750,000 plus $185,000 for a high speed printer. Speed:
1952 Heinz Nixdorf founded Nixdorf Computer Corp. in Germany. John von Neumann´s IAS computer became operational at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, N.J. On election night, November 4, CBS News borrowed a UNIVAC to make a scientific prediction of the outcome of the race for the presidency between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson.
Grace Hopper completes the A-0 Compiler. Magnetic tape allows for inexpensive mass storage of information and so is a key part of the computer revolution.
1953 At MIT, Jay Forrester installed magnetic core memory on the Whirlwind computer. IBM shipped its first electronic computer, the 701.
Software & Languages John Backus completed speedcoding for IBM´s 701 computer. Although speedcoding demanded more memory and compute time, it trimmed weeks off of the programming schedule .
1954 A silicon-based junction transistor The IBM 650 magnetic drum calculator established itself as the first mass-produced computer.
People & Pop Culture Alan Turing was found dead at age 42. He had published his seminal paper, "On Computable Numbers," in 1936, as well as posing significant questions about judging "human intelligence" and programming and working on the design of several computers during the course of his career. A mathematical genius, Turing proved instrumental in code-breaking efforts during World War II. His application of logic to that realm would emerge even more significantly in his development of the concept of a "universal machine."
1955 Components Felker and Harris program TRADIC People & Pop Culture First meeting of SHARE, the IBM users group, convened. User groups became a significant educational force allowing companies to communicate innovations and users to trade information. Software & Languages Herbert Simon and Allen Newell unveiled Logic Theorist software that supplied rules of reasoning and proved symbolic logic theorems. The release of Logic Theorist marked a milestone in establishing the field of artificial intelligence.
1956 Burroughs buys Electrodata. MIT researchers built the TX-0, the first general-purpose, programmable computer built with transistors.
Software & Languages In the mid-fifties resources for scientific and engineering computing were in short supply and were very precious. At MIT, researchers began experimentation on direct keyboard input on computers. The era of magnetic disk storage dawned with IBM´s shipment of a 305 RAMAC to Zellerbach Paper in San Francisco.
1957 A group of engineers led by Ken Olsen left MIT´s Lincoln Laboratory founded a company based on the new transistor technology. In Minneapolis, the original Engineering Research Associates group led by Bill Norris left Sperry Rand to form a new company, Control Data Corp., which soon released its model 1604 computer.
Software & Languages Sperry Rand released commercial compiler for its UNIVAC A new language, FORTRAN (short for FORmula TRANslator), enabled a computer to perform a repetitive task from a single set of instructions by using loops.
Jack Kilby created the first integrated circuit at Texas . SAGE — Semi-Automatic Ground Environment — linked hundreds of radar stations in the United States and Canada in the first large-scale computer communications network. Kilby integrated circuit SAGE operator station 1958
1959 First Planar transistor IBM´s 7000 series mainframes were the company´s first transistorized computers. At the top of the line of computers
Robots & Artificial Intelligence Software & Languages APT ashtray ERMA characters the Electronic Recording Method of Accounting, digitized checking for the Bank of America by creating a computer-readable font. A special scanner read account numbers preprinted on checks in magnetic ink.
1960 The precursor to the minicomputer, DEC´s PDP-1 sold for $120,000. One of 50 built, the average PDP-1 included with a cathode ray tube graphic display, needed no air conditioning and required only one operator. It´s large scope intrigued early hackers at MIT, who wrote the first computerized video game, SpaceWar!, for it. The SpaceWar! creators then used the game as a standard demonstration on all 50 computers. AT&T designed its Dataphone, the first commercial modem, specifically for converting digital computer data to analog signals for transmission across its long distance network.
Software & Languages COBOL design team A team drawn from several computer manufacturers and the Pentagon developed COBOL, Common Business Oriented Language. LISP made its debut as the first computer language designed for writing artificial intelligence programs. Created by John McCarthy, LISP offered programmers flexibility in organization. LISP Programmer´s Reference
C.A.R. Hoare circa 1965 Quicksort is developed. Working for the British computer company Elliott Brothers, C. A. R. Hoare developed Quicksort, an algorithm that would go on to become the most used sorting method in the world. Quicksort used a series of elements called “pivots” that allowed for fast sorting. C.A.R. Hoare was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.
1961 RTL integrated circuit Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp. invented the resistor-transistor logic (RTL) product, a set/reset flip-flop and the first integrated circuit available as a monolithic chip. According to Datamation magazine, IBM had an 81.2-percent share of the computer market in 1961, the year in which it introduced the 1400 Series. The 1401 mainframe, the first in the series, replaced the vacuum tube with smaller, more reliable transistors and used a magnetic core memory.
Robots & Artificial Intelligence Storage UNIMATE, the first industrial robot, began work at General Motors. Obeying step-by-step commands stored on a magnetic drum, the 4,000-pound arm sequenced and stacked hot pieces of die-cast metal. The brainchild of Joe Engelberger and George Devol, UNIMATE originally automated the manufacture of TV picture tubes. IBM 1301 Disk Storage Unit is released. The IBM 1301 Disk Drive was announced on June 2nd, 1961 for use with IBM’s 7000-series of mainframe computers. Maximum capacity was 28 million characters and the disks rotated at 1,800 R.P.M.
1962 Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp. produced the first widely accepted epitaxial gold-doped NPN transistor. The NPN transistor served as the industry workhouse for discrete logic. The LINC (Laboratory Instrumentation Computer) offered the first real time laboratory data processing. Designed by Wesley Clark at Lincoln Laboratories, Digital Equipment Corp. later commercialized it as the LINC-8. Research faculty came to a workshop at MIT to build their own machines, most of which they used in biomedical studies. DEC supplied components.
Software & Languages MIT students Slug Russell, Shag Graetz, and Alan Kotok wrote SpaceWar!, considered the first interactive computer game. First played at MIT on DEC´s PDP-1, the large-scope display featured interactive, shoot´em-up graphics that inspired future video games. Tom Kilburn in front of Manchester Atlas console Virtual memory emerged from a team under the direction of Tom Kilburn at the University of Manchester on its Atlas computer (1962). Virtual memory permitted a computer to use its storage capacity to switch rapidly among multiple programs or users and is a key requirement for timesharing.
Four Views of the IBM 1311 Including Removable Disk Pack IBM 1311 Disk Storage Drive is announced. Announced on October 11, 1962, the IBM 1311 was the first disk drive IBM made with a removable disk pack. Each pack weighed about ten pounds, held six disks, and had a capacity of 2 million characters. The disks would rotate at 1,500 RPM and were accessed by a hydraulic actuator with one head per disk. [storage] The 1311 offered some of the advantages of both tapes and disks.
1963 Tandy Radio Shack is founded. Tandy Radio Shack (TRS) was formed by the 1963 merger of Tandy Leather Company and Radio Shack. TRS began by selling a variety of electronic products, mainly to hobbyists. The TRS-80 Model I computer, introduced in 1977, was a major step in introducing home computers to the public. Like the Commodore PET and the Apple II, which were introduced within months of the TRS-80, the computer came assembled and ready to run. DAC-1 computer aided design program is released. In 1959, the General Motors Research Laboratories appointed a special research team to investigate the use of computers in designing automobiles. In 1960, IBM joined the project, producing the first commercially-available Computer Aided Design program, known as DAC-1. Out of that project came the IBM 2250 display terminal as well as many advances in computer timesharing and the use of a single processor by two or more terminals.
Robots & Artificial Intelligence Software & Languages Researchers designed the Rancho Arm at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, California as a tool for the handicapped. The Rancho Arm´s six joints gave it the flexibility of a human arm. Acquired by Stanford University in 1963, it holds a place among the first artificial robotic arms to be controlled by a computer. Ivan Sutherland published Sketchpad, an interactive, real time computer drawing system, as his MIT doctoral thesis. Using a light pen and Sketchpad, a designer could draw and manipulate geometric figures on the screen.
ASCII — American Standard Code for Information Interchange -permitted machines from different manufacturers to exchange data. ASCII consists of 128 unique strings of ones and zeros. Each sequence represents a letter of the English alphabet, an Arabic numeral, an assortment of punctuation marks and symbols, or a function such as a carriage return.
1964 IBM announced the System/360, a family of six mutually compatible computers and 40 peripherals that could work together. CDC´s 6600 supercomputer, designed by Seymour Cray, performed up to 3 million instructions per second — a processing speed three times faster than that of its closest competitor, the IBM Stretch. The 6600 retained the distinction of being the fastest computer in the world until surpassed by its successor, the CDC 7600, in 1968.
Networking Online transaction processing made its debut in IBM´s SABRE reservation system, set up for American Airlines. Using telephone lines, SABRE linked 2,000 terminals in 65 cities to a pair of IBM 7090 computers, delivering data on any flight in less than three seconds. JOSS (Johnniac Open Shop System) conversational time-sharing service began on Rand´s Johnniac. Time-sharing arose, in part, because the length of batch turn-around times impeded the solution of problems. Time sharing aimed to bring the user back into "contact" with the machine for online debugging and program development.
Thomas Kurtz and John Kemeny created BASIC, an easy-to-learn programming language, for their students at Dartmouth College.
1965 Robots & Artificial Intelligence A Stanford team led by Ed Feigenbaum created DENDRAL, the first expert system, or program designed to execute the accumulated expertise of specialists. DENDRAL applied a battery of "if-then" rules in chemistry and physics to identify the molecular structure of organic compounds. Commodore Business Machines (CBM) is founded. Its founder Jack Tramiel emigrated to the US after WWII where he began repairing typewriters. In 1965, he moved to Toronto and established Commodore International which also began making mechanical and electronic calculators. In 1977, Commodore released the Commodore PET computer; in 1981 the VIC-20; and, in 1982, the Commodore 64. CBM purchased competitor Amiga Corporation in 1984. Despite being the largest single supplier of computers in the world at one time, by 1984 internal disputes and market pressures led to financial problems. The company declared bankruptcy in 1994.
Robots & Artificial Intelligence Software & Languages Object-oriented languages got an early boost with Simula, written by Kristen Nygaard and Ole-John Dahl. Simula grouped data and instructions into blocks called objects, each representing one facet of a system intended for simulation. Digital Equipment Corp. introduced the PDP-8, the first commercially successful minicomputer.
1966 The Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contracted with the University of Illinois to build a large parallel processing computer, the ILLIAC IV, which did not operate until 1972 at NASA´s Ames Research Center. Hewlett-Packard entered the general purpose computer business with its HP-2115 for computation, offering a computational power formerly found only in much larger computers. It supported a wide variety of languages, among them BASIC, ALGOL, and FORTRAN.
Acoustically coupled modem Networking Inventors developed the acoustically coupled modem to connect computers to the telephone network by means of the standard telephone handset of the day .
1967 MOS semiconductor Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp. built the first standard metal oxide semiconductor product for data processing applications, an eight-bit arithmetic unit and accumulator. In a MOS chip, engineers treat the semiconductor material to produce either of two varieties of transistors, called n-type and p-type. IBM 1360 Photo-Digital Storage System is delivered.
Seymour Papert Seymour Papert designed LOGO as a computer language for children. Initially a drawing program, LOGO controlled the actions of a mechanical "turtle," which traced its path with pen on paper. Electronic turtles made their designs on a video display monitor.
1968 Evans & Sutherland is formed. In 1968, David Evans and Ivan Sutherland, both professors of computer science, founded a company to develop a special graphics computer known as a frame buffer. This device was a special high-speed memory used for capturing video. Data General Corp., started by a group of engineers that had left Digital Equipment Corp., introduced the Nova, with 32 kilobytes of memory, for $8,000.
Apollo Guidance Computer Software & Languages Edsger Dijkstra´s "GO TO considered harmful" letter, published in Communications of the ACM, fired the first salvo in the structured programming wars. The ACM considered the resulting acrimony sufficiently harmful that it established a policy of no longer printing articles taking such an assertive position against a coding practice. The Apollo Guidance Computer made its debut orbiting the Earth on Apollo 7. A year later, it steered Apollo 11 to the lunar surface. Astronauts communicated with the computer by punching two-digit codes and the appropriate syntactic category into the display and keyboard unit.
Tentacle Arm Marvin Minsky developed the Tentacle Arm, which moved like an octopus. It had twelve joints designed to reach around obstacles. A PDP-6 computer controlled the arm, powered by hydraulic fluids. Mounted on a wall, it could lift the weight of a person .
1969 Xerox Corp. bought Scientific Data Systems for nearly $1 billion Victor Scheinman´s Stanford Arm made a breakthrough as the first successful electrically powered, computer-controlled robot arm. By 1974, the Stanford Arm could assemble a Ford Model T water pump, guiding itself with optical and contact sensors. The Stanford Arm led directly to commercial production. Scheinman went on to design the PUMA series of industrial robots for Unimation, robots used for automobile assembly and other industrial tasks.
Software & Languages AT&T Bell Laboratories programmers Kenneth Thompson and Dennis Ritchie developed the UNIX operating system on a spare DEC minicomputer. UNIX combined many of the timesharing and file management features offered by Multics, from which it took its name. (Multics, a projects of the mid-1960s, represented the first effort at creating a multi-user, multi-tasking operating system.) The UNIX operating system quickly secured a wide following, particularly among engineers and scientists.
1970 Networking Citizens and Southern National Bank in Valdosta, Ga., installed the country´s first automatic teller machine. Xerox opens Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). In 1970, Xerox Corporation hired Dr. George Pake to lead a new research center in Palo Alto, California. PARC attracted some of the United States’ top computer scientists, and produced many groundbreaking inventions that transformed computing—most notably the personal computer graphical user interface, Ethernet, the laser printer, and object-oriented programming. Xerox was unable to market the inventions from PARC but others did, including Steve Jobs (Apple), Bob Metcalfe (3Com), as well as Charles Geschke and John Warnock
Networking Computer-to-computer communication expanded when the Department of Defense established four nodes on the ARPANET
People & Pop Culture Vietnam War protesters attacked university computer centers. At the University of Wisconsin, the toll was one human and four machines.
Robots & Artificial Intelligence SRI International´s Shakey became the first mobile robot controlled by artificial intelligence. Equipped with sensing devices and driven by a problem-solving program called STRIPS, the robot found its way around the halls of SRI by applying information about its environment to a route. Shakey used a TV camera, laser range finder, and bump sensors to collect data, which it then transmitted to a DEC PDP-10 and PDP-15. The computer radioed back commands to Shakey — who then moved at a speed of 2 meters per hour
1971 Components The first advertisement for a microprocessor, the Intel 4004, appeared in Electronic News. Developed for Busicom, a Japanese calculator maker, the 4004 had 2250 transistors and could perform up to 90,000 operations per second in four-bit chunks. Federico Faggin led the design and Ted Hoff led the architecture.
Companies& Computers RCA sells its computer division. The Kenbak-1, the first personal computer, advertised for $750 in Scientific American. Designed by John V. Blankenbaker using standard medium-scale and small-scale integrated circuits, the Kenbak-1 relied on switches for input and lights for output from its 256-byte memory. In 1973, after selling only 40 machines, Kenbak Corp. closed its doors.
Networking & Storage The first e-mail is sent. Ray Tomlinson of the research firm Bolt, Beranek and Newman sent the first e-mail when he was supposed to be working on a different project. Tomlinson, who is credited with being the one to decide on the "@" sign for use in e-mail, sent his message over a military network called ARPANET. When asked to describe the contents of the first email, Tomlinson said it was “something like "QWERTYUIOP"” An IBM team, originally led by David Noble, invented the 8-inch floppy diskette. It was initially designed for use in loading microcode into the controller for the "Merlin" (IBM 3330) disk pack file. It quickly won widespread acceptance as a program and data-storage medium. Unlike hard drives, a user could easily transfer a floppy in its protective jacket from one drive to another.
1972 Intel´s 8008 microprocessor made its debut Hewlett-Packard announced the HP-35 as "a fast, extremely accurate electronic slide rule" with a solid-state memory similar to that of a computer. The HP-35 distinguished itself from its competitors by its ability to perform a broad variety of logarithmic and trigonometric functions, to store more intermediate solutions for later use, and to accept and display entries in a form similar to standard scientific notation
Graphics & Games Pong is released. In 1966, Ralph Baer designed a ping-pong game for his Odyssey gaming console. Nolan Bushnell played this game at a Magnavox product show in Burlingame, California. Bushnell hired young engineer Al Alcorn to design a car driving game, but when it became apparent that this was too ambitious for the time, he had Alcorn to design a version of ping-pong instead. The game was tested in bars in Grass Valley and Sunnyvale, California where it proved very popular. Pong would revolutionize the arcade industry and launch the modern video game era. Original Atari Pong Gme Screenshot
SuperPaint is completed. SuperPaint was the first digital computer drawing system to use a frame buffer—a special high-speed memory—and the ancestor of all modern paint programs. It could create sophisticated animations, in up to 16.7 million colors, had adjustable paintbrushes, video magnification, and used a graphics tablet for drawing. It was designed by Richard Shoup and others at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Its designers won a technical Academy Award in 1998 for their invention.
Networking Wozniak´s "blue box", Steve Wozniak built his "blue box" a tone generator to make free phone calls. Wozniak sold the boxes in dormitories at the University of California Berkeley where he studied as an undergraduate. "The early boxes had a safety feature — a reed switch inside the housing operated by a magnet taped onto the outside of the box," Wozniak remembered. "If apprehended, you removed the magnet, whereupon it would generate off-frequency tones and be inoperable ... and you tell the police: It´s just a music box."
1973 IMSAI is founded. In 1973, Bill Millard left his regular job in management to found the consulting firm Information Management Services or IMS. The following year, while he was working on a client’s project, he developed a small computing system using the then-new Intel 8080 microprocessor The TV Typewriter, designed by Don Lancaster, provided the first display of alphanumeric information on an ordinary television set.
Networking The Micral was the earliest commercial, non-kit personal computer based on a micro-processor, the Intel 8008. Robert Metcalfe devised the Ethernet method of network connection at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.
1974 Computers Researchers at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center designed the Alto — the first work station with a built-in mouse for input. The Alto stored several files simultaneously in windows, offered menus and icons, and could link to a local area network. Although Xerox never sold the Alto commercially, it gave a number of them to universities. Engineers later incorporated its features into work stations and personal computers.
Robots & Artificial Intelligence Scelbi advertised its 8H computer, the first commercially advertised U.S. computer based on a microprocessor, Intel´s 8008. David Silver at MIT designed the Silver Arm, a robotic arm to do small-parts assembly using feedback from delicate touch and pressure sensors. The arm´s fine movements corresponded to those of human fingers.
1975 Xerox closes its computer division The January edition of Popular Electronics featured the Altair 8800 computer kit, based on Intel´s 8080 microprocessor, on its cover. Within weeks of the computer´s debut, customers inundated the manufacturing company, MITS, with orders. Bill Gates and Paul Allen licensed BASIC as the software language for the Altair. Ed Roberts invented the 8800 — which sold for $297, or $395 with a case — and coined the term "personal computer." The machine came with 256 bytes of memory (expandable to 64K) and an open 100-line bus structure that evolved into the S-100 standard. In 1977, MITS sold out to Pertec, which continued producing Altairs through 1978.
Computers The visual display module (VDM) prototype, designed in 1975 by Lee Felsenstein, marked the first implementation of a memory-mapped alphanumeric video display for personal computers. Introduced at the Altair Convention in Albuquerque in March 1976, the visual display module allowed use of personal computers for interactive games. Tandem computers tailored its Tandem-16, the first fault-tolerant computer, for online transaction processing. The banking industry rushed to adopt the machine, built to run during repair or expansion.
1976 Components Intel and Zilog introduced new microprocessors. Five times faster than its predecessor, the 8008, the Intel 8080 could address four times as many bytes for a total of 64 kilobytes. The Zilog Z-80 could run any program written for the 8080 and included twice as many built-in machine instructions.
Computers Steve Wozniak designed the Apple I, a single-board computer. The Cray I made its name as the first commercially successful vector processor. The fastest machine of its day, its speed came partly from its shape, a C, which reduced the length of wires and thus the time signals needed to travel across them. Project started: 1972 Project completed: 1976 Speed: 166 million floating-point operations per second Size: 58 cubic feet Weight: 5,300 lbs. Technology: Integrated circuit Clock rate: 83 million cycles per second Word length: 64-bit words Instruction set: 128 instructions
Networking The Queen of England sends first her e-mail. Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, sends out an e-mail on March 26 from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in Malvern as a part of a demonstration of networking technology. Hirose´s Soft Gripper Software & Languages Gary Kildall developed CP/M, an operating system for personal computers. Widely adopted, CP/M made it possible for one version of a program to run on a variety of computers built around eight-bit microprocessors.
1977 The Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) — the first of several personal computers released in 1977 — came fully assembled and was straightforward to operate, with either 4 or 8 kilobytes of memory, two built-in cassette drives, and a membrane "chiclet" keyboard. The Apple II became an instant success when released in 1977 with its printed circuit motherboard, switching power supply, keyboard, case assembly, manual, game paddles, A/C powercord, and cassette tape with the computer game "Breakout." When hooked up to a color television set, the Apple II produced brilliant color graphics.
TRS-80 In the first month after its release, Tandy Radio Shack´s first desktop computer — the TRS-80 — sold 10,000 units, well more than the company´s projected sales of 3,000 units for one year. Priced at $599.95, the machine included a Z80 based microprocessor, a video display, 4 kilobytes of memory, BASIC, cassette storage, and easy-to-understand manuals that assumed no prior knowledge on the part of the consumer.
Graphics & Games Atari launches the Video Computer System game console. Software & Languages The U.S. government adopted IBM´s data encryption standard, the key to unlocking coded messages, to protect confidentiality within its agencies. Available to the general public as well, the standard required an eight-number key for scrambling and unscrambling data. The 70 quadrillion possible combinations made breaking the code by trial and error unlikely.
1978 The VAX 11/780 from Digital Equipment Corp. featured the ability to address up to 4.3 gigabytes of virtual memory, providing hundreds of times the capacity of most minicomputers.
Robots & Artificial Intelligence Texas Instruments Inc. introduced Speak & Spell, a talking learning aid for ages 7 and up. Its debut marked the first electronic duplication of the human vocal tract on a single chip of silicon. The 5 1/4" flexible disk drive and diskette were introduced by Shugart Associates in 1976. This was the result of a request by Wang Laboratories to produce a disk drive small enough to use with a desktop computer, since 8" floppy drives were considered too large for that purpose. By 1978, more than 10 manufacturers were producing 5 1/4" floppy drives.
1979 The Motorola 68000 microprocessor exhibited a processing speed far greater than its contemporaries. This high performance processor found its place in powerful work stations intended for graphics-intensive programs common in engineering. California Institute of Technology professor Carver Mead and Xerox Corp. computer scientist Lynn Conway wrote a manual of chip design, "Introduction to VLSI Systems." Demystifying the planning of very large scale integrated (VLSI) systems, the text expanded the ranks of engineers capable of creating such chips.
Atari introduces the Model 400 and 800 Computer. Shortly after delivery of the Atari VCS game console, Atari designed two microcomputers with game capabilities: the Model 400 and Model 800. The two machines were built with the idea that the 400 would serve primarily as a game console while the 800 would be more of a home computer. Both sold well, though they had technical and marketing problems, and faced strong competition from the Apple II, Commodore PET, and TRS-80 computers.
John Shoch and Jon Hupp at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center discover the computer "worm," a short program that searches a network for idle processors. Initially designed to provide more efficient use of computers and for testing, the worm had the unintended effect of invading networked computers, creating a security threat. USENET established. USENET was invented as a means for providing mail and file transfers using a communications standard known as UUCP. It was developed as a joint project by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by graduate students Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis, and Steve Bellovin. USENET enabled its users to post messages and files that could be accessed and archived. It would go on to become one of the main areas for large- scale interaction for interest groups through the 1990s.
Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw circa 1999 The first Multi-User Domain (or Dungeon), MUD1, is goes on-line. Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, two students at the University of Essex, write a program that allows many people to play against each other on-line. MUDs become popular with college students as a means of adventure gaming and for socializing. By 1984, there are more than 100 active MUDs and variants around the world.
Robots & Artificial Intelligence In development since 1967, the Stanford Cart successfully crossed a chair-filled room without human intervention in 1979. Harvard MBA candidate Daniel Bricklin and programmer Robert Frankston developed VisiCalc, the program that made a business machine of the personal computer, for the Apple II. VisiCalc (for Visi ble Calc ulator) automated the recalculation of spreadsheets. A huge success, more than 100,000 copies sold in one year. Software & Languages
1980 Doug and Gary Carlston at Broderbund Headquarters Broderbund is founded. In 1980, brothers Doug and Gary Carlston formed a company to market the games Doug had created. Their first games were Galactic Empire, Galactic Trader and Galactic Revolution. They continued to have success with popular games such as Myst (1993) and Riven (1997) and a wide range of home products such as Print Shop, language tutors, etc. In 1998, Broderbund was acquired by The Learning Company which, a year later, was itself acquired by Mattel, Inc. Seagate Technology created the first hard disk drive for microcomputers, the ST506. The disk held 5 megabytes of data, five times as much as a standard floppy disk, and fit in the space of a floppy disk drive. The hard disk drive itself is a rigid metallic platter coated on both sides with a thin layer of magnetic material that stores digital data.
IBM 3380 Disk System Hard disks are an essential part of the computer revolution, allowing fast, random access to large amounts of data. IBM announced its most successful mainframe hard disk (what IBM called a “Direct Access Storage Device (DASD)” in June of 1980, actually shipping units the following year. The 3380 came in six models initially (later growing to many more) and price at time of introduction ranged from $81,000 to $142,200. The base model stored 2.5 GB of data, later models extended this to 20GB. IBM sold over 100,000 3380s, generating tens of billions of dollars in revenue making the 3380 one of IBM’s most successful products of all time.
1981 IBM introduced its PC, igniting a fast growth of the personal computer market. The first PC ran on a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 microprocessor and used Microsoft´s MS-DOS operating system. Adam Osborne completed the first portable computer, the Osborne I Apollo Computer unveiled the first work station, its DN100, offering more power than some minicomputers at a fraction of the price. Apollo Computer and Sun Microsystems, another early entrant in the work station market, optimized their machines to run the computer-intensive graphics programs common in engineering.
Software & Languages The MS-DOS, or Microsoft Disk Operating System, the basic software for the newly released IBM PC, established a long partnership between IBM and Microsoft, which Bill Gates and Paul Allen had founded only six years earlier. Sony introduced and shipped the first 3 1/2" floppy drives and diskettes in 1981. The first signficant company to adopt the 3 1/2" floppy for general use was Hewlett-Packard in 1982, an event which was critical in establishing momentum for the format and which helped it prevail over the other contenders for the microfloppy standard, including 3", 3 1/4", and 3.9" formats.
1982 The Cray XMP, first produced in this year, almost doubled the operating speed of competing machines with a parallel processing system that ran at 420 million floating-point operations per second, or megaflops. Arranging two Crays to work together on different parts of the same problem achieved the faster speed. Defense and scientific research institutes also heavily used Crays. Commodore introduces the Commodore 64. Computers
People & Pop Culture Software & Languages Mitch Kapor developed Lotus 1-2-3, writing the software directly into the video system of the IBM PC. By bypassing DOS, it ran much faster than its competitors. Time magazine altered its annual tradition of naming a "Man of the Year," choosing instead to name the computer its "Machine of the Year.“ The use of computer-generated graphics in movies took a step forward with Disney´s release of "Tron." One of the first movies to use such graphics, the plot of "Tron" also featured computers - it followed the adventures of a hacker split into molecules and transported inside a computer. Computer animation, done by III, Abel, MAGI, and Digital Effects, accounted for about 30 minutes of the film.
1983 Companies Thinking Machines is founded. Thinking Machines Corporation (TMC) was formed by MIT graduate student Danny Hillis and others to develop a new type of supercomputer.
Computers Apple introduced its Lisa. The first personal computer with a graphical user interface, its development was central in the move to such systems for personal computers. Compaq Computer Corp. introduced first PC clone that used the same software as the IBM PC.
Networking The ARPANET splits into the ARPANET and MILNET. Due to the success of the ARPANET as a way for researchers in universities and the military to collaborate, it was split into military (MILNET) and civilian (ARPANET) segments. This was made possible by the adoption of TCP/IP, a networking standard, three years earlier. The ARPANET was renamed the “Internet” in 1995. Robots & Artificial Intelligence The Musical Instrument Digital Interface was introduced at the first North American Music Manufacturers show in Los Angeles. MIDI is an industry-standard electronic interface that links electronic music synthesizers. The MIDI information tells a synthesizer when to start and stop playing a specific note, what sound that note should have, how loud it should be, and other information.
Software & Languages Microsoft announced Word , Originally called Multi-Tool Word, and Windows. The latter doesn´t ship until 1985, although the company said it would be on track for an April 1984 release. In a marketing blitz, Microsoft distributed 450,000 disks demonstrating its Word program in the November issue of PC World magazine. Richard Stallman announces GNU. Stallman set out to develop a free alternative to the popular Unix operating system. This operating system called GNU (for Gnu's Not Unix ) was going to be free of charge but also allow users the freedom to change and share it. Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation (FSF) based on this philosophy in 1985. Storage Able to hold 550 megabytes of prerecorded data, CD-ROMs grew out of music Compact Disks (CDs). The first general-interest CD-ROM product released after Philips and Sony announced the CD-ROM in 1984 was "Grolier´s Electronic Encyclopedia," which came out in 1985. The 9 million words in the encyclopedia only took up 12 percent of the available space. The same year, computer and electronics companies worked together to set a standard for the disks so any computer would be able to access the information.
Original Bernoulli Box The Bernoulli Box is released. Using a special cartridge-based system that used hard disk technology, the Bernoulli Box was a type of removable storage that allowed people to move large files between computers when few alternatives (such as a network) existed. Allowing for many times the amount of storage afforded by a regular floppy disk, the cartridges came in capacities ranging from 5MB to 230MB.
1984 Apple Computer launched the Macintosh, the first successful mouse-driven computer with a graphic user interface, IBM released its PC Jr. and PC-AT. The PC Jr. failed, but the PC-AT, several times faster than original PC and based on the Intel 80286 chip, claimed success with its notable increases in performance and storage capacity
IBM 3480 Cartridge Tape System Magnetic tape allows for inexpensive mass storage of information and so is a key part of the computer revolution People & Pop Culture In his novel "Neuromancer," William Gibson coined the term "cyberspace." Gibson introduced cyberspace as: "A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding..." Storage
1985 The Amiga 1000 is released. The Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (WELL) is founded. Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant started an on-line Bulletin Board System (BBS) to build a “virtual community” of computer users at low cost. Journalists were given free memberships in the early days, leading to many articles about it and helping it grow to thousands of members around the world.
Networking The modern Internet gained support when the National Science foundation formed the NSFNET, linking five supercomputer centers at Princeton University, Pittsburgh, University of California at San Diego, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Cornell University. Soon, several regional networks developed; eventually, the government reassigned pieces of the ARPANET to the NSFNET. The NSF allowed commercial use of the Internet for the first time in 1991, and in 1995, it decommissioned the backbone, leaving the Internet a self-supporting industry. The NSFNET initially transferred data at 56 kilobits per second, an improvement on the overloaded ARPANET. Traffic continued to increase, though, and in 1987, ARPA awarded Merit Network Inc., IBM, and MCI a contract to expand the Internet by providing access points around the country to a network with a bandwidth of 1.5 megabits per second. In 1992, the network upgraded to T-3 lines, which transmit information at about 45 megabits per second.
Software & Languages Aldus announced its PageMaker program for use on Macintosh computers, launching an interest in desktop publishing. Two years later, Aldus released a version for IBMs and IBM-compatible computers. Developed by Paul Brainerd, who founded Aldus Corp., PageMaker allowed users to combine graphics and text easily enough to make desktop publishing practical.
1986 The 386 chip brought with it the introduction of a 32-bit architecture, a significant improvement over the 16-bit architecture of previous microprocessors. It had two operating modes, one that mirrored the segmented memory of older x86 chips, allowing full backward compatibility, and one that took full advantage of its more advanced technology. The new chip made graphical operating environments for IBM PC and PC-compatible computers practical. The architecture that allowed Windows and IBM OS/2 has remained in subsequent chips. Compaq beat IBM to the market when it announced the Deskpro 386, the first computer on the market to use Intel´s new 80386 chip, a 32-bit microprocessor with 275,000 transistors on each chip. At 4 million operations per second and 4 kilobytes of memory, the 80386 gave PCs as much speed and power as older mainframes and minicomputers.
Components David Miller of AT&T Bell Labs patented the optical transistor, a component central to digital optical computing. Called Self-ElectroOptic-Effect Device, or SEED, the transistor involved a light-sensitive switch built with layers of gallium arsenide and gallium aluminum arsenide. Beams of light triggered electronic events that caused the light either to be transmitted or absorbed, thus turning the switch on or off. Within a decade, research on the optical transistor led to successful work on the first all-optical processor and the first general-purpose all-optical computer. Bell Labs researchers first demonstrated the processor there in 1990. A computer using the SEED also contained lasers, lenses, and fast light switches, but it still required programming by a separate, non-optical computer. In 1993, researchers at the University of Colorado unveiled the first all-optical computer capable of being programmed and of manipulating instructions internally.
Computers Daniel Hillis of Thinking Machines Corp. moved artificial intelligence a step forward when he developed the controversial concept of massive parallelism in the Connection Machine. The machine used up to 65,536 processors and could complete several billion operations per second. Each processor had its own small memory linked with others through a flexible network that users could alter by reprogramming rather than rewiring.
Graphics & Games Pixar is founded. Pixar was originally called the Special Effects Computer Group at Lucasfilm (launched in 1979).
1987 Components Motorola unveiled the 68030 microprocessor. A step up from the 68020, it built on a 32-bit enhanced microprocessor with a central processing unit core, a data cache, an instruction cache, an enhanced bus controller, and a memory management unit in a single VLSI device — all operating at speeds of at least 20 MHz. Computers IBM introduced its PS/2 machines, which made the 3 1/2-inch floppy disk drive and video graphics array standard for IBM computers. The first IBMs to include Intel´s 80386 chip, the company had shipped more than 1 million units by the end of the year. IBM released a new operating system, OS/2, at the same time, allowing the use of a mouse with IBMs for the first time.
Software & Languages Apple engineer William Atkinson designed HyperCard, a software tool that simplifies development of in-house applications. HyperCard differed from previous programs of its sort because Atkinson made it interactive rather than language-based and geared it toward the construction of user interfaces rather than the processing of data. In HyperCard, programmers built stacks with the concept of hypertext links between stacks of pages. Apple distributed the program free with Macintosh computers until 1992. Hypercard users could look through existing HyperCard stacks as well as add to or edit the stacks. As a stack author, a programmer employed various tools to create his own stacks, linked together as a sort of slide show. At the lowest level, the program linked cards sequentially in chronological ordered, but the HyperTalk programming language allowed more sophisticated links.
1988 Components Compaq and other PC-clone makers developed enhanced industry standard architecture — better than microchannel and retained compatibility with existing machines. EISA used a 32-bit bus, or a means by which two devices can communicate. The advanced data-handling features of the EISA made it an improvement over the 16-bit bus of industry standard architecture. IBM´s competitors developed the EISA as a way to avoid paying a fee to IBM for its MCA bus. Computers Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, who left Apple to form his own company, unveiled the NeXT.
Networking Robert Morris´ worm flooded the ARPANET. Then-23-year-old Morris, the son of a computer security expert for the National Security Agency, sent a nondestructive worm through the Internet, causing problems for about 6,000 of the 60,000 hosts linked to the network. A researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California discovered the worm. " Morris, who said he was motivated by boredom, programmed the worm to reproduce itself and computer files and to filter through all the networked computers. The size of the reproduced files eventually became large enough to fill the computers´ memories, disabling them.
People & Pop Culture Pixar´s "Tin Toy" became the first computer-animated film to win an Academy Award, taking the Oscar for best animated short film. Founded in 1986, one of Pixar´s primary projects involved a renderer, called Renderman, the standard for describing 3-D scenes. Renderman describes objects, light sources, cameras, atmospheric effects, and other information so that a scene can be rendered on a variety of systems. The company continued on to other successes, including 1995´s "Toy Story," the first full-length feature film created entirely by computer animation.
1989 Intel released the 80486 microprocessor and the i860 RISC/coprocessor chip, each of which contained more than 1 million transistors. The RISC microprocessor had a 32-bit integer arithmetic and logic unit (the part of the CPU that performs operations such as addition and subtraction), a 64-bit floating-point unit, and a clock rate of 33 MHz. Motorola announced the 68040 microprocessor, with about 1.2 million transistors. Due to technical difficulties, it didn´t ship until 1991, although promised in January 1990. A 32-bit, 25-MHz microprocessor, the 68040 integrated a floating-point unit and included instruction and data caches. Apple used the third generation of 68000 chips in Macintosh Quadra computers.
Software & Languages Maxis released SimCity, a video game that helped launch of series of simulators. Graphics & Games The concept of virtual reality made a statement as the hot topic at Siggraph´s 1989 convention in Boston. The Silicon Graphics booth featured the new technology, designed by the computer-aided design software company Autodesk and the computer company VPL. The term describes a computer-generated 3-D environment that allows a user to interact with the realities created there. The computer must calculate and display sensory information quickly enough to fool the senses.
1990 Graphics & Games Video Toaster is introduced by NewTek. The Video Toaster was a video editing and production system for the Amiga line of computers and included custom hardware and special software. Much more affordable than any other computer-based video editing system, the Video Toaster was not only for home use. It was popular with public access stations and was even good enough to be used for broadcast television shows like Home Improvement.
Networking The World Wide Web was born when Tim Berners-Lee, a researcher at CERN, the high-energy physics laboratory in Geneva, developed H yper T ext M arkup L anguage. HTML, as it is commonly known, allowed the Internet to expand into the World Wide Web, using specifications he developed such as URL ( U niform R esource L ocator) and HTTP ( H yper T ext T ransfer P rotocol). A browser, such as Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer, follows links and sends a query to a server, allowing a user to view a site. Berners-Lee based the World Wide Web on Enquire, a hypertext system he had developed for himself, with the aim of allowing people to work together by combining their knowledge in a global web of hypertext documents. With this idea in mind, Berners-Lee designed the first World Wide Web server and browser — available to the general public in 1991. Berners-Lee founded the W3 Consortium, which coordinates World Wide Web development.
Software & Languages Microsoft shipped Windows 3.0 on May 22. Compatible with DOS programs, the first successful version of Windows finally offered good enough performance to satisfy PC users. For the new version, Microsoft revamped the interface and created a design that allowed PCs to support large graphical applications for the first time. It also allowed multiple programs to run simultaneously on its Intel 80386 microprocessor. Microsoft released Windows amid a $10 million publicity blitz. In addition to making sure consumers knew about the product, Microsoft lined up a number of other applications ahead of time that ran under Windows 3.0, including versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. As a result, PCs moved toward the user-friendly concepts of the Macintosh, making IBM and IBM-compatible computers more popular.
1991 Designed by Finnish university student Linus Torvalds, Linux was released to several Usenet newsgroups on September 17th, 1991. Almost immediately, enthusiasts began developing and improving Linux, such as adding support for peripherals and improving its stability. In February 1992, Linux became free software or (as its developers preferred to say after 1998) open source. Linux typically incorporated elements of the GNU operating system and became widely used. Pretty Good Privacy is introduced. Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, is an e-mail encryption program. Its inventor, software engineer Phil Zimmermann, created it as a tool for people to protect themselves from intrusive governments around the world. Zimmermann posted PGP on the Internet in 1991 where it was available as a free download. The United States government, concerned about the strength of PGP, which rivaled some of the best secret codes in use at the time, prosecuted Zimmermann but dropped its investigation in 1996. PGP is now the most widely used encryption system for e-mail in the world.
1992 “ Terminator 2: Judgment Day” opens. Director James Cameron’s sequel to his 1984 hit “The Terminator,” featured ground-breaking special effects done by Industrial Light & Magic. Made for a record $100 million, it was the most expensive movie ever made at the time. Most of this cost was due to the expense of computer-generated special effects (such as image morphing) throughout the film. Terminator 2 is one of many films that critique civilization’s frequent blind trust in technology.
1993 The Pentium microprocessor is released. The Pentium was the fifth generation of the ‘x86’ line of microprocessors from Intel, the basis for the IBM PC and its clones. The Pentium introduced several advances that made programs run faster such as the ability to execute several instructions at the same time and support for graphics and music.
Graphics & Games “ Doom” is released. id Software released Doom in late 1993. An immersive first-person shooter-style game, Doom became popular on many different platforms before losing popularity to games like Halo and Counter-Strike. Doom players were also among the first to customize the game’s levels and appearance. Doom would spawn several sequels and a 2005 film. Networking The Mosaic web browser is released. Mosaic was the first commercial software that allowed graphical access to content on the internet. Designed by Eric Bina and Marc Andreessen at the University of Illinois’s National Center for Supercomputer Applications, Mosaic was originally designed for a Unix system running X-windows. By 1994, Mosaic was available for several other operating systems such as the Mac OS, Windows and AmigaOS