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How things have changed over time

Hewlett-Packard fundada.

A calculadora do nmero complexo (CNC) concluda.

Konrad Zuse termina o computador Z3.

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) is

Project Whirlwind begins.

Harvard Mark-1 is completed.
The first Colossus is operational at Bletchley Park.

John von Neumann wrote "First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC"
On September 9th, Grace Hopper recorded the first actual
computer "bug"

Software &
Konrad Zuse comeou a trabalhar no Plankalkul (plano de clculo),
a primeira lngua programao algortmica, com o objectivo de
criar as pr-condies tericas para a formulao de
problemas de carcter geral. Sete anos antes, Zuse tinha
desenvolvido e construdo o worlds primeiro binrio
computador digital, o Z1. Ele completou o primeiro totalmente
funcional programa controlado eletromecnico computador
digital, o Z3, em 1941. S o Z4 a mais sofisticada das suas
criaes sobreviveu a segunda guerra mundial.

In February, the public got its first glimpse of the ENIAC
An inspiring summer school on computing at the University of
Pennsylvanias Moore School of Electrical Engineering
stimulated construction of stored-program computers at
universities and research institutions.

The Williams tube won the race for a practical randomaccess memory.
On December 23, William Shockley, Walter Brattain, and
John Bardeen successfully tested this point-contact
transistor, setting off the semiconductor revolution.

Computador pioneiros
Presper Eckert e John
Mauchly fundaram a EckertMauchly computador Corp.
para construir mquinas
com base em sua
experincia com o ENIAC e
o EDVAC. A nica mquina,
a companhia construda foi
o BINAC. Antes de
completar o UNIVAC, a
empresa tornou-se uma
diviso da Remington Rand.

Calculadora eletrnica da seqncia IBMs seletivo
computado dados cientficos em exposio pblica perto
da companys sede de Manhattan. Norbert Wiener
publicou "Ciberntica", uma grande influncia na
posterior investigao em inteligncia artificial.

Claude Shannons "Teoria matemtica da comunicao"

mostrou a engenheiros como dados de cdigo, para que
eles poderiam procurar exatido aps uma transmisso
entre computadores. Shannon identificado o bit como a
unidade fundamental dos dados e, coincidentemente, a
unidade bsica da computao.

Maurice Wilkes montou o EDSAC, o primeiro computador de
programa armazenado prtico. O Manchester Mark I
computador funcionava como um sistema completo usando
tubo de Williams para a memria.

Engenharia Research Associates de Minneapolis, construdo na ERA
de 1101, o primeiro produzido comercialmente o computador. O
National Bureau of Standards construdo o SEAC (Standards Eastern
Automatic Computer) em Washington, como um laboratrio para
testes de componentes e sistemas para a criao de padres de

O National Bureau of Standards completou sua SWAC

(Western Standards Automatic Computer) no Instituto de
anlise numrica em Los Angeles. Alan Turings filosofia
dirigido design de Britains piloto ACE no National Physical

MIT Whirlwind
Englands first commercial computer, the Lyons
Electronic Office, solved clerical problems.


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.

Heinz Nixdorf founded Nixdorf Computer Corp. in Germany.
John von Neumanns 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.

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 IBMs 701
computer. Although speedcoding demanded more
memory and compute time, it trimmed weeks off of the
programming schedule.

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."

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
Felker and Harris program TRADIC

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 IBMs shipment of a 305 RAMAC to Zellerbach
Paper in San Francisco.

A group of engineers led by Ken Olsen left MITs 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


IBMs 7000 series mainframes were the

companys first transistorized computers.
At the top of the line of computers
First Planar transistor

Robots & Artificial Intelligence

Software & Languages
ERMA characters
the Electronic Recording Method of
Accounting, digitized checking for the Bank
of America by creating a computerreadable font. A special scanner read
account numbers preprinted on checks in
magnetic ink.

APT ashtray


The precursor to the minicomputer,

DECs 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. Its 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 &

LISP Programmers Reference

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

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.

RTL integrated circuit

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.

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.

Robots & Artificial

IBM 1301 Disk Storage Unit is
released. The IBM 1301 Disk Drive was
announced on June 2nd, 1961 for use
with IBMs 7000-series of mainframe
computers. Maximum capacity was 28
million characters and the disks rotated
at 1,800 R.P.M.
UNIMATE, the first industrial robot, began
work at General Motors. Obeying step-bystep 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


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.

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.

Software &

MIT students Slug Russell, Shag Graetz,

and Alan Kotok wrote SpaceWar!,
considered the first interactive computer
game. First played at MIT on DECs
PDP-1, the large-scope display featured
interactive, shootem-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

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.

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

Software & Languages
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.

Researchers designed the Rancho

Arm at Rancho Los Amigos
Hospital in Downey, California as a
tool for the handicapped. The
Rancho Arms 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.

ASCII American
Standard Code for

-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.

CDCs 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.

IBM announced the System/360, a

family of six mutually compatible
computers and 40 peripherals that
could work together.

Online transaction
processing made its
debut in IBMs
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 Rands Johnniac. Timesharing 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

Thomas Kurtz and John Kemeny created

BASIC, an easy-to-learn programming
language, for their students at Dartmouth

Robots & Artificial
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 VIC20; 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.

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.

Robots & Artificial Intelligence

Software & Languages
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
Digital Equipment Corp. introduced the
for simulation.
PDP-8, the first commercially successful

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
NASAs Ames Research Center.

Hewlett-Packard entered the general

purpose computer business with its HP2115 for computation, offering a
computational power formerly found only in
much larger computers. It supported a
wide variety of languages, among them


Inventors developed the acoustically coupled modem to

connect computers to the telephone network by means of
the standard telephone handset of the day


IBM 1360 Photo-Digital

Storage System is

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.

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.

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
Software & Languages
Edsger Dijkstras "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
The Apollo Guidance Computer made its
established a policy of no
debut orbiting the Earth on Apollo 7. A
longer printing articles
year later, it steered Apollo 11 to the lunar
taking such an assertive
position against a coding
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


Victor Scheinmans Stanford Arm made

a breakthrough as the first successful
electrically powered, computercontrolled 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.

Xerox Corp. bought Scientific Data

Systems for nearly $1 billion

Software &
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 mid1960s, 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.

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 computingmost
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

Citizens and
National Bank in
Valdosta, Ga.,
installed the
countrys first
automatic teller

expanded when the
Department of
Defense established
four nodes on the

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 Internationals 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

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 fourbit chunks. Federico Faggin
led the design and Ted Hoff
led the architecture.

The Kenbak-1, the first personal
computer, advertised for $750 in
Scientific American. Designed by
John V. Blankenbaker using
standard medium-scale and smallscale 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.
RCA sells its computer division.

Networking 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.
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 email, 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


Intels 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

& Games

Original Atari Pong Gme Screenshot

Pong is released. In 1966,

Ralph Baer designed a pingpong 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.

SuperPaint is
SuperPaint was the first
digital computer drawing
system to use a frame buffer
a special high-speed
memoryand 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

Wozniaks "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 offfrequency tones and be
inoperable ... and you tell the
police: Its just a music box."


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 clients 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.


The Micral was the earliest

commercial, non-kit personal
computer based on a microprocessor, the Intel 8008.

Robert Metcalfe devised the

Ethernet method of network
connection at the Xerox Palo Alto
Research Center.

Researchers at the Xerox Palo Alto
Research Center designed the Alto
the first work station with a builtin 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


David Silver at MIT designed the

Silver Arm, a robotic arm to do smallparts assembly using feedback from
delicate touch and pressure sensors.
The arms fine movements
corresponded to those of human
Scelbi advertised its 8H computer, the
first commercially advertised U.S.
computer based on a microprocessor,
Intels 8008.


Xerox closes its computer


The January edition of Popular

Electronics featured the Altair 8800
computer kit, based on Intels 8080
microprocessor, on its cover. Within
weeks of the computers 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


The visual display module (VDM)

prototype, designed in 1975 by
Lee Felsenstein, marked the first
implementation of a memorymapped 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 Tandem16, the first fault-tolerant computer, for
online transaction processing. The
banking industry rushed to adopt the
machine, built to run during repair or


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

Steve Wozniak designed the
Apple I, a single-board

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
operations per
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

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.

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.
Software & Languages
Hiroses Soft Gripper

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.
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.


In the first month after its release, Tandy Radio Shacks first desktop computer
the TRS-80 sold 10,000 units, well more than the companys 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 &

Software & Languages

Atari launches the Video Computer System

game console.

The U.S. government adopted

IBMs 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 eightnumber key for scrambling
and unscrambling data. The
70 quadrillion possible
combinations made breaking
the code by trial and error

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

Robots &

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

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.


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.

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

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 largescale 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


Software & Languages

In development since 1967, the

Stanford Cart successfully
crossed a chair-filled room
without human intervention in

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
Visible Calculator) automated the
recalculation of spreadsheets. A huge
success, more than 100,000 copies sold in
one year.

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.

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 IBMs
most successful
products of
all time.

IBM 3380 Disk


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 Microsofts MSDOS operating system.

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.
Adam Osborne completed the
first portable computer, the
Osborne I

Software &

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

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.

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.

People & Pop Culture

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 Disneys
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.

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.


Thinking Machines is founded. Thinking Machines

Corporation (TMC) was formed by MIT graduate student
Danny Hillis and others to develop a new type of

Apple introduced
its Lisa. The first
personal computer
with a graphical
user interface, its
development was
central in the
move to such
systems for

Compaq Computer Corp. introduced

first PC clone that used the same
software as the IBM PC.


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.

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.

Software & Languages

Microsoft announced Word,
Originally called Multi-Tool Word, and Windows. The latter doesnt
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.
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 "Groliers 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.

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.


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

People & Pop Culture

In his novel
"Neuromancer," William
Gibson coined the term

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..."


IBM 3480 Cartridge

Tape System
Magnetic tape allows for inexpensive
mass storage of information and so is
a key part of the computer revolution


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

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 &
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.


Compaq beat IBM to the market

when it announced the Deskpro
386, the first computer on the
market to use Intels 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

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

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.


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).




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 Intels
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.
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.

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.

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. IBMs competitors
developed the EISA as a way to
avoid paying a fee to IBM for its
MCA bus.

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, who
left Apple to form his own
company, unveiled the NeXT.

Robert Morris worm flooded
the ARPANET. Then-23-yearold 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

Pixars "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 Pixars 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 1995s "Toy Story," the first full-length feature
film created entirely by computer animation.


Motorola announced the 68040

microprocessor, with about 1.2
million transistors. Due to technical
difficulties, it didnt 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.

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

Software & Languages

Graphics & Games

Maxis released SimCity, a

video game that helped
launch of series of

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

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

The World Wide Web was born when Tim Berners-Lee, a
researcher at CERN, the high-energy physics laboratory in
Geneva, developed HyperText Markup Language. HTML,
as it is commonly known, allowed the Internet to expand
into the World Wide Web, using specifications he
developed such as URL (Uniform Resource Locator) and
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). 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 &
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 userfriendly concepts of the Macintosh, making IBM and IBM-compatible computers
more popular.

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 email 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.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
opens. Director James Camerons
sequel to his 1984 hit The
Terminator, featured groundbreaking 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 civilizations frequent
blind trust in technology.

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

Graphics & Games


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
Illinoiss 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

Doom is released. id Software released Doom

in late 1993. An immersive first-person shooterstyle 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 games levels and appearance. Doom would
spawn several sequels and a 2005 film.


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