Computer Technology History

  • 1822 Charles Babbage Developes Difference Engine

    Charles Babbage purposed and began developing the Difference Engine, considered to be the first automatic computing engine that was capable of computing several sets of numbers and making a hard copies of the results. But lack of funding left his machine incomplete.
  • Period: to

    History of Computers

  • Charles Babbage Proposes Another Machine

    The Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine contained an Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU), basic flow control, and integrated memory and is the first general-purpose computer concept. Unfortunately, because of funding issues this computer was also never built while Charles Babbage's was alive.
  • Henry Babbage (Charles' Youngest Son)

    Completes a portion of his father's analytical machine and it was able to do basic calculations.
  • First Programmable Computer

    The Z1 was originally created by Germany's Konrad Zuse in his parents living room in 1936 to 1938 and is considered to be the first electro-mechanical binary programmable (modern) computer and really the first functional computer.
  • First Concepts of What We Consider A 'Modern' computer

    first proposed by the Alan Turing in 1936 and became the The foundation for theories about computing and computers. The machine was a device that printed symbols on paper tape in a manner that emulated a person following a series of logical instructions. Without these fundamentals, we wouldn't have the computers we use today.
  • First Digital Computer

    Short for Atanasoff-Berry Computer, the ABC started being developed by Professor John Vincent Atanasoff and graduate student Cliff Berry in 1937 and continued to be developed until 1942 at the Iowa State College (now Iowa State University). The ABC was an electrical computer that used vacuum tubes for digital computation including binary math and Boolean logic and had no CPU.
  • Decrypting Nazi Communications

    Decrypting Nazi Communications
    The first Bombe is completed. Based partly on the design of the Polish “Bomba,” a mechanical means of decrypting Nazi military communications during WWII, the British Bombe design was greatly influenced by the work of computer pioneer Alan Turing and others. Many bombes were built. Together they dramatically improved the intelligence gathering and processing capabilities of Allied forces. [Computers]
  • The ABC

    The ABC
    The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) is completed. After successfully demonstrating a proof-of-concept prototype in 1939, Atanasoff received funds to build the full-scale machine. Built at Iowa State College (now University), the ABC was designed and built by Professor John Vincent Atanasoff and graduate student Cliff Berry between 1939 and 1942. The ABC was at the center of a patent dispute relating to the invention of the computer, which was resolved in 1973 when it was shown that ENIAC co-desi
  • ENIAC

    The ENIAC was invented by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania and began construction in 1943 and was not completed until 1946. It occupied about 1,800 square feet and used about 18,000 vacuum tubes, weighing almost 50 tons. Although the Judge ruled that the ABC computer was the first digital computer, many still consider the ENIAC to be the first digital computer because it was fully functional.
  • First Electric Programmable Computer

    The Colossus was the first electric programmable computer and was developed by Tommy Flowers and first demonstrated in December 1943. The Colossus was created to help the British code breakers read encrypted German messages.
  • SSEC

    SSEC
    IBM´s Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator computed scientific data in public display near the company´s Manhattan headquarters. Before its decommissioning in 1952, the SSEC produced the moon-position tables used for plotting the course of the 1969 Apollo flight to the moon.
    Speed: 50 multiplications per second
    Input/output: cards, punched tape
    Memory type: punched tape, vacuum tubes, relays
    Technology: 20,000 relays, 12,500 vacuum tubes
    Floor space: 25 feet by 40 feet
    Project leader: Wallac
  • The First Stored Program Computer

    The early British computer known as the EDSAC is considered to be the first stored program electronic computer. The computer performed its first calculation on May 6, 1949 and was the computer that ran the first graphical computer game, nicknamed "Baby".
  • First Computer Company

    The first computer company was the Electronic Controls Company and was founded in 1949 by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the same individuals who helped create the ENIAC computer. The company was later renamed to EMCC or Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and released a series of mainframe computers under the UNIVAC name.
  • Thomas Watson Jr

    Thomas Watson Jr., speaking to an IBM sales meeting, predicted all moving parts in machines would be replaced by electronics within a decade.
  • First Commercial Computer

    In 1942, Konrad Zuse begin working on the Z4, which later became the first commercial computer after being sold to Eduard Stiefel a mathematician of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich on July 12, 1950.
  • First Computer to Run On Memory

    First delivered to the United States Government in 1950, the UNIVAC 1101 or ERA 1101 is considered to be the first computer that was capable of storing and running a program from memory.
  • The First PC Computer

    On April 7, 1953 IBM publicly introduced the 701, its first electric computer and first mass produced computer. Later IBM introduced its first personal computer called the IBM PC in 1981. The computer was code named and still sometimes referred to as the Acorn and had a 8088 processor, 16 KB of memory, which was expandable to 256 and utilizing MS-DOS.
  • First Computer With RAM

    MIT introduces the Whirlwind machine on March 8, 1955, a revolutionary computer that was the first digital computer with magnetic core RAM and real-time graphics.
  • 1955-1956 Keyboard

    1956 MIT began working on a direct input keyboard for computer, a precursor to today's.
  • SAGE

    SAGE
    Semi-Automatic Ground Environment — linked hundreds of radar stations in the United States and Canada in the first large-scale computer communications network. An operator directed actions by touching a light gun to the screen.
  • Commercial Modem

    Commercial Modem
    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. Outside manufacturers incorporated Bell Laboratories´ digital data sets into commercial products. The development of equalization techniques and bandwidth-conserving modulation systems improved transmission efficiency in national and global systems.
  • NPN Transistor

    NPN Transistor
    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.
  • CDC Supercomputer

    CDC Supercomputer
    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. Part of the speed came from the computer´s design, which had 10 small computers, known as peripheral processors, funneling data to a large central processing unit.
  • Illiac IV

    Illiac IV
    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. The first large-scale array computer, the ILLIAC IV achieved a computation speed of 200 million instructions per second, about 300 million operations per second, and 1 billion bits per second of I/O transfer via a unique combination of parallel architecture and the over
  • Evans & Sutherland

    Evans & Sutherland
    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. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, the two founders trained a generation of computer graphics pioneers—either at E&S or at the University of Utah computer science department. Sutherland left the firm in 1975, and Evans retired in the early 199
  • First ATM

    Citizens and Southern National Bank in Valdosta, Ga., installed the country´s first automatic teller machine.
  • ARPANET

    ARPANET
    Computer-to-computer communication expanded when the Department of Defense established four nodes on the ARPANET: the University of California Santa Barbara and UCLA, SRI International, and the University of Utah. Viewed as a comprehensive resource-sharing network, ARPANET´s designers set out with several goals: direct use of distributed hardware services; direct retrieval from remote, one-of-a-kind databases; and the sharing of software subroutines and packages not available on the users´ prima
  • Intel's Microprocessor

    Intel's Microprocessor
    Intel´s 8008 microprocessor made its debut. A vast improvement over its predecessor, the 4004, its eight-bit word afforded 256 unique arrangements of ones and zeros. For the first time, a microprocessor could handle both uppercase and lowercase letters, all 10 numerals, punctuation marks, and a host of other symbols.
  • First Built-in Mouse

    First Built-in Mouse
    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.
  • The Apple-1

    The Apple-1
    Steve Wozniak, a young American electronics expert, designed the Apple-1, a single-board computer for hobbyists. With an order for 50 assembled systems from Mountain View, California computer store The Byte Shop in hand, he and best friend Steve Jobs started a new company, naming it Apple Computer, Inc. In all, about 200 of the boards were sold before Apple announced the follow-on Apple II a year later as a ready-to-use computer for consumers, a model which sold in the millions.
  • Speak and Spell

    Speak and Spell
    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. Speak & Spell utilized linear predictive coding to formulate a mathematical model of the human vocal tract and predict a speech sample based on previous input. It transformed digital information processed through a filter into synthetic speech and could store more than 100 seconds of linguistic sounds.
  • IBM DASD

    IBM DASD
    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.
  • Time Magazine:Machine of the Year

    Time magazine altered its annual tradition of naming a "Man of the Year," choosing instead to name the computer its "Machine of the Year." In introducing the theme, Time publisher John A. Meyers wrote, "Several human candidates might have represented 1982, but none symbolized the past year more richly, or will be viewed by history as more significant, than a machine: the computer. His magazine, he explained, has chronicled the change in public opinion with regard to computers. A senior writer c
  • Apple's Macintosh

    Time magazine altered its annual tradition of naming a "Man of the Year," choosing instead to name the computer its "Machine of the Year." In introducing the theme, Time publisher John A. Meyers wrote, "Several human candidates might have represented 1982, but none symbolized the past year more richly, or will be viewed by history as more significant, than a machine: the computer. His magazine, he explained, has chronicled the change in public opinion with regard to computers. A senior writer c
  • Pixar

    Pixar
    Pixar is founded. Pixar was originally called the Special Effects Computer Group at Lucasfilm (launched in 1979). The group created the computer animated segments of films such as “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and “Young Sherlock Holmes.” In 1986, Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs paid 10 million dollars to Lucasfilm to purchase the Group and renamed it Pixar. Over the next decade, Pixar made highly-successful (and Oscar-winning) animated films. It was bought by Disney in 2006.
  • Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs
    Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, who left Apple to form his own company, unveiled the NeXT. The computer he created failed but was recognized as an important innovation. At a base price of $6,500, the NeXT ran too slowly to be popular. The significance of the NeXT rested in its place as the first personal computer to incorporate a drive for an optical storage disk, a built-in digital signal processor that allowed voice recognition, and object-oriented languages to simplify programming. The NeXT offe
  • The World Wide Web

    The World Wide Web
    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.
  • Terminator 2

    Terminator 2
    “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.
  • The Mosiac

    The Mosiac
    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.
  • DOOM

    DOOM
    “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.
  • The Pentium

    The Pentium
    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.
  • Zip Disk

    Zip Disk
    The Iomega Zip Disk is released. The initial Zip system allowed 100MB to be stored on a cartridge roughly the size of a 3 ½ inch floppy disk. Later versions increased the capacity of a single disk from 100Mbytes to 2GB.