By stephen orc
harvard mark-1Harvard Mark-1 is completed. Conceived by Harvard professor Howard Aiken, and designed and built by IBM, the Harvard Mark-1 was a room-sized, relay-based calculator. The machine had a fifty-foot long camshaft that synchronized the machine’s thousands of component parts. The Mark-1 was used to produce mathematical tables but was soon superseded by stored program computers.
ENIACIn February, the public got its first glimpse of the ENIAC, a machine built by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert that improved by 1,000 times on the speed of its contemporaries.Start of project: 1943
Programmed: plug board and switches
Speed: 5,000 operations per second
Input/output: cards, lights, switches, plugs
Floor space: 1,000 square feet
Project leaders: John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert.
silicon junction transistersA silicon-based junction transistor, perfected by Gordon Teal of Texas Instruments Inc., brought the price of this component down to $2.50. A Texas Instruments news release from May 10, 1954, read, "Electronic "brains" approaching the human brain in scope and reliability came much closer to reality today with the announcement by Texas Instruments Incorporated of the first commercial production of silicon transistors kernel-sized substitutes for vacuum tubes." The company became a household name
Magnetic disk storageThe era of magnetic disk storage dawned with IBM´s shipment of a 305 RAMAC to Zellerbach Paper in San Francisco. The IBM 350 disk file served as the storage component for the Random Access Method of Accounting and Control. It consisted of 50 magnetically coated metal platters with 5 million bytes of data. The platters, stacked one on top of the other, rotated with a common drive shaft.
system/360IBM announced the System/360, a family of six mutually compatible computers and 40 peripherals that could work together. The initial investment of $5 billion was quickly returned as orders for the system climbed to 1,000 per month within two years. At the time IBM released the System/360, the company was making a transition from discrete transistors to integrated circuits, and its major source of revenue moved from punched-card equipment to electronic computer systems.
Acoustically coupled modemJohn van Geen of the Stanford Research Institute vastly improved the acoustically coupled modem. His receiver reliably detected bits of data despite background noise heard over long-distance phone lines. Inventors developed the acoustically coupled modem to connect computers to the telephone network by means of the standard telephone handset of the day.
siver armDavid 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.
CRAY 1The 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
magnetic tapeMagnetic tape allows for inexpensive mass storage of information and so is a key part of the computer revolution. Announced in March 1984, IBM’s new 3480 cartridge tape system sought to replace the traditional reels of magnetic tape in the computer center with a 4” x 5” cartridge that held more information (200MB) and offered faster access to it. IBM withdrew the system in 1989 but the new format caught on with other computer makers who began making 3480-compatible storage systems for several y
PIXARPixar 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.
netscapeNetscape Communications Corporation is founded. Netscape was originally founded as Mosaic Communications Corporation in April of 1994 by Marc Andreessen, Jim Clark and others. Its name was soon changed to Netscape and it delivered its first browser in October of 1994. On the day of Netscape's initial public offering in August of 1995, it’s share price went from $28 to $54 in the first few minutes of trading, valuing the company at $2 billion.