Computers Timeline

By Bettey
  • 1939 Hewlet-Packard founded

    1939 Hewlet-Packard founded
    David Packard and Bill Hewlett found Hewlett-Packard in a Palo Alto, California garage. Their first product was the HP 200A Audio Oscillator, which rapidly becomes a popular piece of test equipment for engineers. Walt Disney Pictures ordered eight of the 200B model to use as sound effects generators for the 1940 movie “Fantasia.”
  • Harvard Mark-1 is completed

    Harvard 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 The Mark-1 was used to produce mathematical tables but was soon superseded by stored program computers.
  • Grace Hopper recorded the first actual computer "bug" — a moth stuck between the relays and logged at 15:45 hours on the Harvard Mark II.

    Grace Hopper recorded the first actual computer "bug" — a moth stuck between the relays and logged at 15:45 hours on the Harvard Mark II.
    Hopper, a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, enjoyed successful careers in academia, business, and the military while making history in the computer field. She helped program the Harvard Mark I and II and developed the first compiler, A-0. Her subsequent work on programming languages led to COBOL, a language specified to operate on machines of different manufacturers
  • 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.

    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.
    This free, public set of lectures inspired the EDSAC, BINAC, and, later, IAS machine clones like the AVIDAC. Here, Warren Kelleher completes the wiring of the arithmetic unit components of the AVIDAC at Argonne National Laboratory. Robert Dennis installs the inter-unit wiring as James Woody Jr. adjusts the deflection control circuits of the memory unit.
  • IBM´s Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator

    IBM´s Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator
    The SSEC 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.
  • Norbert Wiener published "Cybernetics"

    Norbert Wiener published "Cybernetics"
    Wiener's book is a major influence on later research into artificial intelligence. He drew on his WW II experiments with anti-aircraft systems that anticipated the course of enemy planes by interpreting radar images. Wiener coined the term "cybernetics" from the Greek word for "steersman." Historians note Wiener for his analysis of brain waves and his exploration of the similarities between the human brain and modern computing machines capable of memory association, choice, and decision making
  • MIT´s Whirlwind

    MIT´s Whirlwind
    MIT´s Whirlwind debuted on Edward R. Murrow´s "See It Now" television series. Project director Jay Forrester described the computer as a "reliable operating system," running 35 hours a week at 90-percent utility using an electrostatic tube memory.
  • Grace Hopper completes the A-0 Compiler.

    Grace Hopper completes the A-0 Compiler.
    In 1952, mathematician Grace Hopper completed what is considered to be the first compiler, a program that allows a computer user to use English-like words instead of numbers. Other compilers based on A-0 followed: ARITH-MATIC, MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC [software]
  • 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

    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
    The opinion polls predicted a landslide in favor of Stevenson, but UNIVAC´s analysis of early returns showed a clear victory for Eisenhower. Its sharp divergence from public opinion made newscasters Walter Cronkite and Charles Collingwood question the validity of the computer´s forecast, so they postponed announcing UNIVAC´s prediction until very late
  • IBM shipped its first electronic computer, the 701.

    During three years of production, IBM sold 19 machines to research laboratories, aircraft companies, and the federal government.
  • MIT researchers built the TX-0, the first general-purpose, programmable computer built with transistors.

    MIT researchers built the TX-0, the first general-purpose, programmable computer built with transistors.
    Constructed at MIT´s Lincoln Laboratory, the TX-0 moved to the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics, where it hosted some early imaginative tests of programming, including a Western movie shown on TV, 3-D tic-tac-toe, and a maze in which mouse found martinis and became increasingly inebriated
  • Formal creation of Digital Equipment Corp.

    Formal creation of Digital Equipment Corp.
    A group of engineers led by Ken Olsen left MIT´s Lincoln Laboratory founded a company based on the new transistor technology. In August, they formally created Digital Equipment Corp. It initially set up shop in a largely vacant woolen mill in Maynard, Mass., where all aspects of product development — from management to manufacturing — took place.
  • MIT´s Servomechanisms Laboratory demonstrated computer-assisted manufacturing

    MIT´s Servomechanisms Laboratory demonstrated computer-assisted manufacturing
    The school´s Automatically Programmed Tools project created a language, APT, used to instruct milling machine operations. At the demonstration, the machine produced an ashtray for each attendee.
  • 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.demonstration on all 50 computers.
  • A team drawn from several computer manufacturers and the Pentagon developed COBOL, Common Business Oriented Language.

    Designed for business use, early COBOL efforts aimed for easy readability of computer programs and as much machine independence as possible. Designers hoped a COBOL program would run on any computer for which a compiler existed with only minimal modifications
  • IBM introduces the 1400 Series.

    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. Demand called for more than 12,000 of the 1401 computers, and the machine´s success made a strong case for using general-purpose computers rather than specialized systems
  • MIT students Slug Russell, Shag Graetz, and Alan Kotok write SpaceWar!

    MIT students Slug Russell, Shag Graetz, and Alan Kotok write SpaceWar!
    It is 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. Dueling players fired at each other´s spaceships and used early versions of joysticks to manipulate away from the central gravitational force of a sun as well as from the enemy ship.
  • BM announced the System/360

    BM 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.
  • IBM´s SABRE reservation system, set up for American Airlines.

    IBM´s SABRE reservation system, set up for American Airlines.
    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.
  • Hewlett-Packard entered the general purpose computer business with its HP-2115 for computation

    Hewlett-Packard entered the general purpose computer business with its HP-2115 for computation
    The HP-2115 offered a computational power formerly found only in much larger computers. It supported a wide variety of languages, among them BASIC, ALGOL, and FORTRAN.
  • Seymour Papert designed LOGO as a computer language for children.

    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
  • Xerox opens Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

    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 JobsJobs (Apple), Bob Metcalfe (3Com), as well as Charles Geschke and John Warnock (Adobe)
  • The first e-mail is sent

    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"”
  • The Kenbak-1, the first personal computer, advertised for $750 in Scientific American

    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.
  • Pong is released.

    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, CA. 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 design a version of ping-pong instead. Pong revolutionized the arcade industry and launched the modern video game era.
  • Wozniak´s "blue box"

    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 ... you tell the police : It´s just a music box.
  • Researchers at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center designed the Alto — the first work station with a built-in mouse for input.

    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.
  • Researchers at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center designed the Alto — the first work station with a built-in mouse for input.

    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.
  • Steve Wozniak designed the Apple I, a single-board computer

    Steve Wozniak designed the Apple I, a single-board computer
    With specifications in hand and an order for 100 machines at $500 each from the Byte Shop, he and Steve Jobs got their start in business. In this photograph of the Apple I board, the upper two rows are a video terminal and the lower two rows are the computer. The 6502 microprocessor in the white package sits on the lower right. About 200 of the machines sold before the company announced the Apple II as a complete computer.
  • 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.
  • The Apple II became an instant success when released in 1977

    The Apple II became an instant success when released in 1977
    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
  • Atari released the Atari Video Computer System (VCS) later renamed the Atari 2600.

    Atari released the Atari Video Computer System (VCS) later renamed the Atari 2600.
    The VCS was the first widely successful video game system, selling more than twenty million units throughout the 1980s. The VCS used the 8-bit MOS 6507 microprocessor and was designed to be connected to a home television set. When the last of Atari’s 8-bit game consoles were made in 1990, more than 900 video game titles had been released.
  • Texas Instruments Inc. introduced Speak & Spell, a talking learning aid for ages 7 and up.

    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.
  • Harvard MBA candidate Daniel Bricklin and programmer Robert Frankston developed VisiCalc,

    Harvard MBA candidate Daniel Bricklin and programmer Robert Frankston developed VisiCalc,
    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.
  • MS-DOS is released by IBM

    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.
  • Commodore introduces the Commodore 64.

    Commodore introduces the Commodore 64.
    The C64, as it was better known, sold for $595, came with 64KB of RAM and featured impressive graphics. Thousands of software titles were released over the lifespan of the C64. By the time the C64 was discontinued in 1993, it had sold more than 22 million units and is recognized by the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest selling single computer model of all time.
  • Trinidad and Tobago issue a stamp depicting a woman working at a computer terminal

    Trinidad and Tobago issue a stamp depicting a woman working at a computer terminal
  • Apple Computer launched the Macintosh, the first successful mouse-driven computer with a graphic user interface,

    Apple Computer launched the Macintosh, the first successful mouse-driven computer with a graphic user interface,
    Apple Computer launched the Macintosh, the first successful mouse-driven computer with a graphic user interface, with a single $1.5 million commercial during the 1984 Super Bowl. Based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor, the Macintosh included many of the Lisa´s features at a much more affordable price: $2,500.
  • Hungary issues a stamp depicting the 3rd computer science conference COMNET

    Hungary issues a stamp depicting the 3rd computer science conference COMNET
  • BM introduced its PS/2 machines

    BM introduced its PS/2 machines
    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.
  • Steve Jobs unveils the NeXT

    Steve Jobs unveils the NeXT
    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 World Wide Web is born

    The World Wide Web is born
    Tim Berners-Lee, a researcher at CERN, the high-energy physics laboratory in Geneva, develops 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.
  • Yahoo is founded.

    Yahoo is founded.
    Founded by Stanford graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo, Yahoo started out as "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web" before being renamed. Yahoo originally resided on two machines, Akebono and Konishiki, both named after famous Sumo wrestlers. Yahoo would quickly expand to become one of the Internet’s most popular search engines.
  • Microsoft releases Internet Explorer for the Macintosh

  • An issue of "WIRED" magazine shows a desktop computer on the cover.

  • At the Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs announces that he is accepting the position as full-time CEO of Apple Computer

  • • Sri Lanka issues a series of postage stamps on the Year 2000, a 100-rupee stamp depicting a personal computer and a 100-rupee stamp depicting a man at a computer

    •	Sri Lanka issues a series of postage stamps on the Year 2000, a 100-rupee stamp depicting a personal computer and a 100-rupee stamp depicting a man at a computer
  • New Zealand issues a 40-cent postage stamp depicting a personal computer mouse, part of a series for the 100th anniversary of penny universal postage.

    New Zealand issues a 40-cent postage stamp depicting a personal computer mouse, part of a series for the 100th anniversary of penny universal postage.
  • Ecuador issues a 68-cent postage stamp depicting a personal computer

  • The US Surgeon General's office releases a report: "Youth and Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General". It concludes that media influences play a low role in contributing to youth violence

  • Cuba issues a 65 centavos postage stamp depicting children using a personal computer

    Cuba issues a 65 centavos postage stamp depicting children using a personal computer
  • Apple Computer releases updated iBook computers

  • Cuba issues a 65 centavos postage stamp depicting a laptop computer

    Cuba issues a 65 centavos postage stamp depicting a laptop computer
  • Apple Computer introduces the first iMac computer with an Intel processor

  • Azerbaijan issues a postage stamp depicting a man at a personal computer

    Azerbaijan issues a postage stamp depicting a man at a personal computer
  • Trinidad, Tobago, Macao and Tunisia issue postage stamps depicting personal computers

    Trinidad and Tobago issues a postage stamp depicting a personal computer keyboardMacao issues a postage stamp depicting a personal computer keyboard and mouseTunisia issues a postage stamp depicting a personal computer.
  • In Monza, Italy, the 2006 World Cyber Games are held. About 700 players from 70 countries attend. Total prize money is US$435,000

    In Monza, Italy, the 2006 World Cyber Games are held. About 700 players from 70 countries attend. Total prize money is US$435,000
  • The Dominican Republic, Great Britain, Cuba, Netherlands and Bolivia issue postage stamps depicting computers

    The Dominican Republic issues a 25-peso postage stamp depicting a computer and keyboard. Great Britain issues two postage stamps depicting a man at a personal computer. Cuba issues a 65c postage stamp depicting a person at a computer. Cuba issues two 75c postage stamps depicting a man and a girl at a computer• Chile issues a 250p postage stamp depicting children at a computer. Netherlands issues a 44-cent + 22-cent postage stamp depicting a child and a computer. Bolivia issues a 3b postage stamp
  • North Korea issues a 12-w postage stamp marking the 50th anniversary of introductory compulsory secondary education, depicting a boy at a personal computer

    North Korea issues a 12-w postage stamp marking the 50th anniversary of introductory compulsory secondary education, depicting a boy at a personal computer
  • At Macworld Expo, Apple introduces the MacBook Air laptop computer

  • Algeria issues a 15d postage stamp depicting a personal computer

  • Last official day for Bill Gates at Microsoft

  • South Africa, Venezuela, Morocco, and Netherlands Antilles issue postage stamps depicting personal computer images

    South Africa, Venezuela, Morocco, and Netherlands Antilles issue postage stamps depicting personal computer images
    South Africa issues a 2.05r postage stamp for "Ergonomics in the office" depicting a personal computer• Venezuela issues 10 postage stamps depicting personal computers, promoting protection of children on the Internet• Morocco issues a 7.80-dirham postage stamp depicting a computer keyboard and monitor.• Netherlands Antilles issues a 164-cent postage stamp for the Century of Telecommunications and Posts Departments, depicting a person at a computer.
  • Costa Rica, Malaysia and Kenya issue postage stamp depciting laptop computers

    • Costa Rica issues a postage stamp for the 60th anniversary of the Costa Rican Electrical Institute, depicting a laptop computer. • Malaysia issues a 30-cent postage stamp depicting a personal computer.• Kenya issues a postage stamp depicting a personal computer
  • Apple unveils new line of redesigned iMac (starting at US$1199), MacBook (4.7 pounds, starting at US$999), and Mac Mini (US$599) computers, with touch-based mice (no buttons, balls, or wheels) and edge-to-edge glass

  • Apple begins sales of the iPad tablet computer in the USA

  • Uzbekistan and Sweden issue postage stamp depicting a laptop computer

    Uzbekistan and Sweden issue postage stamp depicting a laptop computer
    Uzbekistan issues a postage stamp depicting personal computersSweden issues a postage stamp depicting a laptop computer
  • MIT researchers began experimentation on direct keyboard input on computers

    This was a precursor to today´s normal mode of operation. Doug Ross wrote a memo advocating direct access in February; five months later, the Whirlwind aided in such an experiment.