The evolution of technology from 1971-1997

  • 1971

    • First use of the “@” sign for an electronic message sent by Ray Tomlinson through the ARPANET.
    • Intel creates the first microprocessor (a computer on a single chip) for use in a calculator.
  • Period: to


  • 1972

    1972: Hewlett Packard introduces the replacement for the slide rule–the first hand_held scientific calculator. 1972: Pong, the first video game to stand alongside pinball machines is introduced by the Atari, a company founded by Nolan Bushnell.
  • 1973

    1973: The ENIAC patent is invalidated and the federal government recognizes John Atanasoff as the modern computer’s inventor with his ABC computer design
  • 1974

    1974: A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) program called Bravo is introduced by Charles Simonyi. 1974: A program named Kaissa wins the first world computer chess tournament.
  • 1975

    1975: Laser printing introduced by IBM. 1975: Ed Roberts offers for Altair 8800 for sale, an electronics kit to build a personal computer. 1975: Microsoft is formed by Bill Gates and Paul Allen to sell their BASIC interpreter.
  • 1976

    1976: Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs create the Apple I microcomputer. It is an instant hit with hobbyists. 1976: The company OnTyme introduces the first commercial e_mail service. 1976: Proof of the four_color theorem, which marks the first time that computer had been used to construct a formal mathematical proof. 1976: The public key Data Encryption Standard (DES) is released.
  • 1977

    1977: Apple releases the Apple II, a computer that promises to work “right out of the box”. The Apple II is a commercial hit. 1977: The PET micro_computer is released by Commodore.
  • 1978

    1978: The Wordstar word processing program is released. 1978: DEC releases the VAX 11/780, a 32_bit computer, with the VMS operating system. 1978: Epson releases a successful dot matrix printer.
  • 1979

    1979: Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston create the first electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc, in Frankston’s attic on an Apple II. It becomes the first “killer_app”, an application that drives hardware sales. 1979: The 16_bit 68000 chip is released by Motorola. 1979: Cellular phones are first tested.
  • 1980

    1980: IBM begins development of the IBM PC, choosing Microsoft’s PC_DOS over Digital Research’s CPM_86 as the operating system. 1980: The programming language Ada is released on the anniversary of Ada Lovelace’s birthday, December 10. It is touted as the language in which all defense department programs will be written in the future, though it never quite achieves that. 1980: The 80’s most successful database product for the PC debuts: dBase II written by Wayne Ratliff.
  • 1981

    1981: First Space Shuttle launched. 1981: The IBM Personal Computer (PC) is brought to market. The open architecture of the system leads to PC “clones” in the following few years. The first is Columbia Data Products in 1982. Compaq soon after becomes the biggest competitor.
  • 1982

    1982: Time magazine makes the computer its “Man of the Year”. A number of cities in the U.S. now have commercial e_mail available. Adobe Systems founded by John Warnock and Charles Geschke and creates the Postscript printing language. Autodesk creates AutoCAD. Intel releases the 80286 chip, a 16_bit chip, eventually found in tens of millions of PCs.
  • 1983

    1983: The first “killer app” for the IBM PC, Lotus 1_2_3, a spreadsheet, is brought to market. The Internet protocol TCP/IP becomes standard for the Internet. C++ is developed at Bell Labs by Bjarne Stroustrup. The Apple Lisa microcomputer is released and fails in the marketplace.
  • 1984

    1984: In a commercial during the Superbowl, using Orwellian imagery, Apple introduces the Macintosh, a successor to the Lisa, the first affordable micro_computer with a graphical user interface (GUI) and mouse. The CD_ROM is introduced by Sony and Philips. Hollywood begins to revolutionize movie special effects with the use of computer graphics – notably in “The Last Starfighter”. William Gibson coins “cyberspace” in his novel Neuromancer.
  • 1985

    1985: Windows 1.0, Microsoft’s answer to the Macintosh, is released. The 80386 chip is released by Intel. The field of PC desktop publishing is begun with the release of Paul Brainard’s PageMaker. Two machines, the Cray 2 and the Connection Machine (a parallel processing computer from Thinking Machines), achieve one billion operations per second. The National Science Foundation establishes four supercomputer centers connected to the Internet.
  • 1986

    1986: The Compaq Deskpro 396 is the first PC to use the new 32_bit Intel 80386 microprocessor. This is a key turning point, when IBM begins to lose control of the PC architecture that they had created, since Compaq brought their PC to market first, not waiting to see what IBM would do.
  • 1987

    1987: The Apple Macintosh II is released, and IBM creates a new generation of personal computers called PS/2.
  • 1988

    1988: The Morris worm, written by Robert Morris at MIT brings down a quarter of the Internet. Motorola’s 88000 chip can process 17 million instructions per second.
  • 1989

    1989: Tim Berners_Lee proposes the World Wide Web to his employer, CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, for the sharing of scientific information using hypermedia and the Internet. Intel releases the 80486 microprocessor; a microchip containing 1.2 million transistors.
  • 1990

    Microsoft Windows 3.0 launched.
  • 1991

    Cold War ends. Tim Berners_Lee releases the software for the WWW with a web_server and web_client using the HTTP, URL, and HTML protocols.
  • 1992

    Windows 3.1 launched. IBM is no longer largest seller of microcomputers (or PCs – a name they made synonymous with microcomputers). Microsoft also releases OS/2. DEC releases a 64_bit chip.
  • 1993

    Intel releases the first Pentium microprocessor. The Newton, a personal digital assistant (PDA), is released by Apple, though it fails in the marketplace due to the perception that it suffers from poor hand_writing recognition. NCSA Mosaic, the first graphical web browser, is released for free.
  • 1994

    Marc Andreesen and Jim Clark popularize web surfing considerably with the release of the Netscape web browser.
  • 1996

    The Palm Pilot, the first successful and affordable personal digital assistant (PDA) is released by 3Com.
  • 1995

    Microsoft Windows 95 released. Sun Microsystems releases an object_oriented language named Java that promises to be platform independent. The first full_length computer generated feature film released: "Toy Story" from Pixar Animation, a company headed by Steve Jobs. and open for business.
  • 1997

    IBM’s Deep Blue defeats the world chess playing champion Garry Kasparov.