Magnetic Core RAM
Bell Labs introduces the first computer to use Transistors instead of the traditional vacuum tubes. This shrank the size and cooling required to run digital computers considerably.
MIT introduces the Whirlwind computer in March. The Whirlwind was revolutionary in handling real-time graphics. It included the first magnetic core Random Access Memory (RAM) ever created.
Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco CA USA.
Hard Drives have a "hard" magnetic platter.
In September, IBM ships the first computer with a hard drive. This particular hard drive contained fifty 24-inch platters and weighed a ton. It was capabile of storing 5MB of data.
Integrated Circuits are Born.
Planar transistor developed by Jean Hoerni
With this technology the integrated circuit became a reality. This process forces certain types of atoms to infuse into an otherwise pure piece of silicon. These impurities or dopants create the conducting and control structures of the transistors on the chip. With this technology, microscopic circuit boards could be laid out on the silicon surface, thus allowing the compacting of these circuits onto integrated circuits.
FORTRAN is used for math, since it resembles Algebra.
The computer language FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation) is created.
Eight electronics engineers and physicists form Fairchild Semiconductor. They start developing integrated circuits for commercial use.
COmmon Business-Oriented Language
The computer language COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) is created. Business computing takes off.
Computers started getting mass produced.
More than 2,000 computers are in use in the United States. IBM begins mass producing transistors.
Commercially Available IC's
Fairchild Semiconductor introduces the first commercially available Integrated Circuits (IC's).
Became the Internet of today
The first recorded description of the social interactions that could be enabled through networking was a series of memos written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August 1962 discussing his "Galactic Network" concept. He envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site. In spirit, the concept was very much like the Internet of today. Licklider was the first head of the computer research program at DARPA, starting in October 1962. While at DARPA he convinced his successors at DARPA, Ivan Sutherland, Bob Taylor, and MIT researcher Lawrence G. Roberts, of the importance of this networking concept.
First standard character set for computing
The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is developed. This went on to standardize the exchange of data between computers. Prior to this time, every main frame computer manufacturer had their own set of character codes. A symbol on one system differed from another.
BASIC Computer Language is developed
In May, the Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction language (BASIC) was created by John Kerneny and Thomas Kurtz. BASIC would become later popular on personal computers.
First mentioned in a research paper.
Gordon Moore observes in April what came to be known as Moore's Law:
His "Law" held steady from 1975 until around 2012.
Computers "talk" to humans.
Joseph Weizenbaum of MIT creates a program called Eliza. Eliza simulated conversation by using pattern matching and substitution. This gave users the illusion that the computer understood them. In one famous example, the program simulated a Rogerian psychotherapist, using rules to respond with non-directional questions to user input. Eliza is regarded as one of the first computer programs capable of passing the Turing Test.
Logo Computer Language for children
The Logo computer language is a general purpose language also known as turle graphics. The name comes from the Greek logos, which means "word." Logo is interpreted, and primarily used to teach children about computers. The goal was to create a mathematical playground, where children could experiment and learn through words and sentences.
Hypertext is created.
Douglas Engelbart demonstrates Hypertext in December. Hypertext comes from the Greek "hyper", meaning beyond. Hypertext was intended to overcome the linear limitations of ordinary text in written form. It would expand the written text to include links to other text and media.
The UNIX Operating System is born.
UNIX Operating System Developed
Developed at AT&T labs by engineers Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, the UNIX operating system was the first operating system that ran on a minicomputer and could handle multitasking and networking. It was also written in the C programming language - then a high level language with power and flexibility. Other operating systems existed, but they were usually written in assembly language for speed and efficiency. C was a natural environment for writing an operating system. Today, both C and UNIX are available for a wider variety of computer hardware platforms than any other programming language or operating system. This level of portability in computer programming makes UNIX popular even still. UNIX time started by counting seconds since January 1, 1970.
Dot Matrix printers printed via an array of dots.
Prior to this invention, printing was limited by the number of distinct characters you could put on a print head. The characters were printed one at a time by striking the paper with the print head in a particular location. Dot Matrix printers form characters by selectively printing dots in an array - typically 7x5 - that then form the character on the page. They can thus print many more characters, including symbols and graphics.
CPU on a chip was born.
The first microprocessor chip was invented by Andrew Grove, Robert Noyce, and Gordon Moore of Intel. The 4004 microprocessor chip was introduced to replace the central processing units - previously constructed out of discrete components. The microprocessor chip would make Personal Computers possible.
Movies on a Disk
Optical laserdisc was created by Philips to pack more information into a disc without the wear and tear of vinyl records. The Laserdisc had pits burned into the aluminum surface to represent the 1's and 0's of computer technology. A low power laser beam either reflected off the spot or was absorbed by the pit. The early laserdiscs were the same size and shape as vinyl records, but they could hold both video and audio on their reflective plastic platter. The information had to be read by a laserdisc player, which was then able to play movies at home.
First cellular phone, ethernet born
In April, the first Cellular Phone was demonstrated. This device was about the size of a brick, but it was a handheld, portable phone weighing 4.4 lbs. John Mitchell and Martin Cooper of Motorola demonstrated it by making a phone call. The cell phone was born.
In May, Robert Metcalfe created Ethernet networking at Xerox (PARC). This network technology allowed Local Area Networks to spring up. Ethernet works by breaking the transmission into packets of data called frames. Each frame contains a source address, destination address, content and error checking data. The error checking allows the frame to be validated, so invalid frames can be caught and retransmitted. Ethernet was standardized in the IEEE 802.3 standard.
CPU chips become available
The Intel 8080 Chip provided an 8-bit microprocessor that became the brain of the initial Altair microcomputer. It had a clock speed of 2 MHz. It also had a 16-bit address bus, allowing it to address up to 64KB of RAM memory directly. It also had 256 input/output ports, used to communicate with peripherals. The 8080 set the standards for the 64-bit x86 architectures of modern personal computers.
Altair Microcomputer appears on Popular Electronics
The Altair 8800 was a microcomputer you could build as a kit. It was the first successful personal computer. It sold for $439, and took hours to put together. However, it sparked the microcomputer revolution. For the first time, anyone could have a computer of their own; they didn't have to buy expensive time on a Main Frame Computer. The Altair used the Intel 8080 Chip as a CPU. It was capable of running BASIC as a programming language. The name perhaps came from the Star Trek episode "Amok Time," in which the Enterprise was on its way to Altair, the 12th brightest star in the sky from earth.
Microsoft is founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen to provide Altair Basic. This would later become Microsoft Basic.
First demo of the Apple 1 computer
In April, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak demonstrate the Apple I computer at the Home Brew Computer Club. The Appl3 I had a Motorola 6502 1 MHz processor, 8KB of RAM.
Retail Desktop Personal Computer
Tandy launched the TRS-80 Micro Somp[uter System Model 1, with a Z80 microprocessor, 4K RAM, 64 column video monitor and the BASIC programming language. Tandy had licensed BASIC from Microsoft. The TRS-80 was a retail personal computer, available in Radio Shack stores everywhere. It quickly sold 100K units, making it the best selling PC line until 1982.
Computer Bulletin Board Systems
During the great blizzard on 1978 in Chicago, Ward Chrstensena dn randy Suess created the first public dial-up Computer Bulletin Board System. They patterned the system on the cork board at their local computer club, used to post notices to other club members. It also helped that Chicago meant that it would be a local phone call for millions of potential users. All you needed was a computer with a modem, and you could communicate with other users. Smart Modems could be programmed to initiate the call to the BBS automatically.
First Commercial Online Service Provider
Compuserve Information Service (CIS) was the first major commercial online service provider. Originally a Life Insurance company, CIS began renting time on it's computers to end users on a time-sharing basis. You could sign-on using your personal computer's modem, then chat with other users or download software. Their CB Simulator became a popular online chat system. CIS set up forums with sysops on contract to support various software and hardware. CIS also offered limited access to what would eventually become the Internet. CIS also introduced the GIF format for images.
Disk Operating System (DOS) is born
IBM was developing the IBM PC, and needed an operating system for the new Intel 8088 CPU. IBM approached Bill Gates about developing a Disk Operating System (DOS). At the time, the dominant operating system for 8-bit computers was CP/M by Digital Research. Microsoft. IBM had talked to Digital Research, but could not agree on terms. Bill Gates at Microsoft scrambled to get a version of CP/M running on the 8086. Microsoft wisely keeps the marketing rights to MS-DOS, which goes on to sell at over 70 other companies. IBM-DOS goes on to run on the IBM PC.
IBM joins the personal computer market
In August, IBM introduces the IBM 5150 Personal Computer. This legitimizes the Personal Computer for corporate America. The IBM 5150 runs the Intel 8088 microprocessor at 4.7 MHz, with 16KB of RAM memory. It also cost $1565. It uses IBM-DOS, developed by Microsoft.
Clones of the IBM PC Appear
Compaq Computer was founded by Rod Canion to produce clones of the IBM PC. The corporate market quickly becomes competitive, as many companies introduce personal computers. As long as they were "IBM Compatible," the computers would sell.
WordPerfect is introduced, becoming the most popular word processing program for the PC.
C++ Language Released
Bjarne Stroustrup of Bell Labs releases C++. Designed as "C with Classes," C++ is a general purpose language. It provides virtual functions, function and operator overloading, references, constants, memory allocation, improved type checking. The name comes from the increment operator, ++, which is used to increment the value of a variable. It is very efficient at mapping hardware access to various abstractions.
Apple announces the Macintosh during Superbowl XVIII
Apple releases the Macintosh computer system, the first mass market personal computer with a graphical user interface and mouse. The name comes from the McIntosh apple, the favorite for Jef Raskin, the lead developer at Apple. Utilizing the 32-bit Motorola 68000 CPU, the Macintosh came with 128KB of RAM and 64KB of ROM. The Macintosh was launched will multiple events, generated a certain mystique and provided an inside look into the product's creation at Apple. The Macintosh set the standards for Desktop Publishing, with it's built in quickdraw technology.
First Internet Domain Name
In March, Symbolics, a MA Computer Company, registers the first Internet domain name symbolics.com. This was the first time that an Internet address using .com existed. Prior to then, computers would interact with each other on the network to get the host file entries and merge them together. With this development, a domain lookup process became available, which would automatically map an alphabetical domain name to a specific IP numeric address. Since names are easier to remember than numbers, this became a boom to the Internet as a technology.
IBM announces the PC Convertible
IBM announces the PC Convertible, a laptop computer. Weighting 12 pounds, the PC Convertible was the first IBM computer to use the 3.5 in floppy disk format, which went on to become the industry standard. It used the Intel 8088 CPU running 4.77 MHz with 256 KB of RAM, dual floppy drives, and a CGA compatible LCD screen.
IBM introduces VGA Graphics
IBM announces the PS/2 third generation of personal computers. It included the VGA video standard, which allowed 640x480 color graphics utilizing a DB-15 connector. The PS/2 was IBM's attempt at recapturing the Personal Computer market. They thought the many innovations would encourage manufacturers to pay the licensing terms to sell compatible hardware on a per machine basis. However, manufacturers balked at this, eventually finding ways around the restrictions.
In August of 1987, Apple Computer introduced Hypercard to the public by bundling it with all new Macintosh computers. Hypermedia was a reality at last, with the hardware and software now in place to bring it into being. Hypercard was like a 3x5 card system, linking various documents together into an information network called a Hypercard stack.
Creative Labs introduces Sound Blaster cards.
Creative Labs created the Sound Blaster card, which provided stereo quality sound to the Personal Computer. (Prior to this time, most personal computers had small, tinny speakers that played audio poorly. The TRS-80 came with a cassette player, but it was used exclusively for saving and loading programs.) With Sound Blaster, users could have 11-voice synthesized sound, digitized voice input/output, a MIDI port and a joystick port. It was an amazing development which set the standard for consumer audio in IBM PC compatible computers. PC games could now have high quality sound tracks. And users could play around with voice recognition software.
Tim Berners-Lee introduces the World Wide Web
In March, Tim Berners-Lee proposed a system called the "Mesh" which would run information webs. These webs would be available world wide to provide hypertext. As you read a document, you can jump to the network address for the item the text referenced immediately, without having to perform a new search on the term. These hypertext links could also include graphics, speech and video - i.e. hypermedia. He was helped by Robert Caillau, also at CERN.
First web site published
Tim Berners-Lee used a NeXT Computer to write the first web browser, WorldWideWeb. This tool also allowed the user to edit a web site as well. Based on the Dynatext system, licensed by CERN, the concept was to provide a client-server architecture, wherein users could access hypermedia from anywhere in the world. In other words, he had combined Hypertext with the emerging Internet.
Linux is introduced by Linus Torvalds
Linux Torvalds at the University of Helsinki, creates the Linux operating system. Combining GNU Project components from the Free Software Foundation with a kernel developed on MINIX, he originally wanted to call it Freax. However, when it was uploaded to the FTP Server by Ari Lemmke, it got renamed Linux. Linux became the first, free open source operating system. It has spawned hundreds of others.
CD-ROM puts the power of vast storage technology and computer based search engines in the hands of ordinary people. World Library Incorporated produced a fully searchable CD-ROM containing 450 classical works of literature and historic documents. This demonstrated that you could take the text content of several bookshelves and concentrate it on one small piece of circular plastic. Many saw this as the ultimate in personal data storage and retrieval. Within a few years, the entire contents of an encyclopedia would be available to every personal computer.
Microsoft introduces Windows 3.1
Windows 3.1 (codenamed Janus) was a 16-bit Operating System for Peronal Computers. It provided compatibility with MS-DOS platform, but also gave the user a Graphical User Interface. It also included workgroup networking and TrueType fonts. This made Microsoft Windows a viable desktop publishing platform for the first time.
World Wide Web explodes in popularity
Internet access and usage grow exponentially, as tools become more available and easier to use. People begin referring to the Internet as the information superhighway. CERN releases web source code to the public domain. Mosaic releases a browser. President Bill Clinton puts the White House and UN online by introducing the .gov domain. For the first time, users can email the President directly.
PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, a recursive definition
Rasmus Lerdor creates the PHP scripting language. Originally intended as a server side language for web sites, it has become a general purpose language. PHP Code can be embedded in HTML files. It is invoked by the PHP interpreter to preprocess the file. This preprocessing step enables database retrieval of dynamic content, making API calls to other web services, or generating HTML content based on the specific request.
Netscape introduces SSL
Netscape introduced Secure Socket Layer (SSL) as a cryptographic protocol for secure communications over a computer network. Developed by Dr Taher Elgamal at Netscape, the protocol establishes symmetric encryption between two systems on the network. Current browsers automatically handshake with the web server of HTTPS based domains.
Cascading Style Sheets is published
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a language written for style sheets that handle the presentation of a document in HTML. The definitions cascade by overwriting any previous style definitions for a particular id or class. Selectors are used to identify the elements to apply the style to. CSS files separate the formatting from the content, allowing web pages to be viewed differently on different devices or rendering methods. Changes to the graphic design of the page can be made easily by editing a few lines in the CSS file, rather than having to change every instance of the element throughout the web site.
Portable Network Graphics introduced
Portable Network Graphics file format was created to replace the GIF image format for web sites. PNG was designed for transferring images over the Internet, not for printing. It was also supported with non-patented code, so it was free to use. It supports pallette based images with 32-bit RGBA colors, grayscale, and transparency. It has become the most widely used lossless image compression format on the Internet.
Google is incorporated
Google began as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. In
their PhD thesis, they created PageRank, a better system for analyzing the relationships
between websites. They used PageRank to then deliver results to a search engine called
BackRub. BackRub checked the backlinks to estimate the importance of a site.
Originally, the google site ran at google.standford.edu. PageRank would crawl thousands of
web sites to determine these backlinks. Eventually, they changed the name to Google, which is a
misspelling of the mathematical term google, a 1 followed by 100 zeros. The
name signifies that the search engine is intended to search large quantities of information on
the Internet. Google became very popular.
Angel investors helped launch Google as a separate company. These investors included Andy Bechtolsheim of Sun Microsystems, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and David Cheriton of Stanford. All saw their investments explode.
Year 2000 Computer Bug Feared
When computers were first
built, memory was a precious resource. To conserve memory, dates
were stored in a compressed form, utilizing every bit (i.e.
single binary digits containing 1 or 0). Not surprisingly, years
were stored as two decimal digits, 00 through 99. As the end of
the second millenium came, fears arose as to what would happen to
computer systems when the new millenium started. Early tests
showed that many computers improperly handled the transition from
1999 to the year 2000, so this became known as the
A massive effort was undertaken to avert this doomsday scenario. People feared that planes would fall out of the sky. All computer source code was reviewed, and fixes were designed for the problem areas. Some were band-aids, just offsetting the date by, say, 50 years or so. Others were massive rewrites of source code that had been running successfully for 30 years. Engineers were called out of retirement that had worked on the source code in the 1960s. Ultimately, there were only a few news reports of Y2K bugs that showed up on January 1, 2000 AD.
New Millenium Bug Reports
The massive effort to fix the Y2K issues was generally successful. No airplanes fell out of the sky. No governments went to war. No corporations fell apart.
However, there were some minor problems as follows:
All of these problems were subsequently fixed. For more info checkout
Did the Y2K Bug Actually Cause Any Problems?.
CAVEAT: However, some of the fixes only patched the problem until the year 2038 rolls around - so beware!
Apple releases iTunes on the Mac
Apple iTunes is a media layer, online broadcaster, media library and mobile device manager. It is used to download, organize and play digital downloads of media. It was based on SoundJAM, an MP3 player by Bill Kincaid. It was released at Macworld in San Franscisco in January.
Digital Versatile Disc (DVD)
By now the CD was in every home, but it was limited to music. So Panasonic, Philips, Sony and Toshiba got together and developed the DVD, Digital Versatile Disc. The DVD is similar to the CD, reading the pits in the media via a laserbeam. Hoever, it packs the bits much closer together, thus providing more storage capacity. It is optical media, so it does not wear out, since there is no physical contact. The DVD format accepts any type of media, from music to video and beyond. Where the CD was limited to megabytes. The DVD could store up to 4.7 GB. This technological development made it possible for consumers to buy home movies, rather than just rent them on VHS videotape.
Broadband Networking Takes Off
Broadband Networking comes to the home, providing better access to the Internet. Most metropolitan areas of the US rapidly adopted this technology, making it possible for PC users to download files that were megabytes in size in just a few minutes, rather than waiting hours for the same file over a modem connection. This rapid increase in capacity enabled all sorts of new applications, including musical file sharing.
Audio/Video CPU Chips Arrive
Audio/Video CPU Chips boost the performance of PCs by allowing the PC CPU to offload the processing of audio and video data streams. This enabled a new set of computers that could support High Definition TV (HDTV) and 7.1 surround sound. This also brought the costs of PCs down further, since even more integration allowed smaller computers.
Facebook Social Media service is launched by Mark Zuckerberg.
weB LOGs take off
The weB LOG is a personal web space where individuals can share their own thoughts and ideas with others on the Internet. Corporations began to incorporate blogs into their networks, allowing employees to use sophisticated web server technology to talk about their work. Unfortunately, sometimes this lead to problems, as employees shared more than they were supposed to; but on the whole, most employees found a new, creative outlet for self-expression. Anyone could put up a blog and start writing.
Manufacturers again competed for the successor to the DVD. Two competing formats appeared, HD DVD and Blu-Ray. Each had pros and cons to bring to the marketplace. For a time, players and game consoles were introduced for both formats. This was reminiscent of the war between VHS and Beta. (Although Beta had superior performance, VHS became more popular - and thus won out.) Billions would be made or lost as a result of this market battle. Ultimately, the Blu-Ray format won out. Players appeared, and computers started coming with CD/DVD/Blu-Ray read/write drives. So now users can store 30+ GB on their optical disc.
Apple announces the iPhone
In January, Apple announced the iPhone with iOS. The iPhone was a radical new design for the cell phone, since it lacked a keyboard and a stylus. Instead, the user used their fingers to do everything: make calls, play music from iTunes, play games. The new touch screen would change the mobile phone forever.
Memory becomes a commodity
Memory prices continued dropping, enabling smaller and cheaper electronic gadgets. Some predict that a postage stamp sized memory circuit will eventually hold all of the memory you will ever need.
Bitcoin is introduced
Bitcoin is a worldwide cryptocurrency. This decentralized digital currency enables digital payments without a central repository. It was invented by an unknown programmer under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto and released as open-source software. Transactions are executed peer-to-peer, without an intermediary such as a bank. They are verified by network nodes and recorded in a publicly distributed ledger called the blockchain. Partial bitcoins can be thus exchanged for money in other currencies, or held as an investment. Thousands of merchants would start accepting payment via bitcoin.
Social Networking Takes Off.
Social Networking takes off in popularity, with Instagram providing a free service for sharing photos and videos. Instagram is a concatenation of instant camera and telegram. Users can connect their instagram account to other social media services as well. In a year, Instagram would have more than 10M users, uploading billions of photos to the service.
IBM Watson Wins Jeopardy
IBM Supercomputer Watson was programmed to play the television quiz show Jeopardy. In a 3 day matchup with 2 former winning players, Watson won the event with a score greater than the 2 human players combined. Watson had access to 200 M pages of structured and unstructured content, consuming 4 TB of disk storage space. This included the full text of Wikipedia. However, Watson was not connected to the Internet during the game. For each clue, Watson displayed the 3 most probable questions. However, Watson did have the most trouble with short clues with few words.
Facebook reaches 1B users
Facebook was a Social Media web site set up by Mark Zuckerberg. Originally only intended for Harvard College students, Zuckerberg saw the potential to expand facebook to the world. The name comes from the face book directories given to US university students. Following a strong IPO in February, facebook rapidly reaches a market capitalization of $104B. Since users can sign up for free, facebook has become wildly popular. Facebook's stated goal is to reach every person on the planet.
Google purchases Waze for 1.1B
Waze is a mobile social map application. It collects map data, travel times and traffic information from users on the road. The information is transmitted to the Waze server, then shared with other users on the same roads. Waze provides real time traffic reports, including traffic jams, speed traps, etc. Waze provides routing updates to users on their way to work or home. It also can identify the cheapest fuel station along a route. Waze can be used anywhere, but requires enough users to create and update the maps to make it useful. Currently, there are 13 countries that have a full base map. Waze also offers turn-by-turn voice navigation.
Internet Of Things takes off
The Internet Of Things means that the Physical and Digital Worlds fuse together. Real time traffic reports started appearing, based on the current feed from cameras mounted on the road. Self-driving cars appeared on the highways in NV. Cutting-edge apps have increased the social flow of information for all.
Data As A Service appears
Big Data emerged as the cost of storage dropped to commodity prices. This resulted in Data Sets that were so large and complext that existing applications could not deal with them. New applications were written to capture this data, store it efficiently, analyze, search, share, transfer, query, visualize and update it in real time. This also applied to using analytics to predict user behavior, thus making applications more intuitive. With mobile devices becoming ubiquitos, Data As A Service (DAAS) provides techniques and technologies to reveal insights from these massive data sets.
AlphaGo computer beats GO World Champion
In March, the supercomputer AlphaGo, a DeepMind Artificial Intelligence from Google, beats world Go champion Lee Se-dol for the 3rd straight time. Go is an ancient Chinese board game played by 2 players on a 19x19 game grid. Players take turns playing stones on the grid. The object is to fully surround the largest area on the board. The number of possible board positions for Go has been estimated at 10^170. AlphaGo was awarded an honory 9-dan title.
Microsoft releases Windows 10
Microsoft released Windows 10 with the Microsoft Edge web browser, universal apps, and support for multiple products. Windows 10 is estimated to be actively running on 400M devices.