The Computer Revolution/Timeline
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- 1837 - Charles Babbage designs the first programmable computer called the "Analytical Engine". This was designed to use punch cards of the type used in Jacquard looms. Ada Lovelace wrote a program for the machine. The Analytical Engine is probably the first "Turing Complete" computer design.
- 1847-1854 George Boole develops Boolean algebra which is the foundation of the hardware design of all modern digital computers.
- Mid-late nineteenth century mechanical and electromechanical adding machines developed and widely used.
- 1920's - German Enigma Machine, an electromechanical rotor machine is widely used to encrypt and decrypt secret messages. Although this was not a computer, being more like an advanced adding machine, its role in World War II stimulated computer design for decryption machines.
- 1936, May 28 - Alan Turing submits "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem"
- 1939, December 31 - Hewlett-Packard Company founded by William Hewlett and David Packard although they didn't make any computers until 1966.
- 1941 - German engineer Konrad Zuse invents and builds the first electronic programmable computer. It was called the Z3 and gave rise to the Z4 in 1950.
- 1943 - Colossus, the first programmable digital electronic computer is built by the British to decode German messages.
- 1949 - American physicists, An Wang and Way-Dong Woo create the pulse transfer controlling device.
- March 30, 1951 - First commercially successful electronic computer, UNIVAC was built
- April 21, 1951 - Whirlwind, the first real-time computer is built at MIT for the US Air Defence System
- April 1952 - First magnetic core memory in an IBM 405 Alphabetical Accounting Machine is tested successfully.
- 1958 - Sage Computer - World's Largest Computer ever built consisting of 200,000 vacuum tubes requiring 1,000,000 Watts
- 1958 - John McCarthy invents Lisp.
- February 6, 1959 - Scientist Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments files the first patent for an Integrated Circuit
- 1961, April 25 - Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor was awarded a patent for "unitary circuit" made of silicon
- 1962 - software - Douglas Engelbart starts work on the NLS system at the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute
- 1962 - Tim Hart and Mike Levin at MIT implement the first complete Lisp compiler.
- 1963 - hardware - Douglas Engelbart invents the computer mouse. Bill English of Xerox Parc develops the mouse ball, replacing the original set of wheels.
- 1965 - internet - Ted Nelson publishes his first article about his invention, hypertext.
- 1965 - hardware - Gordon Moore makes his famous "law" which is not a law at all, in any form, but quickly becomes an accepted myth supported by very scientific-looking charts.
- 1966 - internet - Larry Roberts heads the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's project to create the first ever packet switched network, largely considered unworkable by experts
- 1968 - software - Doug Engelbart presents his team's work in a 90-minute live public demonstration of a personal (super) computer. This demonstration is now known as The Mother Of All Demos. Among other things, the NLS system has hypertext and distributed collaboration.
- 1968 - hardware - Intel formed by Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, & Andy Grove.
- 1969 - software - Unix created at AT&T's Bell Telephone Labs by Ken Thompson & Dennis Ritchie.
- 1969, April 7 - internet - The first RFC, RFC 1, entitled "Host Software", was written.
- 1969, November - internet - UCLA and Stanford Research Institute become the second nodes on the ARPANET
- 1970 Xerox establishes PARC, the Palo Alto Research Center, which will go on to create the modern personal computer, including GUI, laser printer and networking.
- 1972 Alan Kay joins PARC where he will develop Smalltalk for the Dynabook project which aims to create a useful user-programmable laptop computer ... for kids. Despite early successes with children, Alan Kay will decide that this is a more or less impossible goal and fall back on reimplementing Smalltalk.
- 1972 C programming language created by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson.
- 1973 Unix rewritten in C, becoming the first operating system written in a language other than Assembly, which action decisively wins for Unix the OS wars despite its many shortcomings.
- 1973 Gary Kildall writes the CP/M operating system.
- 1973 Chuck Thacker creates the Alto (networked personal computer with GUI) at PARC.
- 1975 Ed Roberts creates the MITS Altair 8800 kit, considered to be the first microcomputer. It was featured in the January, 1975 issue of Popular Electronics.
- 1975 - William Henry Gates III, a student at Harvard University, partners with fellow student Paul Allen to found Microsoft in order to market a version of the BASIC language, originally developed by Gates and Allen for the MITS Altair 8800 microcomputer.
- 1975 September - MOS Technology unveils the 6502 microprocessor at the Wescon show. This $25 processor becomes the heart of Apple and Commodore computers.
- 1977 January 3 - Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak incorporated Apple Computer.
- 1977 April 16-17 - First West Coast Computer Faire hosts unveiling of Commodore Pet, Apple II, and TRS-80 home computers.
- 1978 February 16 - The first BBS, CBBS went online.
- 1978 November - Third West Coast Computer Fair which later becomes COMDEX.
- 1978 - Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie published the first edition of The C Programming Language ("K&R").
- 1979 Steve Jobs visits Xerox PARC in exchange for allowing Xerox to invest $1 million in Apple. He's shown the first ever computer network, the first ever graphical interface and object-oriented programming. Xerox will soon disinvest from Apple, before its success.
- 1979 Ted Nelson convenes The Xanadu Group to work on a storage system for his visionary sophisticated hypertext system called Xanadu.
- 1979 May - Seattle Computer Products (SCP) a Seattle, Washington microcomputer hardware company thanks to Tim Patterson had a working prototype for Intel's 8086 by May 1979. Tim Patterson, hired in June 1978 by SCP's owner Rod Brock, was successful in redirecting the company's focus, a process that began after his attendance at a local seminar on Intel's just-released 8086 in late summer 1978.
- 1979 November - Seattle Computer Products (SCP) begins shipping its first S-100 bus 8086 CPU boards to customers including Microsoft BASIC as an option, but no operating system was available. It will soon be one of the first manufacturers of computer systems based on the 16-bit Intel 8086 processor and a crucial player in the history of the industry, even a cautionary tale.
- In the United Kingdom of the early 1980s, the pioneer of computing technology was Cambridge-educated Sir Clive Sinclair. Sinclair had made his money on innovative electronic products such as calculators and radios. In fact Sir Clive is credited with the invention of the world's first pocket television. In 1980 Sinclair released the sub-£100 ZX80. This paved the way for the ZX81 and the biggie, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1982. The Spectrum became Britain's fastest-selling computer, despite its relative paucity of features compared to rival computers such as the Commodore 64 and the Amstrad 464.
- 1980 - Usenet is created as a "poor man's ARPANET".
- 1980 - Bjarne Stroustrup from Bell Labs designer and implemented the C++ (originally named "C with Classes") as an enhancement to the C programming language.
- 1980 June - Commodore debutes the VIC-20 (VIC 1001 in Japan, VC-20 in Germany) at the Consumer Electronics Show. First computer in history to produce over one million units.
- 1980 April - Seattle Computer Products (SCP) start development of QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System). Tim Patterson the author was charged to develop a new OS for 16-Bit machines based on CP/M after SCP business stalled due to the delay of CP/M-86 OS that was expected by the end of 1979. Developed over a four-month period. QDOS 0.11 was finished in August 1980. SCP is oblivious to the fact that Microsoft has represented the OS to IBM as their own product.
- 1980 September - Seattle Computer Products (SCP) began shipping QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System).
- 1980 December - Microsoft buys QDOS after selling it to IBM for a massive profit. The original O/S CPM/86 by Digital is not ready for release and IBM needs something to bridge the gap. Bill Gates negotiates an unusual contract which lets Microsoft retain the right to independently market QDOS, which it proceeds to do as MS-DOS. This one borrowed piece of software launches Microsoft's meteoric rise to success.
- 1981 August - The IBM PC is introduced. 8-bit computing is widespread on the desktop, but the 16-bit IBM machine is about to change that.
- 1981 November - Commodore's MOS Technology finishes the VIC-II video processor chip. Commodore CEO Jack Tramiel orders a 64K computer using this chip.
- 1982 - The Time magazine names the computer as its "Man of the Year."
- 1982 January - Commodore 64 debuted at Consumer Electronics Show and sell 11-22 million units in the next decade.
- 1983 Ted Nelson starts the Xanadu Operating Company, Inc.
- 1983 May - Xerox PARC releases Smalltalk-80, a pure object-oriented language and operating system.
- 1983 September - Richard Stallman announces GNU on Usenet, declaring that it will be a Unix clone available freely. 
- 1984 January - The Macintosh is introduced with the GUI of the Alto from Xerox PARC. 16-bit computing is widespread on the desktop.
- 1984 January - Richard Stallman quits his job at MIT and founds the Free Software Foundation to work on GNU full-time.
- 1985 - The Commodore Amiga is introduced. The first commercially available pre-emptive multitasking computer.
- 1985 - Microsoft Windows 1.0 is finally released after 2 years delay. Apple eventually launches law suit.
- 1985 - Microsoft signs a Joint Development Agreement with IBM for OS/2.
- 1986 - David Ungar designs Self, intended as a more powerful successor to Smalltalk.
- 1987 - The first hypertext conference is held, 29 papers are published.
- 1987 August - Bill Atkinson releases HyperCard.
- 1988 - Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie publish the second edition of The C Programming Language (covering "ANSI C").
- 1988 - OS/2 is released.
- 1988 The Giant Magneto-Resistive effect is discovered, which will soon enable a second speedup in the rate of increase of hard drive capacities. The MR and GMR together turn storage from the slowest growing of the (storage, computation, networking) triad into the fastest, upsetting the economics of computation forevermore.
- 1989 Tim Berners-Lee creates HTML.
- 1990 - Microsoft launches Windows 3.0, the first version to achieve widespread use, and then drops out of development for OS/2. Microsoft proceeds to take OS/2 technology as the core for Windows NT.
- 1990 Self is publicly released.
- 1991 The Self team moves to Sun Microsystems where they develop Just-In-Time compilation HotSpot technology that will eventually make its way into Java.
- 1991 - Sun begins work on Java as an inferior version of Smalltalk aimed at C/C++ developers.
- 1991 - Linus Torvalds releases the first version of Linux, his free Unix kernel clone; now used by millions of users worldwide usually on top of GNU.
- 1993 March - Intel's Pentium is introduced. 32 bit computing is widespread on the desktop.
- 1994 Commodore Business Machines files bankruptcy.
- 1994 December - Intel recalls Pentium processors due to a bug in the Floating Point Unit at a cost of over $300 million
- 1995 March - Ward Cunningham's [Wiki Wiki Web goes online.
- 1995 May - Sun formally announced Java and HotJava at SunWorld. "Duke" is the first applet.
- 1997 December - Alan Kay gives a lecture entitled The Computer Revolution Hasn't Happened Yet.
- 1998 - Eric S. Raymond splits a community out of free software supporters in favor of his new term, open source. The term is often used as a commercial vehicle, though often violating the Open Source Definition itself.
- 1999 - Shawn Fanning creates Napster
- 2001 October - Apple releases the iPod.
- 2003 SCO sues IBM claiming Linux violates UNIX copyright, focusing attention on GNU Public Licence, Free and Open Source Software, and Linux.
- 2004 April - Advanced Micro Devices introduces the Opteron, a 64 bit processor for servers and powerful workstations, soon followed by the AMD64 for the desktop. 64 bit computing becomes widespread on the desktop. Thin client processing gets new life.
- 2005 Dual core processors permit Moore's Law to continue by reducing microprocessor heating. Clock speeds level off at 4000 MHz and chip resolution heads for 65 nm. Motherboards with up to 16 64-bit processors are available. Multiple-gigabyte memories for desktop computers are available. 200 gB hard drives are common.
- Douglas Engelbart - Inventor of the personal computer.
- Alan Kay - Leader of the team that created the first personal computers.
- Bjarne Stroustrup creator of the C++ programming language.
- Jay Miner - Creator of the Amiga and man who brought multimedia to computers.
- Richard Stallman - Founded the GNU project, the Free Software Foundation, and wrote the GNU General Public License.
- Tim Berners-Lee - creates HyperText Markup Language (HTML), and the web as we know it was born!
- Ted Nelson - invented hypermedia.
- William H. Gates III - Co-founder and Chairman of Microsoft.
- Linus Torvalds - The man behind Linux.
- James Gosling - Creator of Java Programming Language.