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This page provides a general overview of major events that took place in computer history dating back to the year 1617.

 
Significant Events In Computer History:
Year Event
1617 John Napier creates "Napier's Bones," wooden or ivory rods used for calculating
1642 Blaise Pascal introduces the Pascaline digital adding machine
1822 Charles Babbage conceives the Difference Engine and later the Analytical Engine, a true general-purpose computing machine
1906 Lee De Forest patents the vacuum tube triode, used as an electronic switch in the first electronic computers
1945 John von Neumann writes "First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC," in which he out-lined the architecture of the modern stored-program computer
1946 ENIAC is introduced, an electronic computing machine built by John Mauchly and J Presper Eckert
1947 On December 23, William Shockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen successfully test the point-contact transistor, setting off the semiconductor revolution
1949 Maurice Wilkes assembles the EDSAC, the first practical stored-program computer, at Cambridge University
1950 Engineering Research Associates of Minneapolis builds the ERA 1101, one of the first commercially produced computers
1952 The UNIVAC I delivered to the U.S. Census Bureau is the first commercial computer to attract widespread public attention
1953 IBM ships its first electronic computer, the 701
1954 A silicon-based junction transistor, perfected by Gordon Teal of Texas Instruments Inc., , brings the price of this component down to $2.50
1954 The IBM 650 magnetic drum calculator establishes itself as the first mass-produced computer, with the company selling 450 in one year
1955 Bell Laboratories announces the first fully transistorized computer, TRADIC
1956 MIT researchers build the TX-0, the first general-purpose, programmable computer built with transistors
1956 The era of magnetic disk storage dawns with IBM's shipment of a 305 RAMAC to Zellerbach Paper in San Francisco
1958 Jack Kilby creates the first integrated circuit at Texas Instruments to prove that resistors and capacitors could exist on the same piece of semiconductor material
1959 IBM's 7000 series mainframes are the company's first transistorized computers
1959 Robert Noyce's practical integrated circuit, invented at Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp., , allows printing of conducting channels directly on the silicon surface
1960 Bell Labs designs its Dataphone, the first commercial modem, specifically for convert-ing digital computer data to analog signals for transmission across its long-distance net- work
1960 The precursor to the minicomputer, DEC's PDP-1 sells for $120,000
1961 According to Datamationmagazine, IBM has an 81. 2-percent share of the computer market in 1961, the year in which it introduced the 1400 Series
1964 CDC's 6600 supercomputer, designed by Seymour Cray, performs up to three million instructions per second-a processing speed three times faster than that of its closest com-petitor, the IBM Stretch
1964 IBM announces System/360, a family of six mutually compatible computers and 40 peripherals that could work together
1964 Online transaction processing makes its debut in IBM's SABRE reservation system, set up for American Airlines
1965 Digital Equipment Corp. introduces the PDP-8, the first commercially successful minicomputer
1966 Hewlett-Packard enters the general-purpose computer business with its HP-2115 for computation, offering a computational power formerly found only in much larger computers
1970 Computer-to-computer communication expands when the Department of Defense establishes four nodes on the ARPAnet: two at University of California campuses (one at Santa Barbara and one at Los Angeles) and one each at SRI International and the University of Utah
1971 A team at IBM's San Jose Laboratories invents the 8-inch floppy disk
1971 The first advertisement for a microprocessor, the Intel 4004, appears in Electronic News
1971 The Kenbak-1, one of the first personal computers, advertises for $750 in Scientific American
1972 Hewlett-Packard announces the HP-35 as "a fast, extremely accurate electronic slide rule" with a solid-state memory similar to that of a computer
1972 Intel's 8008 microprocessor makes its debut
1972 Steve Wozniak builds his "blue box," a tone generator to make free phone calls
1973 Robert Metcalfe devises the Ethernet method of network connection at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center
1973 The Micral is the earliest commercial, non-kit personal computer based on a microprocessor, the Intel 8008
1973 The TV Typewriter, designed by Don Lancaster, provides the first display of alphanumeric information on an ordinary television set
1974 Researchers at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center design the Alto-the first workstation with a built-in mouse for input
1974 Scelbi advertises its 8H computer, the first commercially advertised U.S.computer based on a microprocessor, Intel's 8008
1975 Telenet, the first commercial packet-switching network and civilian equivalent of ARPAnet, was born
1975 The January edition of Popular Electronicsfeatures the Altair 8800, based on Intel's 8080 microprocessor, on its cover
1975 The visual display module (VDM) prototype, designed by Lee Felsenstein, marks the first implementation of a memory-mapped alphanumeric video display for personal computers
1976 Steve Wozniak designs the Apple I, a single-board computer
1976 The 5 1/4-inch flexible disk drive and diskette are introduced by Shugart Associates
1976 The Cray I makes its name as the first commercially successful vector processor
1977 Tandy Radio Shack introduces the TRS-80
1977 Apple Computer introduces the Apple II
1977 Commodore introduces the PET (Personal Electronic Transactor)
1978 The VAX 11/780 from Digital Equipment Corp features the capability to address up to 4 3GB of virtual memory, providing hundreds of times the capacity of most minicomputers
1979 Motorola introduces the 68000 microprocessor
1980 John Shoch, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, invents the computer "worm," a short program that searches a network for idle processors
1980 Seagate Technology creates the first hard disk drive for microcomputers, the ST-506
1980 The first optical data storage disk has 60 times the capacity of a 5 1/4-inch floppy disk
1981 Xerox introduces the Star, the first personal computer with a graphical user interface (GUI).
1981 Adam Osborne completes the first portable computer, the Osborne I, which weighs 24 pounds and costs $1,795
1981 IBM introduces its PC, igniting a fast growth of the personal computer market. The IBM PC is the grandfather of all modern PCs
1981 Sony introduces and ships the first 3 1/2-inch floppy drives and diskettes
1983 Apple introduces its Lisa, which incorporates a GUI very similar to that first introduced on the Xerox Star
1983 Compaq Computer Corp introduces its first PC clone that used the same software as the IBM PC
1984 Apple Computer launches the Macintosh, the first successful mouse-driven computer with a GUI, with a single $1.5 million commercial during the 1984 Super Bowl
1984 IBM releases the PC-AT (PC Advanced Technology), three times faster than original PC and based on the Intel 286 chip. The AT introduces the 16-bit ISA bus and is the computer all modern PCs are based on
1985 Phillips introduces the CD-ROM
1986 Compaq announces the Deskpro 386, the first computer on the market to use Intel's then new 386 chip
1987 IBM introduces its PS/2 machines, which makes the 3 1/2-inch floppy disk drive and VGA video standard for PCs. The PS/2 also introduces the MicroChannel Architecture (MCA) bus, the first plug-and-play bus for PCs
1988 Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, who left Apple to form his own company, unveils the NeXT
1988 Compaq and other PC-clone makers develop Enhanced Industry Standard Architecture (EISA), which unlike MicroChannel retains backward compatibility with the existing ISA bus
1988 Robert Morris' worm floods the ARPAnet The 23-year-old Morris, the son of a computer security expert for the National Security Agency, sends a nondestructive worm through the Internet, causing problems for about 6,000 of the 60,000 hosts linked to the network
1989

Intel releases the 486 (P4) microprocessor, which contains more than one million transistors

Intel also introduces 486 motherboard chipsets

1990 The World Wide Web (WWW) is born when Tim Berners-Lee, a researcher at CERN, the high-energy physics laboratory in Geneva, develops Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
1993 Intel releases the Pentium (P5) processor. Intel shifts from numbers to names for its chips after it learns it's impossible to trademark a number. Intel also releases motherboard chipsets and for the first time complete motherboards as well.
1995 Intel releases the Pentium Pro processor, the first in the P6 processor family
1995 Microsoft releases Windows 95 in a huge rollout, the first mainstream 32-bit operating system
1997 Intel releases the Pentium II processor, essentially a Pentium Pro with MMX features added
1998 Microsoft releases Windows 98
1998 Intel releases the Celeron, a low-cost version of the Pentium II processor
1999 Intel releases the Pentium III, essentially a Pentium II with SSE (Streaming SIMD Extensions) added
2000 Microsoft releases Windows 2000
2000 Both Intel and AMD introduce processors running at 1GHz
2000 Intel releases the Itanium processor, the first in the P7 family
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