- History of Computer & Computation -

600's BC

The abacus is developed in China. It was later adopted by the Japanese and the Russians.

600's AD

Arabic numbers -- including the zero (represented by a dot) -- were invented in India. Arabic translations of Indian math texts brought these numbers to the attention of the Europeans. Arabic numbers entered Europe by means of Spain around 1000 ad and first became popular among Italian merchants around 1300. Until then, people used the Roman system in western Europe, and the Greek system in the east. The original numbers were similar to the modern Devanagari numbers used in northern India.


The movable-type printing press is invented by Johann Gutenberg.


Francis Pellos of Nice invents the decimal point.


Thomas Harriot invents the symbols used in algebra. He also drew the first maps of the moon and discovered sunspots.

Dr. William Gilbert discovers static electricity, and coins the term in De Magnete.

John Napier invents logarithms.

William Oughtred invents the slide rule.

Wilhelm Schickard makes his Calculating Clock.


Otto von Gürcke builds first electric machine.


Ben Franklin captures lightning.


Galvani discovers electric current, and uses it on frogs' legs.


Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar of France, makes his Arithmometer, the first mass-produced calculator. It does multiplication using the same general approach as Leibniz's calculator.


Charles Babbage begins his government-funded project to build the first of his machines, the Difference Engine, to mechanize solutions to general algebra problems.


Photography is invented by Benoit Fourneyron.

Michael Faraday produces electricity with the first generator.


Babbage conceives, and begins to design, his Analytical Engine. Could be considered a programmable calculator, very close to the basic idea of a computer. The machine could do an addition in 3 seconds and a multiplication or division in 2-4 minutes

Dorr E. Felt of Chicago, makes his Comptometer, this is the first calculator with keys.

E. J. Marey invents the Motion Picture Camera.


Rene Graphen develops the Photocopying Machine.

Reginald A. Fessenden develops the Radio Telephone.

IBM introduces the first commercial electric typewriter.

Edwin H. Armstrong develops FM Radio.

Robert A. Watson-Watt develops Radar.

Benjamin Burack builds the first electric logic machine. In his thesis, Claude Shannon demonstrates the relationship between electrical circuitry and symbolic logic.

Alan M. Turing, of Cambridge University, England, publishes a paper on computable numbers which introduces the theoretical simplified computer known today as a Turing machine.

Claude E. Shannon publishes a paper on the implementation of symbolic logic using relays.

John V. Atanasoff and graduate student Clifford Berry, of Iowa State College complete a prototype 16-bit adder. This is the first machine to calculate using vacuum tubes.

John von Neumann drafts a report describing a stored-program computer, and gives rise to the term Von Neumann computer.



An Wang is issued Patent Number 2,708,722, including 34 claims for the magnetic memory core.

Shockley Semiconductor is founded in Palo Alto.

John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley share the Nobel Prize in physics for the transistor.

USSR launches Sputnik, the first earth satellite.

Newell, Shaw, and Simon develop General Problem Solver.

Fortran, the first popular programming language, hits the streets.

Minsky and McCarthy establish MIT AI Lab.



Edward Djikstra suggests that software and data should be created in standard, structured forms, so that people could build on each others work.

Algol 60, a European programming language and ancestor of many others, including Pascal, is released.

John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz of Dartmouth College develop the first BASIC programming language. PL1 comes out the same year.

Commodore, a Canadian electronics company, moves from Toronto to Silicon Valley and begins selling calculators assembled around a Texas Instruments chip.


Doug Englebart patents his X-Y Position Indicator mouse.

Nicklaus Wirth comes out with Pascal.


The price of the Wang Model 300 series calculator drops to $600. Wang introduces the 1200 Word Processing System.

Stephen Wozniak and Bill Fernandez build their Cream Soda computer.

Bowmar Instruments Corporation introduces the LSI-based (large scale integration) four function (+, -, *, /) pocket calculator with LED at an initial price of $250.

Intel markets the first microprocessor. Its speed is 60,000 'additions' per second.


Ray Tomlinson, author of first email software, chooses @ sign for email addresses.

Dennis Ritchie invents C.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen form Traf-O-Data (which eventually becomes Microsoft).

Stephen Wozniak and Steven Jobs begin selling blue boxes, Electronic mail!

Stephen Wozniak joins Hewlett-Packard.

Radio Electronics publishes an article by Don Lancaster describing a TV Typewriter.

IBM develops the first true sealed hard disk drive. The drive was called the "Winchester" after the rifle of the same name. It used two 30 Mb platters.

Apple I published.


Shugart introduces 5.25" floppy.

IBM introduces a total information processing system. The system includes diskette storage, magnetic card reader/recorder, and CRT. The print station contains an ink jet printer, automatic paper and envelope feeder, and optional electronic communication.

Apple Computer opens its first offices in Cupertino and introduces the Apple II. It is the first personal computer with color graphics. It has a 6502 CPU, 4KB RAM, 16KB ROM, keyboard, 8-slot motherboard, game paddles, and built-in BASIC.

Commodore introduces the PET computer.

Tandy/Radio Shack announces its first TRS-80 microcomputer.

Ink-jet printing announced by IBM.

JVC introduces the VHS format to the video recorders.


Apple Computer announces Lisa, the first business computer with a graphical user interface launched by Apple Computer Inc., Cupertino, California. The computer has 5MHz 68000 CPU, 860KB 5.25" floppy, 12" B&W screen, detached keyboard, and mouse.

Macintosh personal computer, launched by Apple Computer Inc. The first computer has 128KB of memory and a 3.5" 400KB floppy disk-drive. The OS with astounding graphic interface is bundled with MacWrite (wordprocessor) and MacPaint (free-hand, B&W drawing) software.

Apple introduces 3.5" floppy.

The domain name system is established.


The 386 chip brings PC speeds into competition with LISP machines.


CD-recordable (CD-R) technology is released.

WAIS publisher-fed search engine, invented by Brewster Kahle of the Thinking Machines Co.

Gopher, created at University of Minnesota Microcomputer, Workstations & Networks Center.

WWW server combines URL (addressing) syntax, HTML (markup) language for documents, and HTTP (communications protocol). It also offers integration of earlier Internet tools into a seamless whole.


There are about 20 Web servers in existence (Ciolek 1998).


"Universal Multiple-Octet Coded Character Set" (UCS), aka ISO/IEC 10646 is published in 1993 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It is the first officially standardized coded character set with the purpose to eventually include all characters used in all the written languages in the world (and, in addition, all mathematical and other symbols).

Mosaic graphic WWW browser developed by Marc Andreessen (Cailliau 1995). Graphics user interface makes WWW finally a competitor to Gopher. Production of web pages becomes an easy task, even to an amateur.

There are 200+ Web servers in existence (Ciolek 1998).


A global TV program '2000 Today' reports live for 25 hrs non-stop the New Year celebrations in 68 countries all over the world. It is the first ever show of that duration and geographical coverage. The program involved a round-the-clock work of over 6000 technical personnel, and used a array of 60 communication satellites to reach 1 billion viewers from all time-zones all over the globe (The Canberra Times, 1 Jan, 2000).

Wikipedia begins as an offshoot of Nupedia by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger.

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