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Important events in computer history

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In 1937

"Atanasoff-Berry Computer

Dr. John V. Atanosoff and Clifford Berry design and build the first electronic digital computer. Their machine, the Atanasoff- Berry Computer, or ABC, provides the foundation for advances in electronic digital computers.

In 1943


During World War II, British scientist Alan Turing designs the Colossus, an electronic computer created for the military to break German codes. The computer's existence is kept secret until the 1970s.

In 1945

John Von Neumann

John Von Neumann poses in front of the electronic computer built at the Institute for Advanced Study. This computer and its von Neumann architecture served as the prototype for subsequent stored program computers worldwide.

In 1946


Dr. John W. Mauchkey and J. Presper Eckert Jr. complete work on the first large-scale electronic, general-purpose digital computer. The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) weighs 30 tons, occupies a 30 x 50 foot space and consumes 160 kilowatts of power.

In 1947

William Shockley

William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain invent the transfer resistance device, which would eventually become known as the transistor. The transistor would revolutionise computers, proving much more reliable than the vacuum tubes they replaced.

In 1951


The first commercially available electronic digital computer, the UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer), is introduced by Reminton Rand. Public awareness of computers increases when the UNIVAC I correctly predicts that Dwight D. Eisenhower will win the presidential election.

In 1952

Dr. Grace Hopper

Dr. Grace Hopper considers the concept of reusable software in her paper, "The Education of a Computer." The paper describes how to program a computer with symbolic notation instead of detailed and complicated machine code.

In 1953

Core memory

Core memory, developed in the early 1950s, provides much larger storage capacity than vacuum tube memory.

IBM model 650

The IBM model 650 is one of the first widely used computers. The computer is so successful that IBM manufactures more than 1,000. IBM will dominate the mainframe market for the next decade.

In 1957


The IBM 305 RAMDAC computer is the first to use magnetic disk for external storage. The computer provides storage capacity similar to magnetic tape that was previously used but offers the advantage of semi-random access capabilities.


FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation), an efficient, easy-to-use programming language is introduced by John Backus.

In 1958

Jack Kilby

Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments invents the integrated circuit, which lay the foundation for high speed computers and large-capacity memory. Computers built with transistors mark the beginning of the second generation of computer hardware.

In 1959

IBM 1401

IBM introduces two smaller desk-sized computers: the IBM 1401 for business and the IBM 1620 for scientists.

In 1960


COBOL, a high-level business application language is developed by the committee headed by Dr. Grace Hopper.

In 1964

IBM System/360

The number of computers has grown to 18,000. Third generation computers, with their controlling circuitry stored on chips, are introduced. The IBM System/360 computer is the first family of compatible machines, merging science and business platforms.


IBM introduces the term, word processing, for the first time with its Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter (MT/ST). The MT/ST was the first reusable storage medium that allowed typed material to be edited without requiring that the document be retyped.

In 1965

DR. John Kemney

Dr. John Kemeny of Dartmouth leads the development of the BASIC programming language.


Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) introduces the first microcomputer, the PDP-8. The machine is used extensively as an interface for time-sharing systems.

In 1968

G TO Statements considered harmful

In a letter to the editor titled, "GO TO Statements Considered Harmful", Dr. Edsger Dijkstra introduces the concept of structured programming, developing standards for constructing computer programs.

Computer Science Corporation

Computer Science Corporation (CSC) becomes the first software company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

8 inch floppy disk

Alan Shugart as IBM demonstrates the first first regular use of the 8-inch floppy disk.

In 1969

IBM Logo

Under pressure from the industry, IBM announces that some of its software will be priced separately from the computer hardware, allowing software firms to emerge in the industry.


The ARPANET network is established, which eventually grows to become the Internet.

In 1970

Large Scale Integration (LSI)

Fourth-generation computers, built with chips that use Large Scale Integration (LSI) arrive. While chips in 1965 contained up to 1,000 circuits, the LSI chip contains as many as 15,000 circuits.

In 1971

Dr. Ted Hoff

Dr. Ted Hoff of Intel Corporation develops a microprocessor, or micro-programmable computer chip, the Intel 4004.

In 1975

Ethernet developed

Ethernet, the first local area network (LAN) is developed at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Centre) by Robert Metcalfe.

In 1979

Visicalc software

VisiCalc, a spreadsheet program written by Bob Frankston and Dan Bricklin is introduced.


The first public online information services, Compuserve and the Source, are formed.

In 1980

Bill Gates - Microsoft

IBM offers Microsoft Corporation founder, Bill Gates, the opportunity to develop the operating system for the soon-to-be announced IBM personal computer. With the development of MS-DOS, Microsoft achieves tremendous growth and success.

Winchester Hard Disk Drive

Alan Shugart presents the Winchester hard disk, revolutionising storage for personal computers. First models held 8 megabytes of storage.

In 1981

IBM Personal Computer

The IBM PC is introduced, signalling IBM's entrance into the personal computer marketplace. The IBM PC quickly garners the largest share of the computer market and becomes the personal computer of choice for business.

Elk Cloner Virus

The first computer virus, Elk Cloner, is spread via Apple II floppy disks, which contained the operating system. A short rhyme would appear on the screen when the user pressed the Reset button after the 50th boot of an infected disk.

In 1982

3,275,000 million computers sold

3,275,000 personal computers are sold, almost 3,000,000 more than in 1981.

Hayes 300bps modem

Hayes introduces the 300 bps smart modem. The modem is an immediate success.

Compaq founded in 1982

Compaq Inc. is founded to develop and market IBM compatible computers.

In 1983

Time magazine machine of the year 1982

Instead of choosing a person for its annual award, TIME magazine names the computer Machine of theYear for 1982, acknowledging the impact of computers on society.

Lotus 1-2-3

Lotus Development Corporation is founded. Its spreadsheet software, Lotus 1-2-3, which combines spreadsheet, graphics and database programs in one package, becomes the best selling program for IBM personal computers.

In 1984

HP LaserJet

Hewlett-Packard announces the first LaserJet printer for personal computers.

In 1986

Microsoft Stock

Microsoft has public stock offering and raises approximately £35.55 million ($61).

In 1988

Lotus 1-2-3 vs Microsoft Office Excel

Microsoft surpasses Lotus Development Corporation to become the world's to selling software vendor.

In 1989

Nintendo GameBoy

Nintendo introduces the Game Boy, its first handheld game console.

Intel 486 processor

The Intel 486 becomes the world's first 1,000,000 transistor microprocessor. It executes 15,000,000 instructions per second - four times as fast as its predecessor, the 80386 chip.

Tim Berners-Lee

While working at CERN, Switzerland, Tim Beners-Lee invents the World Wide Web.

In 1991

Kodak DCS 100

Kodak announces the first digital SLR (single-lens-reflex) camera. The Kodak DCS 100 is developed mostly for photojournalism purposes and stores the photos and batteries in a separate unit.

W3C - World Wide Web Consortium

World Wide Web Consortium releases standards that describe a framework for linking documents on different computers.

In 1992

Microsoft Windows 3.1

Microsoft releases Windows 3.1, the latest version of its Windows operating system. Windows 3.1 offers improvements such as TryeType fonts, multimedia capabilities and object linking and embedding (OLE). In two months, 3,000,000 copies of Windows 3.1 are sold.

In 1993

Microsoft Office 3.o Professional

Microsoft releases Microsoft Office 3 Professional, the first version of Microsoft Office for the Windows operating system.

Intel Pentium processor

Several companies introduce computers using the Pentium processor from Intel. The Pentium chip contains 3.1 million transistors and it capable of performing 112,000,000 instructions per second.

Navstar global positioning system

The U.S. Air Force completes the Global Positioning System by launching its 24th Navstar satellite into orbit. Today, GPS receivers can be found in cars, laptops and smartphones.

In 1994

Apple QuickTake

Apple introduces the first digital camera intended for consumers. The Apple QuickTake 100 is connected to home computers using a serial cable.

Amazon Book Store

Amazon is founded and later begins business as an online bookstore. Amazon eventually expands to sell products of all types and facilitates the buying and selling of new and used goods. Today, Amazon employs more than 88,400 people worldwide.

Netscape 1.0 browser

Jim Clark and Marc Andressen found Netscape and launch Netscape Navigator 1.0, a web browser.


Linus Torvalds creates the Linux Kernel, a UNIX-like operating system that he releases free across the Internet for further enhancements by other programmer.

In 1995


eBay, an online auction website, is founded. Providing an online venue for people to buy and sell goods, it quickly becomes the world's largest online marketplace as it approaches 100 million active users worldwide.

Sun Java

Sun Microsystems launches Java, an object-oriented programming language that allows users to write one program for a variety of computer platforms.

Windows 95

Microsoft releases Windows 95, a major upgrade to its Windows operating system. Windows 95 consists of more that 10,000 000 lines of computer instructions developed by 300 person-years of effort.

In 1996

U.S. Robotics PalmPilot

U.S. Robotics introduces the PalmPilot, an inexpensive user-friendly personal digital assistant (PDA).

Microsoft Windows NT Server

Microsoft releases Windows NT 4.0 Server, an operating system for client-server networks.

In 1997

Intel Pentium II processor

Intel introduces the Pentium II processor with 7.5 million transistors. The new processor, which incorporates MMX technology, processes video, audio and graphics data more efficiently and supports programs such as movie editing, gaming and more.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0

Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 4.0 and seizes a key place in the Internet arena.

In 1998


Google files for incorporation and is now the most used search engine, capturing more than 60% of the market over other search engines.

E-Commerce boom

E-commerce booms, Companies such as Amazon.com, Dell, Hewlett-Packard spur online shopping, allowing buyers to obtain a variety of goods and services.

In 1999

Intel Pentium III processor

Intel introduces the Pentium III processor. This processor succeeds the Pentium II and can process 3-D graphics more quickly. The Pentium III processor contains between 9.5 and 44 million transistors.


Goverments and businesses frantically work to make their computers year 2000 compliant (Y2K), spending more than £280 billion worldwide.

In 2000


Dot-com (Internet based) companies go out of business at a record pace - nearly one per day - as financial investors withhold funding due to the companies' unprofitability.


Shaun Flanning, 19 and his company, Napster, turn the music industry upside down by developing software that allows computer users to swap music files with one another without going through a centralised file server.


Telemedicine uses satellite technology and video conferencing to broadcast consultation and perform distant surgeries. Robots are used for complex and precise tasks.

e Commerce

E-commerce achieves mainstream acceptance. Anual e-commerce sales exceed £60 billion, and Internet advertising expenditure reaches more than £ billion.

In 2001

Intel Pentium 4 chip

Intel unveils its Pentium 4 chip with clock speeds starting at 1.4 GHz.


Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, is introduced. Aditional wikis begin to appear on the Internet, enabling people to share information in their areas of expertise. Although some might relay on wikis for research purposes, the content is not always verified for accuracy.

In 2002

Microsoft .net

Microsoft launches its .NET strategy, which is a new environment for developing and running software applications featuring ease of development of web-based services.

DVD burners

DVD burners begin to replace CD burners (CD-RW). DVDs can store up to eight times as much data as CDs. Uses include storing home movies, music, photos and data backups.

Intel Pentium 4 chip

Intel ships its revamped Pentium 4 chip with the 0.13 micron processor and Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology, operating at speeds of 3.06 GHz. This new development eventually will enable processors with a billion transistors to operate at 20GHz.

In 2003

Piracy is a crime

In an attempt to maintain their current business model of selling songs, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) files more than 250 lawsuits against individual computer users who offer copyrighted music over peer-to-peer networks.

Wireless in the home

Wireless computers and devices, such as keyboards, mouse devices, home networks and wireless Internet access points become commonplace.

In 2004

Flat panel LCD monitor

Flat-panel LCD monitors overtake bulky CRT monitors as the popular choice of computer users.


Linux, an open source operating system, makes major inroads into the server market as a viable alternative to Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Sun Solaris and Unix.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla releases its first version of the Firefox browser. Firefox provides innovative features that enhance the web browsing experience for users, including tabbed browsing and a search box. Firefox quickly gains popularity and take market share away from Microsofts Internet Explorer.


Facebook, an online social network originally available only to college students, is founded. Facebook eventually open registration to all people and immediately grows to more than 110 million users.

In 2004 - part 2

USB Flash drives

USB flash drives become a cost-effective way to transport data and information from one computer to another.


Major retailers begin requiring suppliers to include radio frequency identification (RFID) tags or microchips with antennas, which can be as small as one-third of a millimeter across, in the goods they supply.


The smartphone overtakes the PDA as the mobile device of choice.

iMac G5

Apple Computer introduces the sleek iMac G5. The new computers' display device contains the system unit.

In 2005

Spam, Spyware, Malware, Viruses

Spam, spyware,phishing and pharming take centre stage, along with viruses and other malware, as major nuisances to the 801 million computers worldwide..

Blogginf, Podcasting

Blogging and podcasting become mainstream methods for distributing information via the word wide web.


YouTube, an online community for video sharing, is founded. YouTube includes content such as home videos, film previews and clips from television shows. In November 2006, Google acquires YouTube.

iPod Video

Apple releases the latest version of its popular pocket-sized iPod portable media player. First it played songs, then photos, then podcasts and now up to 150 hours of music videos and television shows on a 2.5" colour display.

In 2006

Intel Core 2 Duo

Intel introduces its Core 2 Duo processor family. Boasting record-breaking performance while using less power, the family consists of five desktop computer processors and five mobile computer processors. The desktop processors includes 291 million transistors, yet uses 40% less power than the Pentium processor.

IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer

IBM produces the fastest supercomputer, Blue Gene/L. It can perform approximately 28 trillion calculations in the time it takes a human eye to blink, or about one-tenth of a second.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0, a term coined in 2004, becomes a household term with the increase in popularity of online social networks, wikis and web applications.

Intel iMac

Apple begins selling Macintosh computers with Intel microprocessors for the first time.

In 2007

Intel Core 2 Quad processor

Intel introduces its Core 2 Quad processor, a four-core processor made for dual-processor server and desktop computers. The larger number of cores allows for more energy efficient performance and optimises battery performance in laptops.

VOIP - Voice over Internet Protocol

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) providers expand usage to include Wi-Fi phones. The phones enable high-quality service through a Wireless-G network and high-speed Internet connection.

Apple iPhone

Apple introduces the iPhone and sells 270,000 phones in the first 2 days. iPhoneuses iTouch technology that allows you to make a call by simply tapping a name or number in your address book. In addition, it stores and plays music like an iPod. In this year, Apple also sells its billionth song on iTunes.

In 2007 part 2

Apple OS X Leopard

Apple releases its Mac OS X version 10.5 "Leopard" operating system, available in desktop and server versions. The system includes a significantly revised desktop, with a semitransparent menu bar and an updated search tool that includes the same visual navigation interface found in iTunes.

Blu-Ray discs

Blu-ray disks increase in popularity, overcoming and replacing HD DVD in less than one year. A Blu-ray disk can store approximately 9 hours of high-definition (HD) video on a 50GB disk or approximately 23 hours of standard definition (SD) video.

Wi-Fi hotspots

Wi-Fi hot spots are popular in a variety of locations. People bring their computers and tablets to coffee houses, fast food restaurants or bookstores to access the Internet wirelessly, either for free or for a small charge.

In 2008


Smartphones become smarter. Smartphones introduced this year include enhanced features such as touch screens with multi-touch, mobile TV, tactile feedback, improved graphics, GPS receivers and better cameras.

Google Chrome

Google releases its new browser. Google Chrome uses an entirely unique interface and offers other features such as dynamic tabs, crash control and application shortcuts.

Bill Gates retires

Bill Gates retires from Microsoft, He continues as chairman and advisor on key development projects.

In 2008 part 2


Netflix, an online film rental company, and TiVo, a company manufacturing digital video recorders (DVRs), make Netflix films and television episodes available to stream over high speed broadband connections

Solid State Disk Drives

Computer manufacturers begin to offer solid-state drives (SSDs) instead of conventional hard disk drive, mostly in laptops. Although SSDs have a lower storage capacity, are more expensive and slightly more susceptible to failure, they are significantly faster.

In 2009

Intel Core i5 processor

Intel releases the Core i5 and Core i7 line of processors. These processors offer increased performance for some of the more demanding tasks. Intel also enhances its Core processor family by releasing multi-core processors, designed to increase the number of instructions that can be processed at a given time.

Wii Fit

Computers and mobile devices promote fitness by offering games and programs to help users exercise and track their progress. These games and programs also are used to assist with physical rehabilitation.

In 2010

AMD Opteron processor

AMD develops a 12-core processor, which contains two 6-core processors, each on an individual chip. Power consumption is similar to that of a 6-core processor but offers reduced clock speed.

Kinect for Xbox 360

Kinect for Xbox 360 changes the way people play video games. Game players now can interact with the game with a series of sensors, as well as a camera, tracking their movements in 3-D.

3TB Hard drive

Hard drive capacity continues to increase at an exponential rate, with the largest hard disks storing more than 3,000GB of 3 Terrabytes of data and information.

Apple iPad

Apple releases the iPad, a revolutionary mobile device with a 9.7-inch multi-touch screen. The iPad boasts up to 10 hours of battery life, connects wirelessly to the Internet and is capable of running thousands of apps.

In 2011

Netbook computer

Netbooks offer a smaller, lighter alternative to laptops. Netbooks have screens between seven and ten inches, and are used mostly for browsing the web and communicating online.

E-book reader

E-books and e-book readers explode in popularity. Many novels, textbooks and other publications are available digitally and can be read on an e-book reader, computer or mobile device.


More than 200 types of mobile devices are now using Google Android, an operating system originally designed for mobile devices.


A new generation of browsers is released to support HTML5, enabling webpages to contain more vivid and dynamic content.

In 2011 part 2


Google introduces its Google+ online social network and integrates it across many of its products and services.

Intel Ultrabooks

Intel introduces Ultrabooks, which are powerful, lightweight alternatives to laptops. Ultrabooks normally weight 2.5 Kg or less, have great performance and battery life and are usually less than one inch thick.

Steve Jobs dies

Steve Jobs, a co-founder of Apple Inc. passes away after a long battle with cancer. Jobs is remembered for revolutionising the computer and music industry.

In 2012

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft announces the Surface, a tablet designed to compete with Apple's iPad. The Surface has a built-in stand, runs Windows 8 operating system and its apps, and supports a cover that also can serve as a keyboard.

Microsoft Windows 8 operating system

Microsoft releases Windows 8, its newest version of the Windows operating system. Windows 8 boasts a completely redesigned interface and supports touch input.

iPhone 5

Apple releases the iPhone 5. The newest iPhone has a four-inch screen, contains a new smaller dock connector and uses Apple's A6 processor.

In 2012 part 2

Google Android surpasses Apple iOS

Google's Android surpasses Apple's iOS as the most popular operating system used on smartphones. Although iPhone still is the best selling smartphone, competing products are gaining market share quickly.

Microsoft Office 2013

Microsoft releases the newest version of its flagship Microsoft Office suite, Office 2013. Office 365, which uses the familiar Office 2013 interface, also is released, allowing users to use their Microsoft accounts to access Office apps from computers that do not have Office installed.

In 2013

Green computing

Individuals and enterprises increase their focus on green computing. Computer manufacturers not only sell more energy-efficient hardware, they also provide easy ways in which customers can recycle their old computers and devices.

Cloud storage

Decreases in storage costs and increases in Internet connection speeds persuade more users to use cloud storage for their data. Cloud storage also provides users with the convenience of accessing their files from almost anywhere.

Larger capacity SDD drive

Solid-State-Drive (SSD) storage is becoming more popular, with storage capacities increasing and prices decreasing.

In 2013 part 2

Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1, a significant update to Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, is released.

Tablet computers

Many consumers prefer tablets for their mobile computing needs. Tablets provide ultimate portability while still allowing users to access a vast array of apps, as well as access to the Internet and their email messages.

In the future..

The future of computers

Who knows what the future holds in computing?