A Timeline of Computing

compiled by piero scaruffi
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Book: A History of Silicon Valley

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi)

(See also the Timeline of Artificial Intelligence and the Timeline of Cyberculture and Hacker Culture and, for pictures of the machines, the Visual History of Computing)

1859: Charles Babbage designs a "Difference Engine"
1885: William Burroughs develops an adding machine
1890: Hermann Hollerith's tabulator is chosen for the national census
1906: Lee DeForest invents the vacuum tube
1911: Hollerith's Tabulating Machine Company is acquired by a new company that will change name to International Business Machines or IBM in 1924
1925: Burroughs introduces a portable adding machine
1925: AT&T and Western Electric form the Bell Labs in New York
1927: Fritz Pfleumer in Germany invents the magnetic tape
1931: Vannevar Bush's Differential Analyzer: an analog computer to solve differential equations for engineering and physics problems (eg power transmission)

1933: Vladimir Kotelnikov discovers the "Nyquist-Shannon" sampling theorem
1935: Germany's AEG introduces the first tape recorder
1936: Alan Turing describes a machine capable of performing logical reasoning, the "Universal Turing Machine"

1936: RCA introduces the 6L6, the most successful vacuum tube ever
1937: Claude Shannon's thesis: the application of Boolean algebra to electronic circuits (the switching circuits of telephone exchanges can express Boolean algebra)
1938: John Atanasoff at Iowa State College conceives the electronic digital computer
1939: Fred Terman's students William Hewlett and David Packard start a company to produce their audio-oscillator, the first startup in "Silicon Valley"
1941: Konrad Zuse's Z3 programmable electromechanical computer, the first Turing-complete machine

1942: Vannevar Bush's Rockefeller Differential Analyzer to calculate ballistic tables during World War II (a 100-ton machine with 2000 vacuum tubes)

1943: Tommy Flowers and others build the Colossus, the world's first digital electronic computer, but not general purpose

1944: Howard Aiken of IBM unveils the first computer programmed by punched paper tape, the electromechanical Harvard Mark I

1945: Vannevar Bush proposes the "Memex" desk-based hypermedia machine

(Life Magazine, 19 November 1945)
1945: John Mauchly, Presper Eckert and John Von Neumann design a computer that holds its own instructions, the "stored-program architecture" (EDVAC specifications)

1945: IBM establishes the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory at Columbia University in New York
1946: The first non-military computer, ENIAC, or "Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer", is unveiled, built by John Mauchly and Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania, general-purpose, all-electronic, but not digital

(Jean Jennings, Marlyn Wescoff and Ruth Lichterman program the ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania)

(Same three programmers in the same order)

(Two programmers, Esther Gerston and Gloria Ruth Gordon, entering a program in the ENIAC)

Article about the "electronic brain":

1947: AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratory's engineers John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain demonstrate the principle of amplifying an electrical current using a solid semiconducting material, i.e. the "transistor"
1947: Norbert Wiener founds Cybernetics
1947: John Von Neumann describes self-reproducing automata
1947: Ampex introduces a magnetic tape recorder
1947: Frederick Williams at the University in Manchester develops a tube for Random Access Memory (RAM)

1948: The Varian brothers found Varian Associates
1948: Claude Shannon founds Information Theory ("The Mathematical Theory of Communication") and coins the term "bit"
Apr 1949: The Manchester "Baby" (Small Scale Experimental Machine), the first stored-program electronic computer

May 1949: Cambridge's EDSAC, the second stored-program electronic computer
Aug 1949: Philadelphia's EDVAC, the third stored-program electronic computer

1950: Turing proposes a test to determine whether a machine is intelligent or not
1950: The Pilot ACE computer

Article in 1946 about Turing's "electronic brain" under development

1950: Remington Rand purchases Eckert-Mauchly Computer
May 1950: The first stored-program electronic computer to be deployed in the USA, the SEAC, and the first to use semiconductors instead of vacuum tubes
Feb 1951: The Ferranti Mark 1, the first commercial computer, an evolution of the EDSAC

1951: The first commercial computer in the USA, the Univac

Summary of Early Computers

Zuse 3 (1941): Turing-complete, electromechanical, no stored program, no memory
Colossus (1943): electronic, not Turing-complete, no stored program, no memory
Harvard Mark 1 and IBM ASCC (1944): not Turing-complete, electromechanical, no stored program, decimal, no memory
ENIAC (1946): Turing-complete, electronic, no stored program, decimal (memory: delay lines)
Manchester Baby (1948): Turing-complete, electronic, stored-program (memory: Williams tubes)
Manchester Mark 1 (1949): Turing-complete, electronic, stored-program (memory: Williams tubes and drum memory)
Cambridge EDSAC (1949): ditto (memory: delay lines)
Pilot ACE (1950): ditto (memory: delay lines)
SEAC (1950): ditto (memory: delay lines) with semiconductor logic
SWAC (1950): ditto (memory: Williams tubes)
ERA 1101 and Atlas (1950): ditto (memory: drum memory)
Whirlwind (1951): ditto (memory: magnetic-core memory)
IAS EDVAC (1951): ditto (memory: Williams tubes)
Ferranti (1951): first commercial Turing-complete electronic stored-program computer (memory: Williams tubes and drum memory)
Univac (1951): ditto (memory: delay lines)

1951: The first compiler (Grace Murray)

1951: A team led by Jay Forrester at the MIT builds the "Whirlwind" computer, the first real-time system and the first computer to use a video display for output
1952: The IAS machine, designed by Von Neumann, is built at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study

1952: The hydrogen bomb detonated in the Marshall Islands is the result of the first successful computer simulation (on a IAS machine)

1952: A Univac 1 correctly predicts that Eisenhower would win the elections
Dec 1952: The first commercial computer is delivered in the USA, the Univac 1, an evolution of the EDVAC

Computer programmers of 1951: Patsy Simmers (holding an ENIAC board) Gail Taylor (holding an EDVAC board), Milly Beck (holding an ORDVAC board), Norma Stec (holding a BRLESC-I board)

Nov 1953: Ferranti unveils the Transistor Computer, which mostly uses transistors
1954: The military assign the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) project to the MIT's Whirlwind team with the goal to create a system for monitoring and intercepting enemy rockets
1954: Remington Rand introduces UNIVAC 1103, the first computer with magnetic-core RAM
1954: IBM introduces its first computer model, the 704
1954: IBM's first mass-produced computer, the 650 (2,000 units sold)

1954: Bell Labs' fully transistorized Tradic (1954)
1954: Fujitsu enters the computer market
1955: Harwell unveils the first fully transistorized computer, the Cadet
1955: The first conference on Artificial Intelligence is held at Dartmouth College, organized by John McCarthy
1955: Remington Rand merges with Sperry to form Sperry Rand
1955: MIT's fully transistorized TX-0 (1955)
1956: IBM invents the hard-disk drive
1956: William Shockley founds the Shockley Transistor Corporation in Mountain View to produce semiconductor-based transistors to replace vacuum tubes, and hires Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore and others
1956: Werner Buchholz of IBM coins the term "byte"
Apr 1957: John Backus of IBM introduces the FORTRAN programming language, the first practical machine-independent language
Oct 1957: Several engineers (including Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore) quit the Shockley Transistor laboratories and form Fairchild Semiconductor in Mountain View, using funding from Fairchild Camera and Instrument
1957: ARDC invests $70,000 in Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)
1957: Morton Heilig invents the "Sensorama Machine", a pioneering virtual-reality environment
1957: Former SAGE engineer Ken Olsen founds the Digital Equipment Corporation
1957: Rockefeller Brothers invests in Fairchild Semiconductor, the first venture-funded startup of the Bay Area
1958: Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments invents the integrated circuit, a micro-sized silicon device containing a large number of electronic switches
1958: Remington Rand has sold 46 Univac I computers
1959: The MIT launches the "Computer-Aided Design Project"
1959: Hitachi builds its first transistor computer

1960: William Fetter of Boeing coins the expression "computer graphics"
1960: Digital Equipment introduces the first minicomputer, the PDP-1 (Program Data Processor), that comes with a keyboard and a monitor
1960: John McCarthy speculates that "computation may someday be organized as a public utility"

1961: Joe Orlicky of JI Case pioneers Material Requirements Planning or MRP)
1961: Rolf Landauer argues that information is physical
1961: Charles Bachman at General Electric develops the first database management system, IDS
1961: Philco unveils the first head-mounted display
1961: Fernando Corbato at the MIT creates the first working time-sharing system, CTSS or "Compatible Time Sharing System", that allowed to remotely access a computer, an IBM 7090/94
1961: IBM owns more than 81% of the computer market
1961: General Motors installs "Unimate", the first industrial robot, designed by George Devol

1962: Paul Baran proposes a distributed network as the form of communication least vulnerable to a nuclear strike
1962: Steve Russell and others at the MIT implement the computer game "Spacewar" on a PDP-1
1962: The first commercial modem is manufactured by AT&T
1962: General Electric's scientist Nick Holonyak builds the first practical light-emitting diode (LED)

1963: Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute builds the first prototype of the "mouse"
1963: MIT's student Ivan Sutherland demonstrates "Sketchpad", "A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System"
1963: Irving John Good (Isidore Jacob Gudak) speculates about "ultraintelligent machines" (the "singularity")
1963: The "American Standard Code for Information Interchange" or "ASCII" is introduced
1963: Ivan Sutherland of the MIT demonstrates "Sketchpad", a computer graphics program, and the first program ever with a graphical user interface

1964: IBM introduces the first "mainframe" computer, the 360, and the first "operating system", the OS/360
1964: John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz (at Dartmouth College) invent the BASIC programming language
1964: American Airlines' SABRE reservation system, developed by IBM, is the first online transaction processing

1965: RCA and SDS introduce the first computers made with integrated circuits
1965: Gordon Moore ("Cramming more components into integrated circuits") predicts that the processing power of computers will double every 18 months ("Moore's law")
1965: European computer manufacturer Olivetti introduces the first affordable programmable electronic desktop computer, the P101
1965: The Digital Equipment Corporation unveils the first successful mini-computer, the PDP-8

1966: There are 2,623 computers in the USA (1,967 work for the Defense Department)
1966: IBM scientist Bob Dennard invents the Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM)

1967: Jack Kilby (at Texas Instruments) develops the first hand-held calculator
1967: Greg Mansfield and David Cahlander write the full-screen text editor O26 for the Control Data 6000 mainframe

Jul 1968: Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove found Intel ("Integrated Electronics") to build memory chips
1968: The hypertext system FRESS created by Andries van Dam at Brown University for the IBM 360 introduces the "undo" feature
1968: Don Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming"
1968: Computer Science Corp becomes the first software company to be listed at the New York stock market
1968: Dutch mathematician Edsger Dijkstra writes "GO TO Statement Considered Harmful"
1968: The hypertext system FRESS created by Andries van Dam at Brown University for the IBM 360 introduces the "undo" feature
1968: Barclays Bank installs networked "automated teller machines" or ATMs
1968: Doug Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute demonstrates the NLS ("oN-Line System") in the "mother of all demos"

1969: Gary Starkweather of Xerox invents the laser printer
1969: Mario Cardullo conceives Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
1969: Advanced Micro Devices is founded by Jerry Sanders and other engineers from Fairchild Semiconductor
1969: The Stanford Research Institute (SRI) demonstrates Shakey the Robot
1969: Ted Codd of IBM invents the relational database
1969: In order to preempt an antitrust lawsuit by the government, IBM unbundles software from its computers and opens up its computers to third-party software companies
1969: Bell Labs unveils the Unix operating system developed by Kenneth Thompson and Dennis Ritchie
1969: The computer network Arpanet is inaugurated with four nodes, three of which are in California (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute and UC Santa Barbara

1969: Shih Ming and Andrew Chiu found Taiwan's first semiconductor company, Unitron

1970: Japan's Sharp and Canon introduce the first pocket calculators
1970: Intel introduces the first commercially successful 1K DRAM chip
1970: Lee Boysel at Four Phase Systems designs the AL1, a commercial microprocessors (an 8-bit CPU)
1970: The first practical optical fiber is developed by glass maker Corning Glass Works
1970: Five of the seven largest USA semiconductor manufacturers are located in Santa Clara Valley or "Silicon Valley"
1970: Xerox opens the Palo Alto Research Center or PARC

1971: The government bans AT&T from entering the data-processing business
1971: Arthur Miller's "The Assault on Privacy"
1971: David Noble at IBM invents the floppy disk
1971: Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney create the first arcade video game, "Computer Space"
1971: Ted Hoff and Federico Faggin at Intel build the first universal micro-processor, a programmable set of integrated circuits, i.e. a computer on a chip
1971: Busicom introduces the pocket calculator LE-120A Handy

1972: Narendra Patni founds the software enterprise Data Conversion with offices both in the USA and India
1972: At least 60 semiconductor companies have been founded in Silicon Valley between 1961 and 1972, mostly by former Fairchild engineers and managers
1972: Intel introduces the 8008 microprocessor, whose eight-bit word allowed to represent 256 characters, including all ten digits, both uppercase and lowercase letters and punctuation marks
1972: Magnavox introduces the first videogame console, the "Odyssey"
1972: Allan Alcorn creates the first videogame, "Pong", an evolution of Magnavox's Odyssey, for Nolan Bushnell's Atari
1972: The Global Positioning System (GPS) is invented by the USA military, using a constellation of 24 satellites for navigation and positioning purposes
1972: Ray Tomlinson at Bolt, Beranek and Newman invents email for sending messages between computer users, and invents a system to identify the user name and the computer name separated by a "@"
1972: IBM engineers in Mannheim, Germany, found Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung or SAP

1973: Efrem Lipkin, Mark Szpakowski, and Lee Felsenstein start the "Community Memory", the first public computerized bulletin board system
1973: Automatic Electronic Systems of Canada introduces the "AES-90", a "word processor" that combines a CRT-screen, a floppy-disk and a microprocessor
1973: Vietnamese-born engineer Andre Truong Trong Thi uses the 8008 to build the computer Micral
1973: Japan's Sharp develops the LCD or "Liquid Crystal Display" technology
1973: Intel introduces the 8088 CPU
1973: Martin Cooper at Motorola invents the first portable, wireless or "cellular" telephone
1973: Xerox PARC's Bob Metcalfe coins the term "Ethernet" for a local area network
1973: The Arpanet has 2,000 users
1973: Gary Kildall in Monterey invents the first operating system for a microprocessor, the CP/M
1973: Taiwan establishes the Industrial Technological Research Institute (ITRI) to develop technologies for foreign markets
1973: Ichiro Kato's team at Waseda University in Japan unveils the first full-scale anthropomorphic robot in the world, Wabot-1

1974: Tata obtains a software contract from Burroughs, the first major software project offsources by the USA to India
1974: The first item is sold by a store using a scanner to read a barcode using the Universal Product Code invented by IBM
1974: Japan's Hitachi produces its first IBM-compatible mainframe computer
1974: Donald Chamberlin at IBM's San Jose laboratories invents SQL
1974: Xerox's PARC unveils the "Alto", the first workstation with a "mouse" and a Graphical User Interface
1974: Sam Hurst invents the touch-screen user interface
1974: IBM's San Jose laboratories unveils the relational database system System R
1974: Vint Cerf of Stanford and others publish the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)

1975: Advanced Micro Devices introduces a reverse-engineered clone of the Intel 8080 microprocessor
1975: Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith establish the Computer Graphics Laboratory at the New York Institute of Technology
1975: Ed Roberts in New Mexico introduces the Altair 8800 based on an Intel microprocessor and sold as a mail-order kit
1975: Bill Gates and Paul Allen develop a version of BASIC for the Altair personal computer and found Microsoft
1975: Steve Wozniak and others found the "Homebrew Computer Club"

1976: Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs form Apple Computer and build the first microcomputer in Jobs' garage in Cupertino.
1976: Stanford University researchers (Martin Hellman, Ralph Merkle and Whitfield Diffie) describe the concept of public-key cryptography
1976: Bill Joy writes the "vi" text editor for Unix
1976: Ed Catmull and Fred Parke's computer animation in a scene of the film "Futureworld" is the first to use 3D computer graphics
1976: MOS Technology introduces the 6502 processor
1976: Stan Shih and his wife Carolyn Yeh found the calculator maker Multitech (later Acer) in Taiwan

1977: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak develop the Apple II using the 6502 processor
1977: UC Berkeley develops the "Berkeley Software Distribution" (BSD), better known as "Berkeley Unix", a variant of the Unix operating system
Aug 1977: Larry Ellison founds the Software Development Laboratories, later renamed Oracle Corporation
1977: Atari introduces a videogame console, the 2600, based on the 6502 processor
1977: Dave Smith builds the "Prophet 5", the world's first microprocessor-based musical instrument, the first polyphonic and programmable synthesizer
1977: Dennis Hayes of National Data Corporation invents the PC modem, a device that converts between analog and digital signals

1978: Toshihiro Nishikado creates the first blockbuster videogame, "Space Invaders"
1978: Olivetti introduces the world's first electronic typewriter, the ET101
1978: Apple launches a project to design a personal computer with a graphical user interface
1978: Atari announces the Atari 800, designed by Jay Miner

1979: Dan Bricklin develops VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program for personal computers
1979: Larry Michels founds the first Unix consulting company, Santa Cruz Operation (SCO)
1979: Michael Stonebraker at U.C. Berkeley unveils a relational database system, Ingres
1979: Lucasfilm hires Ed Catmull from the New York Institute of Technology to lead the Graphics Group of its Computer Division
1979: Kevin MacKenzie invents symbols such as :-), or "emoticons", to mimic the cues of face-to-face communication
1979: John Shoch of Xerox's PARC coins the term "worm" to describe a program that travels through a network of computers

1980: The Arpanet has 430,000 users, who exchange almost 100 million email messages a year
1980: Seagate Technology introduces the first hard-disk drive for personal computers
1980: Doug and Gary Carlston found the videogame company Broderbund
1980: Integrated circuits incorporate 100,000 discrete components
1980: The Usenet is born, an Arpanet-based discussion system divided in "newsgroups"
1980: Apple goes public for a record $1.3 billion
1980: Sony introduces the double-sided, double-density 3.5" floppy disk that holds 875 kilobyte
1980: Onyx introduces the first microcomputer running the Unix operating system
1980: The largest semiconductor manufacturers in the world are: Texas Instruments, National, Motorola, Philips (Europe), Intel, NEC (Japan), Fairchild, Hitachi (Japan) and Toshiba (Japan).
1980: David Patterson and Carlo Sequin launch a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) project at UC Berkeley

1981: The Xerox 8010 Star Information System is the first commercial computer that uses a mouse
1981: Richard Feynman coins the concept of "quantum computing"
1981: Narayana Murthy founds Infosys in Bangalore, India
1981: Richard Feynman's lecture "Simulating Physics with Computers" about quantum computation
1981: John Hennessy starts a RISC project at Stanford University
Aug 1981: The IBM PC is launched, running an operating system developed by Bill Gates' Microsoft
Oct 1981: Jim Clark of Stanford University and Abbey Silverstone of Xerox found Silicon Graphics in Sunnyvale to manufacture graphic workstations
1981: Andreas Bechtolsheim at Stanford University builds a workstation running Unix and networking software

Dec 1982: John Warnock and Charles Geschke of Xerox PARC develop PostScript and found Adobe to commercialize it
1982: Thomas Zimmerman of IBM Almaden builds the first commercially-available dataglove
1982: Stanford students Andy Bechtolsheim, Vinod Khosla and Scott McNealy (a former Onyx employee) and former Berkeley student Bill Joy found SUN Microsystems, named after the "Stanford University Network", to manufacture workstations
1982: Richard Feynman's lectures launch the field of quantum computing
1982: Apple's employee Trip Hawkins founds Electronic Arts to create home computer games
1982: John Walker founds Autodesk to sell computer-aided design software
1982: Gary Hendrix founds Symantec
1982: Nastec introduces the term "Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE)" for its suite of software development tools
1982: Richard Feynman proposes a universal quantum simulator that can simulate any physical object
1982: Japan's Sony introduces the compact disc

Jan 1983: The Lotus Development Corporation, founded by Mitchell Kapor, introduces the spreadsheet program "Lotus 1-2-3" for MS-DOS developed by Jonathan Sachs
1983: Bjarne Stroustru's C with Classe is renamed C++
1983: Gavilan, founded by Manuel Fernandez, former CEO of Zilog, introduces the first portable computer marketed as a "laptop"
1983: Crash of the videogame console market
Mar 1983: Compaq introduces the Portable PC, compatible with the IBM PC
1983: The Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol or "TCP/IP" running on Unix BSD 4.2 debuts on the Arpanet, and the Arpanet is officially renamed Internet
1983: Paul Mockapetris invents the Domain Name System for the Internet to classify Internet addresses through extensions such as .com
Jan 1983: Apple introduces the "Lisa", the first personal computer with a graphical user interface
1983: The Musical Instrument Digital Interface is introduced, based on an idea by Dave Smith
1983: William Inmon builds the first data warehousing system
1983: Nintendo releases the Family Computer, renamed Nintendo Entertainment System in the USA)

1984: Cisco is founded by Leonard Bosack and Sandra Lerner
1984: Charles Bennett and Gilles Brassard discover quantum cryptography
1984: Michael Dell, a student at University of Texas at Austin, founds PCs Limited, later renamed Dell, to sell custom PC-compatible computers by mail-order only
1984: Psion introduces the first personal digital assistant, the first hand-held computer
1984: Robert Gaskins and Dennis Austin develop "Presentation", an application to create slide presentations (later renamed "Powerpoint")
1984: Michael McGreevy creates the first virtual-reality environment at NASA Ames
1984: Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner found the MIT Media Lab
1984: General Motors builds a factory that uses Supply Chain Management software
1984: Wavefront introduces the first commercial 3D-graphics software
1984: Hewlett-Packard introduces the first ink-jet printer
Jan 1984: Apple introduces the Macintosh, which revolutionizes desktop publishing
1984: William Gibson's novel "Neuromancer" popularizes the "cyberpunks"
1984: The CDROM is introduced by Sony and Philips
1984: Fujio Masuoka at Toshiba invents flash memory, a cheaper kind of EEPROM
1984: Japanese firms introduce the 256K DRAM chips

1985: Texas Instruments opens a software laboratory in Bangalore, India
1985: David Deutsch's universal quantum computer
1985: British computer manufacturer Acorn debutes a RISC processor, the Acorn Risc Machine or ARM, designed by Sophie Wilson
1985: Stewart Brand creates the "Whole Earth Lectronic Link" (or "WELL"), a virtual community of computer users structured in bulletin boards for online discussions
1985: Digital Research introduces GEM (Graphical Environment Manager), a graphical-user interface for the CP/M operating system designed by former Xerox PARC employee Lee Jay Lorenzen
1985: Microsoft releases Windows 1.0 for MS-DOS
1985: Commodore launches the Amiga 1000, a 16-bit home computer with advanced graphical and audio (multimedia) designed by former Atari employee Jay Miner and running a multitasking operating system and GUI designed by Carl Sassenrath)
1985: Richard Stallman founds the non-profit organization "Free Software Foundation" (FSF)
1985: Hewlett Packard introduces the LaserJet, a printer for the home market
1985: Jobs and Wozniak leave Apple
Jul 1985: Aldus introduces PageMaker for the Macintosh, the first system for desktop publishing
1985: A crisis in the semiconductor industry is brought about by the dumping of cheaper Japanese products
1985: Richard Stallman releases a free operating system, "GNU"
1985: Warren Robinett, Scott Fisher and Michael McGreevy of NASA Ames build the "Virtual Environment Workstation" for virtual-reality research, incorporating the first dataglove and the first low-cost head-mounted display
1985: The Arpanet is renamed Internet
1985: Jaron Lanier founds VPL Research, the first company to sell Virtual Reality products
1985: Jim Kimsey's Quantum Computer Services (later renamed America Online or AOL) provides dedicated online services for personal computers

1986: Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs buys Lucasfilms' Pixar, that becomes an independent film studio run by Ed Catmull
1986: A book by Eric Drexler popularizes the term "nanotechnology"
1986: Phil Katz invents the zip compression format for his program Pkzip
1986: A virus spread among IBM PCs, nicknamed "Brain"

1987: Jerry Kaplan and others found GO Corporation to manufacture portable computers with a pen-based user interface
1987: Microsoft introduces Bookshelf on a CD-ROM
1987: David Duffield and Ken Morris found PeopleSoft to manufacture Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications
1987: The JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) format is introduced
1987: Linus Technologies introduces the first pen-based computer, WriteTop
1987: Bill Atkinson at Apple creates the hypermedia system HyperCard
1987: Uunet becomes the first commercial Internet Service Provider, ISP
1987: ITRI's president Morris Chang founds Taiwan's Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the first independent silicon-chip foundry in the world, to serve the "fabless" companies of the USA
1987: The largest semiconductor manufacturers in the world are Japan's NEC, Japan's Toshiba and Japan's Hitachi

1988: Foxconn opens a pioneering factory in China's experimental city Shenzhen
1988: Mark Weiser proposes the vision of a future in which computers will integrated into everyday objects ("ubiquitous computing")
1988: "Morris", the first digital worm, infects most of the Internet
1988: Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) that provids broadband on a phone line is invented by Bellcore

1989: UC Berkeley introduces the "BSD license", one of the first open-source licences
1989: Guido van Rossum releases Python
1989: Nintendo introduces the power glove
1989: Adobe releases Photoshop
1989: Barry Shein founds the first Internet Service Provider, "The World", in Boston

1990: Dycam introduces the first digital camera, Model 1
1990: Microsoft announced that it will stop working on IBM's OS/2 and introduces the Windows 3.0 operating system
1990: Tim Berners-Lee of CERN invents the HyperText Markup Language "HTML" and demonstrates the World-Wide Web
1990: The first Internet search engine, "Archie", is developed in Montreal
1990: A spin-off of Acorn, Advanced RISC Machines (ARM), introduces the first embeddable RISC chip

1991: Pierre Wellner of Xerox's EuroPARC designes the multi-touch "Digital Desk" with multi-finger and pinching motions
1991: The Indian government sets up the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) to promote software exports and opens the first park in the Electronics City of Bangalore
1991: Finnish student Linus Torvalds introduces the Linux operating system, a variant of Unix
1991: Paul Lindner and Mark McCahill of the University of Minnesota release "Gopher", a software program to access the World-Wide Web
1991: Pei-Yuan Wei introduces a "browser" for the world-wide web, Viola
Dec 1991: Apple introduces QuickTime

1992: Intel is the world's largest semiconductor company
1992: The Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois Chicago creates a "CAVE" ("Cave Automatic Virtual Environment"), a surround-screen and surround-sound virtual-reality environment (graphics projected from behind the walls that surround the user)
1992: SAP launches R/3, moving its ERP system from mainframe to a three-tiered client-server architecture and to a relational database
1992: Jean Armour Polly coins the phrase "Surfing the Internet")
1992: The first text message is sent from a phone
1992: Japan's Fujitsu introduces the world's first mass-produced plasma display
1992: South Korea's Samsung becomes the largest producer of memory chips in the world
1992: Second generation wireless technology marks the transition from analog to digital voice

1993: Apple releases the Newton pen-based tablet computer with software for handwritten recognition running the ARM processor
1993: American outsources the management of its credit-card business to its Indian office, the first major project of business-process outsourcing to India
1993: Stanford University's professor Jim Clark hires Mark Andreessen who develops the first browser for the World Wide Web (Mosaic)
1993: Thomas Siebel founds Siebel for customer relationship management (CRM) applications
1993: Steve Putz at Xerox's PARC creates the web mapping service Map Viewer
1993: Broderbund introduces the videogame "Myst"
1993: Adobe Systems introduces Acrobat and the file format PDF (or Portable Document Format)

1994: Japan's Sony introduces the PlayStation
1994: Japan's Denso invents the QR Code (Quick Response Code), an alternative to the barcode with greater storage capacity
1994: Mark Pesce introduces the "Virtual Reality Modeling Language" or VRML)
1994: The "Band of Angels" is founded by "angels" to fund Silicon Valley startups
1994: University of North Carolina's college radio station WXYC becomes the first radio station in the world to broadcast its signal over the Internet)
1994: The search engine Architext (later Excite) debuts
1994: There are 315 public companies in Silicon Valley

Jan 1995: Stanford student Jerry Yang founds Yahoo
1995: Netscape, the company founded by Marc Andreessen, goes public even before earning money and starts the "dot.com" craze and the boom of the Nasdaq
1995: Microsoft bundles a free browser with its operating system, Internet Explorer, and starts the browser wars with Netscape
1995: John Lasseter's "Toy Story" is the first feature-length computer-animated film
1995: The MP3 standard is introduced
1995: The Sony Playstation is introduced
1995: Ward Cunningham creates WikiWikiWeb, the first "wiki", a manual on the internet maintained in a collaborative manner
1995: SUN launches the programming language Java
1995: Craig Newmark starts craigslist.com on the Internet, a regional advertising community
1995: Amazon.com is launched on the web as the "world's largest bookstore", except that it is not a bookstore, it is a website
1995: The At Home Network (@Home) is founded by William Randolph Hearst III

1996: Sabeer Bhatia launches Hotmail, a website to check email from anywhere in the world
1996: ASCI Red, a custom supercomputer built by Intel for the Sandia National Laboratory, is the first computer to perform more than 1 teraFLOPS
1996: Dell begin selling its computers via its website
1996: Nokia introduces the first "smartphone"
1996: Steve Jobs rejoins Apple
1996: Jeff Hawkins invents the Palm Pilot, a personal digital assistant, and Palm releases the WebOS, a mobile phone software platform based on Web technology
1996: Macromedia introduces Flash
1996: Japan's Toshiba introduces the first DVD player
1996: Japan's Sony introduces the chip FeliCa for RFID technology
Sep 1996: Sony and Philips introduce a set-top box, developed by Steve Perlman's WebTV
1996: GeoSystems Global launches the web mapping service MapQuest that also provides address matching
1996: The Apache HTTP Server is introduced, an open-source web server
1996: Brent Townshend invents the 56K modem
1996: Ajay Bhatt's team at Intel introduces USB (Universal Serial Bus) to connect computer devices

1997: Andrew Weinreich creates SixDegrees.com, the first social networking website
1997: Netflix is founded
1997: Colin Williams and Scott Clearwater's "Explorations in Quantum Computing"
1997: AOL launches the Instant Messenger service
1997: US West launches the first commercial DSL service in Phoenix
1997: Reed Hastings founds Netflix to rent videos via the Internet
1997: The XML standard for exchanging documents on the World-Wide Web is introduced
1997: Evite is founded by Stanford engineering students Al Lieb and Selina Tobaccowala
1997: The total revenues for ERP software market is $7.2 billion, with SAP, Baan, Oracle, J.D. Edwards, and PeopleSoft accounting for 62% of it)
1997: Psion adopts the ARM processor in its Series 5 in conjunction with a brand new operating system, Symbian, a joint venture with Ericsson, Nokia, Panasonic, and Motorola
1997: Lenovo passes IBM to become China's main vendor of personal computers

1998: Qualcomm licenses the ARM chip for its cell-phone technology
1998: South Korea's SaeHan introduces the world's first MP3 player, the MPMan F10
1998: Sued by the government, Microsoft accepts to unbundle Internet Explorer from the Windows operating system
1998: Wayne Westerman and John Elias found Fingerworks to commercialize a technology to help people with finger injuries use a computer
1998: South Korea's SaeHan Information Systems introduces the first mass-produced mp3 player, the "MPMan"
1998: Stanford's scientist Mendel Rosenblum and others found Vmware, the pioneer of virtualization
1998: NuvoMedia introduces the Rocket eBook, a handheld device to read ebooks
1998: Netscape makes its browser Navigator available for free in january 1998.
1998: Chinese and Indian engineers run about 25% of Silicon Valley's high-tech businesses, accounting for $16.8 billion in sales and 58,000 jobs
1998: SoftBook Press releases the first e-book reader
1998: Netscape launches the open-source project "Mozilla" of Internet applications
1998: America Online acquires Netscape
1998: Pierre Omidyar founds eBay, a website to auction items
1998: Two Stanford students, Larry Page and Russian-born Sergey Brin, launch the search engine Google
1998: Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay and scores of Internet-related startups create overnight millionaires
Dec 1998: Peter Thiel and Max Levchin found Confinity
1998: Jim Gray creates the web mapping service TerraServer that also offers satellite images
1998: Bob Somerby starts "The Daily Howler", the first major political blog

1999: Between 1998 to 1999 venture capital investments in Silicon Valley firms increases more than 90% from $3.2 billion to $6.1 billion
1999: A panel on "Big Data" is held at the Visualization Conference in San Francisco

1998: David Brock and Sanjay Sarma use RFID and the Internet to track products throughout the supply chain
1999: Kevin Ashton coins the term "Internet of Things" for Brock's and Sarma's system
1999: Google has 8 employees
Mar 1999: Friendster is launched in Morgan Hill by Jonathan Abrams
1999: Total revenues for supply-chain software are $3.9 billion, with i2 owning 13% of the market
1999: Siebel owns almost 50% of the CRM market
1999: Blogger.com allows people to create their own "blogs", or personal journals
1999: Marc Benioff founds Saleforce.com to move business applications to the Internet, pioneering cloud computing
1999: Philip Rosedale founds Linden Lab to develop virtual-reality hardware
1999: The world prepares for the new millennium amidst fears of computers glitches due to the change of date (Y2K)
1999: The recording industry sues Shawn Fanning's Napster, a website that allows people to exchange music
1999: 100 new Internet companies are listed in the USA stock market
1999: The USA has 250 billionaires, and thousands of new millionaires are created in just one year
1999: Microsoft is worth 450 billion dollars, the most valued company in the world, even if it is many times smaller than General Motors, and Bill Gates is the world's richest man at $85 billion
1999: Singapore's Creative Technology introduces the Nomad line of digital audio players
1999: Japan's NTT DoCoMo ("Do Communications over the Mobile network" introduces the "i-mode" service that allows mobile phones to access a broad range of Internet services
1999: At Home acquires Excite, the largest Internet-related merger yet
1999: The first USB flash drive is introduced by M-Systems

2000: 32% of Silicon Valley's high-skilled workers are foreign-born, mostly from Asia
2000: The NASDAQ stock market crashes, wiping out trillions of dollars of wealth
2000: Software and services account for 50% of IBM's business
2000: There are 417 public companies in Silicon Valley
2000: 10 billion email messages a day are exchanged over the Internet
2000: Confinity and X.com merge to form Paypal, a system to pay online
2000: Dell has the largest share of worldwide personal computer sales)
2000: Japan's Sharp introduces the J-SH04, the first mobile phone with a built-in camera
2000: Japan's Honda introduces the humanoid robot ASIMO
2000: Almost 50% of Japanese who access the Internet do so via a cell phone

Jan 2001: Apple launches iTunes, a service to download digital music
Nov 2001: Apple launches the iPod
Dec 2001: Listen.com launches Rhapsody, a service that provides streaming on-demand access to a library of digital music
2001: ARM dominates the market for embedded RISC chips, particularly for cell-phone applications
2001: Third generation wireless technology enables Internet browsing
2001: Jimmy Wales founds Wikipedia, a multilingual encyclopedia that is collaboratively edited by the Internet community
2001: Hewlett-Packard acquires Compaq

2002: Ebay acquires Paypal
2002: Bram Cohen unveils the peer-to-peer file sharing protocol BitTorrent
Oct 2002: Danger, founded by Andy Rubin, releases the mobile phone Hiptop, later renamed T-Mobile Sidekick
2002: South Korea's Samsung is the second semiconductor manufacturer in the world after Intel, and Japan's Toshiba is third, passing Texas Instruments

2003: Asia produces about 40% of the world's IT goods and consumes about 20% of them
2003: Fingerworks introduces the iGesture Pad
2003: Skype is founded in Europe by Niklas Zennstroem and Janus Friis to offer voice over IP, a system invented by Estonian engineers
2003: Matt Mullenweg launches a platform for people to create their own website or blog, Wordpress
2003: Linden Lab launches "Second Life", a virtual world accessible via the Internet

How in 1954 they imagined that computers would look like in 2004:

And how they actually looked like in 2004:

Feb 2004: Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield found Flickr, a photo-sharing service that allow users to "tag" photos
2004: Nokia, Philips and Sony establish the Near Field Communication (NFC) forum
2004: Craigslist only has ten employees moderating more than a million advertisements every month
2004: Mark Zuckerberg founds the social networking service Facebook at Harvard University (soon relocated to Palo Alto
2004: Mozilla releases the browser Firefox, created by Dave Hyatt and Blake Ross
2004: Oracle buys PeopleSoft
2004: Google launches a project to digitize all the books ever printed

Mar 2005: Yahoo acquires Flickr
Nov 2005: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim launch YouTube
2005: Adobe acquires Macromedia
2005: Yahoo, Google, America OnLine (AOL) and MSN (Microsoft's Network) are the four big Internet "portals", totaling a combined audience of over one billion people
2005: Oracle acquires Siebel
2005: Google launches the web mapping system Google Earth that also offers three-dimensional images of terrain
2005: More than 50% of all jobs outsourced by Silicon Valley companies go to India
2005: Sales of notebook computers account for 53% of the computer market
2005: Yahoo, Google, America OnLine (AOL) and MSN (Microsoft's Network) are the four big Internet portals with a combined audience of over one billion people worldwide
2005: Silicon Valley accounts for 14% of the world's venture capital
2005: 52.4% of Silicon Valley's high-tech companies launched between 1995 and 2005 have been founded by at least one immigrant
2005: Total revenues of ERP software are $25.5 billion, with SAP making $10.5 billion and Oracle $5.1 billion
2005: Ebay acquires Skype
2005: Apple acquires Fingerworks' multi-touch technology
2005: Taiwan's companies produce 80% of all personal digital assistants, 70% of all notebooks and 60% of all flat-panel monitors
2005: Lenovo acquires IBM's personal computer business
2005: Paul Graham starts Y Combinator, an incubator of startups

2006: Amazon introduces its Simple Storage Service, or S3, that anyone can use for public cloud storage
2006: Nintendo's Wii includes motion-sensing controllers
2006: YouTube only has 60 employees, but they manage 100 million videos
2006: HP surpasses Dell in worldwide personal-computer shipments, the first time a Silicon Valley company rules the personal-computer market
2006: Jack Dorsey creates the social networking service Twitter
2006: The Bay Area is the largest high-tech center in the USA with 386,000 high-tech jobs
2006: YouTube is bought by Google for $1.65 billion
2006: The world-wide web has 100 million websites
2006: Google acquires YouTube
2006: Scott Hassan founds Willow Garage to manufacturer robots for domestic use

Jan 2007: 48% of Apple's revenues come from sales of the iPod
Jan 2007: Apple unveils the iOS, a Unix-like operating system for iPhones incorporating Fingerworks' technology
May 2007: Facebook introduces an open platform for third parties to develop applications for its social network
Jun 2007: Apple launches the iPhone
Jul 2007: Mark Pincus founds Zynga
Aug 2007: Taiwan's Acer acquires its US rival Gateway
2007: Foursquare pioneers location-based services for mobile devices
2007: Forrester Research estimates that online retail sales in the USA reached $175 billion
2007: Google introduces a free Linux-based open-source operating system for mobile phones, Android, a former startup owned by Andy Rubin
2007: Google acquires DoubleClick, the company that dominates "display advertising"
2007: Siri introduces a virtual personal assistant for mobile devices
2007: The world's largest vendors of personal computers are HP, Dell, Taiwan's Acer, China's Lenovo and Japan's Toshiba

May 2008: The virtual world YoVille is launched on Facebook
2008: IBM's Roadrunner is the first computer to perform more than 1 petaFLOPS
2008: The "crowd-funding" website Kickstarter is launched
Jul 2008: YoVille is acquired by Zynga
2008: Apple introduces the "App Store" where independent software developers can sell their applications for the iPhone
2008: Microsoft Windows owns almost 90% of the operating system market for personal computers
September 2008: Google releases its own web browser, Chrome
2008: Google owns almost 70% of the Internet search market
Nov 2008: Andrew Mason launches the discount-coupon site Groupon
2008: The Silicon Valley has 2.4 million (less than 1% of the USA's population) generating more than 2% of the USA's GDP, with a GDP per person of $83,000
2008: Microsoft Windows owns almost 90% of the operating system market for personal computers, while Google owns almost 70% of the Internet search market
2008: Hewlett-Packard puchases Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in a shift towards services

Jan 2009: Satoshi Nakamoto introduces the digital currency Bitcoin and the blockchain
2009: Facebook introduces the "Like" button
Jun 2009: Zynga releases FarmVille
Aug 2009: Google's market value is more than $140 billion, and its search engine is the most used in the world
Oct 2009: Motorola is the first company to deliver an Android-based smart phone, the Droid
Nov 2009: Google releases its own operating system, Chrome OS, a variant of the Linux-based operating system Ubuntu
2009: Microsoft is still the largest software company in the world with revenues of $50 billion, but Google ($22.8 billion) has passed IBM's software revenues ($22 billion), Oracle ($17.5 billion) and SAP ($15.3 billion)
2009: Activision sells 4.7 million copies of "Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2" (developed by Infinity Ward) on its first day
2009: Taiwan's Foxconn becomes the world's largest manufacturer of electronics employing 800,000 people
2009: Oracle buys SUN and therefore Java
2009: BitTorrent accounts for at least 20% of all Internet traffic
2009: Facebook has 150 million users in january and grows by about one million users a day, the fastest product ever to reach that many users in five years
2009: Thomas Siebel founds energy startup C3 LLC
2009: Xerox puchases Affiliated Computer Services in a shift towards services
2009: Microsoft is the largest software company in the world with revenues of $50 billion, followed by IBM with $22 billion, Oracle with $17.5 billion, SAP with $11.6 billion, Nintendo with $7.2 billion, HP with $6.2 billion, Symantec with $5.6 billion, Activision Blizzard with $4.6 billion, Electronic Arts with $4.2 billion, Computer Associates with $3.9 billion, and Adobe with $3.3 billion.
2009: almost 90% of households in the USA own a cell phone
2009: Yahoo owns 17% of the market for display ads, followed by Microsoft at 11% and AOL at 7%

Jan 2010: Research In Motion owns 42% of the smartphone market, followed by Apple with 25%, Microsoft with 15% and Android-based devices with 9%
Mar 2010: YouTube broadcasts the Indian Premier League of cricket live worldwide
Mar 2010: Apple is worth $205 billion, third in the USA after Exxon and Microsoft
Mar 2010: Ben Silbermann launches the image bookmarking system Pinterest
Apr 2010: Apple introduces the tablet computer iPad, which sells one million units in less than one month
Apr 2010: HP purchases Palm, a struggling smartphone maker
Apr 2010: Microsoft's IE has 59.9% of the browser market, followed by Firefox with 24.5% and Google Chrome with 6.7%
Apr 2010: Apple introduces the tablet computer iPad that sells one million units in less than one month
May 2010: SAP buys Sybase
May 2010: Apple's market capitalization ($227 billion) surpasses Microsoft's ($226 billion)
Jul 2010: Facebook has 500 million users
Oct 2010: Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launch Instagram, a mobile photo-sharing service for the iPhone
2010: Angry Birds, developed by Rovio Mobile, becomes the first blockbuster of iPhone-based videogaming
Nov 2010: Microsoft introduces Kinect, a motion sensing input device for the Xbox videogame console
2010: Google is worth $180 billion
2010: The smarphone market grows 55% in 2010, with 269 million units sold worldwide
2010: India's Infosys has become one of the largest software companies in the world, with over 100,000 employees
2010: Taiwan's Quanta Computer is the largest manufacturer of notebook computers in the world
2010: Taiwan's HTC introduces the world's first 4G smartphone, the EVO
2010: Activision sells 5.6 million copies of "Call of Duty - Black Ops" on its first day
2010: FarmVille is the most popular Facebook game with more than 50 million users
2010: Facebook introduces Places a location-based service
2010: Microsoft's Internet Explorer owns 59.9% of the browser market, followed by Firefox with 24.5% and Google's Chrome with 6.7%
2010: Apple acquires the voice-activated assistant Siri
2010: Microsoft partnering with Nokia introduces the mobile operating system Windows Phone, derived from Andy Rubin's Danger technology
2010: Face.com offers face recognition technology for smartphones and Facebook
2010: Sales of laptop/notebook computers pass sales of desktop computers

2011: Tencent releases the social networking platform Weixin/WeChat for smartphones
Jun 2011: The largest notebook vendors in the world are Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Samsung, but Apple is the single largest notebook vendor in the world, with a 20% market share, if one also considers notepads
Jul 2011: Apple's AppStore has 425,000 apps, downloaded 15 billion times, on 200 million iOS devices, while Google's Android Market has 250,000 applications, downloaded 6 billion times, on 135 million Android devices
Aug 2011: Apple surpasses ExxonMobil to become the most valuable company in the world based on market capitalization
Aug 2011: Google acquires Motorola's smartphone business
Nov 2011: Sony introduces the head-mounted display HMZ-T1
Dec 2011: Android own 46.3% of the smartphonemarket, Apple iPhones 30%, RIM 15% and Microsoft 4.6%
2011: The world buys almost 60 million tablet computers, of which 66.6% are Apple iPads, 28.8% are Androids and 1.3% are Research in Motion (QNX/BlackBerry)
2011: James Ellenbogen's team at MITRE unveils the world's first nanoelectronic processor
Mar 2012: Facebook has 7 billion visits a month, Twitter 182 million, Pinterest 104 million, LinkedIn 86 million, Tagged 72 million and Google+: 61 million, and Facebook users average 405 minutes per month, Pinterest and Tumblr users 89 minutes, Twitter 21 minutes, Google+ 3 minutes
2012: Graydon Hoare at Mozilla releases the programming language Rust
Mar 2012: Pinterest becomes the third largest social network in the USA after Facebook and Google+
Apr 2012: Facebook acquires Instagram
2012: Facebook acquires Face.com
May 2012: Facebook goes public, the biggest high-tech IPO in history
Sep 2012: Android-based smartphones made by Samsung, HTC and others account for 75% of the market, whereas Apple's share is 14.9%
Nov 2012: Google has 85% of worldwide search engine use, followed by Yahoo with less than 8%, Bing with less than 5%, Baidu with less than 2%
Nov 2012: Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the most used browser with more than 55% of users, followed by Firefox with 20%, Chrome with 17%
2012: South Korea's Samsung sells twice as many smartphones as Apple and five times more than Nokia
2020: Downloads of apps like Zoom and Skype increase dramatically during the Covid-19 epidemic as video conferencing and chats replace face-to-face meetings
See also the timeline of Silicon Valley
See also the timeline of the Asian Miracle
See also the timeline of cyberculture
(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi)

  • Campbell-Kelly, Martin & Aspray, William: Computer (2004)
  • Ceruzzi, Paul: A History of Modern Computing (1998)
  • Chandler, Alfred: Inventing the Electronic Century (2001)
  • Cortada, James; Before the Computer (1993)
  • Dyson, George: Turing's Cathedral (2012)
  • Flamm, Kenneth: Creating the Computer (1988)
  • Yost, Jeffrey: The Computer Industry (2005)

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi)

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