Last updated: Monday 19th September 2011, 12:46 PT by AD
The History of Computers
(and your instructor's introduction to them)
1780 Benjamin Franklin –American statesman, inventor and scientist - discovers the existence of electricity
1822 Charles Babbage – English mathematician and inventor – built a mechanical computer which he called ‘The Analytical Engine’. His friend and colleague, Ada Augusta (Countess of Lovelace) wrote many articles about the engine, and is often described as the first computer programmer
1831 Michael Faraday – English physicist and chemist – discovers how to generate electricity using magnets
1854 George Boole – English mathematician publishes his book on switching theory based on mathematical logic
1872 Christopher Latham Scholes creates a mechanical machine called the Type-Writer
1878 Remington is contracted to produce 1000 Type-Writers
1890 The first electronic vacuum tube (valve) switch was created
1899 Underwood produces a new improved typewriter
1903 Nicola Tesla – American scientist patented electronic switches
1910 Over 2 million typewriters sold in the U.S.
1912 Alan Turing born.
1915 Typewriter manufacturers exceed 100
1920 magnetic tape recording invented
1933 IBM introduces the electric typewriter
1940 Computers built from mechanical switches – could perform 100 operations (adding numbers) per second
1946 The ENIAC computer with 18,000 vacuum tube (valve) switches was constructed. ENIAC is an acronym meaning: Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer. 5000 additions per second. The 80 ton ENIAC needed a large building with power supply, air conditioning to house it. It was unreliable – broke down every few hours. It was so expensive, only governments could afford to buy one. To program the ENIAC to do its additions it was necessary to connect hundreds of wires and arrange thousands of switches in a certain way.
1946 Dr John von Neuman of Princeton University proposed the concept of a stored program computer where the instruction would be stored in computer memory rather than in wires and switches.
1946 The term bit – short for binary digit was used for the first time
1947 William Shockley of Bell Telephone Laboratories of Murray Hill, N.J., announces the development of the transistor switch – small, fast and reliable – needed less power and generated less heat than the valve switches
1948 magnetic drum data storage invented
1950 Transistors replaced valves in computers. Computers became smaller, cheaper, faster and more reliable. 50,000 additions per second. Companies such as Univac, Honeywell, IBM, RCA, Burroughs, Digital Equipment, Control Data began to manufacture computers. The computers were still large, costing millions of dollars, but could now be afforded by government departments, large corporations and universities. These large computers were called mainframes.
1953 Magnetic cores used as internal memory (data storage) for the first time
1954 IBM documents the ‘Specifications for the IBM Mathematical FORmula TRANslating System, FORTRAN’ which formed the basis of the FORTRAN programming Language
1956 IBM introduces 5 megabyte disk file storage device
1957 FORTRAN language system released for IBM 704 computer
1959 Jack Kilby files patent for the first Integrated Circuit – using photographic reduction techniques, several transistors were etched onto a tiny slice of silicon crystal (approx. one quarter inch square). The chip was born.
1960 Algol 60 programming language used in universities and defense departments
1962 sixteen transistor switches combined onto one IC chip – transistors are smaller, cheaper, faster
1963 ASCII code introduced
1963 The first ‘mouse’ invented by Doug Englebart
1967 A RAM chip containing 1024 transistor switches (bits) introduced – the one kilobit chips.
1971 A company called INTEL produced their INTEL 4004 microprocessor chip, and this resulted in the manufacture of hand-held pocket calculators – originally costing several hundred dollars - with approx. 2000 switches
1971 IBM produce floppy disks (8") for data storage
1971 The Pascal programming language was developed by Professor Nicklaus Wirth of Zurich, Switzerland – the primary aim of this language was for teaching programming.
1972 INTEL develops the 8008 microprocessor with 4,500 switches
1972 I (AD) start a science degree course at university in England, and start to use the FORTRAN programming language. I use the university’s mainframe computer, having to write programs using punched cards.
1973 IBM Winchester disk drives built
1974 INTEL develops the 8080 microprocessor with 6,000 switches
1975 In the January 1975 issue of the magazine ‘Popular Electronics’ a computer known as the ‘Altair’ was featured on the cover page. Based on the INTEL 8080 microprocessor chip, it was available in kit form at a price of $400. It was referred to as a microcomputer. Computers smaller than mainframes, but larger than microcomputers were known as minicomputers.
1975 I (AD) start a PhD degree at university and start to use a microcomputer for the first time. The computer arrived with a Startrek game.
1975 A young man called Bill Gates, with friend Paul Allen developed a programming language (BASIC) interpreter program for the Altair. The Microsoft company was born. (I wish I bought shares!)
1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak start the APPLE Computer Corporation
1976 Shugart 5 and 1/4 " floppy drives cost $400
1977 The Apple I computer was first built based on Motorola’s 6502 microprocessor
1977 The Apple II was built
1978 INTEL develops the 8086 microprocessor with approximately 30,000 switches – 1 megabyte of data storage memory
1979 VisiCalc (statistical analysis) computer program written for the Apple II assures the success of the computer
1979 Englishman Clive Sinclair develops an affordable computer ‘ZX80’: $250
1980 Apple goes public and sells 4.6 million shares in minutes
1980 I (AD) buy my first computer Sinclair ‘ZX80’ . It runs the BASIC language.
1980 Seagate produce the 5 megabyte hard drive for microcomputers
1981 IBM starts up its microcomputer division, produces microcomputers using the INTEL 8086 chip, Tandon disk drives, SCI circuit boards and an Epson printer. The software used to control the hardware was written by Microsoft and was called MSDOS – Microsoft Disk Operating System.
1981 The much improved Sinclair ‘ZX81’ arrives at $100. My BASIC skills get better.
1981 I (AD) am awarded my PhD in chemistry
1982 I (AD) start to learn the Pascal and C languages
1982 INTEL develops the 80286 microprocessor with 135,000 switches.
Within 6 years of its release, an estimated 15 million 286-based IBM PCs (Personal Computers)
were installed around the world. These machines were aimed initially at business users.
1983 Microsoft announces its own mouse
1983 IBM produce the 10 megabyte hard drive
1984 North America has over 1 million hard drives in operation
1984 I (AD) start a teacher training course specializing in teaching computer programming to adults
1985 INTEL develops the 80386 microprocessor with 275,000 switches
1989 INTEL develops the 80486 microprocessor with 1,000,000 switches
1991 I (AD) buy my first decent computer – a Dell 386SX.
1991 IBM 1 Gigabyte (1,000,000,000 bytes) hard disk drive
1993 INTEL develops the 80586 (Pentium) microprocessor with 3,000,000 switches
1995 INTEL develops the Pentium Pro microprocessor with 5,500,000 switches
1995 I (AD) arrive in Canada from England and am introduced to the Java programming language
at a Sun Microsystems seminar in Vancouver.
1996 I (AD) buy my laptop (notebook) computer: Pentium II MMX running W95: $4500
1996 2 gigabyte hard drives are standard
1997 INTEL develops the 80686 Pentium II microprocessor with 7,500,000 switches
1999 INTEL develops the Pentium III microprocessor with 9.5 million transistors (switches)
1999 4 gigabyte and larger drives available
1999 September 1999 : my laptop computer is now only worth $2000
2000 June 2000, buy a Dell Pentium III, 700 MHz, 128MB RAM, W98, 20GB hard drive, no monitor, $2400
2000 The Pentium IIII is developed with more than 42 million transistors.
2004 September 2004; my laptop is now a bookend, sentimental value only :-)
2005 January 2005, take delivery of a new Dell Dimension 8400:
P4, 3.31 GHz, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive,
Flat Panel monitor, CD R/W, DVD R/W, 256MB nVidia card,
$2300 (inclusive of tax and delivery).
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition version 5.1.2600
2006 February 2006, take delivery of a new Dell Dimension 3100:
P4, 2.8 GHz, 512MB RAM, 160GB hard drive,
Flat Panel monitor, CD R/W, Integrated Intel Graphics,
$740 (inclusive of tax and delivery).
Oiginal Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Current Operating System: Linux - Fedora Core 5
2006 My home network: the two Dell machines above, plus two Dell 386 machines,
one loaded with Windows XP, the other with Linux - Fedora Core 3.
2006 Core processor developed with 300 million transistors
2006 Multicore chip processors developed with 800 million transistors
2007/8 Home network: the two Dell machines above,
one loaded with Windows XP, the other with Ubuntu Linux Apache
2009 add a Linux Dell laptop and a Windows 7 Toshiba netbook
2009 Intel 22nm Tri-Gate Circuits developed with over 2.9 billion transistors
2011 Home network: the two Dell machines above,
one (still) loaded with Windows XP, the other with Ubuntu 11:04 Server,
Windows 7 Toshiba netbook NB200 loaded with Ubuntu 11:04,
Dell 1420 Laptop loaded with Ubuntu 11:04.
2012- how many transistors?
Intel online exhibits (see how chips are made, how transistors and microprocessors work, and more...)
Copyright Anne Dawson 2012 - All Rights Reserved