Technology Timeline


35,000 BC - 100 BC

35,000 BC (also known as BCE _ Before Current Era): Notched bones used for counting.

20,000 BC: Pictures on rocks appeared in Europe.

10,000 BC: Clay objects for counting used in the Fertile Crescent.

6000 BC: First seals that make impressions on clays.

4000 BC: People of Sumer invent a base 60 numbering system (the base of the time) used by Greeks, Babylonians, Arabs.

3300 BC: Sumerian written number system

3000 BC: Egyptian number system and hieroglyphics appear,

2700 BC: An abacus invented in Sumer and Babylonia.

2000 BC: Minion civilization uses tablets of clay for accounting calculations

1500BC: The first alphabetic language appears with the Semites in what today is Syria

1000 BC: Many numeric systems appear.  800 – Aramaean, 600 – Phoenician.  300 – first known use of zero used by Babylonian scholars.  200 – Reference to both sand and token types of abacus in Greece. 

200 BC: Chinese invent paper and the mambo stick abacus.

100  BC: Romans using the wax abacus, abacus with rods.


0 AD - 1300

0 AD (also known as CE _ Common Era): Romans are using the pocket abacus.

300: Mayans are using counting for astronomy and later develop a base 20 number system with zero.

500: Nine digit system invented in India derived from Brahmi notation where the number’s positions have significance.  They begin to move beyond column significance to location from decimal and fully develop an understanding of positional use of zero.

800: The concept of the zero makes its way to China and Islam.

900: “Arabic” numbers and the zero introduced to Western Europe through Spain.

1000-1100: Printing is invented by Chinese.

1200: Widespread use of Indian digits 0 through 9, which is called algorisms in Europe.

1202: The Italian Leonard of Pisa (known as Fibonacci) publishes A Treatise on the Abacus from where many algebraic techniques, including the Fibonacci sequence, come.

1300: Chinese are using the Chinese abacus.


1500 - 1896

1500-1540: Printing reinvented in Europe by Johannes Gensfleisch (known as Gutenberg).

1600-1614: Scotsman John Napier invents a way to calculate logarithms using “Napier’s Bones” – ivory rods that work as a calculator when appropriately arranged.

1622: First slide rule invented by William Oughtred.

1637: René Descartes invents Analytical Geometry.

1642: Pascal designed a mechanical calculator (addition only) called the Pascaline.

1680s: Leibniz and Newton independently invent calculus.

1694: Leibniz creates the “Leibniz’s wheel," which is a four_function device (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), saving much time for creating log tables.

1700s: The rise of increasingly accurate analog mechanical devices.

1800-1801: Joseph Jacquard creates memory and programmability by using a punched card on a loom.

1811: Luddites, fearing loss of livelihood, try to destroy many Jacquard looms.

1820: The Arithmometer, the first mass_produced calculator, introduced.

1823: Charles Babbage creates his Difference Engine, which can add, subtract, multiply, and divide to six significant figures, but he never attempts twenty significant figures needed for real usefulness.

1830s: Babbage designs his Analytic Engine, which functions similar to a modern digital computer with a processor, storage for data, and cards for input and output.  He fails to secure enough funding to build the machine and dies before completing the machine

1842: Ada Lovelace becomes the first "programmer"’ by describing Babbage’s Analytic Engine.

1847-1854: George Boole creates boolean algebra and publishes An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.

1868: The QWERTY keyboard is invented by Christopher Sholes, specifically designed to slow down typists so that the mechanical keys will not hit each other.

1888: William S. Burroughs patents a mechanical adding machine.

1890: Herman Hollerith patents a mechanically programmable enumeration machine (talley or sort) using key_punched cards (actually 3 different machines) called a Tabulating Machine.  Hollerith machines are used for the 1890 U.S. Census.

1896: Hollerith establishes the Tabulating Machine Company, which later become International Business Machines (IBM).


1904 - 1948

1904: John Fleming invents the diode vacuum tube, which can convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC).

1910-1915: The physicist Manson Benedicks realizes that a germanium crystal can convert AC to DC, which later becomes a basic building block for microchips.

1919: The flip_flop switch is invented by W.H. Eccles and F.W. Jordan.

1920-1921: The Czech playwright Karel Cápek coins the word “robot” in his play RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots).

1924: Thomas John Watson becomes the chairman of the newly renamed International Business Machines (IBM).

1927: Television is demonstrated to the public with a broadcast of a speech in Washington D.C. sent to New York City.

1929: Bell Labs demonstrates first color television.

1935: IBM introduces the electric typewriter and the 601 punch_card machine and trains a class of women as service technicians.

1937: A early version of the binary adder circuit is created by George Stibitz.  The “Turing machine”, a theoretical model of a modern computer, is proposed by the mathematician Alan Turing in England.

1938: Hewlett Packard Company founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard to create specialized calculating equipment.

1938: The German Konrad Zuse builds his Z1, an electromechanical computer.

1939-1942: John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford E. Berry at Iowa State University create a linear equation computer (later called the ABC computer) with in_memory programs using vacuum tubes.

1943: The all_electronic computer Colossus invented in England for use in codebreaking.

1943: The Navy_funded Mark I calculating machine is built at Harvard University under the direction of Howard Aiken at Harvard University.  While working on the proposal for his machine, he discovered that Harvard actually owned a piece of Babbage’s Analytic Engine and is inspired by Babbage's earlier work.  Grace Murray Hopper later becomes a programmer on the Mark I.

1945: The Army_ funded ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) is built at the University of Pennsylvania Moore School of Electrical Engineering to calculate armillary ballistic tables.  J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly are the main engineers on the project.  The ENIAC contains over 18,000 vacuum tubes.  It is programmed by women using over 6,000 switches and plugs.  It is a digital electronic computer with no way to store a program.

1945: Eckert and Mauchly begin work on the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC).  They work is adapted and expanded by the mathematician John von Neumann, who outlines the stored program concept in an influential paper and becomes known as the "father of computing."

1945: Vannevar Bush publishes the seminal 1945 article, "As We May Think," in which he envisions the use of computers to organize information in a linked manner that we now recognize as a early vision of hypertext

1947: The first transistor is invented at Bell Labs. 

1848: Magnetic drum memory is developed for mass storage.

1948: The EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) is built at the University of Manchester, a prototype that demonstrates von Neumann’s ideas of stored variables and programs in electronic memory.


1950 - 1959

1950: Alan Turing posits the “Turing test”, a way of deciding if machines truly “think”.  It involves having a user interact with a machine and not detecting it is a machine.

1951: J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly build the first commercial computer, the UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer).

1952: The first UNIVAC is used to predict the victory of Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1952 presidential election.

1953: IBM introduces IBM 650 and IBM 701.  The 650, while more limited than the UNIVAC, benefits from IBM’s relationships with business and becomes the best selling computer of the 1950s.

1953: Magnetic core memory is perfected by Jay Forrester for use on the Air Force funded SAGE computers.  It solves the problem of the complicated and temporary memory storing techniques used earlier.  The first higher_level programming language – Short Order Code – is invented by John Mauchly for use on the UNIVAC. 

1954: A 600 line per minute printer called the Uniprinter is invented by Earl Masterson at Univac.  The first silicon transistor is invented at Texas Instruments.

1956:  Random access hard drives invented at IBM.

1956: John McCarthy and  Margin Lee Minsky organize a summer seminar at Dartmouth College on artificial intelligence

1957: John W. Backus develops the FORTRAN language and compiler.

1958: Digital Equipment Corporation is founded by Kenneth Olsen.

1958: The modem, a device allowing digital signals to be transmitted through analog phone lines, is created at Bell Labs.

1958-1959: Integrated circuits were independently invented by Jack S. Kilby (1923_) of Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce (1927_1990) at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1958 and 1959.

1959: The first copy machine is released by Xerox.

1959:    General Electric creates a machine that can read magnetic ink.



1960: Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) premiers its PDP_1, the first mini_computer.

1960: Grace Murray Hopper helps develop COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language).

1960: LISP (LISt Processing), the first non_procedural language devoted to artificial intelligence research, is invented by John McCarthy on an IBM 704 at MIT.

1961: Georg Devol patents a Unimate, an industrial robot.  IBM introduces the 7030.

1962: Purdue University and Stanford University create the first computer science departments.

1962: The first computer game–Spacewar–is invented by MIT grad student Steve Russell.

1963: The deployment of the SAGE system (Semi_Automatic Ground Environment) is completed, building on the developments began with Project Whirlwind in the late 1940s. It  is a real_time system for U.S. national air defense.  Many technologies.

1963: The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) character code for character representation in computers.

1964: Thomas Kurtz and John Kemeny develop BASIC programming at Dartmouth college.

1964: CDC (Control Data Corporation) brings the supercomputer to the marketplace, a CDC 6600 invented by Seymour Cray.  Cray later founds Cray Research to build supercomputers.

1964: The first CAD (computer_aided design) system developed at IBM.

1964: The computer mouse is invented at SRI by Douglas Engelbart.

1965: J. A. Robinson develops unification; important for logic programming.

1967: The first object_oriented programming language – Simula – is developed by Ole_Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard for use in creating airplane simulations. 

1967: Texas Instruments releases a hand_held calculator that can add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

1968: The term “software engineering” is coined in a NATO science committee meeting.  The YYMMDD date standard is set by the Federal Information Processing Committee – this will haunt programmers years later with the approach of the year 2000 and the Y2K “bug.”

1968: Intel is founded by Gordon Moore (of the famous Moore’s law), Andy Grove, and Robert Noyce.

1969: ARPANET, consisting of four nodes, comes online, eventually spawning the Internet.

1969: Neil Armstrong walks on the moon.


1970 - 1979

1970: Kenneth Thompson and Dennis Ritchie create the UNIX operating system at Bell Labs on a DEC PDP_7.

1970: The 8_inch floppy is introduced by IBM.

1970: Niklaus Wirth creates the Pascal programming language.

1971: First use of the “@” sign for an electronic message sent by Ray Tomlinson through the ARPANET.

1971: Intel creates the first microprocessor (a computer on a single chip) for use in a calculator.

1972: Hewlett Packard introduces the replacement for the slide rule–the first hand_held scientific calculator. 

1972: Pong, the first video game to stand alongside pinball machines is introduced by the Atari, a company founded by Nolan Bushnell.

1973: The ENIAC patent is invalidated and the federal government recognizes John Atanasoff as the modern computer’s inventor with his ABC computer design.

1974: A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) program called Bravo is introduced by Charles Simonyi.

1974: A program named Kaissa wins the first world computer chess tournament.

1975: Laser printing introduced by IBM.

1975: Ed Roberts offers for Altair 8800 for sale, an electronics kit to build a personal computer.

1975: Microsoft is formed by Bill Gates and Paul Allen to sell their BASIC interpreter.

1976: Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs create the Apple I microcomputer.  It is an instant hit with hobbyists. 

1976: The company OnTyme introduces the first commercial e_mail service.

1976: Proof of the four_color theorem, which marks the first time that computer had been used to construct a formal mathematical proof.

1976: The public key Data Encryption Standard (DES) is released.

1977: Apple releases the Apple II, a computer that promises to work “right out of the box”.   The Apple II is a commercial hit.

1977: The PET micro_computer is released by Commodore.

1978: The Wordstar word processing program is released.

1978: DEC releases the VAX 11/780, a 32_bit computer,  with the VMS operating system.

1978: Epson releases a successful dot matrix printer.

1979: Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston create the first electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc, in Frankston’s attic on an Apple II.  It becomes the first “killer_app”, an application that drives hardware sales.

1979: The 16_bit 68000 chip is released by Motorola. 

1979: Cellular phones are first tested.


1980 - 1989

1980: IBM begins development of the IBM PC, choosing Microsoft’s PC_DOS over Digital Research’s CPM_86 as the operating system. 

1980: The programming language Ada is released on the anniversary of Ada Lovelace’s birthday, December 10.  It is touted as the language in which all defense department programs will be written in the future, though it never quite achieves that. 

1980: The 80’s most successful database product for the PC debuts: dBase II written by Wayne Ratliff.

1981: First Space Shuttle launched.

1981: The IBM Personal Computer (PC) is brought to market.  The open architecture of the system leads to PC “clones” in the following few years.  The first is Columbia Data Products in 1982.  Compaq soon after becomes the biggest competitor.

1981: Steve Jobs visits the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and sees their inventions of the past decade: a graphical user interface using bit_mapped graphics, menus, icons, and the mouse; networked computers; and graphical word processing and desktop publishing.

1982: Time magazine makes the computer its “Man of the Year”.  A number of cities in the U.S. now have commercial e_mail available.  Adobe Systems founded by John Warnock and Charles Geschke and creates the Postscript printing language.  Autodesk creates AutoCAD.  Intel releases the 80286 chip, a 16_bit chip, eventually found in tens of millions of PCs.

1983: The first “killer app” for the IBM PC, Lotus 1_2_3, a spreadsheet, is brought to market.  The Internet protocol TCP/IP becomes standard for the Internet.  C++ is developed at Bell Labs by Bjarne Stroustrup.  The Apple Lisa microcomputer is released and fails in the marketplace.

1984: In a commercial during the Superbowl, using Orwellian imagery, Apple introduces the Macintosh, a successor to the Lisa, the first affordable micro_computer with a graphical user interface (GUI) and mouse.  The CD_ROM is introduced by Sony and Philips.  Hollywood begins to revolutionize movie special effects with the use of computer graphics – notably in “The Last Starfighter”.  William Gibson coins “cyberspace” in his novel Neuromancer.

1985: Windows 1.0, Microsoft’s answer to the Macintosh, is released.  The 80386 chip is released by Intel.  The field of PC desktop publishing is begun with the release of Paul Brainard’s PageMaker.  Two machines, the Cray 2 and the Connection Machine (a parallel processing computer from Thinking Machines), achieve one billion operations per second.  The National Science Foundation establishes four supercomputer centers connected to the Internet.

1986:    The Compaq Deskpro 396 is the first PC to use the new 32_bit Intel 80386 microprocessor.  This is a key turning point, when IBM begins to lose control of the PC architecture that they had created, since Compaq brought their PC to market first, not waiting to see what IBM would do.

1987:    The Apple Macintosh II is released, and IBM creates a new generation of personal computers called PS/2.

1988: The Morris worm, written by Robert Morris at MIT brings down a quarter of the Internet.  Motorola’s 88000 chip can process 17 million instructions per second.

1989: Tim Berners_Lee proposes the World Wide Web to his employer, CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, for the sharing of scientific information using hypermedia and the Internet.  Intel releases the 80486 microprocessor; a microchip containing 1.2 million transistors.


1990 - 1999

1990: Microsoft Windows 3.0 launched.

1991: Cold War ends.  Tim Berners_Lee releases the software for the WWW with a web_server and web_client using the HTTP, URL, and HTML protocols.

1992: Windows 3.1 launched.  IBM is no longer largest seller of microcomputers (or PCs – a name they made synonymous with microcomputers).  Microsoft also releases OS/2.  DEC releases a 64_bit chip. 

1993: Intel releases the first Pentium microprocessor.  The Newton, a personal digital assistant (PDA), is released by Apple, though it fails in the marketplace due to the perception that it suffers from poor hand_writing recognition.  NCSA Mosaic, the first graphical web browser, is released for free.

1994: Marc Andreesen and Jim Clark popularize web surfing considerably with the release of the Netscape web browser.

1995: Microsoft Windows 95 released.  Sun Microsystems releases an object_oriented language named Java that promises to be platform independent.  The first full_length computer generated feature film released: "Toy Story" from Pixar Animation, a company headed by Steve Jobs. and open for business.

1996: The Palm Pilot, the first successful and affordable personal digital assistant (PDA) is released by 3Com.

1997: IBM’s Deep Blue defeats the world chess playing champion Garry Kasparov.

1998: Microsoft's Windows 98 is released.

1999: World population passes six billion humans.  Twenty million subscribers to Internet Service Provider (ISP) AOL (America Online) explode Internet use.  Napster, a file trading service on the Internet, founded by Shawn Fanning, a student at Northeastern University, leads to debate over music copyrights and prosecution by the Music Recording Industry.


2000 - 2003

2000: The much hyped Year 2000 (Y2K) does not lead major power outages and crashing airliners.  The problem was successfully contained by a rush of programming fixes in the few years proceeding the century mark.  The dot_com “bubble”, however, proves just that as many company’s virtual real estate grab proves unsustainable.  Microsoft is judged a monopoly by a federal judge but little comes of it in years to come.

2001: Dell Computer becomes the biggest seller of personal computers.

2002: Earth Simulator, a supercomputer from Hitachi, runs at 40 trillion operations per second.  The .NET development environment is released by Microsoft with the intent of competing against the platform independent capabilities of Java.

2003: The complete draft of the human DNA sequence is completed by the Human Genome 


2004 - 2010

2004: Mozilla Firefox 1.0 released, eroding the dominance of Internet Explorer as the web browser of choice.Facebook social networking site founded. 

2005: YouTube founded, rapidly becoming the major video sharing site on the Internet. Google Earth, a virtual globe and geographical program based on an earlier product, released.  The original idea for the program came from a science fiction novel.

2006: Nintendo released the Wii gaming console with a innovative new control mechanism. The Twitter microblogging service founded. 

2007: Apple introduced the first iPhone. Microsoft Windows Vista released. The Amazon Kindle released, becoming the e-book reader that started to convert the book market to e-books. ASUS produced the first netbook, a new category of PC smaller than laptops. Google Street View launched and gradually grew to include regular online pictures from many locations around the world.

2008: Google’s Android operating system for smart phones introduced. The Apple App Store created, based on the iTunes store, creating a new way to distribute applications for iPhones and later such products.

2009: Microsoft Windows 7 released. The Microsoft Bing search engine launched in an attempt to erode Google’s dominance in internet search.

2010: Apple introduced the iPad, the first successful tablet. Microsoft introduced Kinect, a motion sensing input device for the Xbox 360 gaming console. Google announced that their servers had been hacked by a foreign power and that intellectual property had been copied. Stuxnet, a sophisticated computer worm, was used to damage centrifuges at Iran’s nuclear material processing facilities, becoming the first concrete example of cyberwarfare.