The History of Computing

Computers have been around a lot longer than many people realize the history of computing began in 1936. That year, a man named Konrad Zuse invented the Z1 Computer, which was the first model to be freely programmable.

In 1942, the first modern electronic computer was invented by John Atanasoff & Clifford Berry. It was referred to as the ABC Computer.

Two years later, Howard Aiken and Grace Hopper invented the Harvard Mark 1 Computer.

The next computer to come on the scene was the ENIAC 1 Computer . This computer used 20,000 vacuum tubes, and was invented by John Presper Eckert & John W. Mauchly in 1946.

Over the course of 1947 and 1948, the transistor was invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and Wiliam Shockley. Though this in itself was not a computer, the invention was to play a major role in the future of computers.

In 1948, two more computers hit the scene: The Manchester Baby Computer and The Williams Tube . The inventors were Frederic Williams and Tom Kilburn.

The UNIVAC Computer came into computer history in 1951 as the first commercial computer, and the first computer that was able to pick presidential winners. It was invented by John Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly.

IBM begins to make computer history in 1953 with the IBM 701 EDPM Computer. The next year, they worked with a man named John Backus to create the FORTRAN Computer Programming Language, which was the first “successful” high level programming language.

Banking enters the computer history scene in 1955, with a piece of equipment put into use by 1959. Stanford Research Institute, Bank of America, and General Electric
worked to create the ERMA and MICR—it was designed to read magnetic ink on checks.

In 1958, Jack Kilby & Robert Noyce invented the integrated circuit . Though this was not a computer, it was another piece of technology that has had a great impact on computers.

The very first computer game, known as “ Spacewar Computer Game ” hit the scene in 1962, courtesy of Steve Russell and MIT.

In 1964, Douglas Engelbart invented Windows and the computer mouse, aptly named for the “tail” (cord) that came from its end.

The original internet, known as ARPAnet, was built in 1969.

1970 brought with it the very first computer memory (RAM) chip. It was the Intel 1103 .

In 1971, the very first microprocessor , the Intel 4004 Computer Microprocessor was invented by Faggin, Hoff and Mazor. The same year, IBM worked with Alan Shugart to create the floppy disk, named for its flexibility.

In 1973, the ethernet came into the scene as a result of Robert Metcalfe's work with Xerox. At this point, it served networking purposes.

In 1974 and 1975, these computers came into play--Scelbi & Mark-8 Altair and IBM 5100 Computers--as the first consumer computers. 1976 and 1977 brought even more consumer computer models: Apple I, II & TRS-80 and Commodore Pet Computers.

In 1978, the VisiCalc Spreadsheet Software developed by Dan Bricklin & Bob Frankston came on the market. It is a product that pays for itself in two weeks. The following year brings Seymour Rubenstein, Rob Barnaby, and their WordStar Software , for the first Word Processor program.

IBM released its first at home computer, the IBM PC in 1981. Later that year, Microsoft released the MS-DOS operating system.

In 1983, Apple released the Lisa, the first computer with a graphical user interface. In 1984, they released a more affordable version of this computer, known as the Macintosh.

In 1985, Microsoft designed Windows to compete with Apple's GUI.

Over the next two decades, several advancements in computer technology allowed the Internet to become a powerful communication tool, bringing people together. Computers were built with more and more technology to allow them to perform tasks such as data recovery, watching and recording television; something many people from early in the computer timeline would not have ever dreamed.

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