This “meta-article” shows the chronology of computer hardware and software as a series of tables:
- Each table has four columns of data.
- The columns to show the year in which information technology and commercial developments occurred.
- The table rows are timelines of the following aspects of information technology.
- Computer Systems or hardware innovations
- High Level Languages
- Operating Systems
- Networking hardware, software and applications
- Computer Graphics hardware, algorithms and applications
- Word Processing
- Computer Aided Design
- Business Events, normally bankruptcy or selling to another company at a price substantially lower than the company's peak value. Company founding years are shown in the most appropriate category
One of “Moore’s Law's” implications is that computer power per dollar, as measured by Instructions per Second or Floating Point Operations per second, increased considerably over the four years covered in each table. "Moore's Law" is not really a law, it is observation first noted in 1965 by Gordon Moore. Moore published a paper with a graph showing that the number of transistors per integrated circuits had been doubling every year (later modified to every two years). Similar improvements are to be found in hard disk capacity, network capacity, and pixel density. In addition to improvements in computer processors, academic and commercial research in computer science developed better technology in:
- Structured and Object Oriented programming
- Data structures
- Analysis of Algorithms
- Formal languages and compiler construction
- Computer Graphics Algorithms
- Sorting and Searching
- Numerical Methods, Optimization and Statistics
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Although there are earlier examples of military computers such as the Harvard Mark I and the Colossus computer at Bletchley Park, the table starts in 1951 with the beginnings of commercial computers and high level languages.
|IBM 701||Univac||IBM 650|
Boehm unnamed coding system
Intermediate Programming Language
OMNIBAC Symbolic Assembler
Regional Assembly Language
Sort Merge Generator
Laning and Zierler system
Mark I Autocode
|Operating System||LEO I
Lyons Electronic Office
The latter half of the 1950s saw the founding of a few important companies and development of a number of computer languages that form the basis of languages still in use more than five decades later. Academic and commercial computer users develop operating systems.
|IBM 305 RAMAC||Digital Equipment
|Operating System||GM OS for
|U. Michigan for IBM 704,|
709, and 7090
The early sixties are when computers began to use transistors rather than magnetic memory. Operating systems began to handle multiple users and processes through time sharing. AT&T developed the modem in 1960 to allow communications between computers.
|Hardware||IBM First Transistor Computer||DEC PDP 1||Fairchild resistor-
MAD – Michigan Algorithm Decoder
|Operating System||SHARE Operating System||IBSYS||MIT Timeshare
|Computer Networks||AT&T Develops
The mid 1960s experienced important contributions in hardware, languages and algorithms for drawing and hiding lines in 3D computer graphics. During this time the business of computers was described as "IBM and the seven dwarfs" before consolidation removed GE and RCA and changed the description to "IBM and the BUNCH" (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data and Honeywell); this was when companies began to develop mini-computers.
IBM Data Cell Drive
|DEC PDP 8
|Operating System||AN/FSQ-32||KDF9 Timesharing Direct||THE Multiprogramming
|Computer Networks||SABRE Reservation
|Computer Graphics||Bresenham line
The later years of the ‘60s saw innovations in mini computer systems, like the DEC PDP 11 and Data General Nova. Other innovations include the B and Pascal languages, the Unix operating systems, Arapnet and several computer graphics algorithms.
|Hardware||Fairchild built first MOS
Englebart applies for mouse patent.
|Honeywell 316||DEC PDP 11|
| IBM Airline
|Computer Graphics||Coons Surface Patch||Evans and Sutherland||Computervision||Watkins Visible|
The early part of the ‘70s showed substantial progress in microprocessors, computer languages, and computer graphics.
|Hardware||8" Floppy Disk||Atari Founded
Cray Research Founded
Data General Eclipse
|Microprocessor||Intel 4004||Fairchild PPS-25
|General Instrument CP1600|
Intel 4040, 8080
National IMP-4, IMP-8, ISP-8A/500, PACE
Texas Instruments TMS 1000
|Operating System||DEC RSTS-11||Data General
|Soviet ALGOL 68||DEC DOS-11|
|Bob Metcalfe develops
|Computer Graphics||Newell & Sancha visible
|Catmull & Straber|
|CAD/CAM||MCS Founded||ADAM||Auto-Draft||Tektronix 4014|
The later years in the 70’s introduce personal computers using the MOS Tehnology 6502 and the Zilog Z80. Microprocessors continue to becoming less expensive and faster. Although the processors listed below differ considerably, they all can be considered Complex Instruction Set CPUs.
|Hardware||Olivetti P6060||Tandem Computer||Apple ][
|DEC VAX 11|
Hewlett Packard BPC
MOS Technology 6502
RCA CDP 1801
|RCA CDP 1802
Texas Instruments TMS9900
|Intel 8085||Intel 8086|
Motorola 6801, 6809
|Operating System||CP/M||Cambridge CAP||1BSD||2BSD|
|Computer Networks||Telenet Packet
|Computer Graphics||EDS Founded||Antialiasing|
|Word Processor||Electric Pencil||AppleWriter|
|CAD/CAM||Solid Modeling||McDonnell Douglas
|Forerunner to CATIA||Raster Display|
The high level of innovation in the industry may have contributed to the numberous business failures or reversals in which businesses were sold for a small portion of their peak market capitalization; this trend began to show up in the early ‘80s and accelerated with the demise of most companies making IBM PC compatible “clones.” This period saw the introduction of the Reduced Instruction Set computer (RISC) that accelerated in future years.
|Hardware||Atari 400 & 800||Seagate
|IBM PC||Commodore 64|
|National Semi 16032
|Hewlett Packard FOCUS|
Intel 80186, 80188,
C with classes
|Operating System||Atari DOS||86 DOS||MS-DOS 1
|Computer Graphics||Silicon Graphics|
for DG Mini
|CAD/CAM||IGES||VersaCAD||Dassault Systems||Autodesk Founded|
The latter years of the ‘80s continued developments in supercomputing, microprocessors, word processors and spreadsheets. Business failures and consolidation accelerated during this time period.
Microprocessor performance continued to improve for both Reduced and Complex Instruction sets and it was not clear if one or the other would ultimately prevail in the market place; this period saw the demise of two supercomputer companies located in Cambridge, MA, USA that developed massively parallel machines: Thinking Machines and Kendall Square Research.
The latter part of the ‘90s was a very active and competitive time for microprocessor and graphics processor development. Word processing and spreadsheet development slowed as these technologies matured and Microsoft dominated commercial products. IBM’s Deep Blue surprised many by beating the current world chess champion, Gary Kasparov.
The end of the nineties and the beginning of the 2000’s was a period that showed continual improvement in microprocessor, but developments in other areas seemed to be simply incremental. Nvidia and ATI became the only remaining contenders in graphic chips.
|Hardware||USB 2||Apple iPod|
Intel Pentium III
Motorola PowerPC 7400
|AMD Athlon XP
Fujitsu SPARC64 IV
Intel Pentium 4
Motorola PowerPC 7450
SGI MIPS R14000
Sun UltraSPARC III
|Fujitsu SPARC64 V|
Intel Itanium 2
Visual Basic .net
|Operating System||Mac OS X Server 1.0||Windows 2000
Apple V10.0 Cheetah
|V10.1 Puma||Windows XP 64|
|Computer Networks||Blackberry 850||Mosaic web browser||Netware 4||Netscape Navigator|
|Computer Graphics||S3 Savage 4||ATI Radeon DDR||Nvidia Kyro II
|Word Processor||Sun buys StarDivision|
|CAD/CAM||Pro/Engineer 2000||AutoCAD 2000||EDS buys SDRC||Unigraphics NX|
Autodesk buys Revit
|Business Events||Acorn Computers
Siemens IT business
|Quantex Microsystems||International Computers Ltd|
Innovations in spreadsheets and word processing slowed as the Microsoft’s Word and Open Office continued to dominate. Gmail and Facebook were launched during 2004. Consolidation quickens in the business of computer aided design.
|Hardware||Power Mac G5||iMac G5
||Mac Mini||Apple transition|
IBM PowerPC 970
Intel Pentium M
|AMD Athlon 64 X2
IBM PowerPC 970MP
Intel Pentium D
Sun UltraSPARC IV
Intel Core 2
|Operating System||V10.3 Panther
|BlackBerry Pearl 8100|
|Computer Graphics||Adobe buys
|AMD buys ATI|
Disney buys Pixar
|Word Processor||Writely||Google buys Upstartle|
|EDS PLM Solutions
|Business Events||Lenovo buys
IBM PC Business
The launch of the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010 set Apple computer on a new course where tight integration of hardware and software. Larry Ellison announces that Oracle will focus on integrating hardware and software, purchasing Sun Microsystems in 2010.
Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system was designed to work on both personal computers and tablets, it was released to a “mixed reception.”
|Hardware||Iphone 4S||iPhone 5
IBM zEnterprise System
|iPhone 5c & 5s||iPhone 6|
|Microprocessor||AMD FX Bulldozer,
Fujitsu SPARC64 VIIIfx
Intel Sandy Bridge, Xeon E7
Oracle SPARC T4
|Fujitsu SPARC64 IXfx
IBM POWER7+, zEC12
Intel Itanium Poulson
|Fujitsu SPARC64 X
Oracle SPARC T5
|Operating System||V10.7 Lion
V10.8 Mountain Lion
|V10.9 Mavericks||V10.10 Yosemite|
|Computer Graphics||"Hugo" wins Oscar
- O'Regan, Gerard, (2012). A Brief History of Computing, Springer
- Malone, Michael S.(2012) The Microprocessor: A Biography
- Aaby, Anthony (2004). Introduction to Programming Languages
- Wexelblat, Richard L. History of Programming Languages
- Stallings (2005). Operating Systems, Internals and Design Principles. Pearson
- Kurose, James; Ross, Kieth (2005). Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach. Pearson.
- Wayne Carlson (2003) A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation
- Ferguson, R. Stuart. (2013) Practical Algorithms for 3D Computer Graphics
- Narayan, K. Lalit (2008). Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing. Prentice Hall
- Moore, Gordon E. (1965). "Cramming more components onto integrated circuits,"Electronics Magazine".
- Brock, David C., ed. (2006). Understanding Moore's law : four decades of innovation. Chemical Heritage Press. ISBN 0941901416
- "1965 – "Moore's Law" Predicts the Future of Integrated Circuits". Computer History Museum
- Booch, Grady (1997). Object-Oriented Analysis and Design with Applications. Addison-Wesley.
- Peter Brass. (2008) Advanced Data Structures, Cambridge University Press
- Cormen, Thomas H.; Leiserson, Charles E.; Rivest, Ronald L. & Stein, Clifford. (2001) Introduction to Algorithms, MIT Press and McGraw-Hill.
- Hopcroft, John E. and Jeffrey D. Ullman, (1979) Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation
- Aho, Alfred V., Sethi, Ravi, and Ullman, Jeffrey D. (1988). Compilers — Principles, Techniques, and Tools. Addison-Wesley.
- Shirley, Peter. (2009) Fundamentals of Computer Graphics - 3rd edition
- Knuth, Donald. (1998) The Art of Computer Programming: Volume 3: Sorting and Searching
- Press, William H., Saul A. Teukolsky, William T. Vetterling, Brian P. Flannery. (2007) Numerical Recipes 3rd Edition: The Art of Scientific Computing
- Baron, Michael. (2006) Probability and Statistics for Computer Scientists
- Russell, Stuart. (2009) Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (3rd Edition)
- Mitchell, Tom. (1997) Machine Learning.
- Jones, Douglas (1997). "University of Iowa Department of Computer Science, 22C:18, Lecture 28, Summer 1997"
- Hamm, Steve (2004-06-14). "Thomas J. Watson Jr.: Junior Achievement". Business Week
- Patterson, D. A.; Ditzel, D. R. (October 1980). "The case for the reduced instruction set computer". SIGARCH Computer Architecture News