Chronography of Computing and IT

Page last modified 1 December 2023


“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell, ‘1984’


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24 March 2023, Gordon Moore, originator of Moore’s Law (computing power doubles every 2 years) died aged 94.

November 2022, ChatGPT was launched by Open AI (see 2015). By end 2023 ChatGPT had 180 million users.

12 May 2017, A massive cyber-attack, the biggest in the world to date, hit almost 100 countries across the world. Computers were hit by ransomware, which encrypted their files and users could not recover them without paying several hundred pounds in Bitcoin. In the UK the NHS was badly affected; a vulnerability factor was the continued use of outdated software. The attack combined features of ransomware with a worm that enabled it to spread within computer networks. The identity of the attacker remains unknown.

2016, Google’s AlphaGo programme defeated Lee Sedol, a world Go champion.

2015, The OpenAI company was founded. In 2023 it employed 800 people, but had a valuation of US$ 86 billion, see November 2022.


Microsoft Windows

4/2014, Microsoft support for Windows XP ceased.

31 December 2001, Microsoft ended support for Windows 1.0, Windows 2x, Windows 3x, and Windows 95.

25 October 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP.

14 Augiust  2000, Microsoft released Windows ME (Millennium Edition).

5 May 1999, Microsoft released Windows 98 Second edition.

25 June 1998, Microsoft released Windows 98 (first edition).

24 Augiust  1995, Microsoft launched Windows 95. It replaced Windows 3.x.

7/1993, Windows NT was released.

1990, Windows 3.0 appeared.

1988, Windows 2.0 appeared.

20 November 1985, Microsoft released its first version of Windows, Windows 1.0.

30 November 1983, Microsoft Word was first released.

1974, The term window was first applied to an area of a computer screen dedicated to a particular set of information.


13 March 2012, The Encyclopaedia Britannica discontinued its print edition, now being online-only, after 244 years.

2011, Apple launched Siri, a voice-operated personal assistant that could answer questions, make recommendations, and carry out simple instructions such as ‘call home’.

5 October 2011, Steve Jobs of Apple died.

3 April 2010, Apple released the first iPad tablet device.

2007, Google launched Translate, a statistical machine translation service.

May 2007, Google Streetview was launched.

18 July 2006, Intel released the Itanium 2 processor, the first with over one billion transistors.

15 July 2006, Twitter was launched.

7 December 2005, The European Union acquired its own domain, .eu, for the world wide web.

23 April 2005, The first YouTube video, Me at the zoo, was uploaded at 8.27 pm by the site’s co-founder, Jawed Karim.

14 February 2005, The video sharing website YouTube was started by three workers at PayPal.

4 February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and some Harvard roommates launched a social networking site called Facebook. By 2011 Facebook had over 845 million active users.

28 April 2003, The Apple company launched the iTunes music store.

8 April 2003, Anita Borg, computer scientist, died.

2002, Amazon began using an IT based, rather than human, product recommendation system.

23 October 2001, Apple Computers released the iPod.



15 January 2001, Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, was launched.

7 Augiust  1966, Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, was born


7 June 2000, A US Court ordered the breaking up of the Microsoft Corporation because of its near-monopoly of the computer software market.

3 April 2000, Microsoft was found guilty by a US court of breaking US anti-trust laws by attempting to monopolise the Internet browser market.

14 January 2000, The height of the Dot-Com bubble; the Dow Jones Index reached an all-time high of 11,792.98.

1 January 2000,  The anticipated IT chaos caused by the ‘Millennium Bug’, as the year changed to 00, failed to materialise.

1 June 1999, Napster was released, enabling users to share music files and changing forever the music industry.

26 March 1999, The Melissa worm attacked the Internet.

18 September 1998, ICANN, the Internet naming company, was formed.

7 September 1998, Google was founded.

8 May 1998, The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the Microsoft Corporation, claiming it had abused its monopoly power by tying its Web browser, Internet Explorer, to its operating system, Windows.

11 September 1977, Atari, Inc. released its Video Computer System in North America.

26 July 1989, Robert T Morris Jr. was charged with releasing the Morris Worm  computer virus on 2 November 1988. He was the first person to be prosecuted under the 1986 US Computer Fraud and Misuse Act.

17 July 1997, The global Internet system crashed for the first time.

10 February 1996, The computer programme Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess, the first victory by a computer over a human.

1995, The Pentium Pro or P6 was launched.

1994, QR (Quick Response) codes were invented by the Denso Wave company, to facilitate high speed scanning of vehicle components.

22 March 1993, Intel introduced the Pentium 80586 processor.


Start of the Internet

15 December 1994, The Web browser Netscape 1.0 was launched.

1993, Intel launched the Pentium chip, which had 3.1 million transistors and was capable of executing 100 million instructions per second.

30 April 1993, CERN posted the source code for the Internet for free, for anyone to use.

25 August  1991, Linus Torvalds introduced the first version of the Linux operating system.

6 August  1991, World wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee put the first website online.

4 March 1991, A primitive version of the world wide web began operating.

15 March 1985, On the Internet, the first .com name was registered,, by the Symbolics Corporation. However .edu names still predominated.

23 September 1974. The world’s first Ceefax service began, operated by the BBC.


1990, Japan began mass-producing memory chips, with 9 million components, capable of holding 4 million bits of information.

1990, The Screensaver appeared, a program that blanked the screen or displayed a continuously moving image when there had bene no activity for some time, to prevent damage to the computer screen.

1990, Brtiain passed the Computer Misuse Act, making it illegal to hack into a computer. This legislation followed the acquittal by the Law Lords of two journalists, Robert Schifreen and Steve Gold, who had hacked into Prince Philip’s mailbox via Prestel. The Law Lords ruled that the Forgery Act did not cover deceiving a computer.

12 March 1989, The original proposal for the World Wide Web was submitted by Tim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist at CERN.

13 January 1989, The ‘Friday the 13th’ virus hit hundreds of IBM computers across Britain.

1988, The optical chip, using light not electricity, was created.

17 November 1988, The Netherlands became the second country to connect to the Internet, after the USA.

16 Augiust  1988, IBM introduced software for artificial intelligence.


3 April 1986, IBM launched its first laptop computer, the PC Convertible.

29 March 1983. The first laptop computer went on sale, in the USA. It was the TRS-80 Model 100, and came with 8k or 24k of memory.


19 January 1986, The first computer virus, called Brain, began to spread.

1985, Optical fibres were first used in mainframe computers. They have huge information-carryong capacity at low cost.

1984, The term desktop publishing came into use, for producing, on a PC and laser printer, high quality printed material similar to that in typeset books.

1984, Dell Computers was started by Michael Dell, a 19-year old student at the University of Texas.

24 January 1984, The first Apple Macintosh computer went on sale.

1982, The acronym WYSIWYG, meaning ‘what you see is what you get’, and pronounced whizziwig, was used as a slogan in the IT industry, meaning what appeared on the screen was exactly what data was stored in the machine.

1982, The term dongle, for a removable memory device that could be inserted into a compouter to utilise the data stored on it, came into use.

31 December 1982, Personal computer sales in the USA for 1982 were 2,800,000, up from 724,000 sold in 1980.

1981, The Hewlett-Packard Superchip was introduced. It had 450,000 components and could multiply 2 32-bit numbers in 1.8 millionths of a second.

1981, Richard Feynman first proposed the idea of a quantum computer.

12 August 1981, IBM launched its personal computer, the IBM-PC.

24 April 1981, The first IBM personal computer went on sale.

5 March 1981, Clive Sinclair launched the XZX81 computer in the UK, at a price of £69.95 fully assembled.

12 December 1980, US copyright law was amended to cover computer software

1979, Bubble memory was invented. Using tiny magnetised areas, it could store the equivalent of a 40-page book on 215 square millimetres. The Compact disc was released, and by 1989 had largely replaced LPs and tapes as data storage devices. In 1983 the CD-Rom (Read-only memory) appeared, which could store huge amounts of information, easily indexable and accessible, see 13 March 2012.

1979, The Motorola 68000 microprocessor was produced. It had 70,000 components and could multiply 2 16-bit numbers in 3.2 millionths of a second.

19 June 1978, A team of US physicists led by David Wineland announced that they had trapped a cloud of magnesium atoms using a laser., This was an important step towards quantum computing.

1977, Electronic  Mail, known as email from 1982, came into use.

5 June 1977, Apple 2 computers first went on sale.

January 1977, The first succesful mass-market personal computer, the Commodore PET, became available to order; deliveries commenced later in the year.

26 November 1976, An obscure company called Microsoft was officially registered in the US State of New Mexico.

September 1976, The 5 ¼ inch / 13.3 cm floppy disc was introduced by Shugart Associates.

1 April 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded the Apple computer company. It sold its first Apple-1 computer in July 1976 for US$666.66, with 8 kB RAM.

1975, The first digital camera was constructed.

1974, The first prototype touch screen was constructed by Mr Stephen Salter at Management Informatics.

1974, The Intel 8080 Processor was developed. It had 4,500 components and could add 2 8-bit numbers in 2.5 millionths of a second.

1974, Hewlett Packard (USA) produced the first programmable pocket calculator.

2 April 1973, The LexisNexis computerized legal research service began..

1971, The first pocket calculators came on sale.

1971, IBM invented the floppy disc. The first such discs were 8 inches in diameter and contained around 240 Kb of data; they were used for loading programmes onto computers. Later discs were 5.25 inches diameter and held up to 1.4 Mb of data.

14 November 1971, A small company called Intel released the world's first microprocessor, the Intel 4004. At 12 square millimetres it contained 2,250 transistors, with the gap between them measuring about 10,000 nanometres (billionths of a metre), the size of a red blood cell. It could add 2 4-bit numbers in 11-millionths of a second.

In 2015 Intel was producing the Skylake chip, with the transistors just 14 nonometres apart, some 100 atoms across, smaller than the wavelength of visible light. However the continuous improvement in chip processing performance, known as Moore’s Law, may now be coming to an end as problems of heat and of electronic cross-talk between the closely packed tiny transistors rises.

9 October 1971, Ray Tomlinson sent the first email.

11 January 1971, The first recorded use of the term ‘Silicon Valley’, in the weekly trade publication Electronic News. The term became widespread in the early 1980s as personal computers became more commonplace. The original name of the valley where the IT products are now made was ‘Valley of Heart’s Delight’, referring to the many orchards once present there.

1970, The first use of the term word processor for a computer system that could store and display text.

17 November 1970. A US patent was granted to Doug Engelbart for his invention of the computer mouse – so called because of its long cable tail. He had invented the ‘mouse’ in 1964.

29 October 1969, The Arpanet went live. The first international connection, from the USA, was with Norway in 1973.

23 Augiust  1968, Computer Aided Tomography was patented by Godfrey Hounsfield for EMI in London, UK.

1967, Texas Instruments produced the first hand-held electronic calculator.

15 October 1967. The Guardian offered its readers ‘the first binary computer kit’ called Digi-Comp 1, for £3 10 shillings.

14 June 1967. At a telecommunications conference in London, the Postmaster General predicted shopping by picture television and news reports by computer before the end of the century.

1965, Gordon Moore proposed Moore’s Law – stating that the number of transistors on a chip of given size would double every 2 years.


Computer Languages

1979, Jean Ichbiah and coworkers developed ADA, a computer language named after Ada Lovelace.

1 May 1964, John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz developed BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). This day the first BASIC programme was run on a computer at Dartmouth College. It was a multi-purpose programming language that was simple to use.

1959, COBOL, a programming language designed for business use, was invented by Grace Murray Hopper. ALGOL ALGOrithmic Language) was invented.

1956, In the US, the first computer programming language, FORTRAN, was developed. Previously, programming had to be done in machine language.


1965, The silicon chip was introduced, in the USA.

1964, The Sharp Corporation (Japan) launched the first all-transistor desktop calculator, the CS-10A Compet.

2/1961, The first computer game, Spacewar!, was launched. Players had to destroy their opponent’s spaceceafts (called Needle and Wedge) by firing missiles whilst avoiding the gravitational pull of a star in the centre of the screen.

1960, Transistors replaced valves in computers.

1960, Ted Nelson invented hypertext, which allowed cross referencing (hyperlinks) between sections of text and to diagrams.

4 Augiust  1959. Barclays Bank became the first to use computers for its branch accounts.

6 February 1959, The microchip was patented for Jack Kilby for Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas.

1958, The first integrated circuit was produced, with 5 layers. The main market for these was within nuclear missiles.

1958, First chess game between a computer and a human.

1956, First use of the term ‘artificial intelligence’, by John McArthy, at a workshop at Dartmouth College.

28 October 1955, Bill Gates was born. He founded Microsoft in 1975 and was the world’s richest man, 1995-2007.

24 February 1955, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, was born.

1954, The silicon transistor was developed by Gordon Teal, at Texas Instruments.

7 June 1954, Alan Turing, mathematician who broke the Nazi codes during World War Two, died.

24 May 1954. IBM announced the development of an ‘electronic brain’ and planned to rent the 30 models out to offices for US$ 25,000 a month. The computer used valves.

1953, The term bootstrap was first used, for the fixed initial series of instructionsa a computer executed when first switched on, which enabled it to execute forther programs and instructions. The first programs ‘pulled ogther programs up by their bootstraps. By 1980 the term had become boot or boot up.

1953, Magnetic memory was created; smaller than existing vacuum tube memories.

14 June 1951, The first commercially-available computer, the Univac-1, made by Remington-Rand, went on sale in the USA.

1950, Alan Turing questioned whether a computer could ever ‘think’.

21 June 1948, The first computer using stored programmes was built at Manchester University, UK

1946, John van Neumann, Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton, USA, constructed the first binary computer.

15 February 1946, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator) was put into operation at the University of Pennsylvania; the first completely electronic (valve-driven) computer. It weighed 31 tons. It was primarily used to calculate the yields for the thermonuclear bombs being developed.

1944, IBM’s latest computer, the Sequence-Controlled-Calculator, or Mark One, weighed 45 tons. It was developed in conjunction with Harvard University.

1943, IBM stated that ‘there is probably a world market for maybe five computers’.

12/1943, The first electronic computer was built secretly at Bletchley Park; it began operations in December 1943 to crack the German Enigma codes ( ), also the far more complex Lorenz codes (  also ) . It worked with punched tape and could scan and analyse 5,000 characters a second. In 1946 the US military developed the first all-purpose, i.e. programmable, electronic computer. Called ENIAC, it weighed 30 tons and contained some 18,000 vacuum tubes. It was used for calculating trajectories of artillery shells, accounting for variables like wind velocity, air temperature, and type of shell.

1942, The first electronic digital calculator was built, by Professor John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry at Iowa State University

28 May 1936, Alan Turing submitted ‘On Computable Numbers’ for publication, in which he set out the theoretical basis for modern computers.

1931, Conrad Zuse of Germany produced the Z1 computer. It was the first to use a binary system, the absence of presence of electric charge to denote 0 or 1.

18 September 1929, Professor Dick Grimsdale, who built the first transistorised computer, was born (died 6 December 2005)

8 November 1923, Jack St Clair Kilby, scientist who invented the microchip, was born (died 20 June 2005).

3 February 1921, George E. Felton, British computer scientist was born in Paris  (died 2019)

9 April 1919, John Prosper Eckert was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1945, along with John Mauchly, he developed the ENIAC all-purpose computer.

23 June 1912, Alan Mathison Turing, British mathematician who invented the Turing Machine, was born. He was the son of Julius and Sara Turing.

30 Augiust  1907, John William Mauchly was born in Cincinatti, Ohio. In 1946, along with John Prosper Eckert, he completed ENIAC, the first all-purpose computer.

8 January 1889. The first electric computer for data processing was patented by Dr Herman Hollerith in New York. The company. Dr Hollerith formed to market his invention became the giant IBM. Charles Babbage had designed and partially built a mechanical ‘Analytical Engine’ between 1821 and 1871. The 1889 computer was designed to compute the results of the 1890 census, using punched cards. The inspiration for this machine came from a scheme on the US railways to enter the physical details of every passenger on their ticket by means of a punched hole card system – so that train robbers could be identified when they posed as ordinary travellers. The railway sceheme did not win wide acceptance.

18 October 1871, Charles Babbage was born in Teignmouth, Devon died in London (born 26 December 1792 in Teignmouth, Devon).

1885, In the USA, Dorr Eugene patented the first ‘comptometer’, a key-driven adding machine.

27 November 1852, Ada Lovelace, computer science pioneer, died.

1840, Ada Lovelace wrote the first ‘programme’or algorithm for a computer, the ‘difference engine’ of Charles Babbage.

1834, Charles Babbage, English mathematician, invented a programmable mechanical  computer. However the technologiy for manufacturing the components to the required precision did not yet exist (see 1801).

14 June 1822, Mathematician Charles Babbage first proposed a ‘Difference Engine’ to perform calculations.

1801, Flemish weaver  Joseph Jacquard developed a hole-punched card system for manufacturing elaborate patterns on fabrics. The holes allowed needles to pass through, or not, lifting corresponding threads of the warp. This system inspired Charles Babbage (1834)

1642, Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, invented the first adding machine.

1622, English mathematician William Oughtred invented the slide rule.

1617, Scottish mathematician John Napier used ‘Napier’s Bones’ to demonstrate that multiplication and division can be preformed as a series of additions or subtractions. This paved the way for mechanical calculating machines.

3000 BCE, The abacus was in use by the Babylonians.


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