Computers have come a long way since their early days as bulky, unwieldy machines. The early history of computers is often referred to as the mainframe era when large, centralized machines ruled the roost. This was followed by the personal computer (PC) era when small, affordable PCs became widely available. Today, we are in the era of mobile computing, where devices like smartphones and tablets are increasingly becoming our go-to computing devices.
Nowadays, these are an essential part of daily life for billions of people around the world and have transformed the way we live, work and play. Furthermore, the future of computing looks bright with new technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing on the horizon. The quantum computing era is expected to bring about even more dramatic changes in the way we compute and interact with technology.
So, what does the future hold for computing? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure computer technology will continue to evolve and change at a rapid pace, impacting our lives in ways we can only imagine. As we move into this exciting new era, it will be interesting to see how computer technology shapes the future and improves our lives.
Timeline of the history of computers
However, before we look to the future, let’s take a closer look at the history of computers and how they have evolved.
2700 – 2300 BC: The abacus is built
The era of manual computing begins with the invention of the abacus. This simple device is used to perform basic arithmetic operations by sliding beads along a series of wires.
1614: Blaise Pascal invents the Pascaline
In 1614, French mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal invents the Pascaline, the first mechanical calculator.
1801: Joseph-Marie Jacquard invents the Jacquard loom
In 1801, French weaver Joseph-Marie Jacquard invents the Jacquard loom, a machine that uses punched cards to control the weaving process. This invention marks the beginning of the era of programmable machines.
1876: Charles Babbage designs the first computer
In 1876, British mathematician Charles Babbage designs the first computer, known as the Analytical Engine. However, due to financial and technical problems, the machine is never completed.
1937: John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry develop the first electronic computer
In 1937, American physicists John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry develop the first electronic computer, known as the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC).
1940s: The Early Days
The first electronic computers were developed in the early 1940s. These were large, expensive machines that were used for scientific and military applications. One of the earliest examples was the ENIAC machine, which was used to calculate artillery firing tables during World War II.
1945: Vannevar Bush proposes the Memex
In 1945, American engineer Vannevar Bush proposes the Memex, a machine that could be used to store and retrieve vast amounts of information. This idea is an early precursor to modern computers and the World Wide Web.
1950s: The Mainframe Era
The 1950s saw the rise of mainframe computers. These were large, powerful machines that were used by businesses and governments for mission-critical applications. In 1951, UNIVAC I became the first commercial computer to be released to the market.
1951: UNIVAC I is introduced
In 1951, UNIVAC I becomes the first commercial computer to be released to the market.
1958: The integrated circuit is invented
In 1958, Jack Kilby invents the integrated circuit (IC), a miniaturized electronic device that can be used to build complex circuits on a single chip. This invention leads to the development of smaller and more powerful computers.
1960s: The PC Era
The 1960s was the era of the personal computer. This is when PCs started to become widely available and affordable for consumers. In 1967, IBM released the first desktop PC, which was called the IBM System/360 Model 20.
1964: Douglas Engelbart invents the computer mouse
In 1964, American engineer Douglas Engelbart invents the computer mouse, a device that is used to control a cursor on a screen. This invention makes it possible to interact with computers in a more natural way.
1969: ARPANET is created
In 1969, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) is created. This is the first network to use packet switching, which is a key technology for the development of the Internet.
1970s: The Dawn of the Microprocessor Era
In the early 1970s, several important events occurred that would lead to the development of the microprocessor. In 1971, Intel released the first microprocessor, the Intel 4004. This invention led to the development of smaller and more powerful computers. In 1974, Altair 8800 is released, which is the first personal computer to use a microprocessor.
1971: Intel releases the 4004 microprocessor
In 1971, Intel released the 4004 microprocessor, the first microprocessor. This invention led to the development of smaller and more powerful computers.
1975: The Altair 8800 is introduced
In 1975, MITS released the Altair 8800, the first personal computer to use a microprocessor. This machine popularized the use of personal computers and sparked the home computer revolution.
1977: Apple II is introduced
In 1977, Apple Computer released the Apple II, one of the first successful personal computers. The machine features a color graphics display, a built-in keyboard, and expandable memory.
1981: IBM releases the PC
In 1981, IBM released the IBM PC, which became one of the most popular personal computers of all time. The machine was based on Intel’s 8088 microprocessor and ran the MS-DOS operating system.
1982: Microsoft releases Windows 1.0
In 1982, Microsoft released Windows 1.0, a graphical user interface (GUI) that ran on top of MS-DOS. This invention made it possible to interact with computers using a mouse and a graphical interface.
1984: The Macintosh is introduced
In 1984, Apple Computer released the Macintosh, the first personal computer to use a GUI. The machine was based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor and featured a built-in screen and mouse.
1985: Microsoft releases Windows 2.0
In 1985, Microsoft released Windows 2.0, which was the first version of the Windows operating system to run on the IBM PC.
1986: The Compaq Portable is introduced
In 1986, Compaq released the Compaq Portable, the first laptop computer. The machine was based on the Intel 8086 microprocessor and ran MS-DOS.
1989: Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web
In 1989, British engineer Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web, a system of linked hypertext documents that can be accessed via the Internet. This invention leads to the development of the World Wide Web browser and the World Wide Web itself.
1991: Linux is released
In 1991, Linus Torvalds released Linux, a free and open source operating system that would eventually become the most popular operating system in the world.
1993: The first web browser is released
In 1993, Tim Berners-Lee and Marc Andreessen released the first web browser, Mosaic. This browser made it possible to view and navigate the World Wide Web.
1995: Microsoft releases Windows 95
In 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95, a major update to the Windows operating system that featured a new graphical interface.
1996: The first DVD is released
In 1996, the first DVD is released, allowing for the storage and playback of high-quality video content.
1998: Google is founded
In 1998, Google is founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Stanford University students. The company would eventually become the world’s largest search engine and a major player in the technology industry.
2001: Apple releases the iPod
In 2001, Apple released the iPod, a portable media player that allowed users to store and playback music. The device was a huge success and would go on to become one of the most popular consumer electronics devices of all time.
2002: The Microsoft Xbox is released
In 2002, Microsoft released the Xbox, a video game console that would go on to become one of the most popular gaming platforms in the world.
2003: Facebook is founded
In 2003, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, a social networking website that would eventually become one of the largest websites in the world.
2004: Google launches Gmail
In 2004, Google launched Gmail, a free email service that would eventually become one of the most popular email services in the world.
2005: YouTube is founded
In 2005, YouTube is founded by three former PayPal employees. The company would eventually become the world’s largest video-sharing website.
2007: The iPhone is introduced
In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone, a smartphone that revolutionized the mobile industry. The device features a touch screen interface, a built-in camera, and access to the Internet.
2008: Android is released
In 2008, Google releases Android, a freeware operating system for smartphones. Android would eventually become the most popular mobile operating system in the world.
2009: Bitcoin is created
In 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency that can be used to buy and sell goods and services. Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency and has spawned many imitators and innovations.
2010: The iPad is introduced
In 2010, Apple introduced the iPad, a tablet computer that featured a large touch screen and allowed users to access the Internet, email, and other applications.
2011: The Samsung Galaxy S is released
In 2011, Samsung released the Galaxy S, a smartphone that would go on to become one of the best-selling smartphones of all time.
2012: The Microsoft Surface is released
In 2012, Microsoft released the Surface, a tablet computer that competed directly with the iPad.
2013: Edward Snowden reveals NSA surveillance program
In 2013, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reveals the existence of a secret government surveillance program that collects Americans’ phone records and Internet data. The revelations spark a debate about privacy and security.
2014: The Amazon Echo is introduced
In 2014, Amazon introduced the Echo, a voice-activated speaker that responds to commands and can be used to control smart home devices. The device is a major success and leads to the development of other voice-activated assistants, such as Google Home and Apple’s Siri.
2015: Microsoft releases Windows 10
In 2015, Microsoft released Windows 10, the latest version of the Windows operating system. The new operating system features a new user interface and support for virtual reality.
2017: The first self-driving car is introduced
In 2017, the first self-driving car is introduced by Waymo, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet. The car is based on the Lexus RX450hand uses a combination of lasers, sensors, and cameras to navigate.
2018: Amazon unveils plans for a new headquarters
In 2018, Amazon announces plans to build a second headquarters in North America. The company eventually selects Long Island City in New York and Arlington, Virginia as the locations for its new offices.
2019: 5G is introduced
In 2019, the next generation of wireless technology, 5G, is introduced. 5G promises to be faster and more reliable than previous generations of wireless technology and is expected to revolutionize the way we use the Internet.
2020: Virtual reality becomes mainstream
In 2020, virtual reality becomes mainstream with the release of Oculus Rift, a consumer-grade virtual reality headset. VR headsets become popular among gamers and video producers and are used to create immersive experiences that previously were only possible in science fiction.
2021: Elon Musk launches the first manned mission to Mars
In 2021, Elon Musk launches the first manned mission to Mars to establish a permanent human settlement on the planet. The mission is a success and marks the beginning of humanity’s journey into the solar system.
2022: The first artificial intelligence is born
In 2022, the first artificial intelligence is born. The AI is created by Google and is initially used to improve search results. However, over time AI gradually becomes more intelligent and eventually overtakes human intelligence.
Some predictions for what’s to come in this exciting field:
The history of computers is long and ever-changing. Keep up with the times by learning about some of the most important moments in computer history.
Here are some predictions for what’s to come in this exciting field:
2024: Computers will be able to read and respond to human emotions
2030: Commercially available quantum computers will become mainstream
2036: All data will be encrypted by default
2050: The first computer to achieve human-level intelligence will be created
2060: Computers will be able to merge with human brains to improve human cognitive abilities
2100: Computers will achieve true artificial general intelligence and will be self-aware
That’s just a taste of what the future may hold for computing. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!
The history of computers is a fascinating topic and there are many more exciting things to come. In the next few years, we can expect to see even more dramatic changes in the way we use technology. So stay tuned the future of computing is looking bright!