Timeline of Communications and Information Technology

Timeline of Communications and Information Technology

by Aaron F. Ross

c. 2000 BCE, China
The abacus is developed to assist in performing complex calculations.

c. 100 BCE, Greece
The oldest known analog computer, the Antikythera mechanism, is a complex clockwork device capable of predicting astronomical events, such as eclipses, decades in advance.

1455, Germany / Netherlands
Johannes Gutenberg and Laurens Coster independently invent movable type.

1623, Germany
Wilhelm Schickard builds the first mechanical calculator.

1630, England
William Oughtred invents the slide rule.

1642, France
Blaise Pascal invents a digital machine capable of adding and subtracting. Pascal imagines computers that can solve any logical problem.

1673, Germany
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz completes a mechanical calculator that can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and calculate square roots.

1816, France
Joseph Nicephore Niepce invents still photography.

1822, England
Charles Babbage begins building the Difference Engine, a mechanical computer. He conceives the first automatic digital computer, the Analytical Engine, 1834. It is never finished due to lack of funding.

1837, USA
Samuel Morse invents the electromagnetic telegraph and Morse code.

1839, France
Louis Daguerre improves still photography using silver iodine.

1842, England
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, documents Babbage’s work and designs programs for the Analytical Engine. She is credited as the first software engineer.

1847, England
George Boole invents symbolic logic, which applies mathematical theory to logic. This lays the foundation for all-purpose digital computing.

1856, USA
Italian-born Antonio Meucci develops the first working electromagnetic telephone, but fails to properly market his invention.

1872, England
Eadweard Muybridge shoots motion studies using a series of still photographs.

1872, France
Emile Baudot invents the printing telegraph, which automatically translates electrical pulses into alphanumeric characters.

1876, USA
Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray each attempt to patent the telephone on the very same day. Bell is eventually awarded the patent.

1877, Germany & USA
The dynamic microphone is independently developed by E.W. Siemens in Germany, and the team of Cuttris and Redding in the US.

1877, USA
Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.

1878, USA
Oberlin Smith invents a device which records sound on a spool of magnetic wire, but does not attempt to promote the idea. This is the forerunner of the modern tape recorder.

1878, France
Emile Reynaud invents the Praxinoscope, the first practical motion picture projector.

1879, USA
Edison demonstrates the carbon-filament incandescent light bulb.

1883, USA
Edison accidentally discovers the principle of the vacuum tube.

1884, Germany
Paul Nipkow patents the idea of a scanning disc, the basis of mechanical television.

1884, USA
George Eastman popularizes flexible photographic film and portable still cameras.

1884, USA
Herman Hollerith invents a statistical tabulation machine using punched cards. He founds a company which is later known as International Business Machines, or IBM.

1888, USA
Working for Edison, William K. L. Dickson begins development of the Kinetograph motion picture camera. Films are shown using a peephole viewer called the Kinetoscope.

Frederick Ives invents first complete system for natural color photography.

1893, USA
Edweard Muybridge uses his Zoopraxiscope to project images of human and animal locomotion at the Chicago World’s Fair.

1893, USA
Nikola Tesla recieves over 40 US patents on alternating current, which allows wired transmission of electricity over great distances.

1895, France
Louis and Auguste Lumiere patent a portable motion picture camera and projector, called the Cinematographe.

1895, Italy
Guglielmo Marchese Marconi transmits a wireless telegraph signal over the distance of one mile.

1897, Germany
Ferdinand Braun invents the Oscilloscope, a scanning cathode ray tube.

1899, Denmark
Valdemar Poulsen perfects a wire audio recorder based on Oberlin Smith’s published ideas. Called the telegraphone, it is marketed as a dictation and telephone answering machine.

1905, France
The Pathe company develops a system for automating the process of hand-coloring black and white motion picture films.

1906, USA
Reginald Fessenden demonstrates the first wireless communication of human speech.

1908, England & Russia
Scottish inventor A.A. Campbell-Swinton and Russian Boris Rosing independently suggest using a cathode ray to reproduce the television picture on a phosphorous coated screen.

G.A. Smith pioneers color motion pictures with a system called Kinemacolor.

1907, USA
Lee De Forest invents the Audion tube, which he later uses to develop the first audio amplifer.

1910, USA
The first commercial radios are sold by Lee De Forest's Radio Telephone Company.

1911, England
A.A. Campbell-Swinton proposes a method of electronic scanning where the cathode ray tube is used at the camera as well as the receiver end of the system.

1914, USA
Edward Kleinschmidt introduces the teletype machine, a refinement of Baudot’s printing telegraph.

1920, USA
First commercial radio broadcast from KDKA in Pittsburgh.

1923, England
John Logie Baird develops a crude but practical television system based on the Nipkow disk.

1923, USA
Philo T. Farnsworth creates the Orthicon tube, the first working electronic video camera.

1923, USA
Vladimir Zworykin patents the Iconoscope video camera. The design is partially stolen from Farnsworth’s work.

1923, USA
The Technicolor process for motion pictures is used in sequences of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.

1924, USA
Chester Rice and Edward Kellog invent the the moving coil loudspeaker.

1925, USA
Edwin Howard Armstrong begins work on frequency modulation (FM) as a technique of eliminating radio static.

1927, USA
Sound films begin with the release of The Jazz Singer, using Western Electric's Vitaphone system. Audio is recorded on phonograph disks.

1927, USA
Philo T. Farnsworth creates the first working electronic video reciever.

Experimental television broadcasts begin worldwide, using mechanical systems.

1934, USA
Hollywood film studios abandon the sound-on-disk system in favor of optical sound-on-film.

1934, USA
Philo T. Farnsworth publicly demonstrates the first electronic television transmission.

1936, Germany
The Magnetophon audio recorder is the first to use plastic-base tape, based on the design of Fritz Pfleumer. The tape is manufactured by BASF.

1936, England
Alan Turing publishes the mathematical fundamentals of computer science.

1939, USA
George R. Stibitz pioneers binary digital circuitry with the Complex Number Calculator.

1939, USA
RCA markets the first commercial television sets.

1939, USA
John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry build the first electronic digital computer, a special-purpose prototype for a larger machine that was never completed.

1941, England
Alan Turing heads the Colossus project to crack the German code called Enigma. Colossus is a special-purpose computer with about 1,500 vacuum tubes.

1942, England
Arthur C. Clark envisions geosynchronous satellites to relay radio signals.

1945, Germany
American and British government investigators seize all information, technology, and patents pertaining to the Magnetophon audio recorder.

1945, USA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Vannevar Bush describes the MEMEX, a proposed desktop device which serves to augment human memory and association.

1946, USA
Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) computer developed by John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert. It is the first general purpose digital computer, and is used to calculate firing tables for World War II anti-aircraft guns.

1947, USA
Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid Corporation, invents instant photography.

1948, USA
The transistor is invented by William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter H. Brattain. This paves the way for everything from minature radios to computer microprocessors.

1950, USA
Cable television is introduced, but does not become common until the 1970s.

1951, USA
Mauchly and Eckert create the UNIVAC I, the first computer able to easily process alphabetical information. It was the first computer to be sold in the US.

1954, USA
FCC authorizes the NTSC standard for color television broadcast in the United States.

1956, USA
A research team at Ampex Corporation, led by Charles P. Ginsburg, perfects the videotape recorder. One of the engineers on the team is Ray Dolby.

1957, Russia
Sputnik I, the first orbital satellite, is launched.

1958, USA
Jack S. Kilby invents the monolithic integrated circuit.

1958, USA
The SAGE computers for strategic air defense feature the first interactive graphic user interfaces.

1959, USA
Robert Noyce constructs the first integrated circuit on a silicon wafer.

1960, USA
The first social computing network, called PLATO, is developed by Donald Bitzer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

1960, USA
Bell labs develops the first modem, the Bell 103.

1960, USA
Theodore Harold Maiman invents the laser.

1962, USA
At MIT, Ivan Sutherland creates Sketchpad, a program which allows users to draw directly on a computer screen.

1962, USA
Paul Baran develops the idea of distributed, packet-switching networks. This forms the basis for the hardware component of the Internet.

1963, USA
Douglas Engelbart invents the mouse pointing device for computers.

1963, USA
Ted Nelson coins the term hypertext.

1964, USA
Monochrome plasma displays are invented by Donald Bitzer and other researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They are first employed as part of the PLATO system.

1965, USA
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicts that, every eighteen months, computing power would double while cost remained constant. This is now known as Moore’s Law.

1966, USA
Carterfone company invents the acoustic coupler to bypass AT&T’s monopolistic restrictions against direct connection to the phone system.

1967, Japan
Sony creates the first inexpensive, portable videotape camera and recorder package.

1967, USA
Ray Dolby invents audio noise reduction.

1967, USA
IBM builds the first floppy disk.

1968, USA
In what later came to be called “the mother of all demos,” Doug Engelbart demonstrates the graphical user interface, word processor, hypertext, and collaborative computing.

1968, USA
Ivan Sutherland invents what is later known as virtual reality, a fully immersive, interactive, simulated environment.

1969, USA
The Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPAnet) is created as the first national, packet-switched computer network. It is the direct predecessor to the Internet.

1969, USA
Willard Boyle and George E. Smith, researchers at Bell Labs, invent the charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor.

1970s, USA
Professors and students at the University of Utah pioneer the emerging field of computer graphics.

1970, USA
A team of researchers at Corning Glass invent fiberoptic cable, which can carry 65,000 times more information than conventional copper wire.

1970, USA
Intel Corporation builds the first microprocessor, a “computer on a chip” called the 4004.

1971, USA
The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers standardizes timecode, making it possible to synchronize audiovisual devices and enabling computer-assisted videotape editing.

1971, USA
James Fergason invents the liquid crystal display.

1972, USA
The Intelsat communications satellite system is launched.

1972, USA
Ralph Baer completes his work on the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console.

1972, USA
Xerox Palo Alto Research Center begins development on the Alto, a networked personal computer with a graphical user interface. It is a research project, and is never commercially released.

1973, Japan
Ikegami introduces the first video camcorder for electronic news gathering.

1973, USA
Gary Kildall writes the CP/M operating system, and later develops it for Intel processors.

1973, USA
Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf develop TCP/IP, the software protocol of the future Internet.

1974, Japan
Panasonic, a subsidiary of Matsushita, demonstrates high definition television.

1974, USA
Intel introduces the 8080, the first commercially successful microprocessor.

1974, USA
The Ethernet network standard is developed by Bob Metcalfe and others at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Metcalfe later forms 3Com Corp.

1975, USA
Ed Roberts’ company MITS markets the first personal computer: a kit called the Altair.

1975, USA
Bill Gates and Paul Allen write a version of the BASIC operating system for the MITS Altair, and form Micro-Soft Company.

1975, Japan
Sony markets the first successful videocassette recorder for home viewing and recording of video. Unwilling to license its Betamax technology, Sony is pushed out of the home VCR market by its rival JVC’s VHS format.

1975, USA
Steven J. Sasson, working for Eastman Kodak, invents the digital camera.

1976, USA
Dolby Laboratories introduces hi-fi stereo sound for cinematic motion pictures.

1977, USA
Apple computer markets the Apple II, the first prefabricated personal computer.

1977, USA
The first mobile telephones are developed at Bell Labs.

1978, Netherlands
Philips markets the first video laserdisc player.

1979, Japan
Sony releases the Walkman, the first personal audio player.

1979, Japan
Flat-screen LCD pocket televisions are patented by Matsushita.

1980, USA
Seagate Technologies announces the first Winchester hard disk drive.

1980, Japan
Sony sells the first consumer video camcorder.

1981, USA
IBM introduces the IBM PC. They choose Intel’s 8088 microprocessor and Microsoft’s DOS operating system.

1982, Netherlands & Japan
Philips and Sony introduce the audio Compact Disc, which is later adapted for data storage as the CD-ROM etc.

1983, USA
The Internet is created when ARPAnet divides into military and civilian components. However, it is still only used for government research.

1983, USA
Cellular phone network starts in US.

1983, USA
Apple introduces the Lisa, the first commercial computer with a graphical user interface. This is the forerunner of the Apple Macintosh, released the following year.

1984, USA
Judge Harold Greene breaks up the AT&T-Bell System for antitrust violations.

1984, USA
Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner of Stanford University invent the multiprotocol network router. They form Cisco Systems.

1987, Japan
Sony introduces Digital Audio Tape (DAT). The consumer market for DAT is crushed by record companies, but DAT is adopted as a professional mastering format.

1987, USA
Congress finally allows individual and commercial traffic over the Internet.

1990, Switzerland
Englishman Tim Berners-Lee develops the World Wide Web.

1990, USA
NewTek ships the Video Toaster, the first desktop video editing system. It runs on the Commodore Amiga 2000 computer.

1992, USA
IBM releases Simon, the first smartphone.

1992, Japan
The first full-color plasma displays are available from Fujitsu.

1994, USA
Agreement is reached on the ATSC standard for high definition television transmission in the United States.

1994, USA
Mosaic Communications releases Netscape Navigator 1.0, the first graphical World Wide Web browser.

1997, USA
Paul Debevec develops multiple techniques in high dynamic range imaging (HDRI).

2002, New Zealand
Using a combination of digital and traditional techniques, artists and technicians at WETA create a convincing motion picture adaptation of the novel The Lord of the Rings. The book was previously considered “unfilmable” due to its scale and complexity.

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