1969

Bill Gates and Paul Allen

Bill Gates and Paul Allen

Bill Gates and Paul Allen, calling themselves the “Lakeside Programming Group”, sign an agreement with Computer Center Corporation to report bugs in PDP-10 software in exchange for computer time.

Ken Thompson (standing)

Ken Thompson (standing)

Ken Thompson, a researcher at Bell Labs, writes the first version of UNIX, a multi-user, multitasking operating system. The UNIX source code is distributed freely throughout the 70’s, and it soon becomes popular at universities and research labs.

1970

The PARC

Xerox creates the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which gave birth to many essential computer technologies. The PARC investigates the “architecture of information” and how to make computers easy enough for anyone to use. Using the ideas that people would respond better to intuitive command structures and they don’t need to understand how the hardware functions to use the technology, PARC comes up with black-on-white screens, a bitmapped display, icons, pointers, laser printers, word processors, and network (notably Ethernet). The Xerox Star and the Alto are two computers that embody all these groundbreaking ideas but they are never successfully marketed.

1971

Intel 1702

Intel 1702

The first EPROM chip. A 2048-bit EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory). This chip, which can be erased by shining UV light through its quartz window, was based on a serendipitous discovery made by Dov Frohman.

IBM floppy disk

IBM floppy disk

IBM introduces the “memory disk” or “floppy disk”. It is the industry’s first flexible magnetic diskette, an 8-inch floppy plastic disk coated with iron oxide, ushering in the era of data portability and desktop computing. The floppy disk greatly increases the convenience of data handling and becomes widely used as a basic storage medium for small systems.

The Intel 1103

The introduction of the 1103, the worlds first 1K DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory), was a turning point in the history of integrated circuit: for the first time significant amount of information could be stored on a single chip. This is the chip that kicked magnetic Core Memory out of the game, making Intel a world leader in memories for a decade. In 1972 it was the largest selling semiconductor in the world.

The Intel 4004

The Intel 4004

Intel’s Ted Hoff designs the 4004 chip, the first 4-bit microprocessor (the central processing unit is on a chip). Priced at $200, with 2,300 transistors and 60,000 OPS (Operations Per Second). It ran at a clock speed of 740KHz; but it was a historic breakthrough that enabled the ubiquitous computing technology we have today.

LCDs

LCDs

Liquid crystal display (LCD) debuts.

1972

The Intel 8008

The Intel 8008

Intel introduces the 8008, the first 8-bit microprocessor. Don Lancaster, a dedicated computer hobbyist, used the 8008 to create a predecessor to the first personal computer, a device Radio Electronics dubbed a “TV typewriter”. It was used as a dumb terminal.

1973

The CP/M Operating System

The CP/M Operating System

Architecture using CP/M operating system becomes the standard for the next eight years until MS-DOS is introduced.

The IBM 3340 Winchester disk

IBM releases the 3340, the first Winchester disk. It has a capacity of 70MB spread over four platters – or enough for more than 35 complete transcripts of the Watergate special prosecutor’s 60 hours of audio tapes. The recording head rides on a layer of air 18 millionths of an inch thick.

1974

The Intel 8080

The Intel 8080 microprocessor becomes the brains of the first personal computer: the Altair 8800. Computer hobbyist could purchase a kit for the Altair for $367.

The Post-it

The Post-it

Post-it note pads appear.

1975

The Altair 8800 – the first personal computer

The Altair 8800 – the first personal computer

The January edition of Popular Electronics features the Altair 8800 computer kit based on Intel’s 8080 microprocessor, on its cover. The machine has a 256 bytes of memory (expandable to 64K) and comes with an open 100-line bus structure that evolves into the S-100 standard. The article inspires Paul Allen and Bill Gates to develop a BASIC interpreter for the Altair.

Microsoft

Microsoft

The first known use of the word Micro-soft appears in a letter from Bill Gates to his future partner, Paul Allen.

1976

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak show first Apple computer at Home Brew Computer Club, later known as Silicon Valley.

Shugart Floppy Disk

Shugart Floppy Disk

Shugart announces its 5.25-inch “minifloppy” disk drive for $390.

The Frugal Floppy

iCOM advertises its “Frugal Floppy” in BYTE magazine, an 8-inch floppy drive selling for $1,200.

1977

The TRS-80

The TRS-80

Radio Shack introduces the TRS-80 Model I, lovingly referred to by its hobbyist fans as the Trash 80.

1978

Wordstar

Wordstar

Seymour Rubinstein invents Wordstar, the most popular, versatile word processor for the next several years.