Computers

Commodore Amiga Introduced

Commodore Amiga 1000July 23, 1985

Commodore introduces its Amiga personal computer, also known as the Amiga 1000 or A1000. Featuring a multitasking, windowed operating system, color graphics, and stereo sound among other features ahead of its time, the Amiga developed a loyal user following that remained strong even as the PC market became increasingly consolidated between the dominant IBM-compatible PCs and Apple Macintosh computers.

In 1994, Byte Magazine would write, “The Amiga was so far ahead of its time that almost nobody — including Commodore’s marketing department — could fully articulate what it was all about. Today, it’s obvious the Amiga was the first multimedia computer, but in those days it was derided as a game machine because few people grasped the importance of advanced graphics, sound, and video.”

The Unholy Alliance is Born

IBM PC 5150July 22, 1980

Representatives from an IBM facility in Boca Raton, Florida, where a small group of engineers were secretly developing the IBM PC, meet with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft to discuss licensing software and an operating system for the still-developing PC. Not having an operating system to offer IBM, Microsoft will eventually buy the rights to QDOS/86-DOS from Seattle Computing Products, which they in-turn license to IBM as PC-DOS, and later license to PC clone makers as MS-DOS. This alliance between IBM and Microsoft forms one of the most dominant platforms in the history of computing, which goes on to crush nearly all other PC platforms in the 80’s and 90’s. Ironically this platform nearly crushes IBM itself as they lost control of the platform to PC clone makers and Microsoft.

Apple Introduces iBook Laptop

Original iBookJuly 21, 1999

Apple introduces the iBook laptop, the first mainstream computer designed and sold with built-in wireless networking.

Intel Founded

Intel LogoJuly 18, 1968

Robert Noyce, Andy Grove, and Gordon Moore incorporate Intel in Santa Clara, California to build microprocessors. Their first processor, the 4004, was released in 1971 for use in calculators. IBM’s choice of Intel’s 8088 processor for use in the IBM PC led to Intel’s emergence as the premier manufacturer of processors still to this day.

Control Data Corporation Founded

Control Data Corporation LogoJuly 8, 1957

Control Data Corporation, an early pioneer in the field of supercomputers, is incorporated. CDC’s most notable employee was Seymour Cray, who during the 1960’s developed for CDC the fastest computers in the world at the time. However, in 1972 Seymour Cray left CDC to form his own company, Cray Research, which then took the title of creating the world’s fastest computers.

Simple as 1-2-3: IBM Buys Lotus

IBM LotusJuly 6, 1995

IBM completes a $3.5 billion buyout of Lotus Development, the producer of the once-dominant Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet software and the then-popular Lotus Notes groupware. IBM had hoped to leverage Lotus 1-2-3 to challenge the increasingly demanded Microsoft Excel software, but alas, there was little slowing down the Microsoft juggernaut during the 1990’s. Lotus 1-2-3 steadily lost marketshare, and IBM finally announced the end of support for the software in 2013.

Lotus Notes groupware faired little better than 1-2-3, succumbing to Microsoft Exchange as the dominant groupware platform among large companies, but it is still entrenched among certain corporations today under the name IBM notes.

Keyboards and Computers, Together at Last!

MIT Whirlwind ComputerJuly 4, 1956

MIT’s Whirlwind, which had been completed five years earlier, becomes the first computer in the world to allow its users to enter commands through a keyboard. Previously, all input was accomplished through dials, switches, and/or punch cards.

The First Mass-Produced Computer

IBM 650July 2, 1953

IBM announced its 650 series of computers, the first mass-produced computer, and the dominant computer of the decade. The IBM 650 stored information on a rotating magnetic drum and received it on programmed punch cards. Its memory stored numbers with up to 10 decimal digits.

The Transition to Transistors Begins

Replica of First TransistorJune 30, 1948

Originally designed to create improvements to electromechanical relays and vacuum tubes in telephone switching equipment, Bell Labs holds a press conference in New York to publicly demonstrate the first point-contact transistor. The transistor represents a significant advance in technology. As it is developed over the next few years, it will become the successor to the vacuum tube, the primary method of controlling electronic circuitry at the time. The use of transistors allows the development of the integrated circuit and microchips which kickstarted the rapid advance of electronic and computerized technology over the last 60 years. Every industry that utilizes technology, from communications to computers to space travel to video games to media, owes a great deal to the development of the transistor.

First Stored Program Run

Manchester Small-Scale Experimental MachineJune 21, 1948

The first program on the world’s first stored-program computer, the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) is run. This first program was designed to test the computer’s reliability and ran for 52 minutes performing 3.5 million operations.