Highlights Thru 1985:
This list is based on the 'Chronology of Events in the History of
Microcomputers' by Ken Polsson, as well as FAQs and other sources, including
the March 29,1999 issue of 'Time' magazine. I've added additional items,
including video games. When following links, just use the 'back' button to
return to this page.
- Vannevar Bush of M.I.T. builds the Differential Analyzer, an
early mechanical computer.
- Alan Turing publishes landmark paper introducing the
- John Atanasoff and Clifford Bell at Iowa State College begin
building the ABC, a computer to solve large linear equations. It could not be
reprogrammed and never became fully operational.
- Alec Reeves develops pulse-code modulation for converting analog
information into digital signals.
- Alan Turing helps build Colossus at Bletchley Park, England,
to break Hitler's Enigma codes.
- John Von Neumann starts to build MANIAC, to be followed by
JOHNNIAC, and later the IBM 701.
- ENIAC unveiled, weighing 30 tons and housing 19,000 vacum
tubes and 6,000 switches. Considered to be the first all-purpose computer.
John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert are the principle creators.
- The tranisistor is invented at Bell Labs by John Bardeen,
Walter Brattain, and William Shockley. (Christmas)
- Bell Labs files for a patent on the transistor, which eventually took the place of vaccum tubes in computers
- Claude Shannon shows that all information can be represented
as 1's and 0's.
- Coronado Corp. changes it's name to Texas Instruments Inc.
- Mauchly and Eckert create UNIVAC, the first commercial computer.
- Texas Instruments starts production of germanium transistors.
- Commodore Business Machines is founded.
- Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory founded by William Shockley
in Palo Alto in order to develop and produce the silicon transistor.
- Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley co-awarded the Nobel Prize in
Physics for thier work with transistors.
- Digital Equipment Corp. is founded. (August)
- Fairchild Semiconductor formed by eight engineers from Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, including Robert Noyce.
- Fairchild Semiconductor produces a microchip made from etched
silicon, while Texas Instruments produces a similar chip made out of
germanium transistors with external wires.
- Fairchild Semiconductor files a patent application for the planar process for manufacturing transistors. The process led to Fairchild's introduction, two years later, of the first integrated circuit. (July)
- M.I.T. begins computer 'time-sharing', allowing multiple
user's on the same system at one time.
- John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz develop the BASIC programming language.
- Fairchild Semiconductor receives a patent on the integrated
- Paul Baran of Rand Corp. calls for a computer network that can
survive a nuclear war.
- IBM launches the System/360.
- The first Consumer Electronics Show is held in New York City. (June)
- Sperry Rand sues Honeywell for royalty payments based on Eckert
and Mauchly's original UNIVAC patents. John Atanasoff testifies at one point
that Mauchly got ideas for key features from the ABC during a visit in 1941.
- Donald Davies devices 'packet switching' for routing information
between computers through a network.
- Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore form Intel.
- Intel announces a 1KB RAM chip, which is signifigantly larger than any that had been produced before.
- Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is founded
- ARPAnet is born, later renamed the Internet.
- Bell Labs creates Unix.
- Intel introduces it's 4004 chip, the first microprocessor, which has a speed of 60,000 operations per second and has an initial price of $200. (November)
- Niklaus Wirth invents the Pascal programming language.
- Ralph Baer patents the 'Television Gaming Apparatus', which would become the Odyssey Home Entertainment System from Magnavox.
- Nutting & Associates releases 'Computer Space'.
- Magnavox begins prduction of the Odyssey Home Entertainment System. (January)
- Intel releases it's 8008, the first 8-bit microprocessor. It accesses 16KB of memory and has a speed of 300,000 operations per second. (November)
- Magnavox releases the Odyssey Home Entertainment System, the first home video game, and sells 100,000 units by year end. (May)
- Atari is founded by Nolan Bushnell. (June)
- Atari ships Pong to arcades. (November)
- Magnavox sues Atari for copyright infringement and collects $700,000.
- Design completed on the Micral, the first non-kit computer based on the microprocessor. It uses the 8008. (May)
- The term "microcomputer" first appears in print, in reference to the Micral. (June)
- The Scelbi-8H computer kit, based on the 8008, ships for $565 with 1KB RAM.
- Atari starts producing arcade games under the 'Kee Games' label alongside it's 'Atari' brand.
- Court ruling invalidates Ecket and Mauchly's patents on UNIVAC.
- Intel releases the 8080 chip, with 75 instructions and performance of 3 MIPS. It is able to access 64KB of memory. (April)
- Radio Electronics magazine runs an article on building the Mark-8 microcomputer. (July)
- Motorola introduces the 6800 8-bit microprocessor. (August)
- Creative Computing, the first magazine for home computer enthusiasts, debuts. (September)
- Texas Instruments introduces the TMS1000 one-chip microcomputer.
- Gary Kildall develops the CP/M operating system.
- Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie develop the C programming language.
- The RCA 1802, running at 6.4 MHz, appears.
- Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn design the TCP protocal for
- Popular Electronics runs an article about the MITS Altair 8800, the first machine to be called a 'personal computer'. It uses the Intel 8080 chip. (January)
- Bill Gates and Paul Allen license thier BASIC to MITS. This is the first computer language written for a personal computer. (February)
- Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft. (April)
- MOS Technologies announces the 6501 and 6502 chips. Each costs considerably less than the Intel 8080. (June)
- MOS Technologies announces the KIM-1 microcomputer with 6502 cpu, 1KB RAM, 2KB ROM, keypad, LED readout, cassette and serial interfaces, for $245.
- The first issue of BYTE magazine is published. (September)
- One of the first computer stores in the US, The Byte Shop in Mountain View, California, opens.
- Atari ships the home version of Pong.
- Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs finish work on the Apple I. (March)
- First Annual World Altair Computer Convention is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (March)
- The Apple Computer Company is formed on April's Fool Day. (April)
- The National Semiconductor SC/MP 8-bit microprocessor appears. (April)
- Digital Research copyrights the CP/M operating system. (May)
- The Western Digital MCP-1600 3-chip cpu appears. (June)
- The Texas Instruments TMS 9900 appears. The TMS 9900 is one of the first 16-bit microprocessors. (June)
- The Apple I is sold in kit form for $666.66. (July)
- The Zilog Z-80 8-bit microprocessor is released. (July)
- iCOM advertises an 8" floppy drive in BYTE magazine for $1200. (August)
- Fairchild releases the Fairchild
Channel-F, the world's first programmable home video game system.
- The tradename 'Microsoft' is registered. (November)
- Shugart announces a 5-1/4" floppy drive for $390. (December)
- Atari releases the Super Pong game console.
- Atari is sold to Warner Communications for $26 million.
- This year, dozens of companies release various Pong-clones.
- Apple Computer is incorporated. (January)
- The RCA Studio II is released. (January)
- Computer Shack, later ComputerLand, opens it's first store. (February)
- Commodore Business Machines unveils it's PET computer, using the MOS 6502, for $600. (April)
- The Apple II debuts, and is the first personal computer with color graphics. It uses the MOS 6502 cpu. (April)
- Apple II computers are shipped to Europe by Eurapple, an idependent distributor. (June)
- Microsoft ships it's second language product, Microsoft Fortran. (July)
- Tandy/Radio Shack introduces the TRS-80 Model I, using the Z-80 cpu, for $600. (August)
- Atari releases the 2600VCS video game
- Coleco releases the Coleco Telstar Classic.
- The first major microcomputer bulletin board system (BBS), run by Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss, goes online. (February)
- Bally/Midway releases the Bally Professional Arcade video game
system, later called the Astrocade. (February)
- Intel releases the 8086 16-bit microprocessor. (June)
- Apple introduces the Disk II. (June)
- Epson introduces the HX-80 dot matrix printer, setting a new standard for printers. (December)
- Atari announces the models 400 and 800. (December)
- Apple begins design work on the Apple
///, the first computer designed by Apple Computer as a company.
- Microsoft sales for the year reach the $1 million mark. (December)
- Tandy opens it's first dedicated computer center.
- Magnavox releases the Odyssey 2 video game system.
- Intel unveils the 8085 CPU chip.
- Zircon buys the rights to the Channel-F from Fairchild, and re-releases it as the Channel-F System II.
- Atari stops using the 'Kee Games' label on arcade games.
- The Intel 8088 microprocessor debuts. (January)
- MicroPro's Wordstar word processor appears. (April)
- Software Arts Inc. releases VisiCalc, the first commercial spreadsheet program, for the Apple II. (May)
- Tandy introduces the TRS-80 Model II. (May)
- Seattle Computer Products makes it's first prototype 8086 card for the S-100 bus. (May)
- The Source telecommunications service goes online. (June)
- Apple introduces the Apple II+ for $1195. (June)
- Apple introduces it's first printer, the Silentype. (June)
- Texas Instruments unveils the TI-99/4, predecessor to the TI-99/4a. (June)
- Wayne Ratliff develops the Vulcan database program, later marketed as dBASE II by Ashton-Tate.
- MicroNet goes online and changes it's name to CompuServe about a year later. (August)
- Motorola ships the 68000 16-bit microprocessor. (September)
- Texas Instruments releases the TI-99/4A
16-bit computer. (November)
- The first Comdex is held in Las Vegas, Nevada. (December)
- Mattel test markets the Intellivision in Fresno, California.
- Sinclair announces the ZX-80, predecessor of the ZX-81. (February).
- Seattle Computer Products decides to write their own DOS due to delays by Digital Research in shipping CP/M-86. (April)
- Microsoft ships the Softcard, it's first hardware product, for the Apple II. (April)
- Atari shows COSMOS, a holographic game created by Al Alcorn, at a press conference in New York. The game then disappears. (Spring)
- Apple introduces the Apple III at the
National Computer Conference. (May)
- Shugart begins selling Winchester hard disk drives. (June)
- Commodore introduces the VIC-20 for $300. (JUNE)
- Tandy introduces the TRS-80 Model III and Color Computer. (July)
- QDOS v0.10 is shipped by Seattle Computer Products. (August)
- Microsoft announces the XENIX operating system for the Intel 8086, Zilog Z8000, Motorola 68000, and DEC PDP-11. (August)
- The engineers who are to design the IBM PC are assembled, the machine being given the codename 'Acorn'. (September)
- Microsoft agrees to develop MS-DOS for the IBM PC. (November)
- Zork is brought from a mainframe at M.I.T. into the world of microcomputers by Infocom, which was founded for that purpose. (December)
- IBM delivers the first prototype IBM PC to Microsoft. (December)
- Apple goes public, selling 4.6million shares at $22/share. (December)
- Seattle Computer Products renames QDOS as 86-DOS version 0.3. Microsoft buys non-exclusive rights to market it. (December)
- Tandy releases the TRS-80 Color Computer, using a 6809 cpu, Color Basic, and 4k RAM.
- Intel creates the iAPX 432 32-bit microprocessor. The 80286 was intended as a step between the 8086 and the 432.
- Mattel releases the Intellivision nationwide.
- While at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee writes 'Enquire', the program from
which he would begin the World Wide Web project, which he proposes in 1989.
- Adam Osborne, of Osborne Books, introduces the Osborne 1 portable computer for $1795. (April)
- Xerox Corp. unveils the Star, after spending a decade developing it at Xerox PARC. The machine costs over $50,000 and is a failure, but it introduces the use of a mouse and icons. (May)
- Hayes Microcomputer Products introduces the SmartModem 300, setting an industry standard.
- Microsoft buys all rights to DOS from Seattle Computer Products and names it MS-DOS. (July)
- IBM announces the IBM Personal Computer for $3000 (8088 cpu, 64KB RAM, one 5.25" floppy drive, MS-DOS 1.0). (August)
- IBM announces the CGA graphics card (August)
- Apple introduces it's first hard drive, the 5MB Profile. (September)
- Epson introduces the HX-20, the first laptop computer. (November)
- Ashton-Tate ships dBASE II. (November)
- Apple re-introduces the Apple III,
fixing most of it's initial problems. (December)
- National Semiconductor announces the 32000 chip, the first commercial 32-bit microprocessor.
- Developement is begun on what would become the Vectrex
video game system.
- The Leisure-Vision home video game system is released in Canada, later released as the Arcadia 2001 in the U.S.
- Roughly 900,000 personal computers are shipped worldwide this year.
- IBM splits it's Personal Computer development team into three sections: PC XT, PC AT, and PCjr. (February)
- Compaq Computer Corp. is formed by senior managers of Texas Instruments. (February)
- Xedex Corp. builds the Baby Blue Z-80 card for the IBM PC. (April)
- IBM releases PC-DOS 1.10. (May)
- Franklin Computer Corp. unveils the Ace 100, an Apple II clone.
- The GCE Vectrex video game system is introduced at CES. (June)
- Coleco releases the ColecoVision video game system. (June)
- The first IBM PC clone, the MPC, is advertised by Columbia Data Products. (June)
- Commodore announces the C-64, for $600. (June)
- Boston's Computer Museum is incorporated. (July)
- Intel announces the 80186 and 80286 chips. (July)
- Hercules announces the Hercules Graphics Card for the IBM PC. (August)
- Lotus announces the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program. (October)
- Compaq introduces the Compaq Portable PC with an 8088, 128KB RAM, 9-inch monochrome monitor, and one 320KB 5.25" floppy drive. (November)
- Emerson Radio Corp. releases the Arcadia 2001 home video game system. (November)
- Apple becomes the first personal computer company to reach $1 billion in annual sales. (December)
- Sinclair Research releases the ZX Spectrum in the UK.
- The program that would become Multimate is created.
- Atari releases the 1200XL.
- Timex releases the U.S. version of the ZX-81, with an additional 1k of RAM, as the Timex/Sinclair-1000.
- Hi-Toro, which would later become Amiga Corp, is born with $7 million and the intention of creating one of the most advanced game systems ever.
- DIGITAL introduces it's new personal computer line, including the Professional 300 series based on the PDP-11, the
Rainbow 100 based on the Intel 8086, and the DECmate II based on the PDP-8.
- Mattel releases the Intellivision II and the Intellivoice.
- Atari releases the Atari 5200.
- Milton Bradley releases the Microvision.
- Roughly 1.4 million personal computers are shipped worldwide this year.
- Apple unveils the Lisa computer with an initial price of $10,000 and which is based on the Xerox Star, costing Apple $50 million in development. (January)
- Apple introduces the Apple IIe for $1400. (January)
- Commodore's sales of VIC-20s reach 1,000,000. (January)
- Mattel displays the Intellivision III and announces the Intellivsion Entertainment Computer System at CES. (January)
- Magnavox displays the Odyssey3 at CES. (January)
- Radio Shack announces the Model 100 laptop. (March)
- IBM announces the PC-XT, which adds a 10MB hard drive, 3 more expansion slots, and a serial interface to the PC. With 128KB RAM and 360KB floppy drive it costs $5000. (March)
- MS-DOS 2.0 is announced. (March)
- IBM ships PC-DOS 2.00. (March)
- The first PC clone, the Compaq Portable, ships. (March)
- The Eagle 1600, the first PC based on the 8086, ships. (March)
- The TRS-80 Model IV appears. (April)
- Microsoft introduces the first Microsoft Mouse for $200, including card and software. (May)
- The 1,000,000th Apple II is made. (July)
- Coleco announces the ADAM. (July)
- A U.S. Federal Appeals court judge rules that Franklin Computers violated Apple copyright on computer programs and the Apple operating system in ROM. (August)
- Osborne Computer Corp. files for Chapter-11 bankruptcy. (September)
- Microsoft introduces Microsoft Word v1.0 for DOS. (September)
- IBM ships PC-DOS 2.10. (October)
- IBM announces the PCjr. (October)
- Borlund International Inc. advertises Turbo Pascal for CP/M and 8086-based computers. (October)
- Amiga Corp. and Atari Inc. sign an agreement allowing Atari access to the 'Lorraine' prototype. (November)
- Tandy introduces the TRS-80 Model 2000, one of the few systems to use the 80186 16-bit microprocessor. (November)
- Microsoft formally announces Microsoft Windows. (November)
- Microsoft shows Windows to IBM, but IBM is not interested, as they are already developing TopView. (November)
- Apple releases the Apple III+ for $3000. (December)
- Compaq goes public, raising $67 million through stock sales. (December)
- Timex releases the Timex/Sinclair-2068. (December)
- Mattel releases the Intellivision Computer Module, also known as the Intellivision Entertainment Computer System.
- Apple shipped 15,000 Lisa computers for the year, far below the initial estimates of 50,000.
- IBM and Microsoft begin developing OS/2.
- Atari releases the 800XL and 600XL 8-bit microcomputers.
- NEC releases the PC-8201A laptop,
based on the same Kyocera design as the Tandy 100.
- Mattel releases the Aquarius.
- Coleco releases the Gemini.
- Magnavox stops sales of the Odyssey2.
- Jack Tramiel leaves Commodore. (January)
- The Amiga 'Lorraine' prototype and the classic 'Boing ball' demo are shown at CES. (January)
- Compaq reports first-year revenues of $111.2 million, a U.S. business record. (January)
- Apple runs it's '1984' commercial for the Macintosh during the Superbowl. (January)
- Apple introduces the Macintosh for $2500. Sales reach 100,000 within six months. (January)
- Apple introduces it's 300-baud modem ($300) and 1200-baud modem ($500). (January)
- The 3-D Imager for the Vectrex is presented at Winter-CES in Las Vegas.
- Mattel stops production of the Intellivision II and sells the rights to it to Intellivision Inc. (January)
- Seiko Instruments displays the first wristwatch computer, with a 10-character 4-line LCD. (January)
- Microsoft ships Microsoft BASIC and Microsoft Multiplan for the Macintosh. (January)
- IBM announces the IBM Portable PC for $2900. (February)
- IBM ships the PCjr, priced at $1300. (March)
- Vectrex sales in Germany end, signaling the beginning of the end for the machine. (March)
- Apple ceases development of the Apple III line. Roughly 100,000 of all models built. (April)
- Compaq introduces it's PC's to Europe. (April)
- Apple unveils the Apple IIc, priced at $1300. (April)
- Tandy ceases production of the TRS-80 Model 2000. (June)
- Tom Jennings creates the FidoNet BBS network. (June)
- Motorola adds the 68020 32-bit processor to it's line. (June)
- Compaq introduces the Compaq Deskpro. (June)
- Warner Communications sells Atari. (July)
- Commodore purchases Amiga Corp. (August)
- IBM announces the PC AT, using a 6Mhz 80286 cpu.
- IBM announces TopView, a DOS multitasking program. (August)
- IBM announces the Enhanced Color Display ($850) and the Enhanced Graphics Adapter ($524), both capable of 640x350 resolution. (August)
- MS-DOS 3.0 for PC's is shipped. (August)
- Apple introduces the Apple Laserwriter printer. (August)
- The Tandy 1000 debuts, a PCjr-compatible. (September)
- Apple introduces the Macintosh 512k for $3200. (September)
- Digital Research announces it's GEM graphical interface.
- The number of hosts on the Internet reaches 1000. (October)
- The Tandy 1200 debuts, a PC clone. (November)
- Apple launches it's 'Test Drive A Macintosh' promotion. Approximately 200,000 take a Macintosh home for a free 24hour test. (November)
- The 2,000,000th Apple II computer is sold. (November)
- MS-DOS 3.1 ships. (November)
- Intellivision Inc. changes it's name to INTV. (November)
- Several companies show 2400 baud modems at COMDEX. (December)
- Satellite Software International introduces WordPerfect.
- Hewlett-Packard introduces the LaserJet laser printer.
- The home video game industry collapses.
- Compaq ships more than 149,000 PCs worldwide.
- Commodore unveils the C-128. (January)
- The Atari XE and 520ST debut. (January)
- Compaq reports second year revenues of $329 million, an industry record. (January)
- Apple officially renames the Lisa the Macintosh XL. (January)
- Apple co-found Steve Wozniak resigns from Apple. (February)
- TopView is released by IBM, priced at $150. (February)
- IBM abandons production of the PCjr. (April)
- Apple drops the Macintosh XL from it's product line. (April)
- Compaq introduces the DeskPro 286 and Portable 286. (April)
- Apple reports it's first quarterly loss. (June)
- Microsoft announces Windows 1.0. (June)
- Commodore announces the Amiga 1000, for $1300. (July)
- Commodore-Amiga filed for a patent on the Amiga technology, which would be awarded patent# 4,777,621 on October 11, 1988. (July)
- PageMaker is released for the Apple. (July)
- Quarterdeck's DESQview 1.0 ships. (July)
- Microsoft and IBM sign an agreement to work together on future opating systems and environments. (August)
- Apple co-founder Steve Jobs resigns from Apple to start NeXT. (September)
- INTV releases the INTV System III, reviving the Intellivision with $6 million in sales for the year.
- Intel announces the 80386 32-bit processor. (October)
- Microsoft ships Windows 1.0. (November)
- The Nintendo Entertainment System debuts. (December)
- Microsoft purchases all rights to DOS from Seattle Computer Products for $925,000.
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