Timeline of Computer History

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) is completed

After successfully demonstrating a proof-of-concept prototype in 1939, Professor John Vincent Atanasoff receives funds to build a full-scale machine at Iowa State College (now University). The machine was designed and built by Atanasoff and graduate student Clifford Berry between 1939 and 1942. The ABC was at the center of a patent dispute related to the invention of the computer, which was resolved in 1973 when it was shown that ENIAC co-designer John Mauchly had seen the ABC shortly after it became functional.

The legal result was a landmark: Atanasoff was declared the originator of several basic computer ideas, but the computer as a concept was declared un-patentable and thus freely open to all. A full-scale working replica of the ABC was completed in 1997, proving that the ABC machine functioned as Atanasoff had claimed. The replica is currently on display at the Computer History Museum.

Scelbi 8H

Scelbi advertises its 8H computer

Participants in COBOL's 25th Anniversary Celebration at The Computer Museum on May 16, 1985, surround the COBOL Tombstone, a gift in 1960 from Howard Bromberg (far right) to the COBOL Committee.”

COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language)


IBM introduces its Personal System/2 (PS/2) machines

CompuServe screen

North America: Rise of Online Services and BBSs

Still from the Genesis Effect

ILM produces The Genesis Effect for Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan