Timeline of Computer History

<h2 class="title"><em>Cybernetics</em></h2>

Norbert Wiener


Norbert Wiener publishes the book Cybernetics, which has a major influence on research into artificial intelligence and control systems. Wiener drew on his World War II experiments with anti-aircraft systems that anticipated the course of enemy planes by interpreting radar images. Wiener coined the term "cybernetics" from the Greek word for "steersman."

<h2 class="title"><em>The Mathematical Theory of Communication</em></h2>

Claude Shannon

The Mathematical Theory of Communication

American mathematician Claude Shannon writes The Mathematical Theory of Communication, laying the groundwork for understanding the theoretical limits of communication between people and machines. As part of this work Shannon identified the bit as a fundamental unit of information and, coincidentally, the basic unit of computation.


First Computer Program to Run on a Computer

University of Manchester researchers Frederic Williams, Tom Kilburn, and Geoff Toothill develop the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM), better known as the Manchester "Baby." The Baby was built to test a new memory technology developed by Williams and Kilburn -- soon known as the Williams Tube – which was the first electronic random access memory for computers. The first program, consisting of seventeen instructions and written by Kilburn, ran on June 21st, 1948. This was the first program to ever run on an electronic stored-program computer.


SSEC goes on display

The Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC) project, led by IBM engineer Wallace Eckert, uses both relays and vacuum tubes to process scientific data at the rate of 50 14 x 14 digit multiplications per second. Before it’s decommissioning in 1952, the SSEC produced the moon-position tables used for plotting the course of the 1969 Apollo flight to the moon. The SSEC was one of the few and last of the generation of ‘super calculators’ to be built using electromechanical technology.