Timeline of Computer History

Ken Thompson (L) and Dennis Ritchie (R)

C programming language is released

The C programming language is released. Dennis Ritchie and his team created C based on the earlier language BCPL (Basic Combined Programming Language) and soon after re-wrote the source code for Unix in C. As such, Unix was easily ported to other computers and spread swiftly. C is still widely used today.

Earth's moon

LUNAR natural language information retrieval system

LUNAR, a natural language information retrieval system is completed by William Woods, Ronal Kaplan and Bonnie Nash-Webber at Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN). LUNAR helped geologists access, compare and evaluate chemical-analysis data on moon rock and soil composition from the Apollo 11 mission. Woods was the manager of the BBN AI Department throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s.

Pong screenshot

Pong is released

California entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell hires young engineer Al Alcorn to design a car-driving game, but when it becomes apparent that this is too ambitious for the time, he has Alcorn design a version of Ping Pong instead. The game was tested in bars in Grass Valley and Sunnyvale, California, where it proved very popular. Pong would revolutionize the arcade industry and launch the modern video game era.

SuperPaint drawing system

SuperPaint is completed

SuperPaint is probably the first digital computer drawing system to use a frame buffer—a special high-speed memory—and the ancestor of all modern paint programs. It could create sophisticated animations, in up to 16.7 million colors, had adjustable paintbrushes, video magnification, and used a graphics tablet for drawing. It was designed by Richard Shoup and others at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Its designers won a technical Academy Award in 1998 for their invention.

Ed Feigenbaum

DENDRAL artificial intelligence program

Bombe replica, Bletchley Park, UK

The first Bombe is completed

British brain surgeon Geoffrey Jefferson

Brain surgeon reflects on artificial intelligence

Grey Walter working with Elsie

Grey Walter's Elsie

Dover laser printer

Laser printer invented at Xerox PARC