Timeline of Computer History
 

Companies  
1947
Eckert and Mauchly with the ENIAC
Computer pioneers Presper Eckert and John Mauchly founded the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. to construct machines based on their experience with ENIAC and EDVAC. The only machine the company built was BINAC. Before completing the UNIVAC, the company became a division of Remington Rand.
1952
   Heinz Nixdorf founded Nixdorf Computer Corp. in Germany. It remained an independent corporation until merging with Siemens in 1990.
1956
ElectroData computer in use, 1955
Burroughs buys Electrodata. Calculator manufacturer Burroughs gained entry to the computer industry by purchasing the southern California company Electrodata Corporation. The combined firm became a giant in the calculating machine business and expanded into electronics and digital computers when these technologies developed. Burroughs created many computer systems in the 1960s and 1970s and eventually merged with the makers of the Sperry Rand (maker of Univac computers) to form Unisys.
1957
Digital Equipment Corp.
A group of engineers led by Ken Olsen left MIT´s Lincoln Laboratory founded a company based on the new transistor technology. In August, they formally created Digital Equipment Corp. It initially set up shop in a largely vacant woolen mill in Maynard, Mass., where all aspects of product development — from management to manufacturing — took place.
CDC 1604
In Minneapolis, the original Engineering Research Associates group led by Bill Norris left Sperry Rand to form a new company, Control Data Corp., which soon released its model 1604 computer.
1963
   Tandy Radio Shack is founded.  Tandy Radio Shack (TRS) was formed by the 1963 merger of Tandy Leather Company and Radio Shack.  TRS began by selling a variety of electronic products, mainly to hobbyists. The TRS-80 Model I computer, introduced in 1977, was a major step in introducing home computers to the public.  Like the Commodore PET and the Apple II, which were introduced within months of the TRS-80, the computer came assembled and ready to run.
1965
Commodore Business Machine founder Jack Tramiel
Commodore Business Machines (CBM) is founded. Its founder Jack Tramiel emigrated to the US after WWII where he began repairing typewriters. In 1965, he moved to Toronto and established Commodore International which also began making mechanical and electronic calculators. In 1977, Commodore released the Commodore PET computer; in 1981 the VIC-20; and, in 1982, the Commodore 64. CBM purchased competitor Amiga Corporation in 1984. Despite being the largest single supplier of computers in the world at one time, by 1984 internal disputes and market pressures led to financial problems. The company declared bankruptcy in 1994.
1968
Ivan Sutherland and David Evans, 1969
Evans & Sutherland is formed. In 1968, David Evans and Ivan Sutherland, both professors of computer science, founded a company to develop a special graphics computer known as a frame buffer. This device was a special high-speed memory used for capturing video. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, the two founders trained a generation of computer graphics pioneers—either at E&S or at the University of Utah computer science department. Sutherland left the firm in 1975, and Evans retired in the early 1990s, but E & S continues today as a major supplier of military and commercial graphics systems.
1969
Xerox
Xerox Corp. bought Scientific Data Systems for nearly $1 billion — 90 times the latter´s earnings. The SDS series of minicomputers in the early 1960s logged more sales than did Digital Equipment Corp. Xerox changed the series to the XDS computers but eventually closed the division and ceased to manufacture the equipment.
1970
Engineers at PARC circa 1972
Xerox opens Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). In 1970, Xerox Corporation hired Dr. George Pake to lead a new research center in Palo Alto, California. PARC attracted some of the United States’ top computer scientists, and produced many groundbreaking inventions that transformed computing—most notably the personal computer graphical user interface, Ethernet, the laser printer, and object-oriented programming. Xerox was unable to market the inventions from PARC but others did, including Steve Jobs (Apple), Bob Metcalfe (3Com), as well as Charles Geschke and John Warnock (Adobe)
1971
RCA Spectra 70 advertisment
RCA sells its computer division. RCA was founded in 1919 to make vacuum tubes for radio, then a new invention. RCA began designing and selling its own computers in the early 1950s, competing with IBM and several other companies. By the 1970s, RCA, as well as other computer makers, were struggling to compete against IBM. RCA made their machines IBM-compatible, but ultimately even this strategy proved unsuccessful. RCA announced it would no longer build computers in 1971, selling its computer business to Sperry-Rand.
1973
IMSAI 8080 System
IMSAI is founded. In 1973, Bill Millard left his regular job in management to found the consulting firm Information Management Services or IMS. The following year, while he was working on a client’s project, he developed a small computing system using the then-new Intel 8080 microprocessor. He realized this computer might attract other buyers and so placed an advertisement in the hobbyist magazine “Popular Electronics,” offering it in kit form. The IMSAI 8080, as it was known, sold briskly and eventually about 20,000 units were shipped. The company was eventually purchased by one of its dealers and is today a division of the Fischer-Freitas Company, which still offers reproductions of the original for sale to hobbyists.
1975
Xerox Sigma-5
Xerox closes its computer division. After acquiring computer maker Scientific Data Systems (SDS) in 1969, Xerox redesigned SDS’s well-known Sigma line of computers. Xerox struggled against competitors like IBM and in 1975 closed the division. Most of the rights to the machines were sold to Honeywell.
1980
Doug and Gary Carlston at Broderbund Headquarters
Broderbund is founded. In 1980, brothers Doug and Gary Carlston formed a company to market the games Doug had created. Their first games were Galactic Empire, Galactic Trader and Galactic Revolution. They continued to have success with popular games such as Myst (1993) and Riven (1997) and a wide range of home products such as Print Shop, language tutors, etc. In 1998, Broderbund was acquired by The Learning Company which, a year later, was itself acquired by Mattel, Inc.
1983
Connection Machine 2 with DataVault
Thinking Machines is founded. Thinking Machines Corporation (TMC) was formed by MIT graduate student Danny Hillis and others to develop a new type of supercomputer. Their idea was to use many individual processors of moderate power rather than one extremely powerful processor. Their first machine, called The Connection Machine (CM-1), had 64,000 microprocessors, and began shipping in 1986. TMC later produced several larger computers with more powerful—the CM-2 and CM-5. Competition from more established supercomputer firms forced them into bankruptcy in 1993.
1994
Early Netscape diskette
Netscape Communications Corporation is founded. Netscape was originally founded as Mosaic Communications Corporation in April of 1994 by Marc Andreessen, Jim Clark and others. Its name was soon changed to Netscape and it delivered its first browser in October of 1994. On the day of Netscape's initial public offering in August of 1995, it’s share price went from $28 to $54 in the first few minutes of trading, valuing the company at $2 billion. Netscape hired many of Silicon Valley’s programmers to provide new features and products and began the Internet boom of the 1990s.
Yahoo! founders Jerry Yang and David Filo, 2000
Yahoo is founded. Founded by Stanford graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo, Yahoo started out as "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web" before being renamed. Yahoo originally resided on two machines, Akebono and Konishiki, both named after famous Sumo wrestlers. Yahoo would quickly expand to become one of the Internet’s most popular search engines.

 


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