Timeline of Computer History

AT&T Dataphone
AT&T designed its Dataphone, the first commercial modem, specifically for converting digital computer data to analog signals for transmission across its long distance network. Outside manufacturers incorporated Bell Laboratories´ digital data sets into commercial products. The development of equalization techniques and bandwidth-conserving modulation systems improved transmission efficiency in national and global systems.
   Online transaction processing made its debut in IBM´s SABRE reservation system, set up for American Airlines. Using telephone lines, SABRE linked 2,000 terminals in 65 cities to a pair of IBM 7090 computers, delivering data on any flight in less than three seconds.
JOSS configuration
JOSS (Johnniac Open Shop System) conversational time-sharing service began on Rand´s Johnniac. Time-sharing arose, in part, because the length of batch turn-around times impeded the solution of problems. Time sharing aimed to bring the user back into "contact" with the machine for online debugging and program development.
Acoustically coupled modem
John van Geen of the Stanford Research Institute vastly improved the acoustically coupled modem. His receiver reliably detected bits of data despite background noise heard over long-distance phone lines. Inventors developed the acoustically coupled modem to connect computers to the telephone network by means of the standard telephone handset of the day.
   Citizens and Southern National Bank in Valdosta, Ga., installed the country´s first automatic teller machine.
ARPANET topology
Computer-to-computer communication expanded when the Department of Defense established four nodes on the ARPANET: the University of California Santa Barbara and UCLA, SRI International, and the University of Utah. Viewed as a comprehensive resource-sharing network, ARPANET´s designers set out with several goals: direct use of distributed hardware services; direct retrieval from remote, one-of-a-kind databases; and the sharing of software subroutines and packages not available on the users´ primary computer due to incompatibility of hardware or languages.
Ray Tomlinson in 2001
The first e-mail is sent. Ray Tomlinson of the research firm Bolt, Beranek and Newman sent the first e-mail when he was supposed to be working on a different project. Tomlinson, who is credited with being the one to decide on the "@" sign for use in e-mail, sent his message over a military network called ARPANET. When asked to describe the contents of the first email, Tomlinson said it was “something like "QWERTYUIOP"”
Wozniak´s "blue box"
Wozniak´s "blue box", Steve Wozniak built his "blue box" a tone generator to make free phone calls. Wozniak sold the boxes in dormitories at the University of California Berkeley where he studied as an undergraduate. "The early boxes had a safety feature — a reed switch inside the housing operated by a magnet taped onto the outside of the box," Wozniak remembered. "If apprehended, you removed the magnet, whereupon it would generate off-frequency tones and be inoperable ... and you tell the police: It´s just a music box."
Robert Metcalfe devised the Ethernet method of network connection at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. He wrote: "On May 22, 1973, using my Selectric typewriter ... I wrote ... "Ether Acquisition" ... heavy with handwritten annotations — one of which was "ETHER!" — and with hand-drawn diagrams — one of which showed `boosters´ interconnecting branched cable, telephone, and ratio ethers in what we now call an internet.... If Ethernet was invented in any one memo, by any one person, or on any one day, this was it."

Robert M. Metcalfe, "How Ethernet Was Invented", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Volume 16, No. 4, Winter 1994, p. 84.
   Telenet, the first commercial packet-switching network and civilian equivalent of ARPANET, was born. The brainchild of Larry Roberts, Telenet linked customers in seven cities. Telenet represented the first value-added network, or VAN — so named because of the extras it offered beyond the basic service of linking computers.
   The Queen of England sends first her e-mail. Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, sends out an e-mail on March 26 from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in Malvern as a part of a demonstration of networking technology.
The Shockwave Rider
John Shoch and Jon Hupp at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center discover the computer "worm," a short program that searches a network for idle processors. Initially designed to provide more efficient use of computers and for testing, the worm had the unintended effect of invading networked computers, creating a security threat.

Shoch took the term "worm" from the book "The Shockwave Rider," by John Brunner, in which an omnipotent "tapeworm" program runs loose through a network of computers. Brunner wrote: "No, Mr. Sullivan, we can´t stop it! There´s never been a worm with that tough a head or that long a tail! It´s building itself, don´t you understand? Already it´s passed a billion bits and it´s still growing. It´s the exact inverse of a phage — whatever it takes in, it adds to itself instead of wiping... Yes, sir! I´m quite aware that a worm of that type is theoretically impossible! But the fact stands, he´s done it, and now it´s so goddamn comprehensive that it can´t be killed. Not short of demolishing the net!" (247, Ballantine Books, 1975).
   USENET established.  USENET was invented as a means for providing mail and file transfers using a communications standard known as UUCP.  It was developed as a joint project by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by graduate students Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis, and Steve Bellovin. USENET enabled its users to post messages and files that could be accessed and archived. It would go on to become one of the main areas for large-scale interaction for interest groups through the 1990s.
Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw circa 1999
The first Multi-User Domain (or Dungeon), MUD1, is goes on-line. Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, two students at the University of Essex, write a program that allows many people to play against each other on-line. MUDs become popular with college students as a means of adventure gaming and for socializing. By 1984, there are more than 100 active MUDs and variants around the world.
   The ARPANET splits into the ARPANET and MILNET.  Due to the success of the ARPANET as a way for researchers in universities and the military to collaborate, it was split into military (MILNET) and civilian (ARPANET) segments.  This was made possible by the adoption of TCP/IP, a networking standard, three years earlier.  The ARPANET was renamed the “Internet” in 1995.
   The modern Internet gained support when the National Science foundation formed the NSFNET, linking five supercomputer centers at Princeton University, Pittsburgh, University of California at San Diego, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Cornell University. Soon, several regional networks developed; eventually, the government reassigned pieces of the ARPANET to the NSFNET. The NSF allowed commercial use of the Internet for the first time in 1991, and in 1995, it decommissioned the backbone, leaving the Internet a self-supporting industry.

The NSFNET initially transferred data at 56 kilobits per second, an improvement on the overloaded ARPANET. Traffic continued to increase, though, and in 1987, ARPA awarded Merit Network Inc., IBM, and MCI a contract to expand the Internet by providing access points around the country to a network with a bandwidth of 1.5 megabits per second. In 1992, the network upgraded to T-3 lines, which transmit information at about 45 megabits per second.
Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant lecturing on the Well, 1999
The Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (WELL) is founded. Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant started an on-line Bulletin Board System (BBS) to build a “virtual community” of computer users at low cost. Journalists were given free memberships in the early days, leading to many articles about it and helping it grow to thousands of members around the world.
Robert Morris´ worm flooded the ARPANET. Then-23-year-old Morris, the son of a computer security expert for the National Security Agency, sent a nondestructive worm through the Internet, causing problems for about 6,000 of the 60,000 hosts linked to the network. A researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California discovered the worm. "It was like the Sorcerer´s Apprentice," Dennis Maxwell, then a vice president of SRI, told the Sydney (Australia) Sunday Telegraph at the time. Morris was sentenced to three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, and a fine of $10,050.
Morris, who said he was motivated by boredom, programmed the worm to reproduce itself and computer files and to filter through all the networked computers. The size of the reproduced files eventually became large enough to fill the computers´ memories, disabling them.
Berners-Lee proposal
The World Wide Web was born when Tim Berners-Lee, a researcher at CERN, the high-energy physics laboratory in Geneva, developed HyperText Markup Language. HTML, as it is commonly known, allowed the Internet to expand into the World Wide Web, using specifications he developed such as URL (Uniform Resource Locator) and HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). A browser, such as Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer, follows links and sends a query to a server, allowing a user to view a site.

Berners-Lee based the World Wide Web on Enquire, a hypertext system he had developed for himself, with the aim of allowing people to work together by combining their knowledge in a global web of hypertext documents. With this idea in mind, Berners-Lee designed the first World Wide Web server and browser — available to the general public in 1991. Berners-Lee founded the W3 Consortium, which coordinates World Wide Web development.
Screen Capture from Original Mosaic Browser
The Mosaic web browser is released. Mosaic was the first commercial software that allowed graphical access to content on the internet. Designed by Eric Bina and Marc Andreessen at the University of Illinois’s National Center for Supercomputer Applications, Mosaic was originally designed for a Unix system running X-windows. By 1994, Mosaic was available for several other operating systems such as the Mac OS, Windows and AmigaOS.


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