Timeline of Computer History
 

1956  
Companies
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.
Computers
MIT TX0
MIT researchers built the TX-0, the first general-purpose, programmable computer built with transistors. For easy replacement, designers placed each transistor circuit inside a "bottle," similar to a vacuum tube. Constructed at MIT´s Lincoln Laboratory, the TX-0 moved to the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics, where it hosted some early imaginative tests of programming, including a Western movie shown on TV, 3-D tic-tac-toe, and a maze in which mouse found martinis and became increasingly inebriated.
Software & Languages
   In the mid-fifties resources for scientific and engineering computing were in short supply and were very precious. The first operating system for the IBM 704 reflected the cooperation of Bob Patrick of General Motors Research and Owen Mock of North American Aviation. Called the GM-NAA I/O System, it provided batch processing and increased the number of completed jobs per shift with no increase in cost. Some version of the system was used in about forty 704 installations.
MIT Whirlwind
At MIT, researchers began experimentation on direct keyboard input on computers, a precursor to today´s normal mode of operation. Doug Ross wrote a memo advocating direct access in February; five months later, the Whirlwind aided in such an experiment.
Storage
IBM's Rey Johnson in front of RAMAC 350 Disk File
The era of magnetic disk storage dawned with IBM´s shipment of a 305 RAMAC to Zellerbach Paper in San Francisco. The IBM 350 disk file served as the storage component for the Random Access Method of Accounting and Control. It consisted of 50 magnetically coated metal platters with 5 million bytes of data. The platters, stacked one on top of the other, rotated with a common drive shaft.

 


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