Timeline of Computer History
 

1979  
Components
Motorola 68000
The Motorola 68000 microprocessor exhibited a processing speed far greater than its contemporaries. This high performance processor found its place in powerful work stations intended for graphics-intensive programs common in engineering.
Introduction to VLSI Systems
California Institute of Technology professor Carver Mead and Xerox Corp. computer scientist Lynn Conway wrote a manual of chip design, "Introduction to VLSI Systems." Demystifying the planning of very large scale integrated (VLSI) systems, the text expanded the ranks of engineers capable of creating such chips. The authors had observed that computer architects seldom participated in the specification of the standard integrated circuits with which they worked. The authors intended "Introduction to VLSI Systems" to fill a gap in the literature and introduce all electrical engineering and computer science students to integrated system architecture.
Computers
Advertisment for Atari 400 and 800 computers
Atari introduces the Model 400 and 800 Computer. Shortly after delivery of the Atari VCS game console, Atari designed two microcomputers with game capabilities: the Model 400 and Model 800. The two machines were built with the idea that the 400 would serve primarily as a game console while the 800 would be more of a home computer. Both sold well, though they had technical and marketing problems, and faced strong competition from the Apple II, Commodore PET, and TRS-80 computers.
Networking
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.
Robots & Artificial Intelligence
Stanford Cart
In development since 1967, the Stanford Cart successfully crossed a chair-filled room without human intervention in 1979. Hans Moravec rebuilt the Stanford Cart in 1977, equipping it with stereo vision. A television camera, mounted on a rail on the top of the cart, took pictures from several different angles and relayed them to a computer. The computer gauged the distance between the cart and obstacles in its path.
Software & Languages
Bob Frankston and Dan Brinklin
Harvard MBA candidate Daniel Bricklin and programmer Robert Frankston developed VisiCalc, the program that made a business machine of the personal computer, for the Apple II. VisiCalc (for Visible Calculator) automated the recalculation of spreadsheets. A huge success, more than 100,000 copies sold in one year.

 


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