Timeline of Computer History
 

1989  
Components
Intel 80486
Intel released the 80486 microprocessor and the i860 RISC/coprocessor chip, each of which contained more than 1 million transistors. The RISC microprocessor had a 32-bit integer arithmetic and logic unit (the part of the CPU that performs operations such as addition and subtraction), a 64-bit floating-point unit, and a clock rate of 33 MHz.

The 486 chips remained similar in structure to their predecessors, the 386 chips. What set the 486 apart was its optimized instruction set, with an on-chip unified instruction and data cache and an optional on-chip floating-point unit. Combined with an enhanced bus interface unit, the microprocessor doubled the performance of the 386 without increasing the clock rate.
Motorola 68040
Motorola announced the 68040 microprocessor, with about 1.2 million transistors. Due to technical difficulties, it didn´t ship until 1991, although promised in January 1990. A 32-bit, 25-MHz microprocessor, the 68040 integrated a floating-point unit and included instruction and data caches. Apple used the third generation of 68000 chips in Macintosh Quadra computers.
Graphics & Games
   The concept of virtual reality made a statement as the hot topic at Siggraph´s 1989 convention in Boston. The Silicon Graphics booth featured the new technology, designed by the computer-aided design software company Autodesk and the computer company VPL. The term describes a computer-generated 3-D environment that allows a user to interact with the realities created there. The computer must calculate and display sensory information quickly enough to fool the senses.

Howard Rheingold described, "shared and objectively present like the physical world, composable like a work of art, and as unlimited and harmless as a dream." First practical for accomplishing such tasks as flight simulation, virtual reality soon spread much further, promising new ground in video games, education, and travel. Computer users are placed into the virtual environment in a variety of ways, from a large monitor to a head-mounted display or a glove.
Software & Languages
Box Art for SimCity
Maxis released SimCity, a video game that helped launch of series of simulators. Maxis cofounder Will Wright built on his childhood interest in plastic models of ships and airplanes, eventually starting up a company with Jeff Braun and designing a computer program that allowed the user to create his own city. A number of other Sims followed in the series, including SimEarth, SimAnt, and SimLife.

In SimCity, a player starts with an untouched earth. As the mayor of a city or city planner, he creates a landscape and then constructs buildings, roads, and waterways. As the city grows, the mayor must provide basic services like health care and education, as well as making decisions about where to direct money and how to build a revenue base. Challenges come in the form of natural disasters, airplane crashes, and monster attacks.

 


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