Timeline of Computer History


Portal box cover

Portal is introduced

Featuring complicated puzzles, a science fiction setting, and a passive-aggressive robot named GlaDOS, Portal is designed by Valve Entertainment. Players control Chell, who used an Aperture Handheld Portal Device to solve puzzles set forth by GlaDOS, who promised a non-existent cake when they are all completed. Portal spawned a highly anticipated sequel, as well as a fan base that created real world interpretations of many of the devices shown in the game.


Checkers Championship where Chinook checkers program faced human competitors at The Computer Museum, Boston

Checkers is Solved

An article is published titled Checkers is Solved in a September issue of the journal Science. The article stated, “Perfect play by both sides leads to a draw.” The team that conducted the research was led by Professor Jonathan Schaeffer at the University of Alberta who had been working to solve the checkers problem since 1989. In the course of their work the team created a checkers program called “CHINOOK”, which played successfully in several man-machine competitions, including one held at The Computer Museum in Boston in 1994.


Typical server farm


Dropbox is founded by Arash Ferdowsi and Drew Houston. Dropbox was designed as a cloud-based service used for convenient storage and access to files. Users could upload files via the web to Dropbox’s vast server farms, and could instantly access them on any of their devices or computers that had the Dropbox client installed. The service also included sharing functionalities which allowed access to folders by multiple users. Dropbox’s “freemium” business model allowed limited, basic file management for free, but for users requiring higher bandwidth, a fee was charged.


Deskstar 1TB HDD

First 1 TB hard disk drive (HDD)

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies announces the first 1 TB hard disk drive (HDD). The Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 used five 3.5-inch 200 GB platters and rotated at 7,200 RPM. By comparison, the world's first HDD, the IBM RAMAC 350, had a storage capacity that was approximately 3.75 MB. As such, the Deskstar had a greater storage capacity by a factor of 300,000 and was thousands of times smaller.


Hulu logo

Hulu is founded

Founded out of a rare act of cooperation between US media giants Disney-ABC Television Group, Fox Broadcasting and NBC Universal, Hulu allows users to watch streaming video content on-demand. Though only available in the US, Hulu also brought series from around the world to the service, as well as producing original content.


Oak Ridge National Laboratory Titan supercomputer that uses Cuda GPUs

Nvidia releases Cuda GPU

Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) have become an important part of multimedia computing and graphics processing. Computer Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) was a concept that allowed for GPUs to do some of the functions usually reserved for the Central Processing Unit (CPU), allowing devices and software to take advantage of the multi-threaded processing techniques and scalability of GPUs. While many saw wide applications in the games industry, uses in many scientific disciplines such as in computational biology and cryptography were also significant.


Scratch screenshot

Scratch is publicly released

Scratch is released to the public. A free programming language that focused on education, it was designed by a team led by Mitchel Resnick at the MIT Media Lab Lifelong Kindergarten Group. Intended to be used by educators, students and parents as a teaching language, it had a number of applications in educational settings. These included math, computer science, language arts and social studies. Its interface allowed novice users to stack and organize block commands to write programs. Scratch has millions of users worldwide and is available in more than 40 languages.


Amazon Kindle

The Amazon Kindle is released

Many companies have attempted to release electronic reading systems dating back to the early 1990s. Online retailer Amazon released the Kindle, one of the first to gain a large following among consumers. The first Kindle featured wireless access to content via Amazon.com, along with an SD card slot allowing increased storage. The first release proved so popular there was a long delay in delivering systems on release. Follow-on versions of the Kindle added further audio-video capabilities.


Apple iPhone

The Apple iPhone is released

Apple launches the iPhone - a combination of web browser, music player and cell phone - which could download new functionality in the form of "apps" (applications) from the online Apple store. The touchscreen enabled smartphone also had built-in GPS navigation, high-definition camera, texting, calendar, voice dictation, and weather reports.