Timeline of Computer History


American Museum of Natural History (Brooklyn) rendered in Minecraft

Minecraft is introduced

Initially developed by Swedish game designer Markus “Notch” Persson, Minecraft allows players to build towers and play challenges. The game, which could be played in either survival or creative mode, has received many awards from the international gaming press. An enormous variety of physical systems and machines can also be built in the Minecraft environment, taking the game far beyond its intended use as a simple entertainment platform into a flexible and creative building system for modeling real-world processes or things. Users have built entire computers, cities, and even planets out of Minecraft components.


Plants vs. Zombies screenshot

Plants vs. Zombies is released

Initially conceived as a game that would walk the line between gritty and sickeningly cute, programmer George Fan develops Plants vs. Zombies for PopCap Games. Influenced by 'tower defense games' where players attempt to repel attackers, Plants vs. Zombies gave players a chance to turn back an invasion of the Undead using cartoon household plants. The game was ported to many different systems, including the iPad, Steam, and PlayStation 3.


Bitcoin retailer logo


In 2008, “Satoshi Nakamoto,” likely a pseudonym, publishes Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, describing the use of peer-to-peer networks to generate a “crypto-currency.” In the Bitcoin system, users run software that searches for blocks of data, the discovery of which reward the users with Bitcoins. The transaction is recorded on the system though user information is private. These can then be used online much like cash in the real world. Nakamoto 'mines' the first Bitcoins in January 2009 and a year later a user used them to order two pizzas. Bitcoins’ value exploded in November 2013 before a gradual devaluation. Bitcoin's anonymous nature, along with the electronic nature of the currency, has led to its adoption by some criminal organizations.


Typical cloud-based NAS storage array

Cloud-based network-attached storage solutions

Vendors announce cloud-based network-attached storage solutions for online backup. They were designed for small and medium sized businesses in addition to general consumers. With these services, servers could automatically back up data to remote servers. They were designed for data protection, and along with backup capability it also provided a data recovery solution.


Computer-enhanced image of IBM’s Roadrunner

IBM's Roadrunner supercomputer is completed

The Roadrunner is the first computer to reach a sustained performance of 1 petaflop (one thousand trillion floating point operations per second). It used two different microprocessors: an IBM POWER XCell L8i and AMD Opteron. It was used to model the decay of the US nuclear arsenal, analyze financial data, and render 3D medical images in real-time. An offshoot of the POWER XCell8i chip was used as the main processor in the Sony PlayStation 3 game console.


Jaguar Supercomputer at Oak Ridge upgraded

Originally a Cray XT3 system, the Jaguar is a massively parallel supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a US science and energy research facility. The system cost more than $100 million to create and ran a variation of the Linux operating system with up to 10 petabytes of storage. The Jaguar was used to study climate science, seismology, and astrophysics applications. It was the fastest computer in the world from November 2009 to June 2010.


App Store

The Mobile Web hits the Mass Market

By the late 2000s, 3G networks for higher speed mobile data had been spreading fast. The iPhone’s phenomenal popularity creates a new computing platform that brings mobile Web browsing to a large audience. Google’s Android mobile platform soon makes that audience even larger. The App store model used by the iPhone and then Android is based on Apple’s earlier success with iTunes. But because proprietary apps run directly over the Internet, they are not part of the public Web – and present a risk of fragementing it as a standard.