Timeline of Computer History


Angry Birds screenshot

Angry Birds becomes top-selling mobile game

As touchscreen-enabled tablets and smartphones proliferate, mobile games became top-sellers. In Angry Birds, players slingshot wingless birds of various kinds towards towers inhabited by green pigs in an effort to knock them to the ground. Selling for just 99 cents from an online store, Angry Birds and its sequels have had more than two billion downloads.


Introduction of the iPhone 4 with retina display

Apple Retina Display

Since the release of the Macintosh in 1984, Apple has placed emphasis on high-resolution graphics and display technologies. In 2012, Apple introduced the Retina display for the MacBook Pro laptop and iPad tablet. With a screen resolution of up to 400 pixels-per-inch (PPI), Retina displays approached the limit of pixel visibility to the human eye. The display also used In Plane Switching (IPS) technology, which allowed for a wider viewing angle and improved color accuracy. The Retina display became standard on most of the iPad, iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch product lines.


Tianhe-1A Supercomputer

China's Tianhe supercomputers are operational

With a peak speed of over a petaflop (one thousand trillion calculations per second), the Tianhe 1 (translation: Milky Way 1) is developed by the Chinese National University of Defense Technology using Intel Xeon processors combined with AMD graphic processing units (GPUs). The upgraded and faster Tianhe-1A used Intel Xeon CPUs as well, but switched to nVidia's Tesla GPUs and added more than 2,000 Fei-Tang (SPARC-based) processors. The machines were used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to run massive solar energy simulations, as well as some of the most complex molecular studies ever undertaken.


From Darkness, Light by Emily Howell

First Emily Howell album released

In the 1980s, David Cope, a music professor at University of California, Santa Cruz, begins to to develop a music composition program called Emily Howell. Based on his earlier Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI), Emily Howell was designed to incorporate feedback from listeners to influence its compositions. Emily Howell's first album, From Darkness, Light, featured works composed by the program and played by Cope and Erika Arul, though many in the music community still consider Cope the composer for having created the program.


(L to R) Alex Trebek, Ken Jennings, IBM’s Watson, and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy!

IBM’s Watson defeats Jeopardy! contestants

In 2010, IBM’s Watson spars against former Jeopardy! Tournament of Champion contestants and finishes with a 71% winning percentage. This was preparation for a 2011 matchup where Watson would defeat two former human Jeopardy! champions. In the televised exhibition match, Watson handily defeated two of the all-time best Jeopardy! players, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, by analyzing natural language questions and content more accurately and faster than its human counterparts.


Natanz uranium enrichment facility, Iran

Reports of the Stuxnet virus surface

The Stuxnet virus is widely reported in the media due to attacks centered in Iran. The virus attempted to damage uranium enrichment centrifuges used in Iran’s nuclear development program by causing damaging speed variations. Although it was recognized that some centrifuges were rendered inoperable by the virus, the full extent of the damage remained unknown. Stuxnet brought attention to the fragile nature of global infrastructure in a networked world.


Steve Jobs introducing the iPad

The Apple iPad is released

The iPad combines many of the popular capabilities of the iPhone, such as built-in high-definition camera, access to the iTunes Store, and audio-video capabilities, but with a nine-inch screen and without the phone. Apps, games, and accessories helped spur the popularity of the iPad and led to its adoption in thousands of different applications from movie making, creating art, making music, inventory control and point-of-sale systems, to name but a few.