Timeline of Computer History


The cast of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley TV series

As technology has become a greater part of everyday life, film and television producers have begun to create content focusing on tech workers and start-up business culture. Cable network HBO launched Silicon Valley, a series that details the lives of a group of friends living in a startup incubator as they develop a music app called Pied Piper while competing with a multinational corporation called Hooli. The series received wide acclaim from critics, and has been broadcast in several other countries.


Apple Pay on the iPhone and Apple Watch

Apple Pay is Released

The Apple Pay mobile payment system is introduced into Apple’s product ecosystem. Initially only available for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iWatch, iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 3, many major banks and credit card companies participated in the Apple Pay system. The device’s near field communications (NFC) interface, Passbook app, and Apple’s Touch ID system worked in tandem with point-of-sale systems in retail outlets to complete transactions. Apple Pay could also be used for online purchases.


Zoe Quinn, 2014


In August of 2014, Eron Gjoni creates a blog post dealing with his break-up with game designer Zoe Quinn. The post accused Quinn of inappropriate relations with a game journalist, setting off a major controversy on sites such as 4Chan and Twitter. Several prominent women in gaming, such as academic Anita Sarkeesian and designer Brianna Wu, began receiving death threats on social media, while others experienced various forms of abuse, including releasing personal information online, or “doxxing.” The two sides of the controversy were divided as to the focus of Gamergate; some saw it as a misogynistic response to increased participation of women in gaming, while others believe that it is actually about ethics in game journalism.


HTML 5 logo

HTML 5 is Announced

HTML 5 is announced as the successor to HTML 4, which had become the standard for web markup languages in 1997. Markup languages describe how web pages will look and function. Work on HTML 5 had begun in 2004 under the auspices of the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group. It was simplified compared to its predecessors and was intended to be human-readable. HLTML 5 also offered a number of improvements for multimedia, such as simplifying the embedding of content such as streaming video and games into web pages.


Heartbleed Bug logo

Heartbleed Bug Discovered

The Heartbleed bug is uncovered as a dangerous security flaw in the code base of the OpenSSL cryptographic software library. OpenSSL protected a significant portion of the world’s web servers, and nearly 20% of them were found to be vulnerable to attack from this particular security bug, which allowed hackers to eavesdrop on the communications of unsuspecting victims and steal sensitive information such as user names and passwords, emails, instant messages, and even confidential files and documents. Although it was a dangerous and widespread bug, installation of the “Fixed OpenSSL” library by service providers and users greatly reduced its effectiveness.


Poster for the offending film, 2014

Sony Hack

In December 2014, media conglomerate Sony suffers one of the largest hacks in corporate history, with hackers claiming to have accessed more than a hundred terabytes of confidential information. Referring to themselves as the Guardians of Peace, hackers also accessed emails from top executives, possibly as a form of retaliation for the pending release of the anti-North Korean comedy The Interview. While most believe the Guardians of Peace are affiliated with the North Korean government, some believe disgruntled former Sony employees are to blame. In March 2015 thousands of the Sony emails were released on the site Wikileaks.


Micro Mote

University of Michigan Micro Mote is Completed

The University of Michigan Micro Mote is the smallest computer in the world. The motes, measuring just over 1 cubic millimeter, were powered by a tiny battery and could collect sunlight through a photocell, enough to supply the tiny amount of energy a mote consumes -- about one trillionth of a watt. Three types of mote were initially introduced: two that measure temperature or pressure, and one that could take images. Since then, motes that recognize different sounds, measure light, track position, and record brain activity have been developed.

Motes are also known as "smart dust," since their tiny size and low cost make them inexpensive enough to "sprinkle" in the real world as sensors. An ecologist, for example, could sprinkle thousands of motes from the air onto a field and measure soil and air temperature, moisture, and sunlight, yielding accurate real-time data about the environment.