Timeline of Computer History


A Logic Named Joe is published

Cover from March 1949 Astounding Science Fiction

Under a series of pseudonyms, Will F. Jenkins' science fiction had been regularly appearing since the 1920s. In the March 1946 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, Jenkins publishes A Logic Named Joe, a short story detailing a world where computers, called Logics, were interconnected into a massive, worldwide network. One such Logic begins to malfunction, giving out secret information about disallowed topics. Almost fifty years prior to the invention of the Internet, A Logic Named Joe contains one of the most prescient views of the capabilities of computers in a network.


“First actual case of bug being found”

Grace Hopper speaking at The Computer Museum in Boston

The word 'bug,' when applied to computers, means some form of error or failure. On September 9th, Grace Hopper records what she jokingly called the first actual computer bug - in this case, a moth stuck between relay contacts of the Harvard Mark II computer prior to its eventual installation at the Naval Weapons Laboratory at Dalhgren. VA.

Hopper helped program the Mark II, and the earlier Harvard Mark I computer, while working for professor Howard Aiken. She worked tirelessly on developing these computers to the fullest through inventive programming. After Harvard, she worked for computer manufacturer Remington-Rand where she developed what is often considered the first compiler, A-0. She also served on the committee to develop COBOL, a standard and widely adopted programming language that transformed the way software was developed for business applications. COBOL is still in use today. Hopper was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum in 1987.


IBM switches to electronics

IBM Card Programmed Calculator (CPC), ca. 1949

IBM executive Thomas Watson Jr., speaking to an IBM sales meeting, predicts that all moving parts in IBM machines would be replaced by electronics within a decade. The change to electronics marked a major shift for IBM, which since the 1920s was the world leader in electro-mechanical punched card systems. Initially, “electronics” meant the use of vacuum tubes for circuitry but in the mid-1950s, IBM management instructed all its engineers to make new equipment: “Solid state by ’58,” was the call--which meant using the new technology of transistors in all new IBM computer products.


CSIRAC plays the Colonel Bogey march


Australia's first computer, the CSIRAC, begins operating in 1949. Chief programmer Geoff Hill came from a musical family and as part of preparations for a demonstration of CSIRAC during the first Australian Conference on Automatic Computing Machines, he programmed it to play several songs, including Colonel Bogey, a popular regimental march written at the beginning World War I.


UNIVAC computer predicts election

Cronkite with UNIVAC

On election night, November 4, CBS News borrows a UNIVAC computer to predict the outcome of the race for the US presidency between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. Opinion polls predicted strong support for Stevenson, but the UNIVAC´s analysis of early returns showed a clear victory for Eisenhower. This sharp divergence from public opinion made UNIVAC executives question the validity of the computer´s forecast, so announcers Walter Cronkite and Charles Collingwood postponed announcing UNIVAC´s correct prediction until very late in the broadcast.


Alan Turing is found dead at age 42

Alan Turing

English mathematician Alan Turing is found dead in his bed with a cyanide-laced apple on his night stand. Turing had published a seminal paper, On Computable Numbers, in 1936 in which he theorized about the nature of human and machine intelligence. During World War II, Turing applied his mathematical genius to codebreaking efforts, including solving the riddle of the German ENIGMA encryption machine.


First meeting of IBM users group SHARE

IBM logo, ca. 1956

In the early days of commercial computers in the early to mid-1950s, IBM’s support for its customers is felt by many to be insufficient. The SHARE group was a means to exchange technical details about IBM computers among its users, in part to fill this perceived gap. SHARE was particularly known for its boisterous meetings and close cooperation among competitors seeking to deploy computers in their companies.


Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Isaacson complete the Illiac Suite

Computer Music featuring the Illiac Suite

Created using the Illiac I computer at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the Illiac Suite is one of the earliest pieces of music composed using an electronic computer. The piece consisted of four musical “experiments” for string quartet, each comprised of two parts. Hiller founded the Experimental Music Center at the University of Illinois in 1958.


Max Mathews and Joan Miller use MUSIC IV to create Daisy Bell

Max Mathews at Bell Labs

Throughout the 1950s and early '60s, Bell Labs was one of the centers for computer research in graphics and music. Bell Labs had developed a speech synthesis system for their IBM 704 mainframe computer. John Kelly and Carol Lochbaum programmed the vocals, while Max Mathews programmed the accompaniment. One of the attendees at the first demonstration was author Arthur C. Clarke, who recommended it to director Stanley Kubrick for his film version of the book 2001: A Space Odyssey.


IBM Pavilion at New York World's Fair

IBM Pavillion, 1964 World’s Fair

The New York World's Fair of 1964 features demonstrations from governments and companies from around the world. IBM hired architect Eero Saarinen to design a major pavilion, featuring the Information Machine, an attraction and film designed by noted filmmakers Charles and Ray Eames. The pavilion featured demonstrations of IBM products such as the newly released IBM Selectric typewriter, machine translation and the IBM 1460, which demonstrated handwriting recognition and on-line information retrieval.

Project TACT launched

Project TACT team

Computer dating begins in earnest with Project TACT (Technical Automated Compatibility Testing). While students at Harvard had created dating programs, and television shows used computer matching as a gimmick, Project TACT was an ongoing service that initially matched residents of New York's Upper East Side. Accountant Lewis Altfest, inspired by a visit to the Parker Pen Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair, brought in programmer Robert Ross to help design a system to match singles. Participants would fill out a questionnaire. The answers were then transferred to punched cards and fed into an IBM 1401 computer. After processing, each participant would receive 5 punched cards – blue to indicate male matches, pink for female matches. Though the business received a large amount of early media coverage, and expanded to all of New York, Project TACT lasted only a couple of years, ceasing operations when its founders lost interest.


Alphaville released

Still from Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville

A leading light in the La Nouvelle Vague (The New Wave) of French cinema, director Jean-Luc Godard tackles science fiction in his gritty detective story Alphaville. Set in a technocratic dystopia, Alphaville featured secret agent Lemmy Caution (played by Eddie Constantine) as he investigates the situation surrounding Professor von Braun, creator of the Alpha 60 computer. This computer, which has gained sentience, controls Alphaville, and Caution must battle it using his two most dangerous weapons – his handgun and poetry! Alphaville served as an inspiration for the formation of the Cyberpunk genre.


Star Trek debuts with multiple computation devices

Star Trek title screen

One of the most popular television series of all-time, Star Trek tells of the journeys of the starship Enterprise and its 5-year mission of exploration. Star Trek speculated on technologies such as voice-recognition, handheld computing and communications, human computer interaction, and machine-supported medical diagnosis. The technologies displayed influenced generations of filmmakers, writers, and especially technologists--some of whom are still working today to create technologies featured on the show.


2001: A Space Odyssey released

2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick

Based on the short story The Sentinel by author Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey tells the story of the HAL 9000 computer as it malfunctions during the Discovery One spaceship's trip to Jupiter to investigate a mysterious signal. The HAL 9000 computer (Heuristically programmed ALgorithm computer 9000), which controlled all aspects of ship operations, killed the crew being transported in stasis, and was finally shut-down by the only surviving crew member. The presentation of HAL demonstrated advanced technologies including speech synthesis, voice and visual recognition, human-computer interaction, and even computer chess.


Honeywell vs. Sperry Rand trial begins

Honeywell, Inc. vs. Sperry Rand court document

In 1964, Sperry Rand Corporation received a patent, initially filed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, for the ENIAC computer developed during World War II. Sperry Rand sued Honeywell on claims of patent infringement, while Honeywell filed a suit charging Sperry Rand with monopolistic practices and fraud, seeking to invalidate the patent. Judge John Sirica ruled that Sperry Rand's patent was unenforceable, partly due to problems with the filing by Eckert and Mauchly, as well as previous publications such as John von Neumann's First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC. Perhaps the most significant finding was that “Eckert and Mauchly did not themselves invent the automatic electronic computer, but instead derived that subject matter from one Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff.” The ruling placed the idea for the electronic digital computer in the public domain so that any company could pursue computer design and manufacture without having to pay royalties for the basic idea of the computer.


Dean Koontz publishes Demon Seed

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

Author Dean Koontz's Demon Seed is one of the most influential computer horror stories ever written. It told the story of the computer Proteus and its dangerous obsession with Susan, a wealthy recluse. Proteus imprisoned Susan in her home after taking over her home control system, and attempted to impregnate her. A best seller, Demon Seed was adapted as a film in 1977 by Donald Cammell and starred Julie Christie.


First computers installed in the White House

Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office

While the US government had funded many computing projects dating back to the 1940s, it wasn't until the Carter administration that a computer is actually installed in the White House. Staffers were given terminals to access a shared Hewlett-Packard HP3000 computer, and the technology department acquired a Xerox Alto for the Oval Office. Later, an IBM laser printer was installed, though President Reagan had the Alto removed from the Oval Office when he was elected.


TIME announces “Machine of the Year”

1982 TIME "Machine of the Year" cover

TIME magazine alters its annual tradition of naming a "Man of the Year," choosing instead to name the personal computer its "Machine of the Year." In introducing the theme, TIME publisher John A. Meyers wrote, "Several human candidates might have represented 1982, but none symbolized the past year more richly, or will be viewed by history as more significant, than a machine: the computer." His magazine, he explained, has chronicled the change in public opinion with regard to computers. A senior writer contributed: "computers were once regarded as distant, ominous abstractions, like Big Brother. In 1982, they truly became personalized, brought down to scale, so that people could hold, prod and play with them." At TIME, the main writer on the project completed his work on a typewriter, but Meyers noted that the magazine's newsroom would upgrade to word processors within a year.

Movie Tron released

Scene from Tron

The use of computer-generated graphics in movies takes a big step forward with Disney´s release of Tron. One of the first movies to use such graphics, the plot of Tron itself also featured computers - it followed the adventures of a hacker translated into data and transported inside a computer. Although it had modest success at the box-office, Tron nonetheless has become a cult classic.


MIDI and The Age of Intelligent Machines

Single rack MIDI setup

The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is introduced at the first North American Music Manufacturers (NAMM) show in Los Angeles. MIDI is an industry-standard electronic interface that links computers with electronic musical instruments.

Raymond Kurzweil, a pioneer in developing electronic keyboards, predicts MIDI and other advances will make traditional musical instruments obsolete in the future. In the 21st century, he writes in his book, The Age of Intelligent Machines, “There will still be acoustic instruments around, but they will be primarily of historical interest, much like harpsichords are today…. While the historically desirable sounds of pianos and violins will continue to be used, most music will use sounds with no direct acoustic counterpart… There will not be a sharp division between the musician and non-musician.”


Apple 1984 commercial debuts

Apple Macintosh 1984 commercial

Apple’s “1984” commercial is aired during Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984. Earlier that month, Apple's Macintosh computer was already the most anticipated personal computer release ever. As a part of the rollout, Apple commissioned director Ridley Scott to direct a one-minute commercial for the Mac. The commercial, which cost at least three hundred thousand dollars, was based partly on George Orwell's novel 1984, with the role of Big Brother being filled by a man dictating to the masses from a giant screen, only to have a hammer-wielding woman run up and destroy the screen, freeing the people. The “Big Brother” motif was a veiled reference to IBM, Apple’s main competitor. The commercial, shown only once, is considered a major turning point in the marketing of computers.

Term ‘cyberspace’ coined

Neuromancer by William Gibson

In his novel Neuromancer, William Gibson coins the term "cyberspace." Gibson also spawned a genre of fiction known as "cyberpunk" in his book, which described a dark, complex future filled with intelligent machines, computer viruses, and paranoia.

Gibson introduced cyberspace as: "A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding..."


MIT Media Lab founded

Nicholas Negroponte

Professor Nicholas Negroponte and former MIT President Jerome Wiesner, a former science advisor to President John F. Kennedy, founds the MIT Media Lab in 1980. The Media Lab opened in an I.M. Pei-designed building, initially focusing on the 'Digital Revolution' in areas as wide-ranging as electronic music, machine learning, holography, computer graphics, and art. Work at the lab has led to hundreds of patents and many spin-off companies.


Tin Toy wins Oscar

Still from Pixar's Tin Toy

Pixar´s Tin Toy becomes the first computer-animated film to win an Academy Award, taking the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. In it, a wind-up toy first encountered a boisterous baby and then deals with the consequences. To illustrate the baby´s facial expressions, programmers defined more than 40 facial muscles on the computer controlled by the animator.

Founded in 1986, one of Pixar´s primary projects involved a rendering program called Renderman, which became a universal standard for describing 3D scenes. Renderman describes objects, light sources, cameras, and atmospheric effects such as fog or clouds. Pixar continued producing movies, including 1995´s Toy Story, the first full-length feature film created entirely by computer animation.


William Gibson and Bruce Sterling publish The Difference Engine

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

William Gibson and Bruce Sterling are known as two of the leading lights in developing Cyberpunk literature in the 1980s. In 1990, the pair collaborate on what many consider to be the first blockbuster "Steampunk" novel. Imagining a word where Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine was built and the pace of technology greatly accelerated, The Difference Engine featured many historical characters, such as Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace, and John Keats, placed in an alternate history where rival factions competed to capture a stack of secret punched cards containing an important program.


Michael Jackson's Black or White video premieres

Morphing sequence from Black or White

Michael Jackson's album Dangerous spawns several number one hits and classic music videos. The first video from Dangerous, Black or White, was directed by legendary film and video director John Landis. The video, including actors Macaulay Culkin and George Wendt, featured an extended sequence of morphing, a technique then only rarely used in big budget films. Pacific Data Images created the morphing segment, which included supermodel Tyra Banks. The video debuted in more than twenty countries simultaneously before an estimated five hundred million viewers, making it one of the most viewed movies with computer graphics up to that point in time.


Jurassic Park released

Jurassic Park movie poster

Director Steven Spielberg's story of resurrected dinosaurs, Jurassic Park, becomes the highest-grossing film to date. Based on a novel by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park told the story of a group of visitors to an island where dinosaurs are unleashed to run amok in an uncompleted amusement park. To create realistic-looking dinosaurs, Spielberg's team combined animatronics, puppetry, and cutting-edge computer animation.

Wired Magazine debuts

Debut issue of Wired

Considered by some to be "the Rolling Stone of Technology," Wired magazine is founded by Jane Metcalfe and Louis Rossette. Wired grew out of publications like The Whole Earth Catalog, and featured a cutting edge design philosophy when it first appeared in January of 1993. Articles from many of the top names in technology, politics, entertainment, and literature often dealt with computer and network innovations and their cultural impact. Wired is frequently credited with popularizing terms such as ‘The Long Tail' and 'crowdsourcing'.


Computer-animated Homer Simpson appears on The Simpsons

Homer Simpson in Homer 3D

As a part of the annual Treehouse of Horror Halloween episode, Homer Simpson appeared in 3D animated form during a segment called Homer3.Created by graphics pioneers Pacific Data Images, the segment featured Homer walking through a strange reality plane populated with many computer graphics in-jokes, including a Utah Teapot. Homer is finally spit out of the dimension and walks the streets of the real world: in this case Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, California. The segment was well regarded, winning the Grand Prize at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, as well as a nomination for a Prime Time Emmy Award.


Diary of a Camper machinima created

Still from Diary of a Camper

The use of computer game engines to create short films goes back to the 1980s Demoscene culture built around computers like the Commodore 64. As visual technology improved, many would-be filmmakers began to experiment with using game engines like Quake to make short films called machinima (Machine Cinema). While many other films had been created mostly to document gameplay, Diary of a Camper told a short story with a comedic punch line. Diary of a Camper was posted to newsgroups and other sites and is one of the best-known machinima pieces ever created.


IBM’s Deep Blue defeats world chess champion Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov contemplating move against Deep Blue

Creating a world champion level chess program had been a goal of artificial intelligence researchers since the 1950s. In the second meeting between world champion Garry Kasparov and IBM's Deep Blue chess supercomputer, a machine beats a standing world champion in a regular timed series. In losing two games to one, with three draws, Kasparov saw "superior intelligence" in Deep Blue's play, leading to accusations of human interference. IBM retired Deep Blue following the match and a portion of the system is now on display at the Computer History Museum.


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act becomes law

Copyright symbol

The advent of the Internet led to an increase in copying and sharing of digital content including music, video, and software, often in direct violation of copyright law. To combat this, the US Congress passes the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or DMCA), which stiffened the punishment for violating copyright on the Internet. It also made illegal the creation of programs to circumvent copy protection. The DMCA has become an influential law worldwide, influencing similar legislation around the world.


The Matrix released

The Matrix movie poster

Telling the story of Neo, a programmer who becomes a cyberspace messiah, The Matrix combines a cyberpunk setting, dystopian philosophy, and hyper-fast cinematic action. The Matrix also featured cutting edge computer-generated visual effects, and popularized 'bullet-time' - a multi-camera technique where the camera appears to move at normal speed while the action filmed appears slowed. The Matrix was added to the U.S. National Film Registry in 2012.


First Apple stores open

Opening of first Apple Store in Tysons Corner Center

Apple's first retail outlets, one in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and the same day in Glendale, California, open for business. The Apple Store was an innovative shopping experience, with each store built around a common design philosophy, and eventually doing away with the traditional cash register. The Apple Store not only offered Apple's products, but also software, accessories, and classes on how to use Apple software. The Genius Bar, where customers can obtain support for their Apple products, has also become a major part of each store.

Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence released worldwide

A.I. Artificial Intelligence movie poster

Conceived of by legendary director Stanley Kubrick, but directed by Steven Spielberg after Kubrick’s death, A.I. tells the story of David, a humanoid robot that can feel and express emotion. David is purchased by a family whose son Martin is in cryo-stasis until a cure is found for the disease he is afflicted with. David’s “mother,” Monica, reluctantly imprints herself upon him, and he starts to act like a genuine child. When Martin is revived, a series of events leads to David’s abandonment by his family. On his own in a new world, David searches for happiness in a quest to be a real boy.


MySpace founded

MySpace.com original logo

While neither the first, nor the largest, social network, MySpace is one of the most important and helped define the second wave of social networking. Two eUniverse employees, Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, developed MySpace based around the features of the earlier social networking site, Friendster, and adding features such as file storage and games. By 2005, MySpace had become a major social networking site, eventually acquiring more than 100 million users. Increased competition, and the near-meteoric rise of Facebook, led to MySpace losing market share and value, though many entertainment personalities, and especially musicians, continue to use the platform as their primary web presence.


Hacker group Anonymous forms

Anonymous members protesting Scientology

Forming out of interactions on the image-sharing website 4chan, Anonymous is a loose association of users, many of whom consider themselves 'hacktivists'. Their activities started as purely digital publicity stunts and protests that included the hacking of websites for groups like the Church of Scientology and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Later targets included many government agencies around the world. In public, many Anonymous affiliates (referred to as Anons) can be identified by their wearing of Guy Fawkes masks.


Verb 'to google' added to dictionaries

Google logo

First used in a private communiqué by Google co-founder Larry Page, 'googling' entered into the lexicon nearly as quickly as the company became the leader in Internet search. One of the earliest uses in popular culture was by the character Xander in the television program Buffy The Vampire Slayer. In 2006, both the Oxford English and Merriam-Webster dictionaries added 'google' as a new verb defined as "to use the Google search engine to seek online information."

WikiLeaks established

Julian Assange, 2006

Founded by a group of journalists and chartered in Iceland, WikiLeaks serves as clearinghouse for secret information, news leaks, and anonymous material. Documents from various governments, as well as private organizations like The Church of Scientology, can be anonymously posted and distributed using WikiLeaks' uploader. The release of more than two hundred thousand U.S. diplomatic cables beginning in 2010 has made WikiLeaks, and its founder Julian Assange, world famous.


Hulu is founded

Hulu logo

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.


WALL-E debuts

WALL-E movie poster

Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures produce the motion picture WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth Class), about a robot left to clean up Earth after humans abandon a littered and dying home planet. After more than 700 years, WALL-E has developed sentience and discovers a seedling, the first sign of new biological life on the planet. Fatefully, another robot arrives on Earth after being sent back to check for renewed signs of life and WALL-E falls in love. Working together, the two robots hold mankind’s fate in their robotic grips. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and the Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation.



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.


First Emily Howell album released

From Darkness, Light by Emily Howell

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.


Arab Spring protests spread by social media

Tunis protest, January 14, 2011

Starting in late 2010 and continuing through 2011, protests in North Africa and the Middle East lead to regime change, and in some cases, free elections for the first time in history. Many of these protests were organized or promoted on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and commentary appearing on popular blogs helped get the news out to the rest of the world while official, government-run media outlets were often silent.

Passing of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs at introduction of the iPad in 2010

Few individuals are as closely tied to the image of their company as co-founder Steve Jobs is to Apple. His vision imbued products during both his tenures at the company. His passing on October 11th, 2011, was met with widespread sadness. Many individuals left flowers and other tributes at Apple stores around the world, and social networks were filled with remembrances from friends and admirers. As many noted at the time, Jobs had transformed six different industries: music, animated movies, personal computers, telephones, tablet computing and digital publishing.


Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, circa 2014

Former CIA employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden copied hundreds of thousands of documents from his workplace covering dozens of confidential US national security programs. Snowden worked with journalists in the US and UK to bring the programs to light. Among the programs Snowden's revelations exposed was PRISM, where the NSA collected data with the assistance of companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, and Google.


Silicon Valley TV series

The cast of Silicon Valley

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.


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.

Sony Hack

Poster for the offending film, 2014

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.


FCC issues Net Neutrality decision

Net neutrality protest sign

Net neutrality, the treatment of all data sent across the internet as equal regardless of user, content, or platform, is one of the founding principles of the internet. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) and other technology companies opposed the idea by claiming it would discourage investment in infrastructure, while consumer advocates and civil rights organizations asserted that net neutrality protects freedom of speech and ensures the widest possible Internet access. The Federal Communications Commission ruled that broadband Internet access was included under the Communications Act of 1934, and therefore ISPs were required to follow FCC guidelines that include net neutrality as a principle.