A Brief Chronology of the
May 1966: Steven
Gray founded the Amateur Computer Society, and began publishing the ACS Newsletter. Some
consider this to be the birth date of personal computing.
1969: Bill Gates
and Paul Allen, calling themselves the "Lakeside Programming Group" sign an agreement with Computer
Center Corporation to report bugs in PDP-10 software, in exchange for
is developed at AT&T's Bell Laboratories.
December 1970: Gilbert Hyatt filed a patent application entitled "Single Chip Integrated Circuit Computer Architecture,"
the first basic patent on the microprocessor.
December 1970: Information Sciences Corporation contacted Bill Gates and Paul Allen, offering
them PDP-10 computer time in exchange for their programming expertise.
November 1971: Intel introduced its 4-bit bus, 108-KHz 4004 chip--the first
microprocessor. Initial price was US$200, and speed was 60,000 operations per second. It used
2300 transistors, based on 10-micron technology (The die for the chip measured 3x4 mm.). It could address 640 bytes. Documentation manuals were
written by Adam Osborne.
Intel announced the first microcomputer, the MCS-4 system, which used the 4004 microprocessor,
4001 ROM chip, 4002 RAM chip and 4003 shift register chip.
Summer 1971: Steve Wozniak and Bill Fernandez built a computer with lights and
switches, from parts rejected by local companies. They called it the Cream Soda Computer.
1971: The National Radio Institute introduced the first computer kit for US$503.
1971: The Kenback
Corporation introduced the Kenback-1 computer, for US$750. It used a 1KB MOS memory made
April 1972: Intel introduced its 200-KHz 8008 chip, the first 8-bit microprocessor,
which accessed 16KB of memory. The processor was originally developed for Computer
Terminal Corporation (later called Datapoint) and used 3500 transistors, based on
10-micron technology. Speed was 60,000 instructions per second.
1972: Gates and Allen formed the Traf-O-Data Company. They had developed
an 8008-based computer hardware/software system for recording automobile traffic flow on a highway.
1973: Gary Kildall
wrote a simple operating system in PL/M language and called it
CP/M (Control Program/Monitor).
April 1974: Intel
released its 2-MHz 8080 chip, an 8-bit microprocessor that could access 64KB of memory. It used
6000 transistors, based on 6-micron technology. Speed was 0.64 MIPS.
1974: Despite being US$300,000 in debt, Ed Roberts was able to borrow an additional
US$65,000 from the bank to complete work on what would become the Altair.
February 1975: Allen met with Roberts to demonstrate the newly written
BASIC interpreter for the Altair. Despite never having touched an Altair before, the
BASIC worked flawlessly.
February 1975: Gates and Allen licensed their newly written BASIC to MITS,
their first customer. This was the first computer language program written for a personal computer.
April 1975: Gates and Allen founded Micro-Soft (the hyphen was later dropped).
February 1976: Gates wrote software routines for BASIC on the Altair to use
diskettes for storage.
February 1976: David Bunnell published an open letter from Gates to the
microcomputer hobbyists, complaining of software piracy.
March 1976: Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs finished work on a computer circuit board,
that they called the Apple I computer.
April1976: Gates wrote a second open letter to computer hobbyists, condemning
April1976: Jobs and Wozniak formed the Apple Computer Company, on
April Fool's Day.
November 1976: The
tradename "Microsoft" was registered.
Peddle designed the Commodore PET.
January 1977: The Apple Computer Company was incorporated.
February 1977: Gates and Allen signed a partnership agreement to officially
create the Microsoft company.
August 1977: Radio Shack (a division of Tandy Corp.) announced the TRS-80
microcomputer, with Z80 CPU, 4KB RAM, 4KB ROM, keyboard, black-and-white video display, and tape cassette
June 1978: Intel
introduced the 4.77-MHz 8086 microprocessor, using 16-bit registers, a16-bit data bus and 29,000
transistors, based on 3-micron technology. Price was US$360. The computer could access 1 MB of memory at a
speed of 0.33 MIPS.
May 1979: Tandy/Radio
Shack announced the TRS-80 Model II.
July 1979: CompuServe
begans a service to computer hobbyists called MicroNET, offering bulletin boards,
databases, and games.
July 1979: Clive
Sinclair created Sinclair Research.
October 1979: Atari began shipping the Atari 400 and Atari 800 personal computers.
The 400 cames with 8KB and sold for US$550, while the 800 solld for US$1000.
Late 1979: Radio
Shack began shipping the TRS-80 Model II to users.
December 1979: Sears began selling Atari home computers.
January 1980: The first issue of Computer Shopper was published.
March 1980: Satellite Software International shipped WordPerfect 1.0 for Data General
April 1980: Commodore's Jack Tramiel announced at a strategy meeting in London,
England, with the intention to build and market a US$300 home computer in the USA.
July 1980: Radio
Shack introduced the TRS-80 Model III with a Zilog Z80 CPU, priced from US$700
August 1980: Radio Shack introduced the TRS-80 Color Computer that used the
Motorola 6809E CPU with 4KB RAM, and selling for US$400.
August 1980: Radio Shack introduced the TRS-80 Pocket Computer which featured a 24
character display with 1.9KB of programmable memory. Price was US$230.
August 1980: IBM asked Gates to write the operating system for their upcoming PC.
October 1980: Gates, Allen and Steve Ballmer met with IBM in Boca Raton,
Florida, to deliver a report to IBM in which they proposed that Microsoft be put in charge of the
entire software development process for IBM's new microcomputer, including converting Seattle Computer Products'
SCP-DOS to run on the computer.
Research shipped the ZX80 in North America, for US$200.
1980: CompuServe merged with H&R Block and renamed MicroNET to CompuServe Information Service.
Commodore Japan introduced
the VIC-1001 (later called the VIC-20 in the USA) at the Seibu Department Store in
Tokyo with 5 KB RAM,and a 22-column color video output capability.
January 1981: Commodore
announced the VIC-20, with full-size 61-key plus four function key keyboard, 5KB
RAM expandable to 32KB, 6502A CPU, 22 character by 23 line text display, and color
graphics, for US$300. During its life, production peaked at 9,000 units per day.
June 1981: Microsoft
reorganized into Microsoft Incorporated, with Gates as President and Chairman,
and Allen as Executive Vice President.
August 1981: IBM announced the IBM 5150 PC Personal Computer, in New York.
The PC featured a 4.77-MHz Intel 8088 CPU, 64KB RAM, 40KB ROM, one 5.25-inch
floppy drive (160KB capacity), and PC-DOS 1.0 (Microsoft's MS-DOS), for about
US$3000. A fully loaded version with color graphics cost US$6000.
October 1981: The ZX81 was introduced to the American market, as the Timex TS1000,
November 1981: Microsoft, Incorporated became Microsoft Corporation.
January 1982: Commodore announced the Commodore 64 microcomputer, showing
a prototype at the Winter CES, featuring a 6510 processor, 64KB RAM, 20KB ROM with Microsoft BASIC, custom
sound, color graphics, for US$600. During 1983, the price dropped to
US$200, and it became the best selling computer of all time, with estimated sales of 17-22
million units. It was the first personal computer with an integrated sound synthesizer chip.
January 1982: Radio Shack introduced the
TRS-80 Model 16, using a 16-bit Motorola MC68000 microprocessor, a Z-80 microprocessor,
8-inch floppy drives, and optional 8-MB hard drive.
September 1982: Commodore Business Machines began shipping the Commodore
64. Suggested retail price was US$595.
December 1982: Apple Computer became the first personal computer company to
reach US$1 billion in annual sales.
January 1983: Commodore Business Machines began selling the Commodore 64
through mass merchants, which dropped the retail price to US$400.
January 1983: Apple Computer officially
unveiled the Lisa (Lisa" stands for Local Integrated Software Architecture) computer that featured a 5-MHz 68000 microprocessor, 1MB RAM,
2MB ROM, a 12-inch B/W monitor, 720x364 graphics, dual 5.25-inch 860KB floppy drives,
and a 5MB Profile hard drive. It was slow, but innovative at an initial price of US$10,000.
The Lisa cost Apple Computer US$50 million to develop, but it was the first personal computer
with a graphical user interface (GUI). The software for the computer cost Apple Computer US$100
million to develop." During its lifetime, 100,000 units were produced.
January 1983: Commodore's sales of VIC-20s
January 1983: Commodore introduced the
SX-64, the first color portable computer. Weight was 10.5 kg, and it incorporated a 5-inch color
monitor and one or two 5.25 inch floppy drive at a price of US$1600.
March 1983: IBM announced the IBM PC XT which added a 10 MB hard drive, three more
expansion slots, and a serial interface with 128KB RAM and a 360KB floppy drive at a cost of US$5000.
Microsoft announced MS-DOS
2.0 for PCs, supporting 10 MB hard drives, a tree-structured
file system and 360 KB floppy disks.
May 1983: Microsoft
introduced its first mouse, "The Microsoft Mouse", including card and software, for US$200.
Microsoft officially released Microsoft Word 1.0, for US$375, or US$475 with the Microsoft
Apple Computer ran its "1984" commercial during the NFL SuperBowl, introducing the
Macintosh computer. Apple Computer ran the ad only once, but dozens of news and talk
shows replayed it, making it one of the most memorable ads in TV history. The ad cost
Commodore announced that
during 1983, Commodore sold US$1 billion worth of computers, the first personal
computer company to do so.
July 1984: Six
months after its introduction, 100,000 Macintosh computers have been sold.
Commodore announced the Amiga 500 that featured a 68000 processor, 512KB RAM, floppy disk drive,
and custom chips for animation, video, and audio.
April 1987: IBM introduced the IBM Personal System/2 (PS/2) line, with IBM's first
386 PC, and 3.5-inch floppy drives as standard. The PS/2 Model 30 used a 8-MHz 8086, the
Model 50 and 60 used the 10-MHz 80286, and the Model 80 used a 20-MHz 80386.
April 1987: Microsoft announced Microsoft
Intel introduced the 20-MHz 80386SX microprocessor with speed at 2.5 MIPS.
Intel announced the 25-MHz 486 microprocessor at Spring Comdex in Chicago, Illinois. The chip
integrated the 386, 387 math coprocessor, and added an 8KB primary cache, while using 1.2 million
transistors, employing 1-micron technology. Initial price was US$900; speed was 20 MIPS.
May 1990: Microsoft
introduced and shipped Microsoft Windows 3.0,having spent $US 3 million for opening-day
marketing, as part of a US$10 million promotional campaign.
IBM introduced the PS/2 Model P75 portable computer, featuring 33-MHz 486, XGA, SCSI, 8
MB RAM, 10-inch gas-plasma VGA screen, 160MB SCSI hard drive, 1.44 MB floppy
drive, mouse port. Weight was 22 pounds, and price was US$15,990. This was the first 486 portable
personal computer with FCC Class B approval.
July 1991: Microsoft
changed the name of OS/2 v3.0 to Windows NT.
April 1992: Microsoft shipped Windows 3.1 with 1 million copies of the new and upgrade
versions sold through retail channels within the first 50 days.
Intel introduced the Pentium processor, using 32-bit registers, with
a 64-bit data bus, giving it an address space of 4 GB. It incorporated 3.1 million
transistors, using 0.8-micron BiCMOS technology, with speeds of 60-MHz (100 MIPS) and
66-MHz (112 MIPS). Prices were US$878 (60-MHz) and US$964 (66-MHZ).
July 1993: Microsoft began shipping Windows NT Workstation 3.1 and Windows NT
Advanced Server 3.1.
October 1993: Microsoft shipped Windows for Workgroups 3.11.
February 1994: Microsoft released Microsoft Windows 3.11, which included minor driver
updates, but more importantly it gave Microsoft the opportunity to include a "certificate
of authenticity" hologram sticker on the packaging, making illegal copying more difficult.
June 1994: Microsoft
was granted a trademark to the name "Windows" for software products.
1994: American Online claimed its one-millionth subscriber.
March 1995: Microsoft shipped Bob for Windows.
May 1995: Power
Computing, the first company to license Apple Computer's PowerMac technology, began shipping
its first PowerMac clones.
August 1995: Microsoft released Windows 95 with more than 20,000 retail stores offering
copies for sale (1 million copies of the new and upgrade versions were sold through retail channels within the first
January 1996: Corel purchased WordPerfect, Quattro Pro and the PerfectOffice
application suite from Novell for US$180 million in cash, stock and future licensing royalties.
August 1996: Microsoft released Windows NT 4.0.
April 1997: Microsoft bought WebTV for US$425 million.
May 1998: The
US Department of Justice filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft, regarding its marketing
of Internet Explorer.
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Evans and Harry Mack
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