• Social

Computer History Timeline

Thanks to the “computer geek” that put this together.

1600s – 1800s


Blaise Pascal developed a mechanism called the Pascaline to calculate with 8 figures and carrying of 10’s, 100’s, and 1000’s etc. In honor to his scientific contributions the name Pascal has been given to a programming language, as well as to many mathematical concepts.


Charles Babbage becomes known as the Father of Computing and the inventor of the first universal digital computer with his design of the Analytical machine which used Jacquard punch cards.


Joseph Henry demonstrates long distance communication by sending an electronic current over one mile of wire to activate an electromagnet which caused a bell to strike. Thus the electric telegraph was born.


Cyrus West Field was chiefly responsible for laying the first submarine telegraph cable between America and Europe.

[1876 Mar 7]

Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both independently designed devices that could transmit speech electrically (the telephone). Both men rushed their designs to the patent office within hours of each other but Alexander Graham Bell patented his telephone first.

1910s – 1960s

[1911 Jun 15]

In operation since 1888, IBM (International Business Machines) is incorporated. IBM (Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation) was originally founded by Thomas Watson. In the decades that will follow, IBM will become the leader in PC production and innovations.


Gilbert S. Vernam and Major Joseph Mauborgne invent the One-time pad, which considered the most secure encryption algorithm ever devised and is the only one that can be called a perfect encryption scheme.


Alan Turing, considered the father of computer science, introduces the Turing machine. The Turing machine is an abstract machine introduced to give a mathematically precise definition of algorithm or ‘mechanical procedure’.

[1945 Sep 9]

The first ‘computer bug’ is found when a moth is found trapped between relay points of the Mark II Aiken Calculator while it is being tested at Harvard University. The operators affixed the moth to the computer log with the entry: “First actual case of bug being found”.

[1947 Dec 23]

The first transistor is developed by William Shockley and his research team of John Bardeen and Walter Brattain.


Grace Murray Hopper who is an mathematician and pioneer in data processing is credited with devising the first compiler, which is a program that translates instructions for a computer from English to machine language. She helped develop the Flow-Matic programming language and the Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) for the UNIVAC 1.


Fortran programming language is developed by John Backus. Fortran is the world’s first higher-level computer language.


Lisp programming language is developed by John McCarthy. Lisp is the world’s second higher-level computer language.


The DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) was established as the U.S. response to the Soviet Union launching of Sputnik.


Telephone calls are switched for the first time by computers, ending the need for people to work switching centres.


The Bell 103 becomes the first commercial modem. Made by AT&T the modem boasted data rates up to 300 bits per second.


Dartmouth College incorporates the introduction to the use of computers as a regular part of their Liberal Arts Program.


ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) is created by Robert Bemer. ASCII consists of 128 unique strings of ones and zeros and permits machines from different manufacturers to exchange data.


The computer mouse is invented by Douglas Engelbart. The first mouse was bulky and used two gear wheels perpendicular to each other: the rotation of each wheel was translated into motion along one axis in the plane.


Thomas Kurtz and John Kemeny create BASIC (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) computer programming language as an easy-to-learn language for their students at Dartmouth College.


Ted Nelson coins the term hypertext, which refers to text that is not necessarily linear


Alan Shugart of IBM creates the first floppy disk.


Intel is founded by Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove. They decided to call their company INTegrated Electronics or ‘Intel’ for short. Intel will later become known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits.


The ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) originates the Arpanet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), a service designed to provide efficient ways to communicate for scientists. Bolt Beranek and Newman who won an ARPA contract to design and build a network of Interface Message Processors (IMPS) which act as gateways to other mainframes. Within a few days of delivery machines at UCLA and Stanford link up for the first time and Arpanet is founded. Later the network expands to four nodes (networks) consisting of the University of California Los Angeles, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Utah and the Stanford Research Institute. This system would evolve to be known as the Internet or the Information Super Highway.


CompuServe time-sharing service is founded and later becomes the first online service to offer electronic mail capabilities.


Intel makes the announcement of a much larger RAM (Random Access Memory) chip which boasts of a 1KB capacity.


Bell Labs (AT&T) drops out of the MULTICS (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service) project. A system which was supposed to support 1000 online users can barely handle three. Out of the ashes grows the most influential operating system in history, UNIX. Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and others start working on UNIX at Bell Labs. UNIX is a portable, multi-task and multi-user computer operating system designed with the goal of allowing several users to access the computer simultaneously. Ken Thompson writes the first version of UNICS for the PDP-7 (Programmed Data Processor) in one month while his wife is on vacation. He allocates one week each to the operating system functions: the kernel, the shell, the editor, and the assembler. He does this on a machine with 4K of 18 bit words. UNICS is a pun on MULTICS and stands for Uniplexed Information and Computing Services. The name is changed to UNIX which is not an acronym. This version of UNIX is in assembly language.


The first computer hackers emerge at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). They borrow their name from a term to describe members of a model train group at the school who “hack” the electric trains, tracks and switches to make them perform faster and differently. A few of the members transfer their curiosity and rigging skills to the new mainframe computing systems being studied and developed on campus.


Joe Engressia (The Whistler, Joybubbles and High Rise Joe), while a mathematics student at University of South Florida in the late 1960s, discovers that he could whistle into a pay telephone the precise pitch –the 2600-cycle note, close to a high A– which would trip phone circuits and allow him to make long-distance calls at no cost. Joe, who is blind, will later become known as the father of phreaking. Phreaking is a slang term for the action of making a telephone system do something that it normally should not allow.

[1969 Arp 7]

The first RFC (Request for Comments) is published by Steve Crocker while at UCLA.

[1969 May 1]

AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) is founded by Jerry Sanders. AMD is a manufacturer of integrated circuits and would later become the second-largest supplier of x86 compatible processors.



DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) introduces the famous PDP-11 (Programmed Data Processor) which is considered to be one of the best designed minicomputers ever and many of the machines are still used today. Some of the best computer hackers in the world cut their teeth on -11’s.


The UNIX command finger is released by Les Earnest. The finger program (command) is used to find information on other users who are on the network.


Vietnam vet John Draper (Cap’n Crunch) learns that a toy whistle given away inside Cap’n Crunch cereal generates a 2600-hertz signal, the same high-pitched tone that accesses AT&T’s long-distance switching system. Draper builds a blue box that when used in conjunction with the whistle and sounded into a phone receiver allows phreakers (phone hackers) to make free calls.


The first email program written by Ray Tomlinson and used on Arpanet (Internet). Tomlinson of Bolt Beranek and Newman, contracted by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to create the Arpanet, selects the @ symbol to separate user names in email as the first email messages are sent between computers.

[1971 Sep]

The first personal computer called the Kenback-1 is advertised in Scientific American for $750. Designed by John Blankenbaker the Kenback came with 256 bytes of memory.

[1971 Oct]

Esquire magazine publishes the article ‘Secrets of the Little Blue Box’ with instructions for making a blue box and wire fraud in the United States escalates. Among the perpetrators: college kids Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, future founders of Apple Computer, who launch a home industry making and selling blue boxes.


UNIX computer operating system is rewritten in C programming language which in essence will open the door for porting to other chipsets.


The NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) developes the telnet application which is used for remote logins to other computers.


Number of Arpanet (Internet) users is estimated at 2,000.


Gary Kildall begins development of CP/M (Control Program/Monitor) operating system. Gary would later be called ‘The Man Who Could Have Been Bill Gates’. The legend goes like this: One fateful day in the summer of 1980, three buttoned-down IBMers called on a band of hippie programmers at Digital Research Inc. located in Pacific Grove, Calif. They hoped to discuss licensing DRI’s industry-leading operating system, CP/M. Instead, DRI founder Gary Kildall blew off IBM to gallivant around in his airplane, and the frustrated IBMers turned to Bill Gates for their operating system (MS-DOS).


Intel’s chairman Gordon Moore publicly reveals the prophecy that the number of transistors on a microchip will double every year and a half. This revelation will later be known as Moore’s Law and will hold true for more than twenty years.


With 60 MBytes of storage, IBM introduces the model 3340 Winchester sealed hard disk drive, the predecessor of all current hard disk drives.

[1973 Feb 7]

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is introduced which makes the transfer of files between networked computers a standard.

[1973 Mar]

The first international Arpanet connections are made to the University College of London (England) and NORSAR (Norway).


The first major shell was the Bourne shell (sh) which was named after its inventor Stephen Bourne. The shell is a program that presents an interface to various operating system functions and services. The shell is so called because it is an outer layer of interface between the user and the kernel of the operating system.


Bill Joy develops the C shell (csh) and the infamous Vi text editor. The shell is a program that presents an interface to various operating system functions and services. The shell is so called because it is an outer layer of interface between the user and the kernel of the operating system.


Atari’s home version of Pong begins selling.

[1975 Mar 5]

Homebrew Computer Club has its first meeting. The members were a group of computer enthusiasts who discussed the Altair, often regarded as the first personal computer and many of the members would later become today’s computer visionaries. Some of the members included Adam Osborne, Steve Jobs and Steven Wozniak.

[1975 Aug]

Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft.


David Boggs and Robert Metcalfe invent Ethernet while working at Xerox.

[1976 Feb 3]

21-year-old Bill Gates writes a letter titled ‘An Open Letter to Hobbyists’ which essentially condemns open source and software piracy.

[1976 Apr]

Apple computer introduces their first computer, the Apple 1.

[1976 Apr 1]

Stephen Wozniak, Steve Jobs and Ron Wayne sign an agreement that founds Apple Computer on April 1.

[1976 Nov]

The paper ‘New Directions in Cryptography’ published by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman. It introduced a radically new method of distributing cryptographic keys, which went far toward solving one of the fundamental problems of cryptography, key distribution. Public-key cryptography is a form of modern cryptography which allows users to communicate securely without previously agreeing on a shared secret key. For most of the history of cryptography, a key had to be kept absolutely secret and would be agreed upon beforehand using a secure, but non-cryptographic, method; for example, a face-to-face meeting or a trusted courier. There are a number of significant practical difficulties in this approach to distributing keys. Public-key cryptography was invented to address these drawbacks — with public-key cryptography, users can communicate securely over an insecure channel without having to agree upon a key beforehand. Public-key algorithms typically use a pair of two related keys — one key is private and must be kept secret, while the other is made public and can be widely distributed; it should not be possible to deduce one key of a pair given the other.


Bill Joy produces the computer operating system called BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution). Bell Laboratories permitted UC Berkeley and other universities to use and extend the source code to their UNIX operating system in its infancy.


AWK programming language released by Alfred Aho (A), Peter Weinberger (W), and Brian Kernighan (K).

[1977 Apr]

Apple introduces the Apple II.

[1977 Aug 3]

The TRS-80 Model I (Trash-80) begins selling. The operating systems that ran on the TRS-80 were TRSDOS and CP/M.

[1977 Dec]

The Atari 2600 game console is selling for $199.95.


Public cell phone testing begins. The first cell phones are similar in size to a brick.


The first CBBS (Computerized Bulletin Board System) is started by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess.

[1978 Mar]

TCP split into TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and IP (Internet Protocol).


SCO (Santa Cruz Operation) is founded and becomes an UNIX porting and consulting company.


Microsoft licenses UNIX source code from AT&T and develops Xenix which is soon overshadowed by MS-DOS. Microsoft calls their UNIX operating system Xenix because they could not license the UNIX name.


Usenet goes online. Usenet (newsgroup) is a computer system which networks UNIX machines over slow phone lines. Usenet eventually overruns Arpanet as the virtual bulletin board of choice.


Alan Shugart starts Shugart Technology which will later be named Seagate Technology, the largest disk-drive company in the world.


The C programming language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie is published.



There are an estimated 350,000 computer terminals networked with larger host computers.

[1980 Dec]

The 3.5 inch floppy drive and diskette are introduced by Sony.


Adam Osborne develops the Osborne 1 which is considered by many to be the first portable computer (laptop) and weighs in at 24.5 pounds.


The Elk Clone virus was the first computer virus found in the wild and was reputed to have spread from Texas A&M.


The Sinclair ZX81 computer is sold for approximately $100 and has 1KB of RAM.


DNS (Domain Name System) is conceived by Dr. David Mills. DNS is a server that stores information about host names and domain names on networks, such as the Internet. Most importantly it provides an IP address for each host name. Dr. Mills would later invent the Network Time Protocol (NTP).


While working at IBM and developing the PC’s BIOS David Bradley creates the code for Ctrl-Alt-Delete (three finger salute). “I may have invented control-alt-delete, but Bill Gates made it really famous.”


Commodore Business Machines starts shipping the VIC-20 home computer which sells for just under $300.

[1981 May 28]

The first mention of Microsoft is posted to Usenet.

[1981 Jul]

Microsoft acquires complete rights to Seattle Computer Product’s DOS (Disk Operating System) and names it MS-DOS.


John Warnock and Charles Geschke found Adobe Systems.


Hewlett-Packard introduces their version of UNIX called HP-UX which is largely based on System V.


Sun Microsystems is founded by four 27-year-old men; Andreas von Bechtolsheim, Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy and Bill Joy. Sun Microsystems is a Silicon Valley-based computer, semiconductor and software manufacturer. Sun’s products include computer servers and workstations based on the SPARC processor, the SunOS and Solaris computer operating systems, the NFS network file system and the Java platform. The company name SUN originally stood for Stanford University Network.


Richard Stallman starts to develop a free clone of UNIX written in C programming language that he calls GNU (GNU is a recursive acronym for GNU’s Not UNIX).


SGI (Silicon Graphics Inc.) introduces their UNIX-like operating system called IRIX.


Book author William Gibson coins the term cyberspace.

[1982 Aug]

Commodore ships the Commodore 64 which was the first home computer with a standard 64K RAM.

[1982 Aug]

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is published. SMTP is a TCP/IP protocol used in the transmission of email across the Internet.

[1982 Sep 19]

Research Professor Scott Fahlman types the first online smiley.  :-)


The Internet is formed when the Arpanet is split into military and civilian sections.


The movie WarGames is released. WarGames is about a computer whiz kid who inadvertently initiates the countdown to World War III.


The Korn shell (ksh) is released by its inventor David Korn of AT&T. The shell is a program that presents an interface to various operating system functions and services. The shell is so called because it is an outer layer of interface between the user and the kernel of the operating system.


FidoNet is developed by Tom Jennings. FidoNet is a network connected via modems for the purposes of exchanging email over the Internet thru a series of gateway systems which interact with the Internet via UNIX to UNIX Copy Protocol (UUCP).

[1983 Jan 19]

Apple Lisa (Local Integrated Software Architecture) is introduced. The Lisa operating system featured multitasking and virtual memory.

[1983 May]

Telnet protocol is published. Telnet is a user command and an underlying TCP/IP protocol for accessing remote computers.

[1983 Sep 27]

Richard Stallman makes the first Usenet announcement about GNU. Free Unix!

[1983 Nov]

Paul Mockapetris posts RFC 882 which outlines how the Domain Name System (DNS) will work. DNS is a server that stores information about host names and domain names on networks, such as the Internet. Most importantly it provides an IP address for each host name.

[1983 Nov 12]

First mention of Microsoft Windows is posted to Usenet.


Computer scientists Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner from Stanford University co-found Cisco Systems.


Antivirus software developer Fred Cohen introduces the term computer virus.


Andrew Tanenbaum writes the first version of Minix which is a free UNIX clone intended for educational purposes. Linus Torvalds gets the inspiration to start writing Linux after reading Tanenbaum’s famous book ‘Operating Systems: Design and Implementation‘. Minix is designed around a microkernel.


The University of California at Berkeley releases version 4.2BSD which included a complete implementation of the TCP/IP networking protocols. Systems based on this and later BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) releases provided a multi-vendor networking capability based on Ethernet networking.


Sony Corp v. Universal City Studios also known as the ‘Betamax case’ is heared. The United States Supreme Court found that the making of individual copies of complete television shows for home use is considered fair use and that the manufacture of devices, such as Betamax or VCRs to facilitate that is legal. Today this court case is still being used to justify the use of DVD copying software and P2P networks.


Legion of Doom is formed. The Legion of Doom is a hacker/phreaker group which operated in the United States in the late 1980’s. The group’s wide ranging activities included diversion of telephone networks, copying proprietary information from companies and distributing hacking tutorials. Members included: Chris Goggans (Erik Bloodaxe), Mark Abene (Phiber Optik), Adam Grant (The Urvile), Franklin Darden (The Leftist), Robert Riggs (The Prophet), Loyd Blankenship (The Mentor), Todd Lawrence (The Marauder), Scott Chasin (Doc Holiday), Bruce Fancher (Death Lord), Patrick K. Kroupa (Lord Digital), Steven Steinberg (Frank Drake), Corey Lindsly (Mark Tabas), Peter Jay Salzman (Thomas Covenant) and others.


2600 magazine is founded by Eric Corley (Emmanuel Goldstein).

[1984 Jan]

Apple introduces Macintosh System 1.0.

[1984 Jun 19]

The X Window System (commonly X11 or X) is released by Robert W. Scheifler. X Windows is the standard graphical interface on UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems. X provides the basic framework for a graphical user interface (GUI) environment: drawing and moving windows on the screen and interacting with a mouse and keyboard.


Phil Katz starts work on ARC which would later be renamed PKZip (.zip), a program for compressing files.


The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is founded.


C++ programming language is released by Bjarne Stroustrup.


The National Science Foundation began deploying its new T1 lines (T-carrier). T1 lines use copper wire and span distances within and between major metropolitan areas and work at an overall rate of 1.544 million bits per second (Mbps).


Intel introduces the 80386 (i386) processor which was the first processor to use 32 bit addressing.


Phrack ‘zine is first published by Craig Neidorf (Knight Lightning) and Randy Tischler (Taran King).

[1985 Mar 15]

Symbolics.com is assigned and becomes the first registered domain name.

[1985 Apr]

Apple introduces Macintosh System 2.0.

[1985 May 24]

Date of incorporation under the original founding name of Quantum Computer Services (America Online).

[1985 Sep]

The Commodore Amiga (Amiga 1000) is introduced.

[1985 Nov]

Microsoft releases Windows 1.0 and is initially sold for $100.00.


AIX (Advanced Interactive eXecutive) is released by IBM. AIX is IBM’s version of UNIX and is based on AT&T’s UNIX System V with Berkeley extensions. AIX is designed around the microkernel.


Karlheinz Brandenburg and Dieter Seitzer while at the Fraunhofer Institut begin work on a high quality, low bit-rate audio coding called MP3.


The IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) was created to serve as a forum for technical coordination by contractors for DARPA working on Arpanet, U.S. Defense Data Network (DDN) and the Internet core gateway system. IETF is an open, all-volunteer organization, with no formal membership nor membership requirements.


The U.S. Congress passes the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The law however does not cover juveniles at this time.

[1986 Jan]

Apple introduces Macintosh System 3.0.

[1986 Aug]

While following up a 75 cent accounting error in the computer logs at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, network manager Clifford Stoll uncovers evidence of hackers at work. A year-long investigation results in the arrest of the five German hackers responsible. Stoll later wrote the book ‘Cukoo’s Egg‘ which detailed his hunt for the hackers.


The BASH (Bourne-Again SHell) shell is released by Brian Fox and Chet Ramey. The shell is a program that presents an interface to various operating system functions and services. The shell is so called because it is an outer layer of interface between the user and the kernel of the operating system.


Internet service provider CompuServe introduces the GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) file format used to transmit images with up to 256 different colors (8 bits per pixel).

[1987 Mar]

Apple introduces Macintosh System 4.0.

[1987 Oct 18]

Perl (Practical Extraction and Report Language) programming language is released by Larry Wall.

[1987 Dec 9]

Microsoft releases Windows 2.0 and is initially sold for $100.00.


Sony, Philips and Taiyo Yuden co-invent the Compact Disk Recordable (CD-R).


Open Software Foundation develops OSF/1 UNIX. Digital Equipment Corp. takes over the system in 1992 and calls it Digital UNIX. Then in 1999 Digital is acquired by Compaq which renames the UNIX system to Tru64.


Apple introduces Macintosh System 6.0.


IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is started from the efforts of Jarkko Oikarinen while attending the University of Oulu.

[1988 Nov 2]

Robert Morris, Jr., a graduate student at Cornell University and son of a chief scientist at a division of the National Security Agency (NSA), launches a self-replicating worm on the government’s Arpanet (precursor to the Internet) to test its effect on UNIX systems. The worm gets out of hand and spreads to some 6,000 networked computers, clogging government and university systems. Morris is later sentenced to three years probation and fined $10,000.

[1988 Nov 3]

The first mention of the Morris Worm is posted to Usenet.

[1988 Dec]

Hacker Robert Riggs breaks into BellSouth computer network and downloads a document that describes how the 911 emergency phone system works. Robert is raided by federal authorities and later indicted. The indictment said the “computerized text file” was worth $79,449, and a BellSouth security official testified at trial it was worth $24,639. The criminal trial unexpectedly ended when the government asked the court to dismiss all the charges when it was discovered that the public could call a toll-free number and purchase the same document for less than $20.


The JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) file format for image compression is adopted.


At the Cern laboratory for research in high-energy physics in Geneva, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau develop the protocols that will become the World Wide Web (WWW).



Arpanet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) ceases to exist. Arpanet was the Internet predecessor originally started in 1969.


Archie (ARCHIvE) is created by Alan Emtage and Bill Heelan. Archie is one of the first attempts at organizing information on the net and is designed to index FTP sites.


Ron Rivest invents the hash function MD4 (Message-Digest algorithm 4). Later he will improve on MD4 and develop MD5.


EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is formed by Mitch Kapor and John Barlow in part to defend the rights of people online.


Kevin Poulsen pulls off the now-infamous incident involving KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, California. The station ran the “Win a Porsche by Friday” contest, with a $50,000 Porsche given to the 102nd caller. Kevin and his associates (Ron Austin) stationed at their computers, seized control of the station’s 25 telephone lines, blocking out all calls but their own. Then he dialed the 102nd call — and later collected his Porsche 944. The story of Poulsen’s life in front of the monitor will be told in the book ‘The Watchman‘.


Gopher is released by Paul Lindner and Mark McCahill. Gopher is a distributed document search and retrieval network protocol.


Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption program is released by Philip Zimmerman. This made Zimmermann the target of a three-year criminal investigation because the government said it violated U.S. export restrictions for cryptographic software. PGP nonetheless became the most widely used encryption software in the world. Later the government would drop its case against Zimmerman in early 1996. When used properly PGP is capable of very high security; informed observers believe that even government agencies such as the NSA are incapable of directly breaking properly produced PGP-protected messages. Bruce Schneier, a highly respected cryptographer, characterized PGP as being “the closest you’re likely to get to military-grade encryption”.


The Internet had been established to link the military and educational institutions but banned access to businesses. That ban is lifted.


The text-based Lynx browser for UNIX is released by Lou Montulli.


Rumors circulate about the Michelangelo virus which is expected to crash computers on March 6 1992, the artist’s 517th birthday. Doomsday passes without much incident.

[1991 Feb]

Solaris 1.0 is released by Sun Microsystems. Solaris uses a monolithic kernel.

[1991 Feb]

DOS version of AOL released.

[1991 Feb]

Python programming language by Guido van Rossum is released to Usenet. Python is an interpreted, interactive, object-oriented programming language. It is often compared to Tcl, Perl, Scheme or Java and is an open source high-level programming language.

[1991 May]

Apple introduces Macintosh System 7.0.

[1991 Aug 6]

Tim Berners-Lee’s Usenet announcement of the World Wide Web (WWW) project.

[1991 Sep 17]

Linus Torvalds publicly releases Linux version 0.01, the source is all of 64KB. While a computer science student at the University of Helsinki Linus creates the Linux operating system. Linus originally named his operating system Freax. Today Linux is a module loading monolithic kernel which means it can load executable modules at runtime, allowing easy extension of the kernel’s capabilities as required while helping to keep the amount of code running in kernelspace to a minimum. The monolithic approach defines a high-level virtual interface over the hardware with a set of primitives or system calls to implement operating system services.

[1991 Oct 5]

Linus Torvalds decides to announce on Usenet the availability of a free minix-like kernel called Linux.


The term surfing the Internet is coined by librarian Jean Armour Polly.


386BSD 0.0/0.1 released by co-creator Bill Jolitz.

[1992 Jan 29]

Minix creator Andy Tanenbaum posts the infamous LINUX is obsolete newsgroup posting on comp.os.minix. Linux creator Linus Torvalds quickly responds to the posting.


SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm) designed by the NSA (National Security Agency) is published.


The FVWM (F Virtual Window Manager) project is started. FVWM was designed to minimize memory consumption, provide a 3-D look and provide a simple virtual desktop.

[1993 Mar 1]

Microsoft releases Windows NT (New Technology) 3.1. From an architectural standpoint Windows NT is designed to be a modified microkernel.

[1993 Apr 20]

NetBSD 0.8 is released. NetBSD took its roots from the original UCB 4.3BSD via the Networking/2 release and 386BSD. NetBSD formed to focus on multi-platform support.

[1993 Apr 21]

Mosaic web browser 1.0 is released. Written at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). The leaders of the team that developed Mosaic are Marc Andreesen one of the founders of Netscape and Jim Clark one of the founders of Silicon Graphics.

[1993 Apr 30]

CERN announces that the World Wide Web (WWW) would be free to anyone.

[1993 Jun]

130 web sites exist online. Netcraft survey will later count over 60 million web sites online in March 2005.

[1993 Jul 9]

Jeff Moss organizes the first Def Con computer security conference which takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference is meant to be a one-time party to say good-bye to Bulletin Board Systems (now replaced by the Web) but the gathering is so popular it becomes an annual event.

[1993 Jul 17]

Slackware by Patrick Volkerding becomes the first commercial standalone distribution of Linux. Volkerding quote regarding using Slackware instead of Microsoft Windows, “Besides, I think Slackware sounds better than Microsoft, don’t you?”

[1993 Aug 16]

Linux distro Debian is founded by Ian Murdock.

[1993 Dec]

FreeBSD version 1.0 is released. Frustration at getting patches integrated and releases of 386BSD led to FreeBSD, which concentrated mainly on the i386 platform.


Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are developed by Håkon Lie and Bert Bos.


Red Hat is founded and becomes one of the most popular Linux distributions. Red Hat is founded by Marc Ewing, which was named after his grandfather’s favorite old red Cornell lacrosse team cap. Ewing used to wear the cap between classes while a student in Carnegie Mellon’s computer science program.


Opera web browser first released.

[1994 Jan 12]

Mark Abene (Phiber Optik) starts his one year jail sentence for a computer trespassing conviction. As a founding member of the Masters of Deception, Mark inspired thousands of teenagers around the country to “study” the internal workings of the United State’s phone systems. Soon after, New York Magazine dubbed him one of the city’s 100 smartest people.

[1994 Feb]

David Filo and Jerry Yang while Ph.D. candidates in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University start their web site guide which would later be called Yahoo.com. They start their project while in a campus trailer as a way to keep track of their personal interests on the Internet. The web site was originally called ‘Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web’ but eventually received a new moniker with the help of a dictionary. The name Yahoo! is an acronym for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.

[1994 Mar 14]

Linux kernel 1.0 is released.

[1994 Apr 12]

One of the first spam messages is posted to newsgoups. Two lawyers from Phoenix, Arizona named Canter and Siegel posted a message advertising their fairly useless services in an upcoming U.S. “green card” lottery. Quickly people called it a “spam” and the word caught on.

[1994 Jun 13]

23-year-old Vladimir Levin led a Russian hacker group in the first publicly revealed international bank robbery over a network. Stealing around 10 million dollars from Citibank which claims to have recovered all but $400,000 of the money. Levin was later caught and sentenced to 3 years in prison.

[1994 Oct]

The first version of Netscape web browser is released.

[1994 Dec]

Ruby programming language is released by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto.

[1994 Dec 25]

Computer security specialist Tsutomu Shimomura will help track down and capture Kevin Mitnick. And will later be described in the book ‘Takedown‘. After his arrest Mitnick and his friend Lewis De Payne will be charged with obtaining unauthorized access to computers belonging to numerous computer software and computer operating systems manufacturers, cellular telephone manufacturers, internet service providers, and educational institutions; and stealing, copying, and misappropriating proprietary computer software from Motorola, Fujitsu, Nokia, Sun, Novell, and NEC. Mitnick was also in possession of 20,000 credit card numbers at the time of his arrest.

[1995 Feb]

Ex-LOD member Corey Lindsly (Mark Tabas) was the major ringleader in a computer hacker organization known as the Phonemasters whose ultimate goal was to own the telecommunications infrastructure from coast-to-coast. The group penetrated the systems of AT&T, British Telecom, GTE, MCI WorldCom, Sprint, Southwestern Bell and systems owned by state and federal governmental agencies, to include the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer system. They broke into credit reporting databases belonging to Equifax Inc. and TRW Inc. They entered Nexis/Lexis databases and systems of Dun & Bradstreet. They had access to portions of the national power grid, air-traffic-control systems and had hacked their way into a digital cache of unpublished phone numbers at the White House. A federal court granted the FBI permission to use the first ever “data tap” to monitor the hacker’s activities. Corey later received a jail sentence of 5 years for his illegal activities.

[1995 Mar 18]

Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks security tool released to the Internet by Dan Farmer and Wietse Venema. The release stirs huge debate about security auditing tools being given to the public. A debate that still continues to this day.

[1995 Apr]

Apache web server is released. Brian Behlendorf was the primary developer of Apache which served up 69% of the web sites online in 2005.

[1995 May 5]

Chris Lamprecht (Minor Threat) becomes first person banned from the Internet. Chris was sentenced for a number of crimes to which he pled guilty. The crimes involved the theft and sale of Southwestern Bell circuit boards. In the early 1990s Chris wrote a program called ToneLoc (Tone Locator), a phone dialing program modeled on the program used in the movie WarGames to find open modem lines in telephone exchanges.

[1995 May 23]

Java programming language is created by James Gosling.

[1995 Jul]

The first online bookstore Amazon is launched in Seattle by Jeffrey Bezos.

[1995 Jul 12]

Tatu Ylonen developes the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol. SSH is a sort of secure telnet-type connection running over an encrypted channel and featuring full public-key-based authentication.

[1995 Aug]

Internet Explorer 1.0 is released.

[1995 Aug]

Microsoft releases Windows 95 and sells more than 1 Million copies within 4 days.

[1995 Sep]

eBay is founded by Pierre Omidyar.


KDE (K Desktop Environment) project is started by Matthias Ettrich.


Linux distro SuSE (was originally a german acronym for Software und System Entwicklung) releases their first version 4.2.


New Deal releases New Deal Office 2.5.


IBM releases OS/2 Warp 4.


An Internet startup located in Tel Aviv, Israel launches a service to bring computer users together called ICQ or I Seek You.

[1996 Jan]

Larry Page and Sergey Brin begin collaboration on a search engine called BackRub which later becomes Google.

[1996 May]

POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3) is published. POP3 is a standard Internet protocol used to retrieve email from a remote server to a local client over a TCP/IP connection. Nearly all individual Internet service provider email accounts are accessed via POP3.

[1996 Jun 9]

Linux kernel 2.0 is released.

[1996 Jul 4]

Hotmail created by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith goes online. Hotmail would later be sold to Microsoft for $400 million.

[1996 Aug]

Microsoft releases Windows NT (New Technology) 4.0.

[1996 Oct]

Internet2 project started. The purpose is to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies such as IPv6, and to ensure that new applications and technologies are deployed to the existing Internet.

[1996 Oct 18]

OpenBSD 2.0, the initial release, is announced. OpenBSD is an Ultra-Secure Operating System and forks off of NetBSD 1.1 code after Theo de Raadt has a disagreement over the future of the NetBSD code. OpenBSD development began by focusing on producing an incredibly secure operating system. Today OpenBSD is considered the most secure operating system in the world, out of the box and on a default install.


The GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) project is started by Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman.


DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) format released and DVD players/movies hit the consumer market.


101,803 Name Servers are registered in the whois database.


Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans rewrite the original PHP parser to form the base of PHP 3. PHP is a recursive acronym for ‘PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor’.

[1997 Jan 28]

Ian Goldberg, a University of California-Berkeley graduate student, took on RSA Data Security’s challenge and cracked the 40-bit code by linking together 250 idle workstations that allowed him to test 100 billion possible “keys” per hour. In three and a half hours Goldberg had decoded the message, which read, “This is why you should use a longer key.”

[1997 Jun]

The original version of the standard IEEE 802.11 is released.

[1997 Jul]

Mac OS 8 is released. Selling 1.25 million copies in less than 2 weeks.

[1997 Sep]

Slashdot is created by Rob Malda and becomes a must-read web site for anyone trying to read the collective pulse of the tech industry.

[1997 Dec 8]

Yahoo.com web site is defaced.


DVD-Recordable systems/equipment hit the consumer market.


Eiger Labs MPMan F20 becomes the first MP3 player.

[1998 Feb 27]

The 56-bit DES challenge by RSA Data Security was completed by a massively distributed array of computers coordinating their brute force attacks via the distributed.net “organization.” The cleartext message read, “Many hands make light work.” The participants collectively examined fully 90 percent of the entire keyspace—in about 40 days.

[1998 Jun 28]

Microsoft releases Windows 98.

[1998 Aug 20]

Fisrt version of GRUB released. GRUB, GRand Unified Bootloader, is a multiboot boot loader which was originally designed and implemented by Erich Stefan Boleyn.

[1998 Sep 13]

The New York Times web site is defaced by hackers who renamed the site HFG (Hacking For Girlies). The hackers express anger at the arrest and imprisonment of Kevin Mitnick. In early November two members of HFG told Forbes magazine that they initiated the attack because they were bored and couldn’t agree on a video to watch.


Apple introduces Mac OS 9.

[1999 Jan 25]

Linux kernel 2.2 is released.

[1999 Mar]

Apple releases Mac OS X Server with their Macintosh GUI, a UNIX based OS that Apple names Darwin. Darwin is itself based on the FreeBSD code with a custom Mac kernel in place of the standard BSD kernel.

[1999 Mar 9]

Al Gore gives an interview on CNN’s Late Edition program where he says, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Over the years the general consensus is that Al Gore said he “invented” the Internet. This is not correct. ‘Founding Father of the Internet’ Vinton Cerf has personally thanked Al Gore for his help in passing legislation in the late 80s that allowed the Arpanet (Internet) to grow by releasing military control and allowing commerical access. Sure, Al Gore could have worded his statement a little more carefully but he has never taken credit for what Vinton Cerf and the other Founding Fathers of the Interrnet accomplished.

[1999 Mar 26]

Melissa virus affects 100,000 email users and caused $80 million in damages; written by David Smith a 29-year-old New Jersey computer programmer. The virus known as Melissa was named after a Florida stripper.

[1999 May]

The Napster peer-to-peer MP3 file-sharing system is created by Northeastern University student Shawn Fanning. Before being shut down in 2001, Napster had attracted 85 million registered users who were trading as many as 3 billion songs a month.

[1999 Jun]

RISCOS Ltd releases RISC OS 4 for RiscPC, A7000 or A7000+ machines.

[1999 Nov]

15-year-old Norwegian Jon Johansen (DVD Jon), one of the three founding members of MoRE (Masters of Reverse Engineering), the trio of programmers who created a huge stir in the DVD marketplace by releasing DeCSS, a program used to crack the Content Scrambling System (CSS) encryption that was used to protect every DVD movie on the market.



Microsoft releases Windows ME. Millions respond by downgrading back to Windows 98.

[2000 Jan 5]

Apple announces Aqua which is the new desktop design for their upcoming MacOS X operating system.

[2000 Feb 7]

A 16-year-old Canadian hacker nicknamed ‘Mafiaboy’ carries out a distributed denial-of-service attack consisting of a 1-gigabits-per-second flood of IP packet requests from “zombie” servers which knocked Yahoo off-line for over 3 hours. Two days later the DDoS attacks continued, this time hitting eBay Amazon, Buy.com, ZDNet, CNN, E*Trade and MSN. After pleding guilty ‘Mafiaboy’ was sentenced to eight months in a youth detention center.

[2000 Aug 17]

United States District Court in New York bars Eric Corley (publisher of 2600 magazine) from republishing software that circumvents DVD industry encryptions. The code would enable movies to be more readily copied and exchanged as data files on the Internet.

[2000 Oct]

Microsoft admits that its corporate network has been hacked and source code for future Windows products has been seen.


BitTorrent is released by Bram Cohen. In early 2005 it was reported that one-third of all internet traffic was generated by BitTorrent.

[2001 Jan 4]

Linux kernel 2.4 is released.

[2001 Oct 23]

Apple introduces the iPod portable music player.

[2001 Oct 25]

Microsoft releases Windows XP.

[2002 Sep]

There are an estimated 605 million people on-line.

[2002 Oct 21]

A distributed denial-of-service attack sends a barrage of data at the 13 domain name service root servers over a one hour period of time. The attack was in the form of an ICMP flood which was blocked by many of the root-servers thus preventing any real loss of network performance. Approximately 80Mbps of traffic was sent to each root-server which was ten times the normal load.

[2003 Apr 10]

Sony sells the first Blu-Ray DVD (Blue-Laser DVD) recorder which has a storage capacity of nearly 23 gigabytes of data. This level of storage density is achieved through the use of blue lasers which have a narrower wavelength of light compared to conventional red laser DVDs, which top out at 4.7 gigabytes per layer per side.

[2003 Apr 24]

Microsoft releases Windows Server 2003 (aka Windows NT 5.2 and for a time called Windows.NET server).

[2003 Jul 12]

DragonFly BSD project is announced. DragonFly BSD is a fork from FreeBSD 4.8

[2003 Sep 8]

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) sues 261 individuals for allegedly distributing mp3s over peer-to-peer networks.

[2003 Dec 18]

Linux kernel 2.6 is released.

[2004 Nov 4]

IBM’s Blue Gene/L becomes the fastest supercomputer when it perfroms 70.7 trillion calculations per second (70.7 teraflops).

[2004 Nov 5]

Internet speed record broken. Researchers successfully sent data using a 10Gigabit Ethernet link between the University of Tokyo and the CERN research center in Geneva, Switzerland. The T110 delivered sustained 7.57 Gbps throughput running standard 1500-byte Ethernet packets over a single TCP connection across an 11,490 mile (18,500 km) link using a uni-processor AMD Opteron system on each end of the connection. That’s enough speed to transfer a full-length DVD anywhere in the world in less than five seconds.

[2004 Nov 8]

Pioneer announce they have developed a technique which will allow optical drives to store 500GB of data using ultraviolet lasers which emit shorter wavelength rays than blue lasers.

[2004 Nov 9]

Firefox 1.0 web browser is released. Blake Ross< created Firefox and Ben Goodger is the development lead.

[2004 Nov 30]

Optical network speed record broken by the so-called High Energy Physics team. At a sustained rate of 101 gigabits–the equivalent of three DVD movies–per second between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

[2005 Mar]

Netcraft survey reports there are more than 60 million web sites on-line.

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