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A look at the history of computing and how it has changed the world. Each story highlights a different year in chronological order starting with 1950.
Jump to:
50's   60's   70's  
WORLD HISTORY  
The war in Korea starts and Sen. Joseph McCarthy begins lobbing charges of communism in the U.S.   1950
Genesis of the computer
Flashback looks at the past 50 years in computing.
The U. S. Atomic Energy Commission builds the first nuclear reactor, in Idaho Falls, Idaho.   1951
Machines on a mission
Univac, the first mass-produced computer
Jonas Salk announces a vaccine for immunization against polio.   1952
Univac predicts winner of 1952 election
First for television and information technology
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed as spies. The Soviet Union announces that it has detonated a hydrogen bomb.   1953
IBM's empire takes hold
IBM's decades-long reign over the computer industry began in 1953.
First TV dinner is introduced: It costs 98 cents and contains turkey, dressing, gravy, peas and sweet potatoes.   1954
Fortran born of frustration
Inventor of first popular computer language wanted to avoid tedium of machine language programming.
NASA and the U.S. military begin to fund major computer research projects.   1955
IBM customers form the first computer user group
Early IBM mainframe users find fellow early adopters a fine support network.
Woody Guthrie composes "This Land Is Your Land"   1956
Little-known computer creates vast legacy
A little-known computer came out of MIT's Lincoln Laboratories
Born in 1957: Chris Carter, creator of "The X Files"   1957
Digital Equipment scales computers down in size, price
So much lore surrounds Digital Equipment Corp.
A 1958 Gallup Poll says 88% of Americans own a television   1958
The birth of integrated circuits
The Fairchild Eight weren't thinking a lot about their legacy in 1958.
The BMW 600 costs $1,498, accelerates up to 65 mph and gets 50 miles per gallon.   1959
The creation of Cobol
You know that little year 2000 problem? Well, it all began 40 years ago.
Average price of a movie ticket is 75 cents   1960
Sabre takes off
A team of American Airlines and IBM programmers set out in 1960...
East Germany erects the Berlin Wall along its border with West Germany.   1961
Learning to share
It's the late 1950s, and you're a computer operator at MIT...
Ringo Starr joins the Beatles; the group releases its first hit, 'Love Me Do,' in the U.K.   1962
Degree of distinction
A spirited, irascible salesman, H. Ross Perot, left IBM in 1962...
Best Actor Oscar: Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field. He was the first African-American male to receive a best actor Oscar.   1963
The debut of ASCII
If it weren't for a particular development we wouldn't have e-mail...
Sara Lee Corp., maker of frozen pastries, opens the first automated factory.   1964
Mixed blessing
A single product announcement ushered in a new era of computing.
The New York Jets sign University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath for a reported $400,000.   1965
The promise of packet switching
Realizing the inadequacies of the data communications capabilities...
The first Star Trek episode, "The Man Trap," is broadcast.   1966
HP's radical move
Hewlett-Packard Co.'s first foray into the computer market in 1966...
In the first Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.   1967
The mighty mouse
Doug Engelbart applied for a patent on his X-Y Position Indicator...
60 Minutes, now television's longest-running prime-time newsmagazine, debuts on CBS.   1968
Inside Intel
Like many early Silicon Valley start-ups, Intel was born of ...
Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins travel to the moon aboard Apollo 11. Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon.   1969
Unix and the Net, 60's brainchildren
Arpanet -- the network that we now know as the Internet
President Nixon signs a law that in the next year will ban cigarette ads on radio and TV.   1970
Grocery scanners check in
In a Kroger's supermarket just outside Cincinnati in early 1970
Don Hoefler, a California journalist, dubs the valley between San Francisco and San Jose "Silicon Valley" because of its proliferation of technology companies.   1971
IBM fashions the floppy
The floppy disk was developed in 1971 to solve a problem IBM faced.
American Bobby Fischer defeats Soviet Boris Spassky for the international chess crown.   1972
Xerox Parc and the Alto
'You know, we're going to make this thing obsolete,'
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