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A visual history of computers

Technological advancements over the last century have meant many of us now own multiple computers - desktops and laptops, mobile phones, tablets. The modern personal computer as we know it is only a recent invention. Scroll down to see how this technology has evolved over the past 70 years.

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Computing in the 2010s

Tablets outselling laptops

In 2013, tablets will outsell laptops. Workforces are becoming increasingly more mobile and the presence of desktop computers in the office is declining.

Working in the cloud

In 2012, over 75% of SMEs had moved to cloud services, the biggest growth area is Infrastructure as a service, followed by Platform as a service. The biggest drive for moving to cloud computing is cost savings.

2010: Mobile devices, Windows 8 and cloud devices

Windows 8

On 26 October 2012, Microsoft released Windows 8, which brought major changes to the platform and user interface in a bid to improve user experience across devices such as tablets.

Mobile in the workplace

With over 50% of employees using mobile technology in the workplace, companies must work harder to balance risk, complexity and cost.

Computing in the 2000s

Laptops outselling desktops

Global notebook PC shipments beat desktop PC shipments in Q3 2008, the first time that's happened in the computer industry.

Introduction of the iPhone

Apple released the first generation iPhone on 29 June 2007, the phone was later released in November 2007 in the UK. Development began in 2004, comprised of a team of 1000 people and cost $150m over thirty months.

2000: Desktop computers, launch of BlackBerry and iPhones

The decade of Windows

The 2000’s was a busy decade for Microsoft, who released Windows XP, Vista and 7. In late 2013, Windows 7’s desktop OS share was 46%, followed by XP at 31% and Windows 8 at 9%.

PC uptake hits 1 billion

Between the mid-1970s and the release of Windows XP, roughly 1 billion PCs had been shipped worldwide.

Computing in the 1990s

The birth of Microsoft Office

Microsoft launched “The Microsoft Office for Windows” on 19 November 1990, comprising of Word 1.1, Excel 2.0 and PowerPoint 2.0.

Multiplayer PC games evolved

Broadly considered to be one of the most influential titles in gaming history, Doom was released on 10 December 1993. Within two years it was estimated that the game was played by 10 million people.

1990: Common to see desktop computers in homes. Uptake of world wide web

Hotmail was launched commercially

Launching commercially on 4 July 1996, Hotmail gave users the ability to access their inbox from anywhere in the world. The limit for free storage was 2MB, and by December 1997 Hotmail reported having more than 8.5 million subscribers.

Computers increasingly used at work and home

Worldwide shipments of computers surpassed the 100-million mark in 1999. It is estimated that 75% of computers sold were sold for business use, with the remainder for personal or home use.

Computing in the 1980s

The Sinclair ZX80 mass released

Sinclair developed the ZX80, a ‘mini-sized’ (20×20 cm) home computer with a multifunctional waterproof keyboard. It was the first computer to sell for under £100.

3½ inch floppy disk

Following the initial launch of various new disk formats in the early 1970's, 1982 saw the launch of the then-standard 3½ inch floppy disk, first manufactured by Sony.

1980: CDROM and Floppy Disks, ZX80 Sinclair. Tetris

Birth of the modern internet

In 1982, the internet protocol TCP/IP was standardised, allowing the introduction of the concept of a worldwide network of interconnected TCP/IP networks, referred to as The Internet.

The development of Tetris

Tetris was released on 6 June 1984 and was the first entertainment software to be exported from the USSR to the US. Whilst initially launched for 1980’s home computer platforms, it was the Game Boy version launched in 1989 that helped the game achieve its huge success.

Computing in the 1970s

Microsoft and Apple founded

Microsoft was founded on 4 April 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Apple Inc was founded on 1 April 1977 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, and was incorporated nine months later.

The Commodore PET

The Commodore Personal Electronic Translator was a personal computer produced in 1977. The first model, the PET 2001 came with either 4 kb or 8 kb of 8-bit RAM. Due to huge demand of the computer, and backed up orders, the 4 kb version was quickly dropped.

1970: Launch of Microsoft, Apple, Commodeore PET

UNIX growing in popularity

The first commercial installation of UNI took place in 1972 in New York. During the late 1970’s the influence of Unix in academic circles led to a large scale adoption of Unix by commercial startups, including Darwin which forms the core of Apple’s OS X and iOS.

First portable calculator introduced

The first portable calculators were introduced in Japan in 1970. These included the Sanyo Mini Calculator, the Canon Pocketronic and the Sharp Micro Compet.

Computing in the 1960s

Intel founded

Intel was founded on 18 July 1968 by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce. In 2011 Intel had 79.3% market share of the overall worldwide PC microprocessor market and 84.4% of the mobile PC microprocessor market.

Hewlett Packard enter the industry

Hewlett Packard entered the desktop computer business in 1968 with the introduction of the 9100A. The desktop was referred to as a calculator to stop it being rejected by the market as it didn’t look like an IBM, who were at the time dominating the market. The 9100A weighted 18 kg and cost around $5000.

1960: Launch of Intel, HP and BASIC programming language

BASIC programming language designed

BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a group of generic, high-level programming languages designed for ease of use. Designed by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz in 1964, the language was developed to help more students learn to code.

ARPANET developed by the US military

In 1969 the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ASPANET) was introduced as one of the world’s first operational packet switching networks, the first to implement TCP/IP making it the progenitor of the modern internet.

Computing in the 1950s

UNIVAC

The UNIVAC I was the first American computer designed from the outset for business and administrative use. Owners Remington Rand joined up with CBS to correctly predict the 1952 presidential election results, contrary to the pollsters’ favorite.

The first commercial application of computers

J. Lyons & Co. was a pioneer in introducing computers to business. Between 1951 and 1963, the company manufactured and sold a range of LEO (Lyons Electronic Office) computers.

1950: UNIVAC in production. Lyons tea employs computers for first commercial application. Alan Turing publishes intelligence paper

The Turing test

The British mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing published a paper describing the potential development of human and computer intelligence and communication.

Worldwide computers reach 100

It is estimated that in 1953 there was 100 computers in the world. Magazine Popular Mechanics quoted ‘Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons’, the equivalent of 1,360 kg.

Computing pre 1950s

First electronic computers

Very few electronic computers were available before 1950. Previous famous non-electronic computers, such as Turing's Enigma machine were more common during the earlier World War years.

Pre 1950: COLOSSUS and other elecontronic and non electronic computers

COLOSSUS

COLOSSUS was the world's first electronic computer, and was developed for British codebreakers during World War II. The Mark I prototype was operational in February 1944, but was superseded by Mark II later that year. The National Museum of Computing have since rebuilt a Mark II COLOSSUS at Bletchley Park.

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