Lexikon's History of Computing

Glossary Index

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This is a special Glossary of terms, company names, and machines related to computing history.
There are also many unique historical facts that you will not find in a regular computer glossary.

Click on a letter to browse that section of the Glossary.



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Copyright (C) 1982, 2002-2003 Lexikon Services. Compiled by Mark Greenia


 About Dates Used in this Encyclopedia

Company information is provided in this encyclopedia solely for historical reference.

It is also used to show over time what companies have merged with or have acquired other companies.

The company profiles here are not meant to provide current company status or financial information.

If you are seeking the current status of any company mentioned, it is recommended you contact the company directly or through their Internet site.




Albert B. Dick developed a mimeograph machine combining his own ideas with those of Thomas Edison. Edison sold his interest in the machine to Albert Dick, with the agreement that the device would include Edison's name. The "Edison-Dick Mimeograph" was marketed in 1887. In 1904, a rotary mechanism was added which greatly increased the speed and versatility of the machine. Albert Dick's company later became well known as "A.B. Dick Company," (of Chicago) manufacturers of office equipment.

A.B. Dick also produced office automation equipment, including a variety of dedicated word processing microcomputers. Included among their many products was the A.B. Dick Magna SL, introduced in 1982, which sold for $14,500. The Magna was a multi-user system, probably one of the first such multi-user, dedicated word processing systems in the commercial arena.

In 1979, A.B. Dick was purchased by General Electric Company of the UK.

Aberdeen Proving Ground

Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, was the site of considerable wartime (WWI) and post war research and activity in computers. Aberdeen included a Ballistics Research Laboratory and had acquired a differential analyzer which was used to compute range tables for ballistics. (For information on the role of the Ballistics Research Laboratory, see the excellent book entitled "The Computer From Pascal to von Neumann," by Herman H. Goldstine, Princeton University Press, 1972).

Application Control Architecture

Application Control Architecture. An object management architecture by Digital Equipment Corporation which was designed to function as a companion to its Compound Document Architecture (CDA). Application Control Architecture allows one application to call and manage another application.


An accumulator is a certain type of register in a computer's processor that is used to store the results of an operation performed by the arithmetic and logic unit (ALU). The accumulator holds the results and allows further processing to be done on the results.

Active Directory

Active Directory is Microsoft's trademarked network directory service. Active Directory is an integral part of Microsoft's Windows 2000. Active Directory is a centralized system that automates network management of user data, security, and distributed resources, and enables interoperation with other directories. Active Directory is designed especially for distributed networking environments. It includes support for the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) to enable inter-directory operability

Active Server Page

An Active Server Page (ASP) is an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) page that includes one or more small embedded programs (called "scripts") that are processed on a Microsoft Web server before the page is sent to the user. An ASP is somewhat similar to a Server-side include or a common gateway interface ("CGI") application. It can be used to customize a web page based on the user requested data. Related files have the .asp extension. (Source: Whatis.com)

Advanced Computing Environment.

Advanced Computing Environment. The ACE was formed in 1991 by a collection of vendors seeking to use the MIPS Computer Systems RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processing architecture or the 80X86 microprocessor technology from Intel and develop source code compatibility between SCO UNIX (Santa Cruz Operation) and System V release 4.0 of Unix, and other compatibilities.

Founding members included Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq Computer, MIPS Computer Systems, SCO and Microsoft. The ACE effort did not meet its objectives and is no longer active.

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) The ACM was formed on September 15, 1947 at Columbia University. It was originally known as the Eastern Association for Computing Machinery. The ACM has become the largest and one of the most important organizations in the field of information processing. The ACM publishes a variety of material including "The Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery," "Communications of the ACM," "Computing Reviews," and many others. The ACM created the Turing Award in 1961 for outstanding technical contributions to the computing field and established the Distinguished Service Award in 1970, recognizing special service in the field. The ACM has over 60,000 members (1995).


Acorn was the code name given to the IBM PC during its early development. The development team was led by Philip Donald Estridge, and the first "IBM PCs" came off the product line in about July 1981.

Acoustic Delay Line

In the acoustic delay line storage device, an acoustic medium, such as mercury, is used to hold the sound pattern generated by a diaphragm device placed at each end of the medium or tank. The signals generated by the diaphragm echo or regenerate through the medium. The vibrations of the diaphragm correspond to binary bits.

Acoustic delay lines, or acoustic tanks could only store limited vibrations, so they were usually used in parallel. Delay line information was "read" by interrupting the echo regeneration of the sound wave at a specified time. Acoustic delay lines were used in some early computers of the 1950's.


A software product by Adobe Systems of Mountain View, California, used for viewing, creating and distributing electronic documents over a wide range of platforms, including the World Wide Web. Acrobat 2.1 was released in September 1995.

Active X

Microsoft Corporation released its Active X development language for Internet web development in March 1996.


The ADA programming language was developed for the U.S. Dept. of Defense in 1979 by a team at CII-Honeywell-Bull, France. Development was directed by Jean Ichbiah. The ADA language was named after Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace and the daughter of Lord Byron. Augusta Ada had been involved in setting many of Charles Babbage's concepts to writing thus clarifying and preserving some of his work. ADA was designed to be a standard for U.S. Government and NATO procurement processes and was a required language for use in mission critical projects.

Add-Index Corporation

The Add-Index Corporation produced metal mechanical adding machines during the 1920's such as the Add-Index models 670, 680, 690 and 691. These models weighed about 25 pounds and had a hand-operated crank mechanism. The Add-Index Corporation was located at 120 Broadway, New York, New York.

Application Environment Specification (AES)

Application Environment Specification. A set of standards for a computing environment established by the Open Software Foundation (OSF).

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence. Use of computer systems and programs to simulate human problem solving, sometimes including such applications as speech comprehension, learning, visual recognition and other highly complex functions.

AFIPS (American Federation of Information Processing Societies)

The AFIPS was formed in 1961, incorporating a group of information processing organizations. The AFIPS currently has over 250,000 members, and has its headquarters in Reston, Virginia (1995).

Aircraft Computers

Lear Siegler Corporation and Lockheed Aircraft Corporation introduced on-board computers in 1979 to record and analyze air speed, altitude, turbulence and other information. The on-board computers were used to increase fuel efficiency in the aircraft. In addition to electronic computers, manual methods, such as the Weems Navigation Computer (1934) were used by pilots in plotting navigation.

Advanced Interactive Executive

Advanced Interactive Executive. AIX is a version of Unix System V developed by IBM for its RT (RISC Technology) computer and the PS/2.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) was started by Jerry Sanders in 1969 after he left Fairchild Semiconductor. AMD ranks as number 5 of the U.S. microchip manufacturers. Jerry Sanders holds the position of CEO (1995). AMD is based in Sunnyvale, California.

AMD markets microprocessors for personal computers, produces non-volatile memory devices, programmable logic devices and chips for microprocessor embedded products.

A Brief Chronology of AMD


Company started by Jerry Sanders


AMD goes public.


Siemens purchases a 20% share in AMD providing needed capital for AMD's expansion.


AMD enters into an agreement with Intel, allowing AMD to produce copies of the Intel iAPX86 microprocessor, used in IBM compatible personal computers.


Several AMD engineers leave to form Cypress Semiconductor Company.


AMD suffers financial difficulties and announces layoffs.


AMD acquires Monolithic Memories.


AMD has been engaged in several litigation actions with Intel, relating to agreements for chip production. Lawsuits were eventually dropped.


Compaq Computers agrees to purchase the Am486 chip for use in its personal computers.



A line of Lotus Notes servers by Mobius Computer.


The Alcatronia 8 is a hand-held electronic calculator produced during the 1970's which displayed its output in Arabic.


Aldus is a leading manufacturer of desktop publishing software. Aldus was founded in February 1984 by Paul Brainerd. It was named after Aldus Manutius, a 17th century printer and type designer. Brainerd is sometimes credited with developing the term "desktop publishing." Aldus's very successful desktop publishing software, PageMaker, was on the market by 1985. In June 1987, Aldus went public and sold 2.2 million shares at $20 per share. In March 1994, Aldus was purchased by Adobe Corporation.


ALGOL 60 was an algorithmic programming language developed in about 1960. An improved version, ALGOL 68, was developed in 1968.


A relational database management system developed by Hewlett-Packard. Allbase supports HP's Image application interfaces and supports SQL (Structured Query Language).


ALL-IN-ONE is an integrated set of office automation tools developed by Digital Equipment Corporation in 1983. ALL-IN-ONE runs on the DEC VAX/VMS computer systems.

Alpha Chip

Digital Equipment Corporation introduced its Alpha line of 64-bit computers in 1992 and announced plans to make its Alpha 21604 chip available on certain Digital, Oliveti and other PCs. The Alpha chip runs at 150 and 200 Mhz.

ALV (Autonomous Land Vehicle)

In 1985, Martin Marietta Corporation built the ALV ("Autonomous Land Vehicle") for the U.S. Army. The vehicle used video cameras, laser range finders, inertial guidance systems and sonar to navigate around. The ALV was too slow to be of practical use and the ALV project was ultimately abandoned. It did prove to be one of the U.S. Army's early attempts at robotics technology.

Amdahl Corporation

In 1954, Gene Amdahl, a brilliant computer scientist and developer, created the first operating system for the IBM 704 computer. Amdahl later became chief architect of the IBM/360 large scale computer system. He left IBM in 1970 and formed his own company, Amdahl Corporation. Amdahl Corp. produced IBM compatible mainframes, attempting to undercut IBM's prices and provide better performance. In 1972, Fujitsu Limited entered into an arrangement with Amdahl Corp. which eventually led to an infusion of needed capital to the Amdahl Corporation. In 1975, Amdahl successfully launched its first computer, the model 470/V6. The Amdahl 5990 mainframe was announced May 1988. By 1991, Amdahl ranked 19th in the top 100 North American Computer Companies. In 1979, Gene Amdahl resigned as president of Amdahl Corporation after stockholders voted in Eugene R. White as the new president. Gene Amdahl later founded Trilogy Systems with his son, and a friend, Clifford Madden. Amdahl later became chief executive officer of Andor Systems.

America Online ("AOL")

America Online was founded in 1985. As of June 30, 2000, America Online has a reported 23.2 million members. Its Compuserve 2000 Service and Compuserve Classic memberships total 2.8 million. In 2000, AOL set a subscriber growth record by adding 5.6 million members. Consolidated revenues reached nearly $6.9 billion, a 43% increase over the previous year. In October, 2000, AOL also announced the release of AOL version 6.0. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer is Steve Case. President and Chief Operating Officer is Bob Pittman.


AMMUS Program (Air Force Mini-Computer Multi-User)

AMMUS is a program of the U.S. Air Force which called for approximately 1,600 Wang mini-computers for establishing a management information system at Air Force bases worldwide. The Air Force signed a contract with Wang Laboratories in 1986 for $480 million as part of the AMMUS Program.

Marc Andreesen and Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee, a researcher at CERN, a high-energy research laboratory on the French-Swish border, was the inventor of the World Wide Web concept and HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol), of the Internet. Berners-Lee invented the Web in 1989 by writing the first web server program and putting hypertext information online. The Web and HTTP made it possible for many more people to understand and use the Internet and were instrumental in the Internet's amazing growth since the early 1990's. Together with the development of the Web browser, Mosaic, by Marc Andreesen in 1993, these events sparked the user friendly Internet that we know today. Andreesen worked with his friend Eric Bina on the original 9000-lines of code that became Mosaic. Marc Andreesen also went on to co-found Netscape, which made the extremely popular Netscape Navigator web browser software. (Netscape was originally called "Electric Media," then "Mosaic Communications," and finally "Netscape." By 1996, 46 million copies of Netscape were in use worldwide. Netscape made its initial public offering (IPO) on August 9, 1995, and with stock opening at $28 per share, doubled and Netscape reached a value of $3 billion. (AOL purchased Netscape Communications in November of 1998.) (Ref: "Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer," Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine, McGraw-Hill, 2000.)


The Anita was an electric calculator developed by N. Kritz in 1961 and produced by Sumlock Comptometer Company, Ltd.


American National Standards Institute. A standards organization consisting of various charter members, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Electronic Industries Association (EIA), which help define and set standards in specific areas.

Anti-Trust Actions (U.S. Government)

IBM and U.S. Government

In 1912, the U.S. Government filed an anti-trust suit against National Cash Register(NCR). During the three month trial, several NCR executives were found at fault. This is the government's first use of the anti-trust laws in this fashion. In 1935, U.S. Government filed an anti-trust suit against IBM charging that IBM abused a dominant market position and engaged in anticompetitive tactics to maintain that position. In 1952, the U.S. Government filed another anti-trust action against IBM. In January 25, 1956, in the anti-trust case, United States of America vs. International Business Machines Corporation (Civil Action No 72-344, Southern District of New York, filed in 1952) was ended by a "Consent Decree." The thirty-seven page decree stated, among other things, that IBM would have to sell its equipment not exclusively lease it. On January 17, 1969, the United States Government filed an anti-trust lawsuit against IBM charging that IBM monopolized the general-purpose computer systems market. This suit lasted until January 8, 1982, at which time the Government withdrew it.

Microsoft Corporation and U.S. Government

In October 1997, the Justice Department filed a motion in Federal District Court, alleging that Microsoft had violated a 1994 consent decree dealing with certain aspects of licensing the Windows operating system to computer manufacturers. Specifically, the Justice Department asked the court to stop Microsoft from tying the use of its Windows 95 operating system to the use of its Internet browser, a tool to navigate the Internet.

On April 3, 2000, following a negative ruling by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, Microsoft said that it plans to request an expedited review by the U.S. Court of Appeals after the remedies phase and final decree. The appeal will stress a 1998 U.S. Court of Appeals decision that affirmed the company's right to support the Internet in the Windows operating system. (for more information see Microsoft online.


Application Programming Interface. A programming language interface between a software program, such as commercially available software applications, and the end user. APIs can provide "hooks" into programs and help provide compatibility.

Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC)

The AGC was the first navigational computer built for NASA to include integrated circuits and magnetic core-rope memory. NASA's Apollo Guidance Computer orbited the earth aboard Apollo 7 in 1968.


Advanced Program-to-Program Communications. A peer-to-peer relationship based set of protocols developed by IBM for use under SNA (Systems Network Architecture). APPC is sometimes called LU 6.2.



Apple Computer

Apple Computer, founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, is a legendary success story of two young computer enthusiasts who developed and successfully marketed a microcomputer for general public use. The Apple line and especially the Apple Macintosh set new directions for home computing and helped skyrocket the interest in the home computing arena.

A Brief Chronology of Apple Computer


Steve Jobs (21) and Steve Wozniak (26) get together and build and market the Apple I computer. Wozniak and Jobs form the Apple Computer Company on April Fool's day.

The Apple I debuts at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California. In May, Jobs sells his VW and Wozniak sells his Hewlett-Packard programmable calculator to raise $1,350 to finance production of the Apple I boards.

Steve Jobs uses his parents' garage to build the first machines. The Apple I computer is announced at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California. In July, the Apple I computer board sells for $666.66.

By the end of 1976, ten retail stores were marketing the Apple I computers. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak attended the Atlantic City Computer Convention.


In January 1977, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Armas C. "Mark" Markkula incorporate the "Apple Computer" Company. Markkula was a former marketing manager at Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor, who added significant business expertise to the Jobs and Wozniak Team. Apple production moves from Steve Job's garage to a building in Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino, California. Mike Scott becomes president of Apple.

In April 1977, Rob Janoff, art director for Regis McKenna Advertising, designs the Apple Logo. That same month, the Apple II computer is unveiled at the West Coast Computer Fair. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak unveiled the Apple II computer in April 1977. It came standard with 48k memory and sold for $1,298. The Apple II was the first personal computer to generate color graphics. The Apple II included a keyboard, power supply and attractive case.


The Apple II+ computer is announced, with 48K memory.


Apple begins working on the Apple III under the code name "Sara."


Apple Computer goes public in December 1980. An initial offering of 4.6 million shares of Apple common stock sell for $22 per share. Every share is bought within minutes of offering, making it the largest public offering since Ford went public in 1956. Apple employees numbered over 1,000.

Apple Computer announced the Apple III computer in September, at the National Computer Conference.

Apple begins work on the Apple IIe under the code name "Diana."


Apple Computer had an installed base of 300,000 Apple II computers. Apple Computer had about 3,000 Apple dealers worldwide. Apple reorganized. Mike Markkula replaced Mike Scott as president; Steve Jobs succeeded Markkula as chairman and Mike Scott became vice-president. By November 1981, Apple employees numbered 2,500 and the Apple II computer's installed base exceeded 300,000 units.

Apple introduces the "ProFile," its first hard drive, which holds 5 Mb.


(December) Apple Computer becomes the first personal computer company to reach $1 billion in annual sales.

(Franklin Computer introduced an Apple II clone, called the ACE 100.)


John Sculley joined Apple Computer in April 1983 as its 4,450th employee. Sculley was, at 44, one of the oldest employees at Apple, where the average age was 27. Sculley, formerly president of Pepsi-Cola, takes over the presidency of Apple.

Apple Computer enters the Fortune 500 at number 411 in under five years. About 10,000 Apple II computers were given to California schools by September (1983).

The Apple III+ computer was announced.

The Apple IIe (priced at $1,395) and the Lisa (priced at $9,995) were introduced. The Lisa came with 1MB of RAM and a 5 MB hard disk. (The Lisa was later renamed the "Macintosh XL.")


Apple announces the Macintosh. It comes standard with 128k memory and sells for $2,495. Apple Computer runs its controversial "1984, Big Brother" commercial during the Superbowl broadcast announcing the Apple Macintosh computer (January).

Apple Computer wins copyright infringement suit against Franklin Computer, setting a precedent for PC software protection.

(April) Apple Computer announces the Apple IIc (selling for $1,295) and discontinues the Apple III.

By November, Apple has sold its two millionth Apple II.


In February, Jobs and Wozniak receive the National Technology Medal from President Ronald Reagan at the White House.

In February, 1985, Steve Wozniak resigned from Apple Computer to start a new company to develop products in the home video area.

In September 1985, Steve Jobs leaves Apple to form a new computer company, NeXT.

The Macintosh XL (formerly called the "Lisa") is dropped from the Apple product line. The remaining 7,000 Lisa's in Apple's inventory are purchased by a company called "Sun Remarketing" in 1986. (See "Where's Lisa Now" by Michael J. Posner, in "Historically Brewed" magazine, Oct/Nov 1993, Issue #2.)

Over 400,000 Apple IIc computers were sold in first year of production.


(Feb.) Apple Computer purchases a Cray X-MP/48 supercomputer (valued at $15.5 million) to simulate future hardware and software architectures and accelerate new product development. By the end of 1986, Apple has over 5,500 employees.


In 1987, John Sculley publishes his 429 page book "Odyssey" (Harper & Row) outlining his challenges and experiences at Apple.

Sculley gives keynote address at the 1988 MacWorld Exposition, which boasts of 25,000 attendees and 350 exhibitors.


In October, Apple reports net sales of $4.07 billion and net income of $400.3 million.

In June 1989, Apple donates $2 million worth of Apple computers to schools.

Apple Computer files a lawsuit against Microsoft Corporation surrounding the Windows operating system. (Apple loses the lawsuit in 1992.)


Apple loses its lawsuit against Microsoft Corporation over the Windows operating system.


Apple Computer Inc. decides to license the Macintosh operating system to other vendors for both the PowerPC and Intel x86 systems.

Economic recession of the 1990's hits Apple Computer as well as others in the industry.

Apple replaced John Sculley with a new president and CEO, Michael Spindler.

Apple Computer announced planned layoffs of 2,500 employees.


In 1996, Apple announced a first quarter fiscal 1996 loss of $69 million and its shares dropped 12 percent, to about $29.88.

News stories circulated regarding Apple Computer as a possible target for acquisition by Sun Microsystems or another company.

Apple's new operating system, Copeland, is scheduled for release in 1997.


(January) Sun Microsystems and Apple discuss a possible merger, but talks fall through.

Apple's Board of Directors replaces President Michael Spindler with board member Gilbert Amelio.

(March) Apple names Fred Anderson as its Chief Financial Officer.

(December) Apple reported a $120 million loss for quarter.

(December) Apple Computer buys NeXT Software, Inc. from Steve Jobs for $430 million.

Steve Jobs soon became an adviser to Apple CEO GIlbert Amelio and was added to Apple's 10-member executive committee.


(February 4) Apple undergoes a management restructuring.

Marco Landi, who had been named as Chief Operating Officer in May 1996, resigned February 18th.

Apple announced planned layoffs. Media claims 3,000 to 5,000 as an estimated number. Actual number turns out to be closer to 5,400.

(March) Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, mentions he may put in a bid for Apple Computer. (April) Ellison puts off making a bid for Apple.

(July 9) Apple's Board of Directors asks Gilbert Amelio to resign as Chairman and CEO of Apple. The Chief Financial Officer, Fred Anderson, reportedly takes over day-to-day operations until a replacement can be selected.


See Apple Computers Chronology - Listing of Apple Computers and Approximate Year of Introduction


Apple Computer Links to Photos

Apple I Computer (1975)

Apple IIc (1984)

Apple IIc (another view)

Apple IIc (PowerPack)

Apple IIe Computer (1983)

Apple IIGS Computer (1989)

Apple Lisa (1983)

Apple Macintosh Classic (1990)

Apple PowerMac


Apple II Computer Specifications

Apple II Specifications (1977)



6502 (1MHz)

Video Display

Memory mapped, 5 modes, all software selectable; 40 characters per line, 24 lines; Color Graphics (15 colors)


4K RAM supplied; Up to 48K bytes possible on-board;


Fast extended Integer Basic in ROM with color graphics commands; Extensive monitor in ROM


1500 bps cassette tape

Apple game I/O interface

8-slot motherboard


Composite video output

Complete Apple II Unit Cost


Cost for Apple II board only




Apple Education Foundation (Education)

The Apple Education Foundation was founded in 1979 with a goal to grant complete Apple systems to schools who wish to develop new classroom software and integrate computers into their curriculum.


Apple Computer's protocol and networking system for Apple Computers.

APT (Automatic Programmed Tool)

The Automatic Programmed Tool (APT) was developed in 1956 by D.T. Ross.


Archie is one of the tools for searching the information libraries on the INTERNET.


A process-management software product developed by James Martin & Co., of Reston, Virginia. Version 6.0 of Architect was released in August 1995.


ARCNet ("Attached Resource Computer Network")

ARCNet local area network technology, introduced in 1977, was approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1993. As of that year, ARCNet had an installed base of 4,500,000 LAN nodes. In most businesses, ARCNet is being replaced by newer, faster technologies, such as Ethernet.


In 1820, Charles Xavier Thomas of Colmar, Alsace, France, develops a complete hand-operated mechanical calculator. His device is called the Arithmometer. The term Arithmometer was later used by others to refer to any Thomas-type calculating device. By the year 1865, over 500 of these devices had been made.

Armstrong, Edwin H. (1890-1954)

From 1912 to 1913, Armstrong made improvements to the development of the triode tube as an oscillator. His work contributed to the continued development of vacuum tube technology.

Arnold, Harold D.

From 1912 to 1914, Harold D. Arnold, American physicist, and Irving Langmuir, an American Chemist, improved the triode tube developed by Lee De Forrest, by increasing the amount of vacuum in the tube.

ARPA and the ARPANET (Early History of the Internet)

Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT (AI LAB)

The AI Lab was established in 1958 by Professor Marvin Minsky and others at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Atlas Computer Project

In 1947, John L. Hill joined Engineering Research Associates (ERA) and became project engineer for the Demon Project and the Atlas Computer Project. Hill also worked on the Remington Rand Speed Tally inventory system, the ERA 1101 and 1103 computers and other systems.

AS/400 (IBM AS/400) (Application System/400)

The AS/400 was introduced by IBM in 1988 as its new series of mid-sized computers. The AS/400 was designed as an upgrade and replacement for the System/36 and System/38 product lines.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)

The ASCII Code was developed in 1963 as a standard to allow computers built by different manufacturers to communicate with each other and exchange information. ASCII has been widely used as a standard for personal computer generated documents. Large computers, such as IBM mainframes, use a code called EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code).

ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits)

In 1985, Ensoniq, a Pennsylvania manufacturer of electronic keyboards, began using specially designed computer chips called Application-Specific Integrated Circuits ("ASIC") which incorporated technology for sound synthesis. The ASIC chips allowed Ensoniq to produce higher quality electronic keyboards at one-fourth the cost of earlier keyboards.

In 1985, Ensoniq, a Pennsylvania manufacturer of electronic keyboards, began using specially designed computer chips called Application-Specific Integrated Circuits ("ASIC") which incorporated technology for sound synthesis. The ASIC chips allowed Ensoniq to produce higher quality electronic keyboards at one-fourth the cost of earlier keyboards.

In 1985, the Adaptive Suspension Vehicle ("ASV") was a walking machine built at Ohio State University for the U.S. Department of Defense. The ASV was controlled by seventeen on-board computers, weighed three tons, and could walk at about eight miles an hour.

Ask Computer Systems, Inc.

Sandra L. Kurtzig began ASK Computer Systems in 1971. ASK (from "Arie and Sandy Kurtzig") started as a part time business in a spare bedroom. One of its first products was inventory control software for Halcyon Company and California Microwave, and later its successful MANMAN manufacturing management software offered through Tymshare. ASK Computer Systems grew to $50,000 in sales by 1973.

ASK was incorporated in July 1974, with Sandra Kurtzig, age 27, as president, chairman and CEO. ASK's total sales revenues reached $470,000 in 1978, $2,500,000 in 1979, and $8,300,000 by 1980. ASK went public in 1981, making Kurtzig and others in the company millionaires. In 1990, ASK acquired Ingres Corporation, makers of relational database software, after which ASK's annual revenues reached about $400 million.



Atari Corporation

"PONG" and the Beginning of Atari

In 1971, Nolan Bushnell (1943-) founded Atari to manufacture and market video games. In 1976, Bushnell sold Atari to Time Warner, Inc. The home and video arcade game "Pong" became a wide success and Atari became the leader in the computer video game industry.

The Video Market Slump

By 1982, the video game industry was a $3 billion business. Atari's success attracted many competitors. The public's demand for the more simplistic video games dropped sharply, and profits fell. The years 1983 through 1985 were especially bad for video game vendors.

By 1984, Atari was deep into debt. Time Warner, Inc. sold Atari to Jack Tramiel and other investors. In May 1984, Tramiel created Atari Corporation, manufacturer and marketer of personal computers and video game systems.

In July, Atari Corporation acquired certain microcomputer and video game assets from the Atari, Inc. subsidiary of Warner Communications, Inc. Tramiel, formerly of Commodore Business Machines, focused Atari on creating a new personal computer.

In 1995, Atari obtained an agreement with WalMart to place its Jaguar home game systems in 400 of WalMart's superstores across the country. Atari failed to market the Jaguar effectively and sales were very poor. WalMart returned the remaining inventory to Atari, who was unable to meet financial obligations and decided to eventually sell off the company to JTS Corporation in July 1996.

A Sampling of Atari Products

Atari Home Computers

Atari also produced home computers which utilized a TV monitor. A wide variety of games were available for the Atari systems.

Atari 400

The Atari 400 home computer came with 16K of RAM and 10K of ROM. The model 400 used typewriter-style keyboard, with pressure-sensitive wipe-clean keyboard panel. It had 57 alphanumeric keys and four special function keys. It could support color, sound, inverse video, full-screen editing, and four-way cursor control. The Atari 400 used the 6502B microprocessor and had a .56 microsecond cycle and 1.8 MHz clock speed.

The 400 weighed just under 6 pounds and plugged into a television set for display. It was introduced in 1978. It cost about $500, later reduced to about $340 (1982).

Atari 800

The 800 used the 6502 processor, had 8K RAM expandable to 48K, and could access external cassette player or floppy drives. It was announced in 1978, although it did not ship until later. It weighed under 10 pounds and cost about $999.

Atari 1200XL

The Atari 1200XL came with Basic, Pascal, Fortran and Assembly languages. The 1200XL supported 64K memory, expandable, and provided color display. It sold for about $899.

Other Atari Computers

Atari 520ST

In January 1985, Atari introduced the 520ST computer, which had the ability to support word processing, spreadsheets, video games, and music. It was the first home computer built to incorporate the MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) standards. The 520ST was very successful and Atari's financial position improved.

Atari 1040ST

Atari went public in 1986, raising over $54 million in new capital. Atari then released the 1040ST computer, with additional technical advancements. In 1987, Atari began shipping its MEGA computers, which had increased graphics and music capabilities. In 1988, Atari purchased and then sold the Federated Group of electronics stores.

A Brief Chronology of Atari:


Atari founded by Nolan Bushnell.


Atari is purchased by Time Warner.


Atari announces the Atari 400 home computer


Atari announces the Atari 800 home computer


Atari announces the 1200XL home computer


Time Warner sells Atari to Jack Tramiel.


52ST computer introduced.


Atari goes public. Atari Corporation introduces the ATARI 1040ST personal computer. The 1040 ST is the first personal computer to offer a megabyte of memory for less than $1,000. The ATARI ST line utilizes the Motorola 6800 chip, a 32 bit processor over a 16-bit channel. The ST line computers have a speed of 8 MHz. Other Atari products include the 2600 VCS and the 7800 ProSystem video game consoles. Atari's primary competitor in the computer video game market is Nintendo.


Atari 7800 home video game introduced.


MEGA computer released. XE system released.


On October 4, Atari Corporation purchased all outstanding shares of the Federated Group, Inc. ("Federated") a retailer of consumer electronics products.


Atari sells its interest in Federated Group.


Portfolio, palmtop computer introduced.


The TT030 graphics workstation and the portable ST computer are introduced. Atari Falcon030 multimedia system introduced. The Lynx, the world's first color, hand-held video game introduced.


Atari suit against Nintendo charging Nintendo with illegally monopolizing the video game market was thrown out by a U.S. District Court. Atari downsized its international operations.


Atari announced "Jaguar" a 64-bit interactive media entertainment system and sold 200,000 units the first year.


Atari entered into an agreement with Sega which allowed Sega rights to Atari's video game patents in exchange for a $90 million investment by Sega in Atari.


On July 30, after severe financial difficulties and marketing set backs with its Jaquar line, Atari stock was sold to JTS Corporation of San Jose, a maker of hard drives. Atari operations are dismantled.


December 23, JTS sold all remaining Jaguar inventory to Tiger Software, a catalog company dealing with closeout merchandise.


The December 1982 Atari Home Computer Product Catalog lists the following copyrighted names belonging to Atari, Inc.

An Invitation to Programming; Asteroids ; Atari Macro Assembler and Program-Text Editor ; Atari Memory Module;

Atari Service and Design; Atari Special Additions; AtariWriter; Avalanche; Caverns of Mars; Centipede; Dig Dug; Energy Czar;

Graph It; Juggles' House; Kingdom ; Macro Assembler; Missile Command ; Music Composer; My First Alphabet; Scram ;

Star Raiders; SuperBreakout; Telelink; The Atari Connection; The Communicator; The Educator; The Entertainer;

The Home Manager; The Programmer; The Home Filing Manager; Timewise; Video Easel; Atari 400 computer

Atari 800 computer; Atari 410 Program Recorder (cassettes); Atari 1010 Program Recorder (cassettes); Atari 1020 Color Plotter;

Atari 810 Disk Drive (floppy disks); Atari CX85 Numerical Keypad; Atari 835 Direct Connect Modem; Atari 1025 80-Column Printer;

Atari 830 Acoustic Modem ; A Sampling of Atari Video Game Systems; Atari called its video game systems "Video Computer Systems"; or "VCS." ;

Some of the Atari video game systems included:

Atari VCS 2600 (woodgrain & black finish, used 6507 chip, 128 bytes RAM)

Atari VCS 2600A (woodgrain & black finish; used 6507 chip, 128 bytes RAM)

Atari VCS 2600 (all black plastic; used 6507 chip)

Atari 2600 Jr. (much smaller case than those above)

Atari CX5200 (used 6502C chip, 16 K RAM)

Atari CX7800 (used 6502C chip, 4 K RAM)

Atari 5200 Advanced Games System (based on the Atari 400 computer)

Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade I (basically the same as the Atari 2600)

Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade IA (basically the same as the Atari 2600)

Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade II (a special revised version of the 2600)

See also:

Atari Historical Society

Atari Standalone Clones



(Abbreviated Test Language for "All" Systems) A programming language developed in 1968.

ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode)

ATM is a transmission technology which will allow network transmission speeds of 45 million to 622 million bits per second, as compared to telephone line speeds of 64,000 to 1.54 million bits per second. ATM is designed to provide the ability to do simultaneous communication of video, voice, and data over a single line.

AutoDesk Company

AutoDesk Company was founded in 1982 by John Walker and others. AutoDesk Company is the maker of AutoCAD computer-aided design software for personal computers.


Autocode was one of the first high-level computer languages. It was developed by Alick Glennie in 1952.

Automatic Relay Computer (ARC)

Andrew D. Booth of Birbeck College, London, and Kathleen H. V. Britten developed the Automatic Relay Computer ("ARC") in 1947.

Auto Scribe Company

In March of 1970, the "Auto Scribe" company was formed. Auto-Scribe developed the first marketable word processing system to utilize a video display screen with a CRT (cathode ray tube). Auto Scribe changed its name to Lexitron Corporation.



In July 1991, U. S. District Judge Harold Green ruled that the AT&T divestiture rule prohibiting the Regional Bell Operating Companies from offering information services such as on-line news services and electronic advertising would be lifted. This opened the door to "Baby-Bells" to offer on-line service to corporate and individual phone customers.

Backus, John

In 1959, Backus defined rules for analyzing high-level languages. These rules were called the Backus Normal Form (BNF), and were later revised to be called "Backus Naur Form" in recognition of the early work done by Danish astronomer Peter Naur.

Baird, John Logie

In 1925, John Baird used a Nipkow Disk and photoelectric cell to transmit a picture over a distance of several feet (early television technology).

BALLOTS (Bibliographic Automation of Large Library Operations)

BALLOTS was a project developed under a grant from the U.S. Office of Education, for the creation of a multiple access computer system for large university libraries. It was initiated at Stanford University in 1967.

BASIC (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code)

Originally designed for the General Electric 225 mainframe computer, the BASIC language was developed by John Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz at Dartmouth College, in 1964. BASIC became a very popular microcomputer programming language in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Baudot, Emile

(origin of "baud rate") Emile Baudot was a French telegraph engineer who developed the multiplex telegraph system in 1874. The multiplex telegraph permitted multiple telegraph messages over a single line. The special code he developed for this purpose was called the "Baudot Code." Baudot code was a serial data transmission of binary digits ("0" and "1") which became extremely important in later digitial computing devices. The term "Baud Rate" is named after Baudot and refers to the number of changes in electrical state of a transmission line. Sometimes "Baud Rate" is used to describe modem speeds, however, BPS (bits per second) rate is a more accurate description of transmission speeds, and "Baud" is becoming less commonly used.

BDDDA (Bendix Decimal Differential Analyzer)

The BDDDA was built by Bendix Computer Division, Bendix Aviation Corporation in the early 1950's.

 B 5000 Computer

 The B 5000 Computer was introduced by Burroughs Corporation in 1961.


 BEACON was a large, on-line airline reservation system installed by British European Airways (BEA) in the late 1960's. It was one of the largest operational computer systems of its kind at that time. BEACON processed ticket reservations from all over the world.

Bell Laboratories (Bell Labs)

Bell Labs was the major research and development entity within American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) and at one time employed over 25,000 people. At one time partly owned by Western Electric Company, Bell Labs became a subsidiary of AT&T after the divestiture in January 1983. Originally part of the American Bell Telephone Company founded in 1885, the research group officially took the name "Bell Labs" in January 1925. In 1940, Bell Laboratories conducted remote processing experiments utilizing one of the first remote terminals.

In 1945, AT&T Bell Laboratories employed physicists to work in semiconductor research. Included are William Schockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen.

The Bell Computer Model V12 was completed at Bell Telephone Labs in 1946.

In 1943, the Bell Labs Relay Interpolator became operational.


 Berkeley Enterprises

In 1948, Edmund C. Berkeley organized Berkeley Enterprises, Inc., New York. Berkeley Enterprises started as a consulting firm and later sold construction kits for building robots and computing devices as well as publications on logic and cybernetics. During the 1950's, Berkeley Enterprises published "Computers and Automation," a monthly magazine dealing with computers, data processing, automation, cybernetics, robots and automatic control mechanisms.

Edmund C. Berkeley's books include

"Giant Brains" (John Wiley & Sons, 1949)

"Automatic Computing Machinery" (1956)


201 Small Electric Brain Machines and How to Make Them" (1959)

("Brainiacs" lists the 1959 address for Berkeley Enterprises as 815 Washington Street Newtonville, Massachusetts)

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee, a researcher at CERN, a high-energy research laboratory on the French-Swish border, was the inventor of the World Wide Web concept and HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol), of the Internet. Berners-Lee invented the Web in 1989 by writing the first web server program and putting hypertext information online. The Web and HTTP made it possible for many more people to understand and use the Internet and were instrumental in the Internet's amazing growth since the early 1990's. Together with the development of the Web browser, Mosaic, by Marc Andreesen in 1993, these events sparked the user friendly Internet that we know today. Andreesen worked with his friend Eric Bina on the original 9000-lines of code that became Mosaic. Marc Andreesen also went on to co-found Netscape, which made the extremely popular Netscape Navigator web browser software. (Netscape was originally called "Electric Media," then "Mosaic Communications," and finally "Netscape." By 1996, 46 million copies of Netscape were in use worldwide. Netscape made its initial public offering (IPO) on August 9, 1995, and with stock opening at $28 per share, doubled and Netscape reached a value of $3 billion. (AOL purchased Netscape Communications in November of 1998.) (Ref: "Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer," Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine, McGraw-Hill, 2000.)

Big Blue

Big Blue is the nickname for IBM which is known by its use of blue as its favorite color


Basic Input/Output System. The input/output control section of an IBM personal computer that defines the interface between the PC's operating system and the environment.


First use of term "BIT" for "Binary Digit" is credited to John Turkey, first used in 1946


Bletchley Park

"Bletchley Park" is not a company or organization name, but refers to a location in the United Kingdom where extremely valuable wartime research was conducted in early computing and codebreaking. Bletchley Park is an estate situated between London and Birmingham, England. It was the sight of highly intense, highly secret intelligence work during World War II.

Activities at Bletchley Park were so secret, that details were not made public until 1975. Bletchley was referred to under a variety of code names, such as "BP," "War Station X," "Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)," and others. The focus of the work was project Ultra. Ultra was the code name for activities to decrypt high level enemy communications in the war.

The Germans had developed complex cipher codes and encryption methods, including a machine called the "Enigma."

The Enigma was a machine used to code messages based on a series of rotating wheels.

The German High Command intelligence service, called the Abwehr, used one version of Enigma, while the German military used a slightly different version. The two versions presented two different problems for the Bletchley Park team in breaking the Enigma codes. The Germans were using the Enigma machines during the 1930's. In the late 1930's, before the breakout of war, the British Government Code and Cipher School (GC&CS) moved from its location in London, to Bletchley Park. In 1939, there were only about 100 people located at Bletchley. By 1942, the Bletchley teams were capturing and reading some 4,000 German military signals per day.

Bletchley Park was essentially a British intelligence operation from its earliest days. In September 1943, a special agreement was signed that allowed the incorporation of certain U.S. members into the British Ultra project. By 1944, there were over 7,000 people there in various capacities and on various projects. The Bletchley Park location was probably chosen originally since it was not far from railways which ran north, south, east and west, and its proximity to a roadway to London (now the "A5").

The Bletchley estate of approximately 581 acres, was originally part of Etone Manor and later owned by Sir Herbert Samuel Leon, a London Stockbroker. The GC&CS obtained the property around 1938. During the war, many additional structures were added, called simply Huts (e.g., Hut 1, Hut 2, etc.) where many of the assigned personnel conducted their secret work.

One of the achievements of the Bletchley team was the creation of Colossus, a large, programmable electronic digital computer that was used to decrypt encoded German messages. The Colossus was used as early as February 1944, and nine improved versions of the machine were made over time.

Bletchley teams also designed machines called "Bombes" which were electromechanical code breaking devices used to discover the wheel settings for Enigma keys, and another machine called "the Baby," which was used to encipher key words to assist in the decryption of Enigma messages. The "Bombes" and the "Baby" devices were made by the British Tabulating Machine Company.

Among the many dedicated individuals who worked at Bletchley Park were Cambridge University mathematics professor Max M.A. Newman, Alan Turing (a major contributor to the development of the Bombe), C. E. Wynn-Williams (inventor of first electronic particle counter used in physics research), Allen W. M. Coombs (Ph.D., Glasgow University), D. W. Babbage, (descendent of Charles Babbage), Ian Fleming (intelligence expert and author of James Bond novels), Sidney Broadhurst, Lewis Powell (later to become Justice Powell of the Supreme Court), and Donald Michie, a codebreaker.



(Basic Language for Implementation of System Software). BLISS was a programming language developed in 1970.


Binary Large Object. A BLOB is a byte stream of data that can represent sound, images or video.

Blue Book

A series of specifications, published in 1980 by Xerox Corporation, which became the foundation for the IEEE 802.3 specifications.


BOADICEA was a highly complex computer system installed in November 1968 by the British Overseas Airways Corporation. BOADICEA utilized three IBM 360/65 mainframe computers to perform a variety of tasks, such as flight planning, accounting, passenger check-in, maintenance schedule tracking, message switching, in-flight data analysis, crew scheduling, reservations, stock control, cargo tracking and other tasks.

With over 200 terminals in 70 different countries, the BOADICEA was one of the most expensive and elaborate computer systems of its time. It cost over $100 million to build. ("The Computer Revolution," Nigel Hawkes, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1971.)

Bolt, Beranek and Newman

Bolt, Beranek and Newman or "BBN" is known for its involvement in early timesharing technologies and for its role in the development of the ARPANET. BBN was founded in 1948 by Professor Richard Bolt and Professor Leo Beranek of MIT. An MIT graduate student, Robert Newman, became a part of the team not long afterwards.

BBN is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Bowmar Calculator

The Bowmar calculator was developed in 1971 by the Bowmar company, maker of Light Emitting Diodes ("LEDs"). The Bowmar was a small, hand- held electronic calculator based on the Texas Instruments integrated circuit. Bowmar's calculator was one of the smallest on the market. It had an eight digit LED display, rechargeable batteries and sold for about $240. Craig Electronics company sold this same calculator under their own name.

Brother EP20

In 1982, the Japanese company Brother, invented a miniature electronic typewriter that weighed less than 3 kilograms (less than 7 pounds). The Brother EP20 used a thermal printer and small display screen and could be used as a calculator.

Bubble Memory

Bubble memory was developed in 1967 at Bell Laboratories by A. H. Bobeck. Bubble memory devices were constructed of garnet chips in which the data-storage "bubbles" are a few microns wide. Through photolithography, magnetic and conductive metal patterns are created on the chip. The metal patterns form the sensing elements. The information is stored in binary code, 1 or 0, corresponding to the presence or absence of a bubble. An advantage of bubble memory is that it retains information after the electrical current is turned off.

Burack, Benjamin

In 1936, Benjamin Burack, of Roosevelt College, Chicago, built one of the first electrical logic machines. It was constructed in a suitcase, to be portable, and was used to test syllogisms and other logical operations.

Burroughs Adding Machine Company

In 1886, William Seward Burroughs (1857-1898), a bank clerk with exceptional mechanical and mathematical skills, invented the register accountant, which was the first practical adding machine. Burroughs formed the American Arithmometer Company in 1886. By 1895, they had built and sold 284 machines, by 1900, 1,500 machines and by 1903, 4,500 machines.

In 1905, the American Arithmometer Company changed its name to Burroughs.

In 1921, the Burroughs Adding Machine Company acquired Moon-Hopkins Billing Machine Company, a maker of billing and bookkeeping machines. By 1932, there were over 12,000 employees in the Burroughs company and the products were in use around the world.

In 1949, Burroughs Adding Machine Company established an electronics research laboratory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1953, Burroughs Adding Machine Company changed its name to Burroughs Corporation.

By 1966, Burroughs Corporation had revenues of $493,777,928, which was a 77% increase in net earnings from the previous year. In the 1960's Burroughs was the world's largest producer of accounting machines, which, along with its adding machines and calculators, amounted to nearly $300 million of its world-wide revenues. In addition to accounting machines, adding machines, calculators, cash registers, and magnetic ink document processing equipment, Burroughs also produced computers data processing forms and supplies, computers, space and defense systems, and electronic components.

Burroughs entered the computer field in the 1950's. In 1966, Burroughs added to its computer product line, including the new third generation, medium sized B2500 and B3500 models, and the large scale B6500 series. Over 90% of the machines were delivered to customers on a lease basis.

In 1980, Burroughs Corporation acquired the System Development Corporation, a leading manufacturer of information storage and retrieval equipment and data communications products. Also in 1980, Burroughs Corporation acquired Memorex, a leading supplier and systems integrator for the U.S. Government. In 1986, Burroughs merged with Sperry Corporation to form Unisys, the second largest computer company in the world. (See UNISYS)

See Also:

Burroughs Adding Machine (1911)

Burroughs Class 3 Adding Machine

Burroughs (Illiac-IV) (1965)

Burroughs 5500 Data Processing Machine (1960s)

Burroughs 6700 Data Processing Machine (1960s)



C Language - C, C++, Objective C

The C programming language was developed in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie, of

Bell Labs. A later extension of the C language, called C++, was developed in 1980 by Bjarne Stroustrup and others at Bell Labs. An object oriented extension of the C language called Objective C was developed at Stepstone Corporation by Brad Cox and others.

CA/DIC (California Digital Computer)

The CA/DIC was built in 1953 by Electrical Engineering Division, University of California, Berkeley.

Calculating, Calculators: Evolution of Counting and Calculating


Microsoft Corporation's code name for the next release of Windows NT (after NT 4).

Cambridge Digital Automatic Computer (CADAC)

In 1952, the CADAC (Cambridge Digital Automatic Computer) was built by Computer Research Corporation, Hawthorne, California.

CAIN (Computerized AIDS Information Network)

The CAIN network was established in 1991 as an information source for individuals interested in the AIDS problem. CAIN contains relevant news abstracts, press releases, clinical data and other information.

Carbon Paper

An Englishman, R. Wedgewood, invented carbon paper in 1806, reducing the tedious task of making copies of hand written materials.

Carlson, Chester

In 1938, Chester Carlson invented a method of making copies using dry photocopying technique on untreated paper. He tried to sell his idea to a company, but it was not until 20 years later that a company, Haloid, signed an agreement with him for his discovery. Haloid company eventually became Xerox Corporation.


Common Cryptographic Architecture. A data encryption method used by IBM to encrypt data traffic between an MVS host computer and an attached workstation.


At the 1926 Paris Conference of the International Telegraph Union, two committees were formed. One was the CCIF, which dealt with telephone interests, and the other was the CCIT, which dealt with telegraph interests.

In 1955, the CCIT and CCIF consolidated to form the CCITT (Consultative Committee on International Telephone and Telegraph). The CCITT meets to make recommendations on such matters as technical specifications for equipment. Now called the ITU (International Telecommunications Union).


Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) The CCRMA, focusing on computers in music, was founded in 1975 by John Chowning, a Stanford University music student.


Compact Disk Read-Only Memory. (Also called "laser disk" or "optical disk")

CD ROM is a data and program storage technology that uses laser-etched dots on a metallic surface, which is then sealed in clear plastic.

A CD ROM disk can hold approximately 650 Mb of information. Research into much higher storage capacities for CD ROM is underway.


CEDAR was a parallel processing computer developed in 1988 by David Kuck, at the University of Illinois. The CEDAR included software that automatically arranges data and program instructions to take advantage of its parallel processing system.

Centris 660AV (Multimedia)

In 1993, Apple introduced Macintosh Centris 660AV multimedia system, with built-in CD ROM, fax machine, dual speakers, voice recognition system, and high resolution monitor for viewing full-motion broadcast quality images.

In 1993, Apple introduced Macintosh Centris 660AV multimedia system, with built-in CD ROM, fax machine, dual speakers, voice recognition system, and high resolution monitor for viewing full-motion broadcast quality images.


Centronics Company introduced the dot matrix printer in 1971. Dot matrix printers utilize a series of tiny pins in the printing head which can print any character or shape at high speed.

Dot matrix printers are faster than the Daisywheel (Diablo Systems) or Selectric (IBM) printers and print complex graphic images as well. Dot matrix printers can achieve high speeds (over 600 characters per second), but quality of the type decreases as the speed increases. They became popular as inexpensive PC printers and as larger high speed draft quality printers.

Chess Playing Computers: Historical Highlights

The game of chess was first played in around 550 A.D., in India.

In 1949, Alan Turing and David Champernowne wrote the specifications for the Turochamp, a one-move analyzing chess machine.

Claude Shannon of MIT developed one of the first chess playing machines, the Caissac.

When the Manchester Automatic Digital Machine (MADM) computer was completed in 1949, Alan Turing programmed it to play chess. The MADM was probably the first computer to be able to play a full game of chess.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) held its first Computer Chess tournament in 1970.

In 1978, the computer program SARGON was the winner at the West Coast Computer Faire.

In about 1979, international chess grandmaster David Levy played against a program called CHESS 4.7, and won 3 out of 5 games.

Another chess playing progam from the 1970's included DUTCHESS, from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, at one time the world-champion chess program.

Other programs of that time period included Chess Challenger 10 from Fidelity Electronics, Boris by Chafitz, Inc., CompuChess by DataCash, and Chess Champion from JS&A.

Toytronics of Hong Kong produced a toy Chess Computer game (Pre-1990, approx.)

The first computer to win a match against a human world chess champion was Deep Blue, a specially designed computer build by IBM. Deep Blue won a match against world chess champion Gary Kasparov, in May 1997.


Charge-Coupled-Devices (CCD)

Charge-Coupled-Devices were invented in 1969 by William S. Boyle and George E. Smith at Bell Labs.

Circle Computer

The Circle Computer was built in 1953 by Hogan Laboratories, Inc., New York, New York.

Charles Babbage Institute

"The Charles Babbage Institute was founded in 1978 as an alliance of industrialists, professionals and academicians whose purpose is to record and study the evolution of the digital computer and modern electronic communication technology.

CBI is a research institute dedicated to promoting the study of the history of information processing, bringing historical perspective to the study of its impact on society, and fostering the development of historical archives in the area of information processing.

Located on the campus of the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), CBI maintains a very unique and valuable archival collection consisting of the records of individuals, and businesses, computer manuals, product literature, photographs, oral history interviews, and reference material for use by researchers." (Information courtesy of the Charles Babbage Institute) See Link:

Center for the History of Computing -Charles Babbage Institute


Clipper Chip

The "Clipper Chip" was the name given to the conceptual encryption system designed by the U.S. Government for the encoding and decoding of data (telephone and electronic mail) so that only authorized government agencies would be able to "eavesdrop" on electronic communications. Controversy over the Clipper Chip concept has been very widespread in the communications and networking field, as well as in other areas.

COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language)

By 1959, thousands of computers were in use in various business applications. Lack of standard business software was becoming a problem. On April 8, 1959, a meeting was held at the University of Pennsylvania Computing Center to set the format, agenda and list the proposed attendees for a formal meeting to discuss the issue of a common business language.

Present at the April meeting were I. Edward Block, Ben Cheydleur, Saul Gorn, Grace Hopper, Robert Rossheim, and Albert E. Smith. The meeting was held at the request of Mary K. Hawes of Burroughs Corporation's ElectroData Division. At this meeting, the group decided to ask the U.S. Department of Defense to sponsor the first formal meeting, which it did on May 28 and 29, 1959. About 40 individuals from government organizations, computer manufacturers and end users assembled, with Charles A. Phillips, Director of the Data Systems Research Staff, as Chair.

It was decided that three committees would be formed to deal with short-range, medium-range, and long-range objectives, under the direction of a Executive Committee. The long-range committee was never actually established. A Steering Committee was also formed to charter a course of action towards a common business language. They met on June 4, 1959 and decided to call themselves the Committee on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL). CODASYL established an Executive Committee to oversee the work of other committees.

The committees looked at several existing languages, including AIMACO, Comtran, FLOW-MATIC, Autocoder III, SURGE, Fortran, RCA 501 Assembler, Report Generator, and APG-1. The most influential of these languages were FLOW-MATIC and AIMACO. The name COBOL, for Common Business Oriented Language, was agreed upon by the Short-Range Committee on September 18, 1959, and the first version was drafted in December 1959.


Charles A. Phillips; Chairman Codasyl Committee; Representing: Office of the Secretary of Defense

Joseph F. Cunningham; Vice-Chairman; Representing: Air Force Department

E.J. Albertson; Representing: U.S. Steel Corporation

Gregory Dillon; Representing: Dupont Company

Mel Grosz; Representing: Esso Standard Oil Company

Joseph H. Wegstein; Chair, Short-Range Committee; Representing: National Bureau of Standards

A.E. Smith; Chair, Intermediate-Range Committee; Representing: Department of the Navy

Unassigned; Chair, Long-Range Committee;

Grace M. Hopper; Advisor; Representing: Sperry Rand Company

Robert W. Bemer; Advisor; Representing: IBM Corporation

COBOL: A Brief Timeline

1959 First mention of COBOL (September)

1959 COBOL introduced in December

1960 Revised as COBOL 60

1961 Revised as COBOL 61

1962 COBOL 61 Extended is issued

1968 COBOL adopted as an American standard by the American National Standards Institute

1974 COBOL standard updated and reissued


Cog Project

"Cog" (for "cognitive") is an experiment in artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Cog project is overseen by Rodney A. Brooks, associate director of the MIT AI Lab. Cog is a computer-run mechanical hand, arm and head unit used to explore computer control, self-learning robotics and artificial intelligence. Cog utilizes two video camera eyes and dozens of microprocessors from Motorola Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc. Cog was begun in 1992.

COGO (Coordinate Geometry)

A programming language developed in 1963.

Color Books Compact Disc standards

Philips and Sony, two international electronics companies, produced a series of standards for compact disc recordings. Philips and Sony owned the patents on the technology and defined standards they then published in books of various colors.

Various different standards were published for different types of uses, and they often became known by the color of the binder they were published in.

These include:

-Red Book

The Red Book was published by Philips and Sony around 1985. It describes the standard for recording music on compact discs. The Red Book is also called the "Compact Disc Digital Audio" standard.

-Yellow Book

The Yellow Book was published in 1985 by Philips and Sony, two international electronics companies which own the patents to compact disc technology, to define the standard for recording computer data on compact discs

-Orange Book

The Orange Book was published by Philips and Sony to specify formats for the Compact Disc Magneto-Optical (CD-MO) and Compact Disc Write-Once (CD-WO) technologies.

-White Book

The White Book was published by Philips, Sony, JVC and Matsushita to define the standards for a Video CD system. The White Book standard includes the use of full-motion MPEG-1 video.

-Green Book

The Green Book was published by Philips and Sony in 1986 to define the standard for the Compact Disc-Interactive (CD-I) technology.



COMDEX is a very large gathering of computer vendors and related companies. The first Computer Dealer Exposition (COMDEX) trade show was held in 1978.


COMIT was a programming language developed in 1957.

Commodore Business Machines

Commodore was founded in 1954 by Jack Tramiel and Manny Kapp as Commodore Portable Typewriter Company, a typewriter repair business. Commodore branched into adding machines and typewriters by 1956 and changed its name to "Commodore Business Machines." In the 1970's, Commodore acquired MOS Technology, a maker of computer chips.

Commodore also produced hand-held electronic calculators starting in the early 1970's, such as the Commodore Minuteman 3. Jack Tramiel took Commodore into the microcomputer business and introduced the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) in January 1977. Commodore soon followed with the Commodore VIC-20, introduced in 1980, and the Commodore 64 in 1982. Over 1 million VIC 20 units were sold. By 1984, Commodore had sales in excess of $1 billion. Jack Tramiel left Commodore in 1983 to become CEO at Atari. (See Atari)

Commodore acquired Amiga Computer, Inc. in 1984, and produced a line of Amiga, multi-processing, graphics computers.

Commodore Japan Ltd. produced the Commodore SX-64 portable computer, in 1984.

Commodore ran into financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy in May 1994.

It was acquired a year later by the German computer company Escom AG.

Brief Chronology of Commodore Business Machines


Commodore is founded in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Commodore starts as a typewriter sales and repair company.


Commodore Portable Typewriter Company changed its name to Commodore Business Machines and added adding machines and other office equipment to its product line.


Commodore produces an early hand-held calculator, the "Minuteman"


Commodore acquires MOS Technologies, makers of processor chips


Commodore introduces the Commodore PET computer


Commodore introduces the VIC 20


Commodore runs an advertisement in the March 1982 issue of "Microcomputing" (page 39) with William Shatner promoting the Commodore personal computer.


Commodore introduces the Commodore 64


Commodore Japan Ltd. produces the Commodore SX-64 Ltd.


Commodore acquires Amiga Computer, Inc.


Commodore introduces the Amiga 1000 computer


Commodore introduces the Amiga 500 and the Amiga 2000


Commodore announces the Amiga 2500


Commodore announces the Amiga 2500/030 with a 25 MHz CPU


Commodore announces Amiga 3000, utilizing a Motorola 68030 chip


Commodore announces the Amiga 4000, and the Amiga 1200


Commodore announces the Amiga 4000/030


Commodore runs into financial difficulties and files for bankruptcy in May.


Escom AG, Germany's second largest computer company, purchases the assets of Commodore for about $12 million.

Selected Commodore Computers

Commodore VIC 20

Commodore introduced the VIC 20 in 1981. The Commodore VIC 20 used the 6502, 8-bit processor, had 5K memory and used the Commodore operating system. It came with a 64 key keyboard, four programmable function keys and auto repeating control keys. It could be connected to a TV or video monitor, and could display a screen 22 characters by 23 lines long. It also could support graphics, color and sound.

It was introduced at $300, but sales and volumes were good and prices soon dropped to $100 or less. The Commodore VIC 20 was extremely popular as a consumer computer.

The Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 used the 6510, 8-bit processor and the Commodore operating system. It came with 64K RAM, four programmable function keys, and could interface with a TV or video monitor. Options included Commodore disk drives and CP/M operating system, optional CP/M cartridge and Z80 processor, printer, cassette and modem. Available software included BASIC, a variety of games, and VICTERM communications software. It cost about $199 for a basic system, up to $599 with more options.

Commodore Executive 64

The Commodore Executive 64 utilized a 6510 CPU for Commodore DOS and an optional Z-80 for CP/M. It came with 64K RAM, 1 5-1/4 inch floppy drive (or two), a 7 inch CRT display (40 character by 25 lines), supported 16 colors and graphics. It was compatible with the Commodore 64 software. It ran on AC power and weighed about 28 pounds. Its dimensions were 14-1/2 inches by 14-1/2 inches by 5 inches. It sold for $995 to $1,495 depending on configuration. (1983)

Commodore SX-64 portable

The Commodore SX-64 was a portable computer produced by Commodore Japan Ltd. in about 1984.

The Commodore 128

The Commodore 128 was very similar to the Commodore 64, except for the increased memory to 128K.

Commodore PET 2001

The Commodore released the PET ("Personal Electronic Transactor") in late 1977. It was a desktop computer with case, tape cassette, keyboard and monitor, and sold for $595.00. Sales were very good, thousands were sold.

The PET was based on a 6502 microprocessor. It has a 9 inch, 1000 character display screen (25 lines by 40 characters). There were several PET models. Model 2001-8 had a compact keyboard and a built-in tape cassette unit. Models 2001-16 and 2001-32, and later models labeled "CBM" instead of "PET" had full-sized keyboards and a separate tape cassette unit.

Commodore later changed the "PET" designation to "CBM" for Commodore Business Machine.

Commodore PET 4032

The 4032 was a later version of the PET 2001. It came with a 40 column 25 line display screen, full-size keyboard, 32K RAM, 18K ROM and came with BASIC 4.0. It sold for under $1,000 and was very popular as an in-school computer.

Commodore CBM 8032

The Commodore CBM 8032 came with 32K memory expandable to 96K. It used an 80 column by 25 line video display. The CBM 8032 is the business version of the PET 4032. It sold for just under $2,000 in 1983.

Commodore SUPERPET

The SuperPet was a special version of the PET designed at Waterloo University in Canada. It had all the features of the PET and the CBM 8032, with an additional 6809 processor and support for additional languages such as Waterloo's PASCAL, FORTRAN, APL, COBOL and others.

Commodore P128

The P128 was introduced in 1982. It came with 128K memory and could display 40 columns by 25 lines and an optional high resolution graphics display. It also had an optional Z80 plug in board which allowed the P128 to run the CP/M Plus operating system. It was based on the 6509 processor, and featured built in music and sound synthesizers. It sold for under $1,000.

Commodore B128

The B128 came with 128K memory expandable to 256K internal and 640 K external. It used an 80 column by 25 line green monochrome display, had a detachable keyboard, 10 function keys and a numeric keypad. It also had a slot for an optional Z80 plug in board. Available languages included BASIC 4.0, C-BASIC and PASCAL. It sold for under $1,700 in 1983.

Commodore BX128

The BX128 is very similar to the B128, with the addition of an 8088 processor, allowing the machine to run CP/M-86 and MS DOS. It sold for under $3,000.

Amiga 1000

The Amiga 1000 was introduced in 1984 as the first multi-tasking, graphical user interface microcomputer. It could run AmigaDOS and supported color graphics and sound.

Commodore also produced a variety of other Amiga systems, including the Amiga 2000.


Commodore Business Machines, Inc.

PET/CBM Personal Computer Guide, Carol S. Donahue and Janice K. Enger,

Osborne/McGraw-Hill, 1980


Compact Discs (CD)

The first commercial compact discs were developed in 1979 by the electronics companies North American Philips Corporation and Sony in Japan (Joint Licensing agreements). Philips and Sony also produced a series of standards books defining various technologies used in compact disc related systems. These standards became known as the Color Books, since they were published in different colored binders. The first compact disc standard from Philips and Sony was called CD-DA for "Compact Disc-Digital Audio." It was launched in October 1982. The standard for CD-DA was published in the Red Book.

Compaq Computer Corporation

Compaq is one of the largest producers of IBM compatible personal computers. They are famous for their high quality and reliability.

Brief Chronology of Compaq Computer


Compaq Computer Corporation was founded by Rod Canion, Bill Murto and Jim Harris in February 1982.


The Compaq Portable Computer was introduced in November 1982.


COMPAQ Portable Computer rolled out through network of Authorized COMPAQ Computer Dealers. Compaq takes in revenues of $111 million, the greatest first-year sales in the history of American business.Compaq Computer Corp. has its initial public stock offering and raises $67 million. During this year, Compaq ships more than 53,000 portable computers and employs a total of 615 people at year end. COMPAQ PLUS introduced and shipped.


COMPAQ Personal Computers were introduced into Europe.


In June, COMPAQ DESKPRO family of desktop personal computers are introduced and shipped.


In September, Compaq Computer Corporation opens a whollyowned subsidiary in France.


By December, Compaq had shipped more than 149,000 personal computers worldwide and hired more than 700 people. The company employed more than 1,300 people at year-end.


By February, Compaq Computer Corporation reported earnings for 1984 of $329 million, a computer industry record.


In December, Compaq Computer Corporation securities began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Compaq reaches a total employment of 1,860 at year end.


In April, the COMPAQ DESKPRO 286 and COMPAQ PORTABLE 286 introduced and shipped.


In February, Compaq Computer Corporation reports third year earnings of more than $503 million for 1985.

COMPAQ II Portable is introduced and shipped.


In April, Compaq Computer Corporation joins the Fortune 500 faster than any company in history. Compaq ships its 500,000th computer.


In September, the COMPAQ DESKPRO 386 was introduced and shipped.


In November, Compaq Computer Corporation ships its 1 millionth personal computer. Compaq computer attained sales revenue of $1 billion.


In February, Compaq Computer Corporation reports fifth-year sales of $1.2 billion dollars, setting the record as the fastest company to reach that mark.


By December, Compaq Computer Corporation reaches worldwide employment of approximately 6,000.


Compaq Computer Corporation reports sixth-year sales of $2.1 billion. Purchases 744 acres of land for future expansion adjacent to Compaq Center in northwest Houston.


By June, Compaq Computer Corporation becomes the second largest supplier of business personal computers in Europe, surpassing Apple and Olivetti.


In September, Compaq Computer Corporation purchases the former Wang Laboratories manufacturing facility in Sterling, Scotland for international service and repair operations.


In October, the COMPAQ LTE/286 and COMPAQ LTE personal computers were introduced by Compaq Computer Corporation. These were the first notebook-sized computers to offer full functionality in a package measuring just 8-1/2 by 11 inches.


In November, Compaq Computer Corporation introduced the COMPAQ SYSTEMPRO Personal Computer System as well as the COMPAQ DESKPRO 486/25.


Compaq Computer splits its PC division into two separate divisions. Desktop division to be headed by John Rose. Portable PC Division to be headed by James Harzog. Compaq Computer achieves 8.3% of the personal computer market.


Compaq continues to market its successful Compaq Presario home computer line, and also leads the world in the production of PC-based client servers.

1998 (January 26)

Compaq agrees to acquire Digital Equipment Corporation in a $9.6 billion deal in cash in stock. Compaq, headquartered in Houston, Texas, has over 18,900 employees. Digital, based in Maynard, Massachusetts, has over 54,900 employees. Compaq's 1997 sales were $24.6 billion. Digital's 1997 sales were $13.5 billion.


2002 - May - Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Merger

HP and Compaq merged their companies in May of 2002. The following links provide information regarding this historic merger.

HP Letter to Customers

HP - Compaq Merger Summary

HP-Compaq Merger Facts


The Compaq Portable Computer - (See Photos)

The Compaq Portable was announced in 1982. It weighed about 28 pounds, used the Intel 8088 microprocessor, ran Compaq DOS (which was basically the same as MS DOS), and came with 128K RAM minimum. It was available with 1 or 2 5-1/4 inch floppy disk drives, a 9 inch CRT display (25 lines by 80 characters) and could support some graphics. It ran on AC power, and was about 20 inches by 15-1/3 inches by 8-1/2 inches high. It sold for $2,995 and was very successful. In 1983, the COMPAQ Portable Computer rolled out through network of authorized COMPAQ Computer Dealers. Compaq took in revenues of $111 million, the greatest first-year sales in the history of American business. Compaq Computer Corp. held its initial public stock offering and raised $67 million. During this year, Compaq shipped more than 53,000 portable computers and employed a total of 615 people at year end.


Information courtesy of Compaq Computer Corporation



Comptometer adding machines (Special Section) (Click on this link to go to the "Comptometer Section")



Computer, Evolution of the word "Computer"

 First known English language use of the word "computer" is found in writings of Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682). Browne defined "computers" as persons who reckoned the passage of time through the making up of calendars. The word "Computer" comes from the Latin "Computare" to think, or count. The meaning of the word computer has evolved over the past 248 years. Here are some examples:

The 1881 edition of Stormonth's English Language Dictionary defines computer as:

------ "One who numbers, counts, reckons, or calculates."

The 1882 edition of the Hurst and Company dictionary, based on Websters, defines computer as:

------ "One who reckons or estimates."

Dictionaries after World War II began defining the word computer in terms of a machine as well as a person.

For example:

The 1961 edition of Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines computer as:

------ "One who computes; an automatic electronic machine for performing calculations."

Although some dictionaries still carry both definitions, by the 1980's, the term computer is quite often defined as a device only, with little or no reference to its older definition.

For example:

The 1980 Oxford American Dictionary defines computer simply as:

------ "An electronic machine for making calculations, storing and analyzing information fed into it, and controlling machinery automatically."


Computer Museums

See Address List.


Computer Research Corporation (CRC)

Founded in 1950, CRC developed computers for military applications. In 1953, CRC was acquired by National Cash Register Corporation (NCR).

CAT Scan -- Computerized Tomography

In 1972, Godfrey Hounsfield, of EMI, Ltd., England, developed computerized tomography (CT) which used computers and an X-ray machine to produce detailed images of a cross-section of the body. (also called "Computerized Axial Tomography" or "CAT" scanning)

Computerworld Magazine

A magazine of general interest to computer users, resellers and others in the information processing industry. Computerworld was founded by Pat McGovern and published its first issue in 1967. McGovern also published "The Gray Sheet" newsletter.

Computerized Highways

The 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) calls for developing a National Intermodal Transportation System and Intelligent Vehicle Highway System (IVHS) using a variety of technologies, including information processing, communications, control and electronics.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has overall responsibility for coordination of the technologies involved in bringing about the system. Funding is proposed to come from private sector companies and from government sources, such as the $500 million technology reinvestment project run out of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The plan calls for dual uses of technology, to encourage major military industrial suppliers to assist in the development of technologies to support the IVHS concept.

Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR)

On July 5, 1911, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company was founded.

The CTR was formed from four companies:

The "Tabulating Machine Company"

(founded by Herman Hollerith and sold in 1911)

The "Dayton Scale Company"

(Dayton, Ohio)

The "International Time Recording Company"

(Endicott, New York)

The "Bundy Manufacturing Company"

(Endicott, New York).

The Computing-Tabulating-Recording company later changed its name to

"International Business Machines," or "IBM."



Consolidated Engineering Model 36-101 Computer

The Consolidated Engineering Model 36-101 computer was built in 1953 by Consolidated Engineering Corporation, Pasadena, California.

Control Data Corporation (CDC)

Control Data Corporation was founded on July 8, 1957, in Minnesota. Control Data began operations on September 1, 1957 with four employees. Initial capitalization of CDC was through the sale of 615,000 shares of common stock at $1 per share to approximately 300 stockholders. Total number of employees the first year was 13.

Included among the first corporate officers was William C. Norris, President. William Norris was also one of the founders of Engineering Research Associates (ERA), which was part of Sperry Rand.

Control Data Corporation changed its name to Ceridian in 1992, and spun off a subsidiary company called Control Data Systems. Control Data Systems maintained the computer products and services part of the business. Control Data Systems, based in Minnesota, (1996) has over 3,000 employees.

A Brief Chronology of Control Data Corporation


CDC's first major business decision was the development of a large-scale, fully transistorized computer, the CDC 1604, released in 1958. CDC also announced the 1604 this year. CDC was sued by Sperry Rand Corporation. CDC reports a loss in earnings of $114,700. Revenues total $636,800. Total stockholders number 900. Total number of employees at CDC reaches about 260.


CDC reported revenues of $4.5 million and announced the release of its second computer, the CDC 160. The model 160 was a desk-sized, solid-state computer designed for scientific applications. The CDC was designed by Seymour R. Cray (who later founded Cray Research).


Control Data Corporation (CDC) acquired Control Corporation, a major supplier of supervisory control systems. CDC ships four model

1604 computers. The CDC 1604 was the most powerful computer of its time. Seymour R. Cray began development of the CDC 6600, a

large-scale computer. Total company earnings reach $551,000. Revenues exceed $9.6 million. Total employees numbered about 690.


William Norris, President of Control Data Corporation (CDC) unofficially announced the new CDC 6600 computer in May 1961.


The CDC 160A was announced in 1961 by Control Data Corporation. The CDC 160A had twice the computing power of the 160 (developed in 1959). The Model 160A sold for $90,000.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) announced two new computers in 1962, the CDC 1604A and the CDC 3600.


CDC revenues had exceeded $63 million. CDC established foreign subsidiaries in Australia, The Netherlands, Sweden West Germany, and France. Also in 1963, the large scale CDC 6600 (also designed by Seymour Cray) was announced and CDC acquired the Computer Division of Bendix Corporation.


CDC acquired more than 15 different companies, and had operations in over 20 countries. Sales for the period ending June 30, 1966 amounted to $167,613,943, which was reportedly down due to increased competition in the computer industry, including a greater emphasis on leased equipment being provided to customers rather than direct sales. In 1966, Control Data Corporation (CDC) installs first CDC 1700 computer at Bell Laboratories, Greensboro, North Carolina. The first CDC 3800 is installed at the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. Dual CDC 3600's were used at Cape Kennedy in the Apollo moon flight program. Employees at this time numbered 11,048. CDC was one of the only companies providing "super scale" computers during the mid 1960's. Some of the customers of the super scale CDC 6000 series were Westinghouse Corporation, NASA's Langley Research Center, Lockheed Aircraft Company, Smithsonian Institute Astrophysical Laboratory, Aerospace Corporation and several large universities.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) shipped the first CDC 6600 computer (announced in 1963) to Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Livermore California. CDC acquires three companies: (1) Rabinow Engineering, maker of optical character reading equipment, (2) Transactor Business of the Stromberg Division of General Time, maker of data collection systems, and (3) Holley Computer Products, maker of computer peripheral products. The CDC 3200 computer is added to the product line. CDC stock splits 3 for 2. Earnings were $6.1 million. Revenues exceed $121 million. Employees number 6,861.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) delivered its first model CDC 3100 computer. Earnings reached $7.9 million. Revenues reached $160 million. "Control Data Institutes" for computer training are established in the U.S. CDC employees number about 9,744.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) installed first CDC 1700 computer at Bell Laboratories, Greensboro, North Carolina. The first CDC 3800 is installed at the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. Dual CDC 3600's were used at Cape Kennedy in the Apollo moon flight program. Earnings show loss of $1.9 million. CDC revenues exceed $167 million. Employees number 11,048.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) acquires Autocon Industries and CEIR, Inc. CDC employees number 14,881.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) revenues exceed $830 million. Consolidated earnings were $45.5 million. CDC announces the CDC 7600, the most powerful computer of its time. CDC acquires Commercial Credit Corporation (largest acquisition by CDC as of this date). CDC employees number 37,091. CDC acquired Commercial Credit Corporation in 1968, which gave it entrance into the field of financial services. Control Data filed also a large anti-trust suit against IBM, which IBM was forced to settle five years later. The settlement gave Control Data acquisition of IBM's Service Bureau Corporation, valued at over $100 million. The CDC-IBM suit was the first time that a computer system was used to store and retrieve massive amounts of information, over 500,000 pages of information from IBM alone. CDC's use of computer technology helped its attorneys eventually win the arguments and bring about a settlement in CDC's favor. The CDC 7600, the most powerful computer in the world at that time, was also announced. Revenues exceeded $1 billion in 1971 and the CYBER 70 family of computers was announced. Revenues had doubled to $2 billion by 1976.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) revenues exceeded $1 billion. Consolidated earnings were $53.2 million. CDC employees numbered about 47,152.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) entered into an agreement with National Cash Register Company(NCR) to form a new company "Computer Peripherals Inc." for manufacturing computer peripherals. CDC acquired Syntonic Technology, Inc.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) consolidated earnings reached $111 million. Combined financial services revenues totaled $1.5 billion. The CDC v. IBM anti-trust suit was settled, resulting in CDC acquiring the Service Bureau Corporation (SBC) from IBM. CDC acquires three data services operations from International Telephone and Telegraph Company. CDC increases its equity in Ticketron, Inc. to 99-1/2 percent.

CDC also acquires Systems Resources, Inc. CDC signs a ten-year agreement with the USSR for broad scientific and technical cooperation in the field of computer technology. Employees number 43,982.


CDC's business focused on a broad range of planning, information management, accounting and administrative data processing services. They are also involved in software development, engineering, maintenance, education and other services and products. The educational computer system "Plato" was announced. Total employees reached 41,553.


The CYBER 203 was announced. It was the most powerful Supercomputer built by CDC up to that time.


The CYBER 205 was announced


Control Data Corporation (CDC) uses its supercomputer operations division to create a new company, ETA Systems, Inc.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) decided to phase-out of the plug-compatible peripheral equipment business based on long term strategic considerations. Communications Solutions, Inc. (CSI) was acquired from Visicorp for approximately $5 million. CDC consolidated earnings decreased to $31.6 million (down 80 percent from 1983) while combined revenues were $5 billion. Employees number 54,123. CDC faces liquidity problems due to downturn in computer industry resulting in excessive inventories. CDC undergoes restructuring activities during the years 1984 to 1986.


In April, CDC announced the Cyber 960 series of mid range computers.


Control Data Corporation (CDC) discontinued the ETA Systems supercomputer operation and streamlined the CYBER mainframe business. CDC underwent corporate staff reduction and a temporary realignment of its bank financing agreement. CDC sold off Action Data Services, makers of real-time data processing and support products, to Primerica Corporation. CDC sold off its Control Data Institutes (educational centers) to Human Capital Corporation.


CDC continued to experience significant growth and continued to acquire other companies to strengthen its position and widen its service base. By 1983, revenues hit $4.6 billion. During the 1980's, CDC experienced a series of slowdowns due to the economy and other factors. In the late 1980's, CDC took a series of steps to control costs and improve its overall strength. In 1991, CDC ranked 27th of the largest information technology suppliers.


Control Data Corporation changed its name to Ceridian, and spun off a subsidiary company called Control Data Systems. Control Data Systems maintained the computer products and services part of the business.


Control Data signed a contract with the People's Republic of China for a meteorological processing and forecasting system utilizing a

CYBER 990, a CYBER 960 and 13 CYBER 910 workstations. The contract was estimated at $12.6 million.


Corbato, Dr. F. Corbato

In 1961, Dr. F. Corbato headed a team at MIT which designed one of the first time-sharing systems (CTSS-Compatible Time Sharing System) which was used for the IBM 7090 computers. Dr. Corbato is a key figure in the development of computing technologies.

Core Memory: UNIVAC Core Memory (1950's)

Central memory of a computer system.


A software product by Corel of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, for PC based drawing and editing.

Corvus 322

The Corvus 322 was a hand-held electronic calculator produced by Corvus, a subsidiary of Mostek. It utilized an LED display and 4 rechargeable "AA" batteries. It was available in 1974 for about $80.

Coursewriter II

Coursewriter II was a programming language developed in 1966.


CP/M (Control Program for Microprocessors) (CPM)

CP/M was an operating system for microcomputers developed in 1973 by Dr. Gary Kildall, a brilliant software engineer. In 1976, Dr. Kildall started selling CP/M for $75 a copy through "Dr. Dobb's Journal" (published by Jim Warren), and it sold well.

Dr. Kildall and his wife founded Digital Research (1976) and sales of CP/M continued to increase. By the end of the 1970's, Digital Research had over 900 different firms as clients. CP/M became the standard operating program for microcomputers in the early 1980's. By the mid 1980's, CP/M was running on over 300 different models of microcomputers.

When IBM planned to introduce its personal computer, they had some initial talks with Digital Research regarding CP/M. As it turned out, however, IBM entered into an agreement with Microsoft and the IBM PC came out in 1981 with PC DOS as its operating system. DOS gradually took the lead over CP/M, and became pretty much the standard by the end of the 1980's. DOS was actually modeled after CP/M.

It was estimated by Kildall that by 1987, there were over 200 million copies of CP/M in existence,and over 3,000 programs available for CP/M machines, many of them still in use today.

(References: "User Friendly," magazine, July 16, 1994, article: "Gary Kildall's Work Lives On;" and various references in the book "Gates" by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews, Doubleday, 1993; and Robert Slater's excellent book "Portraits in Silicon," MIT Press, 1987.)


Cray Research Company

Cray Research Company was formed in 1972 by the brilliant computer scientist and supercomputing pioneer Seymour Cray, after Cray left Control Data Corporation (CDC). Cray Research built some of the worlds largest and fastest supercomputers.

A Brief Chronology of some of the computers developed by Cray Research.


The CRAY-1 supercomputer was a built as a prototype by Cray Research. The CRAY-1 contained 200,000 integrated circuits and could perform 100 million floating point operations per second (100 MFLOPS). The CRAY-1 was delivered to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.


In June, Cray Research announced the CRAY-2 supercomputer. The CRAY-2 Supercomputer had four processors (twice as many as the CRAY X-MP). The CRAY-2 had six miles of wire and required a liquid Freon-like coolant to keep it from overheating. The liquid coolant unit produced a foam and caused some to refer to the Cray-2 as "Bubbles." The first full sized CRAY-2 supercomputer is delivered to NASA's Ames facility in October. Approximate cost of the CRAY was$17 million dollars.


Cray introduced the CRAY-2S which was 40% faster than the CRAY-2.


In February, Cray Research announced the CRAY Y-MP, its most powerful supercomputer.


In May, the CRAY X-MP EA Supercomputer was announced.


Cray Research spun off Cray Computer Corporation (CCC), with Seymour Cray as the chief executive. (Cray Computer Corporation worked on the CRAY-3 Super Scalable System and the CRAY-4 supercomputer. It ran into financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy in March 1995.)


Cray Research acquired SuperTek Computers, makers of lower- priced Cray-compatible supercomputers.


Cray Research acquires Floating Point Systems and made it a subsidiary business called Cray Research Superservers.


Cray Research Superservers introduced the CRAY S-MP computer based on Sun Microsystem's SPARC processor.


Cray Research announces HEXAR software for the conversion of CAD data into 3-dimensional models.


Cray Research signs an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to explore development of software for massively parallel computers.


Silicon Graphics agreed to purchase Cray Research, Inc. for $750 million.


CSAW (Communications Supplementary Activities-Washington)

The CSAW (sometimes pronounced "see saw") was headed by Captain Joseph Wenger. CSAW did computing research for the U.S. Government during the WWII years. Howard T. Engstrom and William C. Norris were also high level members of CSAW.


In 1951, the CSIRO Mark I Computer was built by the Division of Radiophysics, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization, Australia.


(Continuous System Modeling Program) A computer modeling program developed in 196


(Continuous System Simulation Language) CSSL was a programming language developed in 1967

CYBER 205 Supercomputer

The CYBER 205, used by CYBERNET SuperCenter, set a performance record in 1982 for supercomputers of 1.3 billion calculations in 1.666 seconds.

Cyber 70 Computer Family

A family of computers developed by Control Data Corporation (CDC) and announced in 1971.


(definition) Cybernetics is the science of signals for the direction and control of living organisms, machines and certain groups of people. The term cybernetics comes from the Greek root word meaning the art of steering.

The term cybernetics, referring to a field of study, was probably first used by A. M. Ampere, a French scientist, in 1843. The field of cybernetics did not become developed until the 1940's.

In 1948, mathematics professor Norbert Wiener of Columbia University published a book entitled "Cybernetics or control signals in living organisms or machines."

In general, cybernetics deals with control in both living organisms and machines.

(Reference: "Electronic Computers," A. I. Kitov and N. A. Krinitskii (translated from the Russian by R. P. Froom), Pergamon Press, Macmillan, 1962.)



The DAC-1 computer graphics console was developed by General Motors for CAD operations. GM began production of automobile parts designed through the use of computers in about 1963.

Daisywheel Printer

The Daisywheel printer was announced in 1970 by Diablo Systems. The Daisywheel used a wheel shaped printing element which produced high quality type at speeds faster than the IBM Selectric.

DASK Computer

DASK, produced in 1957, by the Regnecentralen, the Danish Institute of Computing Machinery, was the first Danish computer.

Data General

Data General was founded in 1969 by Edson DeCastro, and introduced the "Nova," the first 16 bit computer. Today, a division of EMC Corporation, Data General customers benefit from EMC's rapid growth and development. EMC Corporation, a Fortune 500 company based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, is the world's technology and market leader in the rapidly growing market for intelligent enterprise storage systems, software, networks, and services. The company's products store, retrieve, manage, protect, and share information from all major computing environments. (Information courtesy of Data General.)

(See Data General Nova Core Memory)


Datamation Magazine

Datamation, first published in 1957, is one of the longest running computer industry publications.

DataProducts Corporation

Erwin Tomash and Graham Tyson founded DataProducts Corporation in 1962. DataProducts was a maker of card readers, card punch machines, ferrite core memory systems and other computer related equipment

Datatron Computer

The Datatron, a successful and versatile, medium-sized electronic computer, was produced in the mid 1950's by ElectroData Corporation. In 1956, Burroughs Corporation acquired ElectroData Corporation and the Datatron was renamed the Burroughs model 205.

An early Datatron computer was used by the New York Stock Exchange to calculate hourly stock values, provide ticker tape information, and to calculate the Standard and Poor's 500 index.

Data 620

The Data 620 was a small scale scientific computer for running real-time data acquisition and control systems. It was produced in the mid 1960's by Data Machines, Inc., a subsidiary of Decision Control, Inc., of Newport Beach, Ca

Datamatic 1000

Dauphin DTR-1

Dauphin DTR-1 hand-held computer was introduced in 1993. Dauphin included a 40 MB hard drive, 486SLC microprocessor, LCD display screen, ports for video, printer, modem, network, and keyboard.

Dayton Scale Company

The Dayton Scale Company of Dayton, Ohio, was one of the companies that was grouped together to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) in 1911, which later became IBM.

Decision Control, Inc.

Decision Control, Inc., founded in 1956, was a producer of digital logic modules. Its headquarters was in Newport Beach, California. See Data 620 computer.


The family of networking products developed by Digital Equipment Corporation DECnet is based on Ethernet and supports peer-to-peer processing.

Dedicated Word Processing Computers

Dedicated word processing computers were common in the 1970's and early 1980's. They were usually expensive, bulky machines that were limited to using their own proprietary word processing software. The dedicated machines faded from popular use when more flexible, more affordable personal computers came into more widespread use in the early 1980's.

De Forest, Lee (1873-1961)

De Forest, an American, was a graduate of Yale University and is often called the "Father of Radio." De Forest was an inventor who achieved over 300 patents during his lifetime. His most notable invention was the "Audion," which was a forerunner of later radio and television tubes. De Forest worked tirelessly in the area of wireless telegraphy. In 1902, he set up the De Forest Wireless Telegraphy Company. Bad management caused the company to crash in 1911.

De Forest made and lost several fortunes during his life, but continued working and inventing. He also developed a process called "phonofilm" which allowed a sound track to be photographed on the same film as a motion picture.

However, the "talking pictures" concept was too early for producers to take an active interest in it. De Forest's work on the Audion, and later improvements on it by such companies as AT&T,Westinghouse and others, was a major milestone in the development of the electronics industry. ("American Science and Invention," Simon and Schuster, 1954)


Dendral was the first medical diagnostic program. It was developed in 1968 by Joshua Lederberg at Stanford University

DERA ("Darmstadter Elektronische Rechenautomat")

West German scientist Alwin Walther and his team completed the DERA computer in 1959. Those working on the project included, Hans-Joachim Dreyer, Walter Hoffmann, Hermann Bottenbush, Walter Schutte, Heinz Unger and others.

DEUCE Computer

The DEUCE computer was developed in England in 1954 by the English Electric Company.

Descartes, Rene (1596-1650).

Descartes was a French mathematician, philosopher and scientist. He published the first book on analytical geometry in around 1637. Descartes showed a relationship between algebraic equations and geometric figures. Descartes' work opened the door for significant progress in the field of mathematics.

Deskpro 386/33

The DESKPRO 386/33 microcomputer was introduced by Compaq Computers in May 1989.

Devol, Jr., George C.

George C. Devol, Jr., patented an electromechanical feedback device called a "servo" in 1952. Devol's servo patent became the basis for one of the first robot manufacturers, Unimation Inc. Devol obtained 40 patents and is sometimes referred to as the grandfather of industrial robots.

Dictating Machines (Dictaphone) (Graphophone)

In 1888, the world's first commercially manufactured dictating machine powered by a sewing machine type treadle, with sound recorded on a beeswax and paraffin cylinder, was produced in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was produced by Colombia Graphophone Company, the predecessor of Dictaphone Company. This machine was called the Tainter Treadle Graphophone, developed in part by Chichester Bell (cousin to Alexander Graham Bell) and Charles Sumner Tainter. In 1906, the "Dictaphone" trademark was registered.

Dijkstra, Edsger W.

Edsger W. Dijkstra, a brilliant mathematician, programmer and author, introduced the structured programming concept in 1968. He received the ACM Turing Award in 1972.

Disaster Recovery

"Disaster" in this sense refers to a man-made, computer-generated, accidental or natural event that causes destruction to computer systems and/or computerized information. Disaster Recovery is a term used to denote the processes involved in recovering systems or data after a disaster has occurred. (See also Data Recovery) A Disaster Recovery Plan is a plan which covers the procedures and activities involved in restoring a computer system or business activity to an operational mode. In actual practice, there are many processes outside of just the computer systems recovery that must be taken into account for a full return to business. Therefore, the concept has been expanded and such planning efforts are often called "Business Continuity Planning" or " Business Resumption Planning." Sometimes, the processes and procedures put in place to prevent disasters from happening are called " Disaster Avoidance Planning." Whatever terminology is used, the basic overall intent is to recover lost data and programs, restore system functionality, and resume normal business operations.


Disk Storage Devices (IBM)

This table shows the year that various IBM disk storage devices were introduced.




IBM 350


IBM 1405


IBM 1301


IBM 1311


IBM 2314


IBM 3330


IBM 3340


IBM 3350


IBM 3370


IBM 3380

See IBM 1301 Disk Platter Photo


Dodd, Stuart

In 1926, Stuart Dodd, a researcher at Princeton University, built a machine to automatically calculate correlations. Later versions of his machine were known as Dodd Correlators.

D1 Computer

The D1 Computer was completed in about 1955 by East German scientist, N. Joachim Lehmann at Dresden.

Dollis Hill (Dollis Hill)

Dollis Hill, located in northwest London, England, was the sight for development and construction of the original Colossus computer used by the British code breaking group at Bletchley Park in 1943. Dollis Hill was the site of the British Post Office Research Station and the location for other work in support of computer research being done at Bletchley Park. All of this work was done under conditions of extreme secrecy.

DN300 Workstation

In 1983, Apollo Computer Inc. introduced the DN300, the first desktop microcomputer workstation under $15,000.


Dragon Microcomputers (See Examples)


DRAM, 16 Mb (16 Megabit Chip (DRAM, 16 Mb)

In 1990, IBM announced a 16 Megabit dynamic random access memory chip. The 16 Mb chip can store the equivalent of 1,600 pages of double-spaced, typewritten text and operates at speeds calculated in nanoseconds (billionths of a second).

Drum (Magnetic Drum Storage)

During the 1950's, many early digital computers used magnetic drum storage. One of the pioneers in the construction and use of magnetic drum storage was the Engineering Research Association of Remington-Rand. Engineering Research Association, known as ERA, built more magnetic drums than any other company during that era. Magnetic drums had an average rotating speed of 3,600. The rotation was provided by a synchronous motor. However, some machines used drums which rotated at higher speeds to provide faster access time. Some of the faster machines included:

Remington-Rand -ERA 1102 6,900 RPM

Harvard Mark III 6,900 RPM

IBM 650 12,000 RPM

("Electronic Digital Computers," Charles V. L. Smith, Chief, Computing Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, McGraw-Hill, NY, 1959.)

See also Photo of UNIVAC Magnetic Drum


Duplicating Machines

In 1773, James Watt (1736-1819) designed one of the first duplicating machines. He used it to help handle the paperwork for his business.

Dudley, Homer Walter

Dudley joined the research staff of Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1921. From 1921 to 1961 Dudley was granted thirty-seven patents for inventions in the fields of speech synthesis and telephony. Two of his inventions included the VODER (Voice Operation Demonstrator) and the VOCODER (Voice Operation Coder.)

Dummer, Geoffrey W.A.

In 1952, Geoffrey W. A. Dummer published an influential paper on the integrated circuit concept. Dummer was working at the Telecommunications Research Establishment at Malvern, England. The English government did not provide sufficient support for Dummer's theories and he was never able to construct a fully functional integrated circuit.

Dunwell, Stephen W.

Steven Dunwell joined IBM in 1933 and worked on a variety of early IBM calculators including the IBM 502-A, 603, 604 and the IBM CPC (Card Programmed Calculator), the IBM 650, 702, 705 and the IBM Tape Processing Machine. In 1958, he was appointed director of Project Stretch. In 1966 he became an IBM Fellow. He was awarded the Computer Pioneer Award from the IEEE Computer Society in 1992.

Dvorak, August

In 1932, August Dvorak, professor of statistics at the University of Washington, developed a simplified keyboard which allowed faster typing than the traditional QWERTY keyboard.

The QWERTY keyboard layout was designed to help keep early typewriter hammers from jamming. Dvorak's keyboard allowed much faster typing, but never replaced the QWERTY keyboard, which, by 1932, had been the accepted standard for almost 100 years.


Dynabook was a small hand-held, stand-alone interactive-graphic computer developed in 1972 by Alan Kay. Dynabook used a program called "Paintbrush" to allow children to draw their own designs on the computer and developed "Smalltalk" a graphical "windows" program, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

Dwarfs ("The Seven Dwarfs")

In the 1960's, Sperry Rand, Control Data Corporation, Philco, Burroughs, General Electric, National Cash Register and Honeywell were referred to as the "Seven Dwarfs." Their combined revenues totaled $1,686,614,000. IBM (Snow White) revenues alone totaled $1,244,161,000. (AT&T was not included because it was larger than IBM due to its telephone business, but AT&T's computer business generated only $97,000,000.)


DYNAMO III was a programming language developed in 1959.

DYSEAC Computer

The DYSEAC computer was built in 1953 by the Electronic Computer Laboratory, National Bureau of Standards.



In 1986, Minimicro Computers of Huntington, England announced the Easi-Text 1350, the smallest word processing computer up to this time. The Easi-Text is based on the Sharp PC 1350 and Epson P-80 printer. The 1350 measured about 7 inches by 3 inches, and was one-half inch thick.


ECAP II, for "Electronic Circuit Analysis Program II", was a programming language developed in 1966.


EDUCOM was an Interuniversity Communication Council founded in 1964 to promote resource sharing among colleges and universities in the application of communication, computing, and information technology in higher education.


Extended Industry Standard Architecture. EISA was developed as an alternative 32-bit master-bus to the

IBM Micro Channel master-bus used on IBM PS/2 computers. EISA enables the easy use of adaptor cards in IBM PCs and AT class machines.

ELECOM Computers

In 1951-1952, the ELECOM 100, 120 and 200 computers were built by the Electronic Computer Division, Underwood Corporation, New York, New York.

Electric Typewriters

In 1914, the first successful electric typewriter with a self-contained motor and designed specifically for power operation was developed by James Field Smathers. This machine was eventually manufactured by Electromatic Typewriter in 1930.



The Elliot HRDC 401 Mark I computer was built in 1953 by Elliot Brothers Ltd., London, England.


The Elliott 903 was manufactured by Elliott Automation Limited from 1965 as a desk-sized successor to the military computers 920B (in Nimrod Mark I) and 920M (in RAF Jaguars and in tanks). It had an 18-bit word ferrite core store with a 6 microsecond cycle time, paper tape I/O and a Teletype. Up to 64K words of store could be fitted in units of 8K. The 905 was a later faster machine which could have 128K words of store.

The Elliot used transistors on plug-in packages. System peripherals could include a plotter, a line printer, magnetic tapes, industrial interfaces, and displays for plant monitoring. There was no disk to act as a focus for an operating system, although one based on magnetic tape was written and several for real-time applications.

Counting the military versions probably about 1000 machines were sold. The 903 itself was used in process control, for running laboratory equipment in hospitals and elsewhere, and for teaching programming in schools. Languages available included Algol, Basic, Coral, Fortran and the SIR assembler. This emulator has Algol although it can also be run with SIR programs.

Information courtesy of the Computer Conservation Society


Elektrische Rechenzelle Computer

In 1959, Walter Hundorf, of Munich, completed the Elektrische Rechenzelle, an early German computer.


Eliza was a program developed by Joseph Weizenbaum, a scientist at MIT, which simulated the ability of a computer as a "therapist" to "talk" with patients. ELIZA mimicked human interaction via a computer-controlled dialogue session. Using ELIZA, one could seemingly carry on a "conversation" with the computer. ELIZA was a cleverly written program rather than a true artificial intelligence system. Eliza was developed in about 1966.


The EL-8, a four function, hand-held electronic calculator, was produced by Sharp Electronics in 1970. The EL-8 had rechargeable batteries and weighed 1.7 pounds and sold for about $345.

Ellis, Holcolm

Holcolm Ellis was a St. Louis patent attorney. In 1909, he developed a machine which was capable of typewriting and mechanically adding and printing figures and totals. Holcolm Ellis founded the Ellis Adding-Typewriter Company, in Newark, New Jersey.

Elmer and Elsie

Elmer and Elsie were two electronic robotic tortoises developed in about 1948 by W. Grey Walter (1910-1977) as part of his experiments with photoelectric sensors which helped them to find their way to their electrical charging source.


In 1915, Edward Hebern invented a coding machine for encrypting messages. Hebern's machine was probably a forerunner of the German "Enigma" coding machine used during WW II.

In 1919, Hugo Koch, a Dutchman, patented a coding machine. This design was later used by Arthur Scherbius, a German engineer, who developed the Enigma coding machine used by the Germans in WW II. (Reference: "Seizing the Enigma," by David Kahn, Houghton-Mifflin.)

ENIAC: Early ENIAC computer (1944) and vacuum tubes

EPROM (erasable, programmable read only memory)

EPROM is a type of read-only memory that can be erased and reprogrammed. Intel Corporation introduced the world's first EPROM memory in 1971. The 1701 EPROM, developed by Dov Frohman, is a read-only memory chip whose program can be erased by exposure to ultra-violet light. The EPROM was an achievement since it allowed designers to reprogram the chips electronically over and over again.
See Intel 1702 Photo.

Equity Funding Corporation

In 1973, it was discovered that from 1964 to 1973, about 64,000 fake insurance policies were created on a computer of the Equity Funding Corporation, involving about $2 billion. This was one of the largest recorded instances of computer related fraud.


("Electronische Rechenmachine der Eidengenossischen Technischen Hochschule") The ERMETH computer was built in 1955 by Ambros Speiser of the Applied Mathematics Institute in Switzerland.


Ethernet, a telecommunications network transport technology, was developed in 1973 by Bob Metcalfe, working at Xerox PARC. Ethernet uses bus topology with Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) access controls.

10 Mbps Ethernet is called "10 Base T."

100 Mbps Ethernet is called "100 Base T" or "Fast Ethernet."
Ethernet is based on the "Aloha" method of satellite communication developed by the University of Hawaii. The Aloha communication method permits a number of different devices to communicate with each other over a single radio channel. One device sends a signal and if no reply is received within a predetermined length of time, the signal is sent again. It is assumed that if the original signal is not responded to, it was interfered with by a collision of some kind. Ethernet uses this same principle of collision detection. Ethernet is the most common network transport technology used in the world today. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) guidelines for Ethernet are covered in the 802.3 standard.

ETL Mark I Computer

The ETL was a Japanese built computer developed in 1952 by scientists Motinori Goto and Yasuo Komamiya. The E.T.L. Mark I was probably the first Japanese computer.


In 1986, Xerox establishes EuroPARC in Cambridge, England, to study human-computer interaction and advanced technologies.


Microsoft's Excel program is a popular electronic spreadsheet software package for PCs. It was produced starting in November 1987.

"Expensive Typewriter"

Stephen Piner, a student at MIT, developed a text editing program in 1961 called "Expensive Typewriter" which allowed students to draft and edit their papers on a DEC PDP-1. The "Expensive Typewriter" program was an early forerunner of modern word processing software.

Expert System

A sophisticated software program or system that functions in a way that seems to imitate the reasoning processes used by an expert in a particular field. An expert system consists of a knowledge base and an inference engine.

Faggin, Frederico

Frederico Faggin was one of the brilliant chip designers that left Fairchild Semiconductor and went to work at Intel and later co-founded several companies.

Here is a very brief chronology.


Faggin graduated from University of Padua in Italy with a doctorate in physics.


Faggin worked at SGS-Fairchild in Milan on MOS fabrication process technology.


Worked as a group leader on MOS Silicon Gate Technology at Fairchild Semiconductor in Palo Alto, California.


Left Fairchild in 1970 to work for Intel. In 1970, he worked with Ted Hoff in the development of the chip used by Busicom for its electronic calculators.

In 1971, Faggin led the development of the first 8-bit microprocessor, the Intel 8008. He also helped design the 8080 processor in 1974.


Left Intel in 1974 to form Zilog, Inc., and led the development of the Z80 microprocessor which was introduced in 1976.


Founded Cygnet Technologies, Inc., in Sunnyvale, California.


Co-founded Synaptics, Inc., one of the leading companies in the field of neural network technologies.



Fairchild Semiconductor, Inc.

In 1961, the Fairchild Corporation marketed the first commercially available integrated circuit. The IC contained four transistors and two resistors. (See also Silicon Valley)


FAX Boards (FAX)

Facsimile transmission using PC based circuit boards. The first PC FAX boards were shown at Comdex in 1987.

FLAC (Florida Automatic Computer)

The FLAC was built in 1953 by the U.S. Air Force Missile Test Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Cocoa, Florida.

FORTRAN (Formula Translator)

The Formula Translator, FORTRAN, programming language is developed by John Backus in 1954. The first successful FORTRAN program was run by Harlan Herrick.

Froeberg, Carl-Erik

Froeberg was a Swedish computer engineer who built the Siffermaskinen I Lund ("SMIL") computer in 1956.


A programming language developed in around 1958

Feigenbaum, Edward Albert

During the mid and late 1960's, Edward Feigenbaum pioneered artificial intelligence and worked as Director of computation center at Stanford University. He worked on such programs as E-PAM, DENDRAL and MYCIN. He worked as co-scientific director of the Heuristic Programming Project at Stanford University, a leading laboratory for work in knowledge engineering and expert systems.

Fiber Optics (Optical Fiber)

In 1966, Charles K. Kao, an electrical engineer at Standard Telecommunications Laboratories, Ltd., Harlow, England, and George A. Hockham, a fellow engineer developed calculations that supported the theoretical use of fiber optic cables for long distance communication. Work by Kao and Hockham prompted further research at Corning Glass Works, Corning, New York, and Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. In 1970, researchers at Corning developed optical fibers that could carry signals for over 2.5 kilometers (about 2 miles) without the need for amplifiers. By 1979, fiber optic cables were in use that could transmit clear signals over 16 kilometers (10 miles) and Bell Labs had experimental cables that could send clear signals over 100 kilometers (63 miles).

Fiber optic cable has a variety of benefits over conventional methods of transmission. Fiber cables can be made to carry the same volume of information as much larger copper cables. Fiber optic cable makes possible the transmission of telephone, radio, television, and digital computer data over long distances with a high degree of clarity.

As telephone companies and other information carriers install more fiber cable between their offices and people's homes, the potential for high speed, high volume, high quality communication becomes a reality. Fiber optic communication makes possible television access to 500 channels or more, two-way interactive television, video-telephones, high-speed Internet access, as well as further development of computer-telephone interactive devices, and other technical advances.

Fiber optic cable is used for high-speed, high-bandwidth telecommunications, such as fast ethernet (100 Mbps) and even faster methods. Some of the fiber optics research followed early research in the field of lasers in the 1960's. Fiber optic cables are not subject to electrical interference and can be made much thinner than traditional copper cables. Fiber cables come in single-mode and multi-mode, and can be made of glass or plastic.



During world war II, the German cipher machines Schlusselzusatz and Geheimschreiber were used to produce encoded messages known as "Fish." Allied work on decoding "Fish" messages was performed during World War II at Bletchley Park, England, under the top secret code name "Project Ultra."

Flame (Flames)

Highly emotional electronic mail messages usually of a critical nature, sometimes to the point of name-calling or rudeness. "Flames" is a term used for highly charged communications sent along the INTERNET or similar electronic media.

Floppy Disks (magnetic disk storage)

In 1971, Alan Shugart led a team at IBM that developed the 8 inch floppy diskette for data and program storage.

Flow Diagrams

Herman H. Goldstine and John von Neumann introduced the method of flow diagrams in about 1946.

Forrester, J. W.

Use of digital rather than analog computing techniques was proposed by J. W. Forrester for use by the Aircraft Stability and Control Analyzer (ASCA) project at MIT in 1946. In May 1951, J. W. Forrester files a patent for his magnetic core memory.



FREAK was an electromechanical cryptanalytic machine used in the United States during World War II.


FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

FTP is a mechanism for transferring programs or files from one point to another across the INTERNET or similar electronic link. FTP is one of the applications available through TCP/IP.


Gang of Nine

In September 1988, Compaq Computer and eight other PC companies set up the EISA (Extended Industry Standard Architecture) as a challenge to IBM's Microchannel Architecture (MCA). This group came to be known as the "Gang of Nine."

Gartner Group

The Gartner Group, a computer research and consulting firm, was founded in 1979 by Gideon I. Gartner, a former IBM employee.

GEDA A-14 Computer

The GEDA A-14 was an analog computer developed in 1957 by Goodyear Aircraft Corporation for large and small problem solving.

Geophysical Services

Geophysical Services was founded in 1930 by J. Clarence Karcher and Eugene McDermott. Geophysical Service was renamed General Instruments, Inc. and in 1951, renamed Texas Instruments, Inc.

Gifford, Thomas

Thomas Gifford developed an early line printer used by some of the early electromechanical computing devices of the 1940's. His device was called the Gifford Printer. A Gifford Printer was probably used in conjunction with the early Heath Robinson machine at Bletchley Park, England (1942).

Gi-Gottingen Computer

In 1951, the Gi-Gottingen (German) Computer was built in Germany by the Arbeitegruppe Numeriche Rechenmechinen in cooperation with the Abteilung fur Astrophysik, Max-Planck Institute fur Physik.


Gopher is one of the software tools for getting from one place on the INTERNET to another. The mechanism is somewhat akin to tunneling, thus the name Gopher is appropriate.

G1 Computing Machine

In 1952, German scientists, Heinz Billing and Ludwig F. B. Biermann of the Max Planck Institute for Physics developed the G1 serial computing machine.

Grant, George Barnard

In 1876, Grant exhibited a gear-operated difference engine at the Philadelphia Centennial Fair.

Gruenberger, Fred

Fred Gruenberger is often credited with writing the first computer manual in 1952.

G2-Gottingen Computer

The G2-Gottingen Computer was built in 1954 by the Arbeitegruppe Numeriche Rechenmechinen in cooperation with the Abteilung fur Astrophysik, Max-Planck Institute fur Physik, Germany.


The Geheimschreiber and the Schlusselzusatz were German cipher machines used to produced encoded messages known as "Fish." Allied work on decoding "Fish" messages was performed during World War II at Bletchley Park, England, under the top secret code name "Project Ultra."


The GENIAC was marketed as an "electric brain construction kit" available in the mid 1950's from Berkeley Enterprises, Inc., of Newtonville, Massachusetts. The GENIAC was an electro-mechanical problem solving computer which sold for about $19.95 and could be assembled at home.


GPSS (General Purpose Systems Simulator)

GPSS was a programming language developed for general purpose systems simulation in 1961.

GPSS (Ground Processing Scheduling System)

In 1993, the expert system GPSS (Ground Processing Scheduling System) was used by NASA to handle the vast number of tasks that need to prepare the space shuttle after one flight, before it embarks on its next flight. GPSS saves NASA 1/2 to 1 million dollars per flight, due to savings in scheduling efficiencies. GPSS took 3 years to build at a cost of about $2 million.

Gray, Steven

Steven Gray founded the Amateur Computer Society (ACS)in May 1966, and published the ACS Newsletter. This was one of the earliest personal computing societies. (See User Groups)

Green Book

The Green Book was published by Philips and Sony in 1986 to define the standard for the Compact Disc-Interactive (CD-I) technology.

Grillet, Rene

Rene Grillet was a French clock maker to King Louis XIV. In 1678, Grillet constructed an arithmetic machine that was based on some of the concepts used by Pascal.

Goetz, Martin

In 1968, Martin Goetz acquired the first software patent for a sorting program.

Green Computers (Green PC)

During the late 1980's, Increasing attention on the environment resulted in new technologies for more environmentally friendly electronics equipment. One example is IBM's PS/2 E personal computer. The PS/2 E has no metal fasteners, contains 25 percent recycled plastics, low video emissions, and meets the EPA's Energy Star guidelines, automatically lowering its power consumption into a "sleep" mode when not in use. The PS/2 E has been called a "Green PC."

Grid Systems Corporation

GRiD Systems Corporation, founded by Gene Amdahl in 1982, produced an inexpensive portable computer, the "Grid Compass Computer."

Gunter, Edmund (1581-1626)

Edmund Gunter was an Englishman who developed a ruler which included markings indicating Napier's logarithms. His device became known as "Gunter's Scale." This scale ruler was later modified by William Oughtred who added another sliding ruler, thus developing the slide rule.

Johannes Gutenberg (1395-1468)

Gutenbert was a German printer invented a printing press machine which utilized moveable metal type. Although the Chinese and Koreans had developed methods of moveable type printing much earlier than Gutenberg, their alphabets made the method too cumbersome to be practical. Gutenberg made moveable type practical (1436) and produced a series of magnificent books, including the now famous 42-line Bible, during the 1400's. Each column of type in the printed bible had 42 lines.


Haloid Company

In 1906, the Haloid Company was founded in Rochester, New York. Haloid later became the Xerox Corporation.


HAL/S was a programming language developed in 1971 and designed to speed up the writing of software for the space shuttle Columbia. HAL/S was named after J. Halcombe Laning, one of MIT's innovative computer scientists.

Harmonic Telegraph

The Harmonic Telegraph was the name given to the device invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. He later changed the name to the Telephone.

Harris Corporation

The Harris Corporation was formed in 1974 when Radiation, Inc., formed by Homer R. Denius and George Shaw in 1950, changes its name to Harris Corporation.

Harvard Mark IV

In 1952, the Harvard Mark IV, an electronic machine built for U. S. Air Force, is completed.

Harwell Computer

In 1952, the Harwell Computer was built by the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, England.

Hayes, Dennis

In 1981, Dennis Hayes introduces his first SmartModem, a 300 bps device which provided a standard interface between communications software and the modem.

HDTV (High Definition Television)

In June 1989, Japan demonstrates the world's first HDTV (High Definition Television) broadcast to 89 giant screens across Japan. HDTV technology provides greatly improved resolution and color definition over conventional television. Japan is a leader in HDTV research.


Heathkit computer kits were available in a variety of models. Heath was purchased by Zenith Data Systems.

Example of a Heathkit computer, See Heathkit DEC H-11 (Zenith Data Systems)


In January 1939, Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett entered into a partnership agreement. They chose the name of their new partnership, Hewlett-Packard, by tossing a coin. Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett started their business in a garage behind the Packard's home in California. They started with about $538 in capital.

Their first major customer, Walt Disney Studios, ordered eight HP audio oscillators for the production of the movie "Fantasia." In 1951, Hewlett-Packard invented the high-speed frequency counter (HP 524A) which was used by radio stations to accurately set frequencies. Hewlett-Packard produces a variety of very successful products, including their family of minicomputers, the HP laserjet printer family and other products.

In 1994, HP's PC sales rose to $1 billion, placing HP at number 9 in worldwide PC market sales.

HP has three main businesses: Computers; Communications; and Test and Measurement Equipment.

Hewlett-Packard Company

Brief Timeline


On November 6, Hewlett-Packard makes its first public stock offering.


Hewlett-Packard makes its first business acquisition, the F. L. Mosley Company of Pasadena, California, producer of high quality graphic recorders. HP reaches revenues of $52 million with 1,778 employees and 373 products.


Hewlett-Packard enters the medical field with the purchase of Sanborn Company, of Waltham, Massachusetts. HP becomes listed on the New York and Pacific Stock Exchanges.


Hewlett-Packard entered the analytical-instrumentation field with the acquisition of F&M Scientific Corporation, Avondale, Pennsylvania. On its 25th anniversary, Hewlett-Packard records revenue of

$136 million with 7,500 employees and over 1,500 products.


In November 1966, HP introduced its first computer, the HP 2116A. The HP 2116A was designed to interface especially well with test and measurement instruments. The 2116A cost between $25,000 and $50,000, depending on the options. It had 8K of memory, stood about three feet high and weighed 500 pounds. The HP 2116A was combined with a data acquisition system and introduced in May 1967 as the HP 2018.


The HP 9100A is introduced as the world's first desktop scientific calculator.


HP introduced the HP 2000A, a time-sharing system, which was a first for its time in the minicomputer field.


HP developed and marketed the first hand-held scientific calculator, the HP-35. HP sold 100,000 of the HP-35's the first year on the market.


HP introduces the HP 3000 minicomputer line.


HP introduces the HP 80 and HP 45 calculators


HP introduces the HP 65 programmable calculator and the HP 70 calculator.


HP introduces additional calculator models: HP 22; HP 55; HP 21; HP 25; HP 22


HP introduces additional calculator models: HP 91; HP 27; HP 25C; HP 67; HP 97


HP introduces additional calculator models: HP 10; HP 29C; HP 19C; HP 92; HP 01 (watch)


HP Introduces the HP 85, Hewlett-Packard's first personal computer. It came with 32K RAM.


HP introduces the HP 75, its first portable personal computer. It sold for $995.


Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP 9000 technical computer. The HP 9000 came with 32 bit superchip technology, sometimes called the first "desktop mainframe."


HP introduces the HP 150 touchscreen computer.


HP introduces the HP 41C calculator.


Hewlett-Packard pioneers inkjet printing technology with the introduction of the HP Thinkjet printer.


Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP Laserjet printer, its most successful product to date.


Hewlett-Packard introduces a new family of computer systems based on innovative new HP Precision Architecture. The development effort, code-named "Spectrum program," cost more than $250 million over five years of research and development.


Hewlett-Packard reported revenues of $7.1 billion with 82,000 employees.


Hewlett-Packard records sales of $10 billion for the first time. HP becomes listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, its first listing outside the U.S., and ranks in the top 50 of Fortune 500. Employees number

87,000 with over 10,000 products.


Hewlett-Packard introduces the HP DeskJet ink-jet printer in February 1988.


HP's PC sales surpass Compaq Computer's, in sales to corporate customers with over 1,000 employees.


2002 - May - Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Merger

HP and Compaq merged their companies in May of 2002. The following links provide information regarding this historic merger.

HP Letter to Customers

HP - Compaq Merger Summary

HP-Compaq Merger Facts

(Sources: Information Week, March 20, 1995; Hewlett-Packard Corporation)

For other information about HP, see their online site at: http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/main.htm


High Sierra Format - High Sierra Group

In 1985, Major industry vendors, including Digital Equipment Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Hitachi, Sony, Apple Computers, Philips, and 3M, met at the High Sierra Casino and Hotel in Lake Tahoe to develop a standard format for storing data on CD ROMs. The group called themselves the "High Sierra Group." The standard they agreed to was based on the Yellow Book, a standard owned by Philips and Sony. They called the standard the "High Sierra" format. The High Sierra format became recognized as an industry standard within about a year. It was also accepted, with minor changes, by the International Standards Organization (ISO). The ISO gave it the designation ISO 9660. The setting of a standard such as this was an important step in the early development and marketing of CD ROM technology.

Hoefler, Don

Don Hoefler was the editor of a weekly newsletter about the events taking place in Silicon Valley. In 1971, he coined the term "Silicon Valley" which later became synonymous with high tech industry.

Hoeltzer, Helmut

In 1940, Helmut Hoeltzer developed the first analog flight simulator, during the development of Germany's V-2 rocket.

Holographic Memory

In 1969, Reuben S. Mezrich, a scientist and developer at Radio Corporation of America (RCA), developed a new technique for producing magnetic film holograms as a means of optical computer memory. The technique involved three-dimensional images on film, created by a laser, which can then be read out, erased, and reused. Such holographic memory systems might store as much as 100 million bits of information on a single film 1 inch square.


Hughes Airborne Control Computer

In 1951, the Hughes Airborne Control Computer was built by Research and Development Laboratories at Hughes Aircraft Company.

Hyatt, Gilbert

Gilbert Hyatt filed for a patent on the microprocessor in 1970. Although historical developments in microprocessor technology have their roots in the work done by Ted Hoff (See Hoff), Frederico Faggin and Stanley Mazor, the patent for the microprocessor eventually went to Hyatt in 1990 after years of legal actions.

Hybrid Computer

A hybrid computer is one with both digital and analog components. NASA developed and used a series of hybrid computers in its space flight programs.

Hypercard for Macintosh

Hypercard software for the Apple Macintosh was developed in 1987 by William Atkinson. Hypercard provides an easy way for users to access large amounts of data in an easily readable format.



In 1951, John von Neumann, Julian Bigelow and others completed the IAS computer. The IAS was named after the Institute for Advanced Study, where the machine was developed.

IBM (International Business Machines Corporation)

 IBM Personal Computer History and Photo

ICES (Integrated Civil Engineering System)

A programming language developed in 1967.


International Computers and Tabulators, Ltd.

The ICT was formed in 1959 through the merger of the British Tabulating Machine Company, Ltd., and the Powers-Samas Accounting Machines Ltd.



IDS was announced in 1963 by General Electric as the first commercial database management system.


(Illinois Automatic Computer) In 1952, the ILLIAC was built at the University of Illinois.


The Illiac IV was built in 1965 by University of Illinois and Burroughs. See Photo.


The Integraph, designed in 1925 by Vannevar Bush, was the first large-scale analog computer which used electrical motors and mechanical parts.

Integrated Circuit

The first integrated circuit (using germanium), was announced in January 1959 by Texas Instruments. It was based on the work of Jack St. Clair Kilby. In 1961, the Fairchild Corporation marketed the first commercially available integrated circuit. The IC contained four transistors and two resistors.

Intel Corporation Microprocessors



Intellect is a voice recognition software system available from Artificial Intelligence Corporation of Waltham, Massachusetts. It was developed by Larry Harris in the 1970's. Harris studied artificial intelligence at Cornell and at Dartmouth, and later joined Jerry Diesenthroth.


(International Telecommunications Satellite Organization). INTELSAT is composed of members from over 100 countries. Early Bird satellite was launched by INTELSAT Early Bird and later satellites provided a world-wide network of communication for broadcasting, computer data, telephone communications, two-way radio communications, weather monitoring and other uses. INTELSAT satellites have been launched many times since the first Early Bird.


Founded in 1966, Interdata, Inc., produced a series of computers including the Interdata Model 3, low cost computer. The model 3 sold for about $6,000.

INTERNET Configuration Control Board (ICCB); (IETF); (IAB)

The INTERNET Configuration Control Board was formed in 1980 to help develop a set of standards for the INTERNET. In 1983, it became the INTERNET Activities Board (IAB). In 1986, the INTERNET Engineering Task Force (IETF) was formed to take over the job of developing INTERNET standards, and report back to the IAB.

In 1992, the INTERNET Society was formed and the IAB was renamed the INTERNET Architecture Board.

Impala Pocket Fax/Modem

The Impala is a 14.4 K pocket fax modem introduced by Omron Office Automation Products, Inc., in 1993.


A magazine for computer and information systems professionals and users. The first issue of Infoworld magazine was published in 1980.

International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

In 1932, the International Telecommunications Convention was formed from two groups, the International Telegraph Convention and the Radiotelegraph Convention. The International Telegraph Union (ITU) and the Radiotelegraph Union (RTU) merged to form the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). One of the many functions of the ITU is to assist in eliminating international interference in radio broadcasts by fostering collaboration between different countries and providing technical assistance to developing countries who wish to establish communication systems. The ITU is an agency of the United Nations. The ITU periodically holds World Administrative Radio Conferences (WARC) to discuss topics of general importance to member nations.

International Time Recording Company

The International Time Recording Company of Endicott, New York, was one of the companies that was grouped together to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911, which later became IBM.


The INTERNET is a collection of computer networks on an international scale. It evolved from early networks funded by ARPA. One of the most popular sections of the INTERNET is the World Wide Web, also called the "Web" or abbreviated "WWW."




INTERNET Talk Radio was a service started on the INTERNET in 1993, that consisted of a program that users can download into their computers,over a modem, and play back using a soundboard.


(Information Processing Language V).

IPL-V was developed in 1956 by Allen Newell, D. Shaw, and F. Simon.

iPSC (Intel Parallel Super Computer)

In 1985, Intel Corp. develops the Intel Parallel Super Computer ("iPSC") which encompassed 128 microprocessors for high speed processing of scientific problems.


Iridium is a joint venture between Motorola, Inc., McDonnel Douglas Corp., and others to use over 60 satellites to provide portable fax, voice and paging services world wide by 1998.


The IRSIA-FHRS Computer was built in 1954 at the Bell Telephone Manufacturing Company, Antwerp, Belgium.


Integrated Services Digital Network. ISDN is a digital communication system capable of carrying data, voice, video and other services over the same medium.


(Instruction Set Processor Language).

A language developed in 1971.

IT (Information Technology)

IT is a term used to describe the overall field of information technology, encompassing computers, data processing, telecommunications, information exchange, and the technologies used to manage such disciplines.

IT (Internal Translator)

Internal Translator was a programming language developed in 1957.




The JAINCOMP-B Computer was built by the Jacobs Instrument Company, Bethesda, Maryland, in the early 1950's.


Java is a programming language that can be used within Internet web pages, or in stand-alone applications.

Java was introduced by Sun Microsystems in 1995. The Java development tool can be used to create "applets" or miniapplications that can be downloaded from web pages to a client workstation and used in run-time Java environments.

Java was created by James Gosling, Vice President of Sun. Gosling originally called the product "Oak" but discovered that the name Oak had already been used for another programming language. During a trip to the coffee shop, the name "Java" became the new choice. (Datamation, March 1, 1996)


JavaBeans is a programming language for the Internet web. It was released in October 1996, by Sun Microsystems's SunSoft division.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is an operating division of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) which performs research, development and related activities for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The JPL is an internationally known institution with an annual budget of over $1 billion (1992) and over 6,400 employees.

The JPL's charter emphasizes robotic exploration of the solar system, as well as research activities in astrophysics, Earth sciences and space physics.

The JPL originated in 1936 when Professor Theodore von Karman and a group of students at Pasadena's Arroyo Seco launched the first liquid fuel rocket. This group later developed JATO (Jet Assisted Take-Off) rockets for military aircraft. In 1943, von Karman's group became officially known as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory with a staff of 85 employees. Scope of work included electronics, structures, materials, high-speed aerodynamics and other engineering disciplines. On January 1, 1958, JPL becomes part of the civilian organization NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration.) Under a NASA contract with Caltech, JPL began its mission as the nation's lead center for the automated exploration of the solar system and deep space.

The JPL is currently active in the area of information systems and computer science. One of the areas of its involvement is scientific visualization. Interactive analysis of large, complex data sets requires very sophisticated computer software and hardware. Scientists at JPL are involved in the development of computer software to assist in the visual representation of complex data. One such system is called LinkWinds ("Linked Windows Interactive Data System").

LinkWinds allows analysts and scientists to combine and manipulate data in an interactive manner. The links, made by the analysts, provide information on the detection of trends, correlations and anomalies. The JPL has also developed other computer software for interactive analysis and visualization of multidimensional, multivariate imagery, as part of the government's High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative (HPCCI).

JPL developed a sophisticated software package for object-oriented data processing and dynamic database selection called the "Planetary Analysis Tool," which utilizes CD ROM storage. The JPL is also the curator of NASA's planetary information database which currently holds 20,000 gigabytes of data. Some of the space probes developed by JPL include Galileo, Magellan, Mars Observer, Voyager, Topex/Poseidon, Ulysses, Pioneer and many others. In 1992, the JPL answered 57,757 technical information questions from industry and the public, reported to NASA on 256 inventions and technical innovations resulting from JPL work and helped NASA and Caltech obtain 57 patents on new inventions.

Jet Propulsion Lab Research

Special Interests and Projects

(partial listing)

advanced computer simulation

advanced technologies


automated intelligence

analysis systems

computer aided design

computer information systems

computer simulations

computer graphics


deep space exploration

electric propulsion ion engines

electronic neural networks

high-speed spacecraft simulation

infrared fire detection system



optical systems

planetary information

polar oceanography

radio astronomy

real-time weather processor

robotic exploration of space

satellites and space probes

scientific visualization

space nuclear power


telescope technology

ultraviolet image sensors

voice switching and control systems



JavaScript is a relatively easy to use scripting language that shares some of the syntax used by the Java programming language. JavaScript can be used to share information with Java applets.

Josephson Junction

The "Josephson junction" was a superconducting switch which operated ten times faster than a normal transistor. It required temperatures near absolute zero, and did not become a mass produced item. It was patented in 1962 by Brian Josephson.


(Johnniac Open Shop System).

JOSS was a programming language developed in 1964.


(Jules' Own Version of International Algebraic Language).

The JOVIAL programming language was developed in 1960.


One of the tools used to search the libraries of information on the Internet.


Kalin-Burkhart Machine

In 1947, William Burkhart and Theodore A. Kalin, undergraduate students at Harvard, built one of the first electrical machines designed specifically for problems in propositional logic. This machine was later known as the Kalin-Burkhart machine.

Kenbak 1

The Kenbak 1, designed in 1971 by John Blankenbaker, was one of the first personal computers. The Kenbak was not based on a microcomputer chip, but rather on a pair of discrete shift registers or logic chips.


Kerberos is an algorithm developed at the University of Massachusetts for use in providing a security mechanism for electronic communications. Kerberos was developed under MIT's Project Athena.


Keronix was a computer company in the early 1970's that produced mid-range computers. The Keronix factory was destroyed by fire under suspicious circumstances which some believed was caused by a competing computer company.

Klystron Tube and Early Radar

During the late 1930's and early 1940's, research into improvements of ultra-high frequency radio wave generation using the Klystron tube were conducted under the support of Stanford University, the Sperry Gyroscope Company and the United States Army. Further experiments were conducted with the Klystron at MIT and at the University of Birmingham, England. Integration of Klystron technology with the Magnetron (invented in 1920) provided significant advancement in the field of RADAR development.

The British General Electric Company produced the first practical tube for manufacture in June 1940. Many other companies contributed to the development of RADAR technology, including International Telephone and Telegraph Company, Bell Telephone Laboratories, Radio Corporation of America, General Electric Company, and Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company.

Kurzweil Computer Products

Kurzweil Computer Products was founded in 1973 by Raymond Kurzweil, of MIT. Kurzweil was a producer of electronic reading machines for the blind. Kurzweil began marketing his devices in 1976. Musician Stevie Wonder was one of his early customers.


Langmuir, Irving

From 1912 to 1914, Irving Langmuir, an American chemist, and Harold D. Arnold, American physicist, improved the triode tube developed by Lee De Forrest, by increasing the amount of vacuum in the tube.


The very earliest "programming" was done by physical rewiring and connecting circuits or setting a series of switches. Even after programmers started to develop more sophisticated software tools, the early computers were exceedingly difficult to program. Prior to 1954, almost all programming was coded either in machine language or assembly language. In most cases, programming languages were written for a specific type of computer. In the early 1950's, "standard" programming languages were almost unheard of. A milestone in language standardization for business computers was the development of COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) in December 1959.

Some of the very early programming languages are shown below:


1945 Plankalkul (Konrad Zuse)

1949 Short Code (for BINAC) (John Mauchly)

1950 Intermediate Programming Language (Arthur W. Burks)

1951 Klamemerausdrucke (algebraic language and compilers)

1951 Formules (complete compiler) (Heinz Rutishauser)

1951 Find (for the Whirlwind) (Jack Gilmore)

1952 Autocode compiler (Alick E. Glennie)

1952 Short Code (UNIVAC) (Schmidt, Tonik, and Logan)

1952 Sort-Merge Generator (for UNIVAC 1) (Betty Holberton)

1952 Punchy (for TX-O) (Jack Gilmore)

1953 A-2 Compiler (for UNIVAC) (Grace Hopper)

1953 Algebraic interpreter (Whirlwind) (J.H. Laning, N.Zierler)

For a list of over 225 programming languages, see Chronology of Programming Languages


Lanier Worldwide, Inc.

Lanier Worldwide, Inc. has a fascinating history in a variety of product areas. The current company is the result of a number of mergers over the years. Lanier has a track record of very important contributions to the fields of computing, imaging, communications and office systems. The following time line highlights some of these areas.



3M Company is established


Lanier Business Products is established as the southeast distributor for the Edison Company's Ediphone.


3M introduces the Thermo-Fax Copier.


Lanier Business Products begins a relationship with 3M and becomes its largest independent distributor of office products.


Lanier begins marketing the Nyematic "continuous flow" system of dictation.


Lanier purchases Gray, Nyematic and Stenocord and becomes a national company.


Lanier introduces the first standard cassette dictating unit.


Lanier Business Products merges with Harris Corporation, forming Harris/Lanier


Harris/Lanier Copy Division and 3M form a joint venture and become Harris/3M. Harris/Lanier Dictating Products becomes Lanier Voice Products.


Lanier introduces the IMS 80 document management system for microfilm products.


Harris/3M and Lanier Voice Products merge to become Lanier

Worldwide, an independently operated and wholly-owned subsidiary of Harris Corporation.


Lanier Worldwide forms U.S. Operations and International Operations to increase its effectiveness.

(Information courtesy of Lanier Worldwide, Inc.)




Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser produces a narrow beam of light of continous frequency. A laser's light is extremely focused and makes it a good method of communication over long distances. The laser was developed by U.S. scientists during the late 1950's and early 1960's. In 1958, Arthur L. Schawlow and Charles H. Townes published a paper on the theory of the laser. The first ruby laser was built by Theodore H. Maiman in 1960. The first continuous laser, using neon and helium to produce infrared radiation, was built in 1961 by Avi Javan. Semiconductor lasers, using crystals of gallium arsenide to produce infrared light, were being built by teams of scientists by 1962. Lasers are used in communications, industry, medicine and many other fields.

Laser Printer (IBM)

In 1984, IBM introduced the first laser printer. The laser printer utilizes a microcomputer-controlled laser beam to produce high speed and very high quality type or graphics. (Laser stands for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.") Large laser printers can produce very high quality output at high speed.

Lehmer, Derrick Henry

In 1926, Derrick Henry Lehmer, an American mathematician, developed a mechanical computing device that could determine large prime numbers. Lehmer's "Number-Sieve" could analyze 3,000 numbers per second to determine whether or not they were prime.

Lexicon Corporation

Lexicon produced the LEX-31 and LEX-21 personal computers in the early 1980's.

Light Pen

The "Light Pen" is a computer input device. The first light pen as an input device to a computer was developed in 1963 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by L. E. Sutherland as part of the Sketchpad graphics system.


LINASEC was the first electronic justifying typesetter. It was developed in 1962 by Wang Laboratories.


Linux is an operating system that runs on a wide variety of machines, such as 386/486/Pentium machines with ISA, EISA, PCI and VLB busses, and can be ported to machines running under the Motorola 680x0 chips, and runs on the DEC Alpha. Also runs on SPARC stations and many other systems. Linux looks like Unix, but does not come from the same source code base. Linux, itself, is only the kernel of the operating system, i.e., the part that controls hardware, manages files, separates processes, etc. When Linux is mixed with different sets of utilities and applications to form a complete operating system, each such combinations is called a distribution of Linux. Linux is "free" software, commonly called freeware or Open Source Software. This means that one may give away or sell copies, but you must include the source code or make it available in the same way as any binaries you give or sell. If one distributes any modifications, they are legally bound to distribute the source for those modifications. Since 1995, there has been a growing interest in Linux, usually by those who seek an alternative to Microsoft's operating systems. In 1998, Linux server shipments jumped 212 percent, compared to NT's 27 percent and Unix's 4 percent, (Source: International Data Corp.) Linus version 1.0 was released on March 14, 1994. The September 1998 version is 2.0.35


Litronics company produced a programmable calculator in 1976.

LK 3000

In December of 1978, Lexicon Corporation introduces a 64-k memory, battery-operated word and phrase translator. The LK 3000 could translate words and phrases between English and about 18 other languages. The LK 3000 has a 33 key input pad and an LED display panel. The user types in a word or phrase and indicates the language to be searched. The LK 3000 then displays the translated word or phrase.

Logic Machines

In 1775, Charles Stanhope (1753-1816), 3rd Earl Stanhope, built an early logic machine called the Demonstrator and an early mechanical calculator which used geared wheels.

In 1949, an early electrical logic machine was built in England by Dr. Wolfe Mays, University of Manchester, and D. G. Prinz of Feranti, Ltd., Manchester.

Logistic Computer

The Logistics Computer was built in 1953 by Logistics Research, Inc., Redondo Beach, California (See "Digital Computer Survey" from the table of contents).


LOGO was developed by Seymour Papert, Wallace Feurzeig and others in the mid sixties at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. LOGO was a programming language designed to teach children how to program and control an electromechanical turtle and use electronic drawing tools on VDT screens.

These revolutionary ideas and pioneering use of the computer were later described by Papert in his book "Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas," published in 1980 by Basic Books, New York. Seymour Papert, professor of Mathematics and Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Education at the MIT, were also awarded the Marconi International Fellowship Award for 1981. (See Intro Book)

Lorenz Attractor

In the early 1960's, Edward Lorenz, an MIT meteorologist, experimented with computer representations of seemingly random phenomena, such as weather, and discovered patterns of orderliness. His development was called the "Lorenz Attractor."

Lotus Development Corporation

In about 1978, Mitch Kapor (1950- ) and Eric Rosenfeld developed a microcomputer program called Tiny Troll which produced charts, analyzed statistics and did text editing. Kapor also produced VisiPlot and VisiTrend which he sold to VisiCorp in 1982. Realizing the industry trend towards 16 bit microcomputers, Kapor and Johnathan Sachs created a spreadsheet program to take advantage of IBM's new personal computer. In 1982, Kapor formally launched the Lotus Corporation. By 1983, Lotus had sales of over $53 million, and sold more than 200,000 units of Lotus 1-2-3 in its first year of operation.

Lotus went public in that same year. Lotus has continued to be very successful, and currently markets its products in more than 80 countries and maintains 51 offices outside the United States. The Lotus 1-2-3 program is marketed in 27 native language versions, including Arabic, Chinese, Hungarian, Slovenian and Czech.

Other products offered by Lotus Development Corporation include Lotus Notes, Lotus Agenda, Freelance Graphics, Ami Pro word processor,SmartText, Lotus Organizer, Symphony, Magellan disk manager, Jazz, and others. By 1993, Lotus employed over 4,500 people with annual revenues of $900 million. Current President, Chairman and CEO is Jim Manzi.





Lotus is founded in April 1982 with $1 million in venture capital and eight employees.


Lotus ships Lotus 1-2-3 software.


Lotus raises $41 million in its first public offering.


Year end revenues reach $53 million. Lotus grows to 300 employees. Lotus 1-2-3 replaces VisiCalc as the primary spreadsheet software for personal computers.


Lotus announces Symphony software, which integrates word processing, spreadsheet, graphics, database and communications software.


Mitchell D. Kapor is named chairman and CEO. Jim P. Manzi becomes president and chief operating officer.


Year end revenues reach $157 million. Lotus grows to 741 employees.


Lotus 1-2-3 leads the Softsel Hot List for 24 consecutive months. Revenues at year end reach $225.5 million. Lotus grows to 1,068 employees.


Lotus acquires ISYS Corporation of Acton, Mass, GNP Development of Pasadena, California, Graphics Communications, Inc. of Waltham, Mass. Year end revenues reach $283 million. Lotus has 1,421 employees.


Mitch Kapor resigns as Lotus Chairman.


Lotus acquires Datatext, Inc. Lotus year end revenues reach $395 million. Employees number 2,100. Lotus Corporation drops copy protection on Lotus 1-2-3.


(November) Lotus announces "Lotus Agenda" an information manager for microcomputers.


Lotus begins to ship its Agenda and Freelance Graphics software packages. Lotus 1-2-3 version 2.01 receives the highest overall rating by Software Digest for the fifth consecutive year. Year end revenues reach $468 million. Employees number 2,500.


Lotus acquires rights to Always software from Funk Software, announces Lotus versions 2.2 and 3.0. Year end Revenues reach $556 million, with 2,700 employees.

Lotus Notes is released.


Lotus announces Lotus for the VAX family of computers and for OS/2. Lotus acquires Aleph2, developer of Impress. Lotus acquires Alpha Works from Alpha Software, and acquires Samna Corporation. End

of year sales are $684 million.


Lotus ships Lotus for Windows, Lotus for Macintosh, Lotus Improv, and acquires cc:Mail Inc.


Lotus ships SmartPics for Windows, Lotus Sound, Multimedia Smarthelp, Lotus Organizer, Ami Pro 3.0 and other products.


Lotus announces Lotus 1-2-3 version 4.0 for Windows. Lotus acquires Approach Software.


Lotus Development Corporation is acquired by IBM for an estimated $3.5 billion.


LGP-30 Computer

The LGP-30 was the first computer acquired by Dartmouth College in 1959. The LGP-30 was a small, single drum computer.

Ludwig Sptiz & Company

Ludwig Spitz & Company of Berlin, Germany, made the Tim Calculator and the Unitas Calculator. They were distributed in the United States by the Times Into Company, 332 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

LVDC (Launch Vehicle Digital Computer).

The LVDC was a computer used by NASA in the 1960's on the Saturn rocket booster to control rocket firing and flight.

J. Lyons & Company

The J. Lyons Company is a large, diversified British company with 250 bakeries and restaurants and which markets over 400 kinds of tea (1957). In 1949, the Lyons Company decided it needed an automated way to process payroll, and so it began building its own computer in 1950.

The computer was called the Lyons Electronic Office ("LEO"). See Photos

The LEO was an electronic data processing machine, utilizing 6,000 vacuum tubes and mercury delay line storage. The machine was used to process payroll for 30,000 staff in the bakeries, as well as another 6,000 for Ford. The LEO was based on the earlier EDSAC design.

The J. Lyons Company completed the LEO by 1954 and other companies were so impressed with its operation, they asked J. Lyons to build one for them. In about 1955, J. Lyons established a subsidiary to build and market its computers. The computer organization employed 70 people and worked on producing the LEO II, an even faster computer than the original. The LEO used printers from Bull or from Samas. J. Lyons was perhaps England's most interesting pioneering computer company with its three main product lines: tea, pastries, and computers.

A Brief Chronology of J. Lyons & Company



J. Lyons & Company is formed by Isidore and Montague Gluckstein,Barnett Salmon and Joseph Lyons. The J. Lyons business included restaurants, entertainment and refreshment contracting, and hotels. The J. Lyons Company was located at Whitechapel Road, London, England.


Lyons opened its first teashop in London. The Louis XVI style tea room soon became very successful.


Lyons operated 80 tea shops by this time, and had expanded its catering and food production business.


Lyons acquired the Ceylon Tea Company.


Lyons acquired the Black & Green Tea Company and a controlling interest in the W.H. & F.J. Horniman tea company.


Lyons established a Business Research Office to look at ways to become more efficient in operating their business.


Lyons expanded to over 250 tea shops and 20 restaurants, with over 33,000 staff, selling 150 million meals from its tea shops. Calculation of accounting information became a very difficult task. Over 100 calculating machines and 150 adding machines were being used in the task of tracking large volumes of transactions. Lyons began reporting their balance sheets in decimal notation and campaigned the British Government to move to a decimal based currency system for ease of use.


The Business Research Office is renamed the Organization and Methods Department (O&M).


In May, the EDSAC computer being developed at Cambridge ran its first successful program. The EDSAC was in many ways the model for the Lyons computer. News of the EDSAC success gave Lyons' management greater enthusiasm for their own project.


Oliver Standingford and Thomas R. Thompson of J. Lyons Company visited the United States to learn more about the emerging computer industry and available technologies. They intended to see the ENIAC but were unable to do so due to part of the project still being considered secret. They were able to learn about the EDSAC project (under Professor Douglas Hartree and Dr. Maurice Wilkes) at Cambridge University.

They did visit the Computation Laboratory at Harvard to see the Harvard Mark I computer (IBM's 50 foot magnetic relay machine). Upon their return to England, they made contact with Professor Hartree and Dr. Wilkes at Cambridge and received a considerable amount of advice to assist them in their search for a method to improve business operations and calculation requirements.


Thompson and Standingforth send a proposal to the Lyons' board of directors recommending that Lyons invest in building its own computer. The following month, Lyons donates 3,000 pounds (over $6,000 U.S.) and the services of an assistant to the EDSAC project at Cambridge in exchange for assistance to Lyons in their attempt to build their own computer.


John Simmons suggested the name LEO for the company's computer. LEO stood for "Lyons Electronic Office."


The LEO I runs its first complete program with full and accurate results. (September) The LEO I stayed in continuous service until January 4, 1965 when it was finally shut down.


The plans for the successor to the LEO I were submitted by Dr. John Pinkerton to the Lyons board of directors. The LEO II was to be a faster and more reliable machine. The LEO II operated as a parallel machine, used 16 registers instead of 3, shortened length mercury tubes in increase speed, use of ferrite core storage (used on the later LEO IIc), and microprogramming techniques.


Lyons company Board of Directors decide to form a separate company to handle computer manufacturing. The new company, LEO Computers Ltd., was incorporated on November 4, 1954.


The first LEO II computer is operational. It runs until 1967 when it is finally shut down.


LEO Computers Ltd. agrees to merge with the English Electric Company. The new name becomes "English Electric Leo Ltd."


The Marconi Wireless Telegraphy Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of English Electric, becomes the shareholder of English Electric Leo Ltd. The new name becomes "English Electric Leo Marconi Computers Limited."


The LEO III computer is completed and delivered to various customers in the UK as well as exported to Australia, South Africa and Czechoslovakia.


The LEO I computer is shut down and parts are given to the Science Museum in London.


On September 25th, English Electric Computers Ltd. merges with International Computers and Tabulators Ltd. (ICT). The new company was called International Computer (Investments) Ltd. (ICL).


Lyons forms an internal service company, Lyons Computer Services, Ltd., to manage its own complex internal computer needs.


Lyons adopts IBM equipment for its own internal operations and divests itself of reliance on future LEO computers.

A Description of the LEO I Computer

"Lyons Electronic Office" (See Photos)

The LEO I used 5,936 valves, plus another 300-400 in auxiliary equipment. The LEO used 64 mercury tubes for storage (twice the memory capacity of the EDSAC machine built in Cambridge). Each memory tube was 5 feet, four inches in length and weighed half a ton. The computer was controlled from a control panel, with several oscilloscopes set up to monitor contents of the storage area. The machine also had a speaker installed and programmers could hear the sounds generated as LEO performed certain calculations. The programmers became so accustomed to certain frequency variations, that they could detect something was wrong with a program by the sounds produced through the speaker. The programmers also used this speaker arrangement to generate some of the first "computer music."

The total power consumption of the LEO was 30,000 watts. The machine took up about 5,000 square feet of floor space in the Lyons facility. The designers of the LEO created 228 separate electronic assembly units which were attached to 21 separate racks. This modular design helped provide easier access to components during a period of equipment failure. The biggest problem with machine faults was the failure rate of valves (tubes). About 50 valves per week were being replaced at one point.



Macaulay, Charles P.R.

In 1910, Charles Macaulay, an Englishman, applies for a U.S. patent on his logic machine, which was an improvement over the logic machines of Jevons (1869) and Marquand (1881). His patent was granted in 1913.


(Project MAC's Symbolic Manipulation).

MACSYMA was a collection of programs designed to solve complex algebraic equations. MACSYMA was developed in 1971 by MIT researchers Bill Martin, Joel Moses, and Carl Englemann.

MAD (Michigan Algorithm Decoder).

The MAD programming language was developed in about 1960.


In 1951, the MADDIDA (Magnetic Drum Digital Differential Analyzer) was built by Northrop Aircraft Corporation, Hawthorne, California.

Magnetic Core Storage

Magnetic core storage is composed of small rings which can be magnetized in either of two directions, representing the "0" or "1" of the binary numbering system. Many of such rings are assembled in a matrix and wired into the computer's circuitry. Core storage was an important development in early computers, but is no longer in use.

Magnetic Disk Storage

A magnetic disk is the most common form of storage used in computers today. A flat disk is coated with a material that can be magnetized, and is placed on a shaft where it can be rotated at high speed. Read-write access heads are then placed over the magnetized surface, where they are designed to move to the proper location or track where the data is to be recorded or read.

Magnetic Drum Storage

A magnetic drum works on similar principles as a magnetic tape, except that the magnetic material is placed on the surface of a rotating drum, rather than plastic tape. The drum rotates past the read-write heads. Drums in the early computers came in a wide variety of sizes and different rotation speeds.


Magnetic tape storage consisted of reels of magnetic tape, usually in lengths of 1200 to 2400 feet or up to 3500 feet. Some early computers used metal tape, but most tape is plastic with a coating that can be magnetized. As the tape is passed by the read-write heads of the tape drive device, electrical impulses in the writing mechanism create magnetized portions of the tape which represent data bits. Data is recorded and stored in this way. When reading the tape, the tape is passed over the read-write heads again, at a constant speed, and the magnetized bits are read and converted into electrical signals.

In 1928, Fritz Pfleumer of Germany patented a type of magnetic recording tape that used a strip of paper and magnetizable iron powder. Achieving only moderate success with the practical application of his invention, Pfluemer offered the idea to a German electrochemical company, AEG.

AEG realized that proper development of the magnetic tape concept required a sophisticated manufacturing process and the concept was turned over to BASF. Using cellulose-acetylene instead of paper, BASF produced a workable version which it demonstrated at the Berlin World's Fair in 1935.

Magnetic tape became an inexpensive form of peripheral storage for computer systems from the mid 1940's up to the 1980's. Magnetic tape for computer systems was usually 1/2 inch wide, open-reel, with data densities of 1650 bits-per-inch (bpi) and 6250 bpi. Magnetic reel-to-reel tape provided sequential data storage. Magnetic storage using floppy diskettes and hard disk storage eventually became preferable to magnetic tape, due to their speed advantages as direct access storage devices (DASD). Archival storage of data on magnetic tape is relatively inexpensive; however, optical storage media introduced in the 1980's provide much better long-term data protection.

Magnetic media is the most common form of storage for computer systems. The most common forms include reel-to-reel tape, tape cartridge and cassette, hard disks and disk packs, floppy disks, and diskettes. Early UNIVAC machines used metal alloy digital recording tape. (See Photo)

A brief timeline on magnetic media developments



Vlademar Poulesen, a Danish electrical engineer, exhibited possibly the first magnetic recording device at the Paris Exhibition.


Magnetic media were first used for information storage in early computer systems in the mid 1940's.


Magnetic Drum random-access memory was developed in England.


The first use of plastic magnetic tape was in 1951, by Luis Fem, on the Faydac, a Raytheon machine.


IBM introduced the first magnetic tape device, the IBM 726, in 1953. The 726 had a density of 100 characters-per-inch and a speed of 75 inches-per-second.


Magazines, removable magnetic discs for data storage, were first introduced.


IBM marketed the first removable magnetic disks (1311). The 1311 disks had a 3 Mb storage capacity.


Alan Shugart led a team at IBM that developed the 8 inch floppy diskette for data and program storage.


IBM introduced the 5-1/4 inch diskette.


Sony introduced the 3.5 inch diskette.

See Also: Tapes, Disks, Storage Devices 


Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter

The IBM MT/ST was introduced by IBM in 1964. The MT/ST used magnetic tape to record keystrokes which could then be played back. The MT/ST was the forerunner of today's modern word processing systems.


In 1920, Dr. Albert W. Hull of General Electric Company invented the Magnetron, an early microwave generator.

Magnetronic Reservisor System

The Magnetronic Reservisor system was put into operation in 1952, at American Airlines, in New York. The Magnetronic Reservisor was built by Teleregister Corporation, a subsidiary of Western Union, and is used for tracking airline reservations.

Maltron Keyboard (PCD-Maltron)

The PCD-Maltron keyboard was invented by Lillian Malt of Great Britain. The Maltron uses a variation of the Dvorak design, but places the keys at different heights and curves them to fit one's hands. The Maltron was designed to reduce fatigue and soreness that often accompanied typing. The Maltron was distributed in the United States by Applied Learning Corporation, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Manchester Mark I Compute

In 1947, F. C. Williams, Tom Kilburn, Max Newman and others built the Manchester Mark I computer at the University of Manchester, England. It was also known as the Manchester Automatic Digital Machine (MADM). The Mark I was the first functioning prototype of an all electronic computer with a stored program. An electronics firm, Feranti, undertook to build several Mark I machines.

The Manchester Mark I prototype was completed in June 1948, but refinements were made to it in following years. Later, Alan Turing joined the Manchester team. In 1951, F. C. Williams and others at Manchester University built an improved version of the Manchester Mark I, called the Mark II or MEG (megacycle engine).

Mansfield AmendmentThe Mansfield Amendment (forwarded by Democrats Edward Kennedy, William Fulbright and Mike Mansfield) required that the U.S. Government's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) show direct military applicability of all its funded programs, and change the name to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ("DARPA"). This had a negative impact on research projects, such as the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and others.

Marchant Brothers

In 1908, the Marchant Brothers market the Dactyl computing machine, a French derivative of the machine marketed by Swedish engineer W. T. Odhner in 1875. Odhner had based his machine on the Baldwin machine.


Marchant Calculating Machine Company

Marchant Calculators was founded by the Marchant Brothers, makers of early mechanical and electrical calculating machines. Marchant Calculators, Inc. was based in Emeryville, Oakland, California.


Mark 22 Computer

Also called the Bell Computer, Mark IV, this digital computer was developed by Bell Labs in 1945.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

In 1861, responding to a petition from the Committee of Associated Institutions, chaired by William Barton Rogers, Massachusetts Governor Andrew signed the charter for the creation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). William Barton Rogers became the first president of MIT the following year. MIT has been the site of many pioneering discoveries and major technical projects in science and computing. Some of the early programming languages and software to come out of MIT's talented scientists and faculty include COMIT, DYNAMO, and LISP.

MIT and Early Computing, a Very Brief Timetable


The U.S. Navy awarded a contract to the MIT Servomechanisms Laboratory to develop an "Aircraft Stability and Control Analyzer' (ASCA). Research begins, under the direction of J. Forrester, on what later becomes the "Whirlwind Computer."


The Whirlwind Computer first begins functioning. At this time, it contains 3,300 vacuum tubes.


The MIT Test Computer is developed.

The Whirlwind becomes operational on a regular schedule, 35 hours per week. By 1954, it had grown to 12,500 vacuum tubes and 23,803 diodes.


The MIT TX-0 computer is developed at Lincoln Labs.


IBM delivers the central computer equipment comprising the AN/FSQ-7 for Project SAGE.


The MIT Computation Center was presented with an IBM 704 computer free of charge, 7 hours a day and it took over computing from the Whirlwind I.


An IBM 709 computer was installed at the MIT Computer Center.


A Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-1 Computer was presented to the MIT Electrical Engineering Department, in September 1961.


A time-sharing system for the PDP-1 became operational.

The Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) became operational in June 1963.

Project MAC becomes operational by November 1963.

(References: For excellent coverage of MIT's accomplishments, see "A Century of Electrical Engineering and Computers Science at MIT, 1882-1982," by Karl L. Wildes and Nilo A. Lindgren, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1986, 421 pages; and "Project Whirlwind: The History of a Pioneer Computer," K.C. Redmond and T.A. Smith, Digital Press, Bedford, Massachusetts, 1980.)


Mauchly Associates

Mauchly Associates was a consulting company founded in 1959 by John Mauchly after he left Remington Rand.

Mazor, Stanley

In the 1960's, Frederico Faggin, Stanley Mazor teamed up with Ted Hoff in the development of the Intel 4004, the first commercial microprocessor.

MCI Communications Corporation

MCI was founded in 1968 with only three employees. William G. McGowan became chairman and CEO of MCI and brought an antitrust action against AT&T. MCI won a major settlement against AT&T and became a major competitor for long distance business. MCI also entered into a partnership with IBM, but still remains only about one-twelfth the size of AT&T.


"Mechatronics" is a term that was coined by the Japanese to describe the integration of mechanical and electronic engineering. Mechatronics encompasses robotics, computerized machines and electrical engineering technologies especially as applied toward factory automation. (Reference: "Mechatronics" Japan's Newest Threat," V. D. Hunt, Chapman and Hall, 1988.)

Memorex-Telex Corporation




Four ex-staff of the Ampex corporation form Memorex Corporation. Memorex sells magnetic tape and later manufactures disk drives.


Memorex establishes Peripheral Systems Corporation as a subsidiary.


Memorex reorganizes its structure into two groups, Image Products Corporation and Peripheral Systems Corporation.


Memorex releases two microcomputers, the Model 40 and Model 50. They were withdrawn for technical reasons.


Memorex files an unsuccessful anti-trust suit against IBM.


Memorex experiences serious financial problems; SEC temporarily suspends trading of Memorex stock; many Memorex executives leave the company.


Memorex acquires Business Systems Technology and Telex Europe.


Memorex is acquired by Burroughs Corporation.


Mercury Monitor

In 1962, NASA's Project Mercury and astronaut John Glenn utilized a ground-based IBM 7090 computer and a program called the "Mercury Monitor" to handle information related to the flight.


MEDLARS (Medical Literature Analysis Retrieval System) is the world's largest medical information storage and retrieval system. MEDLARS was developed by the National Library of Medicine starting in 1960 and went into operation in Bethesda, Maryland in 1964.

Megabit Memory, first occurrence

IBM's first megabit memory was shipped on April 29, 1957, with the first type 738 memory for use in an IBM 704 computer.

MIC ("Michigan Instructional Computer")

University of Michigan's Electrical Engineering Department constructed the MIC in 1956 to help train engineering students in the design and construction. The MIC was designed to allow students to assemble and disassemble it, make model components and test theories. The MIC utilized drum memory and an electric typewriter.

MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition)

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (or MICR) was a system developed to read numbers electronically. MICR uses characters printed in an ink containing ferrous oxide. When the printed characters are energized by passing them by a magnetic field, they become electronically readable.

The MICR technology was refined by General Electric and other manufacturers in the 1950's. MICR was adopted by the American Banking Association in 1959 as the standard type face for electronic reading devices. The MICR method allowed banks to process checks at a much faster rate than previously.

Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft, the world's largest software company, was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Microsoft supplied the MBasic interpreter for the successful Altair 8800 microcomputer and later supplied IBM with PC-DOS for its PCs and MS DOS for the IBM compatible PCs.

Microsoft Corporation produces a wide variety of popular software products including

-Windows (graphical user interface)

-Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000

-Windows NT Server

-Windows NT Desktop

-Word (word processor)

-Excel (electronic spreadsheet)

-Access (database)

-Powerpoint (presentation tool)

-Internet Explorer (i.e.)

-Exchange; Outlook, and More

Microsoft formed business alliances or has obtained financial interest in a variety of companies to help it increase its potential in the marketplace. On June 9th, 1997, Microsoft Corporation announced that it would invest $1 billion in the cable television carrier Comcast, Corporation. They are investing in Comcast's development of a large, high-speed, broadband network capable of providing homes with digital interactive television, Internet access and more. Comcast also owns the QVC home-shopping cable channel.

In July 1997, Microsoft announced that it was investing $150 million in the financially faltering Apple Computer Company.




Micro-Soft is founded as a partnership by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.


Microsoft BASIC is sold to Citibank, General Electric, NCR and others.


Microsoft begins selling FORTRAN for computers running the 8080 microprocessor.


Microsoft licenses BASIC to Apple Computer and to Radio Shack.


Microsoft's annual sales reach $500,000, with only 5 employees.


Microsoft begins selling COBOL for microprocessors.


Microsoft expands its operations with an overseas branch in Japan.


Microsoft's sales reach $1 million, with 13 employees.


Microsoft establishes its headquarters in Bellevue, Washington.


Microsoft announces BASIC 8086 for the 8086 microprocessor.


Microsoft announces Assembler language for the 8080 and Z80 microprocessors.


Microsoft begins development of XENIX, a microcomputer version of UNIX.


Microsoft announces SoftCard for the Apple II, which allows the Apple II to run CP/M software.


Microsoft buys the rights to Tim Patterson's 86-DOS and refines it to become the operating system for the new IBM Personal Computer. Microsoft signs an agreement with IBM.


Microsoft's sales reach $8 million, with 40 employees.


Microsoft develops MS-DOS on the IBM Personal Computer.


Microsoft becomes incorporated as a privately-held company.


Microsoft sales reach $16 million, with 125 employees.


Microsoft announces GW-Basic. Also announces Multiplan spreadsheet software.


James C. Towne becomes president of Microsoft Corporation; Bill Gates remains CEO and Chairman of the Board. Towne is later replaced by Jon Shirley.


Microsoft's sales reach $34 million, with over 200 employees.


Microsoft announces Microsoft Word, the Microsoft mouse, Microsoft C, Microsoft Windows and other products.


Microsoft sales reach $69 million with 383 employees.


Microsoft releases Microsoft Project, project management software, and DOS 3.0 and later MS-DOS 3.1.


Microsoft sales reach $125 million with 608 employees.


Microsoft announces Microsoft Excel, spreadsheet software.


Microsoft sales reach $140 million with 910 employees.


Microsoft formally releases Windows software.


Microsoft Corporation stock goes public at about $21 per share. Sales reach $197 million, with 1,200 employees.


Microsoft announces Word 3.0 and Microsoft Works.


Microsoft sales reach $300 million with 2,000 employees.


Microsoft releases Windows 2.0, Excel for PCs, Word 4.0, Word 3.0 for Macintosh, and OS/2 version 1.


Microsoft sales reach $590 million with 2,800 employees.


Microsoft releases SQL Server, Excel 2.2 for the Macintosh, and Excel for Presentation Manager.


Microsoft sales reach $803 million, with 4,000 employees.


Jon Shirley resigns as president of Microsoft and is succeeded by Michael Hallman.


Microsoft releases Windows 3.0.


Microsoft sales reach $1 billion, with 5,200 employees.


Microsoft releases DOS 5.1.


Microsoft releases Windows 3.1.


Microsoft releases DOS 6.0


Microsoft releases DOS 6.2


Microsoft releases beta versions of Windows '95.


From May to June of 1995, the U.S. Justice Department conducted an investigation regarding Microsoft's bundling of the Microsoft Network (MSN) into Windows 95.


Windows 95 and the Microsoft Network (MSN)

August 24- Microsoft officially releases Windows '95 with one of the largest media campaigns for computer software of all time


By November 1995, Microsoft reports over 500,000 people have subscribed to the Microsoft Network.


(December) Microsoft announces plans to acquire 50% ownership in NBC (National Broadcasting Company).


Microsoft and MCI Communications announce plans to promote each other's on-line services. Microsoft will push MCI conferencing and ISDN services; MCI will distribute MSN (Microsoft Network) and its Internet Explorer web browser.


By February 1996, the Microsoft Network has reached about 850,000 subscribers. Microsoft decides to scale back the MSN and move it into two internal divisions, the Interactive Media Division and the Internet Platforms Division.


Microsoft announces it will invest $1 billion in Comcast Corporation, a cable television carrier, to further develop broadband networking technology into people's homes.


(July) Microsoft announces it will invest $150 million in Apple Computer.


Microsoft announces plans to buy WebTV Network, Inc.


Microsoft Corporation invests $1 billion in TV cable company Comcast, to develop high bandwidth communication to U.S. homes.

(October) The Justice Department filed a motion in Federal District Court, alleging that Microsoft had violated a 1994 consent decree dealing with certain aspects of licensing the Windows operating system to computer manufacturers. Specifically, the Justice Department asked the court to stop Microsoft from tying the use of its Windows 95 operating system to the use of its Internet browser, a tool to navigate the Internet.


U.S. Government continues in its investigation into Microsoft Corporation's practices regarding its bundling of software and issues relating to Microsoft's Internet Explorer software.


Microsoft releases Windows 98 SE (Windows 98 Second Edition), and Windows 2000 released.


(April 3) Following a negative ruling by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, Microsoft said that it plans to request an expedited review by the U.S. Court of Appeals after the remedies phase and final decree. The appeal will stress a 1998 U.S. Court of Appeals decision that affirmed the company's right to support the Internet in the Windows operating system.

(June 8) Microsoft Litigation: On June 8, 2000, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that Microsoft be broken into two companies, one to develop and sell the Windows operating system, and the other to handle Microsoft Office, Internet technologies and other products. The idea is to prevent the companies from combining the products and features in a way that harms competition. Microsoft is pursuing an Appeal.

 (September 14) Microsoft Corporation officially releases Windows ME (Windows Millennium Edition). Windows ME contains a digital video editing application, an application to restore accidentally deleted files, as well as improved support for digital camera and imaging support and improved networking capability. 


Microsoft announces "XP" versions of some of its products. The initials stand for "experience," are meant to symbolize the rich and extended user experiences Windows and Office can offer by embracing Web services that span a broad range of devices. The new versions of Windows and Office are designed to be a part of Microsoft's signature .NET architecture to build Internet applications.

Office XP was code-named Office 10. Windows XP was code named Whistler.

Specifically, Windows XP will offer, voice, video, and application sharing over the Internet as well as wireless access, while Office XP will integrate communication tools such as Hotmail, the company's Web-based e-mail service, Microsoft said. Furthermore, Office XP will include a set of Web-based "Send for Review" tools for online document editing and review as well as a Web-based multiuser workspace called SharePoint Team Services.


(June 28) REDMOND, Washington. -- In response to the U.S. Court of Appeals decision (6/28/01) reversing lower court's decision to split up Microsoft Corporation, but acknowledging that Microsoft violated antitrust laws in its actions to maintain dominance in the operating system software marketplace, Microsoft Corp. issued the following initial response.

"Microsoft is pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals has overturned most of the lower court's findings against the company, drastically narrowing the case and removing the breakup cloud from the company."

"The central issue in this case is the fundamental principle that every company must have the ability to innovate and improve its products on behalf of its customers. On this point, we are very pleased that this ruling reverses the District Court's previous ruling and provides a positive framework for Microsoft if these issues have to be retried. Today's ruling creates a better framework for allowing companies to improve products on behalf of consumers by adding new and innovative features."

"While there are some aspects of this ruling on which we didn't prevail, we continue to believe that we face significant competition every day and we must continually improve our products in order to succeed."

"We recognize that as a successful company, we have an important responsibility under the law and to the broader industry. We take that responsibility very seriously, and we will continue to work hard to provide great opportunity for our industry partners and consumers. We also understand that the best outcome for our customers, shareholders, partners and the entire industry is a quick resolution to this case. The case was substantially narrowed today, and we will continue to work toward resolving the remaining issues expeditiously."



For more information see the Bibliography; and Microsoft on the Internet.

See also:

Bill Gates





MICRAL was one of the first microcomputers. It was marketed in 1973 by R2E, a French company, under the direction of Trong Truong. The MICRAL was based on the Intel 8008 microprocessor chip.


A microcomputer differs from larger computers in that it uses a microprocessor chip and is characterized by having its own memory, storage, input/output disks, keyboard and monitor directly attached. Microprocessors made "personal computers" possible.

The first fully functional, powerful microcomputers made their appearance with the Alto, developed at Xerox PARC. Although about 1,000 Alto models were made, it was not widely marketed by Xerox. Other early microcomputers were also developed and made available mostly in kit form. It was not until the Apple I was released did the widespread popularity of personal computing start its rocket climb.

With some exceptions, early microcomputers such as the MICRAL, IMP-16c, Mark-8, and Altair were sold mainly in kit form. The Apple I was highly successful, followed by the Apple II and the Apple II+. Apple Computer also introduced the Lisa in 1983, but it was not a major success. The IBM 5100 was its first microcomputer, but it was not a market success. The IBM PC, introduced in 1981, was very successful in the setting the standard in the DOS marketplace. The Macintosh, introduced by Apple in 1984, established itself as a market success with its graphical interface and ease of use.



MicroVax Series

In 1987, Digital Equipment Corporation introduced the MicroVax 3500 and the Vaxstation 2000 workstation computer.


(Minimal Automatic Computer).

The MIDAC was built in 1953 at the Willow Run Research Center, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Mil Specs

Military Specifications. The series of standards and guidelines published by the U.S. military organizations to govern how computer systems need to be designed for government use. Mil Specs govern a wide variety of products and services that the military may want to acquire.A vendor wishing to sell to the military may have to comply with standards set forth in the Mil Specs.


In 1892, Otto Steiger patented the "Millionaire", a direct multiplying mechanical calculator.


A mathematical formula programmed into a computer that caused three points on a CRT screen to apparently chase one another at random. Developed at MIT by a team under Professor Marvin Minsky (1960's). ("The Computer Revolution," Nigel Hawkes, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1972).

MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry).

In 1971, the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), set in motion a plan to restructure and integrate their domestic computer makers to strengthen the Japanese computer industry. As part of this vision, Fujitsu entered into agreements with Hitachi, Ltd., NEC Corporation and Toshiba Corporation. NEC and Toshiba entered into agreements, and Oki Electric Industry Company and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation also began working together.

MIT Test Computer

The MIT Test Computer, developed in 1953, was the first to successfully run a ferrite core main memory.


MITS is known for the creation and marketing of the Altair, the first successful commercially-marketed and mass-produced personal computer. Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (or "MITS") was founded by Edward Roberts in 1968. The Altair was designed by Roberts and two others, William Yates and Jim Bybee. All were former Air Force engineers. Ed Roberts left MITS in 1977, the year it merged with the computer company Pertec.

Before Pertec ran into financial difficulties in 1979, it had become one of the largest makers of microcomputer and minicomputer systems in the United States. Pertec filed for bankruptcy in 1979. Pertec was eventually purchased by Adler Company of Germany.

MITS 816

The 816 was available from MITS in 1972. It was probably the first programmable, digital personal computer. About 8,000 were sold.

Altair Computers by MITS

Altair 8800 - (See Photo)

Announced in 1974, the Altair was the first successful commercially-marketed and mass-produced personal computer.

The Altair sold for about $395 in kit form and about $650 assembled. The Altair also introduced the Altair Bus (later known as the "S-100 Bus") which was also used in many other microcomputers that followed the Altair's blazed trail..

About 5,000 Altair 8800 units were sold by the end of 1975, and a total of about 10,000 were sold in the first two years.

The Altair is featured on the cover of the January 1975 issue of "Popular Electronics" under the heading "World's First Minicomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models."

The Altair needed a method for users to write programs for it. Bill Gates and Paul Allen became aware of the Altair and developed a BASIC interpreter for it and sold it to MITS. Allen went to work for MITS, while Bill Gates went on to develop other software. They later founded Microsoft Corporation.

Altair 680

The Altair 680 was introduced in December 1975. The Altair 680 was based on the 6800 microprocessor chip, and came with its own power supply, front panel control board and CPU, all in a case measuring about 11 inches wide, by 11 inches deep, by 4 and 11/16 inches high.

The Altair 680 came with 1024 words of memory, a built-in interface for RS232, or 20mA or 60mA Teletype. The Altair 680 was advertised as having a 4 microsecond cycle time, 16-bit addressing and the capability of addressing 65,000 words of memory, and provision for 1024 words of ROM or PROM. Software available included an assembler, debugger and editor.

The Altair 680 sold fully assembled for $420. It also sold in kit form for $345. Anyone who bought an Altair 680 was also given one year free membership in the Altair Users Group, probably one of the largest micro-computer user groups in existence at the time.

Altair 680b

The Altair 680b was based on the 6800 microprocessor, containing three 16-bit registers and three 8-bit registers. The 680b clock used a 2 MHz crystal-controlled oscillator with logic providing a 500 KHz two phase clock. The 680b had an 8-bit word size and 16k static memory card, with room for three additional 16k cards, for a total of 49K of memory.

Software included the system monitor on the 1702A PROM chip, and BASIC. The case measured about 11 x 11 inches, and just under 5 inches high.

Altair 8800a

The Altair 8800a was available by October 1976. It was a parallel 8-bit word/16-bit address computer, based on the 8080 LSI chip. The Altair 8800a had an 18 slot motherboard, 36 front panel LED indicators, power supply, and internal cooling fan.

Altair 8800b

The Altair 8800b was built around the 8080A microprocessor, and was fully compatible with all the Altair 8800 software. The Altair 8800b added improvements to the case, and increased power supply, and five new functions on the PROM:

(1) Display Accumulator

(2) Load Accumulator

(3) Output Accumulator (to IO device)

(4) Input Accumulator (from IO device)

(5) Slow (slows program execution for debugging)

The Altair 8800b also included an Intel 8224 clock generator and a 8216 bus driver. The 8800b was available in October/November 1976.

References include: BYTE Magazine, 1975-1977

BYTE Magazine, October 1976, includes detailed technical articles for:

Altair 8800b (page 39); Altair 680b (page 97); as well several full page ads for MITS.

"Historically Brewed," Magazine, Issue #9, 1996; Interview with Ed Roberts



The Mnemotron was the first commercial memory core available. It was built by International Telemeter Corporation for the Rand Corporation (early 1950's). (A good discussion of magnetic core memory is provided by Charles V. L. Smith in his book "Electronic Digital Computers," McGraw-Hill, 1959.)

MOBIDIC ("MOBIle Digital Computer")

MOBIDIC, one of the first mobile computers, was developed in 1956 by Waltham Laboratories of Sylvania Electric Products. The MOBIDIC computer occupied an air conditioned trailer about 28 feet long.

It was used for logistics, analytical computation, combat surveillance, battle strategy evaluation, air traffic control, artillery target calculations and other applications. Sylvania Electric produced the MOBIDIC under a $1 million contract with the U.S. Army Signal Engineering Laboratories of Fort Monmouth, N.J.

Mobile Computers -- Laptop Computers -- Notebook Computers -- Pen Computers

The late 1980's and early 1990's saw an increasing trend toward smaller, more portable computers. Products in the mobile computing arena fall under a variety of different categories, including laptops, notebook computers, pen computers, palmtops, personal digital assistants (PDA's), etc.

As the industry continues to evolve, the lines of distinction between some of these different types will continue to be somewhat blurred. The main thrust appears to be the creation and marketing of full function, fully mobile computers that will fill the market's demands for personal, mobile computers, with electronic interfaces to larger computers, printers and modem access to remote devices or systems. Here are a few of the vendors and product lines in the mobile computing area.

Mobile Computer Products, and Vendors

Altima line of notebook computers

Altima Systems, Inc.

PowerBook lines of notebook computers and the Newton Messagepad PDA

Apple Computers-

Aspen line of notebook computers

Aspen Computers Inc.

Power Exec line of notebook computers; GridPad and Grid Convertible; wireless modems

AST Research, Inc.

Personal Communicator line of PDAs; built-in cellular phones

AT&T Eo Inc.

NoteJet line of notebook computers

Canon Computer Systems, Inc.

Contura line of laptop computers

Compaq Computer Corp.

Dauphin line of hand-held pen and sub-notebook computers

Dauphin Technology Inc.-

NL line of notebook computers

Dell Computer

Viking Express line

Ericsson-GE Mobile Data Inc.

Palmtop and hand-held keyboard and pen-based computers

Fujitsu Computer Products of America

PoquetPad and PadPlus RF lines of hand-held pen computers

Fujitsu Personal Systems Inc

VP line of wireless data terminals

Granite Communications Inc.

HP 95LX, 100LX and OmniBook palmtop computers

Hewlett-Packard Co.

9075 Pcradio, a hand-held, wireless communication system


IBM ThinkPad laptops and notebook computers

IBM Personal Computer Co.

Simon, personal digital assistant


Keynote line of notebook computers

Keydata International Inc.

N3 and N4 lines of laptop computers

Leading Edge Products Inc.

NB line of notebook computers

Micro Express

Datalite line of pen computers

MicroSlate Inc.

Safari and Road-Ready lines of notebook computers; wireless options

NCR Corp.

VersaPad line of convertible laptop computers

NEC Technologies Inc.

Northgate ZXPortable line of notebook and sub-notebook computers

Northgate Computer Systems Inc.

Infolio line of electronic clipboard computers

PI Systems Inc.

MobilDesk system

Portable Network Solutions Inc.

Psion lines of notebook and palmtop computers

Psion Inc.


 Radio, Computer and Telephone Corp.

Sharp PI 7000 Expert Pad PDA ----

 Sharp Electronics

Several lines of wireless data-collection terminals and scanners -

 Symbol Technologies

Zoomer PDA----

 Tandy Corp. & Casio Computer Co.

TelePad mobile computer

TelePad Corp.

TravelMate line, laptops

Texas Instruments Inc.

Tusk 386 All-Terrain SuperTablet pen-based computer

Tusk Inc.

ArtZ and Integrated Sensor Display tablets

Wacom Technology Corp.

Z-Note line of notebook computers

Zenith Data Systems Corp.

Zeos Contenda, Freestyle and Pocket lines of notebook and palmtop computers

Zeos International Ltd.-

Dauphin DTR-1, "Desk Top Replacement," notebook and pen computer ----


Personal Communicator 440 series

AT&T Multimedia Products and EO Inc. 



MODEM stands for "modulator-demodulator." A modem converts digital signals into analog (i.e., modulates them), and can demodulate them back into digital signals again. Digital computers use digital signals to communicate. Telephone lines typically use analog signals. A modem on each end of a telephone line allows a computer to communicate with another computer at a distance.

Monte Carlo Method

A method developed in 1945 by Stanislaw Ulam to solving inexact problems through the use of a computer.

Moog, Robert

Synthesized music, based on the electronic synthesizer developed by Robert Moog, was introduced in 1968 in the "Switched on Bach" music album.

Moreland, Sir Samuel (1625-1695)

Sir Samuel Moreland was Master of Mechanics to King Charles II of England. During the mid 1600's, Moreland constructed two calculating devices for the King. He claimed that one of his devices, completed in 1666, could add, subtract, divide and multiply with accuracy. ("The Computer Revolution," Nigel Hawkes, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1972).


(Ministry of Supply Arithmetical Integrator & Calculator).

In 1952, the MOSAIC machine was built by the Post Office Research Section, London, England.

Mosaic (web browser)

Mosaic is a software program used to simplify access to the Internet's World Wide Web (WWW). Mosaic is a Web browser. Mosaic was originally developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Some forms of Mosaic are available without charge. Commercial development of Mosaic was turned over to Spyglass in 1994, which was later acquired by Compuserve, Inc., the on-line service company.

Mostek Company

Mostek was a company involved in early electronic calculators in the late 1960's. Mostek worked with Busicom Corporation of Japan on the design of a hand-held calculator based on a single chip.


The main circuit board which holds the CPU and into which expansion cards are plugged. (See examples).


(Mathematical Programming System Extended).

MPSX was a programming language developed in 1966.


(Moore School Automatic Computer)

The MSAC was built in 1954 at the Moore School, University of Pennsylvania.


(Multiplexed Information and Computing Service).

MULTICS was developed from 1964 to 1969, a research team at Bell Labs, MIT, and General Electric, under the guidance of MIT Professor Fernando Corbato. MULTICS was a time-sharing system that grew out of prior work done on Project MAC at MIT. MULTICS eventually became a commercial product offered by Honeywell. MULTICS was in use by MIT by 1969 and quickly grew to over 500 users. The system could support 55 simultaneous users. (See also Timesharing)


The Multiplier was a mechanical multiplying machine developed by the French inventor, Leon Bolle. Bolle won a gold medal at the 1889 Paris Exhibition for the Multiplier machine.


(Massachusetts General Hospital General Utility Multi-Programming System). MUMPS was a programming system developed in 1969 for Massachusetts General Hospital.


MUSIC was a computer-aided music program developed by Bell Labs engineers in 1960. Max Mathews, an amateur violinist was leader of this team.

Music Synthesizer

In 1959, RCA donated its RCA Mark II Music Synthesizer to Columbia- Princeton Electronic Music Center. The computer controlled synthesizer was based on vacuum tube technology. Its large size and high cost made it an unlikely candidate for commercial markets.


MYCIN was an early expert system developed in 1972 by Edward Shortliffe to help physicians diagnose blood infections and select antibiotics.



NASDAQ ; OTC; IPO, and other Stock Market Terms


(National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations).

(pronounced "Nazdak")

In the world of the U.S. stock market, NASDAQ is a key resource for information. The NASD, or "National Association of Securities Dealers," is a non-profit, non-stock issuing association of brokers and dealers in the area of OTC securities.

The NASDAQ is an automated system of quotations which provide information on how many OTC stocks are doing on a daily basis. NASDAQ results are printed in the Wall Street Journal and are reported via many electronic news services.

NASDAQ provides information to investors.


OTC refers to "Over-the-Counter." OTC stocks usually include companies that are not large enough to be listed on a major exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE") or who simply prefer to be traded over-the-counter.

The New York Stock Exchange has specific requirements that companies must meet in order to be listed by them. The American Stock Exchange ("AMEX") also has minimum requirements for companies wanting to list with them.

Many foreign exchanges have their own requirements as well.

"Going Public" and "IPO"

When a company issues its stock for the first time, it is called "going public." The financial term often used is IPO for "Initial Public Offering." If the public has a high interest in a particular company, the IPO can result in that company raising a large amount of capital from the sale of its stock, and investors who are fortunate to get in early can often see the value of their purchased stock increase rapidly as the public buys more shares of the company. Of course, stock can also go down, sometimes very rapidly.

Suggested reading and references on stocks and investing:

"The Securities Industry Glossary"

The New York Institute of Finance

70 Pine Street

New York, NY 10270-0003

"The Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Markets"

Wurman, Siegel, and Morris

Access Press

10 East 53rd Street

New York, NY 10022


(National Commission on Electronic Fund Transfers).

The NCETF was a commission established in 1974 by the U.S. Congress to oversee issues relating to electronic funds transfers.



NCR ( National Cash Register Company)

Brief Company Timeline

1884 - John H. Patterson founded the National Cash Register Company, maker of the first mechanical cash registers.

1906 - Charles F. Kettering designed the first cash register powered by an electric motor.

1952 - NCR acquired Computer Research Corporation (CRC), of Hawthorne, California, which produced a line of digital computers with applications in aviation.

1953 - NCR established the Electronics Division to continue to pursue electronic applications for business machines.

1974 - Company changed its name to NCR Corporation.

1982 - The First NCR Tower supermicrocomputer system was launched, establishing NCR as a pioneer in bringing industry standards and open systems architecture to the computer market.

1991 - NCR acquired by AT&T.

1991 - NCR purchased Teradata Corporation, acquiring its advanced and unique commercial parallel processing technology. NCR Teradata becomes the world's most proven and powerful database for data warehousing.

1994 - NCR name changed to AT&T Global Information Solutions (GIS).

1995 - Lars Nyberg appointed chairman and CEO of AT&T GIS.

1995 - AT&T announced spin-off of AT&T GIS by the end of 1996.

1996 - AT&T GIS changed its name back to NCR Corporation in anticipation of being spun-off to AT&T shareholders by January 1997, as an independent, publicly-traded company.

1997 - Signaling its evolution from a hardware-only company to a full solutions provider, NCR purchased Compris Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of store automation and management software for the food-service industry, and Dataworks, a company that develops check-processing software.

1998 - NCR finalized the transfer and sale of their computer hardware manufacturing assets to Solectron, confirming NCR's commitment to concentrate on the market-differentiated software and services components of their solutions portfolios.

1998 - NCR sold its TOP END middleware software to BEA Systems in a move to expand NCR's application software offerings while moving away from horizontal general purpose computer software.

1998 - NCR purchased 50 percent of Stirling Douglas Group, Inc. (SDG), a privately-held software firm and leading provider of merchandise management applications.

2000 - Leading e-businesses such as Travelocity.com, E*Trade and Microstrategy implemented NCR's Teradata warehouse solutions as the foundation of their sophisticated customer-focused offerings and marketing initiatives.


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NCR Paper

In 1955, National Cash Register Company (NCR) introduced "NCR Paper", a carbonless paper which used a microencapsulation technology. The meaning of NCR's initials were sometimes referred to as "No Carbon Required."


The NEC APC was an early microcomputer that utilized the 8086, 16 bit processor and the MS-DOS operating system. It sold for about $3,448.

Netscape Communications Corporation

Netscape Navigator is the name of the Internet World Wide Web browser distributed by Netscape Communications Corporation. A web browser is a piece of software that facilitates the use of the Internet's World Wide Web by providing a graphical user interface and search capabilities. Netscape Navigator is the most widely used Web browser in the world.

Netscape Communications Corporation was originally founded in 1994 as "Mosaic Communications." However, the name "Mosaic" was owned by the University of Illinois.

Marc Andreessen, one of the designers of the Mosaic web browser, was also a founding member of Mosaic Communications, along with James H. Clark (founder of Silicon Graphics).

The company changed its name to "Netscape Communications Corporation" in November 1994.

Netscape was purchased by America Online in 1998.


Newbies are people new to the INTERNET, or to a forum, or who are generally new to on-line communications and its culture, etiquette, protocol and general on-line procedures.


NIICE is a consortium of software vendors which includes Computer Associates International, Lotus Development Corporation, IBM, Microsoft and Novell. NIICE stands for "New Information Industry Cooperative Endeavor" and was formed in 1995 to spur vendors to exchange technology and information to make applications of operating systems compatible across product lines.


The NICHOLAS Computer was built by Elliott Brothers, Ltd., London, England, in 1953.


See Heinz Nixdorf

See Nixdorf Computer

NORC (Naval Ordnance Research Calculator).

Work began on the Naval Ordnance Research Calculator in about 1953, under the direction of Byron L. Havens at IBM's Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory at Columbia University. The NORC was eventually turned over to the U.S. Navy on December 2, 1954.

One of its functions included the calculating of Pi to 3,000 places. In the summer of 1955, the NORC was installed at the Naval Proving Grounds at Dahlgren, Virginia. It remained there until it was replaced by the IBM 7030 "Stretch" computer in 1958.


In 1986, Terrence Sejnowski (Johns Hopkins University) and Charles Rosenberg (Princeton University) developed NETtalk neural network software. NETtalk ran on a minicomputer and could read English aloud with 78% accuracy.

Neural Network on Chip (Neural Net)

In 1986, Bell Labs' Hans Peter Graf, Lawrence Jackel, and Richard Howard develop a neural network on a computer chip. The neural network chip contained circuitry laid out to function like neurons rather than logical circuits. This was an advance over other earlier work with neural networks which had been software based rather than chip based.

Newton Messagepad (Newton)

The Newton is one of Apple's family of portable digital assistants. The Newton MessagePad is a handheld communications assistant that allows people to gather, manage, and share information with tremendous ease and spontaneity.

The Newton MessagePad is based on an Advanced RISC Machines ARM610 32-bit RISC processor and Newton Intelligence architecture that allows it to learn the preferences of its users and modify its functions accordingly.

The MessagePad is about the size of a video cassette and includes such basic functions as word processing, calendar, address book and contact management, printing and a "beaming" feature that allows users to exchange information over a one meter distance via infrared signal. Cost ranges from $699 to $949.


NeXT Computers


Notebook Computers

Notebook computers are characterized by being very portable, lightweight computers, smaller than conventional laptops. During the 1990's the number of available notebook computers continued to grow, with new models announced from various vendors, including Toshiba, IBM, Texas Instruments, NCR, Northgate, Key-Data, Apple, Altima, Altura, and Zenith.

NoteJet 486

The NoteJet 486, the first notebook computer to include a built-in printer, was introduced by Canon in 1993. NoteJet weighs 7.7 pounds. Prints two pages per minute at 360 dots per inch (dpi).


Office of Technology Assessment (OTA)

The Office of Technology Assessment was established by the U.S. Congress in 1972 to provide Congress with forecasts on the impact of technology on society and provide a long-term and global perspective on technology issues.


OMNITAB II was a programming language developed in 1966.

On Technology

The company "On Technology" was announced in November 1987 by Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus Development Corporation). Kapor wanted the company to develop "person compatible" software.

OOP (Object-Oriented Programming)

A method of programming that allows the storing of data with the procedures needed to process that data.

Open Software Foundation (OSF)

The Open Software Foundation was formed in May, 1988 by IBM, Hewlett- Packard, Digital Equipment Corporation, Apollo, Nixdorf and others to establish a standard, counter to AT&T's UNIX.

ORACLE Computer

The ORACLE computer was built in 1953 at the Argonne National Laboratory.

Origin Access

A software product by Nifco Synergy of North Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada, that is designed to help importers and exporters comply with NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) regulations.


Osborne Computer Corporation (OCC) See Osborne I


OSI 7-Layer Reference Model

The International Standards Organization (ISO) established a committee in 1977 to develop an architecture to define various levels of electronic communications in a networked environment. In 1983, after 6 years of effort, the committee produced a structured model known as the Open Systems Interconnect Reference Model (or OSI Model), consisting of seven hierarchical layers. The layers are designed in such a way that the services provided by a lower level are used by the next higher level. The complexity of the levels increases from the bottom to the top.

The seven layers defined are:

7 Application

6 Presentation

5 Session

4 Transport

3 Network

2 Data Link

1 Physical

Members of the OSI include the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the British Standards Institute (BSI), Deutsches Institut fur Normung (DIN) (Germany), and the Association Francaise du Mormalization (AFNOR) (France).

The OSI's document, called International Standard #7498, was redrafted by the CCITT and called the CCITT X.200 standard. The common name used to refer to the 7 layer model is the OSI/RM or Open Systems Interconnection Reference Model.


OS/2 (Operating System/2)

OS/2 (Operating System/2) is a high performance, single-user, multi-tasking operating system for Intel-based microcomputers. Microsoft Corporation and IBM entered into a joint development agreement for OS/2 in 1985. OS/2 was finally released in April 1987.

OS/2 was designed to have three layers between the hardware level and the application level. The three levels are the DLLs (dynamic link libraries), the basic OS/2 kernel, and the device drivers.

OS/2 version 1.0 was shipped in December 1987.

In 1988, IBM shipped OS/2 version 1.1 with Presentation Manager.

OS/2 offered a number of new features, including:

- Paged virtual memory

- Implementation of the 80386 instruction set

- Implementation of the HPFS (High Performance File System)

- Support for Windows-based applications through the SMK (Software Migration Kit)

- Long file names

- Extended file attributes

- Use of 32 bit memory

IBM offered OS/2 EE (extended edition) and OS/2 SE (standard edition.)


Open Source Software (OSS) is a development process which promotes rapid creation and deployment of incremental features and bug fixes in an existing code / knowledge base. In recent years, corresponding to the growth of Internet, OSS projects have acquired the depth & complexity traditionally associated with commercial projects such as Operating Systems and mission critical servers Credit for the first instance of modern, organized OSS is generally given to Richard Stallman of MIT.

In late 1983, Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation (FSF),

with the goal of creating a free version of the UNIX operating system.

Otrona 2001

The Otrona 2001, by Otrona Corporation, was an early microcomputer using the 8008, 16-bit processor and MS-DOS. It cost $2,995. Otrona also produced a portable computer called the Attache.


PACE Model 131R (Precision Analog Computing Equipment)

The PACE was an analog computer marketed in 1957 by Electronic Associates Incorporated.


In 1985, Aldus introduced the very successful "Pagemaker" desktop publishing software for the Apple Macintosh. Aldus also announced other products including those for the IBM PC and compatibles. Aldus, Inc. was purchased by Adobe Corporation in March 1994.


PANAMAC was one of the world's first commercial, global teleprocessing systems. It was built by IBM for Pan American World Airways.

PANAMAC was designed to control worldwide cargo reservations, communications, passenger reservations, room reservations, and data processing operations such as accounting, payroll, purchasing, inventory control, statistical information processing and other activities. PANAMAC was operational in the 1960's.

Parallel Computers (Parallel)

In 1988, the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico announced a massively parallel hypercube computer with 1,024 processors. This system is designed to break down problems into various parts for simultaneous solution and is reported to be over 1,000 times faster than a typical mainframe computer.


The Pascal programming language, named after Blaise Pascal, was developed in 1971, by Swiss computer scientist Niklaus Wirth.


A line of Pentium-based microcomputers produced by Hewlett-Packard of Palo Alto, California. The HP Pavilion was announced in 1995.

P.C.D.- Maltron Keyboard

In 1978, Lillian Malt and Stephen Hobday developed the P.C.D. Maltron keyboard an alternative keyboard to the QWERTY standard. The P.C.D- Maltron keyboard allowed typists to reach speeds of 200 words per minute.It was not successful in replacing the QWERTY keyboard which had been the standard for over 100 years.

PDA (Personal Digital Assistants) (Pen)

Since the late 1980's, sales of pen-based, hand-held computers has continued to increase. These small computer devices have been marketed under various descriptive names, such as :

- Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

- Wallet PC

- Personal Communicator,


Some of the early vendors involved in producing these types of computers include Apple (Newton MessagePad, originally selling for about $699.) EO Inc. (produced the model 440, costing from $1,999 to $3,299, distributed by AT&T); Amstrad Plc. in the United Kingdom marketed a personal digital assistant for about $500. Other companies, including Tandy, Casio, Motorola, Philips, Compaq, Matsushida, and Sharp Electronics, also developed versions of these pocket computers.

Other PDAs include (1998-1999):

The CASIO (about $ 399)

The 3Comm Palm III (about $369)

PDA's are smaller than notebook computers and sales of PDAs rose dramatically during the late 1990's.

PED Restrictions (Personal Electronic Devices)

In 1993, United Airlines joined the list of airlines limiting passenger's use of personal electronic devices (PED) such as personal computers, cellular telephone and radio-controlled toys.

Concerns started in 1986 when reports started coming in from pilots about navigational and communications systems being affected by PEDs, when such devices are used during take-offs or landings. Other airlines with such restrictions include Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, American Airlines and Japan's airlines.


"Perceptrons" was the title of a book authored in 1969 by Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert challenging current theories of artificial intelligence.

Perceptron Mark I

The Perceptron Mark I utilized a CRT output device, a 400 cell photoelectric eye and was considered the first "neural network." It was built in 1958 by Frank Rosenblatt.

Personal Supercomputer

In 1988, Apollo, Ardent and Stellar announced the first "personal supercomputer," a powerful system designed for 3-D graphics applications.

Perkin-Elmer Data Systems

Also known as "Interdata" and "Concurrent Systems." Produced a variety of systems in the minicomputer range.

Perrin, Jean B.

In 1896, French scientist, Jean B. Perrin, demonstrated that current flowing through a vacuum tube consisted of negatively charged particles.

Philbrick, George

In 1938, inventor George Philbrick developed an electronic analog computer. The computer utilized an oscilloscope as an output device, and so was named after the Greek mythical cyclops "Polyphemus."

Philips, Inc.

Once a large scale computer manufacturer, the Philips company pulled out of the mainframe computer market in 1975 but remained in the electronics business.

Philips Screen Phone (P100)

In 1993, Philips introduced the P100 Philips Screen Phone, with 16-line monochrome display, built-in modem, smart-card reader, PCMCIA slot, and keyboard. Integrates telephone, magnetic strip recognition, computer and telecommunications technologies.


A software product by Adobe Systems of Mountain View, California, used for viewing, creating and editing graphics images.


The PILOT programming language was developed in 1969.

Planar Transistor

In 1958, Jean Hoerni, a Swiss-born physicist, developed a method of creating transistors using silicon dioxide. Called the "Planar Transistor," these types of transistors could be more easily mass produced than earlier types of transistors.


From 1942 through 1945, Konrad Zuse developed the first high-level language for computers which he called "Plankalkul."

See Konrad Zuse, Z3 Machine


PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations)

PLATO a computer based educational system, was a project worked on by David Bitzer and others at the University of Illinois. PLATO was a collection of instructional programs stored on a computer which was accessed by terminals connected over long distance telephone lines. In 1963, William Norris, President of Control Data Corporation, learned of the progress being made on PLATO. He arranged for CDC to install rent-free one of CDC's high speed computers exclusively for the use of those on the PLATO project. CDC provided a variety of support over the years.

PLATO was ready to be commercially marketed by 1975. Over the next ten years, the use of PLATO by schools and businesses as an educational tool continued to increase. Control Data Corporation and W. R. Roach and Associates provided marketing support. PLATO was the first educational program to use touch-screen interaction and graphics display as a means of user interaction.


PL/1 stood for "programming language 1". It was developed in 1964.


PL/M was a programming language developed in 1974.


In 1938, inventor George Philbrick developed an electronic analog computer. The computer utilized an oscilloscope as an output device. The large, round oscilloscope display gave it the appearance of a one-eyed beast, and so it was named "Polyphemus" after the Greek mythical cyclops.


In 1956, NCR announced the "Post-Tronic" as the first machine in the industry to use magnetic ledger cards to store previous numerical balance information.


The PowerBook series of laptop computers was announced by Apple Computer in 1991. The PowerBook series provided a powerful, battery-powered, well designed lap top computer that included a built in track ball type pointing device and high quality screen.


Praxis, developed by Olivetti in 1980, was one of the first portable electronic typewriters.


An on-line electronic service provided by Prodigy Services Company a joint operation between IBM and Sears Roebuck & Co. which services about two million subscribers. (For information call 1-800-PRODIGY).

Programming Languages: SEE: Chronology of Languages, Operating Systems, Major Programs

Project Lightning

In 1957, the National Security Agency and the U.S. Government sponsored computer research under "Project Lightning." The NSA provided $25 million in funding in specific areas of research and published the results to help the U.S. computer industry.

Project MAC

In 1961, the Computational Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

(MIT) developed a prototype time-sharing system. The timesharing concept allowed multiple users access to a computer at the same time, while the central processor allocated time to each user's program at very high speed. The CTSS, or "Compatible Time Sharing System," used an IBM 709 computer

Project MAC was an improved version of this time-sharing system which was developed at MIT in 1963 by Dr. Robert M. Fano and Dr. Fernando J. Corbato. Project MAC utilized an IBM 7094. Project MAC quickly grew to over 160 terminals by 1966, and was connected to the teletype networks of the Bell System and Western Union, giving access to the system to thousands of users.

Project MAC's 7094 computer was one of two such systems at MIT. Each machine could support about 30 concurrent users. Connected terminals often consisted of IBM teletypewriters and teletype machines.

The acronym "MAC" apparently acquired various translations, including "Machine-Aided Cognition" and "Multiple-Access Computer", and "Man and Computer".

Project MercuryProject Mercury was the code name for the IBM 5100 Portable Computer. It was introduced in 1976 and came with a 5 inch screen, 16K of RAM and BASIC. It weighed about 55 pounds. (See IBM PCs)


A line of high-end microcomputer file servers produced (mid 1990's) by Compaq Computer Corporation.

PROLOG (Programming in Logic)

PROLOG was a programming language developed in 1972 by Alain Colmerauer.

PS/2 (Personal System/2)

IBM's microcomputer product line. By November 1987, IBM reported having sold over 1 million PS/2s worldwide.

PS Value Point

The PS Value Point series of personal computers was announced by IBM in October 1992.


(Postal Telecommunications Electronic Automatic Calculator).

The PTERA was built in 1953 by the Central Laboratory of the Postal and Telecommunications Services, in the Hague, Netherlands.

Powermate 386 (NEC Powermate)

NEC announced the Powermate 386 personal computer in 1987.

Presentation Manager

"Presentation Manager," graphical interface, for IBM's OS/2 was made available in October 1988.


The ProLinea line of personal computers was announced by Compaq in 1992.

PowerPC 601

In 1992, Apple, IBM and Motorola team up to produce the "PowerPC 601," a 32 bit chip to be used in future Apple Macintosh and IBM computers. The PowerPC 601 uses a RISC design and comes in 50 MHz and 66 MHz speeds.

P-6 Chip (P 6 Microprocessor)

The P-6 Chip is Intel's successor chip to the Pentium processor. It is sometimes referred to as the"80686" chip.

Punched Cards

A punched card usually refers to a cardboard card of specific size, which is used to map out indications for information through a series of punched holes. A card punch machine is used to punch holes in the appropriate places in the cards and to process large volumes of such cards, in sequence, so that a collection of 50, 100 or 1000 cards, for example, can be used to hold information or program instructions for a computer.

Cards were used for many years and many computer manufacturers produced a variety of punched card equipment such as readers, punches, sorters, etc. One of the many drawbacks of cards is the need to keep them in exact sequence, otherwise errors occur due to missing data. Another problem was the jamming of cards during the high speed sorting, reading or punching, which would require manual intervention by the computer operator.

Examples of early punched card technology:

Jacquard's Punched Card Loom (See Photo)

Joseph-Marie Jacquard was born in Lyon, France. Jacquard, the son of a weaver, entered a contest to develop a pattern loom. He won a prize for his first invention in 1801. He continued to improve on it for several years thereafter. Jacquard's technique was a punch-card device that used cards with punched holes to govern the pattern the machine weaved. His invention came to be known as the "Jacquard Loom."

Jacquard's technique of using punched cards for controlling a mechanical operation was borrowed by Charles Babbage in his design for an analytical engine (1833-34).

Herman Hollerith used punched cards in his tabulating machines used in the 1890 census. (See Photo: Tabulating Machine)

In 1894, John K. Gore, an employee of the Prudential Insurance Company, developed an automatic punched card sorter for use by the company's actuarial department. It was apparently never marketed outside the company.

In 1927, in Germany, punched card equipment was attached as output devices to standard mechanical calculators. In 1928, L. J. Comrie used punched card machines to calculate the motions of the moon.

In 1928, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) adopted the 80 column punch card format, which became the industry standard.

IBM evolved from Hollerith's early enterprise, the Tabulating Machine Company, and several other companies.

See Photos: IBM Type Punched Cards - UNIVAC Punched Cards

PXRM Computer

The PXRM computer was built in 1954 by the Arbeitegemeinshaft fur Elektroniche Rechenmachinen, T.H. Munich, Germany.



QEMM stands for "Quarterdeck Extended Memory Manager." QEMM is a software product that allows Windows and non-Windows users to access the high memory area, i.e., the portion of PC memory between 640 Kb and 1,024 Kb, that is usually reserved for video and BIOS. When QEMM is run, it checks to see if there is free area in this memory location, and if so, it allows users to load drivers and TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) programs in that unused area.

QEMM was developed by Quarterdeck Office Systems. Quarterdeck was founded in Santa Monica, California, in 1981.

QT-8 Calculator

The QT-8 four function calculator was developed in 1969 by Sharp Electronics. The QT-8 was a large scale, integrated circuit based electronic calculator. It was demonstrated in 1970 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ("IEEE") show in New York.


Borland introduced "Quatro" spreadsheet software for personal computers in August 1987. QuatroPro spreadsheet software was later sold to Novell (1994).

Quevedo, Leonardo Torres (1852-1936)

In 1913, Quevedo, a Spanish engineer, founded the science of automatic control engineering, which dealt with the study and building of mechanisms and systems that can function without human involvement. Quevedo used the name "automatos" for this science. Quevedo designed a machine based on Boolean logic and relays that could calculate simple chess moves.


Rad Lab (Radiation Laboratory)

The "Rad Lab" (Radiation Laboratory) was set up at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under the authority of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC). The Rad Lab was the site of intense scientific research and important discoveries in the area of technologies in support of the war effort in the 1940's. (For further information see the "A Century of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT," Karl Wildes and Nilo Lindgren, MIT Press, 1986; or "Scientists Against Time," James P. Baxter, 1946.)

Radiation, Inc. (Harris Corporation)

Radiation, Inc. was formed in 1950 by Homer R. Denius and George Shaw, for the manufacture of space-related electronic devices. The company changed its name to Harris Corporation in 1974.

Red Hat Software

Red Hat is based in Durham, North Carolina. Red Hat is a distributor and supporter of the Linux operating system. Red Hat has partnered with other companies, such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, to push Linux as a commercial alternative to low-cost Unix systems and Windows NT.

ReadySetGo! Software

ReadySetGo software was a desktop publishing product by Manhattan Graphics Company. In about 1986 Esselte LetraSet Corporation (owners of International Typeface Corporation, (ITC)), purchased the rights to ReadySetGo!


A register is a general term used to describe a location in computer memory that holds information so that it can be used for arithmetic or logical operations, address calculaton or for other purposes. There are many types of registers.

The term register is used less often today then it was during the early days of computing.

Relational Database

A relational database uses a structure that relates the fields of one database record to fields in another. New data base records can be created by "pulling" fields from different databases and putting them together in a new arrangement. Credit for developing the term "relational database" is attributed to IBM's Edgar F. Codd, who developed relational database concepts in 1972.


A relay is a device capable of expressing an "on" or "off" condition. A typical electromechanical relay consisted of an electromagnetic coil and a switch or gate. When electric current was applied, the switch was closed. When current was off, the switch was open. This two state operation made relays suitable for representing binary digits, 0 or 1. Electromechanical relays were used in some of the early calculating devices.


Remington Arms Company


Remington Rand (See UNISYS)



Rosetta was a scaled-down version of the Smalltalk programming language. Rosetta was designed for an 8-bit processor and was developed by computer scientists at Rosetta, Inc., of Houston, Texas.

Ross, Thomas

In 1938, Ross developed a machine that imitates the activity of "learning" by finding its way to a goal via trial and error on a series of toy train tracks.


(Reduced Instruction Set Computer).

RISC was a technology to increase processing speed in computers. RISC technology was used in IBM's RT PC (RISC Technology) in 1986. Sun Microsystems introduced its first workstation based on a RISC microprocessor in 1987.

U.S. Robotics and 3Com

U.S. Robotics was started in 1975 by Casey Cowen, Paul Collard and Steve Muka. Originally a distributor of acoustic couplers, it branched out into modem production and became highly successful by the mid 1980's. U.S. Robotics went public in 1991. In 1995, it merged with Megahertz. On June 11, 1997, U.S. Robotics merged with 3Com in the largest merger in data networking history. The combined company has revenues of $5.6 billion, a research and development budget of about $500 million, and 13,500 employees in over 45 countries.


Rochester, Nathanial

Nathanial Rochester developed a symbolic assembly program at IBM in the early 1950's.

Rodet, Xavier

Xavier Rodet, a researcher in Paris, did early work on a voice synthesizer in the late 1970's.

R4400 Chip (64-bit)

The R4400 64-bit chip, by MIPS technologies, is one of the fastest PC chips produced. The R4400 comes in 100, 134 and 150 MHz speeds.

Rosen, Charles

Charles Rosen was president and one of the co-founders of Machine Intelligence Corporation in 1978. His research included artificial intelligence, learning machines, pattern recognition, automation, robotics and many other areas.


(Reduced Instruction Set Technology PC) (RISC) (RT).

In 1986, IBM announced the RT PC (Reduced Instruction Set Technology), its first UNIX workstation product.


SABRE (Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment)

IBM's SABRE reservation system, established in 1964 for American Airlines, was one of the first large scale commercial networks to operate in real time and the first large scale computerized reservation tracking system. The SABRE system linked 2,000 terminals in sixty five cities, to two IBM 7090 mainframes for on-line transaction processing (OLTP).

Sachs, Johnathan

Johnathan Sachs was one of the developers of the 1-2-3 spreadsheet software marketed by Lotus Development Corporation.

SAGA II Program

The SAGA II was a computer program that was used to write production scripts for television programs. The first nationwide television broadcast of a production featuring scripts written by SAGA was aired on October 26, 1960. SAGA II ran on a TX-0computer. Programmers were Douglas Ross and Harrison Morse of MIT's Electronic Systems Laboratory. The scripts broadcasted were three western playlets, aired on the CBS show "The Thinking Machine."


SAGE Computer (World's Largest Computer System)


SAIT Digital Videodisc

In 1993, researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) developed a new digital videodisc recorder that can record and play up to 110 minutes of video on a disc less than half the diameter of today's album-sized laser-disk platters. The new technology discs should be available by 1995.

Sanders, Walter J. (Jerry), III

Jerry Sanders, III, joined Motorola as an applications engineer and sales trainee in the Chicago Office in 1959. He later became president and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, "AMD".

Sanyo MBC-1250

The Sanyo MBC-1250 was an early microcomputer which used the Z80A, 8-bit processor and CP/M. It cost $2,599.


Savvy is a voice recognition software system from Excalibur Technologies, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Development of Savvy was begun in 1979 by James Dowe III while he was the associate director of the University of New Mexico computing center.


The SCEPTRE programming language was developed in 1960.

Schottky, Walter

A German physicist and inventor of the tetrode vacuum tube.

Schuetz, Pehr Georg (1785-1873)

In 1855, Schuetz built a simplified version of Charles Babbage's difference engine and exhibits it at the Paris exhibition where it won a gold medal.

Scientific Control Corporation (SCC)

Scientific Control Corporation, incorporated in 1964 in Dallas, Texas, produced the SCC-600 series and the SCC-6700 time-sharing series. SCC's customers included McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, Monsanto, California Institute of Technology, Argonne National Laboratories and Martin Company.


A version of the UNIX operating system developed by the Santa Cruz Operation ("SCO") of Santa Cruz, California.


(Synchronous Data Link Control).

SDLC provides remote access to mainframe hosts. SDLC was announced by IBM in around 1975.



In 1986, David Miller, of AT&T Bell Labs, designs an optical transistor called the Self-Elecro-optic-Effect-Device ("SEED"). The SEED transistor consisted of thin layers of gallium arsenide and gallium aluminum arsenide in a multi-layered sandwich smaller than the head of a thumbtack. The SEED was used in digital optical computing as a light activated switch.

Seequa Chameleon Plus

The Seequa Chameleon Plus was an early microcomputer which used the 8088, 16-bit processor and MS-DOS. It cost $2,695.

Semiconductor Research 

 A semiconductor is a material that is neither a very good electrical conductor nor a very good electrical insulator. Silicon is a common semiconductor.

One of the properties of a semiconductor is that its resistance to electricity can be varied by exposure to electrical fields, magnetism, or light. In 1873, W. Smith discovered that certain substances, such as selenium, changed their electrical conductivity when exposed to light. This later became known as photoconductivity. In 1985, the Pentagon, U.S. Department of Defense, began a five-year strategic computing program funded through DARPA ("Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency") which provided $600 million for research into semiconductors and related technologies to boost the U.S. computer capability.

In the early 1990's, AT&T Bell Labs and Harvard University researchers used photons (light particles) to move around atoms as they are deposited on the surface of semiconductor material. The process will eventually allow for the creation of microchips with more circuits per chip than was originally thought possible.

In 1990, IBM announced a 16 Megabit dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip. The 16 Mb chip can store the equivalent of 1,600 pages of double-spaced, typewritten text and operates at speeds calculated in nanoseconds (billionths of a second).

In 1993, Stanford University researchers developed a nuclear microprobe device which permits taking a micron-resolution picture of a computer chip to analyze potential problem areas and microscopic imperfections. The process will eventually allow for better designs in microchips to avoid SEU (Single Event Upset) errors caused by stray ions in the chip's ceramic layers.

Series 4200 Word Processor

The Series 4200 Word Processor was the first product produced by CPT Corporation of Minneapolis, Minnesota. CPT was founded in 1971. The Series 4200 shipped the following year.

Servomechanisms Laboratory

The Servomechanisms Laboratory was a part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT Servomechanisms Lab conducted demonstrations of computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM) and other aspects of computer related research during the 1950's and early 1960's.


Shakey, developed in 1969, was the first mobile robot. Shakey, was tested at the Stanford Research Institute.

Sharp Electronics

A Japanese electronics firm, formerly called Hayakawa Electric. In 1969, Sharp Electronics produced its QT-8, a large scale integrated circuit based electronic calculator. It was demonstrated in 1970 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ("IEEE") show in New York. The QT-8 was a four function calculator. Sharp followed this with another calculator the EL-8, a portable device which used nickel-cadmium batteries.

Sharp also worked with North American Rockwell Microelectronics Company in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Rockwell supplied some of the chips used in the Sharp devices.


(Superfluid Helium On-Orbit Transfer).

In June 1993, the first expert system, SHOOT, is used in a space shuttle flight. SHOOT assisted astronauts in setting up, running, and diagnosing the transfer in space of helium.


SHRDLU was an artificial intelligence program developed in 1972 at MIT by Terry Winograd.


(IBM Sierra).

IBM introduced the Sierra product line in 1985 consisting of the IBM 3090 large mainframes, utilizing megabit memory chips.

Silicon Structures Project

The "Silicon Structures Project" was a joint project backed by Xerox Corporation and Caltech in 1975. The lead engineers in the project were Professor Carver Mead, of the California Institute of Technology, and Lynn Conway, who later became an engineering professor at the University of Michigan.

This research project into how to improve the hardware of highly integrated systems resulted in the publication in 1978 of a highly important book entitled "Introduction to VLSI (Very Large Scale Integrated) Systems." Both Mead and Conway taught courses in chip design based on their research findings and provided a boost to the field of chip designing and engineering.


Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is the name given to an approximately 30 mile strip of land in southern California, near the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos and that general vicinity. The area is located south of San Francisco. Silicon Valley gets its name from the mineral silicon, which is used in the development of semiconductors components for the electronics and computer industry. The name "Silicon Valley" was reportedly coined in 1971 by Don Hoefler who was the editor of "Microelectronic News."

Since the early 1960's, Silicon Valley has been synonymous with "high tech." Silicon Valley has become famous for the highest concentration of technology and computer related companies anywhere in the world.

The original attraction of this area has been speculated to be its comfortable climate, agreeable living accommodations and its proximity to universities.

One of the key educational facilities in the area is Stanford University. The University was founded in 1891 as a gift from Senator Leland Stanford and his wife. They made this gift to pay a tribute to their son who died just before he could enter college.

In 1951, Varian Associates obtained a lease in the Stanford Industrial Park area. In 1954, Stanford Research Park was formed and Hewlett-Packard Company obtained a lease in this area. HP became the central point for growth in this area for some time. By about 1955, six other companies had moved into the region. By 1970, the number had grown to about 70 companies.

A number of key historical events contributed to the growth and success of the semiconductor industry and related technologies in Silicon Valley. The most significant was the invention of the transistor in 1947. Co-inventors were Dr. William Schockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain. Schockley went on to found Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory which was one of the first twenty or so companies producing transistors by 1956.

Shockley attracted highly talented individuals, including Gordon Moore, Shelton Roberts, Jay Last, Eugene Kleiner, Jean Hoerni and others. The efforts to break new ground and some conflicting ideas on how to proceed prompted some of the Schockley team to leave. Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce left and started Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957, with financial backing from an industrialist, Sherman Fairchild. Fairchild became a leader in semiconductor research and the Schockley Semiconductor Lab faded and eventually folded.

Fairchild Semiconductor has its own very interesting history. Fairchild staff were the founders of many other successful companies in the Silicon Valley area, including INTEL, founded by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce in 1968.

The U.S. Department of Defense and its major presence in California was also a contributing factor to the success of the Silicon Valley area in the early years. The military purchased nearly 40 percent of the semi-conductors produced during the late 1950's.

Silicon Valley had a "sister" location back in the eastern U.S. Route 128 near Boston was also to become a center for high tech companies.

Silicon Valley continued to grow profitably, with ups and downs in alignment with the industry itself. The area is still highly alive with technology and talent. Since "Silicon Valley" is really a collection of individual companies, each with their own unique histories, the Silicon Valley phenomena can perhaps best be studied by looking at the history of the individual companies that started and ended there, or started and continue to flourish.



SIMSCRIPT, a general purpose simulation language, was developed in 1962 by the Rand Corporation.

Simula 67

(Simulation Language 67).

A programming language developed in 1967

Sinclair Research

Sinclair Research was started by Sir Clive Sinclair a U.K. inventor, who developed the ZX-80 microcomputer. The ZX-80 was a small Z-80 based computer that sold for under $200. It was advertised in 1980 as the first computer under $200.

It was available in the U.S. from Sinclair Research, Ltd., of Wallingford, Connecticut. Sinclair also had offices in Boston, Massachusetts.

Clive Sinclair's next model was the ZX-81, which sold for under $100. Sinclair's English company made an agreement with Timex in the United States, which gave Timex the rights to distribute the ZX-81 in the U.S. under the brand name "Timex-Sinclair."

Clive Sinclair also designed a computer called the "Spectrum." Sinclair became Sir Clive Sinclair when he was knighted by the Queen for his achievements in the English computer industry.


Singer, Hal

Hal Singer published the Mark-8 Newsletter for those interested in the Mark-8microcomputer. He began publishing in about September 1974.


(Stevens Institute of Technology Digital Differential Analyzer).

The SITDDA was developed in 1953 by the Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey.


Developed by MIT student Ivan Sutherland, Sketchpad was a conversational computer graphics system, utilizing a console and a light pen. It could be used to draw graphic images on a computer screen and was the first interactive computer graphics program. It is also probably the first computer aided design (CAD) type workstation. Sketchpad was developed by Ivan Sutherland in around 1963. as part of his MIT doctoral thesis. Sketchpad was innovative and years ahead of its time. A description of its operation was published by Ted Nelson in his book "The Home Computer Revolution" in 1977.

Slide Rule

Edmund Gunther (1581-1626) developed a slide-rule type device in about 1620. Richard Delamain develops a slide-rule type device in about 1630. William Oughtred perfected one in 1662. In 1850, Amedee Mannheim created the "Mannheim Slide Rule."
(See Photo Modern SlideRule)


The SLS-18 was a computer developed by Computer Logic Systems during the early 1970's.


SMALLTALK was a programming language developed for small computers by a research team at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, in about 1972.

Smart Card for Medical Information

AT&T researched the use of a smart card to contain all key medical information on a person, that can be carried in the wallet. Hospitals can then quickly scan the card and get information on the patient's insurance, doctors, medical history and any allergies to medicines.

Smart Card Toll System

In 1993, AT&T developed plans to install the nation's first smart card toll collection system in Orange County, California. The card will signal payment as the car moves through specially designed toll centers.

Smathers, James Field

In 1914, Smathers developed the first successful electric typewriter with a self-contained motor and designed specifically for power operation. This machine was eventually manufactured by the Electromatic Typewriter Company in 1930.

SMP 5400

A multiprocessing server incorporating up to four 100 MHz Pentium processors. The SMP 5400 is based on Intel Corporation's Extended Express server platform. The SMP 5400 was introduced by Unisys, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, in August 1995.


(String Oriented Symbolic Language).

The SNOBOL language, designed as a string oriented symbolic language, was developed in 1962,

Software Copyright Protection Bill (Copyright)

U.S. Congress passed the Software Copyright Protection Bill in 1993, which made software piracy a felony. The law defines commercial pirates as those who willfully copy software for commercial advantage or private financial gain.

Sony Typecorder

The Sony Typecorder was a word processing PC available in the early 1980's. It fit in a brief case and used an LCD screen.


(successive over-relaxation) Method

The SOR was developed in around 1950 by David Young as a method for solving the Laplace equation. Stanley Frankel did similar work in this area. This was sometimes known as the Young-Frankel SOR Method.


"Space" was an early computer game. In 1962, MIT's open house event showed off the Spacewar computer game which ran on a PDP-1 and utilized early "joysticks" for game control.


The Spacistor was a device developed in 1957 by Raytheon Manufacturing Company engineers Dr. Herman Statz, Dr. Robert Pucel and Conrad Lanza. The Spacistor was an experimental semiconductor amplifying and switching device which could operate at higher speeds and temperatures than the transistors of that same time period.

SPARC workstation

SPARC stands for Scaler Processor ARChitecture, a high speed processor sold by Sun Microsystems and used in its high-powered workstations. SPARC workstations run many times faster than traditional microprocessors.

Speak & Spell

In June of 1978, Texas Instruments introduced a digital speech toy, "Speak & Spell." Speak & Spell was a small device, about 7 inches by 10 inches, which was programmed to lead students through a.variety of exercises and quizzes. The Speak & Spell unit has a vocabulary of 250 words and contained computer chips that allowed it to speak. Speak & Spell says a word and the student types it out on the keypad. If the student misspells it, the unit encourages him or her to try again.


"Speakeasy" was a programming language developed in 1968.

Spectra 70

In 1964, RCA designed the Spectra 70 computer, a plug-compatible system with the IBM 360 series.


(Statistical Programs for the Social Sciences).

A programming language for statistical data collection and analysis developed in 1975.


On October 4, 1957, the first artificial earth satellite, Sputnik I, was launched by the U.S.S.R. to send back information from space. This event helped focus U.S. efforts and resources on technological advancements in space research, computer science and related technologies.

SQL ("Structured Query Language")

Structured Query Language is a standard language for interfacing with a database to extract information from the database. It was developed at IBM in the early 1970's and became an ANSI standard in 1986, and an OSI standard in 1987. However, there are different variations of SQL where it has been incorporated into specific vendor's programs. In general, an "SQL compliant" system is one which uses the standard language of SQL in its database or interfaces. See E.F. Codd.


Stacker is a data compression package produced by Stac Electronics. The Windows 95 compatible version was released in August 1995.

Stanhope, Third Earl (1753-1816)

The Third Earl Stanhope created two calculating devices in the mid 1770's based on the Leibniz Wheel. His device could multiply and divide by using successive addition or subtraction.


Star Trek and Computing Technology (Copyright (C) Paramount Pictures Corp.)

Star Trek Tricorder

Star Trek Communicator

Star Trek Software

See Commodore VIC 20 Computer Ads with Spokesman William Shatner

Spock on Cover


Star 8010 Microcomputer

The Star 8010 microcomputer was announced by Xerox in 1981. The Star 8010 came with graphical display, icons and other features from its original Alto computer (1973). The Star 8010 sold for about $16,000 and did not meet Xerox's market expectations.

Strauss, Harry

Harry Strauss, head of American Totalizater Company in 1948, purchased a 40% interest in the financially troubled Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company. This temporarily infuses needed capital into the UNIVAC production line. Strauss dies in a plane crash the following year and American Totalizater Company withdrew further support.


Stock Certificates (Sperry, Remington Rand, Sperry Rand, etc.)



Storage Technologies


In the acoustic delay line storage device, an acoustic medium, such as mercury, is used to hold the sound pattern generated by a diaphragm device placed at each end of the medium or tank. The signals generated by the diaphragm echo or regenerate through the medium. The vibrations of the diaphragm correspond to binary bits.

Acoustic delay lines or acoustic tanks could only store limited vibrations, so they were usually used in parallel. Delay line information was "read" by interrupting the echo regeneration of the sound wave at a specified time.


Magnetic core storage is composed of small rings which can be magnetized in either of two directions, representing the "0" or "1" of the binary numbering system. Many such rings are assembled in a matrix and wired into the computer's circuitry. Core storage was an important development in early computers, but is no longer in use. (EXAMPLE)


A magnetic disk is the most common form of storage used in computers today. A flat disk is coated with a material that can be magnetized, and is placed on a shaft where it can be rotated at high speed. (EXAMPLE 1) - (EXAMPLE 2)

Read-write access heads are then placed over the magnetized surface, where they are designed to move to the proper location or track where the data is to be recorded or read.

Floppy Disk: a flexible magnetic disk, e.g., 8 inch floppy disk

Diskette: a flexible (floppy) enclosed in a hard plastic case, e.g., 3.5 inch diskettes

Hard Disk: a hard metal platter used as a magnetic storage disk

Hard disk units holding over 1 Gigabyte of data have become relatively inexpensive today.


A magnetic drum works on a principle similar to a magnetic tape, except that the magnetic material is placed on the surface of a rotating drum, rather than plastic tape. The drum rotates past the read-write heads. Drums in the early computers came in a wide variety of sizes and rotation speeds. (EXAMPLE)

MAGNETIC TAPE (Reel-to-Reel)

Magnetic tape storage consisted of reels of magnetic tape, usually in lengths of 1200 to 2400 feet or up to 3500 feet. Some early computers used metal tape, but most tape is plastic with a coating that can be magnetized. As the tape is passed by the read-write heads of the tape drive device, electrical impulses create magnetized portions of the tape which represent data bits. Data is recorded and stored in this way. - (EXAMPLE 1) - (EXAMPLE 2)

When reading the tape, the tape is passed over the read-write heads again, at a constant speed, and the magnetized bits are read and converted into electrical signals.


Many early microcomputers used magnetic tape storage for programs. These cassette tapes were used in the early 1980's and were the same size as audio cassette tapes.


Paper tape as a storage device consisted of strips of paper, similar to those used by early telegraph operators, which had a series of holes punched to represent data. A typewriter type device was used to generate the holes and the tape was usually read by passing over a head to read through the holes by making an electrical contact. (EXAMPLE 1) - (EXAMPLE 2)


A punched card usually refers to a cardboard card of specific size, which is used to map out indications for information through a series of punched holes. A card punch machine is used to punch holes in the appropriate places in the cards and to process large volumes of such cards, in sequence, so that a collection of 50, 100 or 1000 cards, for example, can be used to hold information or program instructions for a computer. (EXAMPLE 1) - (EXAMPLE 2)

Cards were used for many years and many computer manufacturers produced a variety of punched card equipment such as readers, punches, sorters, etc. One of the many drawbacks of cards is the need to keep them in exact sequence, otherwise errors occur due to missing data. Another problem was the jamming of cards during the high speed sorting, reading or punching, which would require manual intervention by the computer operator.

Examples of early punched card technology: (See Punched Cards, this Glossary)

Jacquard's Punched Card Loom

Joseph-Marie Jacquard was born in Lyon, France. Jacquard, the son of a weaver, entered a contest to develop a pattern loom. He won a prize for his first invention in 1801. He continued to improve on it for several years thereafter. Jacquard's technique was a punch-card device that used cards with punched holes to govern the pattern the machine weaved. His invention came to be known as the "Jacquard Loom."

Jacquard's technique of using punched cards for controlling a mechanical operation was borrowed by Charles Babbage in his design for an analytical engine (1833-34).

Herman Hollerith used punched cards in his tabulating machines used in the 1890 census.

In 1894, John K. Gore, an employee of the Prudential Insurance Company, developed an automatic punched card sorter for use by the company's actuarial department. It was apparently never marketed outside the company.

In 1927, in Germany, punched card equipment was attached as output devices to standard mechanical calculators. In 1928, L. J. Comrie used punched card machines to calculate the motions of the moon.

In 1928, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) adopted the 80 column punch card format, which became the industry standard.

IBM evolved from Hollerith's early enterprise, the Tabulating Machine Company, and several other companies.


Some early computers used vacuum tubes as storage devices, since they can hold an electrical state when electricity is passed through them. It required extremely large numbers of vacuum tubes to hold any meaningful amount of data, so they were not long used as a practical storage method. (EXAMPLE)


Sun Microsystems

SUN stands for "Stanford University Network."

SUN Microsystems of Mountainview California is the world's leading producer of UNIX-based workstations and a leading supplier of workstations used as Internet servers. SUN was founded in 1981 and incorporated in 1982.

Sun Microsystems is a manufacturer of high powered microcomputer workstations. The "Sun 100" workstation was introduced by Sun Microsystems in 1981. The Sun 100 came with 256k memory and sold for $12,900. SUN sold 400 workstations its first year. Scott McNealy, who started as vice president for manufacturing and operations, became CEO soon afterwards. SUN went public in 1986. By 1998, its annual sales reached $1 billion. In May 1995, SUN announced the release of the JAVA programming language, which brought greater power and flexibility to Internet and Intranet based systems. Reference: "Javaman," Fortune Magazine, October 13, 1997)


In 1908, David and Oscar Sunstrand, invented 10 key adding machine. James L. Dalton took this concept and created a company to develop and market machines. His company was incorporated in 1914.

System Development Corporation (SDC)

In 1956, the Rand Corporation Board of Trustees voted to create the "System Development Corporation" (SDC) from the System Development Division, one of the groups involved in the Air Force computer project SAGE.


A computer system developed by Digital Equipment Corporation and introduced in November of 1971.

Systems Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL)

Systems Engineering Laboratories, founded in 1961, produced the SEL 800 series computers, which were small and medium scale computers. In 1966, SEL made its initial public stock offering of 120,000 shares at $7 per share. Total sales for 1966 were $6.1 million.


SYSTRAN, developed in 1969 by U.S. Air Force multi-lingual researcher Peter Toma, was used to translate Russian into English, and later used with other languages.

SX-1 and SX-2 Supercomputers

NEC announced the SX-1 and SX-2 supercomputers in 1983.


Tabulating Machine Company (TMC)

The Tabulating Machine Company was founded by Herman Hollerith in 1886. He sold it in 1911. The TMC was one of the companies that evolved into IBM.


Tandy, Charles and Dave (Tandy/Radio Shack) (Tandy Corporation) (TRS)

In 1927, the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company was founded by Dave Tandy and Norton Hinckley. Dave Tandy's son Charles later built Tandy Corporation into a large consumer electronics firm, incorporating Radio Shack stores.

The Tandy Corporation changed its name to Radio Shack in 2000.

See Also:

Tandy 102 Personal Computer (c1980s)

Tandy 1000 (Radio Shack) microcomputer (1980)

Tandy Computer Cassette Program

Tandy Color Game Cartridge (1984)

Tandy 1400 FD Laptop

TRS-80 Model II





TCP/IP stands for "Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol." TCP/IP is a family of protocols used in network communications. TCP/IP is used on many networks connected to the Internet and is the common protocol used across the Internet.

Although TCP/IP has been around since 1969, it has become increasingly of interest due to the growing popularity of the Internet. The IP addressing portion of TCP/IP is very important. Every individual resource that runs TCP/IP must have a unique IP address to identify it on a network. For example, every computer's network card, every printer, every router, every server card must each have a unique IP address.

IP addresses are 32-bit values expressed as four octets, such as Each group of numbers separated by a period is called an octet since it is represented by 8 bits.

Each IP address must be unique. IP addresses can be obtained from the InterNIC organization, which monitors the allocation of IP addresses. The interNIC is located on the Internet at http://www.internic.net.

Teal, Gordon

Gordon Teal, a physicist, moved from Bell Labs to Texas Instruments and developed the silicon-based junction transistor in 1954.

Technitrol Corporation

In 1947, John F. Koch and E. Stuart Eichert, Gordon Palmer and T. K. Sharpless found the Technitrol Corporation. Technitrol developed computer technology for business and military uses. Sharpless, Koch, and Eichert worked on the ENIAC project at the Moore School of Engineering.

Ted Waitt

Ted Waitt is the founder of Gateway 2000, Inc., a highly successful personal computer manufacturer. In 1985, Ted Waitt founded the TICP Network, a company he established to provide Texas Instruments personal computer owners with upgrades and accessories. By 1987, sales had reached $1.5 million. By 1990, Waitt had changed the name to Gateway 2000, and employed 185 people. Gateway 2000 utilizes mail order and telephone orders as its cornerstone. In 1990, Gateway was producing and shipping 225 PCs per day.

By 1992, Gateway's sales had exceeded $1 billion. Gateway is also known for producing the subnotebook computer called the Gateway Handbook in 1992. It weighed only 2.9 pounds.

In 1996, Gateway announced a combination Pentium PC and television, including a wireless keyboard and mouse, and digital sound system. This new machine is called the Destination. Gateway's overall sales for 1996 exceeded $3 billion.


Telephone History (See Online Internet: Telephone History Web Site)



David Edward Hughes developed and patented the teleprinter in 1855.

Teleram T-3000

The Teleram T-3000 was an early microcomputer utilizing the Z80, 8-bit processor and CP/M. It cost $1,795.

Televideo Systems, Inc

Dr. K. Philip Hwang, an electronics engineer, founded TeleVideo Systems, Inc. TeleVideo began producing low-cost video display terminals for games, for such companies as Atari. TeleVideo branched out into the systems business in 1980. It shipped its first microcomputer in 1981. Its microcomputers included the 802 business computer, 803 personal computer, the TPC1 and others. They were CP/M based machines. By 1983, when it went public, it had shipped over 40,000 microcomputers and entered the ANSI terminal market. By 1985, TeleVideo achieved an installed base of over 500,000 worldwide. In 1987, they acquired Advanced Transducer Devices (ATD) and its subsidiary Silicon Logic. TeleVideo acquired the board and mass storage divisions of Scientific Microsystems, Inc. in 1989. The following year it signed marketing agreements with the U.S.S.R. and OmniLogic/France, as well as obtained a GSA government contract award. TeleVideo now has millions of systems and terminals installed worldwide. TeleVideo is based in San Jose, California, with manufacturing facilities in Korea. 


Tester, Major

Major Tester was head of one of the work groups at Bletchley Park, England, during the code-breaking research years (early 1940's). His group was sometimes known as the Testery. He was later promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Thacher Slide Rule

In 1881, E. Thacher, an inventor in New York, developed a large cylindrical slide rule.

The Well

The Well is an on-line computer service which provides a host of options including access to INTERNET. Well stands for "Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link"). The Well is based in Sausalito, California and as of 1996 has over 6,000 registered users. The Well is used by many journalists, writers and others. The Well can be reached at 415-332-4335.

The World

The World is an on-line computer service run by Software Tool & Die company. The World provides a host of services, including INTERNET access. The dial in line is 617-739-WRLD. Voice line is 617-739-0202.


In 1985, massive overdoses of radiation were reported from use of Therac-25 X-ray machine. The Therac-25 is a dual-mode linear accelerator, delivering photons at 25 MeV or electrons at various energy levels. The Therac-25 was run by a DEC PDP 11 minicomputer. Eventually, the cause was discovered to be a software problem. (Six accidents involving massive overdoses to patients were.reported between 1985 and 1987.

The Therac-25 machine was recalled in 1987 for extensive design changes and hardware safeguards against software errors. Eleven Therac-25 machines had been installed in the U.S. and Canada.

Thompson, Joseph J.

From 1895 to 1897, British physicist Joseph J. Thompson conducted a series of experiments which measured the properties of electrons in early vacuum tubes. In 1897, Thompson published his paper entitled "Cathode Rays" which described the electron as the cause of the photo-electric effect.

3-Com Corporation

U.S. Robotics was started in 1975 by Casey Cowen, Paul Collard and Steve Muka. Originally a distributor of acoustic couplers, it branched out into modem production and became highly successful by the mid 1980's.

U.S. Robotics went public in 1991. In 1995, it merged with Megahertz.

On June 11, 1997, U.S. Robotics merged with 3Com in the largest merger in data networking history up to that point. The combined company has revenues of $5.6 billion, a research and development budget of about $500 million, and 13,500 employees in over 45 countries. In 1988, 3-Com Corporation shipped the first LAN Manager-based networks.


Time Sharing (Time-Sharing)

Prior to time-sharing, early computers were limited to performing programs for one user at a time. Programmers had to wait their turn to run programs. Time-sharing was a method of splitting the computer's central processor time among various users or programs.

Since the computer operated at extremely high speed, it would appear to each user that their use of the computer was exclusive and uninterrupted. Considerable work was done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on time-sharing development in the early 1960's.

Titan III Robot

In 1984, the Titan III, a small walking-robot, was built at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. The Titan III could walk up and down stairs and was one of the first robots to use tactile sensors rather than visual sensors.


Tech Model Railroad Club. The TMRC was a group at MIT that was involved in the technical workings of model railroads and became interested in early computing technology. Its participants were known as "Hackers" and are described in the book "Hackers" by Steven Levy..

Token Ring (IBM Token Ring)

In 1985, IBM announced Token Ring local area network (LAN) technology. Token ring technology uses an electronic "token" which is transmitted over a network at high speed. Common Token Ring network speeds are 4 Mb and 16 Mb.

Toshiba America Information Systems (TAIS)

Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. is an independent operating company owned by Toshiba America, Inc., a subsidiary of the $35 billion dollar Toshiba Corporation since 1965. Toshiba Corporation is a world leader in high technology products with 128 major subsidiaries worldwide. From its manufacturing headquarters in Irvine, California, Toshiba America Information Systems is comprised of seven divisions. TAIS products include portable computers, printers, disk drives, plain paper copiers, facsimile systems, electronic key telephones and PBX systems, and toner products.

TAIS Computer Systems Division markets the broadest range of laptop, notebook and pen computers in the industry. Corporate personnel for 1993 included TAIS president, Atsutoshi Nishida; vice president and general manager, Mike Aymar; vice president and general manager of Computer Systems Division, Michael Winkler. The following shows some of the laptop technology achievements and products associated with Toshiba.



Date Product Comments


T1000 The T1000 microcomputer utilized the Z80 microprocessor, flat liquid crystal display

(LCD), had 64K of RAM, 32K of ROM, and 16K of video RAM. The system ran CP/M and came with

WordStar and dBase II. (1982)

Jan 1986

T1100 Plus 1st commercially accepted DOS laptop

Jun 1986

T3100 1st 286 AC Laptop with hard disk drive

Jul 1987 T1000 1st notebook computer

Oct 1987

T1200 Family - 1st commercially. accepted products with AutoResume

Oct 1987

T1200 1st laptop with optional external numeric keypad

Mar 1988

T5100 1st 16 MHz 396 portable computer

Mar 1988

T3200 1st clamshell portable with full-size IBM slot

Dec 1989

T3100SX 1st battery powered BGA gas plasma laptop

Nov 1990

T5200C 1st VGA color STN-LCD portable

Feb 1991

T2000SX 1st commercially avail. Nickel Hydride battery PC

Mar 1991

T3200SXC 1st com. Accepted TFT-LCD active matrix clr port.

Sep 1991

T2200SX notebook PC with carbon fiber reinforced case

Oct 1991

T4400SX 1st 25 MHz 486SX notebook; first battery powered gas plasma notebook computer

Nov 1992

T4500 Series of high performance 486 notebook computers

Nov 1992

T6400MM 486DXC color portable multimedia computer

Nov 1992

T100X Toshiba Dynapad Pen Computer

Aug 1993

T1950 Satellite Notebook series with Intel Corp. high-speed SL Enhanced 486DX2/40 3.3 volt


Jun 1995

400CDT and Satellite Pro notebooks, utilizing the 400CS 75-MHz Pentium chip.

Jun 1995

T2139CD CD equipped portable PC which runs on a lithium-ion battery.

Toshiba Corporation

Toshiba Corporation is the parent company of Toshiba America, Inc. Toshiba Corporation was founded in Japan in 1939. It brought together Tanaka Seizo-sha, a telegraph equipment maker founded in 1875 and Shibaura Seisakusho and formed "Tokyo Shibaura Electric Company" now known as "Toshiba." Toshiba became the number 3 electronics company in Japan, just behind Hitachi and Matsushita. It is the world's number one manufacturer of large-scale memory chips (DRAMs), and a major manufacturer of color display panels for personal computers and liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Toshiba Corporation is a world leader in high technology products with 128 major subsidiaries worldwide.



TRAC was a programming language developed in 1964.

TRADIC (Transistorized Airborne Digital Computer)

The TRADIC was developed in 1954 by J. H. Felker and a team of co-workers. The TRADIC is the first universal computer to be entirely transistorized.


The Traff-O-Data computer was developed in 1972 by Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Paul Gilbert. It was based on the Intel 8008 microprocessor chip. Bill Gates and Paul Allen later founded Microsoft Corporation. (Reference: "Fortune" magazine, October 2, 1995).

TRAIN (TeleRail Automated Information Network)

The TeleRail Automated Information Network was a computerized tracking system implemented in 1970 to track the location of freight trains across the United States.

Triumphator Calculator

The Triumphator was produced by Triumphator Works, Ltd., of Leipzig-Molkau, Germany. The Triumphator was a rotary-type, lever set, crank operated, high speed (for its time) calculating machine. It has some similarities to the Brunsviga machine. In 1926, the Triumphator sold for $250 to $350.

Triumphator Works, Ltd.

Triumphator Works, Ltd., of Leipzig-Molkau, Germany, produced the Triumphator Calculator.

TRW, Inc. (Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge)

The genesis of what eventually became TRW was a small company involved in the automotive valve manufacturing business in the early 1900's. The "T" in TRW was Thompson Products, Inc. In 1958, Simon Ramo, U.S. engineer and research scientist joined with Dean E. Wooldridge to form The Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation. That company later merged with Thompson Products to form "TRW". Ramo received his Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology. He worked at General Electric on microwave research and developed the electron microscope. Ramo also worked at

Hughes Aircraft from 1946 to 1953 where he helped develop computer systems for guided missiles. From 1954 to 1958, Ramo served as chief scientist for the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System (ICBM). During the 1950's, the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation of Los Angeles, developed a computer called the RW-300. The RW-300 was an advanced digital control computer for industrial applications. The RW-300 was used to automatically read input information, process it, and control attached devices for greater plant efficiency.

The Ramo-Wooldridge company became the technical advisor to the U.S. government on its ballistic missile program. In 1958, Thompson Products merged with Ramo-Wooldridge to become Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge. In 1965, it shortened its name to the now familiar "TRW."

Under the direction of David J. Wright (president 1953-1958, chairman 1958-1969) TRW experienced tremendous growth and diversification, both by internal growth and by acquisition. TRW became an internationally known name. TRW also became an early leader in the design and manufacture of early space craft and currently makes about one-third of all space craft produced.

TRW was the first company to launch a spacecraft, the Pioneer 1, in 1958, and has since built about 180 spacecraft for military, scientific, and commercial uses and integrated about 500 instruments into spacecraft. TRW also built Space Park, a 150 acre campus research and development center in Redondo Beach, California, with about 8,000 employees. Growth continued under Ruben F. Mettler, president and later chairman (1969-1988). TRW has been involved in many aspects of government contract related work in the electronic field and operates one of the largest large credit tracking and reporting agencies in the U.S. Although still highly diversified, TRW is probably best known for its focus in electronics and credit and financial services. TRW is also the world's leading supplier of occupant restraining systems, such as air bags.

Joseph T. Gorman, president of TRW since 1985, became chairman in 1988. TRW has since expanded to become the 37th largest information technology supplier in the world. As of 1992, its information systems revenues exceeded $1.8 billion.

TRW: Early History



Cleveland Cap Screw Company is formed.


Cleveland Cap Screw Company is renamed the Electric Welding Company.


Charles E. Thompson takes over the Electric Welding Company and changes its name to Steel Products Company. Steel Products Company has 600 employees and becomes the U.S.'s largest maker of automotive valves.


Steel Products Company changes its name to Thompson Products, Inc.


Charles Thompson dies. Frederick Crawford becomes president of Thompson Products. Crawford is president from 1933 to 1953 and then chairman from 1953 to 1958.


Thompson Products opens a defense plant, Thompson Aircraft Products Company (Tapco) to help build military equipment.


Two engineering graduates, Dr. Simon Ramo and Dr. Dean Wooldridge, form the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation to perform systems engineering for the U.S. air force. In 1955, Ramo-Wooldridge became technical advisor to the U.S. on its ballistic missile program.


Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation merges with Thompson Products to form Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge. Frederick Crawford retires as chairman and is succeeded by J. David Wright.


Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge shortens its name to TRW.


TRW's revenues exceed $1.8 billion.


Sales exceeded $11.8 billion dollars.


T/16 Computer

The T/16 was a fault-tolerant computer introduced by Tandem in 1976.

Turbo Pascal

Borland released the Turbo Pascal programming language in 1983.

Turing Machine

An imaginary computing machine proposed by Alan Turing in 1936.that used a potentially infinite strip of tape containing symbols that were read by the machine, one at a time. It was a type of mental mathematical model to test certain algorithms.

Turing Test

Alan Turing proposed a method in 1950 to determine whether a machine could think. The test involves a person who asks questions (interrogator) of both a machine and a person. The interrogator cannot see either the machine or the person and does not know which is which. The goal of the machine's program would be to convince the interrogator that it was a person. If the machine passes the Turing Test, it could be said to possess the ability to "think." (See the book "Artificial Intelligence," by Elaine Rich, McGraw-Hill, 1983, pg. 18-19.)


Tutor was a programming language developed in 1971.


UDEC (Universal Digital Electronic Computer)

UDEC was an early computer installed by Burroughs Corporation in 1953 at Wayne State University.


Unicom was the name used by North American Rockwell Microelectronics Company of Anaheim, California, on some of its early hand-held calculators in the 1970's.

Unidata Consortium

Unidata was a consortium formed in 1973 by Philips, Siemens and CII.


In 1953, Earl Masterson and J. Presper Eckert developed the UNIPRINTER, the first commercially available high speed printer. The UNIPRINTER was a line printer, capable of printing 120 characters simultaneously.

In 1953, Earl Masterson and J. Presper Eckert developed the UNIPRINTER, the first commercially available high speed printer. The UNIPRINTER was a line printer, capable of printing 120 characters simultaneously.

The UNIPRINTERs were sold as an optional printer with the UNIVAC I.

The UNIPRINTER was based on a rotating drum containing a series of complete characters. It could print at 600 lines per minute, which was four times faster than its closest competitor's printer, IBM's tabulators.



UNISYS Related Articles:

Prehistory of UNISYS

UNIVAC 1 (Description and Photo)

UNIVAC Systems Chronology

UNIVAC Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQ")


In 1986, Burroughs Corporation merged with Sperry Rand Corporation to form UNISYS, the second largest computer company in the world. The following timelines give a brief history of UNISYS and its predecessor companies.




American Arithmometer Company markets the adding machines invented by William Seward Burroughs.


American Arithmometer changes its name to Burroughs Adding Machine Company


Burroughs acquires Moon-Hopkins Billing Machine Company, maker of billing and bookkeeping machines


Burroughs establishes electronics research laboratory in Philadelphia


Burroughs changes its name to Burroughs Corporation


Burroughs acquires ElectroData Corporation, maker of the Datatron, a successful and versatile medium-sized electronic computer


Burroughs introduces the B5000; considered by many to be a decade ahead of its time, it is the first in the current Unisys A series

1980, 1981

Burroughs acquires Memorex , a leading manufacturer of information storage and retrieval equipment and data communications products

Burroughs acquires System Development Corporation, a leading supplier and systems integrator for U.S. Government agencies



Remington Rand and Sperry Corporation merge to form Sperry Rand.


Sperry Rand acquires RCA's computer operations for $70,500,000 and 15% of revenues from existing RCA computers.


Sperry Rand renamed Sperry Corporation.



Elmer A. Sperry founds Sperry Gyroscope Company to market and develop his gyrocompass and other directional equipment


First gyrocompass tested in the U.S. in Delaware


Stock of Sperry Gyroscope sold to C. M. Keys


Sperry Corporation organized as holding and management company for stock of Sperry Gyroscope Company and Ford Instrument Company


Sperry acquires Vickers, Inc., a leading manufacturer of hydraulic equipment for both commercial and government use



E. Remington & Sons manufacture the Remington No. 1 typewriter (See also Remington Arms Company)


Standard Typewriter Manufacturing Company is formed as a separate entity from E. Remington & Sons, by firm of Wykoff, Seamans and Benedict


Consolidated with Standard Typewriter Company and other companies and is later renamed Remington Standard Typewriter Company


Remington Typewriter merges with Rand Kardex, manufacturer of visible index and office equipment, Dalton Adding Machine Company, Powers Accounting Machine Corporation, and the Safe Cabinet Company to form Remington Rand


Remington Rand acquires Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation; founders J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly led the development of the first electronic large-scale computer, ENIAC, at the University of

Pennsylvania during World War II


Univac I, the first commercial electronic computer, accepted by the U.S. Census Bureau


Remington Rand acquires Engineering Research Associates (ERA), leader in electronic communications and cryptographic equipment



Burroughs and Sperry merge to form UNISYS (United Systems)


(December) Unisys Corporation announces the Personal Workstation/2 microcomputers, based on the 80286 and 80386 microprocessors.


Unisys acquires Timeplex, and industry leader in voice and data Networking


Unisys acquires Convergent Technologies, a leader in open systems and networking


NASDAQ Stock Market, Inc. signed a five-year, $25 million contract with UNISYS for two of its 2200/900 mainframe computer systems. The UNISYS systems and support will be used to handle NASDAQ's 800 million share per day trading volume, at its Trumbull, Connecticut and Rockville, Maryland data centers.


UNISYS announced plans to split into three different business units: computer systems, information service and customer service. An estimated 7,900 jobs would be eliminated in the restructuring.

UNIVAC (See Master Index for full list of photos of UNIVAC)

UNIVAC 1 - At the Census Bureau (1951)

UNIVAC 1 - Full View - A (1951)

UNIVAC 1 - Full View - B (1951)

UNIVAC -1 Tape Units (1951)

UNIVAC 120 (1955)

UNIVAC 1107 (1961)

UNIVAC 9200 System (1967)

UNIVAC 9300 System (1967)

UNIVAC Circuit Boards (1950's)

UNIVAC Core Memory (1950's)



Universal Adding Machine Company

The Universal Adding Machine Company.of St. Louis, Missouri, produced the Universal Adding Machine. The Universal was metal, hand-operated, mechanical adding machine which sold for about $300. An optional electrical drive was available for an additional $75. In 1908, the Universal Adding Machine Company was acquired by the Burroughs Adding Machine Company.



Usenet is a collection of electronic forums on the INTERNET which are each established to focus on a particular topic or topics. For example, alt.folklore.computers is a usenet newsgroup that covers the history of computing, computer folklore and related topics.

UTEC (University of Toronto Electronic Computer)

The UTEC was developed at the University of Toronto in 1952.


Vacuum Tubes:

Early UNIVAC (1951) vacuum tube

Early IBM Vacuum tubes

Vanguard Project - computer-controlled satellite

Project Vanguard was established by the U.S. Department of Defense at the request of the National Committee for the International Geophysical Year. Vanguard is a 20-inch sphere which includes a radio transmitter which will transmit continuously once the satellite is launched. Vanguard will be tracked by the Vanguard Computation Center, Washington, D.C., utilizing an IBM704 computer.

The IBM 704 was used to process information from numerous tracking stations around the world, and will supply information on the size and shape of the earth, its atmosphere and other scientific information. The 704 was programmed to predict the orbit of the unmanned satellite. The programs were written, transferred to punched-cards, then to magnetic tape, via a card-to-tape converter.


The term "vaporware" was coined for software that is talked about and promoted but does not yet exist in reality. The term vaporware originated in around 1985.

Vaucanson, Jacques de (1709-1820)

Vaucanson was a French inventor who developed a loom, incorporating perforated wooden cards as a means to control the operation of the loom. Later, in the 1770's, Joseph Marie Jacquard improved upon this concept in his own work with looms. By 1804, Jacquard's improved machine became an accepted standard in France.

The perforated card concept was later used by Charles Babbage and finally played a major role in punched-card controlled tabulators developed by Herman Hollerith (1890).


Virtual Address Extended. VAX is the architecture developed by Digital Equipment Corporation and which remains its primary product line in the mid-range computer system area. There are a variety of VAX models in the DEC product line.

Venn, John

During the 1880's, English logician John Venn (1834-1923) developed a logical-diagram machine.

Ventura Publisher

Ventura Publisher was a desktop publishing software package developed by Ventura Software, Inc., a subsidiary of Xerox Corporation. Ventura was acquired by Corel.


One of the tools used on the INTERNET for searching for information that is stored in remote places on various network(s).


The Victor 9000 microcomputer used the 8088, 16-bit processor and MS-DOS. The Victor sold for about $3,545.

Victor Adding Machine Company

The Victor Adding Machine Company, based in Chicago, Illinois, made a variety of early mechanical

adding machines, bearing the name Victor. Most early models were hand-operated, in a black metal case. The regular model, produced around 1925, sold for about $100. The wide carriage model sold for about $125. Serial Numbers on the bottom of some of the early machines give a clue to the year of manufacture.

For example:

Numbers 2,000 and lower 1919

Numbers 2,000 to 3,500 1920

Numbers 3,500 to 8,000 1921

Numbers 8,000 to 20,000 1922

Numbers over 20,000 1923

(Source: "American Digest of Business Machines," 1926)

The company eventually changed its name to Victor Business Machines.

Victor Business Machines entered into a contract with General Micro-electronics in 1964 to develop an electronic desktop calculator based on a metal-oxide semiconductor integrated circuit. Problems with the integrated circuit prevented the product from being developed.

Vydec Corporation

In 1972, Vydec Corporation produced word processing equipment with CRT displays, electronic printers,

and floppy disk drives for data storage. Some Vydec machines came built into large metal desks. The

cost for such complete systems was $30 to $40 thousand dollars. Some companies who bought Vydec

equipment on time payments were still paying off the balance when cheaper and better word

processing systems came out in the late 1970's. Vydec was the first company to offer a complete word processing system which included floppy disk drives.


Vieta, Francois (1540-1603)

In around 1580, Francois Vieta introduced the method of using letters for unknown mathematical quantities, later forming the basis of algebra.


In 1933, the VODER (Voice Operation Demonstrator), the first electronic talking machine, was built by Homer Walter Dudley at Bell Telephone Laboratories.

Von Guericke, Otto

In 1657, Otto von Guericke demonstrated his mechanical vacuum pump, which eventually opens the door to vacuum tubes and incandescent light bulb technology.

Virtual Memory

Virtual memory was developed in 1958, by a team under R. M. Kilburn (University of Manchester) and Ferranti for use on the British "ATLAS" series of computers.

VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry)

The technique of very long baseline interferometry is a process of linking Computers to radio telescopes to increase accuracy of signal tracing. This technique was developed in the early 1960's.

VisiCalc ("Visible Calculator")

Harvard MBA student Dan Bricklin and programmer Bob Frankston developed VisiCalc for the Apple II. VisiCalc was an electronic spreadsheet application that made the new Apple II computers extremely useful. VisiCalc sold for about $150.

VisiCalc, announced in 1978, was on the market in January 1979 as the first electronic spreadsheet for microcomputers. VisiCalc was marketed by their company Software Arts of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Video Games

In 1972, Bally/Midway Company of Chicago introduced "Space Invaders" and "Pac Man", two very successful video games which originated in Japan. Nolan Bushnell developed the PONG computer game in 1972. Bushnell later founded Atari Corporation. In 1972, Atari introduced the "Asteroids" video game

Warner Communications purchased the Atari video game company in 1976.

Virus, Viruses; Worm; Hacker; Security

In 1984, Fred Cohen published his results on a study of computer viruses at the National Computer Security Conference. Programs that could replicate themselves and cause destructive actions within computer systems were experimentally designed using a VAX 11/750. The term "virus" was suggested by Len Adleman. Cohen's work raised the general awareness of the potential dangers of computer viruses.

In 1988, Robert T. Morris devised a computer virus that ultimately infected over 6,000 military computers across the INTERNET network. This "INTERNET Virus" (technically a "worm") caused shutdowns of such large networks as Arpanet, NSFnet, and the NASA network.

In May of 1990, Robert Morris, was convicted of computer violations for his part in creating the computer virus and sentenced to three years probation, 400 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine. The Morris case was the most publicized computer "hacking" case of the 1980's.

Today, a variety of software vendors specialized in "anti-virus" software, designed to detect, report, and erase known viruses. (e.g., McAfee Associates)

Vixen Portable PC

The Vixen was an IBM compatible portable PC announced by the Osborne Computer Company in 1983. After the Vixen announcement, sales of the Osborne portable (a CP/M based machine) fell off sharply. Osborne was not able to recapture the portable computer market with the Vixen, since competition from Compaq Computer with its new IBM compatible portable PC was too strong.

Voice-Operated Typewriter (Voice)

In 1988, Teuvo Kohonen of Finland's Helsinki University of Technology developed a voice-operated typewriter which could recognize 97% of the human speech of an operator who had provided voice input of 100 words into its memory.


Wafer Scale Integration

Wafer scale integration involves the concept of building an entire semiconductor circuit on a single wafer. Early work was done in this area by Clive Sinclair, and by Trilogy company, founded by Gene Amdahl. Fully successful wafer scale integration has yet to be obtained.

WAIS (Wide Area Information Server)

WAIS is one of the many tools used to locate information stored in libraries on the INTERNET.


WAN stands for "Wide Area Network." Usually refers to a computer network that spans more than one building or facility.

Wang Laboratories

See Wang and Getronics listing.


Williams Tube: Early Williams Tube (CRT Memory)

The electrostatic tube (CRT), based on work done by F. C. Williams, was an early means of providing computer memory during the mid 1940's till the mid 1950's. The device has often been referred to as the "Williams Tube."

Examples of Computers using the Williams Tube:

- SWAC - Standards Western Automatic Computer (1950)

- IASC - Institute for Advanced Study Computer (1952)

- ILLIAC - Illinois Automatic Computer (1952)

- ORDVAC - Ordnance Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (1952)

- AVIDAC - Argonne's Version of IAS Digital Automatic Computer (1953)

WISC (Wisconsin Integrally Synchronized Computer)

The WISC was built in 1954 at the Electrical Engineering Department, University of Wisconsin.

Word Processing --Origin of the Term

The term "word processing" probably originated in 1964 when a IBM employee in Germany coined the term "Textverarbeitung" (word processing) for the new high-speed method of typing and correction employed by the newly released IBM 72BM electric typewriter which utilized magnetic tape memory.

Winchester Disks

In 1973, IBM introduced its first hard disk, which stored 16KB of data. Since it had 30 data tracks with 30 sectors per track, IBM gave it the model number "30-30." The 30-30 designation earned it the nickname "Winchester disk" after the Winchester 30-30 rifle.

Word Length

Word length is the number of bits that can be processed at one time by a computer. The larger the word length, the greater the speed of the computer.


WordStar word processing software was introduced by MicroPro International in 1979. WordStar became one of the most popular microcomputer based word processing software packages during the 1980's and helped usher in the microcomputer revolution by providing a useful tool for home computer and business computer enthusiasts.



By the end of 1989, there were over 700 applications on the market that ran under the Windows environment.

Windows 3.x

In April 1990, Windows 3.0 shipped. It sold 1 million copies by June 1990.

Windows 3.1, followed by Windows 3.11 were released sometime later.

Windows 95

Windows 95 was released in August 1995. Windows 95 is a full operating system which also provides a DOS-like environment but does not require the presence of a separate DOS platform before it can be loaded.

In October 1996, a newer version of Windows 95 became available, called OSR 2, for "OEM System Release 2." OSR 2, sometimes called "SR2", supports 32 bit file allocation tables ("FAT 32") which is needed to manage very large hard disks.

Windows 98

Microsoft's upgrade to Windows 95 is called Windows 98 or codenamed "Memphis." Windows 98 provides enhancements and improvements to Windows 95, including better integration with the Internet and web browser technology. Windows 98 is a 32 bit operating system.

Windows NT

Windows NT ("New Technology") was developed by Microsoft Corporation as its 32-bit operating system designed to be used on both PCs and RISC based systems.

Windows NT is available as Windows NT Server and Windows NT Workstation.

Development of Windows NT started in November 1988 with a team of seven people.

Approximate Release dates:

Windows NT Server version 3.1 1991

Windows NT Server version 3.5 1994

Windows NT Server version 4.0 1996

Windows NT Server version 5.0 1997

Windows 2000 1999

Patches and fixes are released in what are called "Service Packs."

(Suggested Viewing: For coverage of the early development of Windows NT, see the video tape "Windows NT Privileged Architecture," by Lou Perazzoli, available from University Video Communications, P.O. Box 5129, Stanford, California 94309, http://www.uvc.com)

(Windows 286, Windows 386, Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000 are copyrighted and/or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.)


Windows Me (2001)

Windows Me is designed for home users more than office users. Windows Me focuses on various areas including:
Video, music, and photos:
Easily manage, share, and manipulate digital photos, music, and video.
Improved user experience: Windows Me includes new system safeguards and improved help functions that make this the most trouble-free operating system ever for the home.
Enhanced home networking: It is designed to help create a home network, so that all of your home's computers can share printers, Internet connections, and other devices.
Rich Internet experience: Windows Me includes support for broadband connections, Internet communication tools, and online games.


Windows XP (2001)

What Microsoft has said about Windows XP. "Windows XP is the next version of Microsoft Windows beyond Windows 2000 and Windows Millennium. Windows XP brings the convergence of Windows operating systems by integrating the strengths of Windows 2000—standards-based security, manageability and reliability with the best features of Windows 98 and Windows Me—Plug and Play, easy-to-use user interface, and innovative support services to create the best Windows yet."


(Windows 286, Windows 386, Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows XP are copyrighted and/or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.)

See also Microsoft Corporation


WordPerfect Corporation

WordPerfect Corporation manufactures one of the world's best selling software packages for word processing, WordPerfect. It develops and sells a variety of software for business, workgroup and consumer markets. The company was founded by Alan C. Ashton and Bruce W. Bastian (1979) as Satellite Software International (SSI). Located in Orem, Utah, WordPerfect Corporation (1994) employs more than 6,000 people, with 23 offices around the world and 34 distribution offices serving 117 countries. WordPerfect produces software products in 27 languages and has a worldwide installed base of more than 14 million.

WordPerfect Corporation emphasizes customer support for its many products and handles 25,000 calls per day on its customer support lines. Wordperfect was a privately owned company, owned by the Ashton and Bastian families, until March 1994, when it was acquired by Novell,Inc. in a $1.4 billion stock exchange deal. WordPerfect's annual revenues are over $750 million (1993). In 1996. Novel sold the WordPerfect division to Corel.


WorldCom Inc.

WorldCom Inc., a rapidly growing communications company, was founded in about 1983 as LDDS (Long

Distance Discount Services) by Bernard J. Ebbers. The name was changed to "WorldCom" in 1995.

In 1996, WorldCom acquired MFS Communications for a reported $13.6 billion.

In 1996, WorldCom's annual revenues were approximately $7 billion.

In 1997, WorldCom aquired Compuserve and spun off its online services to America Online.

In October 1997, WorldCom made a bid to acquire MCI Communications, a deal estimated at $30 billion.


Wynn-Williams, Dr. C. E.

Dr. C.E. Wynn-Williams was a pioneer in the use of electronics for high-speed counters of the kind used in nuclear physics research. He built the first electronic binary counter in 1931. In 1941, he went to work for the British Foreign Office and was involved with the highly secret code-breaking research work being done at Bletchley Park, England.



Xanadu was the name given to a prototype computerized "house of tomorrow" constructed outside of Orlando, Florida. Its creator and builder was Robert Masters. Architect and conceptualist was Roy Mason. Xanadu is described in the book "Xanadu: The Computerized Home of Tomorrow and How it Can be Yours Today!", by Roy Mason, Acropolis Books, 1983.


xBase is a generic term used when referring to database software such as dBase, Foxbase, Clipper and other similar databases.

Xerox and Xerox PARC


The origin of Xerox is in the Haloid Company founded in 1906, in Rochester, New York. In 1938, patent attorney Chester Carlson utilized a special technique to create the first xerographic image. In 1944, the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus Ohio contracted with Carlson to perform early development work on a process which Carlson called "electrophotography."

In 1947, Battelle licensed the Haloid Company to develop and market a copying machine based on Chester Carson's technology. A language professor at Ohio State University suggested the name "xerography" for this process, from the Greek words for "dry writing." Haloid secured the use of the term Xerox to describe its products and presented this to the market in 1948.

In 1958, Haloid changed its name to Haloid Xerox, Inc. In 1961, the company took the name Xerox Corporation. In 1970, then CEO of Xerox, C. Peter McColough established a research center at Palo Alto and agreed to fund it for 10 years. This came to be known as Xerox PARC ("Palo Alto Research Center").

Xerox was involved with mainframe computers for a short time period but pulled out of that market in

1975. By 1993, Xerox employed over 107,000 people world-wide, including 99,000 in document processing and 8,000 in financial services.

XEROX PARC (Palo Alto Research Center)

In 1970, under the direction of then CEO C. Peter McColough, Xerox established the Palo Alto Research Center or "PARC." Xerox PARC was established to provide advanced research in computer science, electronics and materials science. McColough put George Pake in charge of putting together the new research center. Pake hired Bob Taylor to recruit other computer experts, engineers, scientists and the many talented people that eventually made up the PARC research staff. Some of the highly talented people drawn to Xerox PARC by Taylor included Alan Kay, Robert Metcalfe, Bill English, Butler Lampson, Chuck Thacker, Ed McCreight, Jim Mitchell, Bob Sproull, Jim Morris, Chuck Geschke, Peter Deutsch and others. One of the early goals of those working at PARC was to make computers easier to use. This highly talented group provided much of the groundwork that laid the foundation for future microcomputer developments. In 1973, Xerox PARC developed the first microcomputer, the Alto, and it was soon linked to other computers via an electronic network. The Alto used a graphical interface known as windows and a mouse pointing device. The Alto was followed by later computers, the Xerox 8010 and the Star workstation.





Peter McColough succeeds Joe Wilson as CEO of Xerox Corporation.


Xerox acquires Scientific Data Systems (SDS).


Xerox PARC is established under the direction of Peter McColough, CEO of Xerox, and Jack Goldman, head of research at Xerox. Goldman hires George Pake to coordinate the setting up of the Xerox PARC facility. George Pake hires Robert Taylor, formerly Director of the Information Processing Techniques Office of ARPA, to pull together a team of qualified scientists to staff PARC.


The ALTO personal computer project is started in December 1972.


The world's first fully functional microcomputer, the Alto, becomes operational.


Early laser xerographic printer is prototyped


First gallium arsenide laser is demonstrated


Xerox 9700 laser printer, developed at PARC, is marketed


Ethernet Local Area Network, developed at PARC, is released by Xerox


Xerox and Spectra Physics form Spectra Diode Laboratories Inc. based on gallium arsenide laser


Xerox establishes EuroPARC in Cambridge, England . Today, XEROX PARC not only houses computer scientists, physicists and engineers, but psychologists, linguists and anthropologists. PARC

uses a pioneering research approach to technological innovation. Current research at Xerox PARC, under director John Seely Brown, includes multimedia, object oriented programming, networking, advanced electronics and imaging processing.


Xerox 914 Copier

In 1959, Haloid Xerox, Inc. introduced the world's first automatic copier that used ordinary paper. The Xerox Model 914 copier was a big success in the business world and launched the company into an era of virtually unparalleled growth.


X/Open is an international consortium of computer vendors founded in Europe, with goals to create a vendor-independent interface standard. This standard is called the "Common Applications Environment" (CAE). Vendors included AT&T, Digital Equipment Corporation, Hewlett-Packard, NCR, Unisys and Sun Microsystems and others.

X Windows

X Windows is a graphical architecture developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for managing Windows under a Unix environment.


Year 2000 Problem (Y2K)

The "Year 2000 Problem" provided a unique challenge to computer experts, security officers and to anyone using or affected by computers.

Also called the "Millennium Problem" or simply "Y2K", the Year 2000 Problem is actually a collection of many different issues and potential problems stemming from the fact that the year 2000 will be represented in many computer programs as the year "00." This is because many programs treat the year field as a two-digit field. After "99" comes "00."

This may sound simple enough to correct, but unfortunately, it was a very expensive problem and a very, very large one.

Some programs have thousands of lines of code, and especially older programs, use programming languages or techniques that make fixing the problem a slow, manual process.

Financial programs, tax programs, and any date-related routines were particularly at risk.

Security programs, access controls and other other systems that rely on such programs could potentially fail if not corrected to address the year 2000 problem correctly.

One of the important things to realize as well is that some of the Year 2000 related programming problems started to materialize in 1999, and some will continue after the year 2000.

Here are just a few examples of Y2K anticipated problems:

- Some programs would stop running altogether.

- Some programs would appear to function normally, but will produce erroneous data.

- Some programs appear to function normally, produce good data, and then stop.

- Some programs or database systems lost or deleted data that they "thought" is now too old.

- Some computer-controlled machinery may not function correctly and stop or cause accidents.

- Financial information carried by computer systems could be corrupted.

- Expiration dates of credit cards, CDs, or insurance policies could be a major problem.

The Y2K event (December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000 date rollover) occurred without the major widespread disruptions in computer systems that many predicted. Much of the lack of Y2K disaster fallout was probably due to diligent preparedness on the part of computer professionals. It was felt by some that many of the predicted Y2K related disasters, were probably over blown by media sources or those who might have benefited by enlarging the threat.



Yost was a typewriter manufacturer in the late 1800's.


Zenith Data Systems, and Heath-Zenith (Heathkit)

Brief Chronology


Karl Hassell and R. Mathews form Chicago Radio Laboratory


Zenith Radio Corporation is formed to market equipment produced by Chicago Radio Laboratory


Zenith develops the first radio set.


Zenith acquires Rauland Corporation, which made picture tubes. Zenith begins making black and white television sets.


Zenith produces its first color television sets.


Zenith Radio Corporation purchased the Heath Company from Schlumberger Corporation as well as the distributor for Heathkit, Veritechnology Electronics Corporation. Veritechnology operated "Heathkit Electronics Centers." The Heath Company, produced microcomputers, microcomputer kits and other electronic kits. Zenith introduces the Z-89 microcomputer.


Zenith Data Systems ("ZDS") produces microcomputers, including the Z-150 line. Major customers included the U.S. Government.


Zenith Data Systems sells all its computer operations to the French company Group Bull.


All Heathkit Computer stores are closed.


Zenith Data Systems (now a subsidiary of Group Bull) wins a $724 million dollar contract to supply the U.S. Government with personal computers.


Zenith Data Systems is aquired by Packard Bell, one of the leading microcomputer makers.

Background of Heath and Heath-Zenith

Heath Company of Benton Harbor, Michigan produced several microcomputer kits, and published the famous "Heathkit Catalog." D.C. Heath was at one time (1966) a subsidiary of the Raytheon Company. It was eventually purchased by Schlumberger.

Zenith Radio Corporation purchased the Heath Company from Schlumberger Corporation (1979) as well as the distributor for Heathkit, Veritechnology Electronics Corporation. Veritechnology operated "Heathkit Electronics Centers."

Zenith wanted to get into the fast growing home computer market and saw the acquisition of Heath as one way to do this. Heath Company had a broad line of electronics kits at about this time, but computer sales accounted for only half of the company's revenue. Zenith soon created "Zenith Data Systems" as a separate entity to focus on sales of assembled computers, software and systems, while the kit based electronics line was continued under Heath.

Heath oversaw the development of the H-8, H-11, ET-3401, and H-89/90 machines. Both Zenith Data Systems and Heath jointly developed the Heath/Zenith-110/120. Zenith Data Systems developed the Z-150. (The U.S. military purchased thousands of ZDS-150 PCs and became a major customer.) (See Photos of H-11)

Heath also sponsored the Heath User's Group (HUG) as a support system for purchasers of its computer line. HUG published a magazine, REMark, and sold software that was developed both by the users and by various programmers within the Heath/Zenith organization. The first magazine issue appeared in 1978 as a quarterly. It became a monthly publication in 1981. The user group was disbanded in 1992 and the magazine ceased publication.

Heath eventually left the computer manufacturing business. Its departure was due to several factors, including oversees competition and internal corporate priorities given to ZDS' PC manufacturing needs. Eventually, in about 1989, both Heath and ZDS were sold by Zenith Electronics Corp. to the European computer maker, Group Bull. All Heathkit computers, electronics kits and Heathkit stores were finally closed by 1992.

Over the years, various computers were marketed under different variations of the Heath or Zenith names, such as:





ZDS (Zenith Data Systems)


Zilog and the Z80

Zilog Inc., made the Z80 microprocessor chip. The Z80 was a NMOS microprocessor chip capable of running at up to 4.5 MHz. It typically required a 5 volt power supply. The Z80 was a greatly enhanced upgrade of the Intel 8080 chip. The Z80 was similar enough to the 8080 that 8080 based programs could be run on most Z80 machines. The Z80 had more than twice the number of internal registers as the 8080. The Z80 also included the clock functions of the 8224 and the system control functions of the 8228. The Z80 is a register-oriented processor containing eighteen 8-bit registers and four 16-bit registers. It also contained two accumulators and flag regulators. (See also: Article on "History of the Microprocessor."


Zip File

A file that has been compressed with the PKZIP utility from PKWARE, Inc. Zipped files usually end in ".zip"

Zip Disk

Zip Disk: A disk formatted and used in the Zip drive from Iomega. Zip Disks come in 100 Mb and 250 Mb sizes.


Zilog, Inc

Zilog, Inc., of Campbell, California, the maker of the famous Z80 microprocessor chip is a worldwide semiconductor company involved in the design, manufacture and marketing of application specific standard products (ASSPs) in the electronics, computer peripherals, and data communications markets.

Zilog provides Z8 microcontrollers for a wide variety of consumer products including interactive TVs, cordless telephones, telephone answering machines, home security systems and automobiles. Zilog was formed in 1974 by Ralph Ungermann, a former Intel executive, and Dr. Frederico Faggin. Zilog's Z80 microprocessor family became very popular in the early days of microcomputers.

The Z80 microprocessor was used in many early microcomputers, including:

Altos 8000-6

Casio FX-9000-P

Colonial SB80

Cromemco C-10

Data Tech Associate

Dragon MSX

Epson QX-10

Exidy Sorcerer

Franklin Ace

HP 125

NEC PC-8001

Northstar Horizon 1


Quasar QDP-300

Quay 500

Seequa Chameleon

Televideo TS 802

Jupiter Wavemate

Toshiba T100


- as well as many others.

Zilog obtained some initial funding from Exxon Corporation, and by 1981, Exxon owned 100% of Zilog. In 1989, after an investor-financed employee-management buy out, Zilog became independent from Exxon Corporation. After its initial public offering in February 1991, Zilog became a publicly held company.

By 1995, Zilog had about 1,500 people world-wide, with headquarters in Campbell, California. Zilog had 26 sales offices and 120 distributor and representative locations world wide. Zilog also produces general purpose, multiprotocol controllers for the Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) markets. Zilog offers a range of controllers used in printers and high-speed fax modems, and networking components, including the industry standard, medium-speed Serial Communications Controller (SCC) to the high-speed Universal Serial Controller (USC). Zilog has continued to progress and gain stability. Zilog's 1994 sales revenues were $223 million, more than twice its sales of 1991.

Zilog also formed numerous alliances with other companies, such as the ZIA (Zilog, IMP, Allegro) joint venture, Stanford Telecom, Production Languages Corporation, EDA, ASCII Corporation of Japan, and others, to improve its product development and offerings. Zilog executives included (1995) Edgar A. Sack, Chairman, President and CEO; William R. Walker, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Tom Carlson, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales; and Michael J. Bradshaw, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Operations.


Information courtesy of Zilog, Inc., and other sources.

Dr. Konrad Zuse and Zuse KG


Dr. Konrad Zuse's pioneering work in the development of the computer was not widely known before 1965 when descriptions of his work were translated into English. His first computers pre-dated those built by Howard Aiken, John V. Atanasoff, and J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly's ENIAC. His first computers were called V1, V2, and V3 (V for "Versuchsmodell" German for experimental model). Later he changed the V to a Z so as not be confused with Germany's V rockets.

Konrad Zuse, a brilliant engineer and computer pioneer, was born in Berlin, Germany. He received his construction engineering degree from the Technische Hochschule Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1935. In 1936, Konrad Zuse applied for a patent on his mechanical memory design. He developed his first calculating machine, the Z1 (using mechanical technology), in 1938. In 1939, Konrad Zuse completed the Z2 machine. In 1941, Konrad Zuse completed his Z3 computer which used telephone relays. The Z3 could convert decimal to binary and back again.

The Z3 used binary numbers and floating point arithmetic. The Z3 also utilized a punched film for program input. It was probably the first computer to employ program control of sequential activities.

Zuse's Z3 computer was the first automatic, program-controlled, fully functional, general purpose digital computer.

In 1942-1943, Konrad Zuse developed two special computers for guidance systems, S1 and S2.

From 1942 through 1945, Zuse developed the Z4 computer. Zuse also developed the first high-level language for computers which he called "Plankalkul." The Z1, Z2 and Z3 computers were destroyed in the war. The Z4 computer which Zuse had partially completed was salvaged. The Z4 occupied 160 square feet, contained 2,200 relays, used punched tape.

The Z4 was used to solve universal scientific problems. The Z4 computer was (in 1950) installed at the Eidgenossisch Technische Hochschule (ETH), in Zurich, Switzerland. The Z5 was a general purpose computer used for optical computations. It contained 2,500 relays and was installed at Fa. Leitz in Wetzlar, Optical Works. Zuse was somewhat isolated from other developments in the computing field and his contributions were not recognized until sometime after World War II.

In 1949, Zuse formed his own company called ZUSE KG. He produced a variety of other computers, such as the Z11 relay computer and the Z22 (vacuum tube based) and Z23 (transistor based). ZUSE KG company was absorbed by Siemens AG in 1969. Among the many other devices built by Konrad Zuse are the Z11, Z25, Z31, Z43, and the Z64 (a plotter).

Konrad Zuse has received a number of distinguished awards, including a total of eight honorary doctorate awards, including honorary Dr. of Technology (Technical University Berlin, 1957), Werner von Siemens-Ring (1964); Harry Goode Medal (American Federation of Information Processing Societies, 1965); German Diesel Medal (1969); Austrian Exner Medal (1969); two honorary professor titles (University of Gottingen and University of Stettin/Polen) and others.

(Information courtesy of the Office of Dr. Konrad Zuse)




Memorable QUOTE


"Where a computer like the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1 1/2 tons."

-- Popular Mechanics, March 1949




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