Fifty Years in Computer Technology

The Computer History Museum

Timeline of Computer History

The mission of the Computer History Museum is to preserve and present for posterity the artifacts and stories of the Information Age.

The Computer History Museum is a nonprofit organization with a four-decade history as the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of computer history and is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world, encompassing computer hardware, software, documentation, ephemera, photographs, oral histories, and moving images.

The Museum brings computer history to life through large-scale exhibits, an acclaimed speaker series, a dynamic website, docent-led tours and an award-winning education program.

The Microprocessor

Who actually invented the single-chip microprocessor?

Trying to answer to this question, we will stumble upon again into the same story as with the inventions of the integrated circuit, the transistor, and many others gadgets, reviewed in this site. Several people got the idea almost at the same time, but only one got the all glory, and he was the engineer Ted Hoff (together with the co-inventors Mazor and Faggin) at Intel Corp., based in Santa Clara, California.

Olivetti Programma 101 (1964)

Large Calculator…or Small Computer?

As calculators increasingly incorporated computer technology, the line between computers and calculators blurred.

William Kahn’s 1962 Mathatronics Marathon was probably the first solid-state, programmable calculator. In 1965, Italy’s Olivetti unveiled the Programma 101. With its ability to store programs and data on magnetic stripe cards, Programma quickly eclipsed the Marathon.

At a cost to computer makers of roughly $700, the ASR-33 Teletype is originally designed as a low cost terminal for the Western Union communications network. Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, the ASR-33 was a popular and inexpensive choice of input and output device for minicomputers and many of the first generation of microcomputers.

In digital electronics, a NAND gate (NOT-AND) is a logic gate which produces an output which is false only if all its inputs are true; thus its output is complement to that of an AND gate. A LOW (0) output results only if all the inputs to the gate are HIGH (1); if any input is LOW (0), a HIGH (1) output results. A NAND gate is made using transistors and junction diodes. By De Morgan's theorem, a two-input NAND gate's logic may be expressed as AB=A+B, making a NAND gate equivalent to inverters followed by an OR gate.

The NAND gate is significant because any boolean function can be implemented by using a combination of NAND gates. This property is called functional completeness. It shares this property with the NOR gate.

Digital systems employing certain logic circuits take advantage of NAND's functional completeness.

The function NAND(a1, a2, ..., an) is logically equivalent to NOT(a1 AND a2 AND ... AND an).

One way of expressing A NAND B is {\displaystyle {\overline {A\land B}}}, where the symbol {\displaystyle {\land }} signifies AND and the bar signifies the negation of the expression under it: in essence, simply {\displaystyle {\displaystyle \neg (A\land B)}}.

The 555 timer IC is an integrated circuit (chip) used in a variety of timer, pulse generation, and oscillator applications. The 555 can be used to provide time delays, as an oscillator, and as a flip-flop element. Derivatives provide two (556) or four (558) timing circuits in one package.[2]

Introduced in 1972[3] by Signetics,[4] the 555 is still in widespread use due to its low price, ease of use, and stability. It is now made by many companies in the original bipolar and in low-power CMOS technologies. As of 2003, it was estimated that 1 billion units were manufactured every year.[5] The 555 is the most popular integrated circuit ever manufactured.[6][7]

The Z80 CPU is an 8-bit based microprocessor. It was introduced by Zilog in 1976 as the startup company's first product. The Z80 was conceived by Federico Faggin in late 1974 and developed by him and his then-11 employees at Zilog from early 1975 until March 1976, when the first fully working samples were delivered. With the revenue from the Z80, the company built its own chip factories and grew to over a thousand employees over the following two years.[2]

The Zilog Z80 was a software-compatible extension and enhancement of the Intel 8080.

The Z80 was one of the most commonly used CPUs in the home computer market from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.[4][5]

Sinclair ZX-81 (1984)

This is the first home computer I ever owned. I saw the ad in Scientific American for the $99 build-it-yourself kit, and bought it the next day.

I ended up becoming an expert on the ZX-81, co-authoring a book called, The Timex-Sinclair User's Encylcolpedia, in 1984.

Artificial Intelligence Expert Systems (1965)

In 1965, "a Stanford team led by professors Ed Feigenbaum, Joshua Lederberg and Carl Djerassi creates DENDRAL, the first “expert system.” DENDRAL was an artificial intelligence program designed to apply the accumulated expertise of specialists to problem solving. Its area of specialization was chemistry and physics. It applied a battery of "if-then" rules to identify the molecular structure of organic compounds, in some cases more accurately than experts." (from link above)

In 1980's I would use this technology to build expert systems, first, in 1985, for Crocker National Bank, then, in 1988, for the company I co-founded, WJM Technologies.

Eyewire is a game to map the brain. Anyone can play and you need no scientific background — hundreds of thousands of people from around the world already do. Together we are mapping the 3D structure of neurons and advancing our quest to understand ourselves.

By joining Eyewire, you can help map the connectome, starting with connections between retinal neurons. Eyewire gameplay advances neuroscience by helping researchers discover how neurons connect and network to process information. You also help develop advanced artificial intelligence and computational technologies for mapping the connectome.

In Eyewire, gamers transform into the Heroes of Neuroscience.

Asheville, NC LocalWiki

Local collaboration on the Asheville LocalWiki site. Any interest in a Hendersonville LocalWiki site?