War does funny things sometimes. today, we have the Internet-a redundant network of independent computers-because the federal government wanted to ensure communications even if one particular computer was wiped out by an atomic bomb. It started as the DARPAnet, a Department of Defense project, and today it's bolstering the global economy as never before.
And since countries tend not to bomb their trading partners, this offshoot of war is a big contributor to peace.
The dawn of the Internet seemed a good place then to start a time line of three of the most amazing decades the world has ever seen.
1969. The Internet boasts four hosts: UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Utah. When a UCLA researcher tries to log in to SRI, the system crashes on the third keystroke.
1969. At AT&T Bell Laboratories, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie create a multiuser operating system to run on a DEC PDP-7 minicomputer and dub it Unix.
1970. Xerox Corp. creates the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), based on the precept that people didn't need to understand how the innards worked to use the technology. Over the next 10 years, PARC researchers come up with bitmapped displays, icons, cursors, laser printers, Ethernet and the first PCs. None is successfully marketed by Xerox.
1970. Honeywell Inc. takes over General Electric's computer operations.
1970. IBM researcher Edgar Codd develops the relational database.
1971. Microelectronics News Editor Don Hoefler coins the name Silicon Valley.
1972. Intel introduces the 8008 microprocessor; it was initially used in a dumb terminal.
1972. Hewlett-Packard Co. makes the slide rule obsolete with the introduction of the HP-35 calculator.
1972. Nolan Bushnell installs the first working version of the Pong game in a Sunnyvale, Calif., bar. Horrified by a report that the machine is broken, Bushnell hurries over to discover that it's actually too jammed with quarters to accept any more.
1972. Bill Gates establishes his first company, Traf-O-Data, whose software monitors highway traffic flow.
1973. Bob Metcalfe invents Ethernet networking.
1973. IBM introduces Winchester disk drives, which set the standard for storage for the coming decade by featuring two spindles with a storage capacity of 30 million characters each. (The nickname derives from the Winchester rifle's .30-caliber shells.) 1974. Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) enters the Fortune 500.
1975. Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) of Albuquerque, N.M., offers the Altair, the first personal computer available for purchase. It's named after a planet in the Star Trek episode, "A Voyage to Altair." It inspires Bill Gates to write a version of Basic for it, even though it has no monitor, no keyboard and no storage capabilities.
1975. Bill Gates and Paul Allen establish Micro-soft, dropping the hyphen in 1976 when they register the trade name with the Office of the Secretary of State of New Mexico.
1976. Tandem Computers Inc. introduces the first fault-tolerant computer.
1977. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak establish Apple Computer Inc., reportedly because they wanted an Altair but couldn't afford one.
1977. At the Convention of the World Future Society in Boston, DEC President Ken Olsen declares, "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home." (Eleven years later, Olsen will slam Unix as "snake oil.") 1978 Texas Instruments Inc. introduces Speak 'n' Spell, a teaching toy incorporating digital speech.
1979. VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet software, is demonstrated at the West Coast Computer Faire. Four years later, Lotus 1-2-3 completely dominates the spreadsheet market, only to be surpassed itself after Microsoft Corp. introduces Excel in 1987.
1979. Micropro International introduces WordStar, one of the earliest word processing software packages. Five years later, WordPerfect's eponymous word processing completely dominates the market,only to be surpassed itself after Microsoft introduces Word for Windows in 1989.
1980. Microsoft announces Xenix OS, a derivative of Unix designed to run on computers using Intel 8086, Zilog Z8000 and Motorola 68000 processors, as well as DEC's PDP-11 minicomputers. In 1989, Microsoft will buy approximately 20 percent of The Santa Cruz Operation, a developer of Unix for PCs (Microsoft still holds this stake).
1981. IBM debuts its first PC, revolutionary because it's made from off-the-shelf parts and its specifications are made public.
1981. Osborne Computer introduces the Osborne 1, the first portable computer.
It weighs 23.5 pounds, measures 20 1/2 by 13 by 9 inches and offers 64KB of memory.
1982. Computer Associates International Inc. buys Capex, an MVS (the IBM mainframe OS) utility developer, the first of some 29 acquisitions the company will make in the next 18 years, including Cullinet Software Inc. (1989), DBMS Inc. (1990), ASK Group Inc. (1994) and Platinum Technology Inc. (1999).
1982. Home PCs are a bargain: the TI 99/4A is $349, the Atari 400 is $349, Tandy Corp.'s Radio Shack Color Computer (a.k.a. CoCo) is $379, and the Commodore 64 is $499.
1982. Compaq Computer Corp. is founded, and four years later reaches the Fortune 500, faster than any company in history.
1982. National Geographic spotlights Silicon Valley, noting, "At $24,000 a year, per-family income ranks among the highest in the nation,yet roof-raising real estate prices make affordable housing scarce." By 1995, per-family income had doubled to $53,490 and affordable housing was even scarcer.
1982. Sun Microsystems Inc. is founded,its name an acronym for Stanford University Network.
1983. Time magazine names the computer Machine of the Year. The issue identifies five people in the "vanguard of the revolution": IBM CEO John Opel, Osborne Computer President Adam Osborne, VisiCalc inventor Dan Bricklin, Commodore International President Jack Tramiel, and Clive Sinclair, developer of the Timex Sinclair ZX80.
1983. 50,000 people turn out in San Francisco for a trade show covering the CP/M operating system, as many as had attended the previous fall's Comdex.
1984. Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh with a commercial comparing IBM to Big Brother that's broadcast only once during the Super Bowl.
1984. On Feb. 13, Computerworld publishes "The Problem You May Not Know You Have," an article by Paul Gillin warning IT staffers about the millennium bug.
1984. Hewlett-Packard introduces the first commercial laser printer.
1984. Esther Dyson coins the term vaporware to describe software that's announced but not released.
1984. Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner, two married academicians at Stanford University, discover that because they're on separate networks, they can't communicate with each other. In frustration, they start working on ideas for internetworking and later in the year found Cisco Systems Inc. Now divorced and departed from the company, their names are absent from the company's Web site.
1985. Computer Intelligence Corp. reports that 53 percent of all installations with both mainframes and PCs either already have links between the two or soon plan to implement them.
1985. Software magazine designates its top 10 software companies: Cullinet, Lotus Development Corp., Microsoft, Management Science America Inc., Applied Data Research Inc., Computer Associates, Informatics, Dun & Bradstreet Software, Uccel and Ashton-Tate. (By 1990, five of these had been acquired; today, only Microsoft and Computer Associates are independent companies.) 1985. The proprietary word processing systems of Wang can be found in 80 percent of the nation's 2,000 largest companies. Company leaders misjudge the shift to open systems and PCs, though, and in 1992 the company declares bankruptcy (it is now part of an Amsterdam-based IT systems integration firm Getronics).
1986. Burroughs merges with Sperry to form Unisys ("the power of two").
1986. Will Zachmann, an analyst for International Data Corp. (IDC, a sister com-pany to CIO Communications Inc.), coins the word downsizing as a term for moving from mainframes to smaller systems; the term is later co-opted as a synonym for layoffs.
1986. An MIT professor named John Rockart says the CIO position will diminish in importance because of increasing line management of information systems.
1986. Cobol developer Grace Murray Hopper retires from the U.S. Navyas a rear admiral and immediately signs on as a consultant with DEC.
1986. Oracle Corp. releases SQL*Star, its first relational database.
1986. Action Technologies Inc. introduces The Coordinator, the first groupware application; disgruntled by its limitations and restrictions, users dub it "Naziware."
1987. IBM announces SAA (systems applications architecture) on the mainframe side, and the PS/2 computer, the OS/2 operating system and the microchannel architecture on the microcomputer side.
1987. The first Computer Industry Almanac predicts that by 2000, the electronics industry will be a $900 billion-a-year business, second only to agriculture in the world economy.
1988. CIO magazine is founded.
1988. A Cornell student named Robert Morris writes a virus called a "worm" that brings the Internet to a standstill. At his trial, Morris is sentenced to three years' probation, assessed a $10,000 fine and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.
1988. AT&T, which owns the Unix operating system, acquires 20 percent of Sun Microsystems. Worried that this ownership will give Sun's machines an advantage, HP, DEC, IBM and others form a standards body called The Archer Group (later named Unix International) to maintain the Unix standard. These moves presage years of standards wars.
1988. Microsoft President Jon Shirley predicts that OS/2, then jointly produced by Microsoft and IBM, will run on 80 percent of desktop PCs by 1991.
1989. After Morino Associates and Duquesne Systems merge, they christen the new company Legent Systems Corp.
1989. Dun & Bradstreet Software, which had acquired McCormack & Dodge in1983, buys M&D's biggest rival, Management Science America.
1989. IBM releases its first SAA application, OfficeVision.
1989. HP, Data General and Prime establish the Object Management Group to standardize the creation of software for object-oriented programming.
1990. In February, Business Week publishes an article entitled "CIO Is Starting to Stand for 'Career Is Over.'" 1990. Lotus introduces Notes.
1990. Lotus and Novell Inc. announce intentions to merge, but talks break off over how to divvy up seats on the board.
1990. IDC predicts that the Macintosh-to-mainframe market will grow at an annual rate of 56.8 percent over the coming five years.
1990. IBM first uses the term legacy systems to describe systems that present a conversion, maintenance or upgrade challenge.
1990. NCR abandons its proprietary mainframe line to concentrate on systems built with single or multiple Intel processors; a year later, it will be swallowed by AT&T, and then in 1996 spit back out again.
1990. Intel announces a parallel supercomputer using more than 500 i860 RISC processors. By 1996, Intel will abandon its supercomputer efforts.
1991. Go Corp. debuts PenPoint, an operating system for pen-based computers.
Four years after the company's founding, the disastrous venture will later be chronicled in Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure, a book penned by CEO Jerry Kaplan.
1991. The Federal Trade Commission begins to investigate Microsoft.
1991. IBM and Apple ink a historic deal that includes the creation of two joint ventures: Taligent, to develop an advanced object-oriented operating system, and Kaleida, to develop multimedia products. The operating system strategy is targeted at Windows 3.0, which sold 100,000 copies in two weeks upon its 1990 introduction, and eventually crushed both IBM's OS/2 and Apple's MacOS. Neither venture is a success, and both are shut down by 1995.
1992. After DEC's net income drops $1.1 billion in 1989 to a $2.8 billion loss in 1992, founder Ken Olsen resigns from DEC after 25 years.
1993. John Akers resigns as chairman of IBM; Lou Gerstner becomes CEO.
1993. Cisco Systems buys Crescendo Communications, an FDDI networking company, the first of some 33 acquisitions the company will make in the next six years.
1993. Microsoft announces the Microsoft at Work initiative, which will tie traditional office machines like photocopiers in with computers; it becomes one of Microsoft's few failed initiatives.
1993. Judge Vaughn R. Walker rules against Apple in its famous "look and feel" lawsuit against Microsoft and HP, in which Apple claimed that its method of displaying graphical data using overlapping windows had been copied.
1993. Microsoft announces Windows NT, which originally began life at least two years earlier as "portable OS/2" and was initially planned for release in 1992.
Bill Gates promises 1 million licenses will be sold, but after 12 months the number is estimated at only 600,000.
1994. In an unsuccessful effort to compete with Microsoft in the applications market, Novell buys WordPerfect and Borland Corp.'s QuattroPro spreadsheet; Microsoft Office soon consolidates its hold on the productivity software, and Novell sells what's known as WordPerfect Office to Corel Corp. in 1996.
1994. Network hardware vendors Wellfleet (based in Massachusetts) and SynOptics (based in California) agree to merge to form a company called Bay Networks; bicoastal cultural issues flare until it's acquired by Ontario-based Northern Telecom, with the resulting firm called Nortel Networks.
1994. Playboy interviews Bill Gates, who describes (among other things) a wallet PC as a small, portable PC of the future-"say about five years from now."
1995. There are now 5.8 million Web hosts.
1995. The summer sees the beginning of two Internet e-commerce pioneers: In July, Jeff Bezos launches Amazon.com to transform book buying; in September, Pierre Omidyar launches eBay.com at the suggestion of his wife, an avid collector of Pez dispensers.
1995. Just a year old, Netscape goes public on Aug. 9 at $28 a share, shoots up to $75 and closes the day at $58.25. Three years later, it's acquired by America Online Inc. for $4.2 billion.
1995. Sun Microsystems announces Java, a lightweight operating system originally designed by James Gosling to run on cable set-top boxes. Before long, programmers discover its value as a platform-independent development environment.
1996. Web addresses start appearing in advertising campaigns; the first may be GT Interactive, which uses its URL on marketing material for its CD-ROM games.
1996. In the largest IPO until that time, AT&T spins off its hardware division, Lucent Technologies, for $3 billion.
1996. Baby Bells converge again, with SBC Communications Inc. acquiring Pacific Telesis Group (and then Ameritech Corp. in 1998) and Bell Atlantic Corp. merging with Nynex.
1996. Hewlett-Packard cofounder David Packard dies; on the advice of Stanford engineering professor Frederick Terman, he and William Hewlett had established their company to take advantage of local gradu-ates, laying the seeds for today's Silicon Valley.
1997. In a stock swap worth $3 billion, Compaq acquires Tandem.
1997. In a record-setting merger, upstart telecom firm Worldcom buys MCI for $36.5 billion.
1997. A year after Larry Ellison unveiled the idea, network computers arrive on the market with a dull thud, doomed by confusion between NCs, NetPCs and Windows-based terminals.
1997. Dell Computer Corp. sells $1 billion worth of computers through its Web site, just 18 months after it turned to the Internet as a sales channel.
1998. Compaq buys DEC for $4.5 billion, the largest acquisition in the computer industry.
1998. In the first six months of the year, Web-related mergers total $1.5 billion. In the first eight months of the year, 23 Internet companies raise a record $1.5 billion in initial public offerings.
1998. The Information Technology Association of America estimates there are 346,000 open IT positions; in a contradictory survey, the American Engineering Association estimates that the number is closer to 96,000.
1998. The Automotive Network Exchange (ANX) is launched by the Automotive Industry Action Group, linking the Big Three American car companies with 10,000 suppliers.
1999. In the first six months of the year, Web-related mergers total $33.4 billion.
1999. In the Internet's 30th year, there are now 56,218,000 Internet hosts.
1999. The First Internet Bank of Indiana, the first full-service Internet-only bank, goes online.
1999. Hewlett-Packard decides to split the company in two-the computer division, for which the company is best known, and the instrumentation division, on which the company was originally founded (HP's first customer was Walt Disney, for whom they built an oscilloscope that was used in the 1940 production of Fantasia).
2000. IDC estimates that information technology will indeed generate $900 billion in 2000.
Senior Editor Howard Baldwin extends his thanks to Ed Bride, formerly of Software magazine; the Computer Industry Almanac; IBM Corp.; and International Data Corp. for their assistance.