The History of Technology and Silicon Valley
Discover some of the pioneers of technology and products that changed the world.
Frederick Terman joins Stanford University
Frederick Terman joins Stanford University to teach electronics electrical engineering and encourages his students to start businesses in California.
John Atanasoff devises the electronic digital computer
John Atanasoff at Iowa State College conceives the electronic digital computer.
William Hewlett and David Packard produce their audio-oscillator
Fred Terman's students William Hewlett and David Packard start a company to produce their audio-oscillator.
Colossus is built
Tommy Flowers and others build the Colossus, the world's first programmable digital electronic computer.
The Harvard Mark I is unveiled
Howard Aiken of IBM unveils the first computer programmed by punched paper tape, the Harvard Mark I.
The first non-military computer, ENIAC, is revealed
The first non-military computer, ENIAC, or "Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer", is unveiled, built by John Mauchly and Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania.
Norbert Wiener founds Cybernetics.
Claude Shannon coins the term "bit"
Claude Shannon founds Information Theory and coins the term "bit".
Remington Rand purchases Eckert-Mauchly Computer
Remington Rand purchases Eckert-Mauchly Computer.
First commercially available computer released
First commercially available computer released, the Ferranti Mk 1.
The Univac is built
The first commercial computer is built, the Univac.
Jay Forrester's team at the MIT builds the "Whirlwind" computer
A team led by Jay Forrester at the MIT builds the "Whirlwind" computer, the first real-time system and the first computer to use a video display for output.
IBM introduces its first computer model
IBM introduces its first computer model, the 704.
IBM invent the hard-disk drive
IBM's San Jose labs invent the hard-disk drive.
Harry Huskey designs Bendix's first digital computer
Berkeley's professor Harry Huskey designs Bendix's first digital computer, the G-15.
Werner Buchholz coins the term "byte"
Werner Buchholz of IBM coins the term "byte".
John Backus introduces the FORTRAN programming language
John Backus of IBM introduces the FORTRAN programming language, the first practical machine-independent language.
Dean Watkins founds Watkins-Johnson
Dean Watkins of Stanford's ERL founds Watkins-Johnson, one of the first venture-capital funded companies in the Santa Clara Valley.
Frank Rosenblatt conceives the "Perceptron"
Frank Rosenblatt conceives the "Perceptron", a neural computer that can learn by trial and error.
Rockefeller Brothers invests in Fairchild Semiconductor
Rockefeller Brothers invests in Fairchild Semiconductor, the first venture-funded startup of the Bay Area.
Jack Kilby independently invents the integrated circuit
Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments and Kack Kilby of Texas Instruments independently invents the integrated circuit, a micro-sized silicon device containing a large number of electronic switches.
Draper, Gaither and Anderson is founded
Draper, Gaither and Anderson is founded, the first professional venture-capital firm in California.
Fairchild Semiconductor employees invent the planar process and integrated circuit
Jean Hoerni at Fairchild Semiconductor invents the planar process that enables great precision in silicon components, and Robert Noyce at Fairchild Semiconductor designs a planar integrated circuit.
Frank Chambers founds Continental Capital
Frank Chambers founds the venture-capital company Continental Capital.
The first minicomputer, with a keyboard and a monitor, is launched
Digital Equipment introduces the first minicomputer, the PDP-1 (Program Data Processor), that comes with a keyboard and a monitor.
The first database management system, IDS, is developed
Charles Bachman at General Electric develops the first database management system, IDS.
"Unimate", the first industrial robot, is presented
General Motors unveils "Unimate", the first industrial robot.
Tommy Davis founds one of Santa Clara Valley's first venture-capital firms
Tommy Davis founds one of Santa Clara Valley's first venture-capital firms with Arthur Rock, Davis & Rock.
AT&T manufactures the first commercial modem
The first commercial modem is manufactured by AT&T.
The "mouse" prototype is built
Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute builds the first prototype of the "mouse".
IBM introduces the first "mainframe" computer and "operating system"
IBM introduces the first "mainframe" computer, the 360, and the first "operating system", the OS/360.
John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz invent the BASIC programming language
John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz (at Dartmouth College) invent the BASIC programming language).
American Airlines' SABRE reservation system is developed by IBM
American Airlines' SABRE reservation system, developed by IBM, is the first online transaction processing.
"Moore's Law" is first predicted by Gordon Moore
Gordon Moore predicts that the processing power of computers will double every 18 months ("Moore's law").
The Digital Equipment Corporation unveils the PDP-8 mini computer
The Digital Equipment Corporation unveils the first successful mini-computer, the PDP-8, that uses integrated circuits.
Olivetti introduces the first affordable programmable electronic desktop computer
European computer manufacturer Olivetti introduces the first affordable programmable electronic desktop computer, the P101.
John McCarthy opens the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
John McCarthy opens the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL).
Hewlett-Packard enters the business of general-purpose computers
Hewlett-Packard enters the business of general-purpose computers with the HP-2116.
Robert Taylor launches “the foundation for today’s Internet”
Robert Taylor, the acting director of ARPA’s research division launches the ARPAnet project, which according to the Internet Hall of Fame, is “the foundation for today’s Internet.”
Jack Kilby develops the first hand-held calculator
Jack Kilby (at Texas Instruments) develops the first hand-held calculator.
ATMs are introduced by Barclays Bank
Barclays Bank installs networked "automated teller machines" or ATMs.
Intel is founded to build memory chips
Philip Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove found Intel ("Integrated Electronics") to build memory chips.
Doug Engelbart demonstrates the NLS, the first system to use the mouse
Doug Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute demonstrates the NLS ("oN-Line System"), the first system to employ the mouse
Construction begins at 3000 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park
Construction begins at 3000 Sand Hill Road, in Menlo Park, soon to become the headquarters of the venture-capital community.
Lee Boysel designs the AL1
Lee Boysel at Four Phase Systems designs the AL1, a commercial microprocessor (an 8-bit CPU).
Five large USA semiconductor manufacturers are located in Santa Clara Valley
Five of the seven largest USA semiconductor manufacturers are located in Santa Clara Valley.
Xerox opens PARC
Xerox opens the Palo Alto Research Center or PARC.
The floppy disk is invented
David Noble at IBM invents the floppy disk.
Intel unveils the first commercially available microprocessor
Intel unveils the first commercially available microprocessor, the 4004.
Nolan Bushnell invents the first videogame, "Pong" and founds Atari
Nolan Bushnell invents the first videogame, "Pong", an evolution of Magnavox's Odyssey, and founds Atari.
Email is invented and the "@"
Ray Tomlinson at Bolt, Beranek and Newman invents email for sending messages between computer users, and invents a system to identify the user name and the computer name separated by a "@".
Motorola invents the first "cellular" or mobile telephone
Motorola invents the first portable, wireless or "cellular" telephone.
The term "Internet" is coined
Vinton Cerf of Stanford University coins the term "Internet".
The first personal computer, the Altair 8800, is launched
Ed Roberts invents the first personal computer, the Altair 8800.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft and develop a version of BASIC
Bill Gates and Paul Allen develop a version of BASIC for the Altair personal computer and found Microsoft.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs form Apple Computer
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs form Apple Computer and build the first microcomputer in Jobs' garage in Cupertino.
27,000 people are employed in the Semiconductor industry of Silicon Valley
27,000 people are employed in the Semiconductor industry of Silicon Valley.
Larry Ellison founds the Software Development Laboratories
Larry Ellison founds the Software Development Laboratories, later renamed Oracle Corporation.
The 2600 videogame console is produced by Atari
Atari introduces a videogame console, the 2600, based on the 6502 processor.
Dennis Hayes of National Data Corporation invents the PC modem
Dennis Hayes of National Data Corporation invents the PC modem, a device that converts between analog and digital signals.
Apple goes public for a record $1.3 billion
Apple goes public for a record $1.3 billion.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (for sending email) published
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (for sending email) published.
The IBM PC is launched, its operating system developed by Microsoft
The IBM PC is launched, running an operating system developed by Bill Gates' Microsoft.
Andreas Bechtolsheim builds a workstation running Unix and networking software
Andreas Bechtolsheim at Stanford University builds a workstation running Unix and networking software
Time's "Man of the Year" is "The Computer"
Time's "Man of the Year" is "The Computer".
Gavilan introduces the first portable computer marketed as a "laptop"
Gavilan, founded by Manuel Fernandez, former CEO of Zilog, introduces the first portable computer marketed as a "laptop".
Cisco is founded by Leonard Bosack and Sandra Lerner
Cisco is founded by Leonard Bosack and Sandra Lerner.
Michael Dell founds PCs Limited, later renamed Dell
Michael Dell, a student at University of Texas at Austin, founds PCs Limited, later renamed Dell, to sell custom PC-compatible computers by mail-order only.
Apple introduces the Macintosh
Apple introduces the Macintosh, which revolutionizes desktop publishing.
The CDROM is introduced by Sony and Philips
The CDROM is introduced by Sony and Philips.
Quantum Computer Services (later renamed America Online) founded
Jim Kimsey founds Quantum Computer Services (later renamed America Online) to provide dedicated online services for personal computers.
The World-Wide Web debuts on the Internet
The World-Wide Web debuts on the Internet.
The "Information Tapestry" project at Xerox PARC pioneers collaborative filtering
The "Information Tapestry" project at Xerox PARC pioneers collaborative filtering, a use of "big data" that make suggestions based on past preferences.
Adobe Systems introduces Acrobat and PDF
Adobe Systems introduces Acrobat and the file format PDF (or Portable Document Format)
There are 315 public companies in Silicon Valley
There are 315 public companies in Silicon Valley.
Stanford student Jerry Yang founds Yahoo
Stanford student Jerry Yang founds Yahoo.
The White House gets its first website
The White House gets its first website, an “interactive citizens’ handbook” that allows users to find the latest presidential statements and browse pictures of the First Family. Bill Clinton and Al Gore are the first POTUS and VPOTUS respectively to have official email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Netscape goes public and starts the "dot.com" craze
Netscape, the company founded by Marc Andreesen, goes public even before earning money and starts the "dot.com" craze and the boom of the Nasdaq.
Microsoft introduces Internet Explorer
Microsoft introduces Internet Explorer and starts the browser wars.
Amazon.com is launched on the web as the "world's largest bookstore"
Amazon.com is launched on the web as the "world's largest bookstore", except that it is not a bookstore, it is a website.
Nokia introduces the first "smartphone"
Nokia introduces the first "smartphone".
Reed Hastings founds Netflix
Reed Hastings founds Netflix to rent videos via the Internet.
Two Stanford students launch the search engine Google
Two Stanford students, Larry Page and Russian-born Sergey Brin, launch the search engine Google.
Apple launches the iPod
Apple launches the iPod, with the slogan '1000 songs in your pocket'.
Jimmy Wales founds Wikipedia
Jimmy Wales founds Wikipedia, a multilingual encyclopedia that is collaboratively edited by the Internet community.
Skype is founded in Europe
Skype is founded in Europe by Niklas Zennstroem and Janus Friis to offer voice over IP, a system invented by Estonian engineers.
Mark Zuckerberg founds the social networking service Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg founds the social networking service Facebook at Harvard University (soon relocated to Palo Alto).
Silicon Valley accounts for 14% of the world's venture capital
Silicon Valley accounts for 14% of the world's venture capital.
Social networking service Twitter is created
Jack Dorsey creates the social networking service Twitter.
Wikileaks founded by Julain Assange and others
Wikileaks founded by Julain Assange and others.
Apple launches the iPhone
Apple launches the iPhone.
Airbnb is founded in San Francisco
Airbnb is founded in San Francisco.
Uber is launched
Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp launch the smartphone app Uber.
Google's market value is more than $140 billion
Google's market value is more than $140 billion.
Apple introduces the iPad
Apple introduces the tablet computer iPad that sells one million units in less than one month.
Facebook goes public, the biggest high-tech IPO in history
Facebook goes public, the biggest high-tech IPO in history.
90% of the world's data has been created in the last two years
90% of the world's data has been created in the last two years.
US Federal Trade Commission adopts laws to allow companies to restrict internet access
The US Federal Trade Commission adopts laws to allow companies to restrict internet access (the end of Net Neutrality).
How do I use this timeline?
The easiest way to journey through the history of technology and Silicon Valley is to click the arrow on the right hand side (or swipe right on a tablet), which will take you through all the entries.
You can also investigate various thems such as: 'AI', 'Business' or 'Hardware' by selecting the 'Open filters' button on the top right hand side. This will allow you to filter content and only see one theme.
You can also drag and explore via the grey timeline section at the bottom, although this is in beta at the moment and may have a few hiccups!