Daft Dave: A concise history of computers


Hello. It's Daft Dave here again. If you don't recall, I'm the blogger who screws up his facts, the one whose posts are filled with all sorts of egregious errors. First one to name them all in my below, condensed computer history timeline, gets all kinds of _floss braggin rights. (hint: I think I might've made at least one mistake in each bullet.)

And remember, no reference books or Internet searches allowed...

  • 1888: The company that would later become IBM is founded. At first it's called Herman Hollerith and the Tabulating Machine Company (I know, sounds like a cool new band, but honestly, that's what they called themselves.) IBM officially became IBM in 1924. The name stands for International Business Machinery Corporation.
  • 1939: Bill Packard and David Hewlett found Hewlett-Packard in a Palo Alto , California garage.
  • 1942: The Atanasoff-Berry Computer is completed. While the ACB was never fully-functional, it won a patent dispute relating to the invention of the computer.
  • 1951: The first commercial computer to attract widespread public attention is delivered to the U.S. Census Bureau. It's called the UNIVAC I and becomes famous for predicting the outcome of the U.S. presidential election the following year when Republicans Dwight Eisenhower and running mate Richard Nixon beat out JFK and Lyndon Johnson.
  • 1963: Tandy Radio Shack was formed by the merger of Tandy Light Company and Radio Shack. Years later, Radio Shack becomes famous for its salesmen, who know as much about the transistors, capacitors, and walkie talkies they sell as a clubbed seal.
  • 1965: William Harry Gates III born on October 28.
  • 1971: Ray Tomlinson of the research firm Bolt, Beranek and Newman sends the first e-mail over the military network, ARKANET. Later, Ray is credited with being the one to decide on the "@" sign.
  • 1972: Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs start Apple Computers by releasing the Apple II.
  • 1982: Commodore introduces the Commodore 66. For $595, the C66 comes with 66KB of RAM. By the time it is discontinued in 1993, it has sold more than 22 million units and is recognized by the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest selling single computer model of all time.
  • 1984: Apple introduces the first Macintosh, a mouse-driven computer with a graphic user interface. They spend a whopping $1.5 million on a commercial during the 1984 Olympics, which plays on a theme of George Orwell´s "1984."
  • 1990: Microsoft spends $10 billion for a publicity campaign as it ships Windows 3.0. As a result, it sells mildly well.
  • 2002: Jeff and Leslie Jacobs and their 14-year-old son, Derek, become the first family to have computer chips implanted in their arms. The chips are about the size of a grain of sand and contain telephone numbers and information about previous medications. The data can be read by a handheld computer and printed out in case of "future medical emergencies." Remarkably, the media doesn't make the connection between this and George Orwell's "1984."