Timeline of computers and the Internet


The Antikythera mechanism, an ancient Greek analogue astronomical computer and orrery used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes.

The Antikythera mechanism (Fragment A – front); visible is the largest gear in the mechanism, approximately 140 millimetres (5.5 in) in diameter


Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī publishes "On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals", translated into latin as "Algoritmi de numero Indorum", with Al-Khwārizmī name rendered as Algoritmi, leding to the term "algorithm".

Portrait of Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī


The Banū Mūsā brothers publishes the "Book of Ingenious Devices on automata (automatic machines) and mechanical devices". The book described about one hundred devices and how to use them.

An illustration of a self-trimming lamp from Ahmad's On Mechanical Devices, written in Arabic.


Su Song completes the 40-foot-tall water-powered astronomical clocktower constructed in Kaifeng, China.

Su Song


Ismail al-Jazari makes the Castle clock, which is considered to be the first programmable analog computer.

Automatic castle clock of al-Jazari, 14th century copy.


Pascaline, Blaise Pascal's arithmetic machine primarily intended as an adding machine which could add and subtract two numbers directly, as well as multiply and divide by repetition.

Portrait of Blaise Pascal and drawing of his Pascaline machine


Stepped Reckoner, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's mechanical calculator that could add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Leibniz may have been the first computer scientist and information theorist, documenting the binary numeral system (base 2).

Portrait of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and drawing of his Stepped Reckoner


Joseph Marie Jacquard invents the Jacquard machine (or loom), that simplifies the process of manufacturing textiles with such complex patterns as brocade, damask and matelassé, using punch cards to program the looms patterns.

Portrait of Joseph Marie Jacquard and pictures of his loom


Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar patents the Arithmometer, the first reliable digital mechanical calculator (manufactured from 1851).

Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar and picture of his Arithmometer


Charles Babbage (1791-1871) makes the Difference engine, a mechanical device to calculate polynomials.

Charles Babbage in 1860


Charles Babbage originates the concept of a digital programmable computer, with his Analytical Engine.

Charles Babbage's Analytical Machine at the Science Museum in London


Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), created the first algorithm (to be run in Babbage Analytical Engine), becoming the first computer programmer.

Ada Lovelace and her diagram for computation of the Bernoulli numbers


George Boole working in the fields of differential equations and algebraic logic, publishes "The Laws of Thought", which contains Boolean algebra.

Portrait of George Boole in about 1860


Herman Hollerith gets a patent for a punched card data processing equipment, and starts The Hollerith Electric Tabulating System (a precurser to IBM). The system gets used in the US 1890 Census.

Herman Hollerith and his Hollerith tabulating machine


William Thomson used the Ball-and-disk integrator in his Harmonic Analyser to measure tide heights by calculating coefficients of a Fourier series.


The updated Marchant Calculator invented, the most advanced of the mechanical calculators, by Rodney and Alfred Marchant. The key design was by Carl Friden.

Marchant - Odhner clone 1950


Fredrik Rosing Bull presents his vertical punchcard sorting machine, The Bull machine (patented in 1919), improving Hollerith's system and breaking IBMs monopoly on (rented) punch card readers.


English mathematician Alan Turing published details of the Turing machine (model pictured), a basic abstract symbol-manipulating hypothetical device that can simulate the logic of any computer algorithm.

Model of a Turing machine


Konrad Zuse presents the Z3, the world's first working programmable, fully automatic digital computer, an improvement over the Z2 (1939), and the mechanical computer Z1 (1936-38) that was the first to use Boolean logic and binary floating point numbers.

Zuse Z3 replica on display at Deutsches Museum in Munich


Jorge Luis Borges publishes ”The Garden of Forking Paths”, describing infinite, non-linear text.

Jorge Luis Borges in 1921 with the original cover of The Garden of Forking Paths


UK starts the Colossus computer program.



I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
-Thomas Watson, IBM President


IBM funds the Harvard Mark I.

Harvard Mark I Computer - Input Output Details


Memex, a concept by Vannevar Bush with a microfilm-based desk to access all books, magazines, newspapers instantly is described in the article "As We May Think".



First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC, by John von Neumann (based in part on Turings work).

John von Neumann at Los Alamos


Alan Turing (1912-1954), releases paper describing Automatic Computing Engine. The release was deleayed because much of his work was classified by British governmet during the war.

Alan Turing


ENIAC, the first fully-operational electronic general-purpose computer that was put into service at the University of Pennsylvania, with 6 women as the programmers, the "Refrigerator Ladies": Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman.

Programmers Betty Jean Jennings (left) and Fran Bilas (right) operate ENIAC's main control panel at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. (U.S. Army photo from the archives of the ARL Technical Library)


First ever computer bug found. Here shown at a page from the Harvard Mark II electromechanical computer's log, featuring the dead moth that was removed from the device.

A page from the Harvard Mark II electromechanical computer's log, featuring a dead moth that was removed from the device.


Bell Telephone Laboratories invents the transistor.

A replica of first transistor


Claude E. Shannon publishes the article "A Mathematical Theory of Communication".


NUSSE, the first electronic computer in Norway, completed at Sentralinstituttet for Industriell Forskning in Oslo.



John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley wins the Nobel prize "for their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect", ie. the invention of the transistor in 1947.

John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley in 1948


Russia launches Sputnik, first human built satellite.



USA establishes Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), originally known as Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), as a direct response to the launch of Sputnik.

DARPA logo


Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (at APRA) publishes the paper "Man-Computer Symbiosis", something of Lickliders' vision for a complementary (symbiotic) relationship between humans and computers at a potential time of the future.

Photo of Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider


Project Xanadu, a hypertext project proposed as a new kind of writing, with "parallel pages, visibly connected", founded by Ted Nelson. The Curse of Xanadu @ Wired


Douglas Engelbart started Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

Photo of Douglas Engelbart


Leonard Kleinrock published his first paper on queueing theory in digital networks, "Information Flow in Large Communication Nets".

1962 August

J.C.R. Licklider and Welden Clark published the paper "On-Line Man-Computer Communication" which was one of the first descriptions of a networked future.


Ted Nelson coined the term "hypertext".

1964 March

Paul Baran publishes the article "On Distributed communications", describing one of the first store-and-forward data layer switching protocols, a link-state/distance vector routing protocol, and an unproved connection-oriented transport protocol.

Photo of Paul Baran


Bill English, then chief engineer at the ARC, built the first prototype of a computer mouse from Douglas Engelbart's design.

Inventor Douglas Engelbart holding the first computer mouse,[26] showing the wheels that make contact with the working surface


Donald Davies at National Physical Laboratory (NPL) invents packet switching (independently of Baran), a method of grouping data transmitted over a digital network into packets which are composed of a header and a payload. Packet switching is the primary basis for data communications in computer networks worldwide.

Photo of Donald Watts Davies


Lawrence Roberts and Thomas Marill get an ARPA contract to create the first wide-area network (WAN) connection via long distant dial-up between a TX-2 computer in Massachusetts and a Q-32 computer in California. The system confirms that packet switching offers the most promising model for communication between computers.

1966 February

Bob Taylor convinced ARPA's Director Charles M. Herzfeld to fund a network project, ARPANET.


Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry debuts on NBC in the US. The show tells the tale of the crew of the starship Enterprise and its five-year mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before." The technology envisioned in the show has inspired scientists, engineers and inventors ever since.

The logo of Star Trek: The Original Series

1968 April

Robert W. Taylor (at ARPA, later Xerox PARC) and J.C.R. Licklider publishes the paper "The Computer as a Communication Device". The article starts with the prediction that "In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face."


The Mother of all Demos by Douglas Engelbart. The 90-minute presentation essentially demonstrated almost all the fundamental elements of modern personal computing: windows, hypertext, graphics, efficient navigation and command input, video conferencing, the computer mouse, word processing, dynamic file linking, revision control, and a collaborative real-time editor (collaborative work).

Douglas Engelbart in screen overlay mode during The Mother of all Demos


The Internet is born: DARPA launches the ARPANET, created to be robust enough to be able to withstand a nuclear attack, by not having one central machine; ie. a distributed network, initially with 4 nodes (or IMPs):

  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at SRI
  • University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)
  • The University of Utah School of Computing

The first successful message on the ARPANET was sent by UCLA student programmer Charley Kline, at 10:30 pm on 29 October 1969.

First ARPANET IMP log: the first message ever sent via the ARPANET, 10:30 pm, 29 October 1969. This IMP Log excerpt, kept at UCLA, describes setting up a message transmission from the UCLA SDS Sigma 7 Host computer to the SRI SDS 940 Host computer.


Xerox PARC established, the R&D company has been in large part responsible for such developments as laser printing, Ethernet, the modern personal computer, graphical user interface (GUI) and desktop paradigm, object-oriented programming, ubiquitous computing, amorphous silicon (a-Si) applications, and advancing very-large-scale integration (VLSI) for semiconductors.

Xerox PARC logo


Ray Tomlinson implements the first email program on the ARPANET system, using the @ to separate the user name from the name of their machine.

Photo of Ray Tomlinson with a (partial) @ in the background, from bbc.com


Abhay Bhushan publishes RFC 114 with the original specification for the File Transfer Protocol (FTP).


The Xerox Alto is the first computer designed from its inception to support an operating system based on a graphical user interface (GUI), later using the desktop metaphor.

The Xerox Alto monitor has a portrait orientation. Example of the Smalltalk-76 aka interim Alan Kay's Dynabook OS.


Norwegian Seismic Array, NORSAR at Kjeller, Norway becomes the first ARPANET node outside the USA.

Map of the ARPANET in 1974 with Kjeller, Norway included


Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf starts working on TCP/IP, a protocol suite that provides end-to-end data communication, by specifying how data should be packetized, addressed, transmitted, routed, and received.

Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf


Altair 8800, first affordable microcomputer, features on the front page of the January 1975 issue of "Popular Electronics".

The Altair 8800 Computer


There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
-Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation


Apple II, first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer.

The Apple II computer

1977 November

A three-network TCP/IP test was conducted between sites in the US, the UK, and Norway

SRI’s role in the first internetworked connection (diagram) in 1977


Tim Berners-Lee works as an independent contractor at CERN from June to December. While in Geneva, he proposed a project based on the concept of hypertext, to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. To demonstrate it, he built a prototype system named ENQUIRE.


IBM 5150, the first IBM Personal Computer with DOS 1.0 by Microsoft, progenitor of the IBM PC compatible hardware platform.

The IBM 5150 Personal Computer


640K ought to be enough for anybody.
-Bill Gates, CEO Microsoft (possibly misattributed)


Sinclair ZX Spectrum, (one of) the first mass market computer released.

The ZX Spektrum 48K Computer

1982 August

Commodore 64 released (after being introduced in January), outselling the IBM PC compatibles, Apple Inc. computers, and the Atari 8-bit family of computers, it dominated the low-end computer market for most of the 1980s. It is listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-selling single computer model of all time.

The Commondare 64 Computer


TCP/IP permanently activated, ARPANET changed from NCP to the TCP/IP protocol suite.


NoteCards, a hypertext-based personal knowledge base system, created at Xerox PARC by Randall Trigg, Frank Halasz and Thomas Moran.

NoteCards Screenshot


Paul V. Mockapetris proposes the Domain Name System (DNS) architecture. In 1986, DNS became one of the original Internet Standards.

Paul V. Mockapetris


Software developer Richard Stallman announced plans for the Unix-like GNU operating system, the first free software developed by the GNU Project.

Richard Stallman


Apple Macintosh, first mass market computer with Graphic User Interface (GUI) and mouse, inspired by the 1973 Xerox Alto. The Macintosh was introduced by a US$1.5 million Ridley Scott television commercial, "1984", airing during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984.

The Apple Macintosh and Mac OS (System 1) Screen Shot Apple 1984 ad: Hammer thrower and Big (Blue) Brother


Tim Berners-Lee re-joins CERN as a fellow.

CERN logo


William Gibson, author of "Neuromancer," is the first to use the term "cyberspace".


Commodore Amiga 1000, with advanced graphics and sound systems, released.

The Amiga 1000DP


Steve Jobs fired from Apple, goes on to fund NeXT (1985), a computer company; and Pixar (1986), an animation studio based on a spinoff from Lucasfilm.

The NeXT logo and the PIXAR logo.


HyperCard for Apple Macintosh, with programmable user interface, using the Hypertalk programming language.

The HyperCard startup screen.


NeXT Computer System, with version 0.8 of its Unix-based NeXTSTEP operating system, was shown with the launch of the NeXT Computer.

Screen shot of the NeXTSTEP desktop.

1988 November

Van Jacobson and Michael J. Karels publishes "Congestion Avoidance and Control", originating many of the congestion avoidance algorithms used in TCP/IP.

1988 December

Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, IANA, founded to oversee global IP address allocation, autonomous system number allocation, root zone management in the Domain Name System (DNS), media types, and other Internet Protocol-related symbols and Internet numbers.


Tim Berners-Lee initiates World Wide Web project and the HyperText Transfer Protocol.

Tim Berners-Lee with WWW on the Computer Screen

1989 November

The World becomes the first commercial Internet service provider (ISP), available to the general public and businesses.


Robert Cailliau joins Tim Berners-Lee on the WWW project.

Robert Cailliau On Desk


IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) began as a movie database on the Usenet group "rec.arts.movies". Moved to the web in 1993.

IMDb logo


CERN httpd launched on a NeXT cube, the world's first web server.

The Next cube functioning as the world's first web server at CERN


WorldWideWeb, the first web browser and HTML editor launches (later renamed Nexus).

Screenshot of WWW web browser


First (public) web page launched!


ViolaWWW is a discontinued browser by Pei-Yuan Wei, who was inspired by Apple HyperCard. It was first released in 1991/1992 for Unix, and included advanced features such as embedded graphics, scripting, and animation. For a time it acted as the recommended browser at CERN.

Screenshot of the Erweis web browser


Erweis, a discontinued pioneering web browser, and the first commonly available with a graphical user interface, is first released.

Screenshot of the Erweis web browser


Lynx, a customizable text-based web browser, is announced to Usenet. It's the oldest web browser still in development (July 2017).

Screenshot of the Lynx web browser


Neil Papworth sends the first ever text message (SMS) to Richard Jarvis at Vodafone wishing him a "Merry Christmas".

1992 December

MacWWW, also known as Samba, the first browser for Mac OS (System 6 and 7) and the first for any non-Unix operating system, initially released. Created by Robert Cailliau and Nicola Pellow at CERN. It was a commercial product from CERN and cost 50 European Currency Units (not to be confused with Euros).

MacWWW logo


Mosaic v. 0.1a is released, by Marc Andreessen at National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NSCA), the ancestor of all modern browsers, and the first killer application that popularized the Internet. It was ported from Unix to Windows, Mac OS and Amiga OS in September/October 1993.

Mosaic 1.0 on Mac OS


Cello is released, by Thomas R. Bruce, as the first web browser for Windows.

Screenshot of the Cello web browser


Myst launched, a puzzle game with an interactive storybook using HyperCard.

Myst Cover


Tim Berners-Lee founds W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium.

The W3C logo


CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, was first proposed by Håkon Wium Lie. At the time, Lie was working with Tim Berners-Lee at CERN.

Håkon Wium Lie


Netscape Navigator is released, also by Marc Andreessen, based directly on Mosaic (though totally re-written).

The Netscape Browser icon

1995 April

Opera, browser initially by Telenor, then Opera Software, demonstrated at Third International WWW Conference. Early mobile adopters (1998), but has never surpassed 2% market share.

Opera browser logo 2013

1995 July

Amazon.com founded by Jeff Bezos, goes online as a bookstore.

The Amazon logo


Internet Explorer, launched alongside Windows 95 by Microsoft. IE won the "The First Browser War" in the late 1990s.

The Internet Explorer logo
The Windows 95 Plus box


eBay is founded as AuctionWeb by Pierre Omidyar.

The eBay logo


JavaScript (originally named LiveScript), released with Netscape 2.0.


Craigslist classified advertisements website, by Craig Newmark, goes online.

The Craigslist logo

1996 November

Netscape submitted JavaScript to Ecma International to make a standard specification.


The Dancing Baby, also called "Baby Cha-Cha," became a media phenomenon and one of the first viral videos in the second half of the 1990s, after web developer John Woodell created and published a highly compressed animated gif.

The Dancing Baby


CSS level 1, developed by Håkon Wium Lie and Bert Bos, published


Apple buys NeXT and Steve Jobs returns to Apple.


The Yandex.ru search engine was launched on September 23, 1997, by Comptek, and was publicly presented at the Softool exhibition in Moscow.

Yandex logo

1997 December

Sally Floyd and Vern Paxson publishes the paper "Why We Don't Know How to Simulate the Internet", re-published as "Difficulties in Simulating the Internet" in 2001.


Apple launches the iMac (with 'i' for Internet), designed by Jonathan Ive.

Jonathan Ive with iMacs


Google search page launched, by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Google web site in 1998


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, is created.

1998 December

Paypal online payments system launched as Confinity, joins with Elon Musk's X.com in 2000.

Paypal logo


The Box Acid Test (Acid1) launched, establishing baseline interoperability between early web browsers, especially for CSS 1.0.

Acid 1


Alibaba Online launched in China by Jack Ma. Its online sales and profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015.

Jack Ma, founder of the Alibaba Group


Napster, the pioneering peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing Internet service that emphasized sharing mp3 music files released. (Forced to shut down in 2001, and P2P migrated to the BitTorrent model and others.)

Napster logo


Baidu web services company founded in China.

Baidu logo


Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia initiated by Jimmy Wales, launched.

The Wikipedia Globe logo


Apple releases the first iPod, a portable music player.


Safari, browser created by Apple based on the open sourced Webkit layout engine, is released.

Apple Safari Logo


LinkedIn is launched as a social networking website focused on professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their CVs. Acquired by Microsoft as of December 2016.

LinkedIn Logo 2013


Wordpress, a free and open-source content management system (CMS) and blogging tool, is released.

Wordpress Logo


Myspace is founded as a social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music, and videos. From 2005 to 2008, Myspace was the largest social networking site in the world.

Myspace Logo 2013


Facebook launches as "TheFacebook" to students of Harvard College (later expanded to other Ivy League colleges, before opened to everyone on September 26, 2006).

The Facebook 2008 faximile


Gmail, a free email service developed by Google, beta release. The beta/testing period lasted until 2009-07-07.

The Gmail icon/logo


Firefox, browser launched by Mozilla Foundation as a "Phoenix" on the ashes of Netscape (after a very long beta period).

Mozilla Firefox 2013 Logo


Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster goes viral, after being initiated by Bobby Henderson's letter of protest to the Kansas State Board of Education, about the decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes.

Touched by His Noodly Appendage, the parody of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam has become an iconic image of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.


Youtube video sharing service founded.

Youtube 2017 logo


The Acid2 test launched, to expose web page rendering flaws in web browsers and other applications that render HTML.

Acid 2


Reddit social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website launched.

Reddit logo


Google launches its free online office suite, with Google Docs, a word processor; Google Sheets, a spreadsheet program; and Google Slides, a presentation program.

Google Docs, Sheets and Slides logos


Twitter microblogging, news and social networking service is created.

Twitter Bird Logo

2007 January

Netflix expands its business with the introduction of streaming media service Watch Now.

Neflix 2015 Logo


Apple introduces the iPhone.

Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone in 2007


I Can Has Cheezburger? launched by by Eric Nakagawa.

LOLcat: What has been seen...cannot be unseen.

2007 June

Dropbox cloud storage founded.

Dropbox 2015 Logo


GitHub web-based version control repository launches.

GitHub Logo


The Acid3 test launched, for a web browser's compliance with elements of various web standards, particularly the Document Object Model (DOM) and JavaScript.

Acid 3


Google Chrome browser released, initially based on Webkit, but since v.28 based on Blink, a fork of Webkit.

Google Chrome Logo


Google introduces the Android mobile operating system (bought in 2005 from Android Inc.), with the HTC Dream smartphone, also known as T-Mobile G1.

Android Robot Logo 2014


DuckDuckGo search engine launched. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by showing all users the same search results for a given search term.

DuckDuckGo logo


The first ever Bitcoin mined, a block of 50 coins. Bitcoin was invented by an unknown person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and released as open-source software in 2009.

Bitcoin Logo 2014


Apple introduces the iPad.

Steve Jobs introduces the iPad


Instagram photo sharing service released. Aquired by Facebook in April 2012.

Instagram logo in 2016


WeChat (Chinese: 微信; pinyin: Wēixìn (listen); lit. 'micro-message') is a Chinese instant messaging, social media, and mobile payment app developed by Tencent. First released in 2011, it became the world's largest standalone mobile app in 2018, with over 1 billion monthly active users. WeChat has been described as China's "app for everything" and a super-app because of its wide range of functions, like text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, video conferencing, video games, sharing of photographs and videos and location sharing.

WeChat logo in 2019


Facebook reaches one billion monthly active users.

Facebook 2015 Logo


Slack, a cloud-based set of team collaboration tools and services, founded by Stewart Butterfield, is released.

Slack Logo


HTML5 Standard Initial release

W3C and HTML5 Logos


Microsoft Edge launched, replacing Internet Explorer as the default web browser on all Microsofts platforms.

Microsoft Edge Logo


The Observer (The Guardian), The New York Times and Channel 4 News breaks the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica data scandal. It was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of people's Facebook profiles without their consent and used it for political advertising purposes. The information originated from a whistle-blower, the ex-Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie

The Observer front page 2018-03-18


The General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, EU Regulation 2016/679, a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA), is implemented.

EU flag

Sources: Mostly Wikipedia. All dates (from 1583 and onwards) are according to ISO 8601. Geek.no.