|History of computing|
|Timeline of computing|
|Glossary of computer science|
Timeline of computing presents events in the history of computing organized by year and grouped into six topic areas: predictions and concepts, first use and inventions, hardware systems and processors, operating systems, programming languages, and new application areas.
Detailed computing timelines: before 1950, 1950–1979, 1980–1989, 1990–1999, 2000–2009, 2010–2019, 2020–present
Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both hardware and software. Computing has scientific, engineering, mathematical, technological and social aspects. Major computing disciplines include computer engineering, computer science, cybersecurity, data science, information systems, information technology, digital art and software engineering.
Computer programming is the process of performing particular computations, usually by designing and building executable computer programs. Programming involves tasks such as analysis, generating algorithms, profiling algorithms' accuracy and resource consumption, and the implementation of algorithms. The source code of a program is written in one or more languages that are intelligible to programmers, rather than machine code, which is directly executed by the central processing unit. The purpose of programming is to find a sequence of instructions that will automate the performance of a task on a computer, often for solving a given problem. Proficient programming thus usually requires expertise in several different subjects, including knowledge of the application domain, specialized algorithms, and formal logic.
Digital Equipment Corporation, using the trademark Digital, was a major American company in the computer industry from the 1960s to the 1990s. The company was co-founded by Ken Olsen and Harlan Anderson in 1957. Olsen was president until forced to resign in 1992, after the company had gone into precipitous decline.
The graphical user interface, or GUI, is a form of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices through graphical icons and audio indicator such as primary notation, instead of text-based UIs, typed command labels or text navigation. GUIs were introduced in reaction to the perceived steep learning curve of command-line interfaces (CLIs), which require commands to be typed on a computer keyboard.
The USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI) is a component of the University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering, and specializes in research and development in information processing, computing, and communications technologies. It is located in Marina del Rey, California.
A mainframe computer, informally called a mainframe or big iron, is a computer used primarily by large organizations for critical applications like bulk data processing for tasks such as censuses, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning, and large-scale transaction processing. A mainframe computer is large but not as large as a supercomputer and has more processing power than some other classes of computers, such as minicomputers, servers, workstations, and personal computers. Most large-scale computer-system architectures were established in the 1960s, but they continue to evolve. Mainframe computers are often used as servers.
An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware and software resources, and provides common services for computer programs.
The PDP-1 is the first computer in Digital Equipment Corporation's PDP series and was first produced in 1959. It is famous for being the computer most important in the creation of hacker culture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BBN and elsewhere. The PDP-1 is the original hardware for playing history's first game on a minicomputer, Steve Russell's Spacewar!
Computer engineering is a branch of electrical engineering and computer science that integrates several fields of computer science and electronic engineering required to develop computer hardware and software. Computer engineers require training in electronic engineering, hardware-software integration, software design, and software engineering. It uses the techniques and principles of electrical engineering and computer science, and can encompass areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, computer networks, computer architecture and operating systems. Computer engineers are involved in many hardware and software aspects of computing, from the design of individual microcontrollers, microprocessors, personal computers, and supercomputers, to circuit design. This field of engineering not only focuses on how computer systems themselves work, but also on how to integrate them into the larger picture. Robots are one of the applications of computer engineering.
Computer operating systems (OSes) provide a set of functions needed and used by most application programs on a computer, and the links needed to control and synchronize computer hardware. On the first computers, with no operating system, every program needed the full hardware specification to run correctly and perform standard tasks, and its own drivers for peripheral devices like printers and punched paper card readers. The growing complexity of hardware and application programs eventually made operating systems a necessity for everyday use.
Originally, the word computing was synonymous with counting and calculating, and the science and technology of mathematical calculations. Today, "computing" means using computers and other computing machines. It includes their operation and usage, the electrical processes carried out within the computing hardware itself, and the theoretical concepts governing them.
The history of computing hardware starting at 1960 is marked by the conversion from vacuum tube to solid-state devices such as transistors and then integrated circuit (IC) chips. Around 1953 to 1959, discrete transistors started being considered sufficiently reliable and economical that they made further vacuum tube computers uncompetitive. Metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) large-scale integration (LSI) technology subsequently led to the development of semiconductor memory in the mid-to-late 1960s and then the microprocessor in the early 1970s. This led to primary computer memory moving away from magnetic-core memory devices to solid-state static and dynamic semiconductor memory, which greatly reduced the cost, size, and power consumption of computers. These advances led to the miniaturized personal computer (PC) in the 1970s, starting with home computers and desktop computers, followed by laptops and then mobile computers over the next several decades.
Project Athena was a joint project of MIT, Digital Equipment Corporation, and IBM to produce a campus-wide distributed computing environment for educational use. It was launched in 1983, and research and development ran until June 30, 1991. As of 2023, Athena is still in production use at MIT. It works as software that makes a machine a thin client, that will download educational applications from the MIT servers on demand.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to computer programming:
Glen Jacob Culler was an American professor of electrical engineering and an important early innovator in the development of the Internet. Culler joined the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) mathematics faculty in 1959 and helped put the campus in the forefront of what would become the field of computer science. He later served as director of the UCSB Computer Center and professor in the College of Engineering and extended his revolutionary view of the role of computers to include their use in the classroom. He left UCSB to work in industry and establish his own company, called Culler-Harrison, in 1969. Culler-Harrison became CHI Systems, and later, Culler Scientific.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to information technology:
Pen computing refers to any computer user-interface using a pen or stylus and tablet, over input devices such as a keyboard or a mouse.
A transistor computer, now often called a second-generation computer, is a computer which uses discrete transistors instead of vacuum tubes. The first generation of electronic computers used vacuum tubes, which generated large amounts of heat, were bulky and unreliable. A second-generation computer, through the late 1950s and 1960s featured circuit boards filled with individual transistors and magnetic-core memory. These machines remained the mainstream design into the late 1960s, when integrated circuits started appearing and led to the third-generation computer.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to computer engineering:
Designers have used computers for calculations since their invention. Digital computers were used in power system analysis or optimization as early as proto-"Whirlwind" in 1949. Circuit design theory or power network methodology was algebraic, symbolic, and often vector-based.