ALSO BY WALTER ISAACSON
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Einstein: His Life and Universe A Benjamin Franklin Reader
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Kissinger: A Biography
The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (with Evan Thomas) Pro and Con
First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2014 A CBS COMPANY
Copyright © 2014 by Walter Isaacson
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention. No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved.
The right of Walter Isaacson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
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A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Excerpts from “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” from The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster by Richard Brautigan. Copyright © 1968 by Richard Brautigan. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Photo research and editing by Laura Wyss, Wyssphoto, Inc., with the assistance of Elizabeth Seramur, Amy Hikida, and Emily Vinson, and by Jonathan Cox.
Interior design by Ruth Lee-Mui
ISBN: 978-1-47113-879-9 Ebook: 978-1-47113-881-2
The author and publishers have made all reasonable efforts to contact copyright-holders for permission, and apologise for any omissions or errors in the form of credits given. Corrections may be made to future printings.
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY
Illustrated Timeline Introduction
Ada, Countess of Lovelace CHAPTER 2
The Computer CHAPTER 3
Programming CHAPTER 4
The Transistor CHAPTER 5
The Microchip CHAPTER 6
Video Games CHAPTER 7
The Internet CHAPTER 8
The Personal Computer CHAPTER 9
Software CHAPTER 10
Online CHAPTER 11
The Web CHAPTER 12
Ada, Countess of Lovelace, publishes “Notes” on Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
George Boole creates a system using algebra for logical reasoning.
The census is tabulated with Herman Hollerith’s punch-card machines.
Vannevar Bush devises the Differential Analyzer, an analog electromechanical computer.
Tommy Flowers pioneers use of vacuum tubes as on-off switches in circuits.
Alan Turing publishes “On Computable Numbers,” describing a universal computer.
Claude Shannon describes how circuits of switches can perform tasks of Boolean algebra.
Bell Labs’ George Stibitz proposes a calculator using an electric circuit.
Howard Aiken proposes construction of large digital computer and discovers parts of Babbage’s Difference Engine at Harvard.
John Vincent Atanasoff puts together concepts for an electronic computer during a long December night’s drive.
William Hewlett and David Packard form company in Palo Alto garage.
Atanasoff finishes model of electronic computer with mechanical storage drums.
Turing arrives at Bletchley Park to work on breaking German codes.
Konrad Zuse completes Z3, a fully functional electromechanical programmable digital computer.
John Mauchly visits Atanasoff in Iowa, sees computer demonstrated.
Atanasoff completes partly working computer with three hundred vacuum tubes, leaves for Navy.
Colossus, a vacuum-tube computer to break German codes, is completed at Bletchley Park.
Harvard Mark I goes into operation.
John von Neumann goes to Penn to work on ENIAC.
Von Neumann writes “First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC” describing a stored-program computer.
Six women programmers of ENIAC are sent to Aberdeen for training.
Vannevar Bush publishes “As We May Think,” describing personal computer.
Bush publishes “Science, the Endless Frontier,” proposing government funding of academic and industrial research.
ENIAC is fully operational.
Transistor invented at Bell Labs.
Turing publishes article describing a test for artificial intelligence.
Grace Hopper develops first computer compiler.
Von Neumann completes modern computer at the Institute for Advanced Study.
UNIVAC predicts Eisenhower election victory.
Turing commits suicide.
Texas Instruments introduces silicon transistor and helps launch Regency radio.
Shockley Semiconductor founded.
First artificial intelligence conference.
Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and others form Fairchild Semiconductor.
Russia launches Sputnik.
Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) announced.
Jack Kilby demonstrates integrated circuit, or microchip.
Noyce and Fairchild colleagues independently invent microchip.
J. C. R. Licklider publishes “Man-Computer Symbiosis.”
Paul Baran at RAND devises packet switching.
President Kennedy proposes sending man to the moon.
MIT hackers create Spacewar game.
Licklider becomes founding director of ARPA’s Information Processing Techniques Office.
Doug Engelbart publishes “Augmenting Human Intellect.”
Licklider proposes an “Intergalactic Computer Network.”
Engelbart and Bill English invent the mouse.
Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters take bus trip across America.
Ted Nelson publishes first article about “hypertext.”
Moore’s Law predicts microchips will double in power each year or so.
Stewart Brand hosts Trips Festival with Ken Kesey.
Bob Taylor convinces ARPA chief Charles Herzfeld to fund ARPANET.
Donald Davies coins the term packet switching.
ARPANET design discussions in Ann Arbor and Gatlinburg.
Larry Roberts sends out request for bids to build the ARPANET’s IMPs.
Noyce and Moore form Intel, hire Andy Grove.
Brand publishes first Whole Earth Catalog.
Engelbart stages the Mother of All Demos with Brand’s help.
First nodes of ARPANET installed.
Don Hoefler begins column for Electronic News called “Silicon Valley USA.”
Demise party for Whole Earth Catalog.
Intel 4004 microprocessor unveiled.
Ray Tomlinson invents email.
Nolan Bushnell creates Pong at Atari with Al Alcorn.
Alan Kay helps to create the Alto at Xerox PARC.
Ethernet developed by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox PARC.
Community Memory shared terminal set up at Leopold’s Records, Berkeley.
Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn complete TCP/IP protocols for the Internet.
Intel 8080 comes out.
Altair personal computer from MITS appears.
Paul Allen and Bill Gates write BASIC for Altair, form Microsoft.
First meeting of Homebrew Computer Club.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak launch the Apple I.
The Apple II is released.
First Internet Bulletin Board System.