What Is a Brief History of Computer Technology?

In 1822, the mathematician Charles Babbage designed the first programmable computer, which was steam powered and programmed with punch cards. However, Babbage was unable to complete the machine, which he called a difference engine, due to a lack of government funding. In 1936, Alan Turing conceived of the first electronic computing machine capable of calculating anything computable and storing programs in memory. Various prototypes were secretly built and used during World War II to decode German military radio transmissions.

In 1944, two University of Pennsylvania professors built ENIAC, the first digital computer. This machine filled a large room and contained over 18,000 vacuum tubes. In 1946, the same two professors, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, built UNIVAC, the first commercial computer. In 1953, Grace Hopper created COBOL, the first computer language. In 1958, Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce created the first computer chip. In 1964, Douglas Engelbart created the first modern computer with a video screen, keyboard and mouse.

In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computers and created the Apple I personal computer. In 1981, IBM introduced the first personal computer to use Microsoft's MS-DOS operating system. In 1983, Apple released the first personal computer with a graphical user interface. In 1985, Microsoft created Windows, and in the same year the first dot-com domain name, Symbolics.com, was registered. In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee created HTML, which led to the formation of the World Wide Web.