CompTIA Series: A Technology Timeline

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CompTIA Series: A Technology Timeline

Like This Blog 0 Steve Fullmer
Added by October 18, 2016

After receiving yet another reference to the DoYouRemember? web site, and a question about my ability to identify a Commodore 64 workstation sitting in a co-worker’s office, I have decided to defend my age.  (Please stop baiting my memory … one day I actually will start forgetting details … and blaming the problem on random people that I do recall.)


The technology timeline has become a common issue in the CompTIA A+ and Security+ courses that I deliver.  Although CompTIA objectives do not include any ‘history’ requirements, candidates are expected to recognize the evolutionary sequence of operating systems.  I have actually had students suggest that Windows XP was introduced in 1981 along with the first personal computer.  Ouch!  I also regularly provide a brief history of Internet evolution and encryption systems as a means to describe the growing complexity we face as information technology professionals.

If you plan on a successful career within the IT industry, it might help to recognize some history.   Context might also help you to understand the technology rather than merely memorizing test answers.

In that light, here are some dates and references that might serve you well, along with several totally random dates and factoids associated with the evolution of computer technology merely for your reading pleasure.

~80 BC Julius Caesar’s use of substitution ciphers is one of the first recorded uses of symmetric cryptography (although it is known that other ciphers preceded this time period, this is the first documented use.)

February 23, 1918 Arthur Scherbius patents a mechanical cipher machine based on rotating wired wheels.  This becomes the basis for the German ‘enigma’ machine.

December 1932 The Polish Cipher bureau reverse engineers the Enigma machine using theoretical mathematics and components provided by French intelligence.  Marian Rejewski creates the ‘cryptologic bomb’ for breaking ciphers.

1936 Alan Turing invents the Turing machine, the general principle behind a Central Processing Unit – an automaton capable of enumerating a language or code.

June 5, 1943 Secret “Project PX” initiated in US to create first ‘Turing complete digital’ computer which ultimately resulted in ENIAC.

August 6 and August 9, 1945 nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.  Awareness that an electromagnetic pulse would restrict prevalent military communication methods inspires research that leads toward development of ARPANET.

February 15, 1946 Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) dedicated at University of Pennsylvania (for US Army Ballistic Research Laboratory).

July 29. 1947 ENIAC moved to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.  ENIAC remained in continuous operation, with component additions ongoing, through October 2, 1955.

1951  The Day the Earth Stood Still released by 20th Century Fox.  Gort, Klaatu barada nikto.

October 4, 1957 Russia launches Sputnik.

February 1958 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to insure US military technology would be more advanced than the nation’s potential enemies.

The following graph provides an ARPANET timeline.


April 19, 1965 Gordon E. Moore predicted that the number of components per integrated circuit would double approximately every two years.  Referred to as ‘Moore’s law’, this prediction has held true for almost 50 years.  Current (2016) studies in physics identify that Moore’s law, which is more of an observation anyway, is breaking down due to the laws of physics associated with silicon technology.

September 8, 1966 The first episode of Star Trek: The Original Series airs.

July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 lands on the moon.

October 29, 1969 First ARPANET transmission from UCLA to Stanford (4 hosts total)

1973 Clifford Cocks develops the first asymmetric cryptography system while working for the UK intelligence agency GCHQ  (does “Q” sound familiar to anyone?) , although it was not declassified until 1997.

1973 TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol) developed by Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn working for DARPA at Stanford.

1975 The MITS Altair 8800 is introduced as the first personal computer, available as a kit, using the Intel 8080 CPU.

1975 Xerox files Ethernet patent based upon work inspired by Robert Metcalfe and his 1973 ALOHAnet PhD dissertation.

1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak introduce the Apple I personal computer kit.

May 1977 Star Wars theatrical release.

1977 Rivest, Shamir, and Adlemanpublicly reveal asymmetric (public-private key) cryptography.

1980  Carl Sagan hosts Cosmos: A Personal Voyage on PBS, fostering science based television programming.

1980 Commodore VIC-20 available for $299 creates the home computing market.

1981 The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds the Computer Science Network (CSNET) to link to ARPANET and create a network of networks (the foundation of the Internet).  The combined network eventually called NSFNET.

April 12, 1981 Space shuttle STS-1 Columbia launch.

August 12, 1981 – IBM introduces the IBM PC based on the Intel 8080, a 16 bit CPU on an 8 bit bus with five expansion slots, 16 KB of RAM, and two 5.25” drive bays.

1982 Term Internet used for the first time.

1984 Apple Lisa introduced the first graphical user interface and computer mouse.

1985 Microsoft ships Windows 1.0

1986 NSFNET establishes supercomputing centers by connecting several universities (the Internet infrastructure is finally just being built.)  This leads to the decommissioning of ARPANET in 1990.

1986 First 80386 processor shipped in a Compaq PC – 16 MHz speed.

1987 Apple Mac II with 128 MB RAM; IBM introduces PS/2; IBM & Microsoft release OS/2 and Windows 1.01.

1988 First Internet worm infects 6,000 Unix computers.

1990 Macintosh IIfx introduces 40 MHz processor and first accelerated video card trumping Windows 3.0 on 80486 33 MHz computers.

1990 Tim- Berners Lee and CERN create hypertext.

1992 Microsoft ships Windows 3.1, now capable of supporting faster hardware platforms.

1992 World Wide Web definition released by CERN

1993 Intel introduces the 60 MHz Pentium (released with a math bug that required a later recall), and Apple discontinues the Apple II line.

1993 Marc Anderson creates Mosaic- first web browser; estimates suggest ~2,000,000 computers connected to Internet.

1993 Banking industry establishes first commercial use of Internet for business-to-business use.

1996 Internet celebrates official 25th anniversary;  40,000,000 people connected via12,000,000 hosts

1997 56K modems and cable modems become commercially available.

1997 dot-com bubble begins (lasting to a peak on March 10, 2000)

1998  Windows 98 ships.  The Apple iMac introduces the USB port, eventual successor to parallel and serial ports.

1999 Intel Pentium III and AMD Athlon introduced, escalating the MHz war between the two manufacturers.

2000 Athlon first to reach 1 GHz processor speed.

2000 Internet status: 185 countries, 70K computer networks, 300,000,000 people worldwide

2001-2002  dot-com bubble collapses.    Only a few companies, most notably eBay and Amazon, recovered to exceed dot-com peaks.

2001 Intel reaches 2 GHz with the Pentium 4, and introduces the Itanium as the first 64-bit CPU.

2001 Windows XP launch.

2002 Verizon launches first 3G cellular network.

2004  Facebook launch.

2007  Twitter launch.  Windows Vista launch.   iPhone introduces mobile web.

2009 Windows 7 launch.

2009 Avatar cinematic release.  2nd highest grossing film of all time.

2012  Windows 8 launch.  Replaced by Windows 8.1 in October 2013.

2015  Windows 10 launch.


For a media and Internet business perspective, I borrowed a marketing perspective from Malone Media Group that yields a great visual of major Internet product offerings.

My short review should get you up to speed.  Maybe you can create the next major entry?

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, or online!

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 10, and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.




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