Computer history goes back farther than you might think, spanning from ancient history all the way through to modern-day laptop computers and desktops. While the subject contains enough content to fill a book, it's possible to capture computer history through a timeline of important milestones in computer development.
The abacus is used by Babylonians.
John Napier invents logarithms.
Wilhelm Schickard invents the calculating clock.
The slide rule is built in England.
At the age of 19, Blaise Pascal invents a mechanical calculator.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz creates the first four-function calculator.
Joseph Marie Jacquard invents punched wooden cards to control a power loom, paving the way for modern punch cards.
Charles Babbage begins work on the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine. He creates conditional statements separating calculators from computers, and he introduces modern punch cards.
Ada Byron writes the first computer instructions for the Analytical Engine, and she creates subroutines and looping.
Herman Hollerith invents a desk with a card reader made of gears to help automate the census count. Hollerith's company is bought several times and becomes International Business Machines, or IBM.
Konrad Zuse independently invents the first programmable computer in Germany; the Z1. However, the Zuse computers were destroyed in bombings during World War II.
J.V. Atanasoff builds a machine that stores data as a charge in a capacitor, which is a precursor to RAM.
Mark I, the first programmable, digital computer, is built as a collaboration between Harvard and IBM.
ENIAC, or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, is funded by the US government to help with the World War II effort. It employs 18,000 vacuum tubes and requires manual patching to program.
EDVAC is the first stored-program computer.
UNIVAC is the first commercial computer.
Grace Hopper invents the first high-level computer language, which later becomes COBOL. She also invents the first compiler to translate computer language to binary.
The IBM Stretch computer reduces the computer's size from over 50 feet to down to 30.
Hewlett-Packard releases its first PC, the HP-2115.
The Intel 1103 is the first computer to utilize RAM.
The Intel 4004 Computer Microprocessor is the first microprocessor.
Ethernet is created for computer networking.
Apple I is the first home computer, sold as a do-it-yourself kit for $600.
IBM releases a home computer, the IBM PC.
Microsoft introduces MS-DOS.
Compaq introduces the first PC-clone computer compatible with IBM.
The Apple Lisa Computer is the first home computer with a GUI, or graphical user interface.
The Apple Macintosh Computer is a more affordable GUI-based home computer.
Microsoft releases the first version of Windows.
Dell introduces its first computer, the Turbo PC.
IBM introduces the first laptop computers, known as PC Convertibles.
IBM introduces the first laptop computers with integrated CD-ROMs; the IBM ThinkPad 775CD.