A Timeline of the Personal Computer

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In a world today, run almost entirely through technology, it is hard to imagine a time without the personal computer. In fact today’s generation grew up alongside modern technology, never knowing a world without laptops or the internet or smartphones. In order to fully appreciate the modern technology available to us every day, it is important to first gain knowledge of the history of personal computers and the long journey it’s taken in order to reach the height of technology the world operates on today. From the first machine that took up the space of a small apartment to a tiny touchscreen tablet with one thousand times the capability, the personal computer has come a long way over the last 70 years.

Starting with a growing need to more easily compute numbers and calculations, people have been trying to create a machine of mathematical convenience since the early 1900s. However it wasn’t until 1946 when Professors John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert successfully built the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC), the world’s first general purpose computer, which cost $500,000 and filled a 20 foot by 40 foot room. And in 1951 Mauchly and Eckert create the UNIVAC, the first business and government applicable commercial computer. From this point the inventions and improvements start to gain speed. In 1954, the FORTRAN computer programming language is born and becomes the first successful high level programming language. And just a few years later in 1958, Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce introduce the integrated circuit, or more commonly known as the computer chip. 1964, Douglas Engelbart presents a computer prototype showcasing the features of a computer mouse and a graphical user interface (GUI), which allows interaction by use of images and icons instead of text commands. This marks the shift of the computer from a machine only marketable to scientists and mathematicians to a technology that is accessible and appealing to the general public. In...
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