+61 2 8317 3011 info@acms.org.au


1623 – Adding machine description by SchickardGermany

1801 – Jacquard loom – first used punched cards, France

1822 – Difference Engine design – mechanical calculator, by Charles Babbage, UK

1843 – Analytical Engine design – programmable mechanical calculator, by Charles Babbage, UK

1853- Difference Engines sold by Scheutz, Sweden

1876 – Mechanical differential analyser invented by Thomson, UK

1890 – Hollerith Tabulating System processed punched card data, USA

1893 – Millionaire calculator, Switzerland

1906 – Vacuum tube for radio, USA

1913 – Totalisator – An enormous mechanical calculator linked to 30 ticket terminals was installed at the Ellerslie Park racetrack in Auckland, New Zealand. This was the world’s first automatic totalisator, a system capable of adding
records of bets made simultaneously on many horses in a race, keeping running totals of the bets on every horse and of the total pool of bets, and calculating the dividends payable to successful punters. Invented by George Julius, (NZ/Aust)

1930 – Differential Analyser – mechanical analogue calculator, by Vannevar Bush at MIT, USA

1936 – “On computable numbers…”published by Alan Turing (this could be interpreted as describing the stored program computer), UK

1937 – “Model K” relay adder built by George Stibitz in his kitchen, USA

Atanasoff-Berry computer (not completed) at Iowa State, USA

1939 – Integraph – mechanical analogue differential equation solver – by David Myers at Sydney University

1941 – Z3 – relay computer, by Konrad Zuse, Germany

1943 –  Colossus – electronic computer, by Tommy Flowers at Bletchley Park. The Colossus machine is a contender for the first computer. It was designed at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing and Tommy Flowers to break the WW2 German Lorenz cipher code. It was programmed with switches and cables, but it did not have a memory to store the program, UK

1945 – “First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC” published by John von Neumann at Moore School (possibly the first clear description of the modern computer), USA

ENIAC – electronic computer, by Eckert and Mauchly at Moore School, USA

First computer “bug”– a moth caught in a relay found by Grace Hopper, USA

1947 – Transistor invented at Bell Labs, USA

1948 – SEM (or Baby) – valve computer, by Freddie Williams and Tom Kilburn at University of Manchester (the first modern computer), UK

1949 – CSIR Mk.1 (later CSIRAC) first run of incomplete machine (ie. basic instruction set).

EDSAC – valve computer, by Maurice Wilkes at Cambridge (the first practical modern computer), UK

BINAC – valve computer, by Eckert and Mauchly, USA

Core memory invented by Jay Forrester, MIT, USA

1950 – SEAC – valve computer, USA

ERA 1101– parallel valve computer, USA

Pilot ACE valve computer, a unique design by Turing at NPL, UK

1951 – CSIR Mk.1 (later CSIRAC) – valve computer, by Pearcey and Beard at CSIRO. First computer in the world to play music – at the first Computer Conference held in Australia, March 1951.

Univac 1 – commercial valve computer, by Eckert and Mauchly, USA

Ferranti Mark 1 commercial valve computer, based on the SSEM, UK

LEO commercial version of EDSAC, UK

“The preparation of programmes for an electronic digital computer” by Wilkes, Wheeler & Gill, the first programming text, Cambridge, UK

MESM – Russia’s official first valve computer, by Lebedev at the Institute for Precise Mechanics and Computer Technology, USSR

M-1 – Russia’s first valve computer, by Brouk at the Power Institute, USSR

1952 – IAS Computer, ILLIAC – valve computer, by von Neumann etc at IAS, USA

NICHOLAS– Elliott Bros’ first valve computer, UK

ARRA II the Netherlands first valve computer, by Loopstra at the Amsterdam Mathematical Centre, Netherlands

1953 – Whirlwind – valve real-time computer, by Jay Forrester at MIT, USA

TREAC parallel valve computer at TRE, UK

Manchester transistor computer, UK

1954 – TRADIC transistor plugboard computer, by Bell Labs, USA

MEG with possibly the first floating point arithmetic, at Manchester, UK

1955 – DEUCE – a commercial version of the Pilot ACE by English Electric. UK

1956 – SILLIAC – valve computer version of IAS by Brian Swires at Sydney University.

UTECOM – valve computer – (English Electric DEUCE) at University of NSW.

WREDAC – valve computer – (Elliott 403) at Weapons Research Establishment, SA.
[Some sources indicate that WREDAC arrived in 1955,but took some time to become operational. Possible delays may have been associated with the Nickel-Silver delay line memory, or the need to connect external instrumentation for real-time type operations.]

  • Librascope LGP-30 – valve computer, USA
  • Bendix G-15 – valve computer (version of DEUCE), USA
  • PEGASUS valve computer by Ferranti, UK
  • FUJIC – Japan’s first valve computer, Fuji Photo Film, Japan
  • TX-0 transistor computer at MIT, USA

1957- GEORGE language using reverse polish, zero address notation for UTECOM, by Charles Hamblin, UNSW

Fortran by Jim Backus at IBM, USA

1959 – ADA– transistor differential analyser – by Murray Allen at CSIRO.

1960 – SNOCOMtransistor computer, by David Wong & Murray Allen at CSIRO/Sydney University.

ATROPOS a version of TREAC built at WRE, SA.

ARCTURUS – transistor computer – by David Wong, etc at Sydney University.

IBM 7090 – transistor mainframe, USA

DEC PDP-1– the first minicomputer. It sold for US$120,000. It was transistorised and the first commercial computer equipped with a keyboard and monitor, USA

1962 – CIRRUS – transistor computer – by Allen, Pearcey etc at Adelaide University.

Ferranti Atlas – transistor mainframe (with virtual memoryand an operating system), UK

1963- CSIROnet started by Pearcey at CSIRO

ASCII standard

Burroughs B5000 zero address computer, USA

KDF9 zero address computer (inspired by UNSW GEORGE), by English Electric, UK

1964 – CDC 6600 – “first supercomputer”, USA

RCA Spectra– first IC computer (IBM 360 copy), USA

BASIC programming language invented at Dartmouth College, USA (New Hampshire)

ICL 1900 series, UK

1965 – IBM 360 (announced in 1964), USA

1967 – Traffic Analyser – analogue/digital computer at IHTR / UNSW operational.
[Ref: ARRB 1968 Conference Paper 433, Keith, RJ and Yan, ST.]


1969 – Data General Nova – first medium scale IC, USA

ARPAnet started by DoD, USA

Unix written at Bell Labs, USA

1970 – DEC PDP-11. USA

1971 – Intel 4004 – 4 bit microprocessor IC, USA

1972 – HP-35 pocket calculator, USA

ILLIAC IV – first multi-processor computer, at University of Illinois (a non von Neumann computer), USA

1973 – Xerox Alto– first bitmapped graphics, mouse & ethernet, USA

1974 – August – Electronics Australia magazine – Aug.
Build your own digital computer! The EDUC-8 is born as a world first kit in Australia.

Intel 8080– improved 8 bit microprocessor integrated circuit chip, USA

1975 – MITS Altair 8800 – based on Intel 8080, USA

1976 – Cray-1 – first vector super computer, USA

CP/M operating system by Kildall, USA

1977- First “port” of UNIX – to an Interdata machine, University of Wollongong

Tandy TRS-80 – based on Intel 8080, USA

Commodore PET – based on MOS Technology 6502, USA

Apple ][ – based on MOS Technology 6502, USA

1978 – Microbee – Applied Technology – based on the Zilog Z80

First Port of UNIX, University of Wollongong

DEC VAX-11/780, USA

1979 – Visicalc – first spreadsheet, for Apple ][, USA

1981 – Bassernet – UNIX local area network at Sydney University

Osborne computer– first portable, USA

IBM PC– based on Intel 8086, USA

1982 – Sun workstation, USA

1983 – Tandy TRS-80 Model 100 – first laptop, USA

1984 – Apple Macintosh, USA

1989 – The Internet connected to Australia through MUNARRI at Melbourne University.
[The Australian Universities and the CSIRO, under the umbrella of the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC), initiated a project called the Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) – this was the genesis of the Internet in Australia. DECUS Australia had dial-up access to AARNet soon after.]

1990 World Wide Web designed with URLs, HTTP & HTML by Berners-Lee, Europe

Microsoft Windows 3.0, USA

1993 – Intel Pentium processor. USA

NCSA Mosaic – the first graphical web browser.USA

1996 – January, CSIRO– received a patent for its IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g WiFi products. Since then, the technology has been adopted as an industry standard by most computer makers around the world.

Sadly, it took until 2009 for the industry and the US Courts to recognise the Australian patent.

1997 – May, IBM’s Deep Blue Supercomputer played a fascinating match with the reigning World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov.

2011 – January, Minto, NSW – President (JFD) flattened by PDP-8. Sorry, no photo.
Maybe not quite flattened, but it certainly had him pinned down.