Infographic: A Visual History of Computers

akita-computers-history-fullTo mark 70 years since the birth of modern computing this month, Akita has created an interactive timeline of the history of computers. The timeline shows how electronic, digital computing grew out of a single secret military project in the 1940s to dominate our daily lives. Click the image to enlarge it.

In December 1943, COLOSSUS was successfully demonstrated in the UK. Better known for its WWII code-breaking work at Bletchley Park, it was the world’s first truly electronic, programmable computer.

In total, there were 10 Colossus Mark II computers in operation at Bletchley Park by the end of the year following the great success of the first the Mark I. In the 1950s, numerous other computers popped up in the business and academic world – first by J. Lyon & Co, the British tea supplier.

Later came the UNIVAC I – an American computer that successfully predicted the 1952 election contrary to popular pre election polls. By 1953 it was estimated that there were already 100 modern electronic computers around the world.

In the 1960s many now-famous companies were launched, namely Hewlett Packard and Intel. ARPANET, the US military’s first ‘internet’ was also launched. Extremely similar technology later became the Internet we know today.

By the late 1970s, Microsoft and Apple were also incorporated. This led to the advent of small computers that resemble desktop computers today. The first mass-produced computer of this type was the Commodore PET. It was so popular that the manufacturers had to focus only on the higher-end product line as demand outstripped supply.

Home computer prices continued to fall and in the 1980s the ZX80 Sinclair made the head lines as it was the first computer to sell for less than £100. 1982 was a busy year too, as it is widely recognised as the year the Internet begun. Also in ’82, the 3¼-inch floppy disk became a standard size following multiple popular diskette sizes that emerged in the 1970s. Unbelievably, floppy disks are sometimes still in use today.

The 1990s saw extreme developments in what home and businesses were able to accomplish when using a computer. Within the same year, Microsoft launched the popular “The Microsoft Office for Windows” suite. Within the decade there were also some prolific operating system launches, and Hotmail also launched commercially. Initially Hotmail users were given an initial 2MB of storage. Home and business computing uses, software and hardware all continued to develop at an astonishing rate throughout the nineties.

The noughties saw another computing development begin to take hold – that of mobile computing, particularly in mobile phones. Apple’s iPhone famously launched in mid 2007. Microsoft launched a number of operating systems in the 2000s; Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Even today, Windows XP still holds a relatively large market share, largely owing to its ease of use and the volume of bespoke systems built on its architecture.

More recently the focus of computing developments has moved to how computers can be used, and how they can be integrated more easily into our daily lives. It’s more common now to see mobile workforces, users with multiple devices, and both business and domestic users referring to their use of cloud storage in the gigabytes. As a result of all of this, 2013 is the year where tablets are outselling laptops.

Scroll through this timeline to see, year-by-year, the main themes in computing as well as a few key dates.

The full interactive version can be seen here: