History of Computing

This timeline records important milestones in computing. Where possible release dates are entirely accurate. Where no information is available the first day of the year has been chosen.

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The Bombe was an electromechanical device used by British cryptologists to help decipher German Enigma-machine-encrypted secret messages during World War II. The US Navy and US Army later produced their own machines to the same functional specification, but engineered differently from each other and from the British Bombe. The initial design of the bombe was produced in 1939 at the UK Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing, with an important refinement devised in 1940 by Gordon Welchman. The engineering design and construction was the work of Harold Keen of the British Tabulating Machine Company. It was a substantial development from a device that had been designed in 1938 in Poland at the Biuro Szyfrów (Cipher Bureau) by cryptologist Marian Rejewski, and known as the "cryptologic bomb". The bombe was designed to discover some of the daily settings of the Enigma machines on the various German military networks: specifically, the set of rotors in use and their positions in the machine; the rotor core start positions for the message—the message key—and one of the wirings of the plugboard.y info here


Colossus was the name of a series of computers developed by British codebreakers in 1943-1945 to help in the cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher. Colossus used thermionic valves (vacuum tubes) and thyratrons to perform Boolean and counting operations. Colossus is thus regarded as the world's first programmable, electronic, digital computer, although it was programmed by plugs and switches and not by a stored program. Colossus was designed by the engineer Tommy Flowers to solve a problem posed by mathematician Max Newman at the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park. Alan Turing's use of probability in cryptanalysis contributed to its design. It has sometimes been erroneously stated that Turing designed Colossus to aid the cryptanalysis of the Enigma. Turing's machine that helped decode Enigma was the electromechanical Bombe, not Colossus.

World War II VE day

World War II ends in Europe

Windows 10

Windows 10 is a personal computer operating system released by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems.Windows 10 introduces what Microsoft described as a "universal" application architecture; expanding on Metro-style apps, these apps can be designed to run across multiple Microsoft product families with nearly identical code—including PCs, tablets, smartphones, embedded systems, Xbox One, Surface Hub and HoloLens. Windows 10's user interface was revised to handle transitions between a mouse-oriented interface and a touchscreen-optimized interface based on available input devices—particularly on laplets; both interfaces include an updated Start menu that comprises a design similar to Windows 7 with 8's tiles. Windows 10 also introduces Task View, a virtual desktop system, the Microsoft Edge web browser and other new or updated applications, integrated support for fingerprint and face recognition login, new security features for enterprise environments, DirectX 12 and WDDM 2.0 to improve the operating system's graphics capabilities for games. Microsoft described Windows 10 as an 'operating system as a service' that would receive ongoing updates to its features and functionality, augmented with the ability for enterprise environments to receive non-critical updates at a slower pace, or use long-term support milestones that will only receive critical updates, such as security patches, over their five-year lifespan of mainstream support. Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, argued that the goal of this model was to reduce fragmentation across the Windows platform, as Microsoft aimed to have Windows 10 installed on at least one billion devices in the two to three years following its release.

Bletchley Park

Alan Turing reports to Bletchley park

BBC Micro released

The BBC Microcomputer System, or BBC Micro, was a series of microcomputers and associated peripherals designed and built by the Acorn Computer company for the BBC Computer Literacy Project, operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Designed with an emphasis on education, it was notable for its ruggedness, expandability and the quality of its operating system.

Windows 3.1 released

Windows 3.1x (codenamed Janus) is a series of 16-bit operating systems, produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers. The series began with Windows 3.1, which was first sold during April 1992 as a successor to Windows 3.0. Subsequent versions were released between 1992 and 1994 until the series was superseded by Windows 95. During its lifespan, Windows 3.1 introduced various enhancements to the still MS-DOS-based platform, including improved system stability, expanded support for multimedia, TrueType fonts, and workgroup networking. Windows 3.1 was originally released on April 6, 1992; official support for Windows 3.1 ended on December 31, 2001, and OEM licensing for Windows for Workgroups 3.11 on embedded systems continued to be available until November 1, 2008.

Discovery of PN junction

In the mid-1930s Russell Ohl, an electrochemist at Bell Telephone Labs in Holmdel, NJ, began investigating the use of silicon rectifiers as radar detectors. He found that increasing the silicon purity helped improve their detection ability. On 23 February 1940, he tested a small silicon slab that yielded strange, surprising results. When exposed to bright light, the current flowing through the slab jumped appreciably. He also noticed that different parts of the crystal yielded opposite electrical effects when tested with a "cat's whisker" style probe.

Windows 8 released

Windows 8 introduced major changes to the operating system's platform and user interface to improve its user experience on tablets, where Windows was now competing with mobile operating systems, including Android and iOS. In particular, these changes included a touch-optimized Windows shell based on Microsoft's "Metro" design language, the Start screen (which displays programs and dynamically updated content on a grid of tiles), a new platform for developing apps with an emphasis on touchscreen input, integration with online services (including the ability to sync apps and settings between devices), and Windows Store, an online store for downloading and purchasing new software. Windows 8 added support for USB 3.0, Advanced Format hard drives, near field communications, and cloud computing. Additional security features were introduced, such as built-in antivirus software, integration with Microsoft SmartScreen phishing filtering service and support for UEFI Secure Boot on supported devices with UEFI firmware, to prevent malware from infecting the boot process.

First web page

On August 6, 1991,Tim Berners-Lee posted a short summary of the World Wide Web project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup, inviting collaborators. This date also marked the debut of the Web as a publicly available service on the Internet, although new users could only access it after August 23.

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