The one-sentence summary

Innovation occurs when ripe seed falls on fertile ground.


This is all about the hackers, geniuses and geeks that created the digital revolution. It is almost impossible to summarise. Instead, here is a condensed chronology of how all the modern computing capability we take for granted came to be.

1843: Ada Lovelace publishes notes on Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

1847: George Boole creates a system using algebra for logical reasoning.

1890: The census is tabulated using Herman Hollerith’s punch-card machines.

1931: Vannevar Bush devises the Differential Analyzer, an analogue electromechanical computer.

1935: Tommy Flowers pioneers use of vacuum tubes as on-off switches in circuits.

1937: Alan Turing publishes “On Computable Numbers”, describing a universal computer.

1938: William Hewlett and David Packard form a company in a Palo Alto garage.

John Atanasoff finishes model of electronic computer with mechanical storage drums.

1941: Konrad Zuse completes Z3, a fully functional electromechanical programmable digital computer.

1943: Colossus, a vacuum-tube computer to break German codes, is completed at Bletchley Park.

1945: John von Neumann describes a stored-program computer.

1947: The transistor is invented at bell Labs.

1954: Texas Instruments introduces silicon transistor.

1957: Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore form Fairchild semiconductor.

1958: Jack Kilby demonstrates the integrated circuit, or microchip.

1960: Paul Baran at RAND devises packet switching.

1965: Ted nelson publishes first article about hypertext.

1971: Ray Tomlinson invents email.

1973: Ethernet developed by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox PARC.

1973; Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn complete TCP/IP protocols for the internet.

1975: Paul Allen and Bill Gates write first version of BASIC.

1983: Microsoft announces Windows.

1991: Tim Berners-Lee announces World Wide Web.

1994: Justin Hall posts first web log.

1995: IBM’s Deep Blue beats Garry Kasparov at chess.

1998: Larry Page and Sergey Brin launch Google.

2001: Jimmy Swales launches Wikipedia.