Chronology of Personal Computers

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References are numbered in [brackets], which are listed here. A number after the dot gives the page in the source.

Last updated: 2022 April 29.


1969

January 17
  • United States attorney general Ramsey Clark charges IBM with unlawful monopolization of the computer industry, and requests the federal courts break it up. (13 years later, the US Justice Department will drop the case.) [606.10] [1149.166] [1298.186] [1559]
(month unknown)
  • Honeywell releases the H316 "Kitchen Computer", the first home computer, priced at US$10,600 in the Neiman Marcus catalog. [1112.142]
  • Busicom, a Japanese calculator manufacturer, asks Intel to build a custom-chip set for a new calculator. Ted Hoff suggests that instead of set of chips, they create a general-purpose programmable chip. (Intel is initially not anxious to produce processor chips to compete with their customers for memory chips, but eventually decides to take a chance in this new field.) [106.103] [900] [1038.145] [1064.240] (ETI company [266.11])
May
  • Advanced Micro Devices is founded by Jerry Sanders and seven others from Fairchild Semiconductor. [141] [732.54] [1280.40]
(month unknown)
  • Computer Terminal Corporation visits Intel, asking them to integrate about 100 TTL components of their Datapoint 2200 terminal's 8-bit CPU into a few chips. Ted Hoff says they could put it all on one chip, so Intel and CTC sign a contract for it. (The resulting chip becomes Intel's 8008 processor.) [1038.148]
  • IBM builds SCAMP, one of the world's first personal computers. [606.22]
  • For the Busicom project, Intel's Marcian (Ted) Hoff and Stan Mazor design a 4-bit CPU chip set architecture that could receive instructions and perform simple functions on data. The CPU becomes the 4004 microprocessor. [266.12] [556.9] [1038.146]
October
  • Engineers from Japan's Busicom company meet with Intel to inspect work on their calculator IC project. They accept the Intel design for a chip set, and sign an exclusive contract for the chips. [208.67] [556.9] [606.17] (ETI company [266.13])
(month unknown)
  • Intel announces a 1 kilobit RAM chip, which has a significantly larger capacity than any previously produced memory chip. [9]

1970

March
  • Xerox announces that it will create a computer laboratory to research digital technology. (The resulting laboratory, PARC, will develop many personal computer technologies, but fail to bring them to market.) [716.49]
(month unknown)
  • Intel begins work on the layout of the circuit for what would be the 4004 microprocessor. Federico Faggin directs the work. [266.13]
June
  • Xerox opens the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). [266.267] [716.56] [1112.142] (1969 [203.59]) (founded by Kay Power in 1972 [343.41])
(month unknown)
  • Bell Labs develops Unix. (Unix will become the dominant operating system of high end microcomputers, or workstations.) [1112.142] (1969 [1280.40])
  • Intel creates the 1103 chip, the first generally available DRAM memory chip. [176.74] [202.163] [1112.142] [1280.40]
  • A patent is filed in the US for "X-Y position indicator for a display system", commonly known as a computer mouse. [1913.91]
December
  • Gilbert Hyatt files a patent application entitled "Single Chip Integrated Circuit Computer Architecture", the first basic patent on the microprocessor. (Twenty years later, the US Patent Office will grant his patent, but five years after that will overturn the award.) [162] [185.193] [590.5]
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  • At Intel, the first run of 4004 microprocessors is fabricated. However, due to a missing masking layer, the entire run is unusable. At the time the chip is called a "mini-programmer". [106.104] [900] [1038.146]

1971

January
  • At Intel, a second fabrication run of 4004 processors is made. This time, the processors work with only minor errors. [1038.146]
February
  • At Intel, a third fabrication run of 4004 processors is made, with corrected masks. [1038.146]
March
  • Intel ships sample calculator chip sets to Busicom, each set consisting of four 4001 ROM chips, two 4002 RAM chips, two 4003 I/O chips, and one 4004 CPU. [1038.146] (February [556.10])
(month unknown)
  • Intel decides to market the 4000 family. [1038.148]
  • Intel renegotiates its contract with Busicom, gaining Intel the right to market the 4004 microprocessor openly in non-calculator applications. Intel returns US$60,000 to Busicom in exchange for product rights to the 4004 processor. [266.14] [606.18] [900] [1038.148]
  • IBM introduces the 23FD floppy disk drive. It uses an 8-inch floppy plastic disk, called a "memory disk", coated with iron oxide on one side. The drive can only read the disks. [202.170] [971.F9] [1089.392] [1280.41] (1965 [363.46]) (1970 [1112.142])
  • Texas Instruments develops the first microcomputer-on-a-chip, containing over 15,000 transistors. [714] [1280.41]
June
  • Texas Instruments runs an advertisement in Electronics magazine, showing a "CPU on a Chip" that it developed for Computer Terminal's Datapoint 2200 terminal. (However, the chip is never marketed due to unresolved problems in operation.) [1038.148]
  • Gary Boone, of Texas Instruments, files a patent application relating to a single-chip computer. [590.5]
  • Steve Wozniak and Bill Fernandez build a computer with lights and switches, mostly from chips rejected by local semiconductor companies. They call it the Cream Soda Computer, as they drank Cragmont cream soda while they worked. [266.205] [548.414] [2605.1] (fall 1970 [930.26])
(month unknown)
  • 3M introduces a 1/4-inch tape drive and cartridge, the first such system practical for desktop computer use. Tape storage capacity is 30 MB. [1089.364]
  • The National Radio Institute introduces the first computer kit, for US$503. [208.66]
  • In Brentwood, California, John Blankenbaker introduces the Kenbak-1 computer, for US$750. It uses a 1 kB MOS memory made by Intel. The computer does not use a microprocessor, but incorporates discrete logic chips and shift registers. (About 40 units are sold by 1973.) [208.66] [1112.146] [1299.65] [2446.55] (256 bytes RAM [2063.94])
  • Niklaus Wirth invents the Pascal programming language. (Pascal was developed as a teaching language, but becomes a popular general-use programming language. ) [132] [1112.142] (1969 [447.385])
  • Wang Laboratories introduces the Wang 1200 word processor system. (Though not a general purpose computer system, dedicated word processing systems such as this became early targets of desktop computer systems.) [202.185]
  • Intel introduces the 1101 chip, a 256-bit programmable memory, and the 1701 chip, a 256-byte erasable read-only memory (EROM). [208.70]
  • Datapoint (formerly Computer Terminal) decides it no longer needs the 1201 microprocessor that Intel is working on for them. Datapoint agrees to let Intel use its architecture in exchange for canceling the development charges. (This chip becomes the Intel 8008 processor.) [1038.148]
August
  • The newly developed device, the EPROM, is integrated with the 4004 to enhance development cycles of microprocessor products. [778]
November
  • In major trade publications including Electronic News, Intel officially introduces the MCS-4 (Microcomputer System 4-bit) microcomputer system. It is comprised of the 4001 ROM chip, 4002 RAM chip, 4003 shift register chip, and the 4004 microprocessor. Clock speed of the CPU is 108 kHz. Performance is 60,000 operations per second. It uses 2300 transistors, based on 10-micron technology. It can address 4 kB memory via a 4-bit bus. Initial price is US$200. Documentation manuals were written by Adam Osborne. The die for the chip measures 3x4 mm. [9] [62] [176.74] [202.165] [266.14] [296] [393.6] [556.11] [900] [953.28] [1254.78] [1280.41] (108 kHz [1233.135]) (1972 [339.86])

End of 1969-1971. Next: 1972.

1947-1968 1969-1971 1972-1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981
1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008-end


A list of references to all source material is available.

Other web pages of interest:

  • Chronology of Microprocessors
  • Personal Computer References in Pop Culture
  • This Day in Personal Computer and Video Game History

  • Last updated: 2022 April 29.
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