Computers have now been in existence for more than 70 years. And of course, their influence and widespread has grown dramatically. But how have they gotten to their place of prominence and influence in our lives?
1941: Zuse Z3, the first programmable computer
The first programmable computer, the Zuse Z3, was created in 1941, and is nothing like a computer today in terms of cost, capability, size and usability. Much of the development of computer technology of the first 50 years was driven by military and governmental agencies. ARPANET was created for the Department of Defense and drove much of the development of the internet. Fortunately, universities were also driving the technology and people in this realm helped develop email and online gaming.
1970: ARPANET created for Department of Defense
After getting through infancy, private companies and think tanks started to help innovate new technologies. The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was founded by Xerox in the 70’s and were integral in the development of many of the technologies we use today, including items like laser printers, the what-you-see-is-what-you-get text editor, bitmap graphics, and the graphical user interface that we are so familiar with today.
1985: Symbolics.com – first domain registered
As the personal computer market developed, the greater potential for profitability helped computer companies justify more budgets for research and development, which has helped created a wave of incremental change that has compounded into the significant change we see today with incredible advances in storage capacity and size to power ratios. And much of this market has been shaped because of how software companies have taken the power computers are capable of and harnessing this into ways to improve our lives and the work we do.
Today and beyond
The latest disruptive innovation has been the advancement of cloud computing and what it allows.
While we already have tiny little computers in our pockets that let us access an ungraspable amount of information, cloud-based services are moving processes away from the device while increasing functionality. And while your smartphone might not get any smaller, as you currently still use a reasonably sized screen to interact, the cloud can enable embeddable technology and devices, or whatever we have yet to imagine.