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Chronology of Events - 1940s

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The following is a chronological listing of significant events in the development of the field of Information Technology between 1940 and 1949. For other time periods see:


1940 Edit

1940 — Conrad Zuse completes the Z2, the first operational electromechanical computer.

1940 — CBS demonstrates a color television.

1940Remote calculation via a teletype is demonstrated between Dartmouth and Manhattan during a meeting of the American Mathematical Society.

1940Wire magnetic recorders intended for commercial use are demonstrated. They are not marketed to the general public until after the war.

1941 Edit

1941 — The non-programmable Atanasoff-Berry Computer is built. It uses vacuum tube-based computation, binary numbers, and a regenerative capacitor memory. It was not programmable.

1941Microwave transmission is invented.

1941 — A telecommunications department is established in the Ministry of PTT in France.

May 12, 1941 — The Z3 is built by German Konrad Zuse. It is the first working machine featuring binary arithmetic, including floating point arithmetic and a measure of programmability.

October 6, 1941 — Chester Carlson receives a patent for electric photography, more commonly known today as xerography.

1942 Edit

1942 — Machines are built by NCR for the Navy Computing Machine Lab to decrypt German and Japanese codes.

1942 — The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants actress Hedy Lamarr a patent for a "Secret Communications System" spread spectrum technology.

1942 — Toshiba produces the first Japanese radar system.

1943 Edit

1943 — Project Whirlwind begins at MIT to build a flight simulator to train bomber crews.

1943 — The German military first uses the Enigma encryption machine.

1944 Edit

January 1944 — The Harvard Mark I is completed. It is a large-scale, electromechanical computer with limited programmability. It is used to calculate gun-firing tables.

January 1944 — The secret British Colossus computer, designed by Alan Turing, is built. It had limited programmability, but demonstrates that a device using thousands of vacuum tubes can be reasonably reliable and electronically reprogrammable. It was used for breaking German wartime codes, including the Enigma code.

May 4, 1944 — The CNET (Centre National d'Etudes des Télécommunications) research center is established within the French PTT.

1945 Edit

1945 — German Conrad Zuse completes the Z4 computer, It uses binary arithmetic, uses paper tape to input program instructions and ca produce printed output.

1945 — Alan Turing writes a paper titled Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), which describes a sophisticated stored-program digital computer.

May 1945 — The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), designed by J. Presper Eckert and J. Mauchley, is completed at the University of Pennsylvania. It uses decimal arithmetic and is sometimes called the first general purpose electronic computer. It is used by the U.S. Army's Ballistics Research Laboratory to compute ballistics tables. The first ENIAC instructions are typed in manually by 100 Navy women. It weighs more than 30 tons and uses more than 17,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, and 10,000 capacitors.

June 30, 1945 — John von Neumann publishes First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC, which established the von Neumann architecture as the basis for computer hardware design.

July 1945 — Vannevar Bush publishes As We May Think, in which he proposed Memex (a conceptual machine that could store vast amounts of information, in which users have the ability to create information trails, links to related texts and illustrations, and which can be stored and used for future reference).

July 1945 — Vannevar Bush sends the Science-The Endless Frontier Report to President.

1946 Edit

1946 — Long-distance coaxial cable systems and mobile telephone services are introduced in the United States.

1946 — F.C. Williams develops the cathode ray tube (CRT) storage device.

1946AT&T introduces a mobile telephone service.

June 1946 — The first telephone call is made from a telephone installed in an automobile.

1947 Edit

1947 — The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) becomes part of the United Nations.

1947 — President Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the CIA.

June 26, 1947 — Pres Eckert and John Mauchly apply for the "ENIAC patent," essentially a patent on the stored-program electronic digital computer.

September 1947 — Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper discovers a moth trapped between the relays of a Navy computer. She calls it a "bug" — a term traditionally used to refer to a problem with an electrical device. She also coined the term "debugging" to describe efforts to fix a computer problem. [Date often erroneously reported as 1945.]

September 15, 1947 The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) is formed.

Dec. 23, 1947 — William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain of Bell Laboratories invent the transistor.

December 1947 — The point-contact transistor is invented at Bell Labs.

1948 Edit

1948 — The Monte Carlo computational estimation method is developed by S. Ulam and John von Neumann.

1948Cable television service begins.

1948 — Norbert Wiener (MIT) publishes "Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine." It was the first book that applied theories of information and communication to both biological systems and machines.

1948 — Widespread commercial use of magnetic tape begins in the United States.

1948 — Columbia Records introduces a long-playing disc using a narrow microgroove and revolving at 33-1⁄3 rpm. This allows a recording of up to 20 minutes on a side. It is called an LP (long-play) or album.

January 1948IBM announces its first large-scale, digital calculating machine, the Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC). The SSEC is the first computer able to modify a stored program.

July, October 1948 — Claude E. Shannon publishes "A Mathematical Theory of Communication", one of the foundational works of the field of information theory. The article established a framework for determining the minimal data requirements to transmit information over noisy (imperfect) channels. It was later published in book format as "The Mathematical Theory of Communication."

1949 Edit

1949 — George Orwell publishes the dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

1949 — RCA Victor introduces a long-playing 7-inch disc that plays at 45 rpm.

1949 — Electronic Controls Company, the first computer company, is founded by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly. The company is later renamed "EMCC" ("Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation") and releases a series of mainframe computers under the "UNIVAC" name.

1949 — The bar code is conceived by Norman Joseph Woodland, who later became an IBM engineer and receives the first patent for a linear bar code (with Bernard Silver) in 1952.

Jan. 14, 1949 — The U.S. Department of Justice files an antitrust suit against AT&T, asking for separation of Western Electric from the Bell System. The case was resolved by a consent decree on January 1956.

May 6, 1949 — The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC), a British computer, performs its first calculations. It is the first practical stored-program electronic computer and the first to run a graphical computer game.

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