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Chronology of Events - 1950s

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The following is a chronological listing of significant events in the development of the field of Information Technology between 1950 and 1959. For other time periods see:


1950 Edit

1950 — The first electronic stored program machines, the Standards East/West Automatic Computers (SEAC and SWAC), are built by Department of Defense National Bureau of Standards.

1950 — Hideo Yamachito creates the first electronic computer in Japan.

1950 — The National Science Foundation is established.

1950 — The Harvard Mark III system is operational.

1950 — The first commercial color television broadcast by RCA/NBC occurs in the United States.

1950Computer scientist Herb Grosch postulated that the entire world would operate on dumb terminals powered by about 15 large data centers.

May 10, 1950 — The Pilot Model ACE computer, based on a design by Alan Turning, becomes operational. The computer used vacuum tubes for computation and mercury delay lines for memory.

October 1950 — Alan Turing publishes "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," which helps create the Turing Test:

"It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English. This process could follow the normal teaching of a child."

1951 Edit

1951EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Calculator), designed by J. Presper Eckert, J. Mauchley and John von Neumann, is built for Army ballistics calculations.

1951 — The A-O compiler, designed by Grace M. Hopper, translates machine language into higher-order code.

1951 — The videotape recorder is invented.

April 20, 1951 — The 16-bit binary Whirlwind computer is completed at MIT for use as a flight simulator. It contains a Vectorscope graphics display and random-access, magnetic core drum memory.

June 1951 — UNIVAC I, designed by J. Presper Eckert and J. Mauchley, and built by Remington Rand, is delivered to the U.S. Census Bureau.

1952 Edit

1952 — The IBM 701 (Defense Calculator) is built. The 701 is a vacuum tube computer that used magnetic tape for storage. It was meant for scientific and defense calculations.

1952 — The Maniac I is built by LANL.

1952 — A.S. Douglas creates the first graphical computer game (a version of Tic-Tac-Toe).

1952 — President Harry S. Truman signs a letter that authorized the creation of the National Security Agency (NSA).

1952 — The U.S. Justice Department sues IBM for antitrust violations.

November 4, 1952 — The UNIVAC I, used by CBS, successfully predicts the U.S. presidential election.

1953 Edit

February 1953 — The National Television System Committee (NTSC) adopts the color-TV standard presented by RCA (reversing their previous choice of CBS).

1954 Edit

1954 — The IBM 650 is built for business use.

1954 — TRADIC, the first transistorized computer, is built.

May 10, 1954 — Texas Instruments manufactures the first silicon transistor.

August 1954 — First hand-drawn input to a computer.

1955 Edit

1955 — President Eisenhower announces the U.S.'s intention to launch a satellite.

1955Bell Labs introduces its first transistor computer.

1955 — Edward O. Thorp conceives of the first wearable computer, a cigarette pack-sized analog device used to predict roulette wheels.

September 15, 1955 — The United States becomes a party to the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention as revised in Geneva, Switzerland.

1956 Edit

1956 — TX-0, the first transistor-based computer, is built at MIT.

1956 — The LARC is built by Sperry Rand for atomic research.

1956Magnetic hard disk technology is developed by IBM's Lincoln Lab.

1956Optical fiber is invented by Basil Hirschowitz, C. Wilbur Peters and Lawrence E. Curtiss.

1956 — The first transatlantic telephone cable "TAT1" is placed in operation between Scotland and Newfoundland.

1956 — William Bardeen, Walter Brattan and William Shockley of AT&T Bell Labs received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the transistor effect.

January 22, 1956 — A consent decree is entered into by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and AT&T. It prohibits AT&T, through its manufacturing subsidiary Western Electric, from making non-telecommunications-related computing equipment, but preserves AT&T ownership of Bell Laboratories and Western Electric.

August 23, 1956 — The first experimental picture phone is developed by Bell Labs.

November 8, 1956 — The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overrules the FCC and holds that the Hush-a-phone can to be sold and used in conjunction with AT&T telephones. Many view this as the first step in the dissolution of AT&T's telephone monopoly.

1957 Edit

1957 — Field tests begin for the first pagers.

1957 — The first data transmissions are made over regular telephone circuits.

1957 — Noam Chomsky writes Syntactic Structures, which helps people to understand languages structures.

April 1957 — FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation), the first high-level computer language, developed by John Backus, is released commercially by IBM.

April 17, 1957Bell Laboratories announces development of magnetic tape machine capable of transmitting 1,000 wpm.

October 4, 1957 — The U.S.S.R. launches Sputnik 1, the first artificial earth satellite.

1958 Edit

1958 — The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is formed. Missile responsibility is transferred from ARPA to NASA.

1958 — The first computer-controlled missile is launched.

1958 — John McCarthy creates the programming language LISP at MIT.

1958 — John Wilder Tukey (Bell Labs) is the first to use the word "software" in a paper in a computer context.

1958 — Stereophonic LP discs are introduced.

1958AT&T introduces the first commercial modem.

1958 — The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT is founded by John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky.

1958 — The Société d'études de mathématiques appliquées is created in France by Jacques Lesourne, Marcel Loichot and Robert Lattès.

February 7, 1958 — In response to Sputnik 1, President Eisenhower requests funds to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) with the mission of becoming the leading force in science and new technologies. It is established pursuant to DoD Directive 5105.15.

September 12, 1958 — The integrated circuit is developed by Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments and Gordon Moore at Fairchild Semiconductor.

October 18, 1958 — William Higinbotham publicly shows the first video game, "Tennis for Two," which he invented. It runs on an analog computer connected to an oscilloscope.

December 1, 1958 — SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) is operational. It is the first large-scale IT communications network. Whirlwind platforms are linked to remote radar in the North American Air Defense System. Innovations include: modems, digital phone-line transmission, system duplexing, software for real-time operations, and Cathode ray tube (CRT) screens.

1959 Edit

1959MIT student Sam Asano develops a technology to transmit scanned printed material over telephone lines, which is licensed to a Japanese telecom company and becomes the fax machine.

1980 — The first industrial robot is developed by George Devol and Joseph Engleberger.

1959 — Gordon Gould of Columbia University files a patent on the LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation).

1959 — Paul Baran theorizes on the "survivability of communication systems under nuclear attack," digital technology and symbiosis between humans and machine.

1959 — Jack Kilby (Texas Instruments) patents the integrated circuit.

1959U.S. Navy builds the first satellite navigation system (called TRANSIT), a precursor to the GPS system.

1959 — J. McCarthy writes a memo to the director of the MIT Computation Center that began the timesharing movement at MIT.

1959 — Xerox introduces the first commercial copier.

April 27, 1959 — ERMA (the "Electronic Recording Method of Accounting")) is released to digitize checking for Bank of America by creating a computer-readable font. A scanner would read the account number preprinted on the checks in magnetic ink.

May 28, 1959COBOL is created by Codasyl (Conference on Data Systems Languages) under Grace Hopper.

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