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Upper Paleolithic Period Ancient Egyptians
  3100 BC

Ancient Egyptians

Portrait Painting

The Ancient Egyptians were the first civilization to establish a recognizable artistic style in portrait painting, where the feet, legs and head of human figures are shown in profile, but the torso, shoulders, arms, and eyes are depicted from the front.

Minoan Civilization
on Crete
  2000 BC

Minoan Civilization
on the Island of Crete


Fresco painting is the painting of pigments onto wet plaster, where the paint is absorbed by the plaster so that it is protected from fading. The Minoans' first frescoes were “pure landscape” paintings, devoid of human figures.

Mozi, Aristotle
& Euclid
  5th & 4th Centuries BC

Mozi, Aristotle & Euclid

Camera Obscura

Chinese philosopher, Mozi, and Greek mathematicians, Aristotle and Euclid, discussed the optical principles behind the Camera Obscura centuries before it was invented. The Camera Obscura, or pinhole camera, is a simple camera without a lens that has a very small aperture. The smaller the pinhole, the clearer the image.

Alhazen (Ibn
  10th & 11th Centuries

Alhazen (Ibn al-Haitham),
Arab Scientist

Camera Obscura

This polymath, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher gave the first clear description and analysis of, and invented, the Camera Obscura. Using a lamp experiment, he was the first to demonstrate that what is projected onto the screen is an image of everything on the other side of the aperture. Alhazen was also the first to project an entire image from outdoors onto a screen indoors.

Albertus Magnus
  13th Century

Albertus Magnus,
Scholar & Philosopher

Silver Nitrate

This theologian and Catholic saint documented the ability of nitric acid to separate gold and silver by dissolving the silver. He noted that the resulting solution of silver nitrate could blacken skin.

George Fabricius
  16th Century

George Fabricius, German Poet,
Historian & Archaeologist

Silver Chloride

Fabricius discovered silver chloride. The substance, which is extremely light sensitive, is used to make photographic paper. It reacts with photons to produce a latent image, which is invisible until the film is developed.

Heinrich Schulze

Johann Heinrich Schulze,
German Physicist

Silver Salts

Schulze discovered that silver salts turn dark when exposed to light. He made “photographs” of words by using stencils, sunlight, and a bottled solution of chalk and silver nitrate to demonstrate that the mixture darkens when light hits it.

Nicéphore Niépce

Nicéphore Niépce, French Inventor


This Frenchman developed the photographic process known as heliography. He used thin coatings of Bitumen of Judea on metal and glass to create the first permanent photograph by "contact printing" in direct sunlight without a camera or lens. Unfortunately, the picture was later destroyed.

Nicéphore Niépce

Nicéphore Niépce, French Inventor

Permanent Image

Niépce also produced a permanent image of a landscape by coating a metal plate with a light-sensitive chemical and exposing the plate to light for at least eight hours. This is the earliest surviving photograph from nature.

Louis Daguerre

Louis Daguerre, French Inventor

Daguerreotype Process

Daguerre publicly introduced his “daguerreotype” process, the first photographic process to achieve widespread use. It produced highly detailed permanent photos on silver-plated sheets of copper.

Robert Cornelius

Robert Cornelius,
American Pioneer of Photography

First Photographic Self-Portrait

Using the daguerreotype process, Cornelius took a portrait of himself, one of the first photographs of a human to be produced.

William Henry
Fox Talbot

William Henry Fox Talbot

Calotype Process

This British inventor and photographer developed the “calotype” paper negative process. He made paper sensitive to light by bathing it in a solution of salt and silver nitrate. The silver turned dark when exposed to light, creating the photo negative.

Edmond Becquerel

Edmond Becquerel, French Physicist

First Color Photograph

Becquerel made the first full-color photographs, which required hours or days of exposure. The color was extremely light sensitive, and faded quickly unless it was kept in total darkness.

Scott Archer

Frederick Scott Archer,
English Photographer

Collodion Wet Plate Process

Archer invented the collodion wet plate process. This photographic process used a glass plate coated with a mixture of silver salts and an emulsion of collodion. It required the photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within 15 minutes, and if you wanted to do field work, a portable darkroom was required. The process could record microscopically fine detail.

Richard Leach Maddox

Richard Leach Maddox,
English Photographer & Physician

Dry-Plate Process

Leach invented a “dry-plate” process that used a cadmium bromide-silver nitrate gelatin emulsion to keep chemicals moist so that photographers did not have to process the pictures immediately. The gelatin emulsion made it possible to produce prints that were larger than the original negatives. This allowed manufacturers to reduce camera size.

Eadweard James Muybridge

Eadweard James Muybridge,
English Photographer

Motion Photos

Muybridge used a row of cameras with trip-wires to produce the first high-speed photographs of motion. Each picture was taken in less than two-thousandths of a second in rapid sequence, 25 frames per second. This created a brief real-time “movie” that could be viewed using a photographic device called a "zoopraxiscope" or "zoetrope."

George Eastman

George Eastman, American Inventor

Film Roll

This American introduced film made on a paper base and wound in a roll, eliminating the need for glass plates.

George Eastman

George Eastman, American Inventor

Kodak Box Camera

Eastman developed the first easy-to-use camera, the Kodak n°1 box camera. The lightweight and inexpensive n°1 was introduced with the slogan “You press the button, we do the rest.” Eastman Kodak also developed film in its own processing plants, so photographers no longer had to process their own pictures.

Louis Le Prince

Louis Le Prince, French Inventor

Short Film

Le Prince directed “Roundhay Garden Scene,” the oldest surviving short film in existence. It was recorded at 12 frames per second and runs for 2.11 seconds.

William Kennedy
Laurie Dickson

William Kennedy Laurie Dickson


This Scottish inventor, Thomas Edison’s assistant, created the Kinetoscope – an early motion picture device. It created the illusion of movement by moving a strip of perforated film with sequential images over a light source with a high-speed shutter. Films were viewed by one person at a time through a peephole window on top of the device. This basic approach would become the standard for all cinematic projection before video.

Kinetoscope Parlor

Kinetoscope Parlor

First Motion Picture Exhibit

The first commercial exhibition of motion pictures was given in New York City, using ten Kinetoscopes.

Francis Jenkins
& Thomas Armat

Charles Francis Jenkins
& Thomas Armat,
American Inventors


Jenkins and Armat developed the first film projection machine to allow each still frame of the film to be illuminated long enough for the brain to register a clear picture before going to the next frame. It was a true moving picture, and the motion-picture industry grew from this concept. The Phantoscope, which eventually became known as the Vitascope, differed from the Kinetoscope, which ran a loop of film with successive images through a camera shutter.

Thomas Alva Edison
& William Kennedy
Laurie Dickson

Thomas Alva Edison
& William Kennedy Laurie Dickson


Edison and Dickson developed the Kinetophone (or Phonokinetoscope) – an early attempt to create a sound-film system. The first known movie to test the Kinetophone, the “Dickson Experimental Sound Film,” was filmed at Edison's New Jersey studio in late 1894 or early 1895.

Louis Jean
& August Marie
Louis Nicolas

Louis Jean & August Marie
Louis Nicolas Lumière


These two brothers and French filmmakers invented the Cinématographe – a manually operable, portable motion picture film camera (projected film onto a screen) that produced a sharper image than was previously possible. The Cinématographe was originally patented by Léon Guillaume Bouly in 1892. The brothers’ first film, “Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon,” was publicly screened in 1895 at L'Eden, the World's first and oldest cinema!

New York's Blair
Camera Co.

New York's Blair Camera Co.

35mm Film

Blair Camera Co. created 35mm gauge film cut to specification for Thomas Edison. The format was a uniform, reliable means of production, distribution, and movie exhibition. It became the global standard, making it possible for films to be shown all over the world.

Thomas Alva

Thomas Alva Edison, American Inventor


Jenkins and Armat's Phantoscope was purchased by Thomas Edison, whose manufacturing company built the machine and produced films for it. Edison changed the projector's name from Phantoscope to Vitascope. The Vitascope's first theatrical exhibition was on April 23, 1896, at Koster and Bial's Music Hall in New York City.

Eastman Kodak

Eastman Kodak

The Brownie

The Brownie was an inexpensive cardboard box camera that was easy to use and user-reloadable. The point-and-shoot box camera popularized the concept of the snapshot.

Miles Brothers

Harry, Herbert, Joseph
& Earle C. Miles

Film Exchange

The Miles brothers started the first “film exchange,” buying films from manufacturers and renting to exhibitors. They gave theater owners the ability to open venues where films were the main attraction. Previously, vaudeville theaters had to purchase films via mail order. This film exchange was the basis of today’s distribution system.

Harry Davis
& John P. Harris

Harry Davis & John P. Harris


Davis and Harris opened the first Nickelodeon theater, showing movies continuously. The theater, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, charged 5 cents to enter. From Ancient Greek, the word odeon means theater, and the word nickel means 5 cents – thus the name Nickelodeon was derived. By 1910 as many as 26 million Americans visited these theaters weekly.

George Albert Smith

George Albert Smith,
Hypnotist, Filmmaker & English Inventor


Smith invented Kinemacolor, a two-color process that was the first commercial “natural color” system for movies.

Herbert Kalmus,
Daniel Frost
Comstock &
W. Burton Wescott

Herbert Kalmus,
Daniel Frost Comstock
& W. Burton Wescott


These gentlemen were the founders of The Technicolor Motion Picture. Technicolor was a color motion picture process started as a 2-color additive process, using 2 projectors to superimpose the 2-color image onto 1 screen. It evolved into a 3-color subtractive process, using 1 strip of film with 3 colors on top of each other. Technicolor is well known for saturated levels of color, as seen in The Wizard of Oz.

Lee de Forest

Lee de Forest, American Inventor

Optical Sound

de Forest was awarded patents that led to first optical sound-on-film technology with commercial application. A sound track was photographically recorded on the side of a strip of motion picture film to create a “married” print.

Lee de Forest

Lee de Forest, American Inventor

Sound-on-Film Screening

The first commercial screening of motion pictures with sound-on-film occurred at New York City's Rivoli Theater. It was a set of short films presented by de Forest Phonofilms.

Alan Crosland
& Warner Brothers

Alan Crosland
& Warner Brothers

The Jazz Singer

The Jazz Singer, an American musical film, was the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized sound using Warner Brothers'. Vitaphone sound-on-disc system. It brought about the commercial success of “talkies.”

Eastman Kodak

Eastman Kodak

Home Movies

Kodak introduced the first 8 mm amateur (home use) motion picture film, cameras, and projectors.

Rouben Mamoulian

Rouben Mamoulian,
Armenian-American Director

"Becky Sharp"

Mamoulian's "Becky Sharp" is released. It was the first feature film made in the full-color “3-strip” version of Technicolor.

Edwin Herbert Land

Edwin Herbert Land,
American Scientist & Inventor

Polaroid Instant Camera

Land, co-founder of Polaroid Corporation, introduced the first Polaroid instant camera, making it possible for pictures to be taken and developed in 60 seconds or less.

Russell Kirsch

Russell Kirsch at the
U.S. National Bureau of Standards

Scanned Photo

Kirsch created the first scanned photograph by a digital computer.

Agfa-Gevaert N.V. (Agfa)

Agfa-Gevaert N.V. (Agfa),
a Belgian Multinational Corporation


Agfa introduced the first fully automatic camera, the Optima.

Blockbuster, LLC

Blockbuster, LLC

Blockbuster Video

The first Blockbuster Video store opened in Dallas, Texas.

Eastman Kodak

Eastman Kodak


Kodak invented the world's first practical megapixel sensor.

Reed Hastings

Reed Hastings, Founder of Netflix

Netflix Starts

Netflix began as a DVD mail service out of California.

SoftBank Mobile Corp.

SoftBank Mobile Corp.,
Previously Vodafone & J-Phone

Mobile Picture Sharing

SoftBank developed the first commercially available mobile phone with a camera that could take and share still pictures.



Online Movies

Netflix began streaming movies online.

& Homo sapiens
  Upper Paleolithic Period, 45,000-10,000 years ago

Neanderthals & Homo sapiens

Parietal Art

Parietal Art refers to prehistoric paintings that were found on cave walls and ceilings. The oldest dated rock art, dated more than 40,800 years old, was discovered in northern Spain’s El Castillo cave. It’s not certain whether the drawings were created by Neanderthals, whom some believe to be a different species, or Homo sapiens. Their early “paint brushes” were sticks, split palm leaves, whalebone or wood shavings.

& Homo sapiens
  Upper Paleolithic Period, 45,000-10,000 years ago

Neanderthals & Homo sapiens


Petroglyphs are carvings created by removing part of a rock’s surface. In other words, they are a pictogram on a rock. Some believe they were intended to be maps, depicting information like the location of trails, how long it would take to get from one place to the other, and what geographical markers are found along the way, for example rivers. Others think they represent a symbolic or ritual language. Petroglyphs have been found all over the globe.

  End of Neolithic Period, 6600 BC

Peiligang Culture

Pictographs & Ideograms

Pictures that look like what they mean (e.g. female image on the bathroom door) or pictures that represent an idea or concept (e.g. arrows that point you in the right direction). Pictographs and Ideograms were the basis of written language. The best known early language system was Jiahu symbols - 16 distinct markings on prehistoric artifacts found in Jiahu, a neolithic Peiligang culture site in Henan, China.

  5000 BC to 1750 BC

Sumerians: Ancient Civilization in
Southern Mesopotamia (Modern Day Iraq)

Cuneiform Script

Cuneiform means “wedge-shaped.” It was one of the earliest known writing systems, distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed. Cuneiform began as pictographs and was gradually replaced by the Phoenician alphabet. 5-2 million cuneiform tablets have been excavated!

  c. 3000 BC

Ancient Egyptians


Ancient Egyptians developed the first writing material, papyrus, which was woven from the papyrus plant.

  c. 3000 BC

Ancient Egyptians

Reed Pen

Ancient Egyptians also developed the reed pen. These thin reed brushes were generally made of bamboo and were used for writing on papyrus scrolls. They were utilized until the Middle Ages and were slowly replaced by quill pens.

  3000 BC to 391 AD

Ancient Egyptians


Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic (the smallest unit of language) and alphabetic elements. Cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature were created on papyrus and wood. Hieratic was a cursive writing system developed alongside hieroglyphics, and Demotic was an Egyptian script derived from Hieratic.

  2000 BC

Ancient Egyptian Post

First Mail System

The first use of “post” was instituted, carrying documents by an intermediary from one person or place to another. The first documented use of an organized courier service was in Egypt, where Pharaohs used couriers to send their decrees throughout the State.

Anatolian Hieroglyphs
  1300-600 BC

Anatolian Hieroglyphs

Luwian Script

Anatolian hieroglyphs were a logographic script native to central Anatolia in Asia Minor, consisting of 500 signs. They were once referred to as Hittite hieroglyphs, but the language proved to be Luwian (ancient language of the Indo-European language family). Anatolian hieroglyphs were similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs, but not derived from Egyptian script.

Semitic Peoples, West Asian
Origin (Assyrians,
Babylonians, Israelites,
Arabs & more)
  1100 BC

Semitic Peoples, West Asian Origin:
(Assyrians, Babylonians, Israelites, Arabs & more)

North Semitic Alphabet

The Semitic peoples consisted of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Israelites, Jews, Arabs, Moabites, Phoenicians, Ugarites, and more. They created the North Semitic alphabet, the earliest fully developed alphabetic writing system. The alphabet consisted of 22 letters or symbols representing consonants (“abjad”), which were written from right to left. Almost all subsequent alphabets are believed to have derived from the Semitic alphabet. It gave rise to the Phoenician and Aramaic alphabets, which further evolved into European, Semitic, and Indian alphabets.

  1000 BC

Ancient Greeks

Greek Alphabet

The Greek alphabet is the ancestor of all modern European alphabets. It was modified from Semitic by adding new letters and dropping others. Some symbols were converted to vowels (alpha, epsilon, iota, omicron, and upsilon – a,e,i,o,u). And the 24-letter alphabet was divided into two branches: Ionic (east) and Chalcidian (west). It was originally written from right to left. Then after 500 BC, it was written from left to right.

  776 BC

Ancient Greeks

Pigeon Post

The Ancient Greeks used “carrier” or “homing” pigeons to carry messages announcing the winner of the Olympics - otherwise known as “pigeon post.”

  c. 600 BC

Ancient Romans

Roman or Latin Script

Roman or Latin script is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the Etruscan alphabet. It is the standard method of writing in most Western and Central European languages, as well as many languages from other parts of the world. This script was the basis for the largest number of alphabets of any writing system and is the most widely adopted writing system in the world.

  300 BC


Mayan Script

Mayan script (or Mayan glyphs and hieroglyphs), was the writing system of the Maya civilization of Mesoamerica, not at all related to Egyptian hieroglyphics. It was the only Mesoamerican writing system that has been deciphered. Mayan script used logograms along with a set of syllabic glyphs, similar to modern Japanese writing.

200 BC

200 BC

Quill Pen

The quill pen, made from bird feathers, was used in Judea to write the Dead Sea Scrolls which date back to 200 BC. First used around the 5th century BC, quills were still widely used in the 18th century, and were also used to write the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence.

  59 BC

Ancient Romans

First Bulletin

The first published government bulletin called "Acta Diurna" or "Daily Acts" was attributed to Julius Caesar. Originally a record of senate debates, its announcements evolved to include births and deaths, marriages, reports of trials, gladiator matches, and more. The bulletins were carved in metal or stone, or written on parchment, and posted in public places.

Cai Lun
  105 AD

Cai Lun, Servant of
the Chinese Political Court


Cai Lun was the first reported person to actually make paper, though it may have been invented 200 years earlier. He used the bark of a mulberry tree that was broken into fibers and then pounded into a sheet. This occupies a more central role than canvas in the history of art and printmaking.

& Persians
  7th Century

Arabs & Persians

Arabic Language

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Arabic became a major literary language. It overshadowed Greek’s role as a language of scholarship, and influenced Greek, Slavic, Latin, and other cursive scripts. The Arabic language was responsible for spreading the Hindu–Arabic numeral system through Europe.

Ma'ād al-Mu'izz
  10th Century

Ma'ād al-Mu'izz, 4th Fatimid Caliph of Egypt

Fountain or Reservoir Pen

Mu’izz demanded a pen that wouldn’t stain his hands or clothes. He was given a pen that held ink in a reservoir and delivered it to a nib (the part of a pen that comes into contact with the writing surface). Thus, the fountain or reservoir pen was invented. No details regarding the construction or mechanism of operation of this pen are known.

Bi Sheng

Bi Sheng, Han Chinese Printer

Printing Press

Bi Sheng created the first known movable type printing technology, otherwise known as the Printing Press. The device evenly printed ink onto a print medium. Pressure was applied to the print medium that rested on an inked surface made of movable type. This invention is regarded as among the most influential events in human history.

  14th Century


Greek & Latin

Alongside the emergence of the Renaissance philosophy of humanism, Greek and Latin were revived as significant literary languages, and innovations in the Latin alphabet led to the phonologies of various languages.


Johannes Gutenberg, German Blacksmith,
Goldsmith, Printer & Publisher

Letter Casting

Gutenberg developed an improved printing system by adapting existing technologies and creating new inventions. His letter casting mold made the rapid creation of metal movable type possible in large quantities. The new press overtook earlier printing methods and led to the first assembly line-style mass production of books.


Johannes Gutenberg, German Blacksmith,
Goldsmith, Printer & Publisher

Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed in the West using movable metal type. 48 copies remain today and are considered among the most valuable books in the world.

& Lyndiana

Simonio & Lyndiana Bernacotti

First Wood-Encased Pencil

This Italian couple made the first blueprints for the modern, wood-encased carpentry pencil. The design was flat, oval, and compact. The original concept involved hollowing out of a stick of juniper wood. Later, two wooden halves were carved, graphite was inserted, and the halves were glued together.




Graphite was discovered in England. It was pure and solid, and could be cut into sticks. Locals used it to mark sheep.

Government of
Venice, Italy

Government of Venice, Italy

Handwritten Newspaper

The Government of Venice published the first weekly “Written Notices” that cost one gazzetta, a Venetian coin of that era, the name of which came to mean “newspaper.” These were handwritten newsletters, or gazettes, used to convey political, military, and economic news quickly throughout Europe.

Juan Pablo Bonet

Juan Pablo Bonet, Spanish Priest
& Pioneer of Education for the Deaf

Sign Language

Bonet published “Reducción de las letras y arte para enseñar a hablar a los mudos” (“Reduction of the Letters of the Alphabet and Method of Teaching Deaf-Mutes to Speak”) in Madrid. This was considered the first modern discourse on sign language phonetics, laying out a method of oral education for the deaf, along with a manual alphabet.

Daniel Schwenter

Daniel Schwenter, German Orientalist,
Mathematician, Inventor, Poet & Librarian

Reservoir Pen

Though Schwenter did not invent the fountain pen, in his publication, "Delicia Physic-Mathematicae," he described a reservoir pen made from two quills. One of the quills held the ink and was sealed with a cork. This delivered the ink through a small hole in the other quill.

Benjamin Harris

Benjamin Harris, English Publisher

First Newspaper in America

Harris published “Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick.” Although only one edition was published before being suppressed, it was considered the first newspaper in America. Publick Occurrences followed the two-column format and was a single sheet, printed on both sides.

Thomas Neale

Thomas Neale, English Project Manager & Politician

American Postal Service

The first central postal organization in America commenced when Thomas Neale received a 21-year grant from the British Crown for a North American Postal Service.

Elizabeth Mallet

Elizabeth Mallet

Daily Courant

On March 11, 1702, Elizabeth, and her husband Edward published the first English-language newspaper, the "Daily Courant," in London.

Edward Cave

Edward Cave, English Printer, Editor & Publisher

The Gentleman's Magazine

"The Gentleman's Magazine," created by Edward Cave and published in London, was considered the first general-interest magazine. Cave wrote under the pen name "Sylvanus Urban" and was the first to use the term “magazine.”

Agostino Fantoni
& Pellegrino Turri
  1802 & 1808

Agostino Fantoni & Pellegrino Turri

Typewriter for the Blind

Italian Fantoni, who had a blind sister, developed a typewriter in 1802 that enabled her to write. Many accounts, though, attribute the typewriter for the blind to Pellegrino Turri di Castelnuovo. It is said that he fell in love with Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzono just as she was losing her sight, and in 1808, created a machine with raised characters to help her write.

Ralph Wedgwood
& Pellegrino Turri

Ralph Wedgwood & Pellegrino Turri

Carbon Paper

Around the same time yet independently of one another, Wedgwood and Turri developed carbon paper as a composition aid for the blind. Wedgwood used it for his stylographic writer, and Turri eventually made use of it with his raised-letter typewriter.

Louis Braille

Louis Braille, Blind French Educator & Inventor


This Frenchman invented a system of reading and writing, known as braille, for use by the blind or visually impaired. He also developed a tactile code that allowed the blind to read and write quickly and efficiently.

Petrache Poenaru

Petrache Poenaru, Romanian Inventor

Fountain Pen

Although a prototype fountain pen was invented hundreds of years earlier by Egyptian caliph Ma'ād al-Mu'izz, Poenaru received a French patent for the invention of the first "official" fountain or reservoir pen with a replaceable ink cartridge.

U.S. Postal

Post Office Department (U.S. Postal Service)

Railroad Mail Transport

The use of the railroad to transport the mail was instituted on one rail line in Pennsylvania. All railroads in the United States were designated as post routes, after passage of the Act of July 7, 1838. Railroad mail service increased rapidly thereafter.

Central Overland
California & Pike's Peak
Express Company

Central Overland California
& Pike's Peak Express Company

Pony Express

The Pony Express was a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, mail, and packages by horseback from Missouri, across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento, California. It operated for 18 months and reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Initially started in 1859 as the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express Company (L. & P.P. Express Co.), it was to run between Leavenworth, Kansas and Denver. It transitioned to Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company in 1860, and a route was established between the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails.

Sholes, Glidden,
Soule & Schwalbach

Sholes, Glidden, Soule & Schwalbach

Typewriter with QWERTY Keyboard

American inventors Christopher Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule developed the first commercially successful typewriter, and machinist Matthias Schwalbach made the prototype. The patent was sold to Remington, leading to the 1873 production of the first typewriter with a QWERTY keyboard. Because of the machine's success, QWERTY was subsequently adopted by other manufacturers.

Charles L. Krum
& Howard Krum

Charles L. Krum & Howard Krum,
American Inventors

Morkrum Printing Telegraph

This father and son team invented the Morkrum Printing Telegraph, the first practical electric typewriter using a typewheel rather than individual typebars. The machine was used for the first commercial teletypewriter system on Postal Telegraph Company lines between Boston and New York City.

Ford & U.S.
Postal Service

Ford Motor Company
& the U.S. Postal Service

Mail Vans

Ford sold its Model A and Model AA chassis to the USPS to be outfitted with mail van bodies painted in the postal service's colors. In total, 400 mail vans were built on the 1929 Model A chassis, 400 on the 1929 Model AA chassis, 1,000 on the 1931 Model A chassis, and 2,500 on the 1931 Model AA chassis.

Robert Carlton

Robert Carlton Brown, American Writer

Electronic Book

Before the invention of the computer, this writer conceptualized a "reading machine" that could display book-length publications. This would one day become the electronic book (e-Book), consisting of text, images, or both, readable on computers or other electronic devices. Brown's idea was born after watching a “talkie” (a movie with sound). His manifesto “The Readies” said that machines would allow us to keep up with the rate at which books were printed, save trees, and prevent paper cuts!

László Bíró

László Bíró, Hungarian Inventor

Ball Point Pen

This inventor developed a new pen tip that consisted of a ball that was free to turn in a socket, picked up ink from a cartridge as it turned, then rolled to deposit ink on the paper.

Caedmon Records

Caedmon Records
formed by Barbara Holdridge & Marianne Roney


Following the invention of LPs 1948, making longer recordings practical and affordable, Caedmon Records became an audiobook pioneer. It was the first company dedicated to selling spoken work recordings and it launched the U.S. audiobook industry. Its first LP release was poetry by Dylan Thomas, read by the author himself. “A Child's Christmas in Wales,” on the LP’s B-side, was added as an afterthought but went on to become his most loved work.

Claudio Pinhanez

Claudio Pinhanez, American Researcher

"Open Diary"

This researcher created the first online diary, called “Open Diary,” published on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab's website. Online diaries were the precursor to blogs.

Jorn Barger

Jorn Barger, American Blogger


Barger was the first person to coin the term “weblog,” which would soon be shortened to today's "blog."

Peter Merholz

Peter Merholz of Peterme.com


Merholz changed the pronunciation of the word “weblog” into “wee-blog,” or “blog” for short.

Matthew Charles Mullenweg
& Mike Little

Matthew Charles Mullenweg & Mike Little


Matthew Charles Mullenweg, American online social media entrepreneur, web developer and musician, along with Mike Little, British web developer, introduced WordPress. WordPress is a free, open source blogging tool and content management system (CMS) that runs on a web hosting service. It is now the most popular blogging system, used by more than 22% of the top 10 million websites. It was created as a fork (taking source code from one software package and developing it into distinct software) of b2/cafelog software.



The Kindle

The Kindle, an e-book reader designed and marketed by Amazon.com, was developed. Kindles enabled users to purchase and download e-books, newspapers, magazines, etc. The name means “to light a fire,” which is a metaphor for reading and intellectual interest.

Ancient Egyptians
  2750 BC

Ancient Egyptians

"Thunderer of the Nile"

Before people knew what electricity was, the Egyptians wrote about shocks from electric fish, referring to them as “Thunderer of the Nile.” The earliest approach to the discovery of lightning and electricity can be attributed to the Arabs, who before the 15th century associated the Arabic word for lightning (raad) with the electric ray.

Ancient Greeks
  8th to 4th Centuries BC

Ancient Greeks

Electric Rays

The Ancient Greeks used electric rays to numb the pain of childbirth and operations.

of Miletus
  600 BC

Thales of Miletus, 1st Greek Philosopher

Static Electricity

Thales noticed that amber (hard translucent fossilized resin produced by extinct pine trees), when rubbed with wool or fur, had the ability to pick up small pieces of dry straw and feathers.

  300 BC

Theoprastus, Greek Philosopher
& Successor to Aristotle


Theoprastus was the first known person to have made reference to pyroelectricity – the capacity, by certain materials, to produce voltage when heated or cooled.

Shen Kuo

Shen Kuo, Chinese Scientist

Magnetic Needle Compass

Kuo was the first person to write of the magnetic needle compass in his “Dream Pool Essays.” He discovered the concept of true north (magnets turning towards north pole), and this was the defining step in human history that made compasses useful for navigation.

  c. 1190

Alexander Neckam,
English Scholar & Teacher

Magnetic Needle Compass

In his writings “De utensilibus" and "De naturis rerum,” Neckam was the first European to describe the magnetized needle compass as a nautical tool.

  c. 1550

Girolamo Cardano

Electric vs. Magnetic

This Italian Renaissance mathematician, physician, astrologer, philosopher and gambler, was the first person to distinguish between electrical and magnetic forces in his writing, “De subtilitate rerum."


William Gilbert, English Physician


In his writing, “De Magnete,” Gilbert invented the New Latin word electricus from elektron, the Greek word for amber. He discovered that many substances such as sulphur, wax, and glass, were capable of manifesting electrical properties. He also found that electrified substances generally attracted all other substances, whereas a magnet only attracted iron.

Otto von

Otto von Guericke, German Scientist

Friction Machine

The electrostatic generator, also called a friction machine, was invented using a sulphur globe that could be turned and rubbed by hand to create static electricity.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin, Scientist

Lightning Rod

This Founding Father of the United States created the lightning rod – a metal rod or object mounted on an elevated structure and bonded to earth using a wire or electrical conductor to ground it. It was also known as a “lightning attractor” or “Franklin rod.” Franklin believed that “electric fire” could be drawn out of a cloud with an iron rod. He proved that lightning was a discharge of static electricity, and formulated the idea of positive and negative charges.

Alessandro Volta

Alessandro Volta, Italian Physicist

Voltaic Pile

Volta developed the Voltaic Pile – the first electrical battery that could provide a continuous electrical current to a circuit. Volta’s battery sparked the discovery of electromotive force (the force that drives electric current through a circuit).

Joseph Henry
& William Sturgeon

Joseph Henry & William Sturgeon


Henry, an American scientist, created the electromagnet, a type of magnet that produces a magnetic field by electric current. When the current is turned off, the magnetic field disappears. Henry reported making a magnet that could lift 750 pounds! Though the electromagnet was actually invented in 1825 by British scientist William Sturgeon, Henry developed it into a more practical device.

Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday, English Scientist

Electromagnetic Induction

Electromagnetic induction is the production of an electromotive force across a conductor when it is exposed to a magnetic field. Its discovery was made by wrapping two wires around opposite sides of an iron ring, plugging one wire into a galvanometer (instrument used to detect electric current), and connecting the other wire to a battery, creating transient current.

Johann Wilhelm Hittorf
& Eugen Goldstein

Johann Wilhelm Hittorf
& Eugen Goldstein

Cathode Rays

In 1869, German physicist Hittorf was the first to observe that tubes with energy rays extending from a negative electrode produced fluorescence when they hit the tube’s glass walls. In the 1870s, Eugen Goldstein, the German physicist who discovered anode rays, named the effect “cathode rays.”

Paul Julius
Gottlieb Nipkow

Paul Julius Gottlieb Nipkow

Electric Telescope

This German technician and inventor developed the idea of using a spiral-perforated disk (the Nipkow disk) to divide a picture into a mosaic of points and lines. He received a patent for the “electric telescope” from the Berlin patent office in 1885, retroactive to January 1884.

Karl Ferdinand

Karl Ferdinand Braun,
German Scientist

Cathode Ray Tube

Braun developed the cathode ray tube with a fluorescent screen, which was known as a cathode-ray oscilloscope. The screen emitted visible light when struck by a beam of electrons.

Konstantin Perskiy

Konstantin Perskiy,
Russian Scientist


Perskiy coined the term “television” in a paper that was read in French at the 1900 International World Fair in Paris.

John Ambrose

John Ambrose Fleming,
English Engineer

The Diode

This English electrical engineer and physicist Invented the first thermionic valve or vacuum tube, the diode, later called the kenotron. Diodes allowed an electric current to pass in one direction while blocking current in the opposite direction. A single directional flow was critical for radios, which had to turn alternating current into direct current.

Lee de Forest

Lee de Forest

The Audion

This American invented the Audion – the first triode vacuum tube and the first electrical device that could amplify a weak electrical signal to make it stronger. Patented in 1907, the Audion was a key element in electronics, making radio broadcasting, TV, and long-distance phone service possible.

Boris Lvovich Rosing

Boris Lvovich Rosing,
Russian Scientist

Cathode Ray Tubes & TV

Rosing displayed geometric shapes by using a cathode ray tube in the receiving end of an experimental video signal to form a picture. This marked the first time that cathode ray technology was used for what we now call television.

Vladimir Kosmich

Vladimir Kosmich Zworykin


This Russian-American inventor and engineer developed the iconoscope – the first practical video camera tube to be used in early TV cameras. The invention of this transmitter led to modern TV cameras.

Logie Baird

John Logie Baird,
Scottish Engineer & Inventor

First Television

Baird built the world's first working television set out of a hatbox, a pair of scissors, darning needles, bicycle light lenses, a tea chest, and sealing wax and glue!

Logie Baird

John Logie Baird,
Scottish Engineer & Inventor

First Television Picture

Baird successfully transmitted the first television picture from his lab with a greyscale 30-line image of the head of a ventriloquist's dummy. The image was transmitted at 5 pictures per second. Baird then enlisted an office worker, William Edward Taynton, to be the first ever televised person.

Bell Telephone

Bell Telephone Laboratories

First Televised Speech

Pictures of Herbert Hoover, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, are transmitted 200 miles from Washington D.C. to New York, in the world's first televised speech and first long-distance television transmission.

Francis Jenkins

Charles Francis Jenkins,
American Inventor


Jenkins Television Corporation opened the first television broadcasting station in the United States, W3XK. The station went on air on July 2, 1928, and the first broadcast transmitted from Jenkins Labs in Washington, DC. Subsequent broadcasts occurred 5 nights a week from Wheaton, MD.

Vladimir Kosmich

Vladimir Kosmich Zworykin,
Inventor & Engineer


This Russian-American demonstrated the kinescope – a cathode-ray tube with a fluorescent screen on which an image is reproduced by a directed beam of electrons. This cathode receiver was the basis for the modern TV's picture tube.

Radio Corporation
of America

Radio Corporation of America

Broadcasting from the Empire State Building

RCA begins experimental television broadcasts from the Empire State Building. By this time, 200 TV sets are in use worldwide.

Peter Carl

Peter Carl Goldmark,
German-Hungarian Engineer

Color TV

Goldmark developed color television technology while employed by CBS. His system used a red-green-blue color wheel that spun in front of a cathode ray tube. It transmitted at a different field scan rate, and required an adapter to be compatible with other TV sets on the market. The system was used in 1949 to broadcast medical procedures from hospitals in PA and Atlantic City, NJ.

& Margaret

John & Margaret Walson

Cable TV

The Walsons started Cable Television (Community Antenna Television or CATV) in mountainous Mahanoy City, PA. The town's residents had trouble receiving TV signals from Philadelphia. Walson placed an antenna on a utility pole on a local mountain, then connected it to his appliance store and customers' homes via a cable and modified signal boosters. This became the nation’s first CATV system.

  New Year’s Day, 1954


First National Color TV Broadcast

21 stations in the NBC network aired the first west-to-east national color TV broadcast, showcasing the Tournament of Roses Parade on the 1st of January.



Videotape Recorder

AMPEX produced the first videotape recorder, the VRX-1000. The first magnetically recorded time-delayed television network program using the new Ampex Quadruplex recording system was CBS's "Douglas Edwards and the News."

Robert Adler

Robert Adler, Austrian Physicist

Wireless Remote Control

While working for Zenith, Adler developed a wireless remote control, the “Zenith Space Command.” The first wireless remote, the "Flashmatic," was created by fellow Zenith engineer, Eugene Polley. The 1955 Flashmatic used a beam of light to turn a TV on and off, whereas the Zenith Space Command worked via ultrasonic sound waves. The updated technology quickly outdated the Flashmatic.

  November 8, 1960

Kennedy/Nixon Debates

Split Screen TV

The first split screen broadcast occurred during the Kennedy/Nixon presidential debate.

  July 10, 1962



AT&T launched Telstar, the first satellite to carry TV broadcasts that could be internationally relayed. The satellite was a 34-inch (87 cm) spherical satellite, weighing 171 pounds (77 kilograms). It was inserted into an orbit of about 3,505 miles (5,640 kilometers) at its highest, and 903 miles (1,453 kilometers) at its lowest.

Donald Bitzer,
Gene Slottow
& Robert Willson

Donald Bitzer, Gene Slottow
& Robert Willson

Flat Screen TV

Based on the need for a better monitor to see computer graphics, professors Bitzer and Slottow at the University of Illinois, along with graduate student Willson, developed the first flat screen plasma TV. Utilized with the PLATO learning system, the first computer-based education system, their plasma screen had 1 cell, whereas modern plasma TVs have 1 million cells.

  July 20, 1969


Lunar Broadcast

500 million people watch the first TV transmission from the moon!



Home Videocassette Recorder

This Dutch diversified technology company introduced the world's first home videocassette recorder (VCR) in England. The N1500 could record for about 30 to 45 minutes.


NHK, a Japanese
Broadcasting Corporation

NHK Color

This company created “NHK Color” HDTV with 1,125 lines of resolution.



Closed Captioning

In 1990, President Bush signed a bill requiring that all television sets 13 inches or larger sold in the U.S. after July 1, 1993 are able to display closed captions.

Tatung Company
in Taiwan

Tatung Company in Taiwan

DVD Player

Tatung, in collaboration with Pacific Digital Company from the United States, created the first DVD player. Players were commercially sold in Japan beginning in 1996, and arrived to the U.S. market in 1997.

  October 2000


Blu-Ray Player

Sony unveiled the first Blu-Ray player prototype at the “Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies."

  900 BC


Optical Telegraph - Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals – a cloud of smoke used as a means of conveying messages over long distances. Chinese soldiers first used smoke signals along the Great Wall to alert each other of imminent attack. Some believe messages could be received from as many as 500 miles away.

  150 BC

Polybius, Greek Historian

Optical Telegraph - Smoke Signals

Polybius developed a system of smoke signals that were connected to the Greek alphabet.

Claude Chappe
& His Brothers

Claude Chappe & His Brothers

Optical Telegraph - Semaphore

This French engineer and his brothers developed a system of conveying information across long distances using visual signals, at 2 words per minute. The first successful semaphore used towers with pivoting blades or paddles. Semaphore could be done with flags, rods, disks, or hands. The object’s position indicates the message. It was dependent on good weather and daylight, and required operators and towers every 20 miles.

Francis Ronalds

Francis Ronalds, English Inventor

Electrostatic Telegraph

Ronalds created the first working electrostatic telegraph. Built in Ronalds’ garden, it consisted of eight miles of wire in insulated glass tubing with both ends connected to 2 clocks marked with the letters of the alphabet. Electrical impulses sent along the wire were used to transmit messages.

Carl Friedrich Gauss
& Wilhelm Weber

Carl Friedrich Gauss
& Wilhelm Weber

Electromagnetic Telegraph

Gauss, a German mathematician, and Weber, a German physicist, developed the electromagnetic telegraph – a device for transmitting coded text messages. They created first telegraph for regular communication, covering a 1 km distance. It was made of a coil that could be moved over 2 magnetic steel bars, creating an induction current that was transmitted through 2 wires to the receiver. The current’s direction could be reversed using a switch to go back and forth between the 2 wires. Gauss and Weber encoded the alphabet using binary code.

Sir William
Fothergill Cooke
& Charles Wheatstone

Sir William Fothergill Cooke
& Charles Wheatstone

Electrical Telegraph

These English inventors patented the first commercial electrical telegraph using needles on a board pointing to letters of the alphabet. It was installed on 13 miles of the Great Western Railway and used underground cables installed in a steel conduit. In 1845, John Lewis Ricardo and Cooke bought out Cooke and Wheatstone’s patents, forming the Electric Telegraph Co. (the first telegraphy company in the world).

Samuel Finley
Breese Morse
& Alfred Lewis Vail

Samuel Finley Breese Morse
& Alfred Lewis Vail

Electrical Telegraph

Morse, an American painter turned inventor, and Vail, an American machinist and inventor, developed and patented the electric telegraph in the U.S., independent of Cooke and Wheatstone. The system involved pulses of electric current sent along wires that controlled an electromagnet at the receiving end of the telegraph, and was designed to make indentations on a paper tape when currents were received. A code was needed to transmit natural language using pulses and the silence between them. Thus, Morse Code was created so that operators could translate indentations into text. By 1851, Morse’s telegraphic apparatus was formally accepted as the standard for European telegraph.

Royal Earl House

Royal Earl House,
American Inventor

Printing Telegraph

House created the printing telegraph – an electromechanical typewriter used to send and receive messages from point to point. Two 28-key piano-style keyboards were linked by wire. Each key represented a letter of the alphabet, and when pressed, the matching letter printed at the receiving end. The telegraph transmitted about 50 words per minute and could copy and print up to 2,000 words per hour!

Giovanni Caselli
& Paul Gustave Froment

Giovanni Caselli
& Paul Gustave Froment


Italian physics professor, Caselli, and French engineer, Froment, developed the pantelegraph – the original fax machine that transmitted over telegraph lines. The prototype was invented by Caselli, then improved by Caselli and Froment in 1858, and demonstrated in Paris. A telegraph line between Paris and Amiens was given to Caselli in 1860 by Napoleon III, enabling an 87-mile long-distance experiment transmitting composer Gioacchino Rossini’s signature. The first “pantelegram” was sent from Lyons to Paris in 1862. The pantelegraph was available for public use in 1863 and transmitted writing, signatures, or drawings within 150×100 mm area. An experimental fax was also created by Alexander Bain in 1843.

Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell,
American Scientist, Inventor & Engineer

First Practical Telephone

Commonly credited with inventing the first practical telephone, Bell spoke the famous sentence "Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you" into the phone's transmitter. Watson, listening at the receiving end in an adjoining room, heard the words clearly.

George R. Carey

George R. Carey, American Inventor


Carey was among the first to propose that images could be transmitted using the photoelectric properties of selenium. He created drawings for a selenium camera and built the first working television prototype in 1880, called the "telectroscope."

David Edward Hughes

David Edward Hughes,
Welsh-American Scientist & Musician

Spark-Gap Communication

Hughes discovered that sparks would generate radio signals that could be detected by listening to a telephone receiver connected to a microphone. He developed the spark-gap transmitter and receiver into a communication system, and eventually could send and receive Morse code signals a distance of 500 yards.

Rudolf Hertz

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, German Physicist

Hertzian Waves

Hertz was the first to conclusively prove the existence of electromagnetic waves (referred to as Hertzian Waves). The “hertz,” which is a unit of frequency measuring cycles per second, was named in his honor. It led to the development of commercial Hertzian wave-based wireless telegraphy (radio), audio radio, and later television.

Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi,
Italian Inventor & Electrical Engineer

Wireless Telegraphy

This Italian was credited as the inventor of the radio. In 1895, Marconi conducted experiments at his father's country estate, sending wireless signals across a distance of 1.5 miles. He sent the world's first ever wireless communication over open sea in 1897, with the message “Are you ready?” In 1901, the first radio message crossed the Atlantic from North America. Regular transatlantic radiotelegraph service began in 1907, and the invention was used to help rescue efforts after the Titanic sank in 1912.

Valdemar Poulsen

Valdemar Poulsen, Danish Engineer


Poulsen invented the first practical device for recording phone conversations. Called the telegraphone or wire recorder, it laid the foundation for today’s answering machines.

Reginald Aubrey

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden,
Scientist & Inventor

AM Radio

Canadian Fessenden discovered AM radio broadcasting – amplitude-modulated (AM) radio. AM enables more than one station to send signals (as opposed to spark-gap radio, where one transmitter covers the entire bandwidth of the spectrum). The first radio audio broadcast, which included Fessenden playing the violin and reading from the Bible, originated in Massachusetts and was sent to ships at sea.

Lee de Forest

Lee de Forest, American Inventor


de Forest invented the Audion – the first triode vacuum tube and the first electrical device that could amplify a weak electrical signal to make it stronger. This invention was a key element in electronics, making radio broadcasting, TV, and long-distance phone service possible.

Charles David Herrold

Charles David Herrold,
American Electronics Instructor

Spark-Gap Broadcasting Station

Herrold constructed first spark-gap technology broadcasting station (“San Jose Calling”) in San Jose, California. He coined the terms “narrowcasting” and “broadcasting” to identify transmissions destined for a single receiver, such as on a ship, or those meant for a general audience. Herrold also created omnidirectional antennas that were mounted on rooftops to help radio signals extend in all directions.

8MK Radio
in Detroit, MI

8MK Radio in Detroit, MI

Radio News Program

The first known radio news program was broadcast by station 8MK, an unlicensed predecessor of WWJ (AM) in Detroit, Michigan. The station was owned by a newspaper, which was owned by the Scripps family. The first several days of broadcasting was music, followed by a system for presenting the news.

Edwin Howard

Edwin Howard Armstrong,
American Electrical Engineer

FM Radio

Armstrong invented the circuits that made FM Radio possible – the frequency modulation of the radio wave to reduce static and interference from electrical equipment and the atmosphere. The first experimental FM radio station, W1XOJ, was granted a construction permit by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1937.


AEG, a German Electronics Company


AEG developed the Magnetophon – the brand name of the first reel-to-reel tape recorder based on Fritz Pfleumer’s magnetic tape invention. The first practical model, the K1, was demonstrated at the Berlin Radio Show. The first recording took place on April 27, 1935 in the Ludwigshaven Theater.



First Modem

IBM invented the first modem. It grew out of the need to connect teleprinters over ordinary phone lines instead of leased lines that had been used for loop–based teleprinters and automated telegraphs. The company adapted this technology to their unit record equipment and could transmit punched cards at 25 bits/second. However, it wasn't referred to as a "modem" until 1958.


Federal Communications Commission

CB Radio

The FCC established the first Citizens Radio Service, initially a group of frequencies in the 460-470 MHz range. Called General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), it still exists today. Citizens Band Radio aka CB radio, is a two-way, short-distance radio communication system between users on a select 40 channels. Citizens were permitted to have their own radio band for personal communication, and CBs gained popularity with truckers, plumbers and carpenters in the 1960s and 70s.

William Shockley,
Walter Houser
& John Bardeen

William Shockley,
Walter Houser Brattain
& John Bardeen


These scientists at Bell Labs developed the first transistor, which was smaller, more durable, and used less energy than the vacuum tubes it replaced. Arguably the most important invention of the 20th Century, their invention made the transistor radio possible, a pocket-sized portable radio receiver that used transistor-based circuitry instead of vacuum tube amplifiers.


AMPEX, founded by
Alexander M. Poniatoff,
an acronym for
Alexander M. Poniatoff Excellence

Commercial Tape Recorder

This American electronics company created a commercial tape recorder, the Ampex 200A, based on the German reel-to-reel tape recorder, the Magnetophon. It was used to record the Bing Crosby Show, creating the first delayed radio broadcast. The invention revolutionized the radio and recording industries because of superior audio quality and ease of operation over audio disk cutting.

Texas Instruments
& I.D.E.A.

Texas Instruments & I.D.E.A.

Regency TR-1

Industrial Development Engineering Associates (I.D.E.A.) made the first commercially produced transistor radio, the Regency TR-1, built to Texas Instruments' circuit. Transistor technology became the most popular electronic device in history. It was the precursor to today’s technologically advanced portable audio devices.

Kazuo Hashimoto

Kazuo Hashimoto, Japanese Inventor


The ANSA FONE, originally patented in 1954 in Japan, was the first telephone answering machine sold in the United States.


Philips, a Dutch
Diversified Technology Company

Compact Audio Cassette

On September 13, 1963, Philips introduced the Compact Audio Cassette tape, initially used for dictation machines for office typing, stenographers and journalists. Cassette tapes were later used in telephone answering machines.


Philips, a Dutch
Diversified Technology Company

Portable Radio & Cassette Recorder

Philips developed the first combination portable radio and cassette recorder, the “Radio Recorder,” which became known as the first "boombox."

Andreas Pavel

Andreas Pavel, German-Brazilian Inventor


Pavel developed the Stereobelt – the first portable personal stereo audio cassette player. Stereobelt predated Sony’s “Walkman,” which came out in 1979.

Kane Kramer

Kane Kramer,
British Inventor & Businessman

Digital Audio Player

Kramer designed one of the earliest digital audio players, called the IXI. The prototype could play one hour of audio, but the player never entered commercial production. Kramer was subsequently hired as a consultant for Apple, Inc.

Sony Corporation

Sony Corporation,
a Japanese Multinational Conglomerate


Sony created the Discman – the first portable CD player on the market, the D-5/D-50, also called “CD Walkman.”




The MobilePlayer was the world's first production-volume Internet-ready portable digital audio player from Audible.com. It cost $215, and only supported playback of Audible's low-bitrate digital audio which was developed for spoken word recordings. The device had about 2 hours of play with a custom rechargeable battery.



Mobile Phone MP3 Player

Samsung introduced the first mobile phone with a built-in MP3 player, model SPH-M2100. More MP3 players were sold in mobile phones than all stand-alone MP3 players put together. The success of mobile phone media players prompted Apple’s 2007 release of the iPhone.

Apple, Inc.

Apple, Inc.


The first generation iPod had a 5 GB hard drive based DAP with a 1.8” Toshiba hard drive and a 2” display. The second generation update, released in 2002, was compatible with Windows computers through Musicmatch Jukebox.

Apple, Inc.

Apple, Inc.

iPod Touch

Apple improved on early iPods to create the iPod Touch, the first iPod with a multi-touch screen. The media player was split into Music and Videos apps.

Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke, British Physicist

Tin Can Telephone

Before electromagnetic telephones were invented, Hooke experimented with an acoustic string phone: using tightly strung wire in between two mediums to transmit speech or music over a distance through mechanical vibrations – aka the tin can telephone.

Grafton Page

Charles Grafton Page,
American Inventor

"Galvanic Music"

This inventor, physician and chemistry professor passed an electric current through a wire coil placed between the poles of a horseshoe magnet, finding that connecting and disconnecting the current caused a ringing sound in the magnet. He called the effect "galvanic music."

Daniel Colladon
& Jacques Babinet
  Early 1840's

Daniel Colladon
& Jacques Babinet


Swiss physicist, Colladon, and French physicist, mathematician and astronomer, Babinet, demonstrated the guiding of light by refraction, the principle behind fiber optics.

Antonio Meucci

Antonio Meucci, Italian Inventor


Meucci invented the “teletrofono,” a telecom system linking his lab with his paralyzed wife’s bedroom. He demonstrated the system in 1860, but had no money for a patent. Meucci filed a renewable notice of an impending patent in 1871 and sent a model to Western Union but was turned down. He asked for his materials to be returned and was told they were lost. Subsequently, Alexander Bell, who worked in the same lab, filed a patent in 1876 and was credited with the telephone’s invention. Meucci sued and the U.S. moved to annul Bell’s patent on grounds of fraud, but Meucci died before the trial.

Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell,
American Scientist, Inventor & Engineer

First Practical Telephone

Commonly credited with inventing the first practical telephone, Bell spoke the famous sentence "Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you" into the phone's transmitter. Watson, listening at the receiving end in an adjoining room, heard the words clearly.

Tivadar Puskás

Tivadar Puskás,
Hungarian Engineer & Inventor

First Telephone Exchange

Puskás developed the idea for the first telephone exchange (manual switchboard or private branch exchange-PBX), which would make it possible for subscribers to call each other at homes, businesses, and public spaces. An experimental model was built by Bell Telephone Company in Boston.

George W. Coy,
Herrick Frost
& Walter Lewis

George W. Coy,
Herrick Frost
& Walter Lewis

First Commercial Telephone Exchange

Civil War veteran and telegraph office manager, Coy, along with Frost and Lewis, created the first commercial telephone exchange in the world at the Boardman Building in New Haven, Connecticut. It had 21 subscribers.

Alva Edison

Thomas Alva Edison,
American Inventor

Carbon Microphone

Edison invented the carbon microphone – a transducer that converts sound to an electrical audio signal. His invention was used in all telephones until the 1980s.

Graham Bell
& Charles Sumner

Alexander Graham Bell
& Charles Sumner Tainter


These scientists created a precursor to fiber-optic communications called the Photophone. Bell considered it his most important invention. The device enables the transmission of sound on a beam of light. The Photophone’s first practical use came decades later in military communication systems.



First Telephone Exchange in Germany

In January 1881, the first public telephone exchange in Germany begins trial operation in Berlin. Calls from its 8 subscribers were manually switched using Siemens & Halske switchboards, and calls could only be made between the working hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. By the end of the year, 458 subscribers were connected to the local Berlin network, and by 1889, 10,000 subscribers were registered.

Albert Robida

Albert Robida, French Illustrator


The earliest concept of a videophone, called a telephonoscope, was mentioned in the science fiction writings of this French illustrator, etcher, lithographer, caricaturist and novelist.

Bell Telephone

Bell Telephone

First Long Distance Line

Bell Telephone established the first long distance connection from Boston to New York City.

William Gray

William Gray,
Precision Machinery Polisher

Coin-Operated Pay Phone

Gray invented the first coin-operated pay phone that was patented and installed at the Hartford Connecticut Trust Company.

Almon Brown

Almon Brown Strowger,
American Inventor

First Rotary Dial

Strowger patented the first rotary dial, which worked by direct, forward action. Initially, pulses were sent as the user rotated the dial to the finger stop, starting at a different position for each digit. Eventually, the mechanism was refined to include a recoil spring to control the recoil speed.

Almon Brown

Almon Brown Strowger,
American Inventor

First Automatic Telephone Exchange

Strowger opened the first commercial automatic telephone exchange in Indiana. It used two telegraph-type keys on the telephone as a signaling system.

Valdemar Poulsen

Valdemar Poulsen,
Danish Engineer


Poulsen invented the first practical device for recording phone conversations. Called the telegraphone or wire recorder, the device laid the foundation for today’s answering machines.

Western Electric

Western Electric

Candlestick Telephone

Western Electric developed the first candlestick telephone – a phone with a mouthpiece (transmitter) mounted at the top of the stand, and a receiver (ear phone) that was held to the ear during calls. When not in use, the receiver rested in a switch hook that extended from the side of the stand, disconnecting the audio circuit from the telephone network.



First Transcontinental Call

Alexander Graham Bell, who was in New York, made the first transcontinental telephone call to Thomas Watson, who was in San Francisco. The call was facilitated by Lee de Forest's "audion," a newly invented vacuum tube amplifier. Though AT&T's president made a trial call in 1914, the event wasn't celebrated until Bell and Watson's 1915 call.



First Transatlantic Phone Service

The first commercial radio-telephone service began between New York and London. S. Gifford, president of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company, called Sir Evelyn P. Murray, secretary of the General Post Office of Great Britain.

Georg Oskar

Georg Oskar Schubert,
German Television Technician

First Public Video Telephone

Schubert developed the world's first public video telephone. Opened by the German post office between Berlin and Leipzig, it utilized broadband coaxial cable to cover a 100-mile stretch. It was then extended another 100 miles to Hamburg and eventually operated with more than 620 miles of cable. The phones were integrated into large public videophone booths.

Homer Dudley

Homer Dudley, Electronic
& Acoustic Engineer at Bell Labs

The Voder

Dudley created the Voder – the first machine to electronically synthesize human speech by imitating the effects of the human vocal tract. Operators demonstrated it at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Bell Labs

Bell Labs

Mobile Phone Service

Engineers developed a system that allowed mobile users to place and receive telephone calls from cars, leading to the beginning of mobile service.

Douglas H. Ring
& W. Rae Young

Douglas H. Ring
& W. Rae Young

Cellular Technology

These engineers at Bell Labs developed the idea of hexagonal cell transmissions for mobile phones in cars.



Commercial Mobile Phone Service

AT&T commercialized “Mobile Telephone Service,” making it available to 100 towns and highway corridors. There were only 5,000 customers placing 30,000 calls per week, and calls were transferred manually by an operator. Only 3 radio channels were available, so only 3 customers in any given city could make mobile calls at a time.

Philip T. Porter
  Late 1940's

Philip T. Porter,
Engineer at Bell Labs

Cell Towers

Following the concept of hexagonal cell technology for mobile service, Porter proposed that cell towers be at the hexagons’ corners rather than at the centers, and have antennas that would transmit and receive in 3 directions into 3 adjacent hexagons.



Mobile Telephone System A

This Swedish multinational communications and technology company invented MTA (Mobile Telephone System A), which was the first fully automatic mobile phone system.

Bell Labs

Bell Labs

First Conference Call

The first conference call was placed.

Kazuo Hashimoto

Kazuo Hashimoto


The ANSA FONE, originally patented in 1954 in Japan, was the first telephone answering machine sold in the United States.

Bell Labs

Bell Labs


Bell Labs invented dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) – the Touch Tone system that signals over analog telephone lines in the frequency occupied by the human voice. Touch Tone service replaced pulse dialing and became a worldwide standard for telecom signaling. It allowed phones to communicate with computers, and provided the blueprint for IVR (interactive voice response) technology.

Bell Labs

Bell Labs


The first experimental Picturephone system in the U.S., called “Mod 1,” was presented at the New York World’s Fair. The public was invited to place calls between the fair and special exhibits at Disneyland in California. The Picturephone was not well received because it was bulky and had a very small picture. But by 1990, the technology was improved and incorporated into computers, and video communication was realized.

George Sweigert

George Sweigert,
Amateur Radio Operator & Inventor

Cordless Phone

Recognized as the father of the cordless phone, Sweigert submitted a patent application for a “full duplex wireless communications apparatus.” It was developed to improve battlefield communications for senior commanders during WWII. Original cordless phones, like the Carterfone, were acoustically (not electrically) connected to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

Richard H. Frenkiel,
Joel S. Engel
& Philip T. Porter

Richard H. Frenkiel,
Joel S. Engel
& Philip T. Porter

Cellular Technology Architecture

These engineers at Bell Labs proposed the first system architecture for cellular technology and networks. They co-authored "High Capacity Mobile Telephone System Feasibility Studies and System Plan," which became an important cellular text.

Theodore George
“Ted” Paraskevakos

Theodore George Paraskevakos,
Greek Inventor & Businessman

Caller ID

“Ted” Paraskevakos developed a prototype caller ID receiver, installed at the Peoples' Telephone Company in Leesburg, Alabama, and successfully demonstrated to several telephone companies.

Martin Cooper

Martin Cooper, Motorola Researcher

Handheld Mobile Phone

Motorola was the first company to produce a prototype handheld analog mobile phone. The first call was placed by Cooper to Joel Engel of Bell Labs. The prototype phone weighed 2.5 pounds, allowed 30 minutes of talk time, and took 10 hours to charge!

Stephen Boies

Stephen Boies, Inventor at IBM

Voice Messaging

Boies developed the first voice messaging application, the “Speech Filing System.” It was later renamed Audio Distribution System (ADS).

General Telephone
& Electronics

General Telephone
& Electronics

Fiber-Optic Communications

GTE developed the first commercial fiber-optic communications system, and made the first live telephone traffic through fiber optics at a 6 Mbit/s throughput in Long Beach, California. Fiber optics is used by Local Area Networks (LANs), cable and telephone providers, utilities, the military, and aviation/aerospace industries.

Gordon Matthews

Gordon Matthews, American Businessman

Voice Message Exchange

Matthews, the founder of ECS Communications, filed a method patent for voicemail in 1979 that was granted 1983. The technology was initially called “Voice Message Exchange” and later changed to VMX Inc. Matthews developed a 3,000 user voice messaging system sold commercially to corporations like 3M, Kodak, American Express, Intel, and more.



First Portable Phone

The first portable cell phone was approved by the FCC. The model, Motorola's DynaTAC 8000x, cost $3,995.

Neil Papworth

Neil Papworth, Engineer

SMS Messaging

This test engineer for Sema Group in the UK used SMS messaging for the first time, employing a personal computer to send the text message “Merry Christmas” via the Vodafone network. The message was received by Richard Jarvis, who was at a party in Newbury, Berkshire, specifically organized to celebrate the event.


Israeli Telecom Equipment Provider

Internet VoIP

VocalTec released the first ever Internet VoIP (voice over internet protocol) program using IP PBX (internet protocol private branch exchange) to switch calls between VoIP users and external phone lines or traditional telephone users.

American Personal

American Personal Communications (APC)

Text Messaging in the U.S.

The first text messaging service in the U.S. was established by APC, the first GSM carrier in America (operating under Sprint Spectrum). GSM, or Global System for Mobile Communications, is a standard set of rules about how a mobile network should work. The call to launch the network was made from then Vice President Al Gore in Washington, D.C. to Mayor Kurt Schmoke in Baltimore.

& Homo sapiens
  Upper Paleolithic Period, 45,000-10,000 years ago

Primitive Numbers

Lebombo & Ishango Bones

The Lebombo Bone is a small piece of the fibula of a baboon, marked with 29 clearly defined notches. The bone was discovered in the early 1970s in the Lebombo Mountains between South Africa and Swaziland. It dates back to 35,000 B.C. Another primitive calculator, the Ishango Bone, was also discovered in Africa between the Congo and Rwanda, and is slightly younger, dating to 20,000 B.C.

  500 BC



The first Chinese abacus was said to be the first computer. It was made of a wooden frame, wooden rods, and wooden beads.

  c. 300 BC


Salamis Tablet

The Salamis Tablet, made of white marble, is the oldest surviving counting board, found on Salamis Island in Greece.

John Napier

John Napier, Scottish Mathematician

Napier’s Bones

Napier’s Bones, also called Napier's Rods, are a calculating tool that used marked strips of wood or bone, side by side, to multiply and divide.

Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal, French Mathematician,
Physicist, Inventor & Writer

The Pascaline

Pascal developed the Pascaline, the first mechanical and automatic calculator. It was a wooden box that could add and subtract by using a series of gears and wheels. 50 models were constructed, made of wood, ivory, ebony, and copper.

Gottfried Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz,
German Inventor

Leibniz Calculator

The Leibniz Calculator, also called the Stepped Reckoner, was a calculating machine that could do more than just add and subtract. It could multiply, divide, and find square roots of numbers. The key to the device was a gear called the Leibniz wheel, that acted as a mechanical multiplier.

Gottfried Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz,
German Inventor

Binary Number System

Leibniz developed the Binary Number System, the basis for binary code. It uses only the numbers 1 and 0, and was mentioned in the article “Explication de l'Arithmétique Binaire” ("Explanation of Binary Arithmetic").

Joseph Marie

Joseph Marie Jacquard,
French Weaver & Merchant

Jacquard’s Loom

Jacquard’s Loom was a weaving machine controlled by punched cards. The punched card system was later used in the Analytical Engine, a proposed mechanical general-purpose computer by Charles Babbage.

Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage, English Mathematician
Known as the “Father of Computers"

Difference Engine #1

Babbage invented the Difference Engine, a design for a mechanical computer. The machine was used to calculate and print mathematical functions called polynomials. Developed later, the Difference Engine #2 was able to calculate faster using fewer parts.

Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage, English Mathematician
Known as the “Father of Computers"

Analytical Engine

Babbage's Analytical Engine was a mechanical computer that could solve any mathematical problem. It used punched cards similar to those used by the Jacquard Loom.

Ada Byron

Augusta Ada Byron,
the First Computer Programmer

Computer Programming

Daughter of renowned poet Lord Byron, Augusta was a Math genius. She translated an article on Babbage’s Analytical Engine from French to English. Her translation included her own notes about how she thought the machine should work, outlining the basics of computer programming and including data analysis, looping and memory addressing. A programming language used chiefly by the U.S. government was named "Ada" in her honor.

Herman Hollerith

Herman Hollerith, American Inventor

Tabulating Machine Company

Hollerith invented the Tabulating Machine, which used punched cards to record and sort data or information in order to help speed up the 1890 U.S. census. Once a hole was punched, a pin would pass through it to make an electrical contact with mercury in a cup below, and motors turned that moved numbers to count. About 65 cards per minute could move through the machine. Hollerith started the Tabulating Machine Company and later changed its name to International Business Machines, aka IBM.

Arthur Scherbius

Arthur Scherbius,
German Engineer

Enigma Machine

First patented in 1918, the Enigma was used by the German military before and during World War II, enabling them to code and decode complex messages quickly and accurately with a high degree of complexity.

Vannevar Bush

Vannevar Bush, American Engineer,
Inventor & Professor at MIT

Differential Analyzer

Bush's Differential Analyzer was the first analog electronic computer in the U.S. It measured quantities that changed continuously, e.g. temperature and air pressure. Vacuum tubes switched electrical signals that performed calculations, and a pen fixed above a drawing board drew a curve to display results. The Differential Analyzer weighed 100 tons, had 2,000 vacuum tubes, 1,000s of relays, 150 motors, and 200 miles of wire.

Alan Turing
& Gordon Welchman

Alan Turing & Gordon Welchman

The Bombe

Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman were code breakers for the British government, working at Bletchley Park. They developed the Bombe, and electro-mechanical machine used during WWII to break the German Enigma codes. The Bombe was partially based on an earlier machine called the BOMBA, developed by Polish mathematicians in 1938.

Howard Aiken

Howard Aiken, American Pioneer in Computing

Mark 1

The Mark 1 was a 51-foot long, 8-foot high, 5-ton digital machine that could perform math problems involving very large numbers. It was called the IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, and was made of 78 adding machines and desk calculators connected by 500 miles of wire! The Mark 1 could add three 8-digit numbers in a second, and printed results on punched cards or an electric typewriter.

J. Presper Eckert
& John Mauchly

J. Presper Eckert & John Mauchly


These American inventors at the University of Pennsylvania invented the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator & Computer) – an electronic computer. Unveiled in 1946, the computer was operated by 19,000 vacuum tubes, each containing electronic circuits that turned on and off like light bulbs. ENIAC had no mechanical parts, no counters, and no gears. It was 1,000 times faster than Mark 1, and it could do 5,000 additions per second and 300 multiplications per second. ENIAC cost 3 million dollars and took up a 20 x 40 foot room!

John von Neumann

John von Neumann, Hungarian-American Scientist

Stored Programming

Neumann changed computer design by stating that the machine’s instructions should be stored inside the computer. He used binary code (0’s and 1’s) to code the information that was entered into the computer, and then modified the ENIAC to run as a stored-program machine.

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper, Mark 1 Primary Programmer

Computer Bugs

This computer programmer found the very first computer “bug.” There was actually a dead moth inside the Mark 1! Hopper is also credited with coining the word “debugging” to describe the work that eliminates program faults.

John Bardeen,
William Shockley
& Walter Brattain

John Bardeen, William Shockley & Walter Brattain

Point-Contact Transistor

These three scientists at Bell Laboratories built the first point-contact transistor. It could produce large amplification at some frequencies, and small amplification for all frequencies. The transistor worked like a vacuum because it could relay and switch electronic signals. But it was smaller, conducted electricity faster, and was more reliable and cheaper than vacuum tubes. The point-contact transistor made space travel possible and spawned the invention of transistor radio.

Sir Maurice
Vincent Wilkes

Sir Maurice Vincent Wilkes,
British Computer Scientist


Based on von Neumann's principles, Wilkes built the EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer) – the first full-size stored-program computer. It used 3,000 vacuum tubes, and programs were entered using paper tapes.

J. Presper Eckert
& John Mauchly

J. Presper Eckert & John Mauchly,
American Inventors


Inventors at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, these gentlemen developed the UNIVAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer. It was the first computer to be sold to businesses. The UNIVAC contained 5,000 vacuum tubes and could perform about 1,000 calculations per second. It was used to predict Dwight Eisenhower’s election to president!

Jack Kilby
& Robert Noyce

Jack Kilby & Robert Noyce

Integrated Circuit

Kilby of Texas Instruments and Noyce of Fairchild Corporation invented the integrated circuit – a semiconductor chip the size of a fingernail. The integrated circuit was normally made of silicon, containing several billion transistors or electronic components. It could complete instructions in billionths of a second. In 1963, computers began to use integrated circuits. Today, most electronics, such as computers, cell phones and digital appliances, use some type of integrated circuit.

Alan Curtis Kay

Alan Curtis Kay, American Computer Scientist


Kay created the concept of the Dynabook, a thin, portable, personal computer that weighed no more than two pounds. Its target audience was children, and the Dynabook was designed like a tablet PC or slate computer with a very long battery life. It was the inspiration behind the first desktop personal and portable computers.



Integrated Circuits Grow

Integrated circuits grew tremendously during the 1970s, eventually putting millions of transistors into one chip and increasing computers’ calculation and processing speed.

Ted Hoff

Ted Hoff, Engineer at Intel


Hoff developed the microprocessor, which integrated a computer’s entire CPU onto a single, small chip. With fewer electrical connections, this technology was more reliable than transistors and integrated circuits. It was initially created for use in calculators, but led to invention of personal and microcomputers.

Micro Instrumentation
& Telemetry Systems

Micro Instrumentation
& Telemetry Systems {MITS)

Altair 8800

MITS sold the Altair 8800 as a do-it-yourself compter kit. It was the first microcomputer marketed to the public; based on Intel’s 8-bit microprocessor.

Paul Allen
& Bill Gates

Paul Allen & Bill Gates


These two founders of Microsoft, Inc. developed BASIC code. They knew that the home computer market was about to blow up, so Gates called MITS, saying that he and Allen had developed interpreter software that could be used with the Altair. This was a lie, but MITS wanted to know more. Gates and Allen went on to write the BASIC code in 8 weeks. MITS bought rights to BASIC and within a year, Microsoft, Inc. was formed.

Xerox Corporation

Xerox Corporation

Xerox NoteTaker

Xerox developed the Xerox NoteTaker – a 22 kg portable computer that strongly influenced the design of later computers like the Osborne 1 and Compaq Portable. It was modeled after Kay’s DynaBook project, and fit into a case similar to that of a portable sewing machine.

Steven Paul Jobs
& Stephen Wozniak

Steven Paul Jobs & Stephen Wozniak

Apple I & II

In 1976, Wozniak designed the Apple I and demonstrated it at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California. Jobs, a fellow club member, loved it but had a few ideas on how to improve it. And thus, the Apple II was born. Jobs and Wozniak founded Apple Computer, Inc. with just $1,300. Over the years, Apple came out with the Apple II Plus, Apple IIe, Apple IIc, Apple IIGS, Macintosh, iMac, iPod, and iPhone!

Adam Osborne,
Lee Felsenstein
& Al Alcorn

Adam Osborne, Lee Felsenstein
& Al Alcorn

Osborne 1

Thailand-born British-American author, book and software publisher, and computer designer, Adam Osborne, got together with American computer engineers Lee Felsenstein and Al Alcorn, to invent the Osborne 1. It was the first commercially successful portable microcomputer, weighing 24 lbs with a $1,795 price tag. The computer shipped with a software bundle that was almost equivalent in value to the machine itself. Sales of the Osborne 1 peaked at 10,000 units per month.

Seiko Epson
(aka Epson)

Seiko Epson Corporation (aka Epson),
a Japanese Electronics Company

Epson HX-20

Seiko Epson created the Epson HX-20, which was regarded as the first laptop computer, and the first notebook/handheld computer. Although the HX-20 was announced in 1981, it was not widely sold until 1983.

William Grant

William Grant Moggridge,
British Designer, Author & Educator

GRiD Compass 1101

Moggridge invented the GRiD Compass 1101 – the first true laptop. He introduced the clamshell design, enabling the flat display to fold against the keyboard. The GRID ran on batteries, and was equipped with a 320×200-pixel electroluminescent display and 384 kilobyte bubble memory. Priced between $8-10K, it was not IBM-compatible. The GRID's use was limited to specialized applications like the U.S. military and NASA.

Japan's Ministry of
Trade & Industry

Japan's Ministry of
International Trade & Industry

Fifth-Generation Computer Systems (FGCS) Project

The Fifth-Generation Computer Systems (FGCS) Project was an initiative by the ministry to create a computer using many processors that performed computations in parallel. Though the project failed, some of its approaches, such as logic programming distributed over large knowledge bases, are being used in current technology.

Kyocera Corporation

Kyocera Corporation,
a Multinational Electronics Manufacturer

Kyocera Kyotronic 85

The Kyocera Kyotronic 85 was the biggest-selling early laptop. Designed after the Epson HX-20, it was marketed as the TRS-80 Model 100. The computer, which was about the size of a paper notebook, provided a tiltable 8 line × 40-character LCD screen above a full-travel keyboard and had an internal modem. It was portable, had a good battery life, strong reliability, and was priced as low as $300. These factors made it a favorite among journalists.

Compaq Computer

Compaq Computer Corporation

Compaq SLT/286

The Compaq SLT/286 was a battery powered laptop priced at $5,399. It was the first laptop to support the VGA video standard, and the first laptop to have a detachable keyboard. At only 8.5” deep it was smaller than other laptops and could fit on an airline tray. The SLT/286 weighed 14 pounds and ran for 3 hours on one charge.

Apple, Inc.

Apple, Inc.


Apple's PowerBook series pioneered changes that are now de facto standards on laptops, such as room for a palm rest and the inclusion of a trackball.



Pentium Microprocessor

Intel introduced the Pentium microprocessor. Also known as the P5, it was Intel's first superscalar microarchitecture.

Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft Corporation

Windows 95

Windows 95 was introduced, and it was the first time that Microsoft implemented an advanced power management specification with control in the operating system. This concept played a role in simplifying and stabilizing certain aspects of future notebook design.

Massachusetts Institute
of Technology (MIT)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS)

Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) was one of the first timesharing (sharing of a computing resource among many users ) operating systems. It was developed at MIT's Computation Center and allowed 30 users to log in simultaneously and send each other messages. CTSS was the precursor to email.

Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider

Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider

Intergalactic Computer Network

During the Cold War, U.S. scientists and military experts were concerned that one missile strike could destroy the U.S. telephone network. But Licklider, an American psychologist and computer scientist from MIT, had a solution. Licklider’s idea involved a “intergalactic network” of computers that could talk to one another, enabling government leaders to communicate even if the Soviets destroyed the phone system.

Paul Baran
& Donald Davies

Paul Baran & Donald Davies

Packet Switching

Baran, a Polish-American engineer at RAND Corporation, and Davies, a Welsh computer scientist at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK, invented packet switching – a way of sending information from one computer to another by breaking down data into blocks/packets before sending it to its destination. Packet switching is the fundamental networking technology behind the Internet and most local area networks. The concept was simultaneously developed by both men simultaneously, with Baran using the term “message blocks” while Davies used the term “packets.” UCLA computer scientist Leonard Kleinrock’s work on queueing theory drew the mathematical background to packet switching.

Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory
in California

Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory in California

Octopus Network

Developed by the Lawrence Livermore Lab, the Octopus Network was the first computer network and packet switching network deployed as a timesharing computer resource.

DARPA & Leonard Kleinrock

U.S. Department of Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) & Leonard Kleinrock

Node-to-Node Computer Communication

Leonard Kleinrock, an American engineer and computer scientist at UCLA, supervised the ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) at DARPA. The ARPAnet delivered the first “node-to-node” communication between computers at UCLA and Stanford. The word “LOGIN” was the first message sent through the system, but it crashed the network before the whole word was received. Stanford only saw the first 2 letters.

Robert Elliot Kahn

Robert Elliot Kahn,
American Electrical Engineer

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)

Kahn developed the initial idea for Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). This played a major role in forming the basis of open-architecture networking, allowing computers and networks worldwide to communicate, regardless of what hardware or software the computers used.

Vinton Gray Cerf

Vinton Gray Cerf,
American Computer Scientist

Internet Protocol (IP)

Initially a program manager for DARPA, Cerf is recognized as one of “the fathers of the Internet.” He began working with Kahn, and they created an early version of TCP. Cerf later added Internet Protocol (IP) for more basic functions. The two combined, TCP/IP, are the fundamental communication protocols of the Internet.

Ward Christensen
& Randy Suess

Ward Christensen & Randy Suess

Instant Messaging

These computer hobbyists created the first instant messenger, Computerized Bulletin Board System (CBBS). CBBS was a computer software program that allowed users to exchange information. Because the Internet was not available to most users, they had to dial CBBS directly using a modem and take turns accessing the system, hanging up to give someone else access. This inspired the creation of many other bulletin board systems.


the 1st Commercial Online Service

Online Chat

CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the U.S. The company released the first publicly accessible CB Simulator software available for privately operated Computer Bulletin Board Systems. It enabled users connected on one node of a Computer Bulletin Board System to “chat” with users who dialed in on other nodes.

Commodore International

Commodore International

Commodore 64

This American home computer and electronics manufacturer introduced the Commodore 64 (C64, CBM64, VIC64) – an 8-bit home computer listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-selling single computer model of all time!

Vinton Gray Cerf

Vinton Gray Cerf,
American Computer Scientist

MCI Mail

While working at MCI Corporation, Cerf led the engineering of MCI Mail, the first commercial email service to be connected to the Internet.

James V. Kimsey

James V. Kimsey

Quantum Computer Services

This American Businessman founded Quantum Computer Services, which was later called AOL Inc. (aka America Online).

Computer Services

Quantum Computer Services

Quantum Link

This computer services company offered Quantum Link (or Q-Link) – a U.S. and Canadian online service for Commodore 64 and 128 personal computers. In 1991, the company changed its name to America Online (AOL). Q-Link users could pay a monthly fee to send text-based messages to others via modem.

Sir Timothy
John Berners-Lee

Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee,
British Computer Scientist

World Wide Web

Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, and designed and built the first web browser. He also developed the WWW’s three key technologies: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), URI (Uniform Resource Identifier), and HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).

AOL, Inc.

AOL, Inc.

First Online Newspaper

America Online introduced the first online newspaper service, The Chicago Tribune.

Marc Lowell Andreessen

Marc Lowell Andreessen


This American entrepreneur, investor and software engineer co-founded the Mosaic web browser, an intuitive and reliable interface that could support multiple internet protocols and was credited with popularizing the World Wide Web. Andreessen also co-founded Mosaic Communications, which later became Netscape Communications Corporation and produced Netscape Navigator.

AOL, Inc.

AOL, Inc.


AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was launched, allowing users to send instant messages to each other via chat rooms. By 2005, AIM led the instant messaging market with 53 million users.




Google.com was registered as a domain by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, students at Stanford University. The domain's name is a play on the word "googol," a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros, reflecting their mission to organize an infinite amount of information on the web.


Microsoft Corporation

MSN Messenger

Microsoft released MSN Messenger, allowing the exchange of online messages and email with the more than 40 million users of MSN's Hotmail email service, as well as with others using AOL Instant Messenger. The service was later called Windows Live Messenger, and in 2005 added photo sharing capabilities, social network integration and games. By 2009, the company had more than 330 million active users every month.

Jimmy Donal Wales
& Lawrence
Mark Sanger

Jimmy Donal Wales
& Lawrence Mark Sanger


Wales, an American Internet entrepreneur, and Sanger, an American Internet project/software developer, created Wikipedia – a collaborative, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to write its 30 million articles in 287 languages. Wikipedia is now considered the largest and most popular general reference network.

Chris DeWolfe
& Tom Anderson

Chris DeWolfe & Tom Anderson


DeWolfe, an American entrepreneur, and Anderson co-founded MySpace – an online social networking service with a strong music emphasis.

Janus Friis
& Niklas Zennström

Janus Friis & Niklas Zennström


Microsoft Corporation employees Friis, a Danish entrepreneur, and Zennström, a Swedish entrepreneur, developed Skype – a free VoIP service and instant messaging client that allows users to communicate with a microphone, webcam and instant messenger. It was based on Kazaa, a peer-to-peer file sharing application. Skype had 663 million registered users as of 2010, and was purchased by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion.

Zuckerberg & Friends

Zuckerberg, Saverin, McCollum,
Moskovitz & Hughes


Mark Zuckerberg, American computer programmer, Internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist, co-founded Facebook with fellow Harvard students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. Facebook is an online social networking service that began as a limited-membership website for Harvard University students, and later expanded to support any user who claims to be 13 years of age or older.

Chad Hurley, Steve
Chen & Jawed Karim

Chad Hurley, Steve Chen
& Jawed Karim


These former PayPal employees created YouTube – a video-sharing website owned by Google on which users can upload, view and share videos.

Jack Dorsey,
Evan Clark
Isaac Stone
& Noah Glass

Jack Dorsey, Evan Clark Williams,
Noah Glass & Christopher Isaac Stone


Dorsey, an American web developer and businessman, Williams, an American internet entrepreneur, Glass, American software developer, and Stone, created Twitter – an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read short text messages called “tweets.” As of 2012, Twitter had 500 million registered users who posted 340 million tweets per day. Twitter has been described as “the SMS of the Internet.”

Julian Assange

Julian Assange, Australian Publisher


Australian publisher, journalist, editor-in-chief, and director Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks – an international, online, non-profit, journalistic organization that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. The site was introduced in Iceland by the Sunshine Press.

Kevin Systrom
& Michael Krieger

Kevin Systrom & Michael Krieger


Systrom, an American entrepreneur and software engineer, along with Krieger, a Brazilian entrepreneur and software engineer, created Instagram. Instagram is an online photo and video-sharing social networking service that enables users to take pictures and videos confined to a square shape, apply digital filters to them, and share them on other social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.

Steven Paul Jobs,
Apple, Inc.

Steven Paul Jobs, Apple, Inc.


This American entrepreneur, marketer, and inventor created FaceTime – a videotelephony and VOIP software application developed by Apple. It works for supported mobile devices and computers that run iOS and Mac OS X 10.6.6 and on. Announced by Jobs in 2010, the name was purchased by Apple from FaceTime Communications, whose name changed to Actiance, Inc.

Evan Thomas Spiegel,
Robert Murphy
& Reggie Brown

Evan Thomas Spiegel,
Robert Murphy
& Reggie Brown


Spiegel, Murphy and Brown (the alleged ousted 3rd founder) were three Stanford University students who created Snapchat. Initially called Picaboo, this messaging app allows users to take photos and videos, add text/drawings, and send them to recipients. “Snaps,” as they are called, last 1-10 seconds before being hidden from view and deleted from Snapchat's servers. The app began as a project for Spiegel's class at Stanford. Murphy later coded the app, which was renamed and re-launched under Snapchat.

Google, Inc.

Google, Inc.


Google+ is a social networking and identity service described as a “social layer” that enhances many of its online properties. It is not simply a social networking website, but also an authorship tool that associates web-content directly with its owner/author. It's the second-largest social networking site in the world after Facebook, with 540 million monthly active users.

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