The History of Computers
During My Lifetime

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

— Alan Kay

by Jason Robert Carey Patterson, last updated Jan 2011 (orig Dec 1994)

In this article I take a quick look at the great moments in the history of computers during my lifetime. First written back in 1994 at the dawn of the World Wide Web, this article is updated every few years and over time is building up to become a fascinating look back into computing history. In fact it is already quite interesting, even though I'm still relatively young...

The 1970s
From the world's first microprocessor to the Altair and Apple II. UNIX and the C programming language. CP/M, VisiCalc and WordStar. Pong and Space Invaders. Floppy disks and sealed hard disk drives. Xerox PARC and the birth of the GUI. The VAX and Cray at the high end.
The 1980s
The Commodore 64, the IBM PC, the Macintosh and the Amiga. Graphical user interfaces and the birth of multimedia. IBM PC clones. Pac Man and Donkey Kong. x86 goes 32-bit. The C++ programming language and object-oriented programming. RISC architectures, the SPARCstation and Silicon Graphics.
The 1990s
Microsoft Windows, Netscape, the Internet and the World Wide Web. DOOM and the birth of 3D games. The Alpha, PowerPC and Pentium. The Power Macintosh. Windows 95 and NT. PIXAR and Toy Story. Linux and open source. Netscape vs Internet Explorer. Yahoo! and Google.
The 2000s
The dot-com bust, broadband networking, laptops, WiFi and the iPhone. Mac OS X and Windows XP. Viruses and malware. The Nintendo Wii. Social networking, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

PS: As with any article of this type, I'm always looking for interesting facts and comments to add to the text, without making it too long (brevity is a key goal). If you think I've missed something noteworthy, or simply wish to make a comment, please feel free to email

Unless otherwise noted, all product images shown in this article are either in the public domain or are copyright to the relevant product's creator, owner or manufacturer and used under the rules of "reasonable use". All product names mentioned in this article are the trademarks of their respective owners. Mention of product names is for informational purposes only and constitutes neither an endorsement nor a recommendation.