Syncopated Systems
Seriously Sound Science

Entertainment Technology Timeline

This article is part of a series about entertainment and computer games. It follows Entertainment Technology Generations, which defines the color code used herein to group generations of entertainment technology. This section begins with an introduction to How the Computer Game Industry Works.

Historical Timeline

  • Ouya releases its crowdfunded microconsole (wiki:Ouya)
  • Microsoft releases Xbox One, its third-generation (G3) console (wiki:Xbox_One)
  • Sony releases PlayStation 4 (P.S.4), its fourth-generation (G4) home game console (wiki:PlayStation_4)
  • Nintendo releases Wii U, its sixth-generation (G6) home game console
  • Syncopated assists Sony with the release of its PlayStation 3 (P.S.3), its third-generation (G3) home game console (wiki:PlayStation_3)
  • Nintendo releases Wii, its fifth-generation (G5) home game console
  • Syncopated assists the World Congress on Information Technology
  • A.T.&T. re-emerges (after broken up in 1984 as an unlawful monopoly)
  • Apple Computer is sued (through a class action) for misrepresenting battery lifespan in its iPod digital music players (appleipodsettlement); Apple Computer continues to design and release new versions of its iPod without making the volatile lithium-ion (Li+) batteries field-replaceable units (f.r.u.s) (J.R.C.)
  • Apple Computer recalls its iBook lithium-ion (Li+) batteries made by Samsung (Apple)
  • Syncopated disqualifies vendor Apple Computer after several bad customer experiences, which started in 2001 (J.R.C.)
  • Microsoft releases Xbox 360, its second-generation (G2) console; two versions are released: one with a fixed hard disk drive and one without (wiki:Xbox_360)
  • Ion Storm closes (J.R.C.)
  • 03: Electronic Arts closes Origin Systems in Austin, Texas (J.R.C.)
  • 08: Acclaim Entertainment goes bankrupt; one morning, employees of Acclaim Studios Austin (formerly Iguana Entertainment) are locked out of their offices by the building's landlord for non-payment of rent (J.R.C.)
  • Syncopated Systems incorporated in Texas (J.R.C.)
  • game software industry at $25.4MMM (PriceWaterhouseCoopers)
  • 02/01: U.S.A. Space Shuttle Columbia (NASA orbiter vehicle designation OV-102) disintegrated during re-entry over Texas on its 28th mission (STS-107), killing all seven aboard (wiki:Space_Shuttle_Columbia)
  • 06/20: Unisys patent on L.Z.W. (the compression algorithm used with GIF image files) expires (W3C)
  • 09/11: U.S.A. attacked: twin towers of New York's World Trade Center destroyed, Pentagon damaged, about 3000 killed; all while Concorde jet making its return-to-service flight over the Atlantic ocean (wiki:Concorde)
  • 11/15: Microsoft releases Xbox in U.S.A. (wiki:Xbox)
  • 03: at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California, keynote speaker Bill Gates announces Microsoft's impending entry into the game console market via development of the Xbox (J.R.C.)
  • SigmaTel hires Syncopated founder to design portable MP3 players, moving him again to Austin, Texas
  • Sony releases PlayStation 2 (P.S.2), its second-generation (G2) home game console, which includes a MIPS R5900 c.p.u. core (wiki:PlayStation_2)
  • Syncopated founder John Carlsen forms Carlsen Communications
  • 02: the shadow of a total solar eclipse passes through the Caribbean Sea
  • 02/23: (wiki) or 03: (wiki:Atari) Atari liquidated by JT Storage to Hasbro Interactive for $5MM
  • 12: the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) approved as an IEC International Standard names and symbols for prefixes for binary multiples for use in the fields of data processing and data transmission, e.g. kibi (Ki), mebi (Mi), gibi (Gi). (U.S. N.I.S.T.)
  • 07/04: Apple Computer ousts c.e.o. Gil Amelio after only 1.5 years (wiki:Gil_Amelio)
  • the first fully-functional Internet-wide instant messenger, I.C.Q., developed by Mirabilis, founded by four young Israelis Yair Goldfinger, Arik Vardi, Sefi Vigiser and Amnon Amir (wiki:ICQ)
  • 02/02: Apple Computer replaces c.e.o. John Sculley with Gil Amelio (wiki)
  • 02/13: Atari merges with JT Storage (wiki:JT_Storage)
  • Nintendo releases 64 (N64), its third-generation (G3) home game console, with significant technology from Silicon Graphics, Inc. (S.G.I.)
  • 07/30: Atari merges with JT Storage (wiki)
  • Nintendo releases Killer Instinct, a coin-operated game including a fixed hard disk drive
  • Sony releases PlayStation (P.S.X.), its first-generation (G1) home game console, which includes a MIPS-based R3000A c.p.u. core on an i.c. made by LSI Logic through its CoreWare33000 (CW33000) program
  • Acclaim Entertainment acquires developer Iguana Entertainment (in Austin, Texas), redemption game maker Lazr Tron (in California), and the nation's largest independent developer Sculptured Software (in Utah); creates Acclaim Coin-Operated Entertainment in Mountain View, California; begins decline toward 2004 demise
  • Sega releases in Japan its Saturn, its fourth-generation (G4) home game console, which includes dual Hitachi SH2 c.p.u.s and a Motorola MC68000, and Titan, a version of the Saturn designed for coin-operated games. Sega's coin-operated game group refuses to adopt the Titan.
  • Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee, KBE, after creating the first Web browser and server in 1991, founds the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (wiki:Tim_Berners-Lee)
  • Intel Pentium FDIV bug found (wiki:Pentium_FDIV_bug)
  • Joint Venture:Silicon Valley revitalization attempt begins; (J.R.C.) Syncopated founder John Carlsen attends the semiconductor sector meeting (J.R.C.)
  • Silicon Graphics, Inc. (S.G.I.) acquires MIPS (J.R.C.)
  • June: Apple Computer board of directors replaces John Sculley with Michael Spindler, President of Apple Europe. (wiki)
  • 09: Iguana Entertainment moves from Sunnyvale, California to Austin, Texas; Syncopated founder John Carlsen moves with it (J.R.C.)
  • Media Vision is caught hiding goods declared as sold in phantom warehouses on two barges, initiating the longest-running securities fraud case in Silicon Valley history. (J.R.C.)
  • Persian Gulf War
  • 01/25: Mediagenic acquired via leveraged buyout ("hostile takeover") (J.R.C.) (J.R.C.)
  • 02/04: Media Vision hires Syncopated founder John Carlsen on the birthday of his new boss, Director of Engineering Bryan J. Colvin; Colvin had started as a technician in the early days of Apple Computer, where he later became an engineer and was responsible for much of the circuit and p.c.b. design of the Apple IIc. (His initials are on many of the Media Vision p.c.b.s; Carlsen's are on others.) (J.R.C.)
  • 03: Media Vision unveils its Pro AudioSpectrum p.c. sound card at a trade show at the San Jose Convention Center. While working at the Media Vision booth, Syncopated founder John Carlsen crosses paths with his former employer Nolan Bushnell, there promoting Commodore International's CDTV, essentially an Amiga 500 computer repackaged as a piece of A/V equipment (J.R.C.)
  • 07: Syncopated founder John Carlsen supervises the first mastery and pressing of Microsoft Windows with Multimedia Extensions on c.d. rom at the Digital Audio Disc Corporation (D.A.D.C.) in Terre Haute, Indiana; Media Vision publishes it before Microsoft does, and Bill Gates's assistant calls, ordering two copies (J.R.C.)
  • 08/06: Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee, KBE puts the first Web page online at CERN (the largest Internet communication node in Europe), after creating the first Web browser and editor (called WorldWideWeb) and first Web server (called httpd, short for HyperText Transfer Protocol daemon), both developed on a NeXT NeXTcube using NEXTSTEP. The Web site provided an explanation about what the World Wide Web was, how one could own a browser and how to set up a Web server; it was also the world's first Web directory, since Berners-Lee maintained a list of other Web sites apart from his own. (wiki:Tim_Berners-Lee)
  • Nintendo adapts its Super Famicom for the U.S.A. market, releasing the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) (J.R.C.)
  • Mediagenic employs Syncopated founder John Carlsen (J.R.C.)
  • Microsoft releases its Windows Game Pack, including a game called Mah Jong, an apparent clone of Activision's Shanghai (a game in which mah jong tiles are matched and removed from a stack, designed by wheelchair-bound Brodie Lockard); Activision's parent Mediagenic is too cash-strapped to sue for intellectual property (i.p.) infringement (J.R.C.)
  • 11/21: Nintendo in Japan releases Super Famicom (S.F.X.) (wiki:Nintendo), its second-generation (G2) home game console based on the Western Design Center's WDC65816 c.p.u. core, a derivative of MOS Technology's MCS6502 (J.R.C.)
  • Philips and Sony introduce c.d.-recordable (then supporting only write-once media and single-session recording) (wiki:Compact_disc)
  • Iraq invades Kuwait, U.S.A.'s Operation Desert Shield ends, replaced by Operation Desert Storm and the Persian Gulf War (J.R.C.)
  • Nintendo releases its Game Boy, its first-generation (G1) handheld game (wiki:Game_Boy)
  • Atari releases its Lynx, its first-generation (G1) handheld game; Lynx had a color screen, but a parts shortage caused Atari to miss the Christmas market (wiki:Atari); Lynx was one of the many modern Atari products developed overseas (in Britain), possibly by a third-party developer (J.R.C.)
  • Sega releases its Genesis (called Mega Drive in Japan) (wiki:Sega), its third-generation (G3) home game console, which included a Motorola MC68000 and Zilog Z80 (J.R.C.)
  • Mediagenic publishes the first interactive entertainment product on c.d. rom, The Manhole. (Activision)
  • Syncopated founder John Carlsen contributes to Aapps MicroTV card for Apple Macintosh II allowing "full-motion" (30 frames per second) on-screen video from its t.v./f.m. tuner or i.f. input (J.R.C.)
  • Berlin Wall falls, Cold War ends (J.R.C.)
  • 12: For Christmas, Syncopated founder John Carlsen gives a coin-operated Pong game (serial number 156?) that he had been restoring to new client and mentor Nolan Bushnell, who had given his last one to the Smithsonian Museum when it asked him for one. (J.R.C.)
  • Atari releases its XE Game System
  • I.B.M. Personal System/2 (PS/2) released, introducing the 32-bit Micro Channel Architecture (M.C.A.) bus (wiki:IBM_PS/2)
  • digital audio tape (d.a.t.)
  • Apple Computer replaces c.e.o. Steve Jobs with Pepsico's John Sculley
  • 01/28: U.S.A. Space Shuttle Challenger (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-099) broke up 73 seconds after lift-off because of an O-ring seal failure in the booster system on its tenth mission (STS-51-L), killing all seven aboard (wiki:Space_Shuttle_Challenger)
  • Nintendo repackaged its Japanese Famicom for the U.S.A. market, creating the Nintendo Entertainment System (N.E.S.) in U.S.A. (wiki:Nintendo), also built around MOS Technology's MCS6502 microprocessor (J.R.C.)
  • Sega releases its Master System (called SG-1000 Mark III in Japan) (wiki:Sega), its second-generation (G2) home game console, which included a Zilog Z80 (J.R.C.)
  • Cray Research releases its Cray 2 supercomputer (Ghosts); designed by Seymour Cray, it's trademark taurus shape mimics that of the Cray 1, but, unlike its predecessor, it uses gallium-arsenide (GaAs) integrated circuits (i.c.s) with hollow cylindrical pins which are inserted through holes on printed circuit boards (p.c.b.s) and then flared (like rivets), not soldered; the circuit boards are then cooled with liquid fluorocarbon coolant (3M Flourinert) (J.R.C.)
  • Philips and Sony introduce c.d. rom ("Yellow Book" standard) (wiki:Compact_disc)
  • Apple Computer releases Macintosh computer; as with its predecessor Lisa (named after Steve Jobs's daughter), it is built around the Motorola MC68000 c.p.u. (J.R.C.)
  • Warner Communications breaks Atari in two: naming the coin-operated games division Atari Games (selling it to Namco, to which Warner owed royalties for home cartridge versions of Pac Man) and selling the consumer-products division Atari to Jack Tramiel, Leonard Tramiel and Sam Tramiel from Commodore International
  • while at Commodore International, executive family Jack Tramiel, Leonard Tramiel and Sam Tramiel negotiate purchase of startup Amiga Computer (in Los Gatos, California), plan to release the Atari Amiga computer (designed by many from the Atari 800 home computer team, built around the Motorola MC68000 c.p.u.); Commodore International board of directors intervenes, retaining Amiga Computer and subsequently releasing the Commodore International Amiga 500 (J.R.C.)
  • after leaving Commodore International, Jack Tramiel, Leonard Tramiel and Sam Tramiel liquidate much of Atari and sequester its remaining employees to design the Atari 520ST (also built around the Motorola MC68000 c.p.u., but running Digital Research GEM operating system); attempting to compete with the Commodore Amiga 500 during the holiday rush, early units are rushed to stores with only minimal bootstrap roms, forcing users to load its operating system from 3.5" micro floppy magnetic diskette(s) each time the unit is turned on, and foregoing final quality checks, resulting in 7 of every 8 units to be returned as defective (J.R.C.)
  • I.B.M. Personal Computer/AT (model 5170) released, introducing a 16-bit expansion to the bus backplane (wiki:IBM_AT)
  • A.T.&T. breakup (Bohn)
  • Atari releases its 600XL and 800XL computers
  • 01/01: modern Internet communication is born as first t.c.p./i.p. wide-area network (wan) becomes operational, constructed by the U.S.A.'s National Science Foundation (N.S.F.) as a university network backbone that would later become the NSFNet (wiki:Internet)
  • Sega releases its SG-1000 in Japan (wiki:Sega), its first-generation (G1) home game console
  • Nintendo releases Famicom, its first-generation (G1) home game console (wiki:Atari), built around MOS Technology's MCS6502 microprocessor (J.R.C.)
  • Coleco releases its Adam computer (wiki:Atari)
  • Activision becomes publicly-trades through its initial public offering (i.p.o.) (Activision)
  • video game crash (wiki:Atari)
  • I.B.M. Personal Computer XT (model 5160) released (wiki:IBM_XT)
  • Philips and Sony release the compact disc in U.S.A. (wiki:Compact_disc)
  • U.S.A. invades Grenada (Bohn)
  • Atari releases its 1200XL computer
  • Atari releases its 5200 (wiki:Atari_5200), a repackaged Atari 800 computer with ill-conceived analog controllers (implemented using fallable flexible circuits); innovations included pause buttons and an automatic r.f. switch box through which power was fed to the console (on original unit only, not on later revisions) (J.R.C.)
  • Atari sales at $2MMM/year
  • Microsoft releases Flight Simulator (mobygames)
  • Philips and Sony release the compact disc (originally only an audio medium, using the "Red Book" standard) (wiki:Compact_disc)
  • video game industry at $6MMM: $5MMM coin-operated, $1MMM home (Cohen)
  • 1981/08: I.B.M. PC (model 5150) released (wiki:IBM_PC)
  • Atari controls 75% of the video game industry market, provides nearly two-thirds of Warner's profits (Cohen)
  • U.S.A. launches its first space shuttle (Bohn)
  • the International Packet Switched Service (IPSS) grows from Europe and the U.S.A. to cover Canada, Hong Kong and Australia (wiki:Internet)
  • Atari releases its 400 and 800 computers
  • Taito releases Space Invaders in Japan (Cohen 76); its popularity causes a coin shortage in Japan, driving the Japanese government to quadruple coin production; Taito licenses Space Invaders to Midway in U.S.A.
  • video game industry annual sales increase 300%
  • Personal Software (later VisiCorp) releases VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program available for personal computers (wiki:VisiCalc)
  • 10/01 Activision founded (wiki) as the first independent developer and distributor of entertainment software. (Activision)
  • 12: Steve Jobs and other Apple Computer employees tour Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) (wiki:Apple_Computer), leading to the development of the Apple Lisa (based on the proprietary Xerox Alto) and Macintosh
  • 01/01: in U.S.A., the Copyright Act of 1976 (Public Law number 94-553) takes effect, now protecting each work upon creation (rather than submitting a work to the Library of Congress for protection) (wiki:Copyright_Act_of_1976)
  • Atari grosses $120MM (Cohen 65)
  • the British post office, Western Union International and Tymnet collaborate to create the first international packet-switched network, the International Packet Switched Service (IPSS) (wiki:Internet)
  • 01: RCA releases Studio 2 game system (Cohen 62)
  • 04/16: Apple Computer releases Apple II computer (wiki:Apple_Computer)
  • 11: Atari releases its 2600 Video Computer System (V.C.S.) (codenamed Stella) (Cohen 62)
  • Tandy's Radio Shack releases its TRS-80 computer
  • Commodore releases its PET computer
  • Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) releases its VAX computer
  • 02/03: Bill Gates writes his An Open Letter to Hobbyists, published in the Homebrew Computer Club newsletter (Volume 2, Issue 1) (wiki:Open_Letter_to_Hobbyists)
  • Atari engineer Steve Jobs works on Breakout (Cohen 54-55)
  • At cash-strapped Atari, Nolan Bushnell turns down a design for a personal computer by employee Steve Jobs and Jobs's friend Steve Wozniak (Cohen 55), sells Atari to Warner Communications for $28MM. (Cohen) ($13MM goes to ex-wife Paula)
  • 08: Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp. releases its Channel F Video Entertainment System (V.E.S.), a full-color home video game console that introduced home video game players to replaceable program cartridges (Cohen 52)
  • 10/19: in U.S.A., the Copyright Act of 1976 becomes Public Law number 94-553, amending the Copyright Act of 1909; when it takes effect 1978/01/01, it now protects each work upon creation (rather than submitting a work to the Library of Congress for protection) (wiki:Copyright_Act_of_1976)
  • Magnavox Odyssey sales $22MM (Cohen)
  • Atari releases home version of Pong (codenamed Darlene) exclusively through Sears, selling 150,000 units; Atari earnings $2.5-3.5MM on nearly $40MM sales (Cohen)
  • Texas Instruments releases the first edition of its TTL Data Book (T.I.), this series of i.c.s provides the basic bulding blocks (like Lego bricks or Lincoln Logs) that enable circuit designers to build reasonably complex circuits in reasonably small (and thus cost-effective) packages (J.R.C.)
  • At Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Jack Burness writes the game Lunar Lander (wiki:Lunar_Lander)
  • 06/27 (Cohen 24) Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney incorporate Atari and hire their first employee Al Alcorn, who designs coin-operated Pong (wiki:Nolan_Bushnell) using hard-wired logic i.c.s mounted on a two-layer tin-lead (SnPb) reflowed p.c.b. (with no soldermask or silkscreen) (J.R.C.)
  • Magnavox releases Odyssey (Cohen 46)
  • Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney form Syzygy, create the first arcade game, coin-operated Computer Space (wiki:Ted_Dabney)
  • U.S.A. motion picture box office receipts hit all-time low (Bohn)
  • Vietnam War
  • 1962/02: At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Steve Russell (with assistance from Alan Kotok) programs a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-1 to play Spacewar!, one of the earliest video games for a digital computer (conceived by Russell with Martin Graetz and Wayne Wiitanen). (wiki:Spacewar)
  • 1962/02/10: A recording of Iowa State University's Cyclone computer (a vacuum-tube-based Illiac derivative) programed by LaFarr Stuart to play simple musical tunes over a speaker (originally installed for diagnostic purposes) is broadcast nationally on the CBS radio network. (LaFarr Stuart later works for Control Data Corporation, where he meets my father, later becoming one of my best mentors.) (J.R.C.)
  • 1963: compact cassette tape
  • 1964: eight-track tape cartridge
  • 1964: Control Data Corporation (C.D.C.) releases its 6600, the world's first supercomputer (Ghosts); designed by Seymour Cray, it's operator console included two large round vector c.r.t. displays (J.R.C.)
  • 1966-1969: Star Trek aires on television
  • 1969: microcassette tape
  • 1969/07/20: Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 mission, accompanied by Buzz Aldrin make first Moon landing by humans (wiki:Moon_landing)
  • 1969/10/29: at U.C.L.A., the first node of the first packet-switched (vs. circuit-switched, e.g. telephone) network, ARPANET, goes live (wiki:Internet)
  • Cold War begins
  • Korean War
  • 1956: I.B.M. introduces the first fixed hard disk drive, the one-ton 5 MB RAMAC (wiki:RAMAC)
  • 1957: U.S.S.R. places first man-made electronic satellite, Sputnik I, into orbit (Bohn)
  • 1958: the U.S.A, spurred by the U.S.S.R.'s launch of Sputnik I, creates the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), later known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which created the Information Processing Technology Office to further the research of the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) program, which had for the first time networked together country-wide radar systems (wiki:Internet), laying the foundation for modern Internet communication
  • 1959: Dr. Robert Noyce invents the first practical integrated circuit (Berlin 1) at Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp., by printing conducting channels directly on its silicon surface (Computer History Museum)
  • World War II
  • reel-to-reel audio tape recording
  • 1946: calculation by computer begins at the University of Pennsylvania (Bohn)
  • 1947/12/22: transistor invented (see 1926); William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain succeed in building the first practical point-contact transistor at Bell Labs (wiki:Invention_of_radio), based on the work Julius Edgar Lilienfeld patented in 1930
  • 1948: vinyl record
  • Alan Turing develops electromechanical computers at Bletchley Park to decipher German messages encoded with the Enigma machine, later creating one of the first designs for a stored-program computer (wiki:Alan_Turing)
  • 1930: the Teletype Corporation becomes part of A.T.&T. (wiki:Teleprinter)
  • 1938: A.C. Gilbert Company purchases struggling toy train maker American Flyer Manufacturing Company and re-designs its entire product line (wiki:A._C._Gilbert_Company), later inventing for its toy trains the enameled wire used in nearly all modern electro-magnetic products
  • 1939: RCA introduces electronic television at the New York World Fair, later agreeing to pay Philo T. Farnsworth for his patented inventions (McPherson 76)
  • hundreds of radio stations emerge in the U.S.A. (wiki:Invention_of_radio)
  • 1922: Lee De Forest develops a sound system for motion pictures (Bohn)
  • 1922/11/14: The B.B.C. begins broadcasting from London (wiki:Invention_of_radio)
  • 1926/10/08: transistor invented: Julius Edgar Lilienfeld files application for U.S. Patent 1,745,175 (issued 1930/01/28) for what is later know as the field-effect transistor
  • 1927/09/07: Philo T. Farnsworth, after moving from Utah to San Francisco, California, invents his electronic television system and early t.v. cameras (McPherson 54) using a prototype of the Farnsworth image disector tube
  • 1910: first commercial installation of a printing telegraph (teleprinter) (wiki:Teleprinter)
  • 1911: A.C. Gilbert Company invents Erector Set toy (wiki:A._C._Gilbert_Company)
  • 1912: R.M.S. Titanic sinks after transmitting distress calls via Marconi Wireless radio communication using Morse code; among the recipients was David Sarnoff, later RCA's general manager
  • 1914-1919: World War I
  • 1891: Thomas Edision patents the Kinetoscope "peep show" (Bohn)
  • 1895: Gramophone record invented
  • 1895: the Lumiere brothers demonstrate their cinematographe motion picture projection system (Bohn)
  • 1898/04/25-08/12: Spanish-American (U.S.A.) war
  • radio communication using Morse code
  • 1888: electricity is first used to drive machinery (Bohn)
  • 1885-1886: Heinrich Hertz proves the existence of radio waves. (wiki:Invention_of_radio)
  • 1888: George Eastman begins to produce and market photographic film in rolls (Bohn)
  • 1861-1865: U.S.A. civil war
  • 1858: first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable
  • 1846-1848: Mexican-American (U.S.A.) war
  • Samuel Morse's electrical telegraph, introducing Morse code and wired electrical serial data telecommunication
  • 1824: Dr. Peter Mark Roget presents his "persistence of vision" theory (Bohn)
  • after 1871: Thurn and Taxis postal system absorbed into the postal system of the new German Empire (wiki:Mail)
  • 1776: American revolution, formation of United States of America (U.S.A.)
  • 1684: Robert Hooke outlines to the British Royal Society a plan for semaphore (wiki:Semaphore), a standardized system of serial data communication through visual telegraphy (unlike the smoke signals that preceded it, which had no standard for messaging) (wiki:Smoke_signal)
  • end of European Middle Ages (medieval period), marked by schism of Christianity during the Protestant Reformation and the dispersal of Europeans worldwide in the start of the European overseas exploration (wiki:Middle_Ages)
  • 1290: Thurn and Taxis family (then known as Tassis) began operating postal services between Italian city states (wiki:Mail)
  • 286: Diocletian's division of the Roman Empire into the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire (now widely known as the Byzantine Empire) (wiki:Western_Roman_Empire)
  • beginning of "common era" (years postfixed "c.e."; formerly "a.d." for "anno domini", meaning "year of our lord")
  • life of Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus Christ; possibly born as early as year -8) (wiki:Jesus)
  • presumed 65-90: Bible written (wiki:Jesus)
  • first postal systems created in Persia, China, Rome (wiki:Mail)
  • c. -1700: in Persia, first postal system, possibly created by Hammurabi (wiki:Mail)
  • c. -2400: Egyptian Pharaohs delivered their decrees via couriers, precursor to postal systems (wiki:Mail)
  • c. -3500: Egyptians play senet, the oldest board game whose ancient existence has been confirmed (wiki:Senet)



  • Berlin, Leslie. The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley. Oxford U P. 2005.
  • Bohn, Thomas W. and Richard L. Stromgren. Light and Shadows: A History of Motion Pictures. Third edition. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing. 1987.
  • Cohen, Scott. Zap: The Rise and Fall of Atari. McGraw-Hill. 1984.
  • McPherson, Stephanie Sammartino. TV's Forgotten Hero: The Story of Philo Farnsworth. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda. 1996.
  • The TTL Data Book for Design Engineers. Texas Instruments Incorporated. 1973.


  • "The Ghosts of Computers Past". IEEE Spectrum. 2002/11. 38-43.
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, qtd. in Wall Street Journal. 2005/12/05. "Videogame Makers Try to Land More Advertising With Research".

Personal Recollections

  • J.R.C.: John R. Carlsen

Web Sites

For further information about the history of video and computer games and their technology, see the Historical Size Constraints in Electronic Games, which provides an illustrated summary of growth in media size constraints affecting video and computer games.

For a chart illustrating derivations of computer technologies, see A Family Tree of Key Computer Technologies Since 1960.