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A Family Tree of Key Computer Technologies Since 1960

In the table below, I summarize the derivations of most significant transistorized general-purpose computers and related products.

Color codes indicate microprocessor ("μP") families that enabled generations of personal computers (such as those with textual user interfaces in 1977-1981 and graphical user interfaces in 1983-1985). Links are to Wikipedia articles. Development locations are denoted via state abbreviations, such as CA (for Silicon Valley: Sunnyvale, Cupertino and surrounding area), FL (Boca Raton), MA (Boston), MN (Chippewa Falls), NM (Albequerque), PA (Norristown and West Chester) and TX (Austin). (Browser troubles? Download a version of this page in Adobe P.D.F..)

A Family Tree of Key Computer Technologies Since 1960
IBM 1400 series (early 1960s) CDC (MN) 160 (late 1950s), 160A (1960) (first minicomputer)
IBM S/360 (1964) CDC (MN) 1604 (1960: first transistorized), 3000 series, 6600 (1964: first supercomputer), 7600 (1969)
IBM S/370 (1970) DEC (MA) PDP series: PDP-8 (1965), PDP-11 Cray 1 (1976), 2 (1985)
BASIC X
AT&T Unix (1970),
C (1972), C++ (1979)
Data General (DE) Nova (1969) DEC (MA) VAX series (1977) Microsoft (originally "Micro-Soft") (MA→NM→WA) BASIC (also published for the Apple – as Applesoft BASIC – and Atari 8-bit computers)
BASIC X X
IBM 801 μP (1970s) Xerox (CA) Alto (1973) Motorola (now Freescale) (TX) 6800 μP (1974) Intel (CA) MCS-4 family (1971: 4004 μP) → MCS-8 family (1972: 8008 μP, etc.) → 8080 μP (1974)
MOS Technology (PA) (acquired by Commodore in 1975) 6502 μP (1975) Zilog (CA) Z80 μP (1976) MITS (NM) Altair 8800 (1975) X
mouse, GUI
mouse, GUI
mouse, GUI
Atari (CA) 2600 (1977) → 8-bit family: 400 & 800 (1979),
1200XL (1982),
600XL & 800XL (1983),
65XE & 130XE (1985),
XE Game System (1987)
Apple (CA) I, II series (1977), III Commodore (PA) PET (1977), VIC-20 (1981), 64 (1982) RadioShack TRS-80 (1977)
Adobe Systems (CA) PostScript Digital Research (CA) GEM (1985) X
Digital Research (CA) CP/M (1977), DR-DOS (1988)
Jay Miner (1982) ↓ X
CEO founder Jack Tramiel to Atari (1984)
IBM ROMP μP Motorola (now Freescale) (TX) 68000 μP (1979) Intel (CA) 80x86 μP family (1978: 8086 μP; 1982: 80286 μP)
IBM (TX) RT (6150) (1986) GNU (1983) Apple (CA) Lisa (1983), Macintosh (1984) Atari (CA) ST series (1985): 520ST & 1040ST Amiga (CA) (1985, after 1984 acquisition by Commodore) Commodore (PA) 128 (1985) Microsoft (WA) MS-DOS (1981) IBM (FL) PC (5150) (1981),
PC/XT (5160) (1983)
mouse, GUI X X
mouse, graphical user interface (GUI) → Microsoft (WA) Windows (1985), ...3.0 (1990) IBM (FL) PC/AT (5170) (1984),
PS/2 series (1987)
IBM (TX) POWER μP X X
IBM (TX) System p (formerly RS/6000) (1990) Linux (1991) FreeBSD (1993) NeXT (CA) NeXTcube (1988) Apple (CA) Macintosh II (1987) operating system-directed power management (OSPM) → Microsoft (WA) Windows NT (1993), ...95, ...98, ...2000, ...XP (2001), ...Vista (2006) modern commodity computers AMD (TX) K5 (1996), Opteron (2003), K10 (2007) μPs
X X (via virtualization) ↓ X
STI (Sony-Toshiba-IBM) (TX) Cell μP (2005) AIM (Apple-IBM-Motorola/Freescale) (TX) PowerPC μP
Apple (CA) PowerBook (1991-2006), Power Macintosh (1994-2006), iMac, iBook (1999-2006), Cube (2000-2001), Mac mini (G4) (2005-2006) Apple's transition to Intel μPs (2005-2006) → Apple (CA) 2006 Intel-based Mac mini, MacBook, Mac Pro; MacBook Air (2008)
AMD-based variants
IBM Roadrunner (expected 2008)

See also The Computer Tree (republished by Ed Thelen), which diagrams in great detail computers from the 1945 ENIAC – "the first modern electronic computer" – to those of the early 1960s.

For further information about the history of video and computer games and their technology, see the introduction to Electronic Game Industry History, Historical Size Constraints in Electronic Games and Entertainment Technology Generations, which introduces the Entertainment Technology Timeline.