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CSS Dixieland

Probing the depths of knowledge

These essays by P. A. Stonemann, CSS Dixieland, cover a wide range of historical, philosophical, scientifical and technical subjects. Each page deals with a particular topic, divided into sections and explained by itself. Every page shows at its top hyper links to every other page. The Start page also has short descriptions of the other pages. CSS Dixieland expresses gratitude to the readers that make this work meaningful.

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Computing History page

The dawn of cybernetic evolution
The fascinating history of how thinking machines
have come to be the powerful brains that they are today

Walkyrie who takes our dead heroes to Walhalla in Asgard
Walkyrie who takes our dead heroes to Walhalla in Asgard.
Wagner Frost Illustration

Sections in this page

  History of Computing
  Microprocessors
  Programming languages
  Internet data sets and protocols
  Hyper links to Internet incunabula and Retrocomputing

Technical note: In languages other than English or Latin, but which use mainly Latin characters, some characters are taken from other alphabets, or some Latin characters are modified with diacritic marks for representing different phonemic sounds or other orthographic conventions of those languages. Those characters, when used in this document, have been encoded as entities of Hyper Text Mark-up Language or sometimes in Unicode UTF-8. Therefore computers using other character encodings may render some characters inaccurately, but hopefully, it will still be possible to read non-English words without too much difficulty.

 

History of Computing

Including advances in Mathematics, Physics, Electronics and related disciplines

 

The false notion of the computer as a "modern" invention

The impressive boom of computers in the last few years makes many ignorants think that they represent a totally new invention, but it is not so. Although improvements made in Computing advance at an incredible speed, devices or machines that could be considered as a kind of primitive computers have been projected, or have been tentatively or effectively built, for the last two hundred to four hundred years. Taking the word "computer" in its etymological sense of "counter" or "calculator", some of those primitive computers are:

-The calculation devices of John Napier in 1617, of William Oughtred in 1621-1627, and of Bissaker in 1654.

-The calculator machines of Heinrich Schickart in 1623, of Blaise Pascal in 1642-1652, of Sir Samuel Morland about 1660, of Wilhelm Leibnitz in 1694, and of Mattieu Hahn in 1779.

Besides those purely mathematical calculators, the first automatic machines were built by M. Falcon in 1728, by Basile Bouchon in those years, and by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801-1804.

The first mechanic computers were tentatively built by Charles Babbage in 1821-1834 and in 1834-1871, although they were never finished by him. The first operational mechanic computer was built by Vannevar Bush in 1930.

The first electro mechanic tabulator was built by Hermann Hollerith in 1880-1889.

The first electro mechanic computers were tentatively built by George Stibitz with Samuel Williams in 1937-1940, although they were never finished by them. The first operational electro mechanic computers were built by Konrad Zuse in 1936-1938, by Howard Aiken in 1937-1943, and by Alan Mathison Turing with Max Newman in 1941-1942.

The first electronic computers were tentatively built by John Atanasoff with Clifford Berry in 1937-1942, although they were never finished by them. The first operational, partly electro mechanic and partly electronic computers, were built by Konrad Zuse with Helmut Schreyer in 1941-1943.

The first operational, fully electronic computers, were built by Alan Mathison Turing with Max Newman and with other collaborators in 1941-1943, and by Presper Eckert with John Mauchly and with John Von Neumann in 1943-1946.

Other geniuses existed who deserve a place in Computing History. This essay not only offers mention of a number of them, it also presents a good amount of information about the many resources that computers can offer to those who tackle the intellectual challenge of learning seriously how to operate these wonderful inventions.

The true origins of computers or their ancestors

The History of Computing begins with devices used as an aid for counting. Fingers of the hand, stone pebbles or wooden sticks can be used for this. The Inca of South America also used the Quipu, made of strings with knots, for keeping record of quantities. The abacus, device for counting, adding, substracting, multiplying, dividing, raising to power or extracting root by means of stones lined in a groove or of balls threaded in a wire, is of unknown origin. The original idea might have come from ancient Mesopotamian sources, but there is no historical or archeological evidence for this. Probably different types of abaci were independently invented in different places and at different times. There is documented use in the Roman Empire, China, Japan and a few other countries since the I century or before, in more countries afterwards.

The Maya of Central America seem to have used a type of abacus for counting, in their numbering base of twenty. The abacus is still used today in parts of Russia and Asia, mostly by vendors in street markets or in shops. Its current use in other countries has almost become restricted today to the teaching of elementary Arithmetics, or it is used as a score counter for games, especially for billiards, but with good training the abacus is an efficient calculator. A famous arithmetical competition was organised in 1946, confronting two well known specialists in calculations: a soldier of the United States Army using an electro-mechanic desktop calculator, and a clerk of the Japanese Postal Service using a typical Japanese abacus. The competition consisted of five complex operations, all of them involving adding, substracting, multiplying and dividing. The two men gave accurate results, but the Japanese with his abacus was faster in four of the operations, and slower in only one.

About the I or II century after Christ it is developed in India a system of numerals in base of ten that introduces the concept of zero, and of values that depend on the location of each cipher inside a number. The system reaches Persia, probably during the government of the Shah Xusraw I Anushiravan (also known as Khusraw, Khosro, or Chosroes), from the year 531 to the 578 or 579, when the relations between India and Persia were frequent. From Persia the system is copied by Arab mathematicians about 720, who carry it to territories under Islamic control. The Indian numeral system thus becomes known to Muslim scholars in the Iberian Peninsula in that VIII century, and thence it slowly spreads to the rest of Europe, becoming about the XII century predominant over the Roman numeral system (although Roman numerals are still used today).

Chronology

About 1550: nonius (also called vernier), by Pedro Nunes. It is commonly used today in precision instruments.

1610-1614: Mirifici Logarithmorum Canoni Descriptio (Marvellous Description of Logarithmic Rules), logarithmic tables for multiplying, dividing, raising to power or extracting root, by John Napier (1550-1617). They took four years of fastidious calculations by pencil and paper, but they were only published in 1644, thirty years after their completion and twenty-seven after the death of Mister Napier. Once published, they became very useful to astronomers, engineers, mariners and other scientists and professionals. Later perfected and enlarged by other mathematicians, logarithmic tables remained in common use until the 1970's, when they gradually became substituted by electronic calculators.

1617: Napier Bones, manually handled ivory tablets for multiplying, by adding numbers (logarithms) written on the Bones, by John Napier (1550-1617).

1621-1627: circular calculation slide ruler by William Oughtred and others, based on Napier's logarithmic tables. This ruler was the forerunner of all calculation slide rulers of different forms that were built for three and a half centuries. Still today they can be found at good stationery shops, but in the same fashion as with logarithmic tables, calculation rulers gradually fell out of favour in the 1970's, with the advent of electronic calculators.

1623: calculator machine of pinion wheels for adding, using numbering base of ten, by Wilhelm Heinrich Schickart (or Schickard).

1642-1652: Pascaline, calculator machine of pinion wheels for adding two or three numbers, up to the number 999 999, using numbering base of ten, by Blaise Pascal (1623-1662). Several of them were built.

1654: calculation slide ruler by Bissaker.

About 1660: calculator machine by Sir Samuel Morland.

1666: De Ars Combinatorium (On Combinatory Art), essay on mathematical logic, by Wilhelm Gottfried Von Leibnitz (1646-1716).

1668: cylindrical version of the Napier Bones, twelve cylinders operated by manual rotation, each cylinder representing a cipher of a number in numbering base of ten.

1671-1673: theory of calculator machine for adding, substracting, multiplying or dividing, using numbering base of ten, by Wilhelm Gottfried Von Leibnitz. The machine was built in 1694.

1676-1679: first known explanation of the concept of numbering base of two (called binal or binary base), by Wilhelm Gottfried Von Leibnitz (see year 1930).

1694: calculator machine for adding, substracting, multiplying (directly, not just as a sequence of additions) or dividing, using numbering base of ten, by Wilhelm Gottfried Von Leibnitz, according to his own theory of 1671-1673.

1728: Automatic weaving machine, using perforations of 10 millimetres in diametre through wooden tables of 200 x 500 millimetres, by M. Falcon. About those years, another automatic weaving machine using a roll of perforated paper was built by Basile Bouchon.
Machines operated by wooden tables or cylinders, cards or paper tapes, lined with perforations or with raised dots, have been used from the XVIII century in textile industries, music instruments (like the mechanic piano), toys and other applications.

1779: calculator machine for adding, substracting, multiplying or dividing, by Mattieu Hahn.

1801-1804: automatic weaving machine using perforated cardboard cards, by Joseph Marie Jacquard (1753-).

1812: theory for a differential calculator machine, by Charles Babbage (1791-1871). He attempted the construction of this machine between 1821-1834, and of another machine based on different principles between 1834-1871.

1820: Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851) discovers the mutual influence of magnets and electricity.

1820: Arithmometre (also called Arithmograph), simplified calculator machine for adding, substracting, multiplying or dividing, using numbering base of ten, by Charles Xavier Thomas Colmar (based on the machine that had been built by Wilhelm Gottfried Von Leibnitz). Until 1850 fifteen hundred Arithmometres (or Arithmographs) had been sold, about fifty per year.

1821-1834: Differential Machine, logarithmic calculator machine for polynomes of up to eight terms, using numbering base of ten, by Charles Babbage, according to his own theory of 1812. Tentatively built between 1821-1834 but never finished, it exists a modified version built between 1840-1854 and a perfected version built between 1859-1860, both by Pehr Georg Scheutz.

About 1830: serial production of various machines for arithmetic calculation, all of them using numbering base of ten.

1831: Michael Faraday (1791-1867) discovers that a variable magnetic field generates an electric current, inventing the magneto.

1834-1871: Analytic Machine using perforated cardboard cards, for processing logic symbols (which is the basis of Artificial Intelligence), and up to 100 numbers of 40 ciphers each, using numbering base of ten, by Charles Babbage. An Italian mathematician wrote a description of this machine, description that Lady Ada Augusta Countess of Lovelace enlarged in 1843, explaining how the machine could be programmed. Tentatively built between 1834-1871 but never finished by Babbage, the machine was only known by technical drawings and by part of the printer and of the arithmetic logical unit, built after the death of Babbage. In 1991, specialists of the Science Museum in Kensington finally built the Analytic Machine of Charles Babbage, that worked correctly and with a precision of 31 decimals. It would have been the first hardware programmable mechanic arithmetic (digital) computer, but because it was only built in 1991, that honour corresponds to computers built in the 1930's. The majority of operational computers of advanced concept, in numbering base of two, which were built in the 1930's and until the mid 1940's, were electro-mechanic rather than purely mechanic. The German Z-3 and Z-4 computers, built by Konrad Zuse with Helmut Schreyer, had gone a step farther and were partly electronic. Most advanced computers built since the mid 1940's are fully electronic, although purely mechanical or electro-mechanical counters or calculators were built until the 1970's.

1847: The Mathematical Analysis of Logic, essay by George Boole. Together with his essay of 1854, it is the origin of the Boolean Logic used today for different purposes.

1840-1854: Modified version of the Differential Machine logarithmic calculator, by Pehr Georg Scheutz (based on the never finished machine that had been projected by Charles Babbage).

1854: An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, algebraic system for enunciators of formal logic, by George Boole. In 1867 Charles Sanders Peirce suggested that the system could be applied to electric circuits, while Claude Shannon explained in 1936 how this application could be done. Boolean Logic is today used by search engines and for many other purposes.

1859-1860: Perfected version of the Differential Machine logarithmic calculator, by Pehr Georg Scheutz (based on the never finished machine that had been projected by Charles Babbage).

1865: James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) discovers that electricity and magnetism is one single force, that according to him propagates in the form of waves. The Quantum Theory of Max Planck would later add the concept of tiny packets of energy (quanta) of electro-magnetic radiation, detected as heat, as visible or invisible light, as Roentgen X-Rays, Gamma Rays, and other forms of radiation.

About 1870: Rack and Pinion Calculator Machine, by George Barnard.

1872: Analogue computer used to calculate sea ebb and flow, designed by Lord Kelvin with James Thomas, built by J. White.

1875: calculator machine by Frank Baldwin.

1883: Plate Bulb (also known as thermionic diode valve or as vacuum diode tube) by Thomas Edison. Discovered by Edison, but not further developed by him.

1884-1890: adding machine that shows each added amount and prints the result, by William S. Burroughs. It was the first calculator machine sold by the thousands, by his American Arithmometer Company, founded in 1886, which was later renamed Burroughs Company, then Sperry-Univac, and then Unisys in 1986.

1885-1887: Comptometre calculator machine, by Dorr Felt.

1887: multiplying calculator machine by Leon Bollee.

1888: Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894) discovers that electromagnetism as well as visible and invisible light is one single force (see year 1865).

1880-1889: electro-mechanic tabulator machine using perforated cards, by Hermann Hollerith (-1929). The suggestion of using perforated cards had been proposed by John Shaw Billings, inspired on automatic weaving machines and on other similar mechanic devices. This tabulator was the first important application of a computer in History: in competition against a few other inventions, Hollerith's machine won the contract for the North American census of 1890. The machine was in service until the 1930's. In 1896 Hermann Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company (TMC), renamed in 1911 Computer Tabulating Recording (CTR), and in 1924 International Business Machines (IBM).

1896: Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) sends a wireless signal at a distance of three Kilometres, using sparks reflected by a partly parabollic emitter.

1900: Plate Valve (thermionic diode valve or vacuum diode tube), developed by J. A. Fleming on the previous discovery that had been made by Edison in 1883.

1906: Grade Audion (thermionic triode valve or vacuum triode tube), by Lee de Forest.

1907: electro-mechanic tabulator using perforated cards, by James Powers. It was the second important application of a computer in History: the North American census of 1910. The machine was in service until the 1940's.

1914: machine to play the chess end game of King and Castle against King, by Leonardo Torres y Quevedo. The original, in perfect operational condition, is treasured in the museum of the Polytechnic University, Madrid.

About 1925: Carel Czapek uses the term "robota" (Czech word meaning "worker") in his Scientific Fiction story R.U.R. Universal Robots.

1930: Differential Analyser, analogue computer for solving equations, using numbering base of ten, by Vannevar Bush (Massachussetts Institute of Technology). The Differential Analyser was inspired in the analogue computer of Lord Kelvin, James Thomas and J. White, of 1872. In the 1940's Doctor Bush was Director of the United States Office of Scientific Research and Development, and coordinated war time research in the application of Science to military purposes. In his essay "As We May Think", he describes his vision for a computer aided text system that he named "Memex". His description of browsing the Memex of linked information includes the ability of easily inserting new information by anyone, adding to the growing Memex, as the hyper text system does today in the Gopher Protocol, or in the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol and Mark-up Language used by the World Wide Web.

1930: following the ideas that had been explained by Wilhelm Gottfried Von Leibnitz in 1676-1679, Couffignal suggests that calculator machines (or computers) should use a numbering base of two instead of using a numbering base of ten. That is because in numbering base of two it is easy to represent numbers by giving either an "off" or an "on" status to memory locations. Most previous computers or calculators had been only mechanic, some had been electro-mechanic, but all of them using numbering base of ten by means of pinion wheels (in the mechanic devices), or of electric relais (in the electro-mechanic devices). Electro-mechanic computers predominated from the 1930's to the early 1950's. They were programmed by hardware connections.

1936: On Computable Numbers, essay that develops the concept of stored programme (as opposed to programming by hardware connections), by Alan Mathison Turing (-1954) (Cambridge University). He and other pioneers declare that advances in Robotics and in Automatics (from the Greek word "automaton", meaning "that who acts by itself"), will make possible the construction of thinking machines. The Turing Test will be passed by a machine who could fool a human into thinking that he be in communication with another human.

1936: essay explaining the application of Boolean Logic to electric circuits, by Claude Shannon (Massachussetts Institute of Technology). This essay was inspired on the analogue Differential Analyser of Vannevar Bush, that Shannon had studied in detail, and on the suggestion proposed in 1867 by Charles Sanders Peirce. The ideas of Mister Shannon have been since 1937 applied to telephone switches. See year 1948 for another important theory written by him.

1936-1938: Z-1, electro-mechanic computer using magnetic relais, keyboard for input and panel of lights for output, by Konrad Zuse. FIRST COMPUTER USING NUMBERING BASE OF TWO.

1938: Z-2, electro-mechanic computer using magnetic relais, keyboard for input and panel of lights for output, plus perforated film strips for input or output, by Konrad Zuse. SECOND COMPUTER USING NUMBERING BASE OF TWO.

1937-1940: Complex Number Calculator, electro-mechanic computer for adding, substracting, multiplying or dividing, using numbering base of two and magnetic relais, by George Stibitz (Bell Telephone), in collaboration with Samuel Williams. It was never finished, but it served as a model for some other electro-mechanic computers in numbering base of two (although also some purely mechanic calculators in numbering base of ten continued being made until the 1970's).

1937-1942: ABC, Atanasoff-Berry Computer, by John Atanasoff (Iowa State College), in collaboration with Clifford Berry. It used numbering base of two and 300 vacuum tubes. It was presented to the public in 1939, although it was unfinished and so it remained. If it had been finished, it would have become the first electronic digital computer. An historical court decision in 1972 recognised that this computer had at least been an inspiration for building some other computers.

1937-1943: Harvard Mark I, electro-mechanic computer using magnetic relais, perforated cardboard cards and numbering base of ten, operational in 1943 and presented to the public in 1944, by the group of Howard Aiken (Harvard University and International Business Machines), with support of the United States Navy. It had 200 000 components, a height of almost 3 metres and a length of almost 20 metres. In service until 1959, it could add or substract numbers of 23 ciphers in 0.2 seconds, multiply them in 4 seconds, or divide them in 10 seconds.

1940: Enigma, German machine to cipher or decipher military codes, used for secret communications between headquarters and field commanders.

1940-1942: ambitious project of an electronic digital computer using vacuum tubes and numbering base of two, by Konrad Zuse in collaboration with Helmut Schreyer. Never built, the expensive project was refused by the German Government in 1940, and the two inventors had to abandon it definitely in 1942, in order to concentrate on perfecting the more modest Z-3 computer, and in creating the Z-4 computer.

1941: Z-3, partly electro-mechanic and partly electronic computer using magnetic relais and some vacuum tubes, of numbering base of two, by Konrad Zuse with Helmut Schreyer. Used mostly to design flying machines, it was in service until 1944, when it was destroyed during the attacks against Berlin. FIRST PARTLY ELECTRONIC DIGITAL COMPUTER THAT BECAME FULLY OPERATIONAL (the ABC of Atanasoff and Berry had never been finished).

1941-1942: Ultra, electro-mechanic computer using numbering base of ten and magnetic relais, by Alan Mathison Turing in collaboration with Max Newman and others. It was applied in Britain to decipher German secret communications, mostly those produced by the German Enigma machine.

1942: printed circuit by Paul Eisler (1907-1992). It gradually substituted connections by internal wires.

1943: Z-4, partly electro-mechanic and partly electronic computer using magnetic relais and some vacuum tubes, of numbering base of two, by Konrad Zuse with Helmut Schreyer. Used mostly to design flying machines, it was in service until 1945, when it was carried out of Berlin and hidden for many years. SECOND PARTLY ELECTRONIC DIGITAL COMPUTER THAT BECAME FULLY OPERATIONAL (the ABC of Atanasoff and Berry had never been finished).

1941-1943: Colossus I, FIRST FULLY ELECTRONIC DIGITAL COMPUTER (of bigger size than the ABC, the Z-3 or the Z-4), using numbering base of ten, perforated paper bands, and 2 000 vacuum tubes, by Alan Mathison Turing with Max Newman and others. It was applied in Britain to decipher German secret communications, mostly those produced by the German Enigma machine. Ten Colossus I were built, all of them disassembled in 1946.

1944: the London Times uses the term "computer", in reference to machines capable of performing complex calculations or other intellectual operations.

1943-1946: ENIAC, Electronic Numeric Integrator Analyser and Computer, SECOND FULLY ELECTRONIC DIGITAL COMPUTER (of much bigger size than the ABC, the Z-3, the Z-4 or the Colossus I), by Presper Eckert in collaboration with John Mauchly (-1980) (Moore Engineering School, University of Pennsylvania), and in collaboration with John Von Neumann (1903-1957) (Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, not to confuse with Max Newman). It used numbering base of ten, perforated cards and 17 474 vacuum tubes at 100 Kilohertz, consuming 150 Kilowatt for operation, plus the consumption of the refrigeration system (necessary to extract the heat generated by the vacuum tubes), programmable by hardware connections. Presented to the public in 1946, the ENIAC had a height of over 4 metres, a length of almost 30 metres, and a weight of 4 Megagrammes for its core only, almost 30 Megagrammes counting its peripherals and support systems. Faster than the Harvard Mark I by a factor of over a thousand, the ENIAC could perform operations in 200 microseconds. This kind of computers are called "of first generation", which predominated from the 1940's to the 1950's.

John Von Neumann developed between 1945 and 1950 the theory of logic circuits (also called "Von Neumann Architecture"), in collaboration with Burks and Goldstine. This theory was applied to the EDVAC in 1948 (renamed UNIVAC in 1951), to the EDSAC in 1949, and to many other computers afterwards.

1945: a real bug, an insect, temporarily stops a Mark II computer at the Naval Center in Virginia. Since that time some programmers use the term "bug" in reference to different kinds of unexpected programming errors.

About 1945: As We May Think, essay by Vannevar Bush (Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Director of the United States Office of Scientific Research and Development), describing a computer aided hyper text system that he named "Memex", able to find linked information and to insert easily new information by its different users.

December 1947: solid state contact point transresistor, made of germanium, by John Bardeen and Walter Brattain (Bell Telephone). Presented to the public in 1948.

1948: Norbert Wiener coins the term "Cybernetics" (from the Greek word "kybernos", meaning "control" or "controllable"), defined as "the Science of control and communication in animal or in machine".

1948: A Mathematical Theory of Communication, essay explaining how to apply the numbering base of two to computers, by Claude Shannon (Massachussetts Institute of Technology). It is the first use of the term "bit" (binal digit or binary digit), although the concept of a minimal unit of information based on one of two possible states had already been proposed by Konrad Zuse, who called it a "JA - NEIN" ("YES - NO", in German). Claude Shannon greatly influenced further development of computers using numbering base of two, and definitely provoked the demise of the numbering base of ten for nearly all advanced computers. He also speculated on how computers might play chess.

1948: Manchester Mark I (not to confuse with Harvard Mark I), electronic digital computer using numbering base of two, phosphor screens and perforated paper tapes, by Max Newman (not to confuse with John Von Neumann). Alan Mathison Turing developed a kind of assembly language for it. FIRST COMPUTER USING STORED CODE (as opposed to programming by hardware connections).

1948: BINAC, first computer using magnetic tapes (of big format), by John Mauchly in collaboration with Presper Eckert.

1947-1949: EDSAC, Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator, electronic digital computer by Maurice Wilkes (Cambridge University), using numbering base of two and tubes with mercury. SECOND COMPUTER USING STORED CODE. The EDSAC was based on the project of the EDVAC, but it was finished before.

1948-1951: EDVAC, Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer, electronic digital computer using numbering base of two, perforated cards and vacuum tubes, by Presper Eckert with John Mauchly and in collaboration with John Von Neumann. The EDVAC definitely introduced the concept of stored code in computer programming. This project was modified by Eckert and Mauchly in order to accept big format magnetic tapes instead of perforated paper tapes, and for building it of transistors instead of vacuum tubes. In 1951 those modifications were released in a new model renamed UNIVAC I, Universal Automatic Computer I (see further below).

1949: Short Order Code, by Mandy (Univac), first scientific programming language.

1944-1950: Whirlwind, digital computer by Jay Forrester (Massachussetts Institute of Technology), first computer operable in real time. It began in 1944 as an analogue computer, but it was shortly later modified to be digital.

1950: Pilot ACE, Automatic Computing Engine, electronic digital computer by Alan Mathison Turing with Max Newman and others, using numbering base of two and programmable by a kind of assembly language. THIRD COMPUTER USING STORED CODE. Like the EDSAC, the Pilot ACE was also based on the project of the EDVAC.

1950: Silhouette of a Scottish Dancer, first artistic image in a computer screen (an oscilloscope), made by an anonymous operator in the EDSAC of Maurice Wilkes at Cambridge University.

1947-1951: UNIVAC I, Universal Automatic Computer I, by Presper Eckert with John Mauchly (Sperry Rand), in collaboration with John Von Neumann, marketed by the Univac Division of Remington Rand. It occupied 20 square metres and had a weight of 5 Megagrammes. In spite of being a tenth part the size of the ENIAC, the UNIVAC I had a memory hundredfold the memory of the ENIAC. Fifteen Univac I were built. This kind of computers are called "of second generation", which predominated from the 1950's to the 1960's.

1951: the contact point transresistor of Bardeen and Brattain is modified by William Shockley (Bell Telephone) and named junction transistor, made of germanium. The three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1956.

1951: LEO, electronic digital computer using numbering base of two, serially built and commercially marketed.

1951: A-0 Coding Translator, by Captain Grace Hopper (United States Navy and Univac), first compiler of routines (repetitive tasks done many times by the computer in the same or in different programmes).

1951: programme to play draughts, made by Christopher Strachey in the Mark I of Max Newman (not to confuse with John Von Neumann) at Manchester University.

1952: proposal of an integrated circuit, by G. W. A. Dummer. This was hardly possible in 1952, when contact point transresistors or junction transistors were the only kinds of transistor available. Integrated circuits only became a possibility when Jean Hoerni invented the flat transistor in December 1958.

1952: IBM 700, by International Business Machines, built of vacuum tubes.

1953: IBM 701, by International Business Machines. Successful with a few big corporations, research institutions or government agencies that could afford its price, the IBM 701 inaugurated a kind of electronic digital computers serially built and commercially marketed, which used transistors, perforated cards or paper tapes for input or output, and big format magnetic tapes for internal storage.

1953: Speed Coding, by Seldon and John Backus (International Business Machines), second scientific programming language.

1953: magnetic memory, by Jay Forrester (Massachussetts Institute of Technology). It gradually substituted memory by vacuum tubes.

1954: IBM 650, by International Business Machines. The series continued in later years with the IBM 702, IBM 704, IBM 709, IBM 790 and IBM 794. Cards and paper tapes gradually disappeared and were almost gone by the 1980's, but big format magnetic tapes continued in use in some big computers even after the year 2000. This IBM series covered a wider range of applications than had been covered by its computer predecessors (which had been mostly used for long mathematical calculations), in the sense that these IBM computers were also commonly used as for example electronic data bases, storing documents or other informations in electronic form. Less than 50 computers in operation existed in the world before the IBM 650, but over 1 000 computers of this model were sold.

1954: junction transistor made of silicium (instead of germanium, which is much more expensive), by Gordon Teal (Texas Instruments). It gradually substituted vacuum tubes as valves.

1955: Tradic, first computer entirely built of transistors, by Bell Telephone.

1956: TEC, Transistor Experimental Computer, by the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

1956: system of batch processing (before that, programmes had been processed one by one).

1956: at Darmouth College, ten experts in diverse disciplines meet to create the basis for what they call Artificial Intelligence (to distinguish it from Robotics, Automatics and Cybernetics). John Mc Carthy (Stanford University), presented the Lisp programming language and the Mc Carthy Test for measuring Artificial Intelligence (playing games, following conversation, receiving information or performing other activities through a terminal). Other experts presented programmes for playing chess or for proving mathematical theorems.

1958: first elementary but complete programme for playing chess against a computer, by Doctor A. L. Samuel (International Business Machines).

1958: Advanced Research Projects Agency begins studies for a military Arpa Network, that in time would become the origin of the Interconnected Networks (also known as Internetting or Internet).

July 1958: system of time sharing is proposed at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology to substitute batch processing. Initially it was used the big TX-0 computer, made of transistors and equipped with screen of cathodic ray tube and light pen. In this computer was programmed the first action game (not counting computerised board games like draughts or chess): Mouse in the Labyrinth, by a teacher of the institution. Time sharing became definitely established in 1962.

December 1958: flat transistor by Jean Hoerni (Fairchild Semiconductor, Palo Alto, High California). It makes possible the insertion of elements to form an integrated circuit, as it had been proposed by G. W. A. Dummer in 1952. Integrated circuits gradually substituted printed circuits as main computer processors, although printed circuits remained in use for simpler purposes.

1958-1959: integrated circuit with base of germanium, by Jack Saint Clair Kilby (Texas Instruments). Made possible by the flat transistor recently invented by Jean Hoerni, the integrated circuit of Mister Kilby had about five elements, that could be resistances, condensers, or also transistors.

1959: integrated circuit with base of silicium and chemical gravure, by Robert Noyce (Fairchild Semiconductor), based on the flat transistor of Jean Hoerni and on the P-N Multiple Semiconductor Junction of Kurt Lehovec.

1959: Computer Sciences Corporation, created by Roy Nutt and Fletcher Jones. First software company in History.

1959: PDP-1, Programmed Data Processer-1, by Kenneth Olsen (Digital Equipment Corporation). First minicomputer, in fact the size of a very big wardrobe, but "mini" when compared to computers that occupied large rooms.

1960: IBM 7090, SOS operating system, produced by Share and IBM.

1960: it is calculated the existence of about 5 000 computers in the world.

1960-1962: Space War, action game by Stephen Slug Russell, with Wayne Witanen and Martin Graetz, based on the Minskytron action game of Marvin Minsky, both programmes were created in the PDP-1 minicomputer of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

1960: first joy stick for playing action games, built in a wooden box by two students of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

1960: Mac Project, first computer network.

1961: field effect transistor by Steven Hofstein, that made possible the development of MOS transistor (Metallic Oxid Semiconductor) by R. C. A.

July 1961: essay on the theory of packet interchange for computer networks, by Leonard Kleinrock (Massachussets Institute of Technology).

1961-1962: Texas Instruments and Fairchild Semiconductor start separately the serial production of integrated circuits of silicium (shortly later called chips), to substitute printed circuits in arithmetic logical units. In 1964 little over ten elements could enter in a square centimetre. In 1970 over a thousand elements entered into that surface, each element separated from its neighbour by only a few micrometres. These microcircuits began a kind of computers called "of third generation", which predominated from the 1960's to the 1970's.

1962: magnetic disk for memory storage.

August 1962: essay on a "Galactic Network" of computers, by J. C. R. Licklider (Massachussets Institute of Technology).

October 1962: J. C. R. Licklider becomes the first Director of a DARPA computer project at the Advanced Research Projects Agency. Later directors of the project include Ivan Sutherland, Bob Taylor and Lawrence G. Roberts.

1963: PDP-5, Programmed Data Processer-5, by Kenneth Olsen (Digital Equipment Corporation). The PDP-5 was sold at 120 000 Dollars.

1963: creation of the Augmentation Research Center by Douglas Engelbart (Stanford Research Institute, Director of the Bootstrap Institute). He later helped to develop hyper text.

1964: IBM 360 computer and OS/360 operating system, by International Business Machines. It introduced bytes of 8 bits allowing up to 256 characters EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code), which replaced bytes of 6 bits that allowed up to 64 characters BCD or BCI (these ones had themselves replaced bytes of 4 bits, which allowed only 16 characters). Shortly later appeared the IBM 370 and the Basic Operating System, Tape Operating System and Disk Operating System (unrelated to Basic programming language, or to later DOS operating systems such as PC-DOS, MS-DOS, DR-DOS, et cetera).

1964: first computer with main processor entirely built as integrated circuit (of little over ten elements per square centimetre).

1964: essay on the application of packet interchange for secret military communications, by Paul Baran and others (R. A. N. D.).

1964: Leonard Kleinrock publishes a book on the theory of packet interchange for computer networks. This book convinces Lawrence G. Roberts for using packet interchange instead of circuits in the Arpanet project.

1965: PDP-8, Programmed Data Processer-8, by Kenneth Olsen (Digital Equipment Corporation). The PDP-8 was the first commercially successful minicomputer, sold at 18 000 Dollars.

1965: Thomas Merrill and Lawrence G. Roberts connect a Q-32 computer at the University of California with a TX-2 computer at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, using a dial-up low speed telephone line, and thus making the FIRST LONG DISTANCE COMPUTER NETWORK IN HISTORY. The experiment is a success, but it shows that available telephone lines are still inadequate, confirming Leonard Kleinrock's proposal for packet interchange instead of circuits.

1965: computer mouse, invented by Douglas Engelbart (Stanford Research Institute, Director of the Bootstrap Institute).

1966: Eliza, first conversational programme (also known as talking robot), by Joseph Weizenbaum.

December 1966: Lawrence G. Roberts becomes part of DARPA.

1967: Lawrence G. Roberts presents an Arpanet project. At the same event, Donald Davies and Roger Scantlebury (Nuclear Physics Laboratory, in Great Britain) also present a project on a computer network based on packet interchange. It became clear that three organisations were independently developing similar ideas: one was the group of Leonard Kleinrock and J. C. R. Licklider at M. I. T. from 1961 to 1967, another was the group of Paul Baran at R. A. N. D. from 1962 to 1965, and a third one was the group of Mister Davies and Mister Scantlebury at British N. P. L. from 1964 to 1967. The term "packet interchange" came from the N. P. L. project, while the proposed line speed for the Arpanet project was increased from 2.4 Kb to 50 Kb.

1967: branching motion picture presented by Ted Nelson at the Czechoslovakian Pavillion of Expo 67. He coined the term "hyper-text" in his book "Literary Machines and Dream Machines", which described hyper media and advocated for a global hyper text system that he named "Xanadu".

1968: B 2500 and B 3500, computers built with integrated circuits, by Burroughs Corporation.

August 1968: after Lawrence G. Roberts and his DARPA group had defined the specifications for Arpanet, a group led by Frank Heart (Bolt Beranek) and by Newman (B. B. N.), is chosen for developing an Interface Message Processor. Robert Kahn (B. B. N.) designs the network architecture. Topology and network economy are taken by Lawrence G. Roberts and by the group of Howard Frank (Network Analysis Corporation). Network measuring system falls under the responsibility of Leonard Kleinrock and his group of the University of California at Los Angeles.

1969: Fairchild 4100, integrated circuit of 256 bits in Read Only Memory (Fairchild Semiconductor).

1969: Unics operating system. Created by Kenneth Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (Bell AT & T), who were unhappy with Multics, Unics became one of the first time-sharing operating systems. Renamed Unix, it was rewritten by its original authors: by Kenneth Thompson in 1972 and by Dennis Ritchie in 1974, becoming fully operational in 1974 and open source in 1978. From the 1970's to the early 2000's a number of open source systems based on Unics were created, such as various BSD systems, plus GNU Hurd, Linux, Minix, Open Solaris, and others.

1969: Request for Comments, method developed by S. Crocker (U. C. L. A.) for interchange of ideas and proposals among researchers. Initially distributed by the physical postal service, the requests for comments became commonly distributed in later years through File Transfer Protocol. Since the 1990's, they can also be accessed as hyper text documents via World Wide Web. They are edited and coordinated by Jon Postel (Stanford Research Institute), and have become the technical standard on which Internet is based.

2nd September 1969: first short distance message transmitted between two computers, both inside of U. C. L. A. and connected by a 5 metre cable, by Leonard Kleinrock. The computers interchanged meaningless data while about twenty people watched the historical event, which MARKS THE START OF INTERNET. Because of its success, the Centre for Network Measuring of Leonard Kleinrock at U. C. L. A. is chosen for the installation of the first Interface Message Processor of Heart and Newman, THUS CREATING THE FIRST COMPUTER HOST-SERVER. Days later, the Human Intellect project of Douglas Engelbart (that included NLS, a forerunner of hyper text) is installed at the Stanford Research Institute, becoming the second computer host-server. Stanford maintains the Host Name list for the mapping of directory and addresses of Request for Comments.

October 1969: first long distance message transmitted between host-servers, from the host of U. C. L. A. to that of Stanford. The message consisted only of the two letters "LO". It was intended as "LOG IN", but the connection crashed when trying to send the "G".

January 1970: The University of Utah and the University of California at Santa Barbara soon join the recently born Arpanet. The group of Glen Culler and Burton Fried at the U. C. S. B. take research on mathematic functions for network visualisation, while that of Robert Taylor and Ivan Sutherland at Utah concentrate on methods for third dimension representation of the network. The four host servers (U. C. L. A., Stanford, U. C. S. B. and Utah) start a long lived tradition of research into the network itself as well as into its possible applications, a tradition that continues until today.

1970: it is calculated the existence of about 100 000 computers in the world.

1970: Intel 1103, integrated circuit of 1 Kilobit in Random Access Memory (Integrated Electronics, Santa Clara, High California).

1970 to 1972: the Learning Research Group assembled by Xerox at the Palo Alto Research Centre produces the "Alto", first operating system that featured icons in a graphic interface, as opposed to text line in a command prompt. Only 150 copies of the Alto were privately released (never sold), but it inspired systems such as Lisa, IBM OS/2 (1981), Apple Macintosh (1984), or Microsoft Windows (1985).

1971: Intel 4004, microprocessor of 4 Kilobytes of 4 bits at 60 Kilohertz, by Marcian Edward Hoff, Stanley Mazor, Federico Faginn (Integrated Electronics).

1971: twenty-three North American universities or research institutions have computers connected to Arpanet.

December 1971: Network Control Protocol, first host to host protocol of Arpanet, by S. Crocker (Network Work Group). It made possible for any member of Arpanet to develop his own applications.

1971: Project Gutenberg. In the course of time it would become the biggest library in the Internet, with over fifty thousand books in 2016 (most of them in English, although over forty languages are represented with at least one book). Those books are available in electronic format in at least two on-line collections: Project Gutenberg and Many Books, hyper linked below.

 

Project Gutenberg
Since 1971, the oldest collection of Internet books (over fifty thousand in 2016)
http://www.gutenberg.org/

 

Many Books
All of the books from the Gutenberg collection, converted to mobile formats
http://manybooks.net/

 

1972: Intel 8008, microprocessor of 16 Kilobytes of 8 bits. At a price of 200 Dollars, the Intel 8008 was used in scientific calculators and in two very early microcomputers: Scelbi-8 H of 1973 and Personal Minicomputer Mark-8 of 1974.

March 1972: first elementary application of electronic post for Arpanet, only with the functions "Read" and "Send", by Ray Tomlinson (B. B. N.).

July 1972: Lawrence G. Roberts added to electronic post the functions "List", "Read selectively", "Save", "Forward" and "Reply", making the Mailto Protocol the most important Arpanet and Internet application until the mid 1990's, with File Transfer Protocol and Telnet Protocol following suit, all of them superated since the mid 1990's only by Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.

October 1972: at the International Conference on Computer Communication, Robert Kahn presented Arpanet for the first time to the public, as a network of open architecture with the name of "Interconnected Networks", "Internet" or "Internetting". It became obvious that the addressing system of Network Control Protocol, based on the Interface Message Processor of Arpanet, was insufficient for an open network, and therefore another protocol with control of transmission errors should eventually have to be devised. This new one would be later called Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol, whose fundamental characteristics were defined by Mr. Kahn in a report named "Communication Principles for Operating Systems":

-Each local area network is independent, internal changes are not mandatory for its connection to Internet.
-An incomplete transmission of packets is re-transmitted a number of times, defined by a "time-out" limit.
-Black boxes (later called gateways and routers) connect local area networks, but do not keep data on passing packets.
-There is no global control at the operational level.

Other characteristics under evaluation at that time were:

-Pipelining, making possible to route many packets simultaneously.
-Gateway functions, like Internet Protocol heading, directed interfaces, breaking of packets into smaller fragments to be assembled later, and others.
-Point to point checking, for recuperation of fragments and for detection of duplications.
-Global addressing system.
-Control of flux from host to host.
-Interface with a variety of operating systems.
-Efficiency in implementation and in performance among local area networks.

1972: Pong, first commercially successful computer action game (installed in machines operated by coins), by Nolan Bushnell (Atari).

1972: Unics operating system re-written in assembly language by Kenneth Thompson, using a PDP-7 computer of Digital Equipment Corporation.

1972: Usenet for News Groups of Duke University, working through Unics operating system.

1973: first message transmitted by electronic post through Arpanet.

April 1973: Robert Kahn summons Vinton Cerf (Stanford Research Institute), an expert in Network Control Protocol and in existing operating systems, for developing the new protocol for the Internet project, called just TCP but in reality having the two protocols in one, TCP as well as IP.

September 1973: Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf present the new TCP/IP protocol at a special meeting of the International Network Work Group, formed at Sussex University and led by Mister Cerf. Its main characteristics are:

-Communication through a long chain of bytes (called "octets", for being usual at that time the bytes composed of eight bits).
-The position of any octet in the chain is used to identify the octet.
-Control of flux is done using windows and acks.
-Destination can choose when recognition should be done, each ack returned is cumulative for all packets received.
-The parametres for windows to be used between origin andd destination remain yet undefined.

The original idea for the protocol is definitely separated in two protocols: TCP to control flux or recuperate lost packets, and IP to address or route packets. A User Datagramme Protocol is added for programmes that need only IP, choosing not to use the control that is provided by TCP. Thus, a UDP/IP communication is less reliable but much cheaper and faster than a TCP/IP. The Ethernet network system was in 1973 under development by Bob Metcalfe at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre, but the proliferation of local area networks or of microcomputers was not yet foreseen in late 1973, therefore the original model of Internet was based on the concept of a few national networks such as Arpanet, Packet Radio or Packet Satellite. An Internet Protocol of 32 bits was thus devised, the first 8 bits defining the network and the other 24 bits defining the host inside that network, giving a maximum of only 256 possible networks. This was a limitation reconsidered at the end of the 1970's, when microcomputers and local area networks began appearing in huge numbers. The new protocol was applied to Arpanet, Packet Radio and Packet Satellite.

1973: Arpanet connects host-servers in England and in Norway to those already connected in North America.

1973: CP/M, Control Programme for Microprocessors, operating system of 8 bits by Gary Kildall (Integrated Electronics and Intergalactic Digital Research). It was initially offered to Integrated Electronics, that showed only a very limited interest. After three years trying to convince Intel, Mister Kildall formed his own company, Intergalactic Digital Research, which marketed CP/M in 1976 with the name of Control Programme for Microcomputers or Control Programme Monitor.

1973: Scelbi-8 H, prototype of microcomputer of 8 bits based on Intel 8008, by David Ahl (Digital Corporation). Never sold, it incorporated the first magnetic floppy disk.

1974: DARPA signs contracts with Stanford (represented by Vinton Cerf), U. C. L. (by Peter Kirstein) and B. B. N. (by Ray Tomlinson), for implementing TCP/IP. The group of Mister Cerf at Stanford defined a detailed specification for it, making possible the inter-operability of Arpanet, Packet Radio and Packet Satellite. These first implementations of TCP/IP were for systems like Tenex or Tops 20, before the commercial release of the first microcomputers in 1975. Doubts were then raised as to whether or not TCP/IP might be too complex for microcomputers.

1974: Unics operating system re-written in C language by Dennis Ritchie, using a PDP-7 computer of Digital Equipment Corporation.

1974: Personal Minicomputer Mark-8, microcomputer of 8 bits based on Intel 8008, by Johnathan Titus. It had 2 Kilobytes, extensible to 16 Kilobytes. It only accepted code in numbering base of two, and was sold just as paper plans, without physical parts.

1974: microprocessor Motorola 6800 of 64 Kilobytes of 8 bits (used in Tandy Radio Shack).

1974: microprocessors Intel 8080, Intel 8084 and Intel 8085, all of 64 Kilobytes of 8 bits (used in Altair 8800). Composed of 4 500 elements, they were capable of adding two numbers of 8 bits in less than 3 microseconds. They were the first microprocessors for general purposes, and became the standard for many microcomputers.

June 1975: Altair 8800, microcomputer of 8 bits based on Intel 8080, by Edward Ted Roberts (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems). It had 256 bytes of Random Access Memory and 64 Kilobytes of storage, input by manual switches and output by panel of ligths. Units began to be sold in 1975 at a price of 300 Dollars as a kit with all its physical parts and assembling instructions, or else sold as a finished microcomputer at the price of 400 Dollars. Initially it accepted only code in numbering base of two for all of its input or output operations. Later it added elements to reach 7 Kilobytes of Random Access Memory and accepted Basic programming language, adapted to Altair 8800 by Paul Allen and William Bill Gates (Micro-Soft Corporation). Another team incorporated as peripherals a reader of perforated paper tape and a keyboard. This modified microcomputer was sold at 500 Dollars.

1975: P-System, operating system of 8 bits by the University of California in San Diego, marketed by Softech Microsystems. Several versions.

1975: Cray I, first supercomputer, by Seymour Cray (Cray Research). Circuits of Very Large Scale Integration, several processors in parallel architecture, vectorial processing, and non-Von Neumann structure in numbering base of two. Cray I inaugurated a kind of computers called "of fifth generation", that exists only in the form of a few hundreds of supercomputers, too expensive for the commercial market (between 4 000 000 and 20 000 000 Dollars).

1975: microprocessor MOS Technology 6502 of 64 Kilobytes of 8 bits (used in Apple). With 4300 elements, it could add two numbers of 8 bits in 1 microsecond.

1975: microprocessor Zilog Z-80 of 64 Kilobytes of 8 bits (used in many microcomputers).

1976: first book on Arpanet, by Leonard Kleinrock.

1976: Apple I, microcomputer of 8 bits (Apple Computer Corporation), based on MOS Technology 6502.

1976: CP/M, Control Programme for Microcomputers or Control Programme Monitor is marketed by Gary Kildall (Intergalactic Digital Research). In a short time and until the early 1980's most microcomputers had the CP/M system or were programmable in Basic, resident in Read Only Memory. Some microcomputers had the P-System, and a few top of the line had one of the variants of Unics.

1976: Electric Pencil, line text editor by Michael Shrayer. Versions for many microcomputers were made in the following years.

1976: microprocessor Texas Instruments TMS-9900 of 16 bits

1976: microcomputer PET Personal Electronic Transactor (Commodore), based on Zilog Z-80 A.

1977: microprocessor Signetics 2650

1977: microprocessor Fairchild F8

1977: microprocessor Mostek 3870

1977: microprocessors Motorola 6801, Motorola 6802 and Motorola 6809

1977: microcomputer TK (Sinclair), based on Zilog Z-80 A.

1977: microcomputer TRS-80 (Tandy Radio Shack), based on Zilog Z-80 A, input by keyboard or cassette tape, output by cathodic ray tube screen or cassette tape. The series would continue with microcomputers named CP and DGT.

1977: Apple II, microcomputer of 8 bits (Apple Computer Corporation), based on MOS Technology 6502.

1977: David Clark and his group at the Massachussets Institute of Technology demonstrate that TCP/IP can be simplified for operating with microcomputers, producing a first implementation for the Alto of Xerox at Palo Alto Research Centre (first personal work station and graphic operating system), and in 1981 a second implementation for IBM Personal Computer.

1977: the growth of computer hosts connected to Internet forces the adoption of a Domain Name System, invented by Paul Mockapetris (U. S. C. and I. S. I.). Likewise, the growth of local area networks forces the implementation of a new routing system: Interior Gateway Protocol (inside an Internet region), and Exterior Gateway Protocol (among regions).

1977: implementation by the University of California at Berkeley of TCP/IP for Unics BSD operating system.

About 1978: a diversity of computers built by Burroughs, Siemens or other companies.

Late 1970's: networks for specific purposes make their appearance in North America, such as MFEnet and HEPnet (Department of Energy), Span (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), CSnet (by Rick Adrion, David Farber and Larry Landweber, initially subsided by the National Science Foundation), Usenet (not limited to a community of specialists, it was based on the Unix to Unix Copy Communications Protocol for Unix operating system of Bell American Telegraph & Telephone).

Late 1970's: Vinton Cerf (Director of the Internet Project of DARPA) formed some specific groups: Internet Cooperation Board led by Peter Kirstein (U. C. L.), for coordination with certain European nations involved with Packet Satellite, Internet Research Group, for research and exchange of ideas on the network, Internet Configuration Control Board led by David Clark, for helping Mister Cerf with management of the growing Internet.

1978: Unics operating system becomes open source, and the basis of many future operating systems. From the 1970's to the early 2000's a number of open source systems based on Unics were created, such as various BSD systems, plus GNU Hurd, Linux, Minix, Open Solaris, and others.

1978: Wordstar, line text editor by John Barnaby.

1978: microprocessor Intel 8086 of 1 Megabyte of 16 bits (used in the first IBM Personal Computer-XT).

1979: Visi Calc, Visible Calculator spread sheet, first commercial programme for microcomputers, by Daniel Bricklin and Robert Frankston (Software Arts). Originally distributed in magnetic floppy disks of 5.25 inches, it became incorporated into Apple II computers.

1979: Usenet news groups start from Duke University.

1979: microprocessor Zilog Z-8000 of 16 Megabytes of 16 bits.

1979: microprocessor Motorola 68000 of 16 Megabytes of 16 bits at 8 Megahertz (in Apple, using a version of Unics operating system). Made of 70 000 elements, it multiplied two numbers of 16 bits in less than 4 microseconds.

1979: microprocessor Intel 8088 of 1 Megabyte of 8 bits.

1980: microprocessor National 16032 of 16 Megabytes of 32 bits.

1980: it is calculated the existence of many millions of computers in the world, most of them microcomputers.

1980: Vulcan data base, by Wayne Ratliff (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Forerunner of dBase.

1980: TCP/IP Protocol officially adopted for military purposes in the United States, later forming Milnet as a military complement to the more scientific Arpanet.

1980: 86-DOS, 86 Disk Operating System, of 16 bits (Seattle Computer, based on CP/M-86, another operating system of 16 bits).

1981: microprocessor Intel 80186 of 1 Megabyte of 16 bits.

1981: PC-DOS, Personal Computer Disk Operating System, of 16 bits (Microsoft Corporation, based on 86-DOS), later continued only by International Business Machines.

1981: MS-DOS, Micro Soft Disk Operating System, of 16 bits (Microsoft Corporation, based on 86-DOS), initially identical to PC-DOS, but afterwards modified and continued only by Microsoft Corporation.

1981: Xerox Star, graphic operating system by Xerox at Palo Alto Research Centre.

1981: OS/2 graphic operating system (Microsoft Corporation and International Business Machines, later continued only by the latter).

August 1981: Personal Computer, successful series of microcomputers of 16 bits (International Business Machines). They were initially based on Intel 8086, originally incorporating PC-DOS operating system, with the option of a 16-bit version of CP/M, and programmable in Basic.

1981: Osborne I, first portable microcomputer, built by Adam Osborne on a prototype of Lee Felsenstein (Homebrew Computer Club). With a weight of 12 Kilogrammes, the Osborne I had to be plugged into an electric socket, for it lacked an electrolitic accumulator. Like the IBM Personal Computer, the Osborne I had two drives for removable floppy disks of 5.25 inches, used to boot-strap the operating system and for storage (most microcomputers of those years had no fixed -hard- disk). For two or three years, the Osborne I was a high commercial success.

1981: microprocessor Hewlett-Packard Superchip of 64 Megabytes of 32 bits. Composed of 450 000 elements with MOS transistors, it could multiply two numbers of 32 bits in less than 2 microseconds.

1981: agreement between CSnet - National Science Foundation (David Farber) and DARPA (Robert Kahn), in order to share the infra-structure of Arpanet.

1981: Bitnet by Ira Fuchs and Greydon Freeman (not limited to a community of specialists, it could use graphics attached to its communications). Other networks in the early 1980's were: XNS (Xerox), DECnet (DEC) and SNA (IBM), in the mid 1980's appeared Psi, UUnet, ANS core, Netware, Metbios and others.

1982: microprocessor Intel 80286 of 16 Megabytes of 32 bits (in IBM Personal Computer-AT).

1982: microprocessor Motorola 68010 of 64 Megabytes of 32 bits.

1982: Lotus 1-2-3, graphic commercial programme of 16 bits, by Mitchell Kapor.

1982: R1-XCON, first expert system for practical use, controlling computers to suit individual customer requirements, by John Mc Dermott (Carnegie Mellon University and Digital Equipment Corporation).

1st January 1983: Arpanet renamed Internet. The Transfer Control Protocol / Internet Protocol substituted the Network Control Protocol simultaneously for all hosts. The User Datagramme Protocol / Internet Protocol is also used. Domain Name: Internet Protocol address number converts to an equivalent Uniform Resource Locator.

1983: Barry Leiner became Director of the Internet Project of DARPA. He and David Clark dissolved the Internet Configuration Control Board and created task forces instead, each task force focusing on a particular technical area. The Internet Activities Board was then formed with the leaders of each task force, led by Mister Clark. Later, Phill Gross became leader of the Internet Engineering Task Force. In 1985, the I. E. T. F. was divided into work groups.

1984: it is calculated that Internet counts about 10 000 host-servers.

1984: microprocessor Intel 80386 SX of 4 Gigabytes of 16 bits

1984: microprocessor Intel 80386 DX of 4 Gigabytes of 32 bits (in Compaq 386, IBM Personal Computer and other microcomputers).

1984: microprocessor Motorola 68020 of 4 Gigabytes of 32 bits at 16 Megahertz.

1984: British Janet network.

1984: Apple Macintosh, with graphic operating system.

1985: Windows 1, graphic interface run from the MS-DOS operating system (Windows became its own operating system with Windows 95, in 1995).

About 1985: Josephson Junction super cold experimental integrated circuit, lasting one nanosecond per operation at temperatures of a few Kelvin.

1985: it is calculated that about 25 000 different programmes exist for microcomputers.

1985: NFSnet (National Science Foundation), led by Dennis Jennings in 1985 and by Steve Wolff in 1986, made inter-operability with the Internet of DARPA (managed by the Internet Activities Board), extended TCP/IP, distributed costs for development and maintenance to other North American organisations, and helped to form a Federal Networking Council as a coordinator with international organisations (such as R. A. R. E. in Europe) through the Intercontinental Research Committee. At this time, DARPA was no longer the main financial supporter of Internet, that responsibility having been taken by the National Science Foundation and by other official departments in North America, in Great Britain, and in a few other European nations. Increasingly since the mid 1980's, private companies started their activities in the Internet.

1985: Robert Kahn and Barry Leiner leave DARPA. This institution gradually lost control of the Internet, in favour of the Internet Activities Board. The Internet Engineering Task Force combined work groups into technical areas, forming an Internet Engineering Steering Group with the leaders of those areas, recognised by the I. A. B. as predominant. The I. A. B. itself combined its task forces into an Internet Research Task Force, led by Jon Postel.

1985: Workshop for All, organised by Dan Lynch and the Internet Activities Board, for explaining the characteristics of TCP/IP to private companies. About 50 inventors or researchers (most of them from DARPA) showed the protocol and its problems to almost 250 qualified representatives from a number of corporations. The workshop was a success and prepared other events.

1985: Xerox Note Cards, hyper text system based on Lisp programming language.

1986: Owl Guide, professional hyper text system for large scale applications, inspired on Xerox Note Cards.

1987: Hyper Card, programme to create graphical hyper text documents, by Bill Atkinson (Macintosh). Mister Atkinson was also known for "Mac Paint", bitmap painting programme. Hyper Card featured bitmapped graphics, form fields, scripting, and full text search. Hyper Card spawned imitators such as "Asymmetrix Toolbook", that created drawn graphics and was executable in the IBM Personal Computer.

1987: workshop on hyper text systems in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, helping to form Siglink in 1989 (later renamed ACM Sig Web), organisation that has for many years centred attention with its annual conferences on most of the academic research on hyper text.

1987: several proposals. First, of a Simple Network Management Protocol (aiming at simplicity, inspired on a prior proposal called S. G. M. P.). Second, of a H. E. M. S. (more complex, developed by advanced researchers). And third, of a C. M. I. P. (developed by O. S. I.) for the remote uniform control of Internet routers. In a series of encounters, the too complex H. E. M. S. was eliminated, the C. M. I. P. of O. S. I. was considered a solution of long term and gradually also dropped, and the simple S. N. M. P. was considered a solution of short term and almost universally adopted for remote uniform control in the Internet, although a few routers may still use the C. M. I. P. of O. S. I.

1987: it is calculated that Internet counts about 100 000 host-servers.

1987: microprocessor Motorola 68030 4 Gigabytes of 32 bits at 32 Megahertz.

1988: report on "Towards a National Research Network" by Leonard Kleinrock, Robert Kahn and David Clark (National Research Council, with support of the National Science Foundation). Senator Al Gore got from Congress funds for a high speed network based on this report.

1988: series of conferences on "Privatising the Internet for commercial purposes", organised by the National Science Foundation at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

September 1988: first Interop Trade Show, with over 5 000 technicians from about 50 private companies involved with TCP/IP. The show guaranteed the inter-operability of computers accessing Internet, from no matter which one of the brands present. Interop Trade Show has grown into seven events that assemble over 250 000 people yearly.

1989: proposal of a World Wide Web, system of linked information able to work with different kinds of computers, by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Caillau (Centre d'Etudes sur Recherche Nucleaire, Genevre, Switzerland). Scientists of C. E. R. N. used TeX or Post Script for their documents at that time, a few used Standard Generalised Mark-up Language. Mister Berners-Lee realised that something simpler was needed to cope with dumb terminals through high end graphical X Window Unics work stations. His proposal was thus a simple Hyper Text Mark-up Language, with an also simple network protocol that he named Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.

1989: microprocessors Intel 80486 DX (with integrated mathematic co-processor) and 80486 SX (with separated mathematic co-processor) of 4 Gigabytes of 32 bits at 32 Megahertz.

1989: microprocessor Motorola 68040 of 4 Gigabytes of 32 bits at 40 Megahertz.

1990: Arpanet project discontinued, after having succesfully developed itself into the Internet backbones of the National Science Foundation. The Transfer Control Protocol/Intenet Protocol stands as the predominant protocol, with the User Datagramme Protocol/Internet Protocol as the second one.

1990: the Internet begins spreading over the World. In 1990 the Internet was limited to most of North and South America (excepting a few nations), to West Europe, Australia, New Zealand, a few Asian and a very few African nations. The rest of the world in 1990 was not yet connected to Internet, but to Bitnet or to some other network, or simply unconnected. In 2000 most of the world was already connected to Internet, excepting only a handful of Asian or African nations. In 2010 the entire planet could well be considered covered, even Antarctica, vast deserts, minor islands or open oceans, because Internet signals could be received from satellites if having suitable equipment for it.

1990: Archie search engine for File Transfer Protocol.

Late 1990 or early 1991: release of the HTTP-HTML 'World Wide Web' by Mister Tim Berners Lee (Centre d'Etudes sur la Recherche Nucleaire, Genevre, Switzerland), and of WWW-Talk posting list.

1991: release of Gopher Protocol (University of Minnesota). Gopher is mainly used for transmission of text, although some Gopher clients present graphic interface. Gopher went into a slow continuous decline after the spread of the HTTP-HTML 'World Wide Web' of Mister Berners Lee. In terms of traffic (packet exchange) the Web overpassed FTP, Gopher and most other Internet protocols about 1995, but as of 2016 there are still about a hundred active Gopher servers. Gopher presents a list of menus from which a document can be chosen. The CSS Dixieland page on the Gopher Protocol can be visited by activating the following internal link:

cssdixieland_gopher.html

1991: Internet Society founded under leadership of Vinton Cerf, sponsored by the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (Mister Cerf and Robert Kahn).

1992: Hyper Text Mark-up Language, proposal by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Caillau, loosely based on SGML. Never official (there was never an HTML 1.0), the CERN-Convex-Atrium specification of June 1993 is now known as "HTML 2.0":

World Wide Web Consortium
First official specification of HTML, June 1993, now called HTML 2.0
http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/html-spec/html-spec_toc.html

 

1992: WWW browser (later Nexus Web browser) by Tim Berners-Lee, implemented in Objective-C, for NeXT work stations and the first version of HTML.

1992: Lib WWW line-mode Web browser for Unics, later for Windows and other platforms and systems.

1992: Internet Activities Board renamed Internet Architecture Board, and placed under the Internet Society. The I. E. S. G. and the I. E. T. F. become main responsibles for Internet standards, at equal level with I. A. B.

1992: it is calculated that Internet counts about 1 000 000 host-servers.

1993: Lynx text-only user agent for many network protocols, originally working in Unics and in VMS operating systems, later in DOS, Windows, Macintosh, BSD, Linux and other platforms and systems:

Lynx
Text-only user agent for many protocols, platforms and systems
http://lynx.isc.org/

 

1993: Cello graphic user agent for Windows 3.1. Other user agents released in those years included Viola (1993), Midas (1993) and Win Web (1993).

1993: Mosaic graphic user agent by Marc Andressen and Eric Bina (National Centre for Super Computer Applications, Urbana, Illinois), originally for Unics, later for X Window, Windows 3.x, Macintosh and other platforms and systems. Mosaic helped the growth of the World Wide Web, eclipsing other systems based on Internet, like Wide Area Information System, Hytelnet, Gopher or Usenet. Some user agents were later inspired on Mosaic, such as Spyglass (1995) or Netscape Navigator (1995).

1993: HTML+ and HTML+ Reference, proposals by Dave Raggett. Never official.

1993: Veronica search engine for Gopher Protocol. Jughead search engine for Gopher Protocol. Wanderer-Ex search engine for World Wide Web.

1993: microprocessor Intel Pentium of 4 Gigabytes of 32 bits at 64 Megahertz.

1994: report on "Forming idea of the future of information: the Internet and beyond" by Leonard Kleinrock, Robbert Kahn and David Clark (National Research Council, with support of the National Science Foundation), addressing some critical topics such as intellectual property and internal regulation.

1994: first World Wide Web Conference, helping to create the World Wide Web Consortium in 1996.

June 1994: HTML 2.0 approved by the I. E. T. F., strictly based on SGML. Last revision in November 1995.

1994: HTML 3.0, proposal by Dave Raggett and others, based on HTML+ and HTML+ Reference. It never became official, but it inspired the creation of tables for HTML 3.2, 4.0 and 4.01, plus other improvements in official HTML specifications.

1994: Web Crawler search engine, only for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. Elnet Galaxy directory. Yahoo directory.

April 1995: the National Science Foundation stopped subsidies to the backbone of NFSnet, thus effectively privatising the Internet. Many private networks were bought into connection to the Internet. In 1986 there were 6 main nodes with connection speed of 56 Kb, in 1995 they had increaed to 21 main nodes with speed of 45 Mb, used by over 50 000 local area networks worldwide (29 000 of them located in North America). Over 200 million Dollars were invested into NFSnet in those nine years.

1995: Live Script of Netscape adopted by Sun Systems and renamed Java Script.

1996: Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser starts a brief period known as "the Browsers War" (mainly between Netscape and Microsoft), that lasted until HTML 3.2 of January 1997. The release of Netscape Navigator 4.0 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, both made in 1997, effectively puts an end to the Browsers War.

1996: creation of the World Wide Web Consortium, under leadership of Web's inventor Tim Berners-Lee and of Al Vezza, initially also led by the Computing Science Laboratory of the Massachussets Institute of Technology.

October 1996: PNG, first recommendation approved by the W. W. W. Consortium. Development had begun at Usenet before the creation of the Consortium. PNG has better compression and colour than GIF, being free of any patents. PNG was quickly implemented in all Web browsers and in many other graphic tools (alpha channels, however, remained not handled correctly everywhere).

December 1996: CSS1, Cascading Style Sheets 1, approved by the W. W. W. Consortium, then continued by it. Development of CSS had begun by Haakon Lie at the HTML mailing list in 1994, before the creation of the Consortium.

1996: Deep Blue beats Gary Kasparov in the first game won by a chess-playing computer against a reigning World Champion, under normal chess tournament conditions.

January 1997: HTML 3.2 approved by the W. W. W. Consortium, strictly based on SGML.

Early 1998: CSS test suit, shortly followed by a validator via Web (validator and test suit for HTML came at a later time).

1998: it is calculated that Internet counts about 30 000 000 host-servers.

April 1998: HTML 4.0 approved by the W. W. W. Consortium.

Early 1999: CSS2, Cascade Style Sheets 2, approved by the W. W. W. Consortium, then continued by it.

December 1999: HTML 4.01 approved by the W. W. W. Consortium.

Late 1990's: the I. E. T. F. counts over 75 work groups, defining all kinds of technical regulations for the Internet. Documents are usually first prepared as drafts, then eventually published as Requests for Comments. Thousands of representatives from private companies join the inventors and researchers of I. E. T. F. in their three or four meetings every year.

Microprocessors

The incredible power of a microscopic brain

First chip processor in a computer, in 1964, of little over 10 elements per square centimetre

Burroughs B 2500 and B 3500, in 1968, computers built with integrated circuits

Fairchild 4100 of 1969, 256 bits ROM

Intel 1103 of 1970, 1 Kilobit RAM
Intel Corporation produced integrated circuits of initially 1 Kilobit, such as the Intel 1103, which substituted memories of iron nuclei. Other chip producing companies were Fairchild, Texas Instruments (these two had begun earlier than Intel), Motorola, MOS Technology, Zilog, Signetics, Mostek, National, Hewlett-Packard, AMD, Cyrix and Nexgen, all of them North American. There is below a non exhaustive list of some of their integrated circuits, ordered by year, where it can be seen how they grew in efficiency and in complexity. The order of characteristics that are listed for each entry is: company - model - year, memory size in bits or in bytes. If in bytes, it is also given the quantity of bits in each byte. The word "byte" is not assumed to represent an "octete" of eight bits, but a binal term of any number of binal digits. Eventually, processing speed (frequency of the piezo-electric crystal) is also indicated.

Intel 4004 of 1971, 4 Kilobytes of 4 bits at 60 Kilohertz
Used in common calculators, the Intel 4004 was composed of 2 250 elements that if connected to other four integrated circuits gave a microcomputer of power comparable to the big computers of the mid 1950's, capable of adding two numbers of 4 bits in 11 microseconds. It was the first microprocessor and the basis of many others, most of which integrated MOS transistors. Intel 4004 inaugurated a kind of computers called "of fourth generation", which predominated from the 1970's to the early 2000's.

Intel 8008 of 1972, 16 Kilobytes of 8 bits

Motorola 6800 of 1974, 64 Kilobytes of 8 bits

Intel 8080 of 1974, 64 Kilobytes of 8 bits

Intel 8084 and 8085 of 1974, 64 Kilobytes of 8 bits

MOS Technology 6502 of 1975, 64 Kilobytes of 8 bits

Zilog Z-80 of 1975, 64 Kilobytes of 8 bits

Texas Instruments TMS-9900 of 1976, 16 bits

Signetics 2650 of 1977

Fairchild F8 of 1977

Mostek 3870 of 1977

Motorola 6801, 6802 and 6809 of 1977

Intel 8086 (mathematic co-processor 8087) of 1978, 1 Megabyte of 16 bits
The 8086 was the original Intel Microprocessor, with the 8087 as its floating decimal point mathematic co-processor. The 8086 was Intel's first 16-bit microprocessor.

Intel 8088 of 1979, 1 Megabyte of 8 bits
After the development of the 8086, Intel created the lower-cost 8088, which was similar to the 8086 but with an 8-bit data bus instead of a 16-bit bus.

Zilog Z-8000 of 1979, 16 Megabytes of 16 bits

Motorola 68000 of 1979, 16 Megabytes of 16 bits at 8 Megahertz

National 16032 of 1980, 16 Megabytes of 16 bits

Intel 80186 (mathematic co-processor 80187) of 1981-1982, 1 Megabyte of 16 bits
The 80186 was the second Intel chip in the family, the 80187 was its floating decimal point mathematic co-processor. Except for the addition of some new instructions, the optimisation of some old ones, and an increase in clock speed, this processor was almost identical to the 8086.

Hewlett-Packard Superchip of 1981, 64 Megabytes of 32 bits

Intel 80286 (mathematic co-processor 80287) of 1981-1982, 16 Megabytes of 16 bits
The 80286 was the third model in the family, the 80287 was its floating decimal point mathematic co-processor. The 80286 introduced the Protected Mode of operation, as opposed to the Real Mode that the earlier models used. All x86 chips can be made to run in real mode or in protected mode.

Motorola 68010 of 1982, 64 Megabytes of 32 bits

Intel 80386 DX of 1984-1985, of 32 bits

Intel 80386 SX of 1984-1985, of 16 bits
The 80386 was the fourth model in the family, and the first microprocessor made by Intel with a byte of 32 bits (a byte is not necessarily an octete). The 80386 DX was the original 80386 chip, and the 80386 SX was an economic model that used the same instruction set but that only had a 16-bit bus. As of 2016, the 80386 EX is still used in a few embedded systems.

Motorola 68020 of 1984, of 32 bits at 16 Megahertz

Motorola 68030 of 1987, of 32 bits at 32 Megahertz

Intel 80486 DX (with integrated mathematic co-processor) of 1989, of 32 bits at 32 Megahertz

Intel 80486 SX (mathematic co-processor 80487) of 1989, of 32 bits at 32 Megahertz
The 80486 was the fifth model in the family. It had an integrated floating decimal point mathematic co-processor for the first time in x86 history. Early 80486 DX chips that were found to have defective FPU's were physically modified to disconnect the FPU portion of the chip, then sold as the 80486 SX (80486 SX 15, 80486 SX 20 and 80486 SX 25). An 80487 mathematic co-processor was available to 80486 SX users, which was essentially an 80486 DX with a working FPU and an extra pin added. The arrival of the 80486 DX 50 processor saw the introduction of fanless heat sinks being used to keep the processor from overheating.

Motorola 68040 of 1989, of 32 bits at 40 Megahertz

Intel Pentium of 1993, of 32 bits at 64 Megahertz
Intel called it Pentium because the company could not trademark a code number 80586. The original Pentium was faster than the 80486, with some other enhancements. Later models also integrated the MMX instruction set.

Intel Pentium Pro of 1995, of 32 bits at 64 Megahertz
Pentium Pro was a sixth-generation architecture microprocessor, initially intended to replace the original Pentium in a full range of applications, but later reduced to a more narrow r\93le as server and high-end desktop chip.

Intel Pentium II of 1997
The Pentium II was based on a modified version of the P6 core first used for the Pentium Pro, but with an improved 16-bit performance and the addition of the MMX SIMD instruction set that had already been introduced in Pentium MMX.

Intel Celeron of 1998
The Celeron chip is really a big number of different chip designs that depend on price. The Celeron chips are the economy line of chips, often cheaper than the Pentium chips, even if the Celeron model in question be based on a Pentium architecture.

Intel Xeon of 1998
The Xeon processors are modern Intel processors made for servers, which have a much bigger cache than the Pentium microprocessors. The cache of Xeon is measured in Megabytes, in comparison to other chips whose cache is measured in Kilobytes.

Intel Pentium III of 1999
Initial versions of the Pentium III were very similar to the earlier Pentium II, the most notable difference being the addition of SSE instructions.

Intel Pentium IV of 2000
The Pentium IV had a new seventh-generation "Net Burst" architecture. With up to 3.8 GigaHertz of clock speed, it was about 2005 the fastest x86 microprocessor in the market. Pentium IV also introduced the notions of Hyper Threading and of Poly-Core chips. A Pentium IV has about 42 000 000 elements.

Intel Core of 2006
The architecture of the Core processors was actually an even more advanced version of the sixth-generation architecture, dating back to the 1995 Pentium Pro. The limitations of the Net Burst architecture, especially in mobile applications, were too seriuos as to justify the creation of more Net Burst processors. The Core processors were designed to operate more efficiently with a lower clock speed. All Core branded processors had two processing cores, the Core Solos had one core disabled, while the Core Duos used both processors.

Intel Core II of 2006
An upgraded, 64-bit version of the Core architecture. All desktop versions are poly-core.

AMD Athlon
Athlon is the brand name applied to a series of different x86 processors designed and built by AMD. The original Athlon Classic was the first of a seventh-generation of x86 processors. For a significant time, it retained the initial performance advantage that it had over Intel's competing processors.

AMD Turion
Turion 64 is the brand name that AMD applies to its 64-bit low-power (mobile) processors. Turion 64 processors (but not Turion 64 X2 processors) are compatible with AMD's Socket 754 and are equipped with 512 or 1024 Kb of L2 cache, a 64-bit single channel on-die memory controller, and an 800 MegaHertz Hyper Transport bus.

AMD Duron
The AMD Duron was an x86-compatible computer processor built by AMD. It was released as a low-cost alternative to AMD's own Athlon processor and to the Pentium III and Celeron processor lines from rival Intel.

AMD Sempron
Sempron was about 2005 the AMD's entry-level desk-top CPU, replacing the Duron processor and competing against Intel's Celeron D processor.

AMD Opteron
The AMD Opteron was the first eighth-generation x86 processor (K8 core), and the first of AMD-64 processors (x86-64). It was intended to compete in the server market, particularly in the same segment as the Intel Xeon processor.

Programming languages

The communication between man and machine

A programme is a set of instructions that tells the computer how to perform a certain task. These instructions must be given EXACTLY, because the computer would not know what to do in an ambiguous situation. It would stop or else enter in an endless loop, whence it could only exit by quitting the task. The first computers were programmed by hardware connections, arranging gears or switches, or connecting wires, whenever instructions had to be changed. Different connection boards were normally used to facilitate these changes. Since the late 1940's almost every computer in the world understands directly only one form of communication, known by the names of "binal code", "binary code", "code in numbering base two", "machine code" or "low level code".

That code is composed of very long sequences of zeroes and ones that are read by the computer in groups of four, six, eight, twelve, sixteen, twenty-four, thirty-two, forty-eight, sixty-four or another number of ciphers, whatever the number of bits might be in a byte of that system, looking something like: 11010110 10110011 11110100 10000110... ad nauseam (assuming in this example bytes composed of eight bits, spaces inserted only as an illustration). Each of those groups of zeroes and ones defines a character to be written, or else an operation to be performed by the processor. This was the first form of stored communication between man and computer. Understandably, few human coders are so gifted of mathematical talent and of memory as for writing instructions to the computer in this code, or as for reading directly these answers given by the computer.

Due to that fact of human limitation, the communication between man and computer is often made indirectly: since 1943 (Plan Kalkul, by Konrad Zuse) there are forms of communication known as "symbolic languages", "assembly languages", or "medium level languages" (similar to low level code, but much easier for the human), and since 1949 (Short Order Code, by Mandy of Univac) exist other forms known as "procedure-oriented languages" or "high level languages" (very different from low level code), both created with the purpose of easier communication between computer and human. Any medium level language is helped by a programme known as assembler (which translates from medium to low level). Any high level language is helped by a programme known as compiler (which translates from high to low level). From another point of view these auxiliary programmes may be classified as interpreters (which interpret line by line a programme, perhaps unfinished, therefore making it meaningful to the computer and a help to the programmer, who can see immediate results), or as translators (which translate a finished programme, hopefully well written by the programmer).

Those programming languages allow the human programmer to write instructions to the computer in the form of short commands, known as mnemonic commands, that a human can more easily remember. Mnemonic commands for medium level languages are known as assembly commands. They can be numbering bases other than base two (usually bases four, six, eight, ten, twelve or sixteen, but any numbering base can be used). They can instead be short mnemonic words. Most medium level (assembly language) commands execute only one instruction in low level (machine code), although some assemblers allow the use of macro instructions, where one medium level command executes some or many low level instructions. This is the principle on which high level languages are based.

The commands of high level languages approach words of some natural human language (often the English language). Some of those quasi natural languages are intended to be immediately interpreted, others are meant to be translated later, and others can be interpreted or translated (Basic, Forth or Lisp are examples of the latter). There are certain advantages and disadvantages to each of these approaches. Low level code is understood by the computer directly, without need of any programme for interpretation or translation, but it is extremely tedious and prone to errors for most humans. Low level code or medium level languages are the best ways of optimising the resources of a specific type of processor, but it requires from the part of the coder or programmer to know the internal structure of that type in detail, because he will need to address memory locations directly. Hence, programmes written in low level code or medium level languages lack portability to computers with other processors, if incompatible with that processor for which the code or programme had been written.

With high level languages the programmer does not need to know the type of processor in which the programme will be executed, although for this very reason, the computer resources will not be maximised either. On the other hand, high level languages present the advantage of portability to computers with different processors, although it is necessary to use an interpreter or translator for each type of processor. A type of processor may be represented by only one model, or by many compatible models. X86, for instance, is a type of processor with many models made by different brands, such as Intel or AMD. High level languages fall into three broad categories, although their boundaries are not sharply defined:

Sequential, linear, single block: they are languages intended for writing a sequential linear programme in a single block, maybe jumping instruction lines forward or backward. Basic belonged to this category until 1976, when Steve Garland modified Dartmouth Basic 6 to facilitate structured modular programming in connected blocks, thus he created SBasic, a precompiler that produced Dartmouth Basic 6 output and that formed the basis of ANSI Basic.

Structured, modular, connected blocks: they are languages intended for writing a structured modular programme in connected blocks. Besides the above mentioned SBasic dialect of 1976, the Pascal programming language belongs to this category from its start in 1971.

Object oriented: they are languages intended for writing a programme oriented to objects. Visual Basic of Microsoft Corporation belongs to this category.

Aditionally, programmes can be more or less divided between those that expect a rigid sequence of procedures performed by the human operator (like in the DOS operating system), and programmes that allow flexible events performed by the human, without following rigid sequence (like in the Windows operating system). The former are always much smaller than the latter, in terms of memory needed.

Most simple programmes are written in sequential form, even in programming languages that allow modular structure. Sequential programming was the rule until 1971 or so, and continue being the practice today for minor programmes. Before that year most programming in any language was done with little or no modular structure, just a single block, maybe jumping lines forward or backward. Some Computing theorists like Edsger Dijkstra strongly criticised this form of programming, in which the abuse of instructions like "goto" or "gosub" (in the case of the Basic language) was a clear indication of a programmer who had not paid much attention to the structure of his programme, only to its function. This is not a problem for the computer, who can easily jump to another line, but it makes difficult for most human programmers (excepting perhaps the original programmer) to comprehend the totality of the programme well enough as for making changes into it without also introducing some error or unexpected behaviour in another part of a long and complex programme.

In 1971 the group of Harlan Mills working at International Business Machines managed to create an almost faultless programme structured in modules, for The New York Times. This success boosted tremendously the idea of structured modular programming. Some languages created at or after that time promoted this approach to programming in various ways. In the case of Pascal (1971), by forcing to declare all variables at the start of the programme. Another improvement gradually done to programming was the creation of libraries with parts of programmes, which could be inserted into different programmes when needed. Using these libraries, the programmer has no need to create everything from scratch or to "re-invent the wheel", but just to combine different parts into a general programme, adapting these parts if necessary. Needless to say, the parts and the general programme must be written in the same language and dialect, or they must be adapted for conforming to it.

There have been about 2 000 known programming languages in the History of Computing (not counting dialects), about half of those languages for big computers and the other half for medium or small computers, but the vast majority of them have had a very restricted use. Less than 100 languages have been widely used (in some of them, only a few dialects have been widely used). Below are listed about 60 programming languages, those that are perhaps the best known or those that possess a marked historical interest.

A-0 Coding Translator: the first compiler of routines (repetitive tasks, done many times by the computer in the same or in different programmes). It was created by Captain Grace Hopper (United States Navy and Univac) in 1951.

ASIC, All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code: with a name derived from "BASIC", but without the "B", the ASIC programming language was created by David Visti in 1993, together with a compiler to machine code, a converter from BASICA or GWBASIC to ASIC, and a few other tools available in the Internet as shareware. ASIC recognises about 90 key words. It is a dialect of BASICA and of GWBASIC.

ASP, Active Server Pages: a server side scripting language, invented and developed by Microsoft Corporation. ASP commands are embedded within HTML documents having their name extended with an .asp type suffix (extension), in order to provide dynamic content. ASP is often supported by Web host servers using a NT host server. This language supports Visual Basic by default, and it can be made ready to support other languages as well. Besides CGI, two languages that were from the start designed for the purpose of generating dynamic content, ASP of Microsoft Corporation and Java of Sun Systems, stand now as the main languages used for that purpose, in direct competition against each other.

Ada, Universal Programming Language: named in honour to Lady Ada Augusta Countess of Lovelace, who in 1843 suggested ideas about programming the Analytic Calculator of Charles Babbage. Ada was created in 1979 by the United States Department of War, in a similar way to the creation of Cobol twenty years earlier. In 1981 Ada became official standard for military applications in the United States. Ada is based on Pascal, combined with other languages, and considered the most advanced programming language ever created. It was intended as a lingua franca of programming, applied also to scientific or commercial purposes and to computing systems.

Ada Power
Resources for Ada, Universal Programming Language
http://www.adapower.com/

 

Algol, Algorithmic Language: intended as another lingua franca of programming, it was created in 1958 by an international committee assembled in Zurich. Its three main dialects were Algol 58, Algol 60 and Algol 68. This language was used from the late 1950's to the early 1970's.

APL, A Programming Language: structured language of very high level created by Kenneth Iverson (International Business Machines) in 1968, targeted to big computers. It uses some special characters that require a special keyboard, and much memory. It is so concise that it is difficult to be read and understood by other programmers, but of high productivity for the original programmer. Applied to scientific or commercial purposes and to modelling.

AIML, Artificial Intelligence Mark-up Language: a sub-set of Standard Generalised Mark-up Language. It is used for programmes called "talking robots", that simulate a conversation.

.ASM: file type (also called suffix, or extension) commonly used for programmes written in any assembly language.

Awk: a programming language of Unics operating system, for processing text.

Assembly: any language of medium level, specific for a given model of processor, which uses instructions written in a numbering base other than base of two (bases four, six, eight, ten, twelve or sixteen are commonly used, but any numbering base can be used), or in short commands known as mnemonic commands, which are better remembered by humans. Programmes in assembly may be interpreted line by line or may be translated by an auxiliary programme known as assembler. Writing a source programme in assembly maximises the resources of a certain model of processor, although it also requires to know the internal structure of that model in detail, because the programmer needs to address memory locations directly, and to instruct the Central Process Unit for doing specific tasks one by one. There is also a loss of portability, as an assembly programme will not normally work in other computer processors.

Programming in assembly differs little from coding in low level, machine code in numbering base of two (long sequences of zeroes and ones grouped by the number of bits contained in one byte). Assembly languages are cryptic for most novice programmers, hence that only old hands make regular use of it. The compensation for that difficulty is a programme that results efficient and small, processed faster by the computer than with any high level language. Assembly is mostly used for basic software or for specific routines. Most high level languages possess the means of writing part or all of the programme in low level code or also in a medium level language. In Basic, for example, some of the commands for working in low or in medium level are "peek", "poke" and "call absolute".

Mister Patrik Ohman wrote this short explanations in 2004:

What is machine code ?
Although programmers tend currently to use high level languages such as C language, C++, or Pascal, the code that is closest to the hardware is called machine code, or low level code. Not one second passes during a powered working session without the computer executing machine code.

Assembly language or machine code ?
To word this simply, we may say that assembly language is a human-readable text language, and machine code is a machine-readable binary code. When you programme in assembly language you are programming at the machine code level. To write instructions directly in machine code is tedious, that is why you use assembly language instead, and an auxiliary programme known as assembler to produce the final machine code.

When to use assembly language:
I personally think that, except as a learning exercise, it is a waste of time to write something in assembly that could be written acceptably fast in a high level language. Assembly language fits for the following situations:
First, low level control: when you need to change the flags, or also the control registers of the processor, as when entering protected mode.
Second, speed: instructions written in machine code execute fast. They can execute ten to a hundredfold the speed of Basic, and about twofold that of C language or of Pascal. Therefore, critical sections of programmes written in languages of higher level can be re-written in assembly instead, in order to speed them.
Third, small programme size: when you write for example a "TSR" programme (Terminate and Stay Resident in Random Access Memory), then assembly is very useful. Writing interrupt handlers is where assembly language really shines.

Assembly language is very flexible and powerful, anything that the hardware of the computer be capable of doing, can be done in assembly.

Mister Ohman does not mention specific assembly languages, for it would take his introduction into too vast a field. See the Terse programming language in the alphabetic list below. It is an excellent choice for assembly programmers.

A variety of programmes exist, ready for programming in assembly. Most assemblers work with x86 processors, some assemblers work with other processors.

Commercial assemblers:
MASM (Microsoft Assembler), TASM (Borland Turbo Assembler), Paradigm (Dev Tools Assembler)

Freeware or shareware assemblers:
A86 Assembler-D86 Debugger, A386 Assembler-D386 Debugger, ASM (Arrowsoft Assembler), CHASM, Cross Fire, FASM (Flat Assembler, also produces plain machine code), GAS (GNU Assembler), GASM Gage, GASM Owen, GEMA, GOASM, IASM, JAS, Magic, NASM (Netwide Assembler, also produces plain machine code), NBASM, Visual, WASM (Watcom Assembler), WASM (Wolfware Assembler).

There are also complete Integrated Development Environments, allowing the programmer to build a whole application in assembly only, or to combine assembly with a high level language. Known IDE for assembly are:

Alab, Asmedit (for ASM), Asmide (for ASM), Microasm (for MASM), Nasmide (for NASM), Tasmide (for TASM).

Basic, commonly written as 'BASIC' and parsed as 'Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code', but that is a back acronym. The language was originally named 'Basic' because it was a simple, basic programming language, but since most names of programming languages were acronyms, round the mid 1970's some people began to invent back acronyms for Basic. The back acronym referred before became commonly accepted. No acronym for Basic originally existed, as can be verified by reading texts of the 1960's and early 1970's, where the name 'Basic' appears ALWAYS, and the name 'BASIC' appears NEVER. Always loyal to the origins, CSS Dixieland consistently uses the name 'Basic' for the language, not 'BASIC'.

This language is here explained in more detail than the others, due to its historical importance and to the fact that Basic was the first programming language used by P. A. Stonemann, CSS Dixieland. A dialect of Basic was included in the Read Only Memory of a Casio PB-700 (nicknamed "Soldier Boy" by Mister Stonemann), a pocket computer made in 1983, of 8 bits and with a Random Access Memory of only 4 Kilobytes. Yes, FOUR Kilobytes. Amazing, to be able to do something with so few resources. Mostly mathematical tasks, using Soldier Boy as a programmable calculator.

Information on Basic taken mainly from Wikipedia:

Wikipedia, the Web Encyclopaedia
Original Dartmouth Basic programming language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dartmouth_BASIC

 

Basic is a programming language created by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz (Darmouth College) during 1963 and early 1964. It was partly inspired by Dart, an experimental language created on a computer Royal McBee LGP-30 in 1959 by a student of Darmouth College. Basic appeared in response to the need felt by certain students for a simple language, easier to learn than the languages available at that time, mainly Fortran and Algol. Basic was therefore a simplification of them, with most key words taken from Fortran II and some taken from Algol 60. The first dialect of Basic, now called Dartmouth Card Basic, was a non-interactive dialect based on a standard card reader, intended for batch processing. Work on the Basic compiler and on a time sharing system at Darmouth College was done concurrently, therefore this first dialect of early 1964 was executed in the batch processing system before the time sharing system were ready.

The second dialect, now called Dartmouth Basic 1, was an interactive dialect for the Time Sharing System, a number of dumb terminals that shared a common mainframe computer available at Darmouth. The idea of sharing computer time had been proposed in July 1958, and became operational in 1962 at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, as an improvement to the method of batch processing. Non-technical students were in this manner able to write their own programmes. John Kemeny and John McGeachie declared in an interview in 1974, that at 04 hours (Official Local Time) of 1st May 1964 they had successfully executed the first interactive Basic programme from terminals of the Dartmouth Time Sharing System. It is not clear what this programme was, but it seems that it consisted of the single line:

PRINT 2 + 2

They also seemed to remember that a few hours after executing that single line, they programmed an implementation of the Sieve of Eratosthenes. In ancient Greece, Eratosthenes of Cirene devised the following method for finding the sequence of prime numbers (this is, a number that is divisible only among itself or among the number one, for giving an integer):

-Write the sequence of natural numbers (positive integers) as long as desired: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25...

-Eliminate number 1. Although strictly speaking one is a prime number, it does not need to appear in the list of prime numbers because it is the start of numbering itself.

-Start from the first number, the 2, and eliminate its multiples. The series has become: 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25...

-Continue from the next number, the 3, and eliminate its multiples (for example 9, 15 and 21). Now the series has become: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 25...

-Continue from the next number, the 5, and eliminate its multiples (for instance 25). After that we have the series: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23...

-Continue from the next number, the 7, and eliminate its multiples. Then the next, the 11. Then the next, the 13. Then the next, the 17. Every time eliminate the multiples of each of these numbers. The numbers that after all those eliminations still remain in the series, are all prime numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 73...

Knowing prime numbers is useful for determining instantly the divisibility or not of a given number, without need of performing the operation of division. The long search for a formula to find prime numbers has already lasted for over 2 500 years, without result. Most mathematicians believe that such a formula does not exist. The Sieve of Eratosthenes is still the only method available. Needless to say, computers can perform at high speed the algorithm of this method, and give as a result an enormously long list of prime numbers.

Basic was one of the very first programming languages intended to be used interactively, since Dartmouth Basic 1. Almost immediately Basic became so succesful that in October of its first year, 1964, some modification was done into it, thus making its third dialect now called Dartmouth Basic 2. Several dialects were produced over the years, all implemented as compilers by undergraduate teams working under the direction of the original designers. Chronology of Basic:

-Early 1964: Dartmouth Card Basic becomes available to Dartmouth members. Non-interactive dialect intended for batch processing based on a card reader.

-May 1964: Dartmouth Basic 1, interactive dialect for the Time Sharing System.

-June 1964: Dartmouth Basic 1 becomes available to Dartmouth members.

-October 1964: Dartmouth Basic 2 becomes available to Dartmouth members. It added zero subscripts to arrays, and semi-colon to the PRINT command:
PRINT; prints at next space

-1966: Dartmouth Basic 3 becomes available to Dartmouth members. It added 3 commands:
INPUT introduces value or string of characters
MAT manipulates matrix (a powerful new feature)
RESTORE restores value stored in DATA or read by READ

-1969: Dartmouth Basic 4 becomes available to Dartmouth members. It added text manipulation and string variables.

-1970: Dartmouth Basic 5 becomes available to Dartmouth members. It added true file handling.

-1971: Dartmouth Basic 6 becomes available to Dartmouth members. It added separately compilable procedures with parameters. Most later Basic dialects derive from Dartmouth Basic 6.

-1976: SBasic (Steve Basic or Structured Basic). Steve Garland modified Dartmouth Basic 6 to facilitate structured modular programming in connected blocks, in an effort to avert the abuse of line jumping by GOTO or GOSUB instructions that was a typical characteristic of sequential linear programming in a single block. This structured approach had been advocated by programming theorists such as Edsger Dijkstra, and it was strictly applied to some new languages, such as Pascal (1971). SBasic was a precompiler that produced Dartmouth Basic 6 output, and that formed the basis of ANSI Basic.

-1976: Modular Basic, by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz. Annother effort to facilitate structured modular programming in connected blocks, as opposed to sequential linear programming in a single block.

-1978: ANSI Basic publicly recommended by the Basic Committee of the American National Standards Institute.

-1979: Dartmouth Basic 7 becomes available to Dartmouth members. It was the final original dialect of Basic at Dartmouth College, released by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz as an ANSI Basic compiler, before they left the college to concentrate on the further development of ANSI Basic in the form of True Basic.

-1985: True Basic publicly released by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz. Being based on ANSI Basic, True Basic was an effort against chaotic dialects of Basic.

Keywords of Dartmouth Time Sharing System and Dartmouth Basic 1 of May 1964:

Dartmouth Time Sharing System of 1964, 14 commands. Many non-technical human operators often believed that the commands were part of the Basic language, but in fact they were part of the Dartmouth Time Sharing System itself and were also used when preparing Algol or Fortran programmes via the Dartmouth Time Sharing System terminals.

14 commands:
ALGOL starts programming in Algol
BASIC starts programming in Basic
CATALOG displays the names of programmes in permanent storage
FORTRAN starts programming in Fortran
HELLO logs into Dartmouth Time Sharing System
LIST displays the current programme
NEW names and begins writing a programme
OLD retrieves from permanent storage a previously named programme
RENAME changes the name of the current programme without erasing it
RUN executes the current programme
SAVE saves into permanent storage the current programme
SCRATCH erases the current programme without clearing its name
STOP interrupts the currently running programme
UNSAVE clears from permanent storage the current programme

The Dartmouth Time Sharing System implemented an early integrated development environment: an interactive command line interface. Any line beginning with a number, typed in the command line by the human operator, was added to the programme and replaced any previously stored line with the same number and for the same programme. Therefore to substitute a line, a new line with the same number was written in the command line. To erase a line, an empty line with the same number was written in the command line. It means that lines which consisted solely of a line number were not stored, but removed any previously line stored with the same number and for the same programme. Anything else was assumed to be a command of the Dartmouth Time Sharing System and it was immediately executed. This method of editing was necessary because of the use of teletypes as the terminal units for the Dartmouth Time Sharing System. There was no need to log out, if human operators did not respond in a short time, they were automatically logged out by the Dartmouth Time Sharing System.

Dartmouth Basic 1 of May 1964, 15 commands, 9 arithmetic or trigonometric functions, 15 symbols for arithmetic, logic or grouping operations, and 286 variables. Dialect intended for sequential linear programming in single block.

15 commands:
DATA lists the variables and values to be read by READ: 10 DATA 10,20,30
DEF defines single line function
DIM defines size of array, dimension of matrices and vectors
END finishes the entire programme
FOR-TO-STEP repeats loop a number of times and steps: 20 FOR I=1 TO 7 STEP 2
GOSUB goes to a repetitive sub-routine
GOTO goes inconditionally to statement in the specified line: 30 GOTO 500
IF-THEN conditional decision following expression: 40 IF B LET attributes a value or a result of calculation to a variable: 50 LET A=1
NEXT ends loop, continuing programme from next line after FOR-TO: 60 NEXT I
PRINT shows in output device (printer or screen): 70 PRINT A,"VALUE OF ",B+C
READ reads the value of one or more variables stored in DATA: 80 READ B,C,D
REM remarks non-executable comments
RETURN returns from a repetitive sub-routine to the main routine (sequence)
STOP stops programme before textual end (equivalent to GOTO line having END)

9 functions for arithmetic or trigonometric operations:
ABS absolute number, without regard to positive or negative sign
ATN arctangent of an angle, in radians
COS cosine of an angle, in radians
EXP exponent of power
INT integer
LOG natural logarithm
RND number at random
SIN sine of an angle, in radians
SQR square root (rooted to index of two)

15 symbols for arithmetic, logic or grouping operations:
. decimal fraction
+ plus, addition
- minus, substraction (binal operator, arithmetic)
* by, multiplication
/ among, division
^ raised to power of, exponentiation (3^4=81)
- negation (monal operator, logic)
= equal to
< > different from
< lesser than
> greater than
< = lesser than or equal to
> = greater than or equal to
( start grouping operations
) finish grouping operations

Basic implemented floating-point numeric variable values, each named up to 2 characters and with the first character always a letter, therefore up to 286 variable values available (a to z, a0 to a9, b0 to b9, ..., z0 to z9). Array names were restricted to the range a to z, representing so 26 arrays. Arrays did not need to be dimensioned, but in the absence of a DIM statement they defaulted to 10 elements, subscripted from 1 to 10. Instruction lines had to be numbered, intervals being allowed. They were usually numbered in intervals of ten or another number, thus making it possible to insert new lines without need of numbering all lines again. This was necessary due to the line editor used in the Dartmouth Time Sharing System. As opposed to a page (screen) editor, a line editor can only move the cursor horizontally, but not vertically (much like the COPY CON and similar commands that were later used in DOS and other operating systems of the 1970's and 1980's, or like the EDLIN text editor). Dartmouth Basic 1 had no command for entering data. This command would be INPUT, which was introduced in Dartmouth Basic 3 of 1966. Also, if READ could not see any more DATA to be read, it considered the programme ended. The original manual presents some extensions, such as the handling of matrices.

In 1975, Mister Paul Allen and Mister William Bill Gates, founders of Micro-Soft Corporation (name later modified to Microsoft Corporation), began their activities by adapting a Basic dialect to microcomputers. In one of the big computers of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, they emulated the Intel 8080 microprocessor that had been incorporated in the Altair 8800 microcomputer. Shortly later they signed a contract with the maker of Altair, Mister Edward Ted Roberts (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) for the inclusion of that Basic dialect in the Read Only Memory of Altair units. Thus, the dialect is now known as Altair Basic. To include one or another Basic dialect in the Read Only Memory of a microcomputer became a common practice for many makers of microcomputers in the second half of the 1970's, all of the 1980's, and the first half of the 1990's.

The first dialects of Basic were limited to 64 Kilobytes of programme size. BASCOM 1.0 was released by IBM in March 1982, first Basic interpreter for the IBM PC, written by Microsoft with code and method developed by Bill Gates, Greg Whitten and others. Microsoft had already written Basic interpreters for Apple II computers and CP/M operating system, but BASCOM 1.0 was the most powerful so far. Compared to Basic interpreters available then, BASCOM 1.0 offered many additional capabilities and an enormous increase in programme execution speed. Programme statements could exceed 255 characters, a single string could have up to 32767 characters, and assembly language subroutines could be linked directly to a Basic programme.

Microsoft continued enhancing the interpreter, released by IBM in 1985 as BASCOM 2.0 with many improvements. Among the most important were multi-line DEF FN functions, dynamic arrays, network record locking, and an ISAM file handler. With named subroutines, programmers were finally able to exceed the size limitation of 64 Kilobytes by writing separate modules that could then be linked together. Subroutine parameters also were an important step toward structured programming in Basic. At the same time that IBM released BASCOM 2.0 in 1985, Microsoft offered an almost identical interpreter as QuickBasic 1.0, only without the ISAM file handler. Sold at 100 Dollars, QuickBasic 1.0 was cheaper than BASCOM 2.0

With the strong acceptance of QuickBasic 1.0, Microsoft followed it with QuickBasic 2.0 in early 1986. This important new release added an integrated editing environment and EGA graphic capabilities. The editor was especially welcome because it allowed programmes to be written and tested very rapidly. The environment was further enhanced with the advent of Quick Libraries, which allowed assembly language subroutines to be easily added to a Basic programme. Quick Libraries also helped to launch the start of a new class of Basic product: third-party add-on libraries. In early 1987 Microsoft released a major enhancement to QuickBasic as 3.0. This included a limited form of step and trace debugging and the ability to monitor a variable value continuously during programme execution.

Also added was a support for the EGA's 43-line text mode and for several new language features. Perhaps most impressive of these features were the control flow statements DO LOOP and SELECT CASE, as an improved alternative to the IF statement. Also added with 3.0 was optional support for Intel 8087 numeric coprocessor. However, in order to support a coprocessor, Microsoft had to abandon its own proprietary numeric format. Both the Microsoft and IEEE methods for storing single and double precision numbers use respectively 32 bits and 64 vbits, but the bits are organised differently. Though the IEEE format that Intel 8087 requires is substantially slower than Microsoft's own, it is the current standard. Therefore, a second version of the interpreter was included solely to support IEEE mathematics.

By the time that QuickBasic 4.0 had been released in late 1987, maybe half a million copies of QuickBasic were already in use world-wide. With QuickBasic 4.0 Microsoft had created the most sophisticated programming environment ever seen in a main language: the threaded p-code interpreter. This remarkable technique allowed programmers to enjoy the best features of an interpreted language with the execution speed of a translated one. In addition to an Immediate mode whereby programme statements could be executed one by one, QuickBasic 4.0 also supported programme break-points, monitoring the value of multiple variables and expressions, and even stepping backwards through a programme.

That improvement greatly enhanced the debugging capabilities of the language, increasing programmer productivity enormously. Also new in QuickBasic 4.0 was support for inter-language calling. Although this meant that a programme written in Microsoft Basic could now call subroutines written in any of the other Microsoft languages, it also meant that IEEE mathematics was no longer an option, it became mandatory. When a QuickBasic 4.0 programme was run in an IBM PC equipped with a mathematic co-processor, floating point mathematics was performed very quickly indeed. However, it was very much slower in every other computer. This remained a sore point for many Basic programmers, until Microsoft at the end of 1987 released Basic 6.0, which included an alternate mathematic library that was similar to Microsoft original proprietary format.

Also added into QuickBasic 4.0 were huge arrays, long integer variables (of 32 bits), user defined TYPE variables, fixed-length strings, true functions, and support for CodeView debugging. With the introduction of huge arrays, Basic programmers could create arrays that exceeded 64 Kilobytes in size, with only a few restrictions. TYPE variables let the programmer define a composite data type comprised of any mix of Basic intrinsic data forms, thus adding structure to a programme's data as well as to its instructions. The newly added FUNCTION procedures greatly improved on Basic earlier DEF FN style functions by allowing recursion, the passing of TYPE variables and entire arrays as arguments, and the ability to modify an incoming parameter.

Although Basic 6.0 provided essentially the same environment and interpreter as QuickBasic 4.0 did, it also included the ability to create programmes that could be run in the OS/2 operating system. Other features of this dialect were a utility programme to create custom run-time libraries, and a copy of the Microsoft programmer's Editor. The custom run-time utility was particularly valuable, since it allowed programmers to combine frequently used subroutines with the BRUN.EXE language library, and share those routines among any number of chained modules. QuickBasic 4.5 was introduced in 1988, although the only major enhancement over the 4.0 was a new help system and slightly improved pull-down menus.

Unfortunately, the new menus required much more memory than QuickBasic 4.0, and the "improved" environment reduced the memory available for programmes and data by approximately 40 Kilobytes. To this day many programmers continue using QuickBasic 4.0, precisely because of its increased programme capacity. QBasic also appeared in 1988, as an interpreted dialect that allowed 160 Kilobytes of programme size (while the QuickBasic translator allowed 64 Kilobytes), and without the linking features of QuickBasic 4.5, but otherwise identical. Basic became a mature language, no more an exclusive domain of beginners, but a language used by professionals as well. In answer to programmer's demands for more string memory and smaller, more efficient programmes, Microsoft released the QuickBasic Extended (QBX) Professional Development System (PDS) 7.0, in late 1989.

This was an enormous project even for a company the size of Microsoft, and at one point more than fifty programmers were working on the new interpreter and QBX environment. QBX PDS 7.0 finally let Basic programmers exceed the usual 64 Kilobytes of string memory limit, but with some limitations. Other features coming with QBX PDS 7.0 were an ISAM file handler, improved library granularity, example toolbox packages for creating simple graphics and pull-down menus, local error handling, arrays within TYPE variables and improved documentation. The QBX interpreter uses expanded memory to store subprogrammes or functions, thus much larger programmes could be developed without resorting to editing and translating outside of the environment. In mid 1990 was released QBX PDS 7.1 with the long-overdue ability to redimension an array without erasing its content. Added to QBX PDS 7.1 was also support for passing fixed-length string arrays to subprogrammes and functions, and an option to pass parameters by value to Basic procedures.

In 1994 Microsoft released Visual Basic for DOS. A notable difference is that VB/DOS supports far strings only, while QBX PDS lets specify either near of far strings. Because far strings are stored in a separate "far" area of DOS memory, it takes slightly longer to access those strings. Therefore, a string intensive VB/DOS programme will not be as fast as an equivalent programme interpreted with QuickBasic or with QBX PDS near strings. VB/DOS also uses pseudo event-driven forms. The Microsoft editor has not been very accepted by many Basic programmers, mostly because it is big, slow and of complicated use. Microsoft includes with Basic PDS a new editing environment called Programmer Workbench, but it is also generally shunned by serious programmers, for the same reasons.

From about 1975 to about 1995 Basic was ubiquitous in one dialect or another. As said, it was present in the Read Only Memory of almost all microcomputers and in many of the medium and big ones, from pocket computers made by Casio, to giants made by IBM. Different dialects of Basic could be used by beginners as well as by experienced programmers, because Basic allowed different levels of programming complexity. For these reasons Basic became the most widely known programming language in the world. It was even regularly taught in North American schools, much as a natural human language. Most students had some acquaintance with Basic, enough for being able to write some small programmes for their own personal purposes, mostly recreational or as a help in their other studies. It was estimated that in the early 1990's some millions of people were reasonably fluent in one or another dialect of Basic.

Together with Forth and Lisp, Basic is one of the few languages that can be interpreted or translated (each of these approaches has its advantages and disadvantages). Basic has more than 250 different dialects (including minor variations). Even before the ANSI Basic of 1978, there were already almost 100 dialects (most of them based on Darmouth Basic 6 of 1971). Some of those dialects are very weak, while others are very powerful. Tiny Basic is an example of the weak ones, intended as it is for small computers with very limited memory: it occupies only one Kilobyte in memory and uses only short integer variables (it lacks long integer, single precision, double precision, or character strings). Examples of strong dialects are QuickBasic, QBasic, Basic PDS or Visual Basic, all by Microsoft Corporation. Some of the most important Basic dialects are:

Original Basic:

1964 Dartmouth Card Basic, by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz
1964-1979 Darmouth Basic 1 to 7, by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz

Natural developments from the Original Basic:

1976 SBasic, by Steve Garland
1976 Modular Basic, by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz
1978 ANSI Basic, by the American National Standards Institute
1985 True Basic, by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz

Basic dialects for small computers:

1975 Microsoft Altair Basic, by Paul Allen and William Bill Gates
1981-1991 Microsoft-IBM BASICA (64 Kilobytes) for PC-DOS operating system
1981-1991 Microsoft GW BASIC (64 Kilobytes) for MS-DOS operating system
1985-2001 Microsoft QuickBasic (64 Kilobytes, translated) for MS-DOS 5 or 6
1985-2001 Microsoft QBasic (160 Kilobytes, interpreted, based on QuickBasic 4.5) for MS-DOS 5 or 6
1989-2001 Microsoft QBX PDS (translated) for MS-DOS 5 or 6
1991 Microsoft Visual Basic (translated, object oriented) for MS-DOS 5 or 6, or for Windows
M Basic
Applesoft Basic
Disk Basic
Prom Basic
Pet Basic
North Star Basic
Maxi Basic
SWTC Basic
TSC Basic
TDL Basic
Tiny Basic
Xitan Basic
Micropolis Basic
Polymorphic Basic
Basic E
C Basic
Cromenco Basic
Benton Harbor Basic
Imsai Basic
PT Basic
Helios Basic
Compucolor Basic
Software Dynamics Basic

Basic dialects for medium computers:

Data General Basic
HP Basic
Business Basic
Dec Basic
Wang Basic
Honeywell Basic
Tektronix Basic

Basic dialects for big computers:

IBM Basic
GE Mark II Basic
RCA Spectra Basic
Univac Basic
CDC Basic
Xerox Sigma Basic

For those programmers who wish to continue working in the Basic language there are, as of 2021, five main options. One is QBasic, QuickBasic 4.5 or QuickBasic Extended 7.1 (QBX PDS), which are available in Internet for free use under the Microsoft Life Cycle Policy. They only work in DOS, but they can be executed in Linux via an emulator or virtual machine like DOSbox or DOSemu. The executables made by the QB 4.5 or QBX 7.1 translators are also for DOS only, but they can, likewise, be executed via DOSbox or DOSemu. Unfortunately, the documentation is in a proprietary hyper text format, difficult to use. The executable QH.EXE, included in the package, can be used for copying pages of the documentation as plain text, more efficiently than from the Integrated Development Environment.

A second option is Turbo Basic, later renamed Power Basic. It is good software, but unfortunately, it only exists for Microsoft Windows. Besides, after the death of the leader of the programming team, Turbo-Power Basic seems to have stopped development. For years, only minor enhancements have been done to it.

A third option is Free Basic, which works in DOS, Linux, and some other systems. This is a command-line translator, for which one or two Integrated Development Environments have been made by third parties. However, Free Basic is of rather difficult use, and in some situations it tends to freeze, in DOS and in Linux.

A fourth option is BW-Basic, also known as Bywater Basic. This is an interpreter for DOS, it cannot create executables. It can be executed in Linux via DOSbox or DOSemu (it is included in the DOSemu distribution). BW-Basic is limited in some aspects, but it has a well explained documentation, suitable for training or for fast checking of simple Basic sources (although not of complex Basic sources).

As a last, fifth option, QB64 exists as perhaps the best option nowadays. As of 2021 the current version of QB64 is of 32 bits, another version of 64 bits is in preparation. QB64 is a command-line translator that includes Integrated Development Environment, but it translates the Basic source to C++ language, not directly to executable. QB64 automatically sends the C++ source to GNU GCC (the GNU C compiler), which converts it to assembly and sends it to GNU AS (the GNU assembler), which converts it to binal object and sends it to GNU LD (the GNU linker-loader), which finally creates the executable.

This conversion process (QB64 to GCC, from this to AS, from this to LD) takes only a few seconds in a reasonably equipped computer, but it means that those executables and their libraries must be installed in a known path. Likewise installed must be these libraries:

Open Graphics Library, for including graphics or images in the executable. All screens created by QB64 appear as windows in a graphic environment such as X-11 Window System. In general Open GL is necessary, even for text-only output.

ALSA, if wishing to include sounds in the executable created by QB64.

Zlib, for performing compression of data by the Gzip algorithm.

Because there is no QB64 interpreter, error finding has to be done by careful perusing of the Basic source, or AFTER having created the executable. There are various manners of doing this, one is by loading the executable into DDD (Data Display Debugger), or directly into GDB (the GNU Debugger). The C++ source can be called into the debugger for analysis (not the Basic source). The C++ source of the most recent programme is called main.txt, located in the internal/temp directory. DDD and GDB are complex, reading their documentation is mandatory.

There are three ports of QB64: for Linux, for Apple Macintosh, and for Microsoft Windows NT series (neither for DOS, nor for Microsoft Windows DOS series). QB64 itself can be used from the command line of the Linux console, but executables created by QB64 need X-11 or another graphic server. They can be executed via a terminal emulator, from the Krunner of KDE or other graphic interfaces, or from a data set manager such as Konqueror, PC Man FM, Krusader, Dolphin, et cetera.

QB64 has almost total compatibility with Microsoft QuickBasic 4.5, except for a few commands that make sense in 16-bit DOS, but which cannot work in a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system, such as PEEK, POKE, CALL ABSOLUTE, and a few other commands. QB64 adds MANY new commands that do not exist in QuickBasic 4.5, but these commands may require the installation of the dependencies mentioned above. In particular ALSA sound, otherwise even the BEEP command does not work at all, because QB64 uses the sound card instead of the internal computer speaker.

The documentation is excellent, though perhaps too concise. It is obviously intended for the programmer experienced in Basic (especially in QuickBasic), and maybe somewhat cryptic for the novice. It is a reference, not a tutorial, but for the experienced programmer it is a mine of information. QB64 is at:

QB64
Translator from Basic to C++, almost compatible with QuickBasic 4.5
QB64 includes IDE, adds many new commands, and automatically sends C++ to GCC
http://www.qb64.org/

 

BCPL: a language that was the direct ancestor of the A, B and C languages.

C: structured modular language, similar to Pascal, created by Dennis Ritchie (Bell Laboratories, a part of AT & T Telephone) in 1972-1974. The name comes from two experimental languages that existed with the names of 'A' and 'B', based on the BCPL language. C is a medium-high level language, higher than any assembly but without being hardware dependent, therefore more portable than assembly. It is intended for the experienced programmer. Unics operating system was entirely re-written in assembly language in 1972 by Kenneth Thompson, and in C language in 1974 by Dennis Ritchie.

C++: server-side scripting language commonly used to write programmes for Common Gateway Interface, and for other purposes.

Clipper: a high level programming language.

Coder: a person who writes only in low level code (machine code, in numbering base of two), as opposed to programmer: a person who writes in language of medium or high level. Since the 1950's, most programming has been done in medium level (assembly) or in high level. Low level has almost become limited to personal experiments or to learning exercises.

Cold Fusion: a scripting language for interfacing data bases and advanced Web development. Cold Fusion supports data bases such as Microsoft Access, Fox Pro, d BASE, and Paradox.

Cobol, Common Business Oriented Language: a translated language used for commercial purposes. Its creation began in 1959, being released in August 1961 by a North American committee, Codasyl, under the inspiration of Captain Grace Hopper (United States Navy and Univac, see "A-0 Coding Translator"), and grouping the National Bureau of Standards, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force, International Business Machines, Sperry-Univac, Burroughs, Honeywell-Bull, R. C. A., Sylvania and Remington. The American National Standards Institute introduced in 1974 a dialect called Cobol ANSI 74, and another dialect was introduced in 1980 with the name of Cobol 80. In spite of these few dialects, Cobol has always been one of the most unified of all programming languages, and can be easily learnt by those acquainted with the daily routine in offices and archives. Cobol, however, occupies much memory, and it is not the best language for complex mathematical operations (Fortran is better for that). Cobol was created for batch processing, though some interactive dialect became available in the 1980's.

CGI, Common Gateway Interface: an interface standard that provides a method for executing a server side scripting programme from a Web site, in order to generate a Web document with dynamic content. Scripts conforming to this standard may be written in any programming language that could produce an executable record, but are most often written in C, C++, Perl, PHP, Python, or TCL. It must be said that CGI is not really a language, but an adaptation for providing a standard to true programming languages. Besides CGI, two languages that were from the start designed for the purpose of generating dynamic content, ASP of Microsoft Corporation and Java of Sun Systems, stand now as the main languages used for that purpose, in direct competition against each other.

Coral: a programming language used from the 1960's to the 1980's.

Dart: experimental language created in 1959 by a student of Darmouth College, on a computer Royal McBee LGP-30. It inspired Basic in part, although the fundaments of Basic were taken mainly from Fortran and from Algol.

DBMS: a programming language for data banks used from the 1960's to the 1980's.

DBS: a programming language for data banks used from the 1960's to the 1980's.

Delphi: a high level programming language.

DML, Dynamic Mark-up Language: a sub-set of Standard Generalised Mark-up Language. DML is a specification, similar to HTML, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium for Web documents. HTML will generate static pages if used alone, while DML will generate dynamic pages. Many programmers prefer to use HTML not alone, but in combination with dynamic scripts embedded into the HTML code. These scripts will generate a dynamic page, server side. Languages used for CGI, as well as the ASP, Java or i-HTML languages, are examples of this approach.

Euphoria: an interpreted language created by Robert Craig in 1993. It claims to be "easier than Basic, yet more powerful than C" (see also the Turing language). More information about Euphoria at:

Euphoria
Interpreted programming language
http://www.rapideuphoria.com/

 

XML, Extensible Mark-up Language: a sub-set of Standard Generalised Mark-up Language. XML is a specification, similar to HTML, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium for Web documents. XML contains mark-up commands (also called tags or symbols) to describe the content and formatting of a page, but unlike HTML, the mark-up commands are unlimited and self-defining (therefore, designers can create their own customised commands and command definitions). XML and HTML were combined into a single language, no more based mainly on SGML, which the World Wide Web Consortium approved as official specification with the name of HTML 5 in October 2014.

Forth: a structured modular language, created by the astronomer Charles Moore in 1970. It is a medium-high level language, combining characteristics of assembly (of medium level) with those of a high level language. Forth uses Reverse Polish Notation, which makes it very different from other languages. It occupies less than half of the memory of a typical programme in Basic, being however tenfold faster than Basic. Together with Basic and Lisp, Forth is one of the few languages that can be interpreted or translated (each approach has its advantages and disadvantages). The first important application of Forth was to control the giant telescope of the Kitts Peak Arizona Observatory, being later also used for graphics and for control of processes.

Fortran, Formule Translator: one of the first scientific languages, created in 1954-1956 by John Backus of International Business Machines and by others, for the computer IBM 704. It is focused on the resolution of mathematical problems of many kinds. Some of its dialects were Fortran I, Fortran II, Fortran III, Fortran IV, Fortran IV-H and Fortran-77. Fortran is mainly a translated language, though some interpreted dialects exist. It was the main fundament of Basic. Fortran is not the best language for commercial purposes (Cobol is better for that). Fortran was used for teaching before Pascal took much of the academic field.

GASP: a simulation language. See the Simula language for a short description on the concept of simulation languages.

GPSS: a simulation language. See the Simula language for a short description on the concept of simulation languages.

HTML, Hyper Text Mark-up Language: publicly released in 1993, HTML is the language used to create Hyper Text documents for being exhibited as Web documents in the Internet. HTML documents are intended to be viewed using a user agent to interpret the HTML commands or part of them, to give format to text into a page (and optionally also to elements of sound or image, showing audio or video records), to present hyper links to other pages inside the document or to other documents, to execute Java scripts client side, or to perform other operations. User agents may be visual (fully graphic, partly graphic, or only textual), may be aural (text to sound), or may be tactile (text to Braille). In the case of non-graphic user agents, they show (or they convert to sound or to Braille) only text and hyper links, but not images or sounds. HTML has a few dialects, of which the latest SGML version is HTML 4.01 of December 1999. HTML has been since 1990 a dialect of SGML, the Standard Generalised Mark-up Language. However, the World Wide Web Consortium approved in October 2014 the official specification of HTML version 5, which is not based on SGML anymore. Instead, HTML 5 tries to combine features of SGML with others of XML, Extended Mark-up Language. HTML 5 does not further develop frames, and it consolidates separation of presentational mark-up by means of CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, or of another style sheet language. Not all style sheet languages support cascading. More information at:

Wikipedia, the Web Encyclopaedia
Hyper Text Mark-up Language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML

 

World Wide Web Consortium
Governing body for HTTP, HTML, CSS, PNG and other official specifications
http://www.w3.org/

 

World Wide Web Consortium
Official specification of HTML 4.01, December 1999
http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/

 

IMS: a programming language for data banks used from the 1960's to the 1980's.

i-HTML, In Line HTML: a server side programming language for developing dynamic Internet content. More information at:

In Line HTML
Server side programming language for dynamic Internet content
http://www.ihtml.com/

 

ISML, Inter Shop Mark-up Language: a set of scripting tags to generate dynamic Web pages. ISML tags are extensions of any tag based language that conform to SGML standard.

Java: a programming language often intended for being executed in a network, without fear of malicious code or of other damages to the client computer. By making use of small Java programmes, called Java Applets, Web documents can include calculators, animations, interactive games or other functions. Besides CGI, two languages that were from the start designed for the purpose of generating dynamic content, ASP of Microsoft Corporation and Java of Sun Systems, stand now as the main languages used for that purpose, in direct competition against each other.

Java Script: a programming language for use in Web documents, that allows dynamic content executed client side. It was invented by Netscape with the name of "Live Script". Sun Systems adopted it in 1995 and renamed it "Java Script", developing the language to its current state. In spite of the similarity in name, it is not closely related to Java.

Lisp, List Programming: a language created by John Mc Carthy (Stanford University), presented at Darmouth College in 1956 and since 1958 developed at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Together with Basic and Forth, Lisp is one of the few languages that can be interpreted or translated (each approach has its advantages and disadvantages). With later improvements, Lisp was until the 1990's the most used language for Artificial Intelligence, being still used in the early XXI century. It tries to simulate natural language, without pre-defined mathematical structures. The original Emacs text editor for Unics systems includes a full Lisp system within it.

Logo: named in honour to the Logo Group of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Created by Professor Seymour Papert (of that Institute) in 1967. Logo is an interpreted language, used for training novice programmers. It is a dialect of Lisp.

Modula-2: a language created by Niklaus Wirth in the 1970's, based on Pascal (also a creation of Niklaus Wirth in 1971).

Moon Rock: a translated language created by Rowan Crowe in 1994-1995, similar to Microsoft QuickBasic of 1985. No development seems to have been done to Moon Rock for several years. Its distribution includes a compiler to produce executable programmes. More information at:

Moon Rock
Translated programming language, with compiler to produce executables
http://www.rowan.sensation.net.au/moonrock.html

 

Mumps, Massachussetts General Hospital's Utility Multi Programming System: a programming language, operating system and data bank created in 1966 in the main hospital of Massachussetts. Applied to conversational purposes.

My-SQL, My Structured Query Language: an open source relational data base management system that uses a sub-set of ANSI SQL. More information at:

My Structured Query Language
Open source relational data base management system based on SQL
http://www.mysql.com/

 

OMS: a programming language for data banks used from the 1960's to the 1980's.

Pascal: named in honour to Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), who in 1642-1647 built some units of the "Pascaline", machine of pinion wheels for adding, using numbering base of ten. Pascal is a translated language structured by modules, created by Professor Niklaus Wirth (University of Zurich, Switzerland) in 1971. Based mainly on Algol, Pascal began as a teaching tool for forming new programmers. It has a few dialects (albeit not so many as Basic), and it is portable to different computers. Pascal became important during the 1980's and early 1990's, largely substituting Fortran in the academic field and for scientific or commercial purposes, being even pointed as a probable successor of Basic, but later it gradually fell back into the classrooms whence it came.

Perl: a server side scripting language commonly used to write programmes for Common Gateway Interface. Perl programmes, called scripts, are text data sets that are parsed (run through and executed) by a programme called interpreter, located in the host server.

PHP: a server side scripting language commonly used to write programmes for Common Gateway Interface. PHP commands are embedded into the source code of HTML documents. PHP commands are executed in the Web host server to generate dynamic HTML pages. More information at:

PHP
Server side scripting language for CGI, embedded into HTML
http://www.php.net/

 

Pilot: a programming language used from the 1960's to the 1980's.

PL1, Programming Language One: a language created by IBM in 1964 for big computers. Based on Algol, PL1 was one of the first languages concerned about modular structures. It is used for scientific or commercial purposes, and for programmes used in Computer Aided Design.

Programmer: a person who writes in language of medium or high level, as opposed to coder: a person who writes only in low level code (machine code, in numbering base of two). Since the 1950's, most programming has been done in medium level (assembly) or in high level. Low level has almost become limited to personal experiments or to learning exercises.

Prolog, Programming in Logic: a declarative language (non-procedural) created by Alan Colmeraver (University of Marseille, France). It is used for solving logical relations, mainly applied to Artificial Intelligence and expert systems, similar to Lisp. Prolog has some dialects, intended for small or for big computers. A programme in Prolog typically has a tenth of the lines than an equal programme in Pascal.

Python: a server side scripting language commonly used to write programmes for Common Gateway Interface. It is an interpreted, object oriented programming language. Python is legally protected under copy right, but the source code is freely available and open for modification and reuse.

RPG, Report Programme Generator: a programming language created by IBM in 1964, used mainly to write reports. Originally intended for batch processing, it was the first non-symbolic language of high level, targeted to problems. Most programmers who worked with this language did not appreciate it, in spite of the improvements made in the dialect called RPG III.

SSI, Server-Side Includes: a server side scripting language. SSI scripting commands are embedded within the code of a Web document and are parsed and executed in the Web host server to generate dynamic HTML pages. Common uses of SSI are to include records (like a header or footer record) that are used in many pages of the document, or also to show the current date and time.

Short Order Code: the first scientific programming language, created by Mandy of Univac in 1949.

Simscript: a simulation language. See the Simula language for a short description on the concept of simulation languages.

Simula: a simulation language. Simulation languages are used to emulate a process by modelling its behaviour in a natural or realistic situation, trying to reproduce it by passing the modelled process many times in a computer, introducing at each pass random values for certain parameters (inside pre-defined limits), and collecting statistics on the observed results. Computer simulation can be programmed with almost any language, though those languages that are specific for simulation can make the programming work easier or more efficient. On the other hand, simulation languages tend to use huge translators to compile the source programme, and for this reason they are normally used only with main frame computers or with super-computers.

Examples of some natural or real processes that try to be modelled by these languages are weather (Meteorology), interaction of living organisms (Ecology), battles (or even entire wars), and their sinergetic combinations. As a particularly dramatic example of the latter, predictions on the consequences of a nuclear war (the so called Nuclear Winter) have been refined in detail since the first Conference on the Global Consequences of a Nuclear War (Washington 1983). There is always, however, room for speculation on the reliability or accuracy of any simulation made by computer, because even tiny changes are cumulative, and after many passes those changes take their toll and give a totally different result (the so called Butterfly Effect). In spite of this fact, simulation is a very important field of research in Mathematics and in Computing Science.

Slam: a simulation language. See the Simula language for a short description on the concept of simulation languages.

Smalltalk: language and operating system used to simulate programming by natural language. It was created in the late 1970's by the Learning Research Group of Xerox Parc in Palo Alto, and released in 1981 as part of the Xerox Star Information System.

Snobol: a programming language used from the 1960's to the 1980's.

Speed Coding: the second scientific programming language, created by Seldon and John Backus of International Business Machines in 1953.

SGML, Standard Generalised Mark-up Language: the basic standard from which most mark-up languages are derived.

TCL: a server side scripting language commonly used to write programmes for Common Gateway Interface.

Terse: a programming language created by Jim Neil in the 1980's, operable since 1996. Terse gives all of the control that is available in assembly language, with the often easier use that is found in high level languages. Terse is available at:

Terse
Programming language combining assembly control with high level use
http://www.terse.com/

 

Turing: named in honour to Alan Mathison Turing, a pioneer of Computing. Created in 1983 by R. Holt, J. Colby and J. Hume (University of Toronto), it claims to be "easier than Basic, yet more elegant than Pascal or PL1" (see also the Euphoria language).

Visual Basic: an object oriented programming language developed by Microsoft Corporation about 1991, for the last versions of MS-DOS and for Windows. It is translated by compiler. ASP supports Visual Basic by default.

Language List version 2.1, by Bill Kinnersley, 1993. It has almost every computer language, with many references to the available source code. Implementations of programming languages that time forgot, such as ALGOL-60, FOCAL, FOOGOL, INTERCAL, JCL, MIXAL, OISC, PILOT, TRAC, Little Smalltalk or Orthogonal.

billk AT hawk DOT cs DOT ukans DOT edu

The string "AT" must be substituted by the character "@" and the string "DOT" by the character "." without surrounding spaces and in single horizontal line. This is to thwart automatic harvesting of links (often for spamming purposes).

Language List version 2.1 of 1993, by Bill Kinnersley
Almost every computer language and its available source code
http://people.ku.edu/~nkinners/LangList/Extras/langlist.htm

 

Internet data sets and protocols

Transmitting information worldwide

The tender foot asked:

"I want to download the Internet. Do I need a bigger hard disk ?"

(joke taken from the HTML tutorial offered by the World Wide Web Consortium)

There are normally three kinds of data sets that can be transmitted by the Internet:

Executable code, a data set in numbering base of two, intended to be executed by a computer as a programme.

Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code (EBCDIC), a standard of characters for big computers created by International Business Machines in 1964. It introduced bytes of 8 bits, which replaced bytes of 6 bits working with characters BCD or BCI.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), another standard of characters, which can be read by humans or can also be executed as a programme, through another programme that will act as a translator or as an interpreter (for example, a user agent for Hyper Text Mark-up Language). There is a 7-bit 'Standard' ASCII (characters from 0 to 127), which is completely homogeneus worldwide, and there are two main variants of 8-bit 'Extended' ASCII (characters from 128 to 255): IBM ASCII (used for example by DOS systems), and ANSI ASCII (used for example by Microsoft Windows systems). Years later, Unicode addressed the problem of a truly worldwide standard of characters. The Unicode standard is wholly incorporated into HTML for the World Wide Web.

The Internet, however, is not the only network of computers that exists or has existed. This is a non-exhaustive list of other computer networks that existed at some time or that still exist today:

America On Line
Applelink
Bitnet
Compuserve
CSnet
Delphi
Eunet
Fidonet (Bulletin Board System)
Genie
Janet
MCI Mail
NFSnet
Prodigy
RBTnet (Bulletin Board System)
Unix to Unix Copy Protocol (Bulletin Board System)

Some non-Internet protocols are:
Xmodem
Ymodem
Zmodem

After the explosive growth of the Internet in the late 1980's and in the 1990's, a number of those networks disappeared as separate entities. Most of the surviving ones are now connected to the Internet, although a few may still exist working as little more than intranets, serving a limited geographic area. There are also a number of different protocols inside the Internet itself. Most important is the Internet Protocol, working together with the Transfer Control Protocol or else with the User Datagramme Protocol, which are necessary for negotiation of transmissions between computers or through them. The Internet is not a centralised network as most of the networks listed above, the Internet is a re-routable network, and this is a key point for not considering those networks a part of 'Internet' as the term is commonly used, although strictly speaking they may also use an Internet Protocol. Uniform Resource Locators for different protocols are explained in Request For Comments 1738.

Chargen

CSO: The Computing Services Organisation name server interface, also known as PH or QI, which provides names and telephone numbers of university people. CSO can also be accessed by the Gopher Protocol, listed below.

Finger: command for pointing to all the potential destinations of an Internet transmission. Finger was useful when the list of potential destinations was only of a few thousands (before the mid 1980's), but became impractical when the number of computers connected to the Internet grew to millions. However, Finger can still be seen in Unics Work Stations.

File Transfer Protocol: FTP is an Internet standard for transferring data sets over the Internet. FTP programmes and utilities are used to upload or download Web pages, graphics, or other data sets, from a hard disk or another storage volume to a remote server that allow FTP access. Two commonly used free FTP programmes are WS FTP and Cute FTP.

Gopher: protocol developed at the University of Minnesota in 1991 (a gopher is the mascot of that university). Gopher is mainly used for transmission of text, although some Gopher clients present graphic interface. Gopher went into a slow continuous decline after the spread of the HTTP-HTML 'World Wide Web' of Mister Berners Lee. In terms of traffic (packet exchange) the Web overpassed FTP, Gopher and most other Internet protocols about 1995, but as of 2016 there are still about a hundred active Gopher servers. Gopher presents a menu list from which a text document or another resource can be chosen. The CSS Dixieland page on the Gopher Protocol can be visited by activating the following internal link:

cssdixieland_gopher.html

HTTP, HTTPS: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol and its secure transmission

Mailto: A transmission of electronic post

NNTP, News, SNews: News Groups Transfer Protocol and its secure transmission

Newspost, Newsreply, SNewspost, SNewsreply: Other protocols for News Groups

Telnet, Tn3270, Rlogin: Protocols for operation of a remote computer

WAIS: Wide Area Information System

Client-Host (or Client-Server): not a protocol, but a method for indirect Internet connection. A client computer remotely connects to a host (server) computer. The host is directly in the Internet, and it executes a programme for communication with the client, who then executes another copy of that programme.

Dumb Terminal: not a protocol, but a method for direct Internet connection, the only method that does not require a modulator-demodulator for the transmission of signals. The dumb terminal is not connected by telephone lines, it is connected by wires to a near mainframe computer. The mainframe computer is directly in the Internet. Here, the expression "mainframe" is used in its original meaning of "Central Process Unit", as opposed to peripheric unit. Dumb terminals are often found inside the same building or of related and physically near buildings, like it may be the case of a library or of a university campus.

Emulation of Terminal: not a protocol, but a method for indirect Internet connection. A computer or a dumb terminal is connected as a peripheric unit of a remote mainframe computer. The mainframe computer is directly in the Internet. Here, the expression "mainframe" is used in its original meaning of "Central Process Unit", as opposed to peripheric unit. The computer connected as a peripheric unit will be treated as a dumb terminal, whether being really a dumb terminal or not.

Hyper links to Internet incunabula and Retrocomputing

The Way Back Machine at the Internet Archive

Documents published in different protocols of the Internet may disappear from their host servers, or the host servers may themselves disappear. It happens due to a number of causes, for example to the death of their authors and the lack of another person wishing to take the responsibility of maintaining the document, or to the demise of the organisation that kept the host server.

The Way Back Machine located at the Internet Archive is a group of really huge computers with incredible capacity of storage. Their purpose is to make a copy of documents considered valuable, and to store that copy for the knowledge and enjoyment of future generations. Some old versions of this document of CSS Dixieland are stored there, together with other Internet incunabula.

The Way Back Machine at the Internet Archive
Collection of millions of old documents from the Internet
http://www.archive.org/

 

The Retrocomputing Museum

And for ending this page of CSS Dixieland entirely devoted to the History of Computing, nothing better than a hyper link to the Retrocomputing Museum. Some musea with collections of items related to computers exist in the World, even in countries where little computer development has ever taken place. A few musea are specifically dedicated to hardware and software. Such places deserve respect and support, as repositories of valuable pieces of Technical History. To the ignorant they seem like 'an attic full of dusty old things', but to the expert they are cherised treasures of what was, once upon a time, state-of-the-art in Computing Science. What exists now is descended from what existed before. Readers who perceive the importance of knowing the past for understanding the present will certainly enjoy the time travel at the museum.

The Retrocomputing Museum
Vintage hardware and software for lovers and connoisseurs of computers
http://www.ccil.org/retro

 

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