Anniversaries

The recent events held to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings during World War II (a.k.a. D-Day) set me thinking about computer-related anniversaries.  Here are a few worth noting that have occurred over the past few months:-

  • 5 February was the 70th anniversary of the introduction of Colossus, the first large-scale electronic digital calculator.  Colossus was a massive step forward in the development of electronic computation but it was not the world’s first programmable electronic digital computer as is often reported.  It was a special-purpose machine created to perform Boolean operations on alphanumeric characters represented as 5-bit data.  For further information on Colossus, see Chapter 4 of my book.
  • 14 February was the 90th anniversary of the birth of International Business Machines.  IBM was actually established several years earlier in June 1911 under the name Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R).  The company’s early history is covered in Chapter 3 of my book.
  • 7 April was the 50th anniversary of the introduction of IBM’s System/360 family of medium and large scale computers (see my earlier post on the impact of the System/360 here).
  • 1 May was the 50th anniversary of the birth of the BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language.  BASIC was incredibly important in helping to establish a market for microcomputers in the late 1970s and it also contributed to the early success of Microsoft.  BASIC also has personal significance for me, as it was one of the first programming languages I learned to use.  I was also using FORTRAN during the same period and BASIC, though far less powerful, was much quicker and easier to use.
  • 7 June was the 60th anniversary of the death of computer pioneer Alan Turing (see my earlier post on Turing’s legacy here).

There are also a number of computer-related anniversaries coming up in the next few months which I’ll highlight in future posts.

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