ENIAC, the world's first electronic, large scale, general-purpose computer, was activated at the University of Pennsylvania on February 14, 1946. Since then, computers have gotten smaller, more powerful and nearly ubiquitous. But as the following sites all point out, computing didn't begin a mere half-century ago, but rather thousands of years ago. Follow me to learn more.
"Welcome to Computer Chronicles: From Stone to Silicon. The voyage starts in about 3000 BC, with the invention of the abacus in ancient China. It proceeds through the development of vacuum tubes, transistors, integrated circuits, microprocessors and countless other inventions until the computer of today." Created by a team of three high school students for 1998 ThinkQuest competition, the site divides computer history into five annotated timelines.
"This Internet Timeline begins in 1962, before the word 'Internet' is invented. The world's 10,000 computers are primitive, although they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. They have only a few thousand words of magnetic core memory, and programming them is far from easy." The Computer Museum History Center (of Mountain View, California) is my pick of the day! Best clicks are the forty-five year timeline of computer history and the online exhibits devoted to History of the Internet and Evolution of the Microprocessor .
With an interface that feels like you've walked into a cartoon, Time Warp has taken on the task of archiving vintage technology of the twentieth century. Dial a decade on the Time Warp control panel, and you're transported back in time. Roll your mouse around the living room, and as you pass over clocks, radios, stereos, televisions and home computers, additional choices will appear. Make your selections in these pop-up menus to see the (sometimes oddball) artifacts that have been collected.
"Nerds are not a recent phenomenon. It took many years and many nerds to get where we are today." Based on the PBS television special, Triumph of the Nerds explores the lives of the young men that created the personal computer revolution and "accidently changed the world." There's a timeline that traverses from abacus to Internet, stats and facts about five favorite nerds, and a fun "Can you Guess the Computer?" Shockwave game that lets you test your nerd quotient.