Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Ex-CDA comments, suggestions, criticisms

Computer World : Historical Timeline : 1985-92



1986

Compaq introduces the Deskpro 386 system, the first to use Intel´s new 80386 chip and a 32-bit microprocessor;  SCSI-1 protocol from Shugart Associates adopted as industry-standard for disk drive interface; IBM releases the first commercial RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer( workstation based on the premise observation that the simplest 20 percent of a computer´s instruction set did 80 percent of other processing - later releases by other manufacturers proved significantly faster and many observers suggest that it was at this point that IBM lost its premier place as a leader in technology development; the same year saw the release of the first IBM portable computer (IBM 5140) "The Convertible" which becomes a huge flop (‘too expensive, too heavy, not enough memory”). SCSI officially standardised by the American National Standards Institute. After year-long negotiations, Burroughs acquires Sperry Rand Univac for for $4.8 billion, the largest merger in the computer industry's history - the new company emerged as Unisys, the second largest in the computer market  with revenues of about $10.5 billion in 1986, but still only about 20 percent of the size of IBM.



1987

IBM introduces PS/2 (Personal System/2) with  Intel´s 80386 chip, a new operating system OS/2 allowing use of a mouse and a new  video graphics array (VGA) standard display; Perl (Practical Extraction and Report Language) is written by Larry Wall. It was intended to facilitate report processing and could scan and extract information from text files (aka “the duct tape of the Internet”); European Community formally agrees on the GSM (Spécial Mobile Group, or GSM in French) standard for digital mobile telephony, including text messaging (SMS).  




1988

23 year old Robert T. Morris, the son of a computer security expert for the National Security Agency, sends a nondestructive worm through the Internet causing major problems for days for about 6,000 of the 60,000 hosts linked to the network. The result is widespread outages. This is the first worm to have a major effect on real-world computer systems, and publicizes the importance of network security. Morris will be the first person convicted (1989) under the “Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.”; Steve Jobs, forced out of Apple in 1985, founds a new company – NeXT and releases revolutionary CUBE black-box computer. Pixar´s Tin Toy becomes the first computer-animated film to win an Academy Award, taking the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.   IBM introduces the Application System/400 (AS/400) series.



1989

(Generally accepted as the start of the fourth generation of computers)   Apple introduces one of its best Mac products ever, the MacIntosh SE/30.   Intel releases (not entirely bug-free) the 486 chip; the first 486 computer is made by Apricot ltd. (UK), price is around U$ 12,000.  Quantum Computer Services, Virginia USA, launches America Online (October).  The American National Standards Institute publishes the first standard for the C programming language: ANSI-C . Microsoft Corporation introduces Windows for IBM computers ; "We don't see Windows as a long-term graphical interface for the masses". (Quote from a Lotus Development official, while demonstrating a new DOS version of Lotus 1-2-3). Hewlett Packard acquires Apollo Computers for $476 million



#top

1987

IBM introduces PS/2 (Personal System/2) with  Intel´s 80386 chip, a new operating system OS/2 allowing use of a mouse and a new  video graphics array (VGA) standard display; Perl (Practical Extraction and Report Language) is written by Larry Wall. It was intended to facilitate report processing and could scan and extract information from text files (aka “the duct tape of the Internet”); European Community formally agrees on the GSM (Spécial Mobile Group, or GSM in French) standard for digital mobile telephony, including text messaging (SMS).  




1990

World Wide Web is officially born when Tim Berners-Lee of the physics laboratory in Geneva completes development of HTML and browser software. Zenith, Compaq, Olivetti and  ALR all launch computers of the Intel 486 series before IBM; Compaq is the most expensive at a lazy US$ 27,000.    Commodore releases the Amiga 3000, the first 32-bit Amiga.  IBM makes possibly its most comprehensive product announcement in 25 years by introducing the System/390 family consisting of 18 Enterprise System/9000 processors.  Following a visit by U.S.S.R. President Mikhail Gorbachev and a subsequent $32 million sale by CDC to allowing monitoring of Soviet civilian nuclear plants, existing restrictions on sales of technology to Russia and Eastern bloc countries are significantly relaxed





1991

ATT acquires NCR Corporation. Following its decision not to develop operating systems cooperatively with IBM, Microsoft changes the name of OS/2 to Windows NT.  Microsoft releases Visual Basic. Apple announces the PowerBook range. Microsoft and Apple jointly release TrueType, a scalable font Apple computers and computers running Windows. young Finnish student Linus Torvalds releases the first official version of Linux.  Borland acquires Ashton-Tate Corporation and the Dbase II program. Based on Charles Babbage's second design for a mechanical calculating engine, a team at the Science Museum in London completes a six-year project to construct the machine using materials and techniques that would have been available at the time, proving that Babbage’s design was accurate and could have been built in his day.


1992

IBM rolls out a new series of notebook computers - the ThinkPad with a 10.4 inch color display and a touch-pad tracking device. Microsoft introduces Windows 3.1., generally regarded as the first (relatively) stable release of Windows. TWAIN, a standard interface for scanning equipment is developed by a consortium including Aldus, Caere, Eastman, Kodak, Hewlett Packard and Logitech (somewhat contradictory, "Never the twain shall meet" is a line in the Rudyard Kipling poem The Ballad of East and West, which suggests the the two hemispheres would never meet) . Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is developed by SQL Access Group, allowing different database products to inter-connect..  Linux is released as a free product under the GNU General Public License.  (September) Visual Basic for MS-DOS released.  Adobe Photoshop 2.5 is released for the Macintosh and for the first time Windows.