Automated Teller Machine (ATM)
The first ATM cash machine was installed in London at the end of 1960s, wherein transactions were made by inserting cheques, marked with carbon-14 for readability and security. The later models which were installed in 1970s gave users the option of using a six-digit PIN number, along with the introduction of magnetic stripe cards.
The development of microprocessor chips was the one of the biggest milestones in the development of computer hardware. Before the arrival of microprocessor circuits, computers had to be made with racks of circuit boards consisting of multiple medium and small scale integrated circuits. With microprocessors, the entire CPU could now be integrated onto a single chip (or a few chips). This drastically cut down the cost of processing power and greatly enhanced the efficiency of computer circuits. Intel introduced the first commercial microprocessor chip, a 4-bit Intel 4004 in 1971.
In the 70s, American computer engineer Douglas Engelbart demonstrated publicaly for the first time how by using a hand-held system on a surface the user can have a smooth control of the graphical user interface. Originally known as the X-Y Position Indicator for a display system, it became widely used in modern computer systems.
Before the advent of CDs, USB flash drives and portable hard disks; floppy disk was the primary tool to distribute software, transfer data and create backups in the 70s and 80s - even though its capacity was less than 1 MB. Floppy disk was developed and improved upon by companies such as IBM, Memorex, Shugart and Burroughs.
Graphical User Interface
The graphical user interface is a type of interface which lets users interact with computers with the help of graphical icons and visual indicators, instead of text-based user interfaces, typed commands or text navigation. Researchers at Xerox PARC first developed a Graphical User Interface (GUI) as the main interface for Xerox Alto computer released in 1973. Modern general purpose GUI evolved from that first version of the GUI by Xerox. The GUI included windows, menus, radio buttons and check boxes.
Digital Printer was invented invented at Xerox PARC in the 1970s and soon became popularized for home and office use. Digital printers, either in the form of laser or inkjet, were different from analog photo copiers wherein the direct scanning of medium was used to produce the image across the printer's photoreceptor. This made them quicker and more efficient at making copies than traditional photocopiers.
In 1973, IBM's Palto Alto Scientific Center developed a prototype for a portable computer known as SCAMP. It was based on the IBM PALM processor with a small cassette drive, CRT display and full function keyboard. SCAMP led to the first commercial portable micro computer- IBM 5100 which was introduced in 1975.
Local Area Network (LAN)
The rising need for computing in universities and research labs generated the need for fast-speed computer networks connected to a single server. This led to the rise of LAN technology which was developed in the 1970s. The first commercial installation took place at Chase Manhattan Bank in 1977.
Unix is a family of multi user computer operating systems developed by AT&T in 1970s. Unix was the first portable operating system with multi-tasking capabilities and was written in the C programming language. In the 1980s, software programmers used Unix as a universal operating system which was suitable for computers of all sizes.
Use of Fiber Optics was first implemented for telephone communication in 1977 in Long Beach, California. In the 1980s, telecoms started using fiber optics for their infrastructure. This led to the creation of Sprint in US, the first nation-wide full digital network based on fiber optics technology.
MS-DOS was the revolutionary operating system that was launched by Microsoft for IBM computers in 1980. The operating system played a crucial role in the evolution of modern computer software. Microsoft had licensed MS-DOS to over 70 companies who were using this product. MS-DOS was followed by newer OS versions that offered x86-based graphical user interfaces in PCs.
Compact Disk storage was co-developed by Philips and Sony, and launched in the global market in 1982. A standard CD can store up to 700 MiB of data, which at the time of its introduction was a major leap in the storage technology. In 1982, a PC hard drive could only hold typically 10 MB of data.
Flash Memory is a non-volatile computer storage hardware which was developed by Toshiba in 1980s from electrically erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM). Flash memory offers fast read access times and high durability compared to other forms of storage. For this reason, flash is used at scale to store configuration data in most digital products today.
The first PCs could not find popularity among end users due to their non-friendly user interface and difficult installation. All of that changed in 1984 with the launch of Apple Macinstosh. It was a revolutionary personal computer and became the first mass commercial use PC that included a graphical user interface, built-in screen and a mouse.
Digital Video Disk (DVD) is a form of digital optical disk storage which was developed in 1995. DVDs provided an affordable tool to store adequate amount of data at a time when USB sticks and portable hard drives were extremely expensive for end users. The first version of a DVD could hold about 1.4 GB of data.
The first internet was created by the US military known as ARPANET and was based on the TCP/IP protocol. Then between 1989 to 1991, Tim Berners Lee led the development of the World Wide Web which was based on the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Uniform Resource Locator (URL). All the developments led to the rise of the modern Internet as we know today.
While the internet had the most profound impact on modern day living, it wasn't the ability to simply hypertext documents that made Internet so powerful. How end consumers interacted with Internet with the help of web browsers was the key development. The first web browser was created by none other than the father of modern Internet - Tim Berners Lee and was called Nexus. Later on, the launch of another web browser- Mosaic in 1992 helped popularize the Internet as it had a user-friendly interface, easy installation and display of images alongside text.
Global Positioning System
While the GPS project was launched in 1973 by the US military, it finally became operational in 1995. Using GPS satellite receivers, the geographical location of any person or object can be traced with a few seconds. GPS has revolutionized the global navigation and logistics industry.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
First popularized by Nvidia in 1999 with the launch of GeForce 256, GPUs are widely used in computers, mobile phones, workstations and game consoles. A Graphics Processing Unit is capable of rapidly altering the memory and can accelerate the creation of images on computer monitors.
Modern cell phones with all the smart features play a pivotal role in communication and information exchange. It was in 1973 that Motorola released the first hand-held cellular phone based on the public switched telephone network. Apart from telephony, modern mobile phones support advanced communication services, such as text messaging, email, Internet access, short-range wireless communications (Infrared, Bluetooth), business applications, video games, and digital photography.