Tech History

From mechanical computing to cloud-based apps—tracing the long and tangled web of innovations that built modern tech.

75 years on, the fingerprints of wartime research are still all over our lives. How one American wartime visionary predicted the internet, the cloud, and more.

Almost 50 years ago, the first Internet message was sent. From Cold War research oddity to pan-global phenomenon, the network has evolved in surprising ways.

 

 In the 2000s, laptops became less brick-like. Smartphones appeared, as did cloud computing, social media, and YouTube. The stage was set for tech today.

In the 80s, computers infiltrated polite society. Video games were one Trojan horse. Graphical user interface (GUI) and weird mass marketing helped too.

Mad Men mainframes, middle-class desktops. Mid-century computers went from big and pricey to small-ish and affordable (yet wonky). Also, video games.

Peace gave computers a chance. In the late 40s and 50s, former WWII researchers went full-on business, tech got a big boost, and Silicon Valley was born.

Computer visionary Ted Nelson’s started his alt-Internet project Xanadu in 1960. Since then, he’s been misunderstood by many—even dubbed insane. 

 

In the 2010s, computers shape what it is to be human while server farms and supercomputers are disrupting life itself.