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Timeline of the History of Information

This is a pretty arbitrary list of landmarks in the history of information (whatever those might be), which I compiled for the Encyclopedia Britannica with the historian Daniel Brownstein.

c. 20,000 B.C. Cave painting is widespread in Eurasia.

3500 B.C. Earliest use of clay bullae in Sumer, envelopes bearing marks that correspond to clay tokens inside; the precursor of the Sumerian writing system.

3100 B.C. Earliest cuneiform markings representing words in Sumer, first language-based writing system.

c. 3000 B.C. In Egypt, the earliest instances of hieroglyphic writing appear on slabs of slate in chapels and tombs. The papyrus roll and clay tablet soon become the dominant surfaces of writing.

c. 2800 B.C. Egyptians introduce lunar calendar of 365 days as a civil calendar.

c. 2500 B.C. Ink is in use in both Egypt and China.

c. 1800 B.C. Earliest known samples of Chinese writing, which originated well before this date.

c. 1800 B.C. The Babylonians are using an early form of the abacus.

c. 1500 B.C. Water clocks are used in Egypt.

c. 1500 B.C. Earliest organization of Vedas, an orally-transmitted collection of sacred literature, chants and hymns, in South Asia.

c. 1400 B.C. Linear B develops as a Mycenean Greek orthography, scratched with a stylus on sun-dried clay.

c 1300 B.C. Chinese use primitive books made of wood or bamboo strips bound together with cords.

c. 1000 B.C. Earliest surviving Phoenician inscriptions, in North Semitic Alphabet, probably ancestor of Greek alphabet and 22-letter Phoenician alphabet.

c. 1000 B.C. First recorded use of pen by Chinese calligraphers.

c 750 B.C. Development of Brahmi, the ancestor of modern Indian writing systems.

c. 750 B.C. Earliest examples of Greek writing, based on Phonecian writing system.

c. 710 B.C. Egyptians invent the sundial as a means to keep time.

c. 700 B.C. Date of Praeneste Fibula, gold brooch containing earliest example of Latin alphabet.

c. 660 Archives and library are organized by King Ashurbanipal in Nineveh, marking the first systematically organized library of the ancient Middle East. Some 20,000 tablets from it survive today.

c 550 B.C. Appearance of writing from left to right.

c. 500 B.C. Pre-Columbian civilizations use paper, and develop a simple mathematical notation.

c. 360 B.C. Aristotle╠s school, the Lyceum, becomes a center of philosophical investigation.

c 350 B.C. The Ionic alphabet of 24 letters is in use in Greece.

c. 345 B.C. Speusippus writes first known fragments of an encylopaedia.

c 300 B.C. Emergence of a distinct Hebrew alphabet.

280 B.C. Museum in Alexandria founded by Ptolemy I. Its first librarian, Zenodotus of Ephesus, provides the basis for modern textual criticism by making the first critical edition of Homer from the manuscripts it holds.

163 B.C. Nien-hao dating system adopted by Emperor Wen Ti. The Chinese division of time into "eras" persists until 1911.

c. 50 B.C. The Julian calendar is perfected by the astronomer Sosigenes, who lengthens the Egyptian solar calendar of 365 days to 365 1/2.

59 B.C. Acta Diurna ("Daily Events") is published as a daily gazette in Rome; it marks the first diffusion of public news.

c. 90 Quintilian elaborates principles for rhetorical education, classical sentence structure and the principles of rhetorical argument in Institutio Oratoria.

105 The Chinese develop a process for making paper, which reaches Central Asia by 751 and Baghdad in 793.

c. 160 Parchment is developed in Asia Minor; it is said to have been invented in Pergamum in the second century B.C..

c. 250 First codification of Hebrew oral laws in the Mishna.

c. 300 The Mayans invent system of hieroglyphic writing.

c. 350 Development of the Arabic alphabet.

c. 350 Development of Ethiopic script, originally used for Ge'ez,

still used as a liturgical language in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

c. 350 Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest known Greek bound volume of pages.

c. 390 Augustine frames a system which dominates the structure of encyclopedias. It is based on the ordering of human knowledge of the world and human customs as they pertains to salvation.

c. 400 Earliest "illustrated" Chinese scrolls, forerunners to the narrative type, are used to depict moral lessons.

c. 550 Chinese develop block book printing, carving the proofs for pages in wood.

c. 550 The astrolabe is developed, reaching Europe from the Islamic world, and proves among the most versatile and important medieval instruments.

550 Cassiodorus found a monastery and establishes a scriptorium at Vivarium where pagan works are copied and preserved.

618 First hand-copied pao, reports of court affairs, circulate among

the educated civil servants of Peking.

C. 620 Wei Cheng writes the bibliographic section of the official Sui Dynasty History, dividing the books into four categories: Confucian classics, historical records, philosophical writings, and miscellaneous works.

c. 630 First specific reference made to a quill pen, in the writings of Isidore of Seville.

c. 700 Xylography, or wood engraving, is widespread in China

712 The Kojiki is the first extensive document using Chinese characters to represent Japanese.

c. 750 Musical notation first developed in Europe.

c. 830 Foundation of the Bayt al-Hikmah ("House of Wisdom"), in Baghdad, an academy which contains a public library with a large collection of materials on a wide range of subjects.

c. 850 Ibn Qutayba assembles first known Arabic encyclopaedia

c. 850 Development of the cyrillic alphabet, used widely for Slavic languages.

868 In China, the first printed book, the Buddhist Diamond Sutra , is produced using carved blocks of wood. It includes a woodcut title page and numerous images.

ca 1000 Talmudic academies in Babylonia and Palestine complete the Masoretic text, an authentic text of the Old Testament that synthesizes written versions and oral traditions.

c 1000 French scholar Gerbert of Aurillac, later Pope Sylvester II, introduces a type of abacus, in which numbers are represented by stones bearing Arabic numerals.

c. 1000 First references are made to movable type in China.

c. 1050 The translations of Arabic works lead to the introduction in Europe of the system of Arabic numerals, which greatly facilitate computation.

1025 Guido of Arezzo develops the elements of musical staff notation in Benedictine abbey at Pomposa.

c. 1050 Foundation of University of Bologna, oldest in Europe, as a center of civil and canon law.

c. 1050 The Chinese mathematician Shen Kua writes first description of movable type.

1086 William the Conqueror undertakes the first complete government census of land, possessions, and inhabitants, leading to the establishment of public archive.

c. 1100 First wax seals used to sign documents.

1135 Hugh of St. Victor establishes the encyclopedia as a structure of Adamic knowledge in his Didascalion.

c. 1140 Decretum Gratiani ("Decree of Gratian"), a 12th-century collection of papal decrees, provides Europe╠s framework for legal education and decisions.

c. 1150 First European paper produced; the technique arrives via Italian ports with active commercial relations with the Arab world and also, probably, by the overland route from Spain to France.

c. 1190 The magnetic compass is in use in China and Mediterranean

(adapted from Technology)

c. 1200 The Inca are using the quipu, an elaborate accounting apparatus consisting of a long rope from which hang a number of knotted cords representing units, tens, and hundreds and designating the different concerns of government.

1260 Franco of Cologne codifies time values in music, providing the basis for notation from thirteenth to fifteenth centuries.

1268 First recorded reference to eyeglasses is made by Roger Bacon.

1296 Oldest surviving Portolan chart, which plots coastlines in a way that will allow navigational distances to be measured by means of rhumb lines. It marks the birth of cartography as a profession.

c. 1300 Xylography appears in Europe, a system of printing by woodcuts.

1335 The first public mechanical clock that strikes the hours is erected in Milan, Italy.

c. 1350 Paper mills appear in Europe.

1370 Charles V of France standardizes the time of clocks in Paris as part of his effort to increase commerce in the capital.

1373 The first inventory is made of the massive book collection housed in the Louvre, which later forms the basis for the Biblioth└que Nationale.

c. 1380 Xylography is first used to print engravings in Europe.

1383 Francesco Datini's use of double-entry bookkeeping indicates the diffusion of the new commercial record-keeping practice in Italy.

1406-7 The Hellenistic authors Claudius Ptolemy╠s Geografia is first translated in Italy from Greek manuscripts. As well as providing a map that includes the Africa and Asia as continents, it provides a mathematically consistent method to project a curved sphere onto the flat surface along a grid

1421 The first recorded patent for an industrial invention is granted to Filippo Brunelleschi.

c. 1430 First metallographic printing begins in Holland and Rhineland. The encouraging results obtained with large type demonstrate the validity of the idea of typographic composition.

c. 1430 Leone Battista Alberti teaches artists techniques of perspective, which are later elaborated by Durer in an influential 1537 treatise.

1444 King Sejong commissions invention of Korean Han'gu [brev]l, an alphabetic script whose letter shapes are based on phonetic properties of sounds. Han'gul, does not come into wide use until 1880.

c. 1450 Appearance of incunabula, the first printed books.

1455 With the innovation of movable type, Guttenberg produces the first printed bibles.

1463 The first printed title page is used on a papal bull.

1489 The first printed plus and minus signs appear in Germany.

c. 1490 Newsbooks are issued at the rate of 20 a year in England and the Continent, providing information on major events and public issues

c. 1500 Appearance of the parenthesis completes the modern repertory of standard punctuation symbols.

1507 Martin Waldseemuller publishes the first maps that unite disparate lands in the New World into a landmass of "America." His 120 engraved sheets integrate the latest discoveries into a series of precise visual maps.

1512 Franz von Taxis, postmaster to the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian I from 1489 and to Philip I of Spain from 1504, secures the right to carry both government and private mail throughout the Holy

1522 Luther publishes the first vernacular translation of the Bible.

1537 Albrecht Durer publishes a manual that deals with the instruction and analysis of perspectrive in drafting illustrations, a book with immense influence on European cartographers.

1543 Andreas Vesalius publishes the first illustrated systematic anatomical atlas of the human body.

1552 Richard Huloet publishes English-Latin Abecedarium, containing a greater number of English words than had before appeared in any similar dictionary. Along with other books of this type, it reflects an increase in literacy among a broad range of society.

1555 Conrad Gesner, Swiss naturalist, completes his Bibliotheca Universalis, a classification of all past and present writers.

1564 First catalogs of Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs.

1565 First known description of the writing pencil.

1569 The Mercator projection introduced; it allows cartographers to plot navigational bearings as straight lines.

1570 Abraham Ortelius publishes the first modern atlas of the world, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.

1571 The Medici make the books and classical manuscripts they have collected since the fifteenth century available to the public when they open their library in Florence.

1578 Introduction of Gregorian or New Style solar dating system now in general use. It is proclaimed in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII to maintain coincidence of calendar and seasons in it, no century is a leap year unless it is divisible by 400.

1583 By comparing previous calendars, Joseph Justus Scaliger correlates computations of time made by the various civilizations of antiquity, corrects their errors, and for the first time establishes chronology as a discipline on a scientific basis.

1584 The library of the Escorial opens in Spain. It is the first library to place books against the walls, set at right angles to the light source.

1585 The Dutchman Simon Stevin publishes an elementary and thorough account of decimal fractions and their daily use in a small pamphlet, La Thiende ("The Tenth").

1586 William Camden╠s Britannia publishes first comprehensive topographical survey of all England.

1604 Publication of the first purely English dictionary, Robert Cawdrey's A Table Alphabeticall, conteyning and teaching the true writing and understanding of hard usuall English wordes, borrowed from the Hebrew, Greeke, Latine, or French &c..

1608 The Dutch lens-grinder Hans Lippershey applies for a patent on a telescope.

1612 Accademia della Crusca publishes the first dictionary that bases its definitions on literary examples of usage.

1614 The Scottish baron John Napier publishes the first table of logarithms, based on the principle that addition and subtraction are easier to compute than division and multiplication.

1620 Francis Bacon╠s Great Instauration published, the first comprehensive plan for organizing knowledge around the human sciences, separating external nature from man.

1627 Kepler╠s Tabulae rudolphinae establish schema of planetary positions.

1627 Gabriel Naud╗, later the librarian of the Biblioth└que Mazarine, publishes the first study of library science, Advice on Establishing a Library.

1642 Blaise Pascal invents a digital calculator with numbers entered by dial wheels; later in the century Leibniz invents a more sophisticated device.

1656 Christiaan Huygens invents the pendulum clock.

1660 The Royal Society of London for the Promotion of Natural Knowledge opens its public meetings in Britain. It is the first such scientific society in Britain.

1665 The Royal Society begins publishing its Philosophical Transactions, the earliest scientific periodical in the West. The French Journal des Savants is launched in the same year, followed by journals in Germany, Holland, and Italy.

1666 Samuel Pepy's diaries makes first mention of domestic bookcases in Europe.

1675 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz develops integral and differential calculus. It proves more influential than the system developed by Newton around the same time.

1675 The Greenwich Observatory is founded for navigational purposes by the King of England, Charles II, in an attempt to determine longitude by the determination of star positions. It is the first scientific institution established in England.

1683 The Ashmolean museum opens in Oxford, the first public museum of art, archaeology, and natural history in Great Britain.

c. 1690 Gottfried Leibniz conceives of national bibliographic organization in his role as librarian of the duke of Braunschweig-LŻneburg.

c. 1690 Gottfried Leibniz develops positional number systems.

1695 Expiration of Licensing Act in England leads to a huge growth of political literature and of journalism, like the Specator of Addison and Steele (1711-12).

1704 The first officially sanctioned North American newspaper, the Boston Newsletter, begins publication, replacing the proclamations and pamphlets that had previously brought news from England.

1710 Publication of John Locke╠s Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

1710 The Statute of Anne, passed in England, sets the basis for the copyright laws by defining the author as the primary beneficiary of legal protection.

1735 Carolus Linnaeus offers first systematic organizational schema to understand the variety of life in the natural order, which is the basis of taxonomical nomenclature.

1755 Samuel Johnson publishes first comprehensive and authoritative dictionary in English.

1759 The British Museum opens to the public in London.

1762-72 Denis Diderot supervises publication of Encyclop╗die, the first systematic treatment knowledge, practices, and customs of man.

1765 Publication of the first volume of William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, which sets down and systematizes the English common law.

1768-71 TheEncyclopedia Britannica is published in three volumes in Edinburgh, Scotland. By 1974, the Encyclopedia has gone through fifteen editions; in the early 1990s, it became available on CD-ROM.

1775 Former Philadelphia postmaster Benjamin Franklin is appointed the first U.S. Postmaster General. By 1820, the cheap, extensive U. S. postal service carries news and information throughout the country, a model for postal service in other nations.

1776 The marquis de Condorcet publishes Fragments on Freedom of the Press, which lays the philosophical groundwork for the modern concept of the marketplace of ideas and is influential in the reformulation of the notion of intellectual property after the French Revolution.

1786 Samuel Taylor invents the first influential modern shorthand system.

1789-94 Appearance of the first Russian dictionary.

1789 The French National Archives open to public, as the state formally accepts responsiblity to preserve an open record of public documents.

Yą1790 First patent laws in United States; copyright laws are adopted in the United States in the same year.

1794 Founding of Ecole Polytechnique, setting a precedent for providing university education outside the liberal arts.

1794 Frenchman Claude Chappe invents the semaphore, a signalling system employing a set of arms that rotate on a post.

1795 Opening of the Biblioth└que Nationale in Paris, holding an estimated 300,000 volumes. The collections more than double by 1818.

1795 France adopts the metric system.

1798 Noah Webster undertakes the compilation of a book to be called A Dictionary of the American Language. It appears in 1828 in its final form as An American Dictionary of the English Language .

1800 The Library of Congress opens in Washington as the national library of the United States.

c. 1800 New developments in the bleaching of paper allow the production of books and newspapers for a large reading public.

1804 Joseph-Marie Jacquard of France devises an automatic loom in which the woven pattern is controlled by a series of punched cards.

1804 In France, formulation of the Napoleonic Code, which attempts to codify national law on rational principles. During the nineteenth century it becomes the model for the legal systems of a number of European and

1813 U.S. Army issues the first printed orders, a process later adopted by other large organizations, which makes for the more efficient management of hierarchical organizations.

1814 The Times of London is the first newspaper to begin printing newspapers on a steam-powered flatbed press, which permits production of 5,000 copies an hour.

1820 The first commercially available calculator, the arithmometer, is produced in France by Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar.

1821 The Cherokee writing system invented by Sequoyah.

1822 Charles Babbage builds a prototype of his difference engine, a computing machine based on the method of finite differences.

1826 Joseph-Nic╗phore Niepce produces the first permanent photograph from nature.

1827 Karl Baedeker of Koblenz publishes the first of a series of travel guides that systematize tourist information and adopt a system of stars to classify amenities and attractions.

1828 John Mitchell of Birmingham, England, begins production of machine-made steel pen points.

1828 The London Zoo is opened in Regent's Park by the Zoological Society of London. Other major zoological gardens are opened in Berlin (1841), Antwerp (1843), Copenhagen (1859), Moscow (1864), Rotterdam (1887), and New York (1899).

c. 1830 The English mathematician William Oughtred invents the slide rule.

1836 US Patent Office opens. (Copy ref from techno timeline)

1837 British inventors William Cooke and Charlres Wheatstone patent workable technologies for the electric telegraph.

1837 In England, Sir Rowland Hill publishes Post Office Reform: Its

Importance and Practicability. It leads to the elimination of postal

charges by distance in favor of a universal penny post, for which patrons

pay by purchase of adhesive stamps.

1837 Samuel Morse granted a patent on electromagnetic telegraph, originally a device that embosses a series of dots and dashes on a paper roll.

1838 The Brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm undertake the preparation of the Deutsches Wérterbuch, an authoritative dictionary of the German language. Numerous scholars labor on the book after the Grimms' death; it appears in its final form in 1960.

1838 Samuel F. B. Morse develops the Morse Code, a system for telegraphy.

1838 England introduces the railway post office, in which mail is sorted on the way to its destination.

1839 Louis-Jacques-Mand╗ Daguerre and Joseph-Nic╗phore Niepce invent the daguerrotype, the first widely successful form of photography.

c. 1842 Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, British mathematician, creates the first computer program for Babbage╠s prototype computer.

1844 The telegraph is used to report results of Whig convention in Baltimore to New York newspapers.

1845 Perforated strips of postal stamps are first sold to the public in Britain

1846 The Smithsonian Institution is established by Congress in Washington, D.C. using funds donated by the English scientist James Smithson. Other major museums of science and industry open in New York, London, Paris, Munich, and other cities over the course of the century.

1847 George Boole publishes The Mathematical Analysis of Logic: Being an Essay Towards a Calculus of Deductive Reasoning , providing the mathematical basis for the logic of digital computation

1847 A patent issued for the first rotary press in the United States. The technology makes possible the widespread production of newpapers in the mid-nineteenth century.

1848 The Associated Press is formed in the United States to pool telegraph expenses.

1851 The Great Exhibition opens in London, offering a compendious display of 19th-century technology and culture.

1852 Peter Mark Roget publishes his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases.

1853 The Indian telegraph system opens, facilitating British colonial administration.

1854 Opening of the Astor Public Library, later the New York Public library.

1855 The British government sends the Roger Fenton to photograph the war in the Crimea. His pictures portray the war favorably, and gloss over the disaster of the charge of the Light Brigade.

1857 Work begun on the Oxford English Dictionary.

1858 The first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable attempted; the first permanently successful cable is laid in 1866.

c. 1860 The introduction of practical one-sided carbon paper makes possible the creation of multiple copies at the time of composition, and allows copying on thicker paper that can be stored in vertical files. By 1910 it is the chief means of making copies.

1861 Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species.

1865 The American William Bullock gains a patent for the first roll-fed rotary press, improving on earlier innovations; it produces12,000 complete newspapers per hour.

1866 Appearance of Vol. 1 of Larousse╠s Grand Dictionnaire Universel du XIXe Siecle .

1867 American inventor Christopher Latham Scholes builds the first practical typewriter. In 1873 Remington begins to manufacture the machines in large numbers. By 1886 there are more than 50,000 machines in use.

1869 Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev publishes the periodic law of the elements.

c. 1870 Development of the sulfite process for pulping wood allows increased production of printed material and books.

1870-1890 A musem boom leads to the building of museums in most major cities in Europe and the Americas. In England, more than 100 museums are opened in this period.

1870 Balloons are used to deliver mail during the siege of Paris.

1871 R. L. Maddox introduces dry-plate process in photography. It will free photographers from the use of tripod and lead to fast portable cameras.

1871 The first telephone exchange, or central switching point, is installed in New Haven, Connecticut.

1874 Twenty-two nations sign a treaty in Bern establishing the General Postal Union, later the Universal Postal Convention, which sets procedures for the exchange of international mail.

1875 Frank Stephen Baldwin patents an "arithometer" that can add, subtract, multiply and divide. In 1891, in association with James Monroe, he patents the Monroe calculator.

1876 Thomas A. Edison patents the spirit duplicator, which with other methods of mimeography makes possible efficient diffusion of written communication in large offices and organizations.

1876 Alexander Graham Bell introduces the telephone.

1876 Melvil Dewey outlines the classificatory system later known as Dewey Decimal.

1876 Henry Martin Robert, a U.S. Army officer, writes the standard manual on procedure in the United States, known as Robert's Rules of Order.

1877 Thomas Edison patents the phonograph.

1887 Melvil Dewey establishes the first university school for librarians at Columbia University.

c. 1880 Henry R. Towne publishes first graph of management data in the Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, presaging the increasing use of graphs in scientific management.

1880 Eadweard Muybridge makes the first motion picture presentation in San Francisco.

1880 Herman Holllerith, a statistician, develops the first punch-card machine to process the results of the US Census. He later founds the company that is to become IBM.

1883 YąJoseph Pulitzer purchases the New York World and initiates a program of sensationalist journalism. Within three years the paper's circulation has gone from 15,000 to 250,000, signalling the new era of mass newspapers and the birth of "yellow journalism."

1890 Frederick C. Taylor performs the first time-and-motion study of work practices at the Hydraulic Works of Philadelphia, laying the groundwork for the scientific study of industrial management.

1884 Publication of Mark Twain╠s Huckleberry Finn, the first novel submitted to a publisher in a typewritten form.

1884 L.E. Waterman produces and markets the fountain pen.

1885 George Eastman introduces the Kodak camera, containing film for 120 exposures, to be returned to factory for developing and recharging.

1885 Francis Galton introduces the first system for classifying fingerprints, after proving that each set is unique.

1890 Jacob A. Riis publishes How the Other Half Lives, a photographic record of the lives of the poor in New York City that stimulates legislative reforms.

1892 Emile Reynaud popularizes the projection of film on the Praxinoscope at the Mus╗e Grevin, three years before the Lumi└re brothers publically demonstrate the Cin╗matographe.

1893 Thomas Edison constructs the world╠s first motion picture stage, Black Maria, and in the following year introduces the Kinetoscope, with peepholes that allow one person to watch a moving image.

1893 The vertical file is presented at the Chicago World╠s Fair, where it wins a gold medal. It permits a more rational organization of documents for large organizations.

c. 1896 In France, Auguste and Louis Lumi└re produce the first motion-picture documentaries and newsreels.

1898 Eug└ne Atget starts to produces an extended photographic record of Paris urban life that he continues until 1927. Largely ignored during his lifetime, his work is rediscovered by the surrealists around the time of his death.

1898 Outbreak of the Spanish-American War, largely incited by William Randolph Hearst's New York Morning Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, an indication of the new political power of the mass press.

Article: United States of America: HISTORY: Imperialism, the Progressive era, and the rise to world power, 1896-1920

1899 Herbert Putnam appointed head of Library of Congress, and transforms it into one of the most important national collections. He introduces library services that include the publishing of bibliographies and the Library of Congress system of classification.

1899 Andrew Carnegie makes the first of grants that will eventually build more than two thousand public libraries in the United States and Britain.

1900 The proportion of typists and stenographers who are women reaches 77 percent, a four-or five-fold increase over the previous fifty years, reflecting the reorganization and specialization of work practices induced in part by technologies like the typewriter and dictating machine.

1902 Photographs are transmitted by telegraph for the first time by German inventor Arthur Korn.

1904 The lithoset or offset printing developed.

1904 French psychologist Alfred Binet develops the modern intelligence test.

1907 Autochrome, the first practical color photography process, is introduced in France by Auguste and Louis Lumi└re.

1911 Airmail service begins in England.

1915 D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation establishes the American narrative film style and marks the arrival of cinema as an art form.

1917 The use of multiple frequency transmission makes possible broadcast radio.

1920 The first commercial radio station, KDKA, goes on the air in Pittsburgh with a broadcast of the returns of the Harding-Cox election.

1922 The British Broadcasting Company is established to coordinate production of radio programming.

1923 Americans Henry R. Luce and Briton Hadden found Time Magazine, which establishes the form for modern magazine journalism.

c. 1923 Credit Cards are introduced in United States at hotels and gasoline stations.

1926 The National Broadcasting Company establishes a network of radio stations to which it distributes daily programs.

1926 The Book of the Month club is founded in the United States, distributing over 200,000,000 copies of books to areas where there were few bookstores and introducing "negative option" mail-orders.

1927 The Radio Act the sets up the agency now called the Federal Communications Commission to allocate radio frequencies.

1927 The phenomenal success of The Jazz Singer ensures the conversion of the motion-picture industry to sound films.

1928 The teletypesetter is patented in the United States.

1928 Eastman Kodak introduces the Recordak system of microfilming, soon widely used in the storage of organizational records.

1931 Emergence of the telex, the antecedent to the FAX, in the UK, the U.S., and several European countries.

1932 The Radio Corporation of America demonstrates an all-electric television using a camera tube called the iconoscope (patented by Vladimir Zworykin in 1923) and a cathode-ray tube in the receiver.

1933 Publication of Oxford English Dictionary (OED) , begun in 1857.

1933 The Indian librarian and educator Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan devises the system of colon classification for research libraries.

1933 Vannevar Bush of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology constructs the differential analyzer, a powerful analog computer.

1934 U.S. National Archives are opened to supplement the Library of Congress, housing the retired records of the national government.

c. 1935 Frequency modulation is developed to overcome radio transference.

1935 The Farm Security Administration commissions a group of photographers, including Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, to document conditions among the poor. Their photographs of victims of the Depression help move states to establish camps for migrant workers.

1937 The coronation of King George VI is telecast from Hyde Park Corner.

1937-43 The first electronic digital computer is built by John V. Atranasoff, an American theoretical physicist at Iowa State College.

1938 Orson Welles' radio presentation of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds creates panic among thousands of radio listeners who have become so accustomed to receiving news by radio that they take the reports of a Martian invasion of New Jersey in earnest.

c. 1938 The Hungarian Laszlo Biro, living in Argentina, patents and successfully markets the ball-point pen.

c. 1938 The Englishman Allen Lane launches Penguin books, initiating mass production of good-quality paperback books.

1939 The National Broadcasting Company initiates regular television broadcasts for two hours per week. The CBS and Dumont networks soon follow suit, but broadcasting is interrupted by World War II.

1941 Kondrad Zuse constructs first fully operational binary computer, the Z3.

1945 The first modern stored memory computer is designed by Johann von Neumann, J. Presper Eckert, and John W. Maucly.

1946 Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania complete ENIAC, a room-sized computer consisting of 10,000 high-speed vacuum tubes

1947 The transistor is invented at Bell Telephone Laboratories.

1948 Dennis Gabor, a Hungarian-born scientist, invents holography; in 1971 he receives the Nobel Prize for his invention.

1949 In the U.S., there are 1,000,000 television receivers in use. The 10,000,000 mark is passed in 1951, and the 50,000,000 mark eight years later. Other developed nations reach these levels of penetration soon after.

1952 The first numerical control machine tool is demonstrated at MIT.

c. 1952 The Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system for U.S. air defense is developed at MIT. It is the first computer network.

1952 Thomas Watson Jr. becomes president of IBM and launches all-out push into computer markets

1954 Color television broadcasting in the United States, several years after the first experimental broadcasts; the technology is adopted in Japan in 1960

c. 1957 First fully automated guidance system used on missiles

Article: "The Technology of War: Guidance Methods,"

1960 The Haloid Xerox Company introduces the plain-paper copier, based on a process invented by Chester F. Carlson. The copier rapidly revolutionizes office practices and makes carbon paper outdated.

c. 1960 Libraries begin to use on-line public access catalogs (OPAC), which begin to replace card catalogues

1961 The publication of Merriam-Webster's Third International Dictionary creates a furor in the United States when the dictionary is charged with abandoning prescriptive judgments of correctness in favor of neutral linguistic description.

1961 The first programmable industrial robot installed, for unloading of parts at die-casting operation.

1962 Western Union introduces the telex to the United States.

1962 The first modem introduced in the United States marketed by the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T).

1962 The first communication satellite, Telstar, is put into orbit for use by American companies. The first trans-Atlantic television broadcast is made in this year.

1963 ATT offers push-button dialing to its consumers.

1963 ZIP codes are instituted to facilitate local sorting and delivery of post in United States.

1963 On November 24, accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is being transferred to a jail cell when he is fatally shot by Jack Ruby. The

assassination is witnessed by millions of people on live television.

c. 1965 The basis of virtual reality technology emerges in simulators that teach pilots how to fly planes by using head-mounted displays with tracking systems.

1966 ASCII (the American Standard Code for Information Exchange) is established as a standard data-transmission code that converts characters into seven-digit binary numbers.

1968 Douglas Engelbart demonstrates first computer mouse, hypertext, and WYSIWYG ("What you see is what you get") display of text.

1968 The British Library and Library of Congress collaborate on a new system of cataloging library collections, Machine-Readable Cataloging Project, known since its revision in 1968 as MARC II.

1969 The Department of Defense establishes the Arpanet, predecessor of the Internet.

1969 Sony Corporation introduces the videocasette recorder.

c. 1970 American banks introduce electronic teller machines.

1971 Introduction of the laser printer, which makes possible high quality computer graphics and desktop publishing.

1971 The Intel corporation introduces the world╠s first microprocessor, which combines the electrical functions once performed as many as 500,000 transistors on a single chip.

1972 Introduction of C, the first widely adopted general-purpose high-level programming language.

1972 Xerox introduces the Alto, the first computer with a bit-mapped screen, windows, and a mouse, which becomes the model for Apple Macintosh and other personal computers.

c. 1972 The first electronic mail system introduced.

1973 The grocery industry adopts Universal Product Code, making possible the use of bar codes for pricing and inventory control.

1976 Steven Jobs and Steve Wozniak found Apple Computer Inc., the first company devoted to selling personal computers.

1976 The spacecraft Viking 1 orbits Mars and relays photographs of the Martian landscape to Earth.

1977 Apple and Radio Shack introduce the first widely successful pre-assembled personal computers. IBM follows with its PC in 1981.

1979 The Xerox Corporation introduces the Ethernet, which becomes the standard computer intercommunications network.

1982 The Gannet company begins publishing USA Today, the United States' first national, general-interest newspaper.

1982 Introduction of the spreadsheet program Lotus 1-2-3, the "killer

application" that ensures wide popularity of personal computers.

1985 The IRS initiates computerized auditing of tax returns.

1989 Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at CERN create the first Web browser, based on the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which standardizes communication between servers and clients.

1990 Start of the project of mapping the location of all genes on every chromosome in human beings, the Human Genome Project.

1991 The Cable News Network (CNN) is created in by Ted Turner. The network gains worldwide attention for its around-the-clock coverage, much of it broadcast from Iraq, of the Persian Gulf War.

1993 Marc Andreessen and others at the University of Illinois release Mosaic, a graphical Web browser that becomes widely popular and is the model for browsers from Netscape and Microsoft. By 1995 the World Wide Web has millions of users.

1995 Release of Disney's Toy Story, the first full-length computer-generated feature film.

c. 1996 Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates becomes the world's richest person.

1996 In the U. S., the Telecommunications Act of 1996 authorizes subsidies for information technology to libraries and schools. The provision of universal access the Internet becomes a policy goal a number of nations.

1997 The IBM computer Deep Thought defeats world champion Gary Kasparov in a chess match.

1997 The World Wide Web site for the Mars Pathfinder space probe receives 220 million hits when it publishes pictures of the mission, a total that far exceeds NASA's expectations.

1997 Major new libraries are opened in London, Paris, and New York containing extensive computational facilities.

1998 The on-line bookseller Amazon.com becomes the world's largest book retailer as measured by market capitalization. The Internet craze sends the stocks in other Internet-related businesses to unprecedented highs.

1998 The full testimony of President Clinton gathered by the special prosecutor Kenneth Starr receives millions of hits when it is released on the Web, marking the coming of age of the Web as a means for the dissemination of public information.

Copyright © 2002 Geoffrey Nunberg All rights reserved.