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Point B. 1954: First transistor

In 1954, Texas Instruments announced that the first silicon transistor would be commercially available. A news release from Texas Instruments read: “Electronic ‘brains’ approaching the human brain in scope and reliability came much closer to reality today with the announcement by Texas Instruments Incorporated of the first commercial production of silicon transistors, kernel-sized substitutes for vacuum tubes.”

This silicon-based junction transistor was perfected by Gordon Teal of Texas Instruments Inc. and brought the price of this component down to $2.50, a very affordable alternative to vacuum tubes. It required considerably less voltage to operate (about 5 volts, versus up to 700 volts), was small, light weight, and very durable.

This little electronic component would replace its bulkier counterpart, the vacuum tube, allowing electronic devices to be more portable and affordable.

1963: Intergalactic Computer Networks

J.C.R. Licklider, who has been described as Computing’s Johnny Appleseed, was working for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, when he envisioned the concept of an intergalactic network in which he believed everybody could use computers anywhere and get at data anywhere in the world.

He even went on to describe software that would only exist on this network and that could be used by any computer connected to the network. This idea become a reality decades later with the development of JAVA, a programming language the produces software that can run on any computer and can be accessed using an Internet Web browser.

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Last updated: February 19, 2014
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