Timeline of Mass Production Computers


(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Computers had gone evolution since the mass production of the first computers on July 14th, 1953 when IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Data Processing System Machine was launched. The preceding generations of computers have shown a reduction in computer size, increase in speed and storage capacity, and advancement of technology used in the development process. Check out how computers evolved from then to date on this piece.

The IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Data-Processing Machine


(Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

This generation of computers marked the beginning of mass production of computers, and it is one of the IBM’s early inventions in the history of computers. The system was released in 1954 but was still under the development stage. It consisted of three units: Power Unit, Card Reader Punch Unit, and Console Unit which had the magnetic drum used for storage, vacuum tubes for performing arithmetic, and the operator’s console. The rotating drum offered up to 4,000 words with a fixed time clocking at 2.5ms. The words were accessed when the drum rotated (12,000 RPM – Revolutions per Minute), and the needed section passes over the read/write heads. The company realized a sale of 450 machines within a year!

Transistorized Experimental computer zero (TX-0)


Photo Credit: Historianbuff

This computer was one of the early computers fully transistorized which show significant improvements in the speed of operation and the storage capacity. Developed by MIT researchers in 1956 and was widely used in institutions and business companies in the 1960s. This 18-bit computer relied on a magnetic core memory for storage. The capacity was just 46K which was considered as a large memory space during its time. There was a considerable increase in speed compared to its predecessors as it could complete an add operation in 10ms. Click here for more information.

The IBM’s 700 Series


Photo Credit: Autopilot

This computer series by IBM was the first for the company which used the transistor technology. It was introduced in 1959 replacing the vacuum tube computers. It was also produced in large scale and a good number sold to the scientific research institutes and national laboratories. It is performing operations much faster than the IBM 650 series. The computer had a processor unit with varying number of bits, the highest being the 64-bit found in the supercomputer by then. The 700 series could be programmed using the FORTRAN assembly language and stores instructions to be executed next in its four registers. It was interfaced with the I/O devices such as tapes and disks. More key features can be found here.

Programmed Data Processor-1 (PDP-1)


Photo Credit: M.Hawksey

The PDP-1 was the first computer by DEC released initially in 1959 and formally accepted on April 1961. It was built based on TX-0, and it opened the door for other computing innovations such as video games, debugging, first text editor, and many others. The introduction of cathode ray tube monitor for display which facilitated all those as it enhanced the visual effect. It only needed one operator and dissipated less heat. Therefore, no air cooling was necessary. PDP-1 was used in MIT, the first developer of a video game, which also used it to play the first computer musicas its memory capacity was large enough to store a couple of top music albums of that time.

The IBM’s System/360


Photo Credit: Bri

This IBM series replaced the 700 series in the market in from 1964 and took the mass production computers to another level. It was welcomed to the market hitting a selling rate of 1000 computers monthly in the first two years of its release. This series made it possible to be networked with other six computers and interfaced with 40 peripherals which could work jointly. System/360 came with the introduction of the integrated circuits technology which replaced the transistors in its predecessors. There was a tremendous increase in the working speed and enormous reduction in the computer size.

CDC’s 6600 Supercomputer


Photo Credit: Jitze Couperus

This supercomputer was designed by Seymour Cray and released in 1964. It has a high clock speed processing up to 3 million operations in a second giving its competitor the IBM Stretch a challenge. It is a superfast computer used fast data processing and also in multiprocessing, time-sharing, and remote job entry. This digital computer came with a price tag of between $6M and $10M which has limited its use only to the massive data processing centers. It uses the COS, SCOPE, MACE, and KRONOS for its operating system and other stunning features.

The DEC’s PDP-8

The DEC’s PDP-8

(Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

Digital Equipment Corp introduced this new series which will go down in history as the first commercial minicomputer which about a fifth the size of IBM 360 mainframe. Due to its small size and lightning speed, it has found its application in various sectors such as manufacturing plants, scientific laboratories, and small business. Its system includesa 32K words memory unit which can be initialized at the time it’s powered up. This computer also has an adjustable real-time clock which is used to induce periodic interrupts to get the attention of the microprocessor.



Photo Credit: Sascha Pohflepp

This computer was designed by The Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and it was released in 1972, the launch held at the NASA’s Ames Research Center. It is based known for the unbelievable speed of 200 million operations that it can execute in a second as well as its ability to allow data transfer through I/O devices at the rate of 1 billion bits per second. ILLIAC IV has a parallel combination of 64 processing units of a kind which gives it that capability. It will go down in history as the first computer system having a parallel connection of different machines in a large-scale forming its architecture.

The Macintosh


(Photo by Apic/Getty Images)

This computer was launched by the Apple Computer in 1984 and bringing with it advanced levels of a breakthrough in the computing industry. It featured a graphical user interface and was the first which used the mouse as an input device. The design of Macintosh was based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor with the ability to perform some functions, and it sells at $2,500, much less compared to other computers of its generation. It had a reliable power of performing personal computation which made it gain the fame. The computer system, at the time of purchase, comes with MacPaint and MacWrite as a package.

The IBM’s PS/2


(Original Caption) 1987-IBM Personal System 2 model 25 Computer. Publicity handout. Photo.

The IBM PS/2 was the first IBM’s computer which made use of the Intel’s 80386 microprocessor chip. It was released on April 2nd, 1987 and immediately became famous for its portability. The IBM also released their new operating system (OS/2) on the same year which allowed to incorporate mouse for the first time in their company’s history. This computer recorded a sell of 1 million units in the same year on which it was released. One of its famous models is the IBM PS/2 Model 60 operating at the clock speed of 10MHz. Other features include the serial-parallel VGA, 16-bit MCA bus, expandable memory of up to 15MB, 256Kb RAM, 128Kb ROM, and many other unique features.