The following is a chronological listing of significant events in the development of the field of Information Technology between 1900 and 1939. For other time periods see:


1900[edit | edit source]

1900 — Nikola Tesla develops frequency hopping.

1901[edit | edit source]

1901 — Marconi sends the first radio message across the Atlantic Ocean in Morse code.

1902[edit | edit source]

1902 — In Japan, Yazu Ryoichi builds the first mechanical calculator called the automatic abacus.

1902 — Rechnitzer develops the first machine with automatic multiplication and division.

1903[edit | edit source]

1903 — Nikola Tesla patents electrical logic circuits called "gates" or "switches."

1906[edit | edit source]

1906 — Lee deForest invents the vacuum tube.

1906 — Kawaguchi Ichitaro from the Japanese Ministry of Communications and Transportation builds the first a mechanical calculator powered by electricity.

1906 — Russian Boris Rosing invents the first working television.

1907[edit | edit source]

January 29, 1907 — Lee De Frost files patent #879,532 for the vacuum tube triode — later used as an electronic switch in the first electronic computer.

1909[edit | edit source]

July 1, 1909Congress passes a major revision to existing copyright law. Under the 1909 Copyright Act, the initial term of copyright protection in published form is measured from the date of publication of the work. The initial term is 28 years, with a 28 year renewal term. Copyright registration is required.

1909 — Marconi opens a regular radio-telegraph transatlantic service.

1910[edit | edit source]

June 18, 1910 — The Mann-Elkins Act places telecommunications under Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) jurisdiction.

1910 — A facsimile using a photoelctric cell is made by Korn between Berlin, London and Paris.

1911[edit | edit source]

June 15, 1911IBM is formed.

1912[edit | edit source]

1912 — The first International Radiotelegraph Convention is signed.

1912 — The Radio Act of 1912 authorizes the Secretary of Commerce and Labor to issue radio licenses and control broadcasting.

1913[edit | edit source]

December 19, 1913 — In settlement of the first antitrust suit filed against AT&T by the U.S. government, the parties enter into what is known as the "Kingsbury Commitment." AT&T agrees to divest its holdings in Western Union, stop acquiring other telephone companies, permit other telephone companies to interconnect, and become a regulated monopoly.

1913 — Western Union develops multiplexing, which allows up to eight messages to be transmitted simultaneously over a single wire (four in each direction).

1913 — Wiliam Coolidge, General Electric invents the X-ray tube.

1914[edit | edit source]

1914 — The Federal Trade Commission is created.

1914 — Edward Kleinschmidt invents the teletype.

1914ASCAP is founded.

1914 — The Calculating-Tabulating-Recording Company (later renamed IBM) is founded by Herman Hollerith.

July 13, 1914 — President Woodrow Wilson proclaims U.S. adherence to the Buenos Aires Copyright Convention of 1910, which establishes copyright protection between the U.S. and certain Latin American countries.

1915[edit | edit source]

January 25, 1915 — Alexander Graham Bell makes the first North American transcontinental telephone call.

1915 — The first wireless voice transmission is sent between New York and San Francisco.

1917[edit | edit source]

April 9, 1917 — The U.S. Navy takes over all radiocommunications for the duration of WWI.

1918[edit | edit source]

July 31, 1918 — A proclamation by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson grants control of telephone and telegraph systems in the United States to the U.S. Post Office. This decision is reversed on July 30, 1919.

1918 — The short-wave radio is invented. It exploits the ionosphere as a reflector, greatly increasing the range of communications.

1919[edit | edit source]

1919 — The earliest version of the Enigma cipher machine is built in Europe.

1919 — W. H. Eccles and F. W. Jordan invent the flip-flop vacuum tube.

1920[edit | edit source]

1920 — Czech novelist Karel Capek publishes the play "R.U.R." ("Rossum's Universal Robots") in Prague. It premiered in 1921. It is the first publication in which the term "robot" appears. It explores the issue of whether worker-machines will replace humans.

1920 — The first commercial radio broadcasts begin in the United States.

1921[edit | edit source]

1921 — The Willis-Graham Act on communications confirms the Kingsbury Commitment.

1921 — The Hebern Electric Code, a company producing electro-mechanical cipher machines, is founded.

1922[edit | edit source]

1922 — Photo telegraphy (fax service) is offered as a telecommunications service in Germany.

1922 — The Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) is established to coordinate U.S. telecommunications activities.

1922ASCAP demands royalties from radio stations.

1923[edit | edit source]

1923 — The Enigma, the first mechanical cipher rotor machine, is introduced.

1923 — Philo Farnsworth devises the first fully electronic television.

1923 — The FTC initiates antitrust investigations of RCA, GE, Westinghouse, AT&T and United Fruit.

1924[edit | edit source]

February 24, 1924IBM is formed by the merger of several other companies, including the company owned by Herman Hollerith.

1924 — The International Radiotelegraph Conference implements the Table of Frequency Allocations.

1924 — John Logie Baird invents the Electro Mechanical television system.

1924 — Walther Bothe develops the logic gate.

1925[edit | edit source]

1925 — Western Electric Research Laboratories become Bell Telephone Laboratories, the basic research facility for the Bell System.

1925Audio disc recording speed is standardized to 78 rpm.

1926[edit | edit source]

1926 — Nikola Tesla envisions a wireless interconnected world:

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.[1]

1926 — Tne National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) is founded as a subsidiary of RCA.

1927[edit | edit source]

1927 — The Radio Act of 1927 creates the Federal Radio Commission and declares the radio spectrum to be a public good industry

January 1927 — The first transatlantic radio-telephone service from the U.K. to the United States is established.

September 7, 1927 — Philo Farnsworth successfully transmits a television signal.

1928[edit | edit source]

1928IBM introduces the eighty-column punched card, which becomes the standard for the next fifty years.

1928 — Vladimir Zworykin invented the cathode ray tube.

June 4, 1928 — The U.S. Supreme Court court decides Olmstead v. U.S., holding that telephone calls are not protected by 4th Amendment.

1929[edit | edit source]

June 27, 1929 — The first demonstration of color television takes place at Bell Labs in New York.

1930[edit | edit source]

1930 — Vannevar Bush develops a partly electronic Difference Engine (the precursor to the digital computer). It can solve a variety of mathematical problems.

1930 — Kurt Godel publishes a paper on the use of a universal formal language.

1930AT&T creates a two-way, experimental videophone.

1930 — H. J. Zeeman (Netherlands) discovers silicon semiconductor properties.

1931[edit | edit source]

1931 — AT&T Company introduces a public teletypewriter exchange service, TWX.

1932[edit | edit source]

1932 — The "International Telegraph Union" becomes the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

1932 — Polish cryptologists Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski and Jerzy Różycki break the Enigma machine code.

1932 — Jay B. Nash publishes in Spectatoritis:

The machine frees. True. . . . Within our grasp is the leisure of the Greek citizen, made possible by our mechanical slaves, which far outnumber his twelve to fifteen per free man. These mechanical slaves jump to our aid. As we step into a room, at the touch of a button a dozen light our way. Another slave sits twenty-four hours a day at our thermostat, regulating the heat of our home. Another sits night and day at our automatic refrigerator. They start our car; run our motors; shine our shoes, and cut our hair. They practically eliminate time and space by their very fleetness.

1934[edit | edit source]

June 19, 1934 — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is established. The telecommunications industry now is regulated by the FCC.

July 1, 1934 — The Communications Act of 1934 takes effect.

1935[edit | edit source]

1935: Frequency modulation (FM) is invented.

1936[edit | edit source]

Nov. 12, 1936 — Alan Turing publishes "On Computatable Numbers," which describes a Universal Turing machine.

April 11, 1936 — Konrad Zuse applies for a patent on his electromagnetic, program-controlled calculator, called the Z1. It was the first freely programmable, binary-based calculating machine built, although it did not function reliably. The Z1 was destroyed in World War II.

November 30, 1936 — The first coaxial cable is completed between New York and Philadelphia.

1936 — Introduction of the first IBM typewriter.

1937[edit | edit source]

1937 — Claude Shannon, a graduate student at MIT prepares a thesis proving that electrical relays could implement Boolean logic.

1937 — Alan Turing develops the concept of a theoretical computing machine.

1937 — The Japanese invent the so-called Purple machine with the help of Herbert O. Yardley. The machine works with telephone stepping relays.

1938[edit | edit source]

1938 — A code-breaking service is established at Bletchley Park (U.K.).

October 22, 1938 — Chester Carlson produces first electrophotographic image — a precursor to the xerography process.

October 30, 1938 — "War of the Worlds" is broadcast on the radio as part of Orson Welles' "The Mercury Theatre on the Air" series.

1939[edit | edit source]

1939 — John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford Berry develop the ABC (Atanasoft-Berry Computer) prototype.

1939 — Hewlett-Packard is Founded by David Packard and Bill Hewlett in a Palo Alto, California garage.

1939AT&T demonstrates the Picturephone.

1939 — The Vocoder, an electronic talking machine, is invented by Dudley.

1939 — The first RCA television set is built.

1939 — The Z2 is built by Konrad Zuse.

1939 — The Enigma machine is broken by the Poles Marian Rejewski and Gordon Welchman, and Alan Turing's team at Bletchley Park in England.

October 1939 — George Stibitz develops the Complex Number Calculator (called "Model 1") — a foundation for future digital computers.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Inez Hunt & Wanetta W. Draper, "Lightning in His Hand: The Life Story of Nikola Tesla" (1964).

Source[edit | edit source]

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