The IT Law Wiki

The following is a chronological listing of significant events in the development of the field of Information Technology law between 1970 and 1979. For other time periods see:


1970 — The adoption of the Mansfield Amendment in Defense Authorization Act prohibits military funding for any research that does not have a "direct or apparent relationship to a specific military function or operations."

1970 — Intel introduces the world's first dynamic RAM (random access memory) chip and the first microprocessor, the Intel 4004.

1970 — Edgar F. Codd publishes A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks.

1970AT&T develops UNIX.

January 1, 1970IBM unbundling becomes effective in the United States.

March 1970 — The fifth node of the Internet is installed at BBN in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

June 1970 — Xerox opens the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

June 26, 1970 — The FCC regulates the cable television industry, barring access of TV networks to CATV.

July 1970ALOHAnet, the first packet radio network, is operational at the University of Hawaii.

December 1970 — The Network Working Group (NWG) finishes the initial ARPANET Host-to-Host protocol called the Network Control Protocol (NCP).


1971 — Arthur Miller publishes The Assault on Privacy, where he says "[t]oo many information handlers seem to measure a man by the number of bits of storage capacity his dossier will occupy."

1971 — The pocket calculator is invented by Sharp Corporation.

1971 — Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney establish Atari and create the first arcade game called "Computer Space." It is based on Steve Russell's earlier game of Spacewar!.

1971 — Ray Tomlinson of BBN creates an email program that is able to send messages across a distributed network.

1971Magnetic stripe and barcode technologies are developed.

1971FCC issues its Specialized Common Carrier decision, which deregulates private-line communications.

1971Project Gutenberg is started by Michael Hart with the purpose of making copyright-free works, including books, electronically available. The first text is the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

1971 — The Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms is enacted.

1971 — The Creeper virus infects DEC PDP-10 computers running the TENEX operating system. Creeper gained access via the ARPANET and copied itself to the remote system.

1971 — The liquid crystal display (LCD) is invented by James Fergason.

April 27, 1971Clements Auto Co. v. Service Bureau Corp., 444 F.2d 169 (8th Cir. 1971) is decided.

May 18, 1971 — The Computer Law Group, predecessor to the Computer Law Association and now the International Technology Law Association, is founded (full-text).

November 2, 1971 — The first formal meeting of the Computer Law Group is held in Washington, D.C. (full-text).

November 20, 1971 — The 8-inch floppy disk is introduced by Alan Shugart and a team of IBM engineers.


1972 — The first commercial video game console that could be played at home, the "Odyssey," is released by Magnavox. It comes programmed with twelve games.

1972TELNET, a commercial version of ARPANET, became the first public packet data service.

1972ARPA officially changes its name to DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

1972VCR home videocassette format developed.

1972Network Control Protocol is introduced to allow computers running on the same network to communicate with each other.

1972 — The Compact disc (CD) is invented.

1972 — The Internetworking Working Group (INWG) is formed to address need for establishing standard protocols.

January 1972 — Robert E. Kahn publishes an Internal BBN memorandum on a communications-oriented set of operating system principles titled Communications Principles for Operating Systems.

January 21, 1972 — Telex files an antitrust lawsuit against IBM over IBM's practices relating to disk drives. Telex wins in September 1973, but its damages award is reduced on appeal due to trade secrets violations by Telex.

March 1972 — Ray Tomlinson (of Bolt, Baranek & Newman) modifies his email program for ARPANET (SNGMSG and READMAIL), the precursor to the Internet. It quickly becomes a powerful collaboration tool connecting researchers on ARPANET. He uses @ to distinguish between the sender's name and network name in the email address.

June 27, 1972 — Atari releases Pong, an arcade game developed by Nolan Bushnell and Al Alcorn.

July 1972 — The FTP Protocol Specification (RFC 354) is released.

October 1972ARPNET is publicly demonstrated at an International Conference on Computer Communications by Bob Kahn at BBN.

November 20, 1972Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63, 175 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 673 (1972) (full-text) is decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court holds where a method for converting numerical information from one format to another, for use in programming general-purpose digital computer, is merely a mathematical algorithm it does not constitute patentable subject matter.


1973 — Gary Kildall of Digital Research, Inc. develops the CP/M operating system.

1973 — British scientists Clifford Cocks and James Ellis develop a cryptographic public key mechanism.

1973 — Researchers at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) create the Alto computer, which is the first computer to combine all the elements of the modern graphical user interface (GUI).

1973 — An ARPA study shows that e-mail composes 75% of all ARPANET traffic.

1973 — The specification for the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is published (RFC 454).

1973 — The SWIFT (Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) network for interconnecting banks begins operations.

1973 — The first two non-U.S. nodes are connected to ARPANET — the Norwegian Seismic Array (SAR) followed by University College London.

January 12, 1973 — The Computer Law Group became the Computer Law Association.

January 23, 1973 — Mario Cardullo receives the first patent for a passive, read-write RFID tag.

March 1973ARPANET is first connected to international hosts — University College of London (England) and NORSAR (Norway).

April 1973 — The U.S. District Court issues its decision in a patent infringement case between Honeywell and Sperry Rand (Honeywell v. Sperry Rand) on a patent issued on the ENIAC computer in 1964. The court invalidates the patent, which covered the essential design and features of all digital computers.

May 22, 1973 — At Xerox PARC, Bob Metcalfe and David Boggs invent the Ethernet — the first local-area network (LAN) designed to network hundreds of computers and printers inexpensively. It now dominates the world's LANs. The name "Ethernet" refers to the invention's medium-independent transmission of data packets, and is based on a discredited physical theory of an existing "ether" in space allowing transmission of light rays from the sun to the Earth.

June 28, 1973 — The First National Invitational Conference on Computer Abuse is held at Stanford Research Institute.

September 1973 — Cerf and Bob Kahn present basic Internet ideas at INWG in September at University of Sussex, Brighton, U.K.

September 1973 — Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn develop the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP).

October 17, 1973 — Martin Cooper from Motorola files a patent application for a cellular radiotelephone.

October 19, 1973 — A federal court holds that Eckert-Mauchly derived ENIAC from Atanasoff's works, denying Sperry's claims against Honeywell and Control Data for violating ENIAC's patents.


1974 — Intel releases the 8080 processor.

1974Western Union launches Western I, the first domestic communications satellite.

1974 — Charles Simonyi coins the term WYSIWYG ("What You See Is What You Get") to describe the ability to display a file or document exactly as it will be printed or viewed.

1974 — The Wabbit virus makes multiple copies of itself on a single computer until it clogs the system, reduces system performance, and eventually crashing the computer.

1974DoD launches the first satellite of a proposed 24-satellite GPS system called NAVSTAR.

1974 — The French government creates the Direction Générale des Postes et des Télécommunications (DGT) within the PTT.

March 10, 1974 — The United States becomes a member of the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms.

May 1974 — The TCP/IP protocol is proposed in a paper titled "A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection," by Vinton G. Cerf and Robert E. Kahn. This is the first time the term "Internet" is used.

May 1974 — The Privacy Act of 1974 is enacted.

July 10, 1974 — The United States becomes a party to the 1971 revision of the Universal Copyright Convention, as revised at Paris, France.


1975DARPA declares the ARPANET project (i.e., the early Internet) a success and hands its management over to the Defense Communications Agency.

1975 — The FCC adopts Part 68 rules, permitting the attachment of customer premises equipment (CPE) to the telephone network.

1975 — Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman invent a cryptographic key exchange protocol and asymmetric encyphering.

January 1975 — The MITS (Micro Instruments and Telemetry Systems) Altair 8800, based on Intel 8080 with 256 bytes of memory and S-100 bus, is introduced.

February 1975 — Bill Gates and Paul Allen license their newly written BASIC to MITS, their first customer. MITS pays a small royalty with a maximum of $180,000. This is the first computer language program written for a personal computer.

March 1975 — The Homebrew Computer Club is formed in Menlo Park, California.

April 4, 1975 — Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Micro-Soft (the hyphen is later dropped).

May 19, 1975 — The Federal Government's antitrust suit against IBM goes to trial.


1976 — Fairchild released the first programmable home game console, called the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (later renamed Channel F). Channel F was one of the first electronic systems to use the newly invented microchip.

1976SATNET, a satellite program, is developed to link the United States and Europe, thereby expanding the reach of the Internet beyond the United States. Satellites are owned by a consortium of nations, thereby expanding the reach of the Internet beyond the United States.

1976 — Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman publish "New Directions in Cryptography," which introduces the idea of public key cryptography. It also discusses the idea of authentication by powers of a one-way function, now used in the S/Key challenge/response utility.

March 1976 — Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs finish work on a computer circuit board that they call the Apple I computer.

March 26, 1976 — Queen Elizabeth II sends an email from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in Malvern, U.K.

April 1, 1976 — Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak incorporate the Apple Computer Company, on April Fool's Day. They roll out the Apple I, the first computer with a single circuit board.

October 19, 1976 — The 1976 Copyright Act is signed by President Ford.

November 1976 — The first industry standard for strong encryption — the Data Encryption Standard (DES) &mdash is developed by IBM and approved by the U.S. National Bureau of Standards. DES makes it practical to send encrypted information electronically, paving the way for e-commerce and virtual private networks.


1977 — The National Bureau of Standards approves FIPS 46, the Data Encryption Standard (DES).

1977Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) — a Unix operating system derivative developed and distributed by the Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) of the University of California, Berkeley — is released.

1977AT&T installs first fiber optic cable in a commercial application.

1977 — The text adventure game Zork is created by Blank, Daniels, Anderson and Lebling.

1977 — Senator Abraham A. Ribicoff (D-Conn.) introduces the "Federal Computer Systems Protection Act," which seeks to define "computer crimes" and recommends penalties for such crimes. The bill does not pass.

1977 — Apple introduces the Apple II. It offers color graphics and incorporates an audio cassette drive for storage.

September 1977 — Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Andleman publish the RSA public key encryption system in Scientific American.

November 1977 — The complete e-mail specification (RFC 733) is released.


1978Congress enacts the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which established a secret federal court empowered to issue wiretap warrants in national security cases.

1978 — Texas Instruments Inc. introduces "Speak & Spell," a talking learning aid for ages 7 and up. It is the first electronic duplication of the human vocal tract on a single chip of silicon.

1978 — Ward Christenson and Randy Suess create the first personal computer bulletin board system.

1978 — Harvard Business School students Dan Bricklin and Robert Frankston develop VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet program, for the Apple II. VisiCalc's power is that it allows non-programmers to use a personal computer to do real work.

1978 — The first bulletin board system (BBS) is launched.

1979 — Intel releases the 8086 microprocessor.

January 1, 1978 — The principal provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act go into effect.

May 1, 1978 — The first spam e-mail is sent by Gary Thuerk, an employee at Digital Equipment, who was advertising the new DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, AND 2060T on ARPANET (full-text).

June 22, 1978Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584 (1978) is decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court holds that where the only novel feature of the invention was the mathematical formula or algorithm, it does not describe patentable subject matter.


1979 — Bob Frankston and Dan Brickson create "VisiCalc," the first electronic spreadsheet.

1979Usenet is launched[1] by Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis, and Steve Belovin to share information via email and message boards between Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

1979 — CompuServe launches.

1979ARPA establishes the Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB).

1979 — Atari releases the Asteroids arcade game.

1979Fiber-optic cable systems are first introduced.

1979 — The British Post Office introduces Prestel videotex service.

1979 — The Packet Radio Network (PRNET) is launched with DARPA funding.

1979INMARSAT, an international organization for maritime communications, is created.

1979 — The U.S. Postal Service attempts to outlaw private email service, claiming the message delivery business for itself. This effort is thwarted by the FCC and the U.S. Postal Commission.

October 1979 — The U.S. Federal Communications Commission enacts a set of rules for radio frequencies of personal computers as Subpart J of Part 15.