Computer history - 1978

Updated: 07/13/2023 by Computer Hope

Major computer events in 1978

Old advertisement for the Tandy Visicalc.

Dan Bricklin created and released VisiCalc in 1978.

The first LED display prototype was shown to the public at the SEF (Science and Engineering Fair) in Iowa on March 18, 1978.

New computer products and services introduced in 1978

Intel introduced the 8086 on June 8, 1978,

In June 1978, Apple introduced Apple DOS 3.1, the first operating system for Apple computers.

Microsoft released its first program, Altair BASIC, on July 14, 1978. The BASIC programming language was developed by Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Monte Davidoff for the Altair computer.

Apple released the Disk II, a 5 1/4" floppy diskette drive for the Apple II home computer. The Apple II was also capable of using plug-in sound cards. The Apple Music Synthesizer was the first plug-in sound card used by the Apple II, developed by ALF Products Inc. in 1978.

Digital Equipment Corporation began producing the VT-100.

George Perlegos with Intel developed the Intel 2816, the first EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory).

Epson introduced the TX-80, the first successful dot matrix printer for personal computers.

IBM announced the mid-range IBM System/38, a general-purpose computer incorporating new semiconductor technology. The System/38 was the only commercial computer with a built-in relational database.

IBM announced the 8100 Information System.

IBM released the 3730 Distributed Office Communication System

IBM introduced the 3630 Plant Communications System

IBM released the Electronic Typewriter Models 50 and 60, both using microprocessors to provide electronic control of certain typing tasks.

IBM announced the 5880 electrocardiograph system to aid in the physician's diagnostic decisions.

Microsoft introduced a new version of COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) in 1978.

OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) was developed by ISO in 1978.

The first semiconductor storage SSD (solid-state drive) was the StorageTek STC 4305, released in 1978, capable of storing 45 MB of data and costing $400,000.

Vulcan was released in 1978, it became dBase.

John Shoch and Jon Hupp developed the first worm at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) in 1978.

WordStar was released in 1978.

Zapf dingbat font was developed by Hermann Zapf in 1978.

Computer and technology-related events in 1978

The first BBS (bulletin board system) was put online on February 16, 1978.

TCP (transmission control protocol) was invented in 1978 and driven by Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf. It later split into TCP/IP driven by Danny Cohen, David Reed, and John Shoch to support real-time traffic. Creating TCP/IP also helped create UDP (user datagram protocol).

Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss have the first major microcomputer bulletin board up and running in Chicago.

Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle created the first MUD (multi-user dungeon) in 1978.

Gary Thuerk sent the first spam e-mail on May 1, 1978, an employee at Digital who was advertising the new DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, and 2060T on ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network).

Louise Joy Brown, born on July 25, 1978, became the first human baby born due to using IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).

The 5.25-inch floppy disk became an industry standard.

The computer book The C Programming Language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, aka K&R, was published in 1978.

The x86 Intel CPU (central processing unit) architecture was originated in 1978.

Computer companies and organizations founded in 1978

Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington created the Hayes modem company in 1978.

ETA (Electronic Technicians Association) was founded in 1978.

Micron was founded in 1978.

Computer-related TV shows and movies released in 1978

The 1978 short film, Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu, documents the final day of Linotype pressing at the New York Times before the newspaper switched to computer typesetting. See our ETAOIN SHRDLU page for further information on this term.

Computer pioneers born in 1978

Nate Silver

Nate Silver was born on January 13, 1978.

Peter Sunde was born on September 13, 1978.

Dries Buytaert was born on November 19, 1978.

Steve Chen was born in 1978.

Justin Frankel was born in 1978.

Computer pioneer deaths in 1978

Kurt Gödel

Kurt Godel passed away on January 14, 1978 (Age: 71).

Stanley Frankel passed away in May 1978 (Age: 59).

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