Alto Computer






Technology in 1973

First PC Developed
The first Personal Computer, the Alto, was developed at Xerox in 1973. It was the first computer to be called a desktop and had a mouse and Graphical User Interface with icons. It was not commercially available though several thousand units were built, was widely used at Xerox, and was provided, in great demand, to several universities and some government agencies. The design of future personal computers was greatly influenced by the Alto. Several industry leaders, including the young Steve Jobs, were allowed to see it and later emulated it.

Xerox Alto

First Cell Phone Call     April 3
The first handheld cellular phone call is made by Martin Cooper of Motorola from Sixth Avenue, New York City to Joel Engel of Bell Labs. The phone call passed through a newly established cellular base station nearby and into the AT&T land-line telephone system. Martin was standing on Sixth Avenue near the New York Hilton hotel amazing reporters and bystanders. Reporters were then able to call other numbers of their choice to prove the new cell phone could reach any phone. The cell phone was 2.5 pounds, about the size of a walkie talkie.

Martin Cooper with the first cell phone Popular Science Cover July 1973

Internet Developed
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is fundamentally redesigned by Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf. TCP is the breakdown of information into packets, IP is the transmission and routing of those packets over any distance. This reformulation updated the ARPANET and allowed efficient transmitting and routing of traffic over any network by having the end node computers (sender and receiver) in control of the transmission. In 1983 TCP/IP becomes the standard for communicating between computers over the Internet.

TCP IP

Ethernet Created
The Ethernet was created at Xerox in 1973. It allows network communication between computers, servers and printers in a Local Area Network (LAN) and was commercially introduced in 1980.

Ethernet LAN Ethernet Cat 5 Cable

Fiber Optics invented
The Fiber optical cable using glass was invented in 1973. Fiber optic cables provide greater efficiency than the existing copper paired wiring by reducing loss of signal over long distances and at the same time carry greater bandwidth - so multiple signals can be transmitted quickly over great distances.

Fiber Optics Fiber

First VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone call placed
Voice over IP refers to voice, fax, SMS messaging transported over the internet rather than the public switched telephone network.

BarCode Standard Selected     April 3
The IBM bar code was selected by the National Association of Food Chains as the standard for the Universal Product Code. Several companies including IBM, Singer, National Cash Register, Litton Industries, RCA, Pitney-Bowes and others were requested to submit designs. Several designs were reviewed including linear codes, bullseye concentric circle codes and starburst patterns.

Bar Code Options

First Bar Code Reader
IBM introduces the 3660 Supermarket System which uses a laser to read grocery prices and UPC bar codes.

ATM (Automated Teller Machine) patent     June 4
A patent for the ATM is granted to Donald Wetzel, Tom Barnes and George Chastain.
National Cash Register (it will soon be renamed NCR) begins manufacturing automatic teller machines in the late 70's as more banks install the devices to offer emergency cash on a 24-hour basis. The new ATMs are hooked up to the banks' mainframe computers, and by 1997 there will be 425,000 ATMs worldwide.

MRI Developed
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), the technology behind MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanning, is developed. MRI is used in radiology to visualize detailed internal structures such as the body.

MRI Cross Section

CAT Scan Introduced     August 25
The CAT Scan, Computerized Axial Tomography, was introduced to the medical world. The CAT Scan produces three-dimensional images of internal organs of the body. Also used for industrial imaging as well as archaeology.

Recombinant DNA / Genetic Engineering
Recombinant DNA was invented in 1973 by Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer and patented in 1980. Recombinant DNA is widely used in biotechnology, medicine and research. Recombinant proteins are found in every western pharmacy, doctor's office, medical testing laboratory and biological research laboratory. Its most wide uses are in the research lab to research, map and sequence genes, as well as the following: recombinant insulin (replaces insulin from animal sources), human growth hormone (for medicinal purposes but misused as a performance enhancing drug by some athletes), blood clotting, hepatitis B vaccine, diagnosis of infection with HIV, herbicide resistant crops and insect resistant crops.

Recombinant DNA

Skylab, First US Space Station (NASA fined for littering in 1979)     May 14
Skylab, the first space station, was launched on May 14 by NASA. It included a workshop, solar observatory and other scientific systems and provided a wealth of scientific data. Technical problems cause its orbit to decay and in 1979 it crashed to Earth. A part fell near Esparance, Australia, which fined NASA $400 for littering. The fine was paid in April 2009, when radio show host Scott Barley of Highway Radio raised the funds from his morning show listeners and paid the fine on behalf of NASA. After the demise of Skylab, NASA did not launch another space station until it began construction of the International Space Station in 1998.

Skylab

Concorde slashes Atlantic flight time
Concorde cuts flying time across the Atlantic in half flying at an average speed of 954 mph. The French model of the supersonic airline flew from Washington DC to Orly airport in Paris in 3 hours 32 minutes. This first pre-production model of the aircraft was on a lengthy tour of North and South America to promote it to reluctant airlines.

Concorde with Escort

Jet Ski
The Jet Ski or Personal Watercraft was invented by Clayton Jacobson II manufactured by Kawasaki and brought to the market in 1973. Jacobson was a dirt bike enthusiast looking to bring his hobby to the water.

Jet Ski Jet Skis in Action

Airbags
Airbags were developed by General Motors in 1973 and offered commercially as an option on their Chevrolet vehicles.

Bic Lighter
The Bic Lighter is launched in 1973 and still widely available.

Google Founders Born
Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google, are born in 1973.


Concorde Flyby of Solar Eclipse