The Chronology of New Media: The 1970s

By | January 7, 2000


  • Ted Hoff invents the microprocessor.
  • First edition of the UNIX operating system released from Bell Labs. (Various varieties of UNIX follow.)
  • Computer engineer Ray Tomlinson sends the first e-mail message and designates “@” as the locator symbol for electronic addresses.


  • Nolan Bushnell founds Atari and introduces Pong, the first modern commercial video game. (In 1976, Bushnell sells Atari for $28 million. A year later he opens the first Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant, which he also later sells.)


  • MITS releases the first successful personal computer, the Altair. Elsewhere, the 64K RAM mouse-equipped Alto is developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). The Alto would later inspire Steve Jobs at Apple Computers to create the Macintosh.
  • Motion Pictures Product Group forms.


  • Bill Gates and Paul Allen adapt BASIC to run on the Altair 8800 and sell the interpreter to MITS. By November, Gates and Allen found a new company called Micro-soft.
  • The term “data highway” is used in some articles to describe global networking.
  • Sony Betamax video cassette recorder released.


  • Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs found Apple Computers and introduce the Apple II, the first PC to use color graphics.


  • AT&T and Bell Labs construct a prototype cellular phone system; public trials happen a year later.
  • JVC VHS videocassettes introduced.
  • Atari Video Computer System (VCS/2600) released.
  • The first Star Wars movie debuts.


  • Taito’s Space Invaders coin-operated videogame sweeps Japan; Bally Midway releases the game in the United States.
  • Video laser disc introduced.


  • On April 12, Kevin MacKenzie suggests to the MsgGroup they start using text to suggest emotions, like 😉 for meaning something is meant tongue-in-cheek. Despite an initial poor reaction, emoticons become widely used.
  • USENET and newsgroup protocols are created by Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis and Steve Bellovin.
  • Tokyo becomes the market for the first commercial cellular telephone system.