Guide to Computing Technology of the 60s

The 1960s experienced a technological revolution from the beginning of the decade to the end. There was a massive boom of technology happening worldwide. From software breakthroughs to landing the first man on the moon, the decade showed how powerful technology could be when the responsibility of progress wasn’t only left in the capable hands of scientists,

By the mid-60s, the computer, being a chunk of the management information system, was regarded as an information processor. Advertisers highlighted the capacity, expandability, flexibility, and versatility of the computer to perform logical decisions.

IBM, mainly, was thriving in the 1960s. Its System/360 controlled nearly 70 percent of the computer market, and there was a considerable waiting time for their mainframes. Their advertising strategies reassured consumers unfamiliar with and concerned about computer technology, which was especially effective during the decade when they used IBM machines to tally election votes. After, IBM started a print campaign that asked, “Who won the computer battle last night? You did.”

But aside from this, there are inexpensive development tools and new hardware entering households, allowing anyone to contribute to technological growth effectively. 

1964- The First Computer Mouse

wired computer mouse

That wooden block, more commonly known as the computer mouse, became the X-Y Position Indicator for a display system. This 1964 invention entirely change people’s interactions with computers. Before its design, you can only navigate through the computer using a keyboard.

The mouse hasn’t evolved much since the 60s except for the added buttons and better means for tracking movement, but that’s pretty much it. Additionally, drag-and-drop development solely exists due to this one idea.

1964 – BASIC

BASIC can be described as the first step to citizen development, although the terminology hasn’t existed around that time. To put it simply, it was a programming language simple enough to be learned by anyone; although maybe not on a comparable scale as no-code, yet it accomplished a similar goal. BASIC (Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) was developed in response to the extreme difficulty and exclusivity of software development around that time.

BASIC’s creators Thomes E. Kurtz and John G. Kemeny, wanted to allow anyone to contribute to technological advancement without requiring a degree to do so. Eventually, Microsoft picked it up to learn just how influential it was.

No-code is an evolution of what BASIC and the rest of the accessible programming tools wanted to achieve. The goal is to democratize software development to enable anyone in an organization to add to or even hasten digital advancement.

Thanks to BASIC, people can develop their own tools but were stuck trying to do so on awful operating systems. 

1969 – UNIX

wireless mouse, wireless keyboard

Purchasing a computer in the early 1960s meant you were also left to make do with their nightmarish proprietary operating system. They were all slow, massive, and impossible to use if you’re not an actual computer scientist. Through UNIX’s founders Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, there are now operating systems with enough intuitiveness for anyone to drive.

They planned to create the first open-sourced, simple, and flexible alternative that would run on any hardware, and they nailed it. UNIX worked on just about everything and was far more affordable, efficient, and lightweight than anything else that was around.

Before creating UNIX, computers were only dedicated to individual tasks: open this document, save this file, print. There’s nothing that could be done simultaneously, meaning every time you did something, there’s a long period of waiting.

The impact of UNIX doesn’t end with its usability; its open-sourced format sped up programming techniques by a lot. The internet, JAVA, modular design, C++, and even the no-code platform all took inspiration from UNIX’s ideas.

1969 – Birth of the Almost Internet

The late 1960s set the ball rolling for what would arrive later. The US government needed a way of connecting their computer networks on a global and national level.

The problem is, computers are pretty brainless at this point, so without being given instructions on how to communicate with other networks, it just couldn’t happen. So they built the ARPAnet and the first internet protocols and to enable the first data transfer between computer networks across long distances.

However, despite being built by the brightest government minds, teenagers had successfully hacked into the ARPAnet multiple times. Developments such as BASIC and UNIX gave early adopters, especially the tech-savvy kids, enough knowledge to crack even the highest security level at the time.

Without BASIC, UNIX, or the computer mouse, each interaction with computers would only be arduous. Just trying to open a Word document would most likely require a company computer scientist to assist you, and you’d have to walk to since there’s no email. But now, computers are essentially an extension of people’s identities since they’re easier to use and made to be accessible.