Millennium Tile Answers

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The Millennium Tile is encoded with data that recounts the major milestones of the last millennium that advanced computer, communication and information technology. These technologies have converged to create the Digital Age in which we now live.

There have been thousands of events, discoveries and inventions that have contributed to the progress that has led us to this incredible time. As of 1/1/2000, the Digital Age has reached the masses. Today, virtually everyone can have access to the Internet, which means they have and use a personal computer or a computer-like device. It is now commonplace to purchase, sell, and communicate on the web. Every company of note has a significant web presence. And every other ad on radio or TV is a ".com". The Digital Age may have arrived five or even ten years ago for those involved directly in high tech. But for the rest of us it has arrived with Y2K.

For the Millennium Tile we selected eleven historical events that we believe are the most significant in creating the Digital Age. The tile is encoded with the years in which these events occurred. Our criteria focussed on those milestones, or "firsts," that contributed directly to computer and communications technology reaching the masses. In other words, for us to be living in the Digital Age today required the convergence of all of these technological advances.


Following are explanations for each of the dates appearing on the Millennium Tile. The dates are presented in chronological order (bottom to top of the tile).


The Gutenberg Bible was published. It was the first book produced on the first printing press using moveable type. This began the process of bringing access to information and knowledge to the masses. This is possibly the most significant technology breakthrough of the Second Millennium.


Charles Babbage invented the "Analytical Machine." This mechanical device was the first programmable, general purpose, computing machine.


George Boole created binary algebra, now known as "Boolean Algebra," that is the mathematical basis for the calculations and logical processing in today's computers.


Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone which eventually connected everyone to everyone else by voice communication. This is probably the second most significant technological advance of the Second Millennium.


ENIAC, the first general purpose, electronic computer was invented by J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly, for the U.S. Government. This machine occupied a large room and used 18,000 vacuum tubes to perform electronic functions.


The transistor was invented at Bell Laboratories by William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain. The transistor replaced vacuum tubes with a silicon chip that performed the same function but was hundreds of times smaller and faster. The transistor began the miniaturization of electronic components.


Integrated circuits were invented, independently, by Robert Noyce and Jack St. Clair Kilby. This development greatly accelerated miniaturization and the speed of electronics calculations in that it allowed many transistors to be placed on a single silicon chip.


Intel developed the first computer on a single chip, called a microprocessor. The microprocessor is a complex integrated circuit that contains all of the functions of a computer. In just twenty five years the computer had advanced from a machine that required a large, climate-controlled room to a silicon chip the size of a belt buckle.


Apple introduced the first personal computer. For the first time it was possible for an ordinary person to go to the store and buy a computer to use at home.


The World Wide Web (WWW), a text-based interface (http) to the Internet, was created by Berners-Lee. This technology made it easy to send and receive documents and information over the Internet . (The Internet had been created many years before by the U.S. Government and the scientific community but was hard to use and not accessible to the public.)


Mosaic, the first web browser using a graphical interface developed by Marc Andreeson, was released by NCSA. This new software really made the web accessible to the masses. Now, anyone with a personal computer, a modem and a browser had the full world of the Internet available to them.


Over half the US population has access to the Internet. The Digital Age has truly arrived!





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