Going digital

From camera obscura to digicams, from mainframes to smart watches: Experience an impressive history of digitization along the timeline.

The way we communicate, buy things, listen to music, even how we are governed – digitalization has entered all corners of our everyday lives and changed them massively. Most people cannot imagine their day-to-day lives without these digital helpers. But how did this change from an analogue to a digital society come about?

  • 1842 — The first programmer is a woman

    At the age of 27, Ada Lovelace works on the programming of a mechanical machine which was technically unrealizable in her time.

  • 1926 — Mobile telephony

    enables a telephone service at an early date on trains of the Deutsche Reichsbahn and Deutsche Reichspost (the German Imperial railway and postal service) on the route between Berlin and Hamburg. The first German car phone follows in 1952. In addition to being heavy, weighing in at 16 kilos, the phone also carries a heavy price, at 15,000 German marks, three times as expensive as a VW Beetle.

  • 1941 — The dawn of the computer age

    Konrad Zuse presents the Z3, the world's first fully-functioning and programmable computer. It is as big as a wall unit and at more than a ton, weighs as much as a small car.

  • 1957 — The United States in Sputnik shock

    The USSR successfully sends the first satellite into space and demonstrates its technological edge. The United States begins a feverish military/scientific "counter-offensive," which gives rise among other things to Arpanet, the progenitor of our Internet.

  • 1975 — 100,000 pixels without color

    Kodak presents the first functional digital camera. The prototype weighs more than 3.5 kilos. It takes 23 seconds to save an image on a cassette.

  • 1982 — Person of the Year

    is awarded to the computer by TIME Magazine.

  • 1983 — Banking in the living room

    The Bildschirmtext interactive videotex service launches, enabling users to do things such as make bank transactions or book flights from the home. Just one year later, the Chaos Computer Club hits the headlines by committing the first "virtual bank raid."

  • 1984 — Internet marketplace

    The first home shopper is of course a woman. Brit Jane Snowball shops with Tesco, one of the pioneers of online shopping. Ten years later, the e-commerce giants Amazon and eBay go online.

  • 1989 — Vague, but exciting

    This is the initial reaction of Tim Berners Lee's boss when he submits his concept of a World Wide Web. His idea lays the foundation for the later success of the Internet. One year later, the Internet is made available for commercial use.

  • 1994 — Pepperoni, mushrooms and extra cheese

    – these were the toppings on the first pizza to be ordered over the Internet.

  • 1997 — Machine beats man

    The computer Deep Blue defeats the reigning world chess champion Garry Kasparov at chess.

  • 1998 — Hello Google

    A project carried out in a dormitory at Stanford University gives rise to the Internet giant Google.

  • 2004 — Hear colors

    This is what Neil Harbisson, the first person to be recognized by a government as a cyborg, can do. He compensates for his congenital color blindness using a sensor on his head that converts colors into sounds.

  • 2008 — More than 1.5 billion

    people around the world use the Internet.

  • 2010 — With the Apple iPad

    tablet computers take hold and now we can no longer conceive of a world without them. There was a forerunner all the way back in 1993, but the Apple Newton failed to establish itself on the market.

  • 2013 — Big Brother is watching you

    Revelations about surveillance by the U.S. and British secret services create a major furor.

  • 2014 — Wireless internet at your wrist

    A PC, formerly klunky, now fits in a wrist watch, together with lots of useful sensors.

1842 2014