The History of Computer Peripherals

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June 23, 2012

Computer peripherals are often overlooked, but they are important features that allow you to maximise your computer’s potential – but just how did those peripherals come to be on our desk and who should we thank?

Keyboard History

The original computer keyboard took its inspiration from the typewriter using a punched card system. Initially the letters on a keyboard were arranged alphabetically but as people typed faster keyboards became jammed – in order to combat this problem, the QWERTY keyboard was born. The 1970s saw the first computer keyboards that were merely converted electric typewriters and later this decade computer companies began to develop specific computer keyboards. Membrane switches replaced the individual mechanical keys used on computer keyboards in the 1990s and development continues as we see the introduction of ergonomic keyboards that aid usability.

Monitor History

In 1981 IBM launched their 3-piece computer, this was the first time a monitor was separate from a computer’s cpu and keyboard. At the time computers used Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors that had been invented for television sets back in 1922. In the early 1990s, after being used earlier in calculators and digital watches, computer manufacturers began using Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors in laptops. Perfect for laptops thanks to their size and weight, LCD monitors weren’t used in desktops until 1997 and have now replaced the CRT monitor as the most popular computer monitor.

Computer Mouse History

Imagine life without a mouse – that’s exactly how early computing began with commands typed onto the keyboard rather than the easy pointing device we now use. Invented in 1964 by a man named Douglas Engelbart the very first mouse was a wooden shell with a circuit board and two metal wheels. It wasn’t until eight years later when Bill English took hold of the invention that the rollerball technology was added. In 1980 the mouse was developed further to remove the ball which often became stuck and dirty to create the optical mouse that most of us now use. Initially the optical mouse was far too expensive to be used in the commercial market and it wasn’t until 1998 that it became widely used.

Printer History

The very first printer was invented in 1953 by Remington-Rand to be used with their Univac computer. IBM later caught on to this idea and in 1957 the dot matrix printer was born, working in a similar way to the 1970 daisy wheel printer the Dot Matrix printer imprinted paper by striking it with a hammer. 1975 saw the creation of the laser printer which used technology taken from the 1938 dry printing process, xerography.

The most popular choice of modern printer, the inkjet, was actually invented in 1976, although it wasn’t actually marketed until 1988 at the price of $1000!! Thankfully our much-loved Dell printers have developed over the years and reduced considerably in price.

Next time you plug in one of your computer peripherals, remember the epic journey it’s gone through to be the technologically advanced device it is today.

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