## CS timeline voting: the results are in!

**The top ten:**

1. Euclid’s Elements: 116 votes

2. Turing’s “On Computable Numbers”: 110 votes

3. Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem: 107 votes

4. Gödel’s P vs. NP Letter to von Neumann: 106 votes

5. George Boole’s Logic: 88 votes

6. Shor’s Algorithm: 88 votes

7. Wikipedia: 85 votes

8. Claude Shannon’s Digital Logic: 82 votes

9. PRIMES in P: 82 votes

10. Cook-Levin Theorem: 80 votes

**The rest:**

Al-Khwarizmi’s “On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals”: 79 votes

Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley Invent Transistor: 79 votes

Babbage’s Analytical Engine: 77 votes

Tim Berners-Lee Invents WWW: 75 votes

Fast Fourier Transform: 73 votes

Brin and Page Create Google: 73 votes

von Neumann Architecture: 71 votes

RSA: 70 votes

Hilbert Calls for Mechanization of Mathematical Reasoning: 69 votes

Simplex Algorithm: 69 votes

Claude Shannon Formalizes Cryptography: 68 votes

Dijkstra’s Algorithm: 68 votes

Gaussian Elimination Described in Ancient China: 67 votes

Quicksort: 65 votes

UNIX and C: 65 votes

Newton’s Method: 64 votes

Leibniz Describes Binary Notation, Calculus Ratiocinator: 64 votes

First Program written by Ada Lovelace: 64 votes

Gauss’s Disquisitiones Arithmeticae: 62 votes

Monte Carlo Method: 62 votes

“Bit” Coined: 62 votes

TeX Typesetting: 62 votes

Ginsparg Creates arXiv: 61 votes

Kleene Invents Regular Expressions: 61 votes

McCarthy Invents LISP: 59 votes

“The Art of Computer Programming”: 59 votes

TCP/IP Protocol: 58 votes

Strassen’s Algorithm: 58 votes

PCP Theorem: 56 votes

Turing Test: 55 votes

Randomized Primality Testing: 55 votes

IP=PSPACE: 55 votes

Scott and Rabin’s Paper on Nondeterminism: 54 votes

Jacquard Loom: 54 votes

Colossus Begins Operation at Bletchley Park: 53 votes

Integrated Circuit: 53 votes

Chomsky Hierarchy: 52 votes

Pascal Builds Arithmetic Machine: 51 votes

First Genome Sequenced: 51 votes

Reed-Solomon Codes: 50 votes

Time Hierarchy Theorem: 50 votes

ARPAnet: 49 votes

Four Color Map Theorem Proved: 49 votes

Linux: 49 votes

Diophantine Equations Proved Undecidable: 46 votes

Feynman Suggests Quantum Computing: 46 votes

Deep Blue Defeats Kasparov: 46 votes

Solomonoff-Kolmogorov-Chaitin Complexity: 44 votes

Lempel-Ziv Data Compression: 43 votes

GPS: 42 votes

Marian Rejewski’s “Bombe” + Alan Turing’s Improvements: 41 votes

Diffie-Hellman Public Key Exchange Protocol: 41 votes

Zuse’s Z1: 40 votes

Viterbi Algorithm: 40 votes

First Email Message: 38 votes

Pseudorandom Generators: 37 votes

Oughtred Invents Slide Rule: 36 votes

FORTRAN: 36 votes

ENIAC: 35 votes

Semaphores: 35 votes

Gottlob Frege’s “Begriffsschrift”: 34 votes

Grace Murray Hopper Creates A-O Compiler: 34 votes

Conway’s Game of Life: 34 votes

Xerox Parc’s Alto With First GUI: 33 votes

Kuttaka Algorithm from Ancient India: 32 votes

Scientific Computing During Manhattan Project: 30 votes

Wilkes, Wheeler, and Gill Define Closed Subroutines: 29 votes

Stroustrup creates C++: 28 votes

Zimmermann creates PGP: 28 votes

Dartmouth Conference Popularizes Term “AI”: 27 votes

Moore’s Law: 27 votes

Boosting in Machine Learning: 27 votes

Codd Proposes Relational Databases: 26 votes

Ethernet Invented: 26 votes

Valiant Proposes PAC-Learning: 26 votes

Stallman Writes GNU Manifesto: 25 votes

Wiesner Proposes Quantum Money and Multiplexing: 24 votes

Antikythera Mechanism: 23 votes

BitTorrent: 23 votes

Low-Density Parity Check Codes: 23 votes

McCulloch and Pitts’ “A Logical Calculus Immanent in Nervous Activity”: 22 votes

Engelbart and English Invent Mouse: 22 votes

Dijkstra’s “Go To Statement Considered Harmful”: 22 votes

Back-Propagation: 22 votes

MIT SAGE Creates First Large-Scale Computer Network: 21 votes

Vannevar Bush Creates First Large-Scale Analog Calculator: 20 votes

IBM Introduces Hard Drive: 20 votes

Checkers Solved: 20 votes

First Packet-Switching Network: 20 votes

Atanasoff and Berry’s Vaccum-tube Computer: 19 votes

Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think”: 19 votes

Hollerith’s Electromechanical Counting Machine: 18 votes

MIT Builds First Time-Sharing System: 18 votes

First Computer Virus: 18 votes

IEEE Floating-Point Standard: 18 votes

IBM PC: 18 votes

“Spacewar!”, First Computer Game: 17 votes

RISC Architecture: 17 votes

Intel’s 8086: 17 votes

al-Jazari’s Water Clocks and Musical Automata: 17 votes

Edward Lorenz (Re)discovers Chaos Theory: 16 votes

Apollo Guidance Computer: 16 votes

CAPTCHAs: 16 votes

VC Dimension: 16 votes

Macsyma Computer Algebra System: 15 votes

Amazon.com: 15 votes

UNIVAC I: 13 votes

DaVinci Surgical Robot: 13 votes

Mark II Incident Popularizes Word “Bug”: 12 votes

Weizenbaum Creates ELIZA: 12 votes

ASCII: 11 votes

TI Handheld Calculator: 11 votes

Simula 67: 11 votes

MIT Whirlwind I Displays Graphics: 10 votes

Sketchpad, First CAD Software: 10 votes

NCSA Mosaic: 10 votes

Robert Morris’ Computer Worm: 9 votes

Pixar Releases “Toy Story”: 9 votes

Stuxnet Worm: 9 votes

IBM System/360: 8 votes

Mac Hack Chess Program: 7 votes

Microsoft Windows: 7 votes

Sojourner on Mars: 7 votes

BASIC: 6 votes

Apple Macintosh: 6 votes

SETI@home: 6 votes

IBM’s Watson Wins At Jeopardy!: 5 votes

Atari’s Pong: 4 votes

Atlas Computer in Manchester: 4 votes

Norbert Wiener Founds Cybernetics: 3 votes

First ATM in Tokyo: 3 votes

Youtube Launched: 3 votes

VisiCalc: 2 votes

Jevon’s Logic Piano: 1 vote

Apple II: 1 vote

Adobe PostScript: 1 vote

SABRE Travel Reservation System: 0 votes

Fischer-Lynch-Paterson Theorem: 0 votes

Facebook, Twitter Use in Egypt Revolution: 0 votes

First Machine Translation Demonstration: -1 vote

Usenet: -1 vote

Akamai: -2 votes

TX-0: -3 votes

CDC 6600: -3 votes

Compact Disc Invented: -3 votes

Aiken’s Mark I: -4 votes

CM-1 Connection Machine: -4 votes

Whirlwind I Displays Graphics: -5 votes

Floppy Disk Invented: -6 votes

MITS Altair Microcomputer and Microsoft BASIC: -6 votes

Axelrod’s “The Evolution of Cooperation”: -7 votes

Microsoft Office: -7 votes

Pentium FDIV Bug: -7 votes

EDSAC: -8 votes

UNIMATE, First Industrial Robot: -9 votes

CLU Programming Language: -9 votes

1ESS Switching System: -11 votes

UNIVAC Predicts Presidential Election: -12 votes

Stanford Arm: -13 votes

“2001 A Space Odyssey” Introduces HAL: -15 votes

“Spam” Coined: -16 votes

First Denial-of-Service Attack: -17 votes

Y2K Bug: -18 votes

Facebook Launched: -18 votes

Nintendo’s Donkey Kong: -19 votes

“Robot” Coined: -21 votes

CSIRAC -21

Apple’s iPhone: -21 votes

Slashdot: -27 votes

Godwin’s Law: -29 votes

Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics: -32 votes

Match.com: -34 votes

de Vaucanson’s Mechanical Duck: -39 votes

von Kempelen’s Mechanical Turk: -52 votes

**A few comments:**

- It’s (just-barely) conceivable that the results could have been
*slightly*skewed by the quantum- and complexity-loving readership of this blog. - Voters
*really*didn’t like fiction/pop-culture references, mechanical contrivances, or anything that sounded like a publicity stunt. They were much keener on conceptual advances (even to the extent of putting Gödel well ahead of the transistor).

I need to catch a plane to give the Buhl Lecture at Carnegie Mellon tomorrow, so I’ll leave you to draw any further conclusions.

Comment #1 April 28th, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Dear Scott: I wish you had trumpeted tomorrow’s lecture at CMU a bit earlier! I live in Des Moines and am going to have to drive most of the night to make it on time…I only hope I’m not too punch drunk from lack of sleep to appreciate the show. Well, got to go gas up the VW and buy some munchies. See you in Pittsburgh!

Comment #2 April 28th, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Maybe I miscounted, but isn’t the 150 mark at either machine translation or Usenet? If so it is amusing that these are the first two entries with negative vote totals.

Comment #3 April 28th, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Kemper: Sorry about that! I had no idea anyone would drive to such a talk from outside Pittsburgh; I would’ve just stayed home and watched it on the web… (I’m flattered, though!)

Comment #4 April 28th, 2011 at 7:44 pm

As far as we can tell Godel’s letter to von Neumann had zero influence on the direction of CS and it gets 106 votes.

VisiCalc which introduced the spreadsheet gets 2 votes.

Hmm…

Comment #5 April 28th, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Another anomaly, in my opinion, is the high position of Euclid’s Elements, as compared to the more algorithmic problem solving oreiented work of Diophantes, Aryabhata, and Al-Khwarizmi for example. Although Euclid founded the “theorem-proof” structure of mathematics, CS in my opinion owes more to the idea of a “mechanical algorithm’ which should not require any “intelligence” to use. Looked this way, I think the development of decimal arithmetic, and general algebraic procedures for the solution of equations is probably much more important in the history of CS.

Comment #6 April 28th, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Amazing, an online poll without a single L. Ron Hubbard or Ayn Rand reference in the top 10!

Comment #7 April 28th, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Yes, could you please clarify where the 150 mark is?

Comment #8 April 28th, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Oh, I feel silly. That’s easy to determine. The 150 mark falls “between” machine translation and Usenet. Except it actually can’t, since they have the same number of votes (-1). So more properly, the 149 mark falls between Egyptian revolution and machine translation/Usenet, and the 151 mark falls between machine translation/Usenet and Akamai, and it’s up to Scott whether he prefers to include machine translation or Usenet for #150…

Comment #9 April 28th, 2011 at 10:30 pm

This is an absurdly academic list! Euclid’s Elements #1? And how is Konrad Suze, inventor of the world’s first functional program-controlled Turing-complete computer, not on this list?? Please try again, this is an obvious fail!

Comment #10 April 28th, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Excuse my dyslexia, of course that should be Zuse!

Comment #11 April 28th, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Sorry, my post was an obvious fail! Dyslexia strikes again!

Comment #12 April 28th, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Alpha Omega: Not only is Zuse on the list, he got 40 votes!

Also, you do realize this was a poll, right? When you say “please try again,” do you want me to try again with a different blog-readership?

Comment #13 April 28th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Ha yes I that’s why my post was an obvious fail. In any case, I feel that building the first computer deserves to be *much* higher! So yes, maybe a new blog-readership is in order!

Comment #14 April 28th, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Didn’t Kevin Spacey play Konrad Suze in the movie version?

Comment #15 April 29th, 2011 at 12:27 am

Scott,

I couldn’t find any streams to the talk, you’re sure that there’s one? Only to guests?

Cheers!

Comment #16 April 29th, 2011 at 5:02 am

How much of a bias was there to Euclid’s Elements by merit of it being at the top of the chronological list? When I saw the page I started voting, but almost stopped (or at least started going much more quickly) once I saw how long the list was

Comment #17 April 29th, 2011 at 5:54 am

Zuse’s Z1 was not a Turing-complete computer, it was program-controlled, but did only execute straight-line programs without any control structures. The program also was not stored in memory, but fed to the machine on hole-punched film rolls.

Comment #18 April 29th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Euclid probably enjoyed a little of an unfair advantage since the poll was sorted by time. A better poll would have been randomly sorted differently for every user (though I admit that would’ve have been so much fun). I myself gave Euclid an upvote when I first started, but then later went back and switched it to a downvote (this was before we could cancel a vote) after seeing what kind of stuff it was up against.

Comment #19 April 30th, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Any thoughts about the New Yorker article on quantum computing?

Is your talk online?

Comment #20 May 1st, 2011 at 5:59 am

If I were Scott, I would throw out the Fischer-Lynch-Patterson theorem (because of the obvious bias towards theory of the poll participants) and stick in both Machine Translation and Usenet. Mike, Nancy, Mike, if you’re reading this, please accept my apologies — I still think it’s a wonderful result.

Comment #21 May 1st, 2011 at 10:39 pm

So how was the Bull lecture?

Comment #22 May 2nd, 2011 at 12:32 pm

rr: Not bad! It’s always nice to have an opportunity to spout some Buhl. You can see my slides here; not sure when the streaming video will become available.

Comment #23 May 4th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

From a theory person, it is very depressing to see how narrow-minded people are.

Comment #24 May 13th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

any comment about what appears to be solid peer reviewed proof that Dwave has been leveraging quantum effects (at least quantum annealing) in their adiabatic quantum computer

http://dwave.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/catching-quantum-mechanics-in-the-act%E2%80%A6/

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v473/n7346/full/nature10012.html

Comment #25 May 15th, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I visited the MIT museum today with a friend, and yes it could definitely use the timeline. There’s room in the hall!