5.1 Background: Early Technological Infrastructure
According to the Computer History Museum (2006) modern computing began with the foundation of Hewlett-Packard in 1939 and the development of the Complex Number Calculator (CNC) in 1940. In the 1960s, researchers at MIT found a way of enabling two computers to “speak” to one another and the notion of networking was born. This led to the development of the US Defense's ARPANET, a pre-curser to the Internet (Leiner et al. n.d.). In the 1970s, we saw the development of many private and public networks, but connectivity between them was limited because of US government restrictions relating to ARPANET. During this period, the first microcomputers were also unveiled (e.g., IBM introduced the Winchester hard disk) and word-processing systems (such as that unveiled by Wang) became available, but use of these was generally restricted to the business world.
It was not until the early 1980s that these information communication technologies (ICTs) were adopted for teaching within educational contexts. For that reason, whilst acknowledging that other types of technology have had an impact within the educational domain, this chapter will focus on the development of more modern learning technologies and the next section will take a closer look at the timeline of how these technologies evolved to support teaching, scholarship, and knowledge acquisition.