1931–1932: First electron microscope prototypes
Image caption: A 1980 replica of the first electron microscope built by Nobel laureate Ernst Ruska in 1933.
Image credit: Flickr/J. Brew
1939–1949: Development of early electronic computers and stored computer programs, and the first working transistor
Image caption: ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), the first fully programmable electronic computer, at the U.S. Ballistic Research Laboratory. The woman to the right is Betty (Snyder) Holberton, one of the original six ENIAC programmers.
Image credit: U.S. Army
1958–1959: Jack Kilby (Texas Instruments, USA) invents the integrated circuit and applies for a patent
Image caption: Jack Kilby created the first working integrated circuit in 1958. It contains a single transistor and supporting components on a slice of germanium and measures 1.6 by 11.1 mm.
Image credit: Jack Kilby/Texas Instruments
29 December 1959: Feynman delivers his “Plenty of Room at the Bottom” talk
1960: First working laser
Image caption: Ted Maiman with the flashlamp from the first laser.
Image credit: ©2019 HRL Labs, LLC
1971: Intel Corp. releases the first fully integrated micro-processor, the Intel 4004, with a minimum feature size of 10 μm
Image caption: One of the earliest versions of the Intel 4004 processor.
Image credit: Thomas Nguyen
1965: Feynman and two others receive the Nobel Prize in Physics “for fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics”
1974: Norio Taniguchi (Tokyo University of Science, Japan) coins the term “nanotechnology”
Image caption: A “buckyball,” one of the carbon structures known as fullerenes.
Image credit: M. Ströck/Wikimedia
1981: Invention of the scanning tunneling microscope
Image caption: The first scanning tunneling microscope produced commercially, 1986.
Image credit: Science Museum London / Wikimedia
1983: Feynman revisits his “Room at the Bottom” ideas in another lecture / Microprocessors have a minimum feature size of 0.5 μm
1986: K. Eric Drexler publishes Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology
Image caption: Atom illustration
Image credit: Getty Images
1988: Feynman dies of complications from cancer
1989: Two IBM Corp. scientists spell out “IBM” by positioning atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope
Image caption: “IBM” spelled out with 35 xenon atoms on a nickel substrate
Image credit: Reprinted by permission from Nature: "Positioning single atoms with a scanning tunnelling microscope," D.M. Eigler, E.K. Schweizer, ©1990 Nature
2005: Microprocessors pass the 1-billion-transistor mark
Image caption: Researcher holding a microprocessor.
Image credit: Getty Images
2018: Cornell University scientists achieve world-record resolution of 0.39 Å with their aberration-corrected electron microscope
2014–2017: Nobel Prizes in chemistry awarded for super-resolved fluorescence microscopy, design and synthesis of molecular machines, and cryo-electron microscopy
Image caption: Comparison of electron microscope’s radicallyt improved resolution, from mostly showing shapeless blobs in 2013 (left) to being able to visualise proteins at atomic resolution (right) in the present.
Image credit: M. Högbom/Royal Swedish Acadamy of Sciences