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Cyberpunk Timeline

by Cyberpunks Staff
Cyberpunk Timeline

What is it, we ask, that lies ahead?

Is it perhaps a future without the utopian idealism and shiny, happy optimism of Star Trek? Is it perhaps also a future without the hopeless dystopian pessimism of Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World? A future that’s not so much idealistic, as realistic?

Cyberpunks.com endeavors to explore the technological future, and we find value in examining the timeline that shaped the cyberpunk genre, understanding the events surrounding the people that envisioned a world full of technological wonders and abundance, and yet also a world with enough individual freedom of expression that the potential horrors that come with these things aren’t completely wiped away clean?

Not Star Trek. But not Orwell.

Instead, Blade Runner, Neuromancer, A.D. Police, Ghost in the Shell, Altered Carbon, The Matrix…works that paint a picture of a future where human limitations have been surpassed. And yet as a result, what it means to be human in the first place may come into question.

PRESENT DAY
  • Cambridge Analytica Scandal

    Before this, the bulk of British data mining was everyone remembering old Monty Python bits.

  • Transreal Cyberpunk

    Rudy Rucker, Bruce Sterling

    Transreal CyberpunkTransreal Cyberpunk

  • Net Neutrality Regulations Go Into Effect

    Free and open, not just the appearance of it.

  • Elysium

    ElysiumElysium

     

    Matt Damon earns his cyberpunk stripes in this one.    The poor get their hands on an exoskeleton suit and go after the upper class, who live in a space station far above a ruined Earth.    Neil Blomkamp directs.

  • The Guardian Releases NSA Domestic Spying Rules

    The first rule of NSA domestic spying: you don’t discuss NSA domestic spying.

  • NSAs PRISM Program Revealed by The Guardian

    Executives from high tech companies claim never to have heard of the program they were helping.

  • Bitcoin Market Cap Exceeds $1 Billion

    That’s a lot not-money to have.

  • James Clapper Lies to Congress Re: NSA Surveillance

    Hey barely looks up when he speaks:

  • Ready Player One

    Written by Ernest Cline in 2011, it was further adapted to film by Steven Spielberg in 2018.

    Ready Player OneReady Player One

  • NSA Begins Eavesdropping on Skype

    Most of Skype is still people confirming times for conference calls. Good luck with that NSA!

  • Makers

    Cory Doctorow

    It’s so good.  3d printers printing 3d printers and open source rebellion vs Disneylandish greed in a back and forth that spans decades of shenanigans.  Even Elmo makes an appearance. It’s like 8 bucks on Amazon.  Worth it. Personal recommendation.

    MakersMakers

  • The Windup Girl

    Paolo Bacigalupi

    The Windup GirlThe Windup Girl

  • Analog TV Broadcasts Cease in U.S.

    PSA’s were shown to encourage all households who had not switched to digital converter boxes to do so.

  • Pirate Bay Trial Ends with Guilty Verdict

    1 year in prison and hefty fine for the founders.

  • “Genesis Block” for Bitcoin created

    Not the Phil Collins solo album. It’s extremely more important than that.

  • Black Glass

    John Shirley

    Black GlassBlack Glass

  • Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology

    James Patrick Kelly (Editor), John Kessel (Editor)

    Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk AnthologyRewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology

  • Spook Country

    William Gibson

    Spook CountrySpook Country

  • iPhone is Released

    iphone 2007

    Now you know what to do with your hands at awkward dinner parties.

  • Pirate Bay Raided

    Pirate Bay claimed the MPAA influenced the government to stage the raid.

  • Western Union discontinues telegraph service

    So ya, you could have sent a telegraph about the launch of Youtube. But you didn’t, did you?

  • First Pirate Party founded in Sweden

    Not what you’re thinking, but I like your style.

  • Real ID Act Enacted

    Not to be confused with the Fake ID act of senior year.

  • Google Goes Public

    All information is public. It used to be a good idea.

  • North Korea Bans Mobile Phones

    Bad news for NK K-Pop Fans.

  • Facebook is Founded

    Facebook is Founded

    Freakin’ Harvard. Thanks a lot.

     

  • US-VISIT program is implemented

    Requires collection of biometric data from any foreigners visiting the United States.

  • Mozilla Foundation Established

    AOL-Time Warner Disbands Netscape

  • Pattern Recognition

    William Gibson

    Pattern Recognition

  • Initial Release of Tor

    The Onion Router – anonymous communication.

  • The Ultimate Cyberpunk

    Pat Cadigan (Editor)

    The Ultimate CyberpunkThe Ultimate Cyberpunk

  • Altered Carbon

    Richard K. Morgan

    Altered CarbonAltered Carbon

  • Apple OS X is released

    Second-most used OS after Windows.

  • The Lone Gunmen Premiers

    One of the most well-noted spin-offs no one remembers.

    The Lone Gunmen Premiers

  • World Economic Forum Is Hacked

    Believed to be done in protest. No malicious action was taken by the hackers.

  • Wikipedia launches

    Helping procrastinating middle-schoolers write term papers for their European history class.

  • Kevin Mitnick is released from prison after five years

    Currently runs a cyber security consulting firm.

  • Boing Boing relaunches as weblog

    Really missed an opportunity to sell trampolines online.

  • Cryptonomicon

    Neal Stephenson

    CryptonomiconCryptonomicon

  • The Matrix

    The MatrixThe Matrix

    All of sudden, people are trying to bend spoons and dodge bullets.

  • Dow Jones Exceeds 10,000

    That’s good, right?

  • Al Gore “Invents the Internet”

    “I took the initiative in creating the internet”

    Al Gore
  • Google.com Domain is Registered

    Google.com Domain is Registered

    Believe it or not, we didn’t Google this fact….Okay, we did.

  • Idoru

    William Gibson

    IdoruIdoru

  • Hotmail Launches

    Hotmail Launches

    Still in use and still used for all the emails you don’t want to actually see.

  • First Machine Beats World Champion at Chess

    The smack talk afterwards was well calculated.

  • Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace Released

    Written by the same guy who co-wrote “The Music Never Stopped” for the Grateful Dead.

  • Communications Decency Act Signed Into Law

    Mostly known for regulating porn. Also stated how providers do not have same legal responsibilities as publishers.

  • Telecommunications Act of 1996 signed into law

    First bill to reference the internet in broadcast terms.

  • Windows 95 Is Released

    Windows 95 Is Released

    First appearance of the “start” button.

  • The Net

    The NetThe Net

    Hahahahaha.

  • Sun Microsystems Announces Java 1.0

    Update followed about 11 minutes after launch.

  • WikiWikiWeb – Web’s First Wiki – Is Published

    Originally used to talk about software design patterns.

  • Interface

    Neal Stephenson

    InterfaceInterface

  • Virtual Light

    William Gibson

    Virtual LightVirtual Light

  • First Pentium Processor Released

    Dum dum dum duuuum! (you read that in the correct melody).

  • Wired

    First Issue published in March/April of 1993.
    WiredWired

  • Kevin Mitnick is Captured

    First in a long line of hacker journalists.

  • Mondo 2000: A User’s Guide to the New Edge

    Rudy Rucker, R. U. Sirius, Quenn Mu

    Mondo 2000: A User's Guide to the New EdgeMondo 2000: A User's Guide to the New Edge

  • Snow Crash

    Neal Stephenson

    Snow CrashSnow Crash

  • Synners

    Pat Cadigan

    SynnersSynners

  • World Wide Web Project Announced on Usenet by Tim Berners Lee

    Without this, the internet would have stayed just a series of tubes.

  • PGP Is Released

    You figure the program would be better than pretty good by now.

  • The Difference Engine

    William Gibson, Bruce Sterling

    The Difference EngineThe Difference Engine

  • Storming The Reality Studio

    Larry McCaffery (Editor)

    Storming The Reality StudioStorming The Reality Studio

  • Windows 3.0 Released

    Windows 3.0 Released

    The world was blessed with Paintbrush.

  • Eclipse Corona

    John Shirley

    Eclipse CoronaEclipse Corona

  • Cyberpunk

    CyberpunkCyberpunk

    Wild documentary about the cyberpunk movement. Includes William Gibson, Vernon Reid, Jaron Lanier and Timothy Leary.

  • Semiotext(e) SF

    Rudy Rucker (Editor)

    Semiotext(e) SFSemiotext(e) SF

  • Crystal Express

    Bruce Sterling

    Crystal ExpressCrystal Express

  • A Fire In The Sun

    George Alec Effinger

    A Fire In The SunA Fire In The Sun

  • First person convicted under Computer Fraud & Abuse Act

    Previously, computer crimes was categorized as “mail fraud”.

  • Mondo 2000

    R. U. Sirius (Editor)

    Mondo 2000Mondo 2000

  • Mona Lisa Overdrive

    William Gibson

    Mona Lisa OverdriveMona Lisa Overdrive

  • Eclipse Penumbra

    John Shirley

    Eclipse PenumbraEclipse Penumbra

  • Islands In The Net

    Bruce Sterling

    Islands In The NetIslands In The Net

  • Wetware

    Rudy Rucker

    WetwareWetware

  • Reality Hackers

    R. U. Sirius (Editor)

  • When Gravity Fails

    George Alec Effinger

    When Gravity FailsWhen Gravity Fails

  • Hardwired

    Walter Jon Williams

    HardwiredHardwired

  • Soviet Union launches Mir Space Station

    mir space station

    Assembled in space, the station served as a microgravity research lab for the Soviet Union.

  • Count Zero

    William Gibson

    Count ZeroCount Zero

  • Phrack

    Taran King (Editor)

  • Schismatrix

    Bruce Sterling

    SchismatrixSchismatrix

  • Eclipse

    John Shirley

    EclipseEclipse

  • Whole Earth Review

    Stewart Brand (Editor)

    Whole Earth ReviewWhole Earth Review

  • Frontera

    Lewis Shiner

    FronteraFrontera

  • Neuromancer

    William Gibson

  • First Issue of 2600 Magazine is published

    AKA The Hacker Quarterly, it is still mostly reader-submitted articles.
    First Issue of 2600 Magazine is publishedFirst Issue of 2600 Magazine is published

  • Sun Microsystems founded

    One of the original computer companies no one remembers.

  • Software

    Rudy Rucker

    SoftwareSoftware

  • Chaos Computer Club founded

    Sees itself as an “intergalactic” community of hackers. In other words, no borders.

  • IBM Personal Computer Is Released

     

    IBM Personal Computer Is Released

    Very popular due to the possibility of third party add-ons and applications.

  • The Artificial Kid

    Bruce Sterling

    The Artificial KidThe Artificial Kid

  • Three Mile Island Incident

    Partial meltdown. Full blown news coverage.

  • Philips introduces the Compact Disc (CD)

    What a wonderful technology no one cares about anymore!

  • First person killed by robot

    Robert Williams killed at factory in Flat Rock, Michigan

  • Apple II Computer is Introduced at West Coast Computer Faire

    First personal computer. The logo is a unicorn for vintage t-shirt enthusiasts everywhere.

  • Apple Computer Is Established

    One of the best garage bands ever.

  • Microsoft Founded 1975

    Original idea was to build a BASIC interpreter for the Altair 8800 Microcomputer.

  • Crash

    J.G. Ballard

    CrashCrash

  • Skylab Launched – First U.S. Space Station

    Skylab Was operational for 24 weeks and in orbit for over 6 years.

  • First Cellular Phone Call

    It was a call about your car’s extended warranty.

  • Gravity’s Rainbow

    Thomas Pynchon

    Gravity's RainbowGravity's Rainbow

  • Atari is Founded

    More than 2600 reasons it’s a classic.

  • Ubik

    Phillip K. Dick

    UbikUbik

  • Whole Earth Catalog

    Stewart Brand (Editor)

    Whole Earth CatalogWhole Earth Catalog

  • Sealand declares itself a “Sovereign Principality”

    Sealand declares itself a "Sovereign Principality"

    Originally a pirate radio station, its sovereignty is still not recognized.

  • The Crying of Lot 49

    Thomas Pynchon

    The Crying of Lot 49The Crying of Lot 49

  • Nova Express

    William S. Burroughs

    Nova ExpressNova Express

  • V.

    Thomas Pynchon

    V.V.

  • A Clockwork Orange

    A Clockwork OrangeA Clockwork Orange

    Bezoomny book is bezoomny!

  • Yuri Gagarin is first person in outer space

    Yuri Gagarin is first person in outer space

    In Soviet Russia, space explores you!

  • Naked Lunch

    William S. Burroughs

    Naked LunchNaked Lunch

  • Integrated Circuit Invented

    It’s not the size of the circuit board, it’s how you fuse it.

  • LEGO brick patented

    Before this, the bricks were like cheap electric tape: nothing stuck together.

  • The Minority Report

    Phillip K. Dick.

    Published by Fantastic Universe
    The Minority ReportThe Minority Report

  • Steve Jobs is Born

    Pick his greatest accomplishment: Apple or Pixar?

  • Fahrenheit 451

    Ray Bradbury

    Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451

  • 1984

    George Orwell

    19841984

  • Columbia Records Announces The 33 1/3 Record

    Claimed to be invented for full orchestral movements, but we all know it’s because of Floyd’s “Darkside”.

  • Stephen Hawking Born

    So I guess a Brief History of Time would include his birth.

  • Brave New World

    Aldous Huxley

    Written in 1931 and published in 1932.  Set in the London of AD 2540.

    Brave New WorldBrave New World

  • Voice Is Transmitted Across the Atlantic Via Radio Link

    From New York City to London, connection took roughly 30 seconds before the conversation could begin.

  • IBM Founded

    Originally manufactured tabulating machines, time recorders and large scales.

  • George Orwell is born.

    Birth name is Eric Arthur Blair

  • M.C. Escher Was Born

    Nobody could figure out if he was born upstairs or downstairs. The geography wasn’t clear.

  • Aldous Huxley Born

    Brave New World indeed.

  • American Telephone & Telegraph founded

    I would type a nice tidbit here, but I don’t have any service in this area.

  • Albert Einstein Is Born

    Born in the nation state of Baden-Württemberg, located in southwest Germany. Not bad for a genius.

  • Alexander Graham Bell Patents Telephone

    Did you know he was Scottish? Good luck dealing with that accent over the phone.

  • Nikola Tesla is Born

    Responsible for alternating current, mad scientist-like inventions, and (allegedly) testing Tom Edison’s espionage tactics.

  • First Telegram sent by Samuel Morse

    The telegram read “A patient waiter is no loser.”

  • Difference Engine Proposed By Charles Babbage

    Basically a big calculator with gears and columns. Good luck typing BOOBS on that.

  • Issac Newton Born

    Fell out at birth and discovered gravity on the way down.

  • Man Gains Control of Fire

    Many experts estimate that man began controlling fire around this time.  Then he chased all the animals away, poisoned the planet and spoiled it for the rest of us.

The Dawn of Time