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