Year: 1830

Portrait of Charles Babbage

Title: Analytical Engine

British mechanical engineer and mathematician Charles Babbage (1791 – 1871) invents the analytical engine, a precursor to the modern day computer. Using punch cards, it is able to calculate numerical data.

19th century engraving of Charles Babbage (1791-1871), British mathematician.

Example of a Daguerreotype Photograph, ca. 1856

Title: Daguerreotype

French artist and chemist Louis Daguerre (1787 – 1851) develops the daguerreotype, an early form of photography.

Elizabeth Sheldon Lyman and her Two Daughters Katherine and Susannah
About 1856
7,5 x 6,5 cm
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière

Top of Page

Year: 1890

Photo of Kinetoscope film making device

Title: Kinetograph

American inventor Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) helps develop the kinetograph and kinetoscope – devices that enable individual viewing of short films. French filmmakers Auguste Lumière (1862 – 1954) and Louis Lumière (1864 – 1948) introduce films to the public

Charles Kayser of the Thomas Edison laboratory with an early version of the kinetograph.
Ca. 1891–94
National Park Service

Photo of Short-Wave Radio Transmitter

Title: Radio

Radio is developed by numerous inventors throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943) invents the Tesla coil, an induction coil for radio technology; German physicist Heinrich Hertz is the first to broadcast electromagnetic waves; Bengali physicist Jagadish Changra Bose (1858 – 1937) conducts important experiments with short radio waves; Russian physicist Alexander Stepanovich Popov (1859 – 1906) introduces the application of electromagnetic waves over long distances; and Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi (1874 – 1937) further develops wireless telegraphy (the diffusion of messages via the radio).

Isamu Noguchi
Los Angeles 1904 - New York 1988
"Radio Nurse" Short-wave Radio Transmitter
About 1937
Produced by Zenith Radio Corporation
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection
Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière

Top of Page

Year: 1920

Photo of a Film Slate, also known as Clapboard

Title: Film and radio

Film and radio become increasingly popular.

Diagram of a Cathode Ray Tube

Title: Beginning of television

The following discoveries help develop the beginning of television: Scottish inventor John Logie Baird (1888 – 1946) gives the first public demonstration of a television system; Russian-American inventor Vladimir Kozmich Zworykin (1889 – 1982) develops a system of transmitting and receiving information with cathode ray tube (CRT) technology (a fluorescent screen that depicts images with an electronic beam);11 and American inventor Philo Taylor Farnsworth (1906 – 1971) conceives of the complete operating principles for electronic televisions.

Cathode ray tube

Collage from the Dada Art Movement

Title: Dada Art Movement

The avant-garde art movement Dada introduces new ways of representing reality, including the ready-made (commercially manufactured objects placed in a museum or gallery context), collage, and photomontage.

Theo van Doesburg
Poster Kleine Dadasoirée Haagsche K.K. [proof]
January 1923 (?)
Instituut Collectie Nederland (inv.nr. ab4991)

Top of Page

Year: 1930

Photo of Alan Turing Memorial Statue

Title: Alan Turing

English mathematician Alan Turing (1912 – 1954) publishes a theoretical description of a digital computer that can solve mathematical problems.

Alan Turing memorial statue in Sackville Park, 18 September 2004.

Photo of Konrad Zuse

Title: Konrad Zuse

German engineer Konrad Zuse (1910 – 1995) builds a computer using 35mm film tape to control programming.

Statue of Konrad Zuse, Bad Hersfeld, Germany. Photo Marco Schmidt.

Image not available

Title: Light-Space-Modulator

Hungarian artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, associated with the German Bauhaus school that combines crafts and fine arts, creates the Light-Space-Modulator. This lighting equipment installation depicts the play of light and movement.

Top of Page

Year: 1940

Photo of Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer

Title: Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer

The University of Pennsylvania builds ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), which uses switches for computer-programming control; the computer is so big that it takes up an entire room.

Glen Beck (background) and Betty Snyder (foreground)
program the ENIAC in BRL building 328
Ca. 1947-1955
U.S. Army Photo

Top of Page

Year: 1950

Photo of RCA Victor Television Set, ca. 1949-1950

Title: Widespread of television

Television becomes widespread in households.

RCA Victor
United States
Television Set (model 721T5)
Mahogany veneer, plastic, metal, glass
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Gordana Jovanovich and Charles Kaplan in honour of Sam L. Kaplan
Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Top of Page

Year: 1960

Image not available

Title: Internet

The Internet is developed, although it is reserved for university researchers, the military, and the U.S. government’s secret services.

Photo of artwork entitled “Fluxus” by Joseph Beuys, 1969

Title: Fluxus

Artists, composers and designers work together to combine artistic media and disciplines.

Joseph Beuys
Krefeld, Germany, 1921 – Düsseldorf 1986
Wood, metal, wax, felt, coton, flashlight,
41/50 René Block Edition,
39x91x35,5 cm
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts,
Gift of Marielle and Paul Mailhot© Estate of Joseph Beuys / SODRAC (2009)

Photo of Offset Lithograph Poster, 1966

Title: Pop Art

Artists become interested in commercial culture and mass production; Conceptual Art: Artists focus on the idea, the process and language more than on the aesthetics and materials of the art objec.

11 Pop Artists : The New Image
Poster: offset lithograph
Published for Benson & Hedges (Canada) Ltd.
86 x 53 cm
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Collection
Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Conceptual Artwork by Robert Morris, 1969

Title: Conceptual Art

Artists focus on the idea, the process and language more than on the aesthetics and materials of the art object.

Robert Morris
Born in Kansas City (Missouri), 1931
Untitled (MoMA Project)
Graphite on paper squared in green ink
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts,
Gift of Luc LaRochelle
© Robert Morris / SODRAC (2009)

Photo of Lucinda Childs participating in Performance Art, 1966

Title: Performance Art

An individual or group performs this ephemeral art form.

Lucinda Childs,
Performance presented as part of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering,
The 69th Regiment Armory, New York, N.Y., United States,
October 16-23, 1966.
Still from the factual footage shot in 35 mm film by unknown camera operators.

Video Art by Nam June Paik, 1969

Title: Video Art

Inexpensive portable video cameras become available to the general public and are integrated into artistic practices.

Nam June Paik
TV Bra for Living Sculpture
Video tubes, televisions, rheostat, foot switches, plexiglass boxes
See element sizes
Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
T.B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 1991

Photo of Event entitled “Theatre and Engineering”, 1966

Title: 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering

A series of performances between artists and engineers, 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, takes place in New York. This event is the precursor to the organization Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T).

John Cage,
Variations VII. Performance presented as part of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering,
The 69th Regiment Armory,
New York, N.Y., United States,
October 15-16, 1966.
Still from the factual footage shot in 16 mm film by Alfons Schilling.

Top of Page

Year: 1970

Logo for Ars Electronica, 1970

Title: Ars Electronica - SIGGRAPH

Annual gatherings for artists working with computers begin to form. These include Ars Electronica in Austria and SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques) in the United States

Top of Page

Year: 1980

Photo of Personal Computer, 1986

Title: Personal Computer

Personal computers (PCs) become more accessible and affordable.

Portable computer
24.8 x 13.3 cm
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection,
gift of the American Friends of Canada through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Esses
Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière

Photo of Nintendo’s Game and Watch, 1983

Title: Video Games

Video games are popularized.

Nintendo's Game and Watch «Mario’s Cement Factory» from 1983.

Top of Page

Year: 1990

Image not available

Title: Internet

The Internet explodes into a popular medium for distributing and sharing content (e-mail, publishing, commerce, file-sharing and online gaming).

Photo of Apple iMac Computer, 1998

Title: Powerful PCs

PCs become more powerful. Users can now manipulate images, construct Web sites, use 3D software, and edit video and audio content.

Jonathan Ive
Born in London in 1967
"iMac" Computer
Polycarbonate, ABS
Produced by Apple Computer Inc.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Angela Grauerholz
Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Photo of University Diploma

Title: University Programs

Universities begin to offer programs in New Media and Design.

Logo of Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal

Title: Institutions of Art

Museums, galleries and other art institutions begin to collect and exhibit media art.

Top of Page

Year: 2000

Photo of Media Art Installation “Seen”, by David Rokeby, 2002

Title: Media art is constantly expanding

Media art is constantly expanding, and new technologies are being used at a rapid pace.

David Rokeby
View of the exhibition’s installation Computer, 2 projectors, Video Graphics Array (VGA) cables, custom software, digital source footage, 2 adjoining walls with a center angle between 190 and 220 degrees
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Logo of Mozilla Firefox Web Browser

Title: Open source software

Open source software is popularized. It allows people to freely use and modify existing software

Mozilla Firefox web browser, logo

Screen capture of Roberta Breitmore in “Life Squared”, 2007

Title: Web Interfaces

Video games and Web interfaces such as flickr, myspace, YouTube, Facebook and Second Life become new material for artworks.

Lynn Hershman Leeson
Photo of Roberta Breitmore in “Life Squared”
Courtesy of the artist

Logo of DOCAM (Documentation and Conservation of the Media Arts Heritage)

Title: Documentation and Conservation Strategies

Museums and other institutions begin to develop policies and procedures for documentation and conservation strategies specific to media artworks.

DOCAM logo (Documentation and Conservation of the Media Arts Heritage)