The Great History of Automotive Computers: 1968 to Today

Cars started out without computers (depending on your definition of a computer) but nowadays you can’t get a car without computers all over!

Video: A Very Brief History of Automotive Computers

The first computers appeared in 1968, and it didn’t take long for them to become more necessary! Emissions regulations took hold less than three years later, and created further demand for sensors. Soon after that, on board diagnostics became a necessity to diagnose complicated systems.

Today, we have computers controlling almost every part in the engine, making the ride more comfortable, and assisting the driver in stressful situations. Driving a 2021 model is a lot different than driving a 1971 model.

History of Automotive Computers
The top left if a wireframe flow design for a catalytic converter, to the right of that is a photo of Walther Nernst, the right side component is an EFI distributor, a knock sensor is below it to the left, and the gray box on the left is a Bosch Motronic ECU.

Automotive Computers have come a long way! Hopefully we will continue to be allowed to drive older vehicles, even without the emissions components that make today’s cars much more environmentally friendly.

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