The Early Days of Computers and Automation

The introduction of modern computers and automated robots changed global manufacturing almost as much as the spread of factories and machining had during the Industrial Revolution. Robots for industrial use first started to appear in Canada in the late 1950s. These machines were built to do one repetitive task, such as poking a hole in a metal sheet, or painting. One of the earliest uses of robots in Canada was at a candy factory in Kingston, Ontario in 1961. Computers such as the International Business Machine’s (now known as IBM) IBM 1401 model and later the IBM System/360 model were also being incorporated into the manufacturing industry during this time. IBM labs like the one in Markham, Ontario helped develop code and machinery to use the code to improve efficiency in production and logistics. While the computers and robotics used in the 1960s and 1970s were comparatively primitive, they laid the groundwork for future innovations that would push rapidly expand the industry.


In the late 1970s and 1980s Canadian portable communication and processing technology began to develop many of the more modern technologies that we recognize today. This new development of communications and computing technology would help improve the effectiveness of doing business. Notably, Research In Motion (RIM) was founded in the mid-1980s in Waterloo, Ontario. RIM developed software and communication devices for businesses to enable rapid communication and processing, including pagers and eventually, the Blackberry (in the early 2000s). Ontario inventions like these pushed the manufacturing business communications into a new era, setting the scene for the autonomous robotics and big data processors that are quickly become a reality today.


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