This is a timeline of prominent viruses and worms. Not all are included, but we try to make an effort to include the most interesting and innovative ones along with any virus or worm that has anything mildly interesting about it. We also include some milestones in computing, hacking and virus history.
John von Neumann gives a series of lectures entitled "Theory and Organization of Complicated Automata", which would become the basis of a later paper on self-reproducing automata.
Lionel Penrose published Self-Producing Machines in Scientific American.
John von Neumann writes "Theory & Organisation of Complicated Automata", which theorizes about programs that can reproduce.
One of the earliest accounts of a self-replicating program, known as a Fork bomb is executed on a Burroughs 5500 at the University of Washington.
Creeper and Reaper make their runs through the ARPANET.
Several accounts of Fork bombs take place in this era, including one by Q The Misanthrope in 1972, one at Yale University some time before 1973 and another in 1974 that resulted in the discharge of a young employee.
John Walker adds the "Pervade" subroutine to his Animal program, making it a self-replicating program.
John Schoch and Jon Hupp perform experiments with their worms at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. The term "worm" is coined to describe programs that infect computers over a network.
Both Richard Skrenta and Joe Dellinger begin coding viruses for the Apple II at the end of this year.
Elk Cloner, the first boot-sector virus and first virus for home computers appears.
Joe Dellinger's virus spreads through Texas A&M at around the same time as Elk Cloner.
Brain appears in Pakistan.
Some time this year
BHP, the first stealth virus, Commodore 64 virus and Cluster virus is coded in Germany.
Cascade virus appears in Central Europe.
Jerusalem begins to spread in Israel.
Lehigh first seen at Lehigh university in Pennsylvania, USA.
SCA, the first Amiga virus is found in Germany.
Signum, the first Atari ST virus appears.
Christmas tree spreads through the EARNET and BITNET.
The Stoned boot sector virus makes its first appearance in New Zealand.
Macmag is posted to a Compuserve Hypercard forum.
Denzuko is completed and released in Indonesia.
The Vienna file virus appears in Austria.
Scores, allegedly released by a disgruntled fired employee, begins infecting Macintosh computers.
DBase, a database-corrupting .com infector is released.
Morris's worm makes its run through the Internet.
Father Christmas appears.
Datacrime is released to eventually cause some hysteria before its trigger date of October 13.
The first of a few variants of Icelandic, the first virus to infect only .exe files, appear in Iceland.
Ghostballs, the first multipartite virus is discovered in Iceland.
Frodo, the first stealth DOS virus is discovered in Israel.
A dropper for Pixel is published in a Greek magazine and is released in Bulgaria.
Mark Washburn creates the Chameleon family, the first polymorphic viruses.
Joshi is isolated in India.
Starship appears in the Soviet Union.
The multipartite Tequila virus is released in Switzerland.
Dir-II is released in Bulgaria.
The first version the Dark Avenger Mutation Engine (DAME) is released.
Invol, the first virus to infect .sys files is isolated in the United States.
The Pogue virus is released.
The Michelangelo virus payload is triggered after much hysteria before the trigger date. Actual damage is minimal
Commander is created by Dark Avenger.
The Virus Creation Laboratory is released.
Exebug, a CMOS-modifying virus is discovered.
Cruncher, a helpful file-compressing virus is released.
SatanBug, a virus with nine different encrytion levels is discovered.
Pathogen, a virus using the SMEG polymorphic engine is released in Britain.
Good Times email hoax begins spreading.
DMV, the first macro virus, is created by Joel McNamara.
Concept, the first Microsoft Word macro virus in the wild is discovered.
The Laroux Excel Macro virus is discovered at two different oil companies in Alaska and South Africa.
29A publishes its first issue.
Some time this year
Ply, the first nonencrypted polymorphic virus is released.
Some time this year
Jacky Qwerty releases the Cabanas virus, the first Windows NT virus with many different features.
Sharefun becomes the first virus to spread by email.
Ehud Tenebaum, the leader of a cracker group which included two California teenagers, is arrested after they cracked 500 US Defense Department systems.
Adm, the first Linux worm is completed.
CIH begins spreading in Taiwan.
The Strangebrew Java virus is discovered.
The Melissa macro virus becomes one of the first self-replicating programs to get a great deal of media attention.
ExploreZip begins making its run through email systems.
Cross, a virus capable of infecting document, VBS and HTML files is discovered.
One of the last outbreaks of an actual virus, as opposed to worm takes place when Funlove is released.
Bubbleboy, the first preview pane infector is discovered.
Loveletter spreads from the Phillipines, causing the first widespread email outages.
Phage, the first PalmOS virus is reported.
Ramen infects Red Hat Linux systems.
Magistr, a dangerous virus with worm-like features and an advanced payload is released in Sweden.
The worm Sadmind infects Solaris, a UNIX-derived system.
Codered begins spreading through the Internet.
Sircam, a document stealing worm, spreads through email.
Nimda spreads around the world, infecting through web pages, email, networks and even a unique method of file infection.
The first variant of Klez is released.
LFM, the first Shockwave Flash virus is sent to Sophos Antivirus.
Yaha, later variants of which will be used in a war between Indian and Pakistani hackers, makes its first appearance.
Tanatos begins spreading by email.
Sobig begins spreading through emails.
Slammer becomes the fastest spreading worm in the history of the Internet, infecting hundreds of thousands of systems within seconds of its release.
Mimail begins spreading through email.
Blaster begins to spread across the Internet.
Welchia attempts to patch the exploits used by Blaster.
Swen, possibly from Slovakia, spreads across the internet using several different vectors.
The first of many Beagle variants makes its appearence.
Mydoom, a trojan-dropping worm, is discovered.
Sven Jaschan releases Netsky, whose later variants will combat the Beagle and Mydoom worms.
The Witty worm begins its attack on over 100 computers at a US military base.
The first variant of Blackworm is released. Though the original is never prominent, a later variant released in 2006 becomes very widespread.
Sven Jaschan releases Sasser causes widespread internet outages around the world. Sasser.E would serve the same purpose as Netsky, to destroy Beagle and Mydoom.
Opener, the first major threat to Macintosh OSX appears.
Santy, the first worm to find new hosts with Google, is released.
Commwarrior, the first worm to infect phones through MMS is discovered.
Spacehero begins spreading on Myspace, racking up over 1,000,000 friends for Samy.
Sony BMG was found to have purposefully infected music CDs with a rootkit in an attempt to prevent illegal copying of music.
2006 and After
Oompa, the forst worm for Mac OSX is discovered.
Inqtana is created for Mac OSX computers as a concept worm.
The first of many Stration variants appears.
Zhelatin, also known as the Storm Worm, begins spreading through emails with sensational subject lines.
29A officially disbands.
The original version of Conficker appears.
Media says on this date Conficker is supposed to release some unknown damaging payload. The worm does communicate with some of its domains, but the doomsday scenario that the media was predicting does not come true.
Imsolk appears, and is mostly only notable for the fact that it is an email worm when that type of program was thought to be dying out.
Stuxnet, the first worm with a (suspected) military purpose is discovered. It had actually been spreading since about a year before and some components were compiled a year and a half earlier.