In 1956, the "Long-Range Plan for the Development of Science and Technology from 1956-1967" commissioned a group of scientists and researchers to develop computer technology for national defense. The Plan's goals included furthering radio, telecommunication, and atomic energy projects.  Shorty thereafter, the first state-sanctioned computer development program began with the Chinese Academy of Sciences affiliated Beijing Institute of Computing Technology (ICT). 
In 1958, the first Chinese-made computer was developed by the Institute of Military Engineering at the University of Harbin as part of the ICT.  The computer, dubbed the 901,  was a vacuum tube computer. The 901 was a copy of an earlier Soviet model.
After the Chinese stopped receiving Soviet technical and financial assistance in 1960, there was a deeply felt loss of technical expertise that stunted development.  Additionally, the Cultural Revolution slowed technological progress.  However, transistor-based computers including the 109B, 109C, DJS-21, DJS-5 and C-2 were developed during the 1960s. Despite the large improvements in the computing power of these machines, and advances in the hardware like integrated-circuitry  there is little evidence that computers were being designed for widespread consumer use. 
During this period of Chinese "self-reliance," the computers developed in the second half of the 1960s did not resemble Soviet computers nor their Western counterparts. The new transistor-based machines were distinctly Chinese creations. 
Until the 1976 invention of the Cangjie input method, computing technologies lacked an efficient way of inputting Chinese characters into computers. The Cangjie method uses Chinese character radicals to construct characters.
In 1977, the first microcomputer, the DJS-050 was developed. 
In 1978, China's aggressive plan for technological development was announced at the Chinese National Conference on Science and Technology. Further developing microcomputers, integrated circuits, and national databases were all declared priorities. 
In 1980, the Chinese computing technology was estimated to be about 15 years behind United States technology.  From the early 1980s on, China's leaders recognized that their nationalistic development strategy was inhibiting their scientific competitiveness with the West.  Therefore, imports from the United States and Japanese companies such as IBM, DEC, Unisys, Fujitsu, Hitachi, and NEC greatly increased.  However, high tariffs discouraged the direct import of computers, instead encouraging foreign corporations to provide hardware and software to domestic enterprises. 
In 1982, the Shanghai Bureau of Education chose 8 elementary students and 8 middle-school students from each district, and gave them very basic computer training. This is the first experiment using a computer in Chinese children's education. 
In 1985, the Great Wall 0520CH, was the first personal computer that used Chinese character generation and display technology, therefore capable of processing information in Chinese. The Great Wall models commanded a substantial share of the domestic computer market for the next decade. 
The 1986 Seventh Development Plan marked a turning point in China's commercial computer industry, as the electronics industry was designated as a "pillar" that would help drive the entire Chinese economy. 
In 1987, Professor Qian Tianbai sent the first email from China, signifying China's first use of the Internet. The email message was "Across the Great Wall we can reach every corner in the world." 
In 1994, the National Computing & Networking Facilities of China project opened a 64K dedicated circuit to the Internet, Since then, China has been officially recognized as a country with full functional Internet accessibility.
In 1999, the National Research Center for Intelligent Computing Systems announced that it developed a super server system capable of conducting 20 billion floating-point operations per second, making China one of the few nations in the world that have developed high-performance servers.
By the end of 1999, there were approximately 20 million PCs in operation in China.