023 - History of Computer

The computer as we know it today had its beginning with a 19th century English mathematics professor name Charles Babbage. He designed the Analytical Engine and it was this design that the basic framework of the computers of today are based on.

The Evolution of Computers

1 ABACUS (2600 BC) • developed by the Chinese, It consists essentially of a tablet or frame bearing parallel wires or grooves on which counters or beads are moved. Though invented a long time ago, the abacus is still used in modern day China, Japan and Korea.
2 ADDING MACHINE (1700 AD) • invented by French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist Blaise Pascal, his machine was able to add and subtract, automatically carrying and borrowing digits from column to column. Seventeenth-century German Mathematician Gottfried Leibniz then designed a special gearing system that enabled Pascal’s machine to perform multiplication as well.
3 SLIDE RULE (1700 AD) • formerly used by engineers and scientists for rapid and approximate multiplication, division, extraction of roots, raising to powers, and other simple computations. 2 rulers were used to represent a logarithmic scale.
4 DIFFERENCE ENGINE (1821 AD) • designed by British mathematician and scientist Charles Babbage, it was intended to be a machine with a 20-decimal capacity that could solve Mathematical problems.
5 ANALYTICAL ENGINE (1833 AD) • considered to be the mechanical predecessor of the modern computer, also developed by Charles Babbage with the help of Agusta Ada Byron, countess of Lovelace, it was to designed to perform all arithmetic operations efficiently.

Historical Timeline

1801 • Joseph-Marie Jacquard developed the first ever loom, which used punched cards to program patterns that were output as woven fabrics.
1890 • American inventor Herman Hollerith used an idea similar to Jacquard’s loom when he combined the use of punched cards with devices that created and electronically read the cards. His Tabulating Machine Company eventually merged with two companies to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. In 1924 the company changed its name to IBM.
1936 • British mathematician Alan Turing proposed the idea of a machine that could process equations without human direction. The machine, now known as a Turing machine. Resembled an automatic typewriter that used symbols for math and logic instead of letters.
1945 • Hungarian-American mathematician John von Neumann developed the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC), the first stored entirely within its memory.
1945 • American physicist John Mauchly and American engineer John Presper Eckert, Jr. completed Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) which is regarded as the first successful, general digital computer. It was based on American physicist John Vincent Atanasoff’s prototype computing device called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, or ABC
1957 • John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert, Jr. produced the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC), which was used for a broader variety of commercial applications.
1975 • The Altair 8800 appeared, the first of the so-called Personal Computers (PC). It used an 8-bit Inter 8080 microprocessor, had 256 bytes of RAM, received input through switches on the front panel, and displayed output on rows of light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Generation of Computers

Generally speaking, computers can be classified into three generations. Each generation lasted for a certain period of time,and each gave us either a new and improved computer or an improvement to the existing computer.

First generation: 1937 – 1946 • In 1937 the first electronic digital computer was built by Dr. John V. Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. It was called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC). In 1943 an electronic computer name the Colossus was built for the military. Other developments continued until in 1946 the first general– purpose digital computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was built. It is said that this computer weighed 30 tons, and had 18,000 vacuum tubes which was used for processing. When this computer was turned on for the first time lights dim in sections of Philadelphia. Computers of this generation could only perform single task, and they had no operating system.

Second generation: 1947 – 1962 • This generation of computers used transistors instead of vacuum tubes which were more reliable. In 1951 the first computer for commercial use was introduced to the public; the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC 1). In 1953 the International Business Machine (IBM) 650 and 700 series computers made their mark in the computer world. During this generation of computers over 100 computer programming languages were developed, computers had memory and operating systems. Storage media such as tape and disk were in use also were printers for output.

Third generation: 1963 - present • The invention of integrated circuit brought us the third generation of computers. With this invention computers became smaller, more powerful more reliable and they are able to run many different programs at the same time. In1980 Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-Dos) was born and in 1981 IBM introduced the personal computer (PC) for home and office use. Three years later Apple gave us the Macintosh computer with its icon driven interface and the 90s gave us Windows operating system.

As a result of the various improvements to the development of the computer we have seen the computer being used in all areas of life. It is a very useful tool that will continue to experience new development as time passes.

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