History of Computers

History of Computers

How Computers Work

Types of Computers

Recent Development


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History of Computers

Computers, one of the most brilliant human inventions has a vibrant and remarkable history. This website aims at looking into historical aspects of computer related to its discovery and evolution that eventually leads to present-day advanced computers capable of processing complicated information and with high computing capabilities. Earliest reference of a computing device occurs in 1801. Joseph Marie Jacquard, a French scientist invented a loom that weaved punched holes that were stored on tiny hardwood sheets. The plates were inserted into the loom, which read a pattern and processed it in form of a weave.

Konrad Zuse from Germany is credited with the invention of first freely programmable mechanical computer Z1. The binary machine led to revolutionary developments in calculator like a high aptitude memory, floating point arithmetic and modules or relay operating based upon ‘Yes/No’ operation. His ideas were implemented more rigorously with every Z prototype. In 1939, Zuse, popularly known as the ‘inventor of modern computer’ developed the first fully functional electro-mechanical computer.

A significant development happened in 1942 in the Iowa State University. Professor John Atanasoff and a graduate student Clifford Berry invented world’s first electronic-digital computer. It resulted in many advanced developments like a binary system of arithmetic, restorable memory; parallel processing, and a severance of memory and other computing functions.

In 1944, a team of scientists Grace Hopper and Howard Aiken from Harvard University were the first to invent MARK series of computers. The computing device was a 55 feet long, 8-feet high machine and weighed 5 ton! It was assembled using almost 760,000 individual units. The computing device was largely used by US Navy and was operational till 1959.

The invention of Electrical Numerical Integrator and Calculator (EINAC) in 1946 by John Mauchly & J Eckert led to many developments. It was devised for the US military who needed a calculating device for writing artillery firing tables, designing hydrogen bomb, weather predictions, cosmic-ray studies, thermal ignition and wind-tunnel design. The bulky device weighed a sheer 30-ton and contained 17,468 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors, 1,500 relays, 6,000 manual switches and 5 million soldered joints. It covered 1800 square feet (167 square meters) of floor space and used 160 kilowatts of electrical power. In 1948, Dr. John Von Neumann made many modifications to the ENIAC.

Sir Frederick Williams and Tom Kilburn co-invented the Williams-Kilburn Tube, a form of altered cathode-ray tube. The Williams Tube was the first random access memory (RAM) capable of storing large amount of data and it was a more fitting method of data-storage.

Dr. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly later invented the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC) that led to development of systematic computer. The UNIVAC had add-on time of 120 microseconds; multiply time of 1,800 microseconds and a divide time of 3,600 microseconds. The original UNIVAC is still on display in the Smithsonian Institution.

IBM, International Business Machines, the popular computer company built a series of calculators (the 600s) in 1930s based on their card processing equipment. In 1944, IBM co-sponsored the MARK 1 computer along with Harvard University, the first machine to compute long calculations automatically. The year 1953 saw the development of IBM's 701 EDPM. IBM claims that it was the first commercially successful general-utility computer.

Starting 1955 onwards, the history of computers grew more and more advanced with contributions from Stanford Research Institute, MIT, Intel, Apple and Microsoft and many other individual contributions from the scientific world.

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